Scone Palace is often known as the crowning place of Scottish Kings, with monarchs such as Robert the Bruce having been crowned there during the Middle Ages. As such, it is the ideal setting for the 5th annual International Medieval Combat Federation (IMCF) World Championships, and for four days in May the Palace will travel back in time with knights from 31 countries flocking to Perthshire to do battle.
Around 25,000 visitors are expected across the four days, with lots happening alongside the fighting itself. In addition to the main event, there will be a host of fantastic ‘medieval themed’ entertainment throughout the day, with a feast of local food and drink on offer as well as live music, falconry, archery and children’s games. There will even be medieval retailers and stalls selling replica and toy swords, helmets and figurines.
The draw ceremony for the Championships took place on Saturday afternoon at Scone Palace with some famous faces in attendance. Deputy First Minister and MSP for Perthshire North, John Swinney, joined Lord and Lady Mansfield, Provost Dennis Melloy and representatives from the IMCF to draw the different pools for the male, female and team events. Scottish model and former rugby player Chris Capaldi – famous for being the face of Scotch beef – was also in attendance in his role as Scottish Knight League ambassador.
Scone Palace visitors were treated to a taster of what to expect at next month’s main event by some members of the Scottish team, who showcased 1v1 duels and 3v3 team battles for the crowd. Scotland’s team captain, Euan Campbell, will be taking part in his third World Championships and his first on home soil, and he is really looking forward to going up against some of the best fighters in the world.
“It’s shaping up to be a great event,” he said, “hopefully with the event taking place in Scotland this year it will give us a little bit of an advantage over the other countries.
“The sport is growing really fast and most of the people that are here today from the Scottish team weren’t involved in the sport two or three years ago. We’ve now got around 12 fighters who are regularly competing with even more coming along and training. Hopefully having the World Championships at Scone Palace will help to drum up even more interest in Medieval Combat here in Scotland.
“Hopefully having the World Championships at Scone Palace will help to drum up even more interest in Medieval Combat here in Scotland.”
Many competitors in the sport of medieval combat come from martial arts or sporting backgrounds and having witnessed the sport first hand it’s clear that you need to have an incredible level of fitness to compete at the top level. Wearing 35kg of steel armour consistent with what medieval knights would have worn, the fighters try to avoid being hit by their opponent’s weapons while trying to land blows for themselves.
Despite appearing violent, Euan assures me that the sport is actually very safe with serious injuries very rarely occurring during combat.
“You’d be surprised how often we get asked that! The truth is it’s actually very safe. It’s expected that the fighters will come away with a few bumps and bruises, but serious injuries only tend to happen for two reasons. Either your armour has failed, or your opponent has done something that is against the rules.
“That’s what the marshals are for though and they make sure that everybody is fighting within the rules and spirit of the sport. We reckon medieval combat is safer than rugby!”
Over 500 fighters from 31 countries will be taking part in this year’s World Championships and while the Scottish team showcased the sport to the crowds that gathered at Scone Palace on Saturday, IMCF vice-president Benoit Leger became an unofficial commentator, explaining exactly what was going on to those who had gathered round to see the knights fight.
Benoit is a fighter himself with a background in MMA and jujitsu, and competes for Quebec in his native Canada. Passionate about his sport, he can’t wait for the 5th World Championships to get underway and is looking forward to welcoming some of the new teams competing this year.
“It’s extremely exciting for the IMCF to bring the World Championships to such an historic place in Scotland,” Benoit told me.
“Scotland has not witnessed an event like this for over 400 years, so it’s really exciting and we can’t wait to bring the sport to our fans here and we think Scone Palace is the perfect place. We’re very grateful to have been invited here by Viscount Stormont and Lord and Lady Mansfield.
“This is our 5th World Championships and when we started we had around 200 fighters from 23 countries. Next month, we will have over 500 competitors coming from 31 countries and our sport continues to grow and grow. We will have over 500 competitors coming from 31 countries and our sport continues to grow and grow.
“We’ve got some new teams coming to fight this year and that’s very exciting. We’ll be seeing China, Chile and Thailand next month and we know very little about them so they could spring a few surprises. I watched one of the Thailand fighters competing in Japan and he looked extremely good, so it’ll be interesting to see what their team is like as a whole.
“Scotland will have the home crowd on their side so you never know, they could do better than some people might expect. The Ukrainians look like they’re bringing a huge team and they’re probably the best in the world right now so they might be the ones to beat.
“What the fans can look forward to is seeing the best fighters in the sport coming together over four fantastic days. And for those who are unfamiliar with the sport but are intrigued, all I can say is come along and see it for yourself and you won’t be disappointed!”
The IMCF World Championships will be taking place from 10th – 13th May 2018 at Scone Palace. Gates open from 9:00AM – 8:00PM each day, with battles taking place between 10AM and 6PM.
For more information on the event and how to purchase tickets, check out the event listing in our Small City What’s On section.
The main image in this article was captured by local freelance photographer Fraser Band.
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