Susan and Ken Reed’s Life, Universe and Everything

Master Niäll McKennett 

Renaissance man standing holing a shield on the ground in front of him

In the Society for Creative Anachronism, Ken assumes the name of Niäll McKennett. His persona was originally from 8th-9th Ireland, but these days, Niall can more often be found inhabiting the 16th century either under that name or as Juan Joaquin Ortega y Alvarez or as his more scurrilous evil twin, Neal de Ferret (AKA Neal Weasel).

Chronology of SCA Life

  • Ken first joined the SCA around 1977. He was one of the founding members of the (then) Shire of Black Diamond (Virginia Tech/Blacksburg, VA area) in The Kingdom of Atlantia.
  • He moved to the Barony of Storvik [then the Washington, D.C. metropolitan area], but did not become active there until 1981.
  • While in Storvik, He became interested in historical dance and spent many years teaching, researching, and performing 15th and 16th century dance. He also served the Barony of Storvik as Baronial Exchequer. In 1985 he was elevated into the Order of the Laurel. Ken renewed his interest in fencing and researched and attempted to recreate period forms of duello with the same enthusiasm he had for dance.
  • The Barony of Storvik became got so large that it broke asunder and the Barony of Ponte Alto [Arlington, Alexandria, Fairfax, VA] was formed in 1992. Niall McKennett and his lady were honored to be selected the Founding Baron and Baroness of Ponte Alto.
  • During this time, Ken put much energy into promoting period fencing in Atlantia and helping to structure the rules and award structure used in Atlantia as well as teaching fencing. For this work, he was one of the first fencers to be inducted into Atlantia’s Order of Merit for fighting arts, The Order of the Sea Stag, as well as being inducted into the Academie d’Espee in 1992.

Medieval/Early Modern Period Interests

  • 15th, 16th, and 17th century fencing/code duello
  • The courtier in 15th and 16th society
  • 15th, 16th, and 17th century dance
  • Social and cultural contexts of dance and duello
  • 17th pikemen and their training