LHE - Setting Up

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Setting up your LHE

The village has developed spectacularly over the last few years. It wasn’t that long ago that the entire village consisted of a few bales of hay with the odd fair maiden sitting on them spinning thread.

The Society has thankfully moved on, but, there is still a strange misconception (usually with clients) that hay is somehow oldie worldy, but why they think that square bales of the stuff tied up with pink nylon string is authentic is a mystery. Any such props in evidence when you arrive at site should be artfully lost.

The overall layout of the camp is generally the remit of the show LHE co-ordinator and/or the Society Special Event Coordinator, and site wide issues are usually handled by them and are therefore not covered here.

What the average LHE participant needs to consider is their own encampment, and this involves more decisions than you are probably aware you actually make.

Where to camp

First consider the pitch you have been given by the show LHE co-ordinator. Where will the public arrive from and how will they approach your camp. Your normal camp set up will usually be able to be amended to suit the pitch.

Orientate the ‘activity’ or ‘display’ side to meet the approaching public. Ensure that displays will not encourage the public into danger areas ; keep them away from fires etc. Make sure you have enough room for dynamic displays such as weaponry.

If you have sleeping tents then a major consideration can be the ground conditions and slopes so that you get a good night’s sleep. The remainder of the camp can be set up around the chosen sleeping tent location. If you have a number of sleeping tents within your set up and which are just used for accommodation and kept closed during the day, then these can be located towards the rear of a pitch away from the public. This improves the security of such tents and ensures that only ‘activity’ tents edge onto public areas.

Orientation can also be considered if you have an awning that is used to protect people from the sun. It is often forgotten that in mid summer, the sun might be due south at noon, but rises almost North East and sets just short of North West.

The overall weather can play a major part ; if its windy you might not be able to properly secure awnings. If it chucks it down with rain will you be camped in a lake ?


Next is security, (see link for more details). Your camp should be arranged so as to keep the public to one side of you for better control and overall security of your possessions.

Health and safety should also be kept firmly in mind with regards to the public. Tent and awning guy ropes should where possible be clearly marked. A good idea is to position props around guy ropes and tent pegs so that the public are channelled around such trip hazards. At least hang a cloth or something visible on a guy rope so that the public can see it.

Some groups use chestnut paling fencing to mark the boundary of their pitch and clearly mark corners of guy ropes for awnings and tents. Another idea is to position a wood pile next to guy ropes. This marks the rope, which can also be used to support a sheet to cover the wood if it rains.

Fires need special consideration and are discussed in more detail in their own section, but whilst setting up the camp consider the fire’s position in relation to both the public and all sleeping tents (not just your own).

Remember that your overall encampment should not overspill your allotted space without agreement with neighbours and/or the Show LHE Coordinator. All public thoroughfares must be kept clear of your camp equipment including pegs and guy ropes and the like ; in an emergency thoroughfares may be used to clear the site.  

Roping Off The Camp

Historically “The Vikings” have not roped off any parts of our LHE displays, this is a major difference between ourselves and some other similar dark age societies. Notwithstanding this general rule it is admissible to rope off parts of the camp. It is worth note that serious debate has taken place within the LHE Admin team about this matter, and the subject was discussed at least once at Jarl’s meetings.

As a result the official line on roping off your living history at Society major or medium shows is as follows...


The society discourages all roping or fencing off of general LHE, but if your group feels it necessary to have some refuge for valuables, or simply somewhere to relax from the public, then it is allowed to enclose a reasonable part of the display.

Notwithstanding this allowance, at least some part of each group’s LHE must be readily approachable by the public without barriers to block access. A group cannot choose to pitch camp in the LHE and then rope themselves off from the public altogether.

At least 50% of a group's tents and displays must be fully accessible to the public and not within the roped off section of the camp.

There are of course some areas that require roping off in all circumstances. These areas include ‘dangerous’ crafts such as black-smithing using a forge, or wood chopping areas. Areas for weaponry displays can also benefit from separation from the public. In short a modicum of common sense is required for such high risk activities. These items are discussed further in other relevant parts of this document.

If you do want to rope off an area not deemed to be ‘dangerous’ then it is suggested that closed sleeping (authentic but non display) tents and other tents/structures that are not used for public display or crafts etc. are roped off. It is specifically noted that it is not necessary to rope off fires, although this practice is not banned and might apply if a large fire was in use for something like a spit roast (where fat might spit and injure a member of the public). If your fire is roped off it does not absolve you of your responsibility to have a responsible adult attend the fire at all times. You cannot rope the fire off and use this as an excuse to leave the fire unattended.

Wherever ropes or fences are used all means of enclosure must be authentic and be fit for purpose. i.e. :- made of period rope or fencing that looks like it could form a proper barrier. It serves no purpose and looks a little silly to have an enclosure of string.

As with everything in the LHE all barriers must be safe, i.e. :- tops of ropes and fences should be at waist height so as not to form a trip hazard. Fences and/or rope posts must not have any sharp edges. Fences and/or rope posts must be stable. Remember that the public will inevitably try to lean on any barrier.

Ropes or fences and any braces or similar to help support the posts/panels must not block or restrict main thoroughfares. Normally a minimum 5m wide main walkway between tents will be required and if any part of an enclosure structure intrudes into this space then it will not be allowed.

At some shows space is at a premium and it will not be practical to allow space for roped off areas. In such matters the decision of the LHE admin team official in charge of the event is final and binding.