UK-based photographer and filmmaker Simon Plant has been capturing exciting people in his home county of Somerset as part of a personal project titled “Life In A Somerset Landscape.” This project has led him to meet and photograph people from all walks of life, ranging from willow growers and farmers to artists and even a full-time Henry VIII impersonator.
In his latest set from the series, Simon takes us on a trip to the middle ages through his images of a medieval reenactment group called the Legion of the Stag. The group, which was formed in 1998, is based in Ilminster, a market town in the countryside close to Simon’s studio at Horton Manor.
I was told about a Medieval Fighting Group in the area that specializes in 12-14th century fighting re-enactments. This sounded like a perfect fit for the project, so I reached out to James, who runs the group.
The Legion of The Stag regularly performs at local festivals and charity events and has even done some TV work. For their events, members don period-appropriate knight attire, including swords and full armor. Their entertaining performances and impressive mastery of fighting techniques share their passion for medieval history and give people a peek into the past.
The shows are entertaining but very educational too. They do knight training talks on weapons, but they also cover cooking, blacksmithing, clothing, and archery in their performances.
Simon photographed each group member individually and captured close-ups of their historical garb, from the chain-link armor to the decorative details on their metal helmets and the stag iconography representative of their group.
However, the clothing isn’t the only thing that’s period-appropriate, their weapons are the real deal, and they take safety very seriously. The members of the group fight with swords and daggers, but they are trained in early period sword fighting and martial arts.
Their weapons are blunt but very real, as I discovered while holding one of the swords during the shoot!
Simon’s moody images perfectly match the tone of the theme, and the muted colors used throughout the photos contribute to making the photos look even more so like relics of an earlier time.
Like the group’s storytelling through their events, Simon also sought to tell a story through the images he took that day. He envisioned a scene where a group of mercenaries was heading home, traveling over a dark winter landscape.
It so happened that the very same week as my phone conversation, we had several days of frost and heavy mist roll into the area. I decided this was fate. The simplicity of the muddy winter field with atmospheric mist and trees was the perfect landscape for the Legion to be resting on their journey.
Photographer: Simon Plant