Unfortunately during the first combat display of the day, one of my spear shots went a little wild and slashed Segh under the eye. For one heart stopping moment as I saw the shot go in and Segh clutched his face and dropped to one knee I feared the worse. However, as he didn't fall to the ground and stop moving, or begin screaming in agony, I turned to the audience and finished the display before turning back to check how he was. At this point he quietly half turned and asked for a first aider, before standing to reveal a face covered in blood (the children in the audience loved it. Me not so much...)
A first aider was rapidly called over, and after a bit of a clean up, he looked like this:
Although Segh was fine, and this is the worst combat related injury we've experienced in Dumnonika to date, and understandably it led me to seriously consider safety measures we have in place.
Many reenactment groups that run live combat (such as The Vikings Society) insist on the wearing of helmets and gloves for all combatants. During my time in the Vikings, I was led to believe that without such protection we were uninsured. Since setting up Dumnonika, however, I've discovered that this is not the case: no-one entering a combat arena is insured against combat injury - any insurance company considers this a choice of personal risk. The only insurance we could get is Third Party, covering us in case we injure a member of the audience.
This lack of insurance is, of course, still a perfectly valid reason for insisting on protection being worn: if you get injured, no one will pay out insurance, so take what care you can to avoid injury. This is something that we of Dumnonika, discussed and eventually decided against in the name of authenticity: only four helmets have been discovered in Britain from the Iron Age, and at the level of society we represent it is highly unlikely that helmets would have been a common sight in our area. Considering the lightness of our spears, we also decided that a clout round the head with one of them would be nothing serious. Our only concern is a shot to the eyes, and possibly mouth.
Unfortunately, no authentic helmet (in fact, not even a Viking age nasal helm) would have stopped the shot against Segh, and all helmets of our period are open faced, leaving no protection against shots coming at the eyes. This leaves us with the only effective choice of modern safety glasses.
Considering the fact that this is a length I've seen no other British reenactment group going to, I'm willing to continue as we are, with no helmets or eye protection. We will, however, constantly review both our safety measures and combat style in order to ensure that we do not take unreasonable risks in the name of authenticity.
The important thing is, in this particular case, Segh was still smiling even after taking the hit, although the promise of me buying him breakfast and a bottle of mead by way of apology may have had something to do with that...