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A Recipe for Pickled Mushrooms

AEthelmearc Gazette - 9 hours 50 min ago

by THFool Dagonell the Juggler.

 

From The Closet of the Eminently Learned Sir Kenelme Digbie Opened (1669)

 Original Text:

PICKLED CHAMPIGNONS 

Champignons are best, that grow upon gravelly dry rising Grounds. Gather them of the last nights growth; and to preserve them white, it is well to cast them into a pitcher of fair-water, as you gather them: But that is not absolutely necessary, if you will go about dressing them as soon as you come home. Cut the great ones into halves or quarters, seeing carefully there be no worms in them; and peel off their upper skin on the tops: the little ones, peel whole. As you peel them, throw them into a bason of fair-water, which preserves them white.

 Then put them into a pipkin or possnet of Copper (no Iron) and put a very little water to them, and a large proportion of Salt. If you have a pottle of Mushrooms, you may put to them ten or twelve spoonfuls of water, and two or three of Salt. Boil them with pretty quick-fire, and scum them well all the while, taking away a great deal of foulness, that will rise. They will shrink into a very little room.

 When they are sufficiently parboiled to be tender, and well cleansed of their scum, (which will be in about a quarter of an hour,) take them out, and put them into a Colander, that all the moisture may drain from them. In the mean time make your pickle thus: Take a quart of pure sharp white Wine Vinegar (elder-Vinegar is best) put two or three spoonfuls of whole Pepper to it, twenty or thirty Cloves, one Nutmeg quartered, two or three flakes of Mace, three Bay-leaves; (some like Limon-Thyme and Rose-mary; but then it must be a very little of each) boil all these together, till the Vinegar be well impregnated with the Ingredients, which will be in about half an hour. Then take it from the fire, and let it cool.

 When the pickle is quite cold, and the Mushrooms also quite cold, and drained from all moisture: put them into the Liquor (with all the Ingredients in it) which you must be sure, be enough to cover them. In ten or twelve days, they will have taken into them the full taste of the pickle, and will keep very good half a year. If you have much supernatant Liquor, you may parboil more Mushrooms next day, and put them to the first. If you have not gathered at once enough for a dressing, you may keep them all night in water to preserve them white, and gather more the next day, to joyn to them.”

 Notes: 

Champignon is the medieval term for white button mushrooms.  “Of last night’s growth” means ones that weren’t there the previous night.  I chickened out and got packages from the grocery store.  Pipkins and Possnets are small cooking pans.  A pottle is an archaic unit of measure equal to a half gallon.  Twenty or thirty cloves???  Um, no.  Just no.  By liquor, he means the pickling liquid, not alcohol. Supernatant liquor is liquid over a solid residue.  I didn’t realize the term was that old!  

One pottle of mushrooms = 1/2 gallon = 1892.7 grams

One package of mushrooms = 12 ounces = 340 grams = ~20% of a pottle

 

From: Elinor Fettiplace’s Receipt Book (1605)

 Original Text:

TO PICKLE MUSHROOMS

Take your Buttons, clean ym with a spunge & put ym in cold water as you clean ym, then put ym dry in a stewpan & shake a handfull of salt over ym, yn stew ym in their own liquor till they are a little tender; then strain ym from ye liquor & put ym upon a cloath to dry till they are quite cold. Make your pickle before you do your Mushrooms, yt it may be quite cold before you put ym in. The pickle must be made with White-Wine, White-Pepper, quarter’d Nutmeg, a Blade of Mace, & a Race of ginger.”

 My translation:

Take your Buttons, clean them with a sponge and put them in cold water as you clean them, then put them dry in a stewpan and shake a handful of salt over them, then stew them in their own liquor till they are a little tender; then strain them from the liquor and put them upon a cloth to dry until they are quite cold. Make your pickle before you do your mushrooms, so it may be quite cold before you put them in. The pickle must be made with white wine, white pepper, quartered nutmeg, a blade of mace, and a race of ginger.

 Notes:

Again, the liquor is not alcohol, but the pickling liquid.  Nutmeg and mace both come from the same plant, Myrstica fragrans.  Nutmeg is the seed, mace is the lace-like peel.  A blade of mace is about 1/6 of the entire peel, so call it about a 1/2 teaspoon.  A race of ginger is one piece of root.  

 

Modern Redaction using both recipes:

  • 3/4 cup water (12 tablespoons)
  • 2 tablespoons salt
  • 36 oz. fresh mushrooms (3 12-ounce packages)
  • 1 quart white vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons white pepper
  • 3 whole cloves (not 30!)
  • 1 whole nutmeg, broken (place in baggie, wrap in towel, hit with hammer)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered mace
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 small ginger root, peeled and sliced

 In a small saucepan, combine water, salt, and peeled mushrooms.  Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.  It looks like there’s not enough liquid.  You just need enough to keep the mushrooms from scorching until they start to tenderize.  They will give up half their weight as liquid.  When the mushrooms are tender, strain them in a colander over a second saucepan.  Don’t throw away the liquid, it makes a great mushroom broth for homemade soup!  If you use commercial mushrooms, there won’t be any scum to deal with.  In a third saucepan, combine the vinegar, pepper, cloves, nutmeg, mace, bay leaves, and ginger root.  Bring to a boil.  Let everything cool.  Place the mushrooms in a clean jar, pour the pickling liquid over them, and seal.  Let marinate for two weeks.  


Categories: SCA news sites

Oldest part of Charlemagne’s canal is even older, dig finds

History Blog - Mon, 2017-07-24 23:04

The Fossa Carolina (Karlsgraben in modern German) is named after Charlemagne, King of the Franks, future Emperor of the Romans, who according to contemporary Carolingian sources commissioned its construction in 793. About two kilometers (1.2 miles) long, the canal was meant to link the Swabian Rezat river in Treuchtlingen to the Altmühl river in Weissenburg, Bavaria. The Rezat is in the Rhine basin and the Altmühl is a tributary of the Danube, so the ultimate idea behind the canal was creating a navigable water route that would allow easy boat travel between the Rhine and the Danube.

Whether it was a practicable solution in real life was a whole other ball of wax. According to the Revised Royal Frankish Annals, Charlemagne was “persuaded by self-styled experts that one could travel most conveniently from the Danube into the Rhine if a navigable canal was built between the rivers Rezat and Altmühl.” Reliable canal-linked fluvial transport was immensely important to Charlemagne in 793. He had been forced to end his 791 campaign against the Avars south of the Danube when his cavalry was stricken by the Eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus. The deadly mosquito-borne illness killed 90% of Charlemagne’s horses and other equines — war steeds, travel mounts, pack animals — in a matter of days. The few equines that survived a bout of EEE would have been severely disabled, suffering from brain damage and neurological symptoms that made it impossible for them to perform their usual duties of combat and transportation.

This was a logistical headache of brain-shattering proportions. Without horses and mules, the army’s supplies, weapons, armour and assorted gear had to be carried by people, at least some of it by horseless cavalrymen, to the Danube where it was loaded on boats. Charlemagne’s forces were so hobbled by the mass death of its equines that he wasn’t able to go on campaign for two years, and Charlemagne fought every year of his kingship, missing only four in total.

If the canal worked as planned, fluvial transportation — faster, cheaper and not subject to epidemics — would make it possible for Charlemagne to get back to his military campaigns against the Avars and rebellious Saxons, a war on two fronts that would have been enormously facilitated by a canal linking the Rhine and Danube. He would have been able to use large boats, not pack animals, to move equipment and supplies down the Danube in a new campaign against the Avars the next year. In addition, the actual digging of the canal required few horses, a big plus in a time of such equine scarcity.

It was such an important project that Charlemagne took up residence in Weissenburg in the fall of 793 to oversee construction of the canal. He personally saw to the hiring of a large team of builders. Under his direct supervision, the crew dug a moat 2,000 feet long and 300 feet wide. Again according to the Annals, canal constructed ended abortively, defeated by the marshy ground and constant rainfall which caused “what the workmen dug during the day, fell back in at night.” Other chroniclers claim the canal was in fact completed. Either way, Charlemagne’s attention was diverted to more pressing matters: fresh revolts in Saxony and attacks on Narbonne and Carcassonne by Umayyad Emir Hisham I of Córdoba.

Today there is little left of the most important infrastructure projects of the Middle Ages. There’s a water-filled moat about 350 meters (1148 feet) long in Treuchtlingen. Earthen embankments almost 4,000 feet long and more than 30 feet high also survive, created by the soil dug out of ground during the early construction of the canal. Over the past five years or so, archaeologists have discovered the northernmost section of the structure which is not visible above ground.

That section, which was fortunate enough to be forgotten and/or ignored for 1,200 years, has proven archaeologically invaluable. A team of researchers from German universities and the Bavarian State Office for the Protection of Monuments have discovered that the canal is older than the Royal Annals recorded. The question of when construction of the Fossa Carolina began has been a fraught one among historians for a century. The Alemannic Annals claim that canal construction began in 792, which would mean that Charlemagne’s stay in Weissenburg was a visit to an ongoing building site, not a new one he was personally supervising.

In 2013, timber pilings were discovered in the northernmost section that were dendrochronologically dated to the late summer or early fall of 793. A follow-up excavation in 2016 went even further, digging two trenches across two of the northern canal sections. The team unearthed numerous structural elements, including large oak pilings lining the canal walls that were in an excellent state of preservation thanks to the high groundwater level and a deposit of sediments immediately after construction.

The team was able to date more than two dozen timbers using dendrochronological analysis, an incredible bounty for high precision absolute dating. Tree ring analysis can pinpoint dates down to the year, sometimes even the month, and the youngest of the canal timbers tested date to the late spring or early summer (probably May) of 793. This was freshly cut wood. It hadn’t been stored for a few months before use in the canal.

This shows that the construction work at the Karlsgraben started several months earlier than was previously known. The description in the sources that the command for the construction of the canal has already taken place in 792 is thus significantly more likely. For the first time, the historical and political framework conditions of the decision to build the canal can now be clarified. The new dating also shows that Charlemagne visited a construction site, which had already begun several months earlier in the late summer/autumn of 793, and was by no means the “first spade”. […]

In the coming months, the new dates will be analyzed in detail and combined with numerous other results from the interdisciplinary research group. Due to the precise and different dates the researchers expect for the first time indications for the construction direction of individual channel sections and organizational details of the large construction site. New results are also to be expected regarding the completion or non-completion of individual construction sections.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Quilts made by men at war to go on display

History Blog - Sun, 2017-07-23 23:20

Three years ago, St. Paul’s Cathedral in London restored and displayed a hand-made altar frontal that had been by intricately embroidered by 133 convalescing soldiers during World War I. Sewing was considered a highly effective form of occupational therapy for soldiers because it could be accomplished while seated, improved manual dexterity and mental focus. The notion of occupational therapy was birthed in the crucible of World War I which left so many men physically and psychologically disabled, but it was a new name for an old practice.

Soldiers and sailors have been stitching masterpieces of the sewing crafts for hundreds of years. It was a longstanding tradition that during lulls in fighting, while prisoners of war or over extended hospital visits, they would hand-stitch quilts, wool work seascapes and embroider their own uniforms. Sailors maintained ships’ sails as part of their duties and therefore had basic sewing skills. Soldiers didn’t have the same job requirement, so if they knew how to sew it was either fortuitous or professional; i.e., they had been tailors in civilian life and were often employed as regimental tailors in the military.

Some of the earliest surviving examples were made in the 18th century using the intarsia technique in which fabric pieces are cut in precise shapes and sewn together so that no seams show. These types of quilts are so difficult to produce that it’s likely they were created by professionals. The imagery is often related to the wars being fought and national identity — comrades, the fatherland, traditional folk tales, etc. The quilts produced in wartime by military men of all levels of stitchcraft experience often used uniform pieces, blankets and random snippets of whatever other textiles they could get their hands on to create geometric designs of dazzling intricacy.

The American Folk Art Museum in New York is putting on the first US exhibition of quilts made by fighting men in wartime from uniform fabric. Most of the quilts on view in the War and Pieced exhibition come from the private collection of Australian quilt expert, historian Dr. Annette Gero. Others are on loan from public and private collections. Many of them have never been publically displayed before.

Immigrant tailors, such as Hungarian-born Michael Zumpf, introduced the intarsia technique into Great Britain. Two masterworks, exhibited to great acclaim in London during the late nineteenth century, feature minutely detailed representations of British military and political leaders, and members of the House of Commons. These elaborate pictorial panels were made using popular etchings of those subjects as templates.

Perhaps the best-known quilts that were made by soldiers and regimental tailors are the complex geometrics fashioned from felted military uniforms. Hand-stitched by nineteenth-century British soldiers, sailors, and regimental tailors during periods of conflict in the Crimea, South Africa, and India, some of these mosaic-like quilts contain as many as twenty-five thousand pieces of fabric. They were once called “convalescent quilts,” it was believed they were made as occupational therapy by wounded soldiers recovering in hospitals. Quilts pieced in simple geometric patterns may indeed have been made in such circumstances, but it is now recognized that the most elaborate quilts were most probably stitched by tailors and soldiers to pass the time and stay out of mischief, to give as gifts to loved ones at home, or were made upon a soldier’s return.

“In the context of war, quiltmaking becomes a life-affirming testament to bravery, loyalty, and an act of redemption for darker human impulses enacted under dire circumstances,” says Stacy C. Hollander[, chief curator of the American Folk Art Museum]. “Memory and experience are fragmented and brilliantly reconstructed through tiny bits of cloth. The uniforms, associated with the best and worst of humanity, are thus transformed into testaments of sanity and beauty, even as the highly organized geometry grants the soldier an illusion of control over the predations of war in which he has both participated and witnessed.”

War and Pieced will run at the American Folk Art Museum from September 6th, 2017, through January 7th, 2018. Next year the exhibition will travel to the International Quilt Study Center & Museum at the University of Lincoln-Nebraska where it will run from the May 25th through September 16th, 2018.

But enough of my yakking. This post is all about the cornucopia of quiltly goodness and there’s so much more bounty to enjoy I had to put it after the jump to keep load times from going insane.

Colonial Soldier’s Intricately Pieced Quilt
Artist unidentified
India
c. 1890
More than 25,000 tiny tumbling blocks, hexagons, and diamonds, constructed using heavy woollens from military uniforms, with metallic thread and sequins; hand-embroidered and hand-embellished
95 x 76″
Laura Fisher’s Fisher Heritage, New York City.

King George III Intarsia Quilt
Artist unidentified
United Kingdom or Germany
Dated 1766
Wool, possibly from military uniforms, with embroidery thread; intarsia, hand-appliquéd and hand embroidered
106 x 100″
Collection Sevenoaks Museum, Kent County Council, United Kingdom

Soldier’s Quilt with Incredible Border
Artist unidentified
India
c. 1855–1875
Wool from military uniforms, with beads; hand-applied beadwork, layered-appliqué border
82 x 88″
The Annette Gero Collection
Photo by Tim Connolly, Shoot Studios

Holy Roman Empire Intarsia Quilt
Artist unidentified
Prussia or Austria
1846–1851
Wool, with embroidery thread; intarsia, hand-appliquéd and hand-embroidered
120 x 120″
International Quilt Study Center & Museum, University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2011.068.0001)

Prussian Army Intarsia Quilt
Samuel Sadlowski (dates unknown)
Prussia or Silesia
Dated 1806
Wool from military uniforms, with embroidery thread; intarsia, hand-appliquéd and hand-embroidered
50 x 69″
The Annette Gero Collection
Photo by Tim Connolly, Shoot Studios

Sailor’s Quilt
Artist unidentified
Region unknown
Late nineteenth century
Wool felt, probably from military uniforms, with embroidery thread; hand-appliquéd and hand embroidered
90 x 70″
Laura Fisher’s Fisher Heritage, New York City

Artist unidentified
India
c. 1860–1870
Wool, with beads; inlaid, hand-appliquéd, hand-applied beadwork
63 x 63″
The Annette Gero Collection
Photo by Tim Connolly, Shoot Studios

Anglo-Zulu War Army Quilt
Artist unidentified
South Africa or United Kingdom
Late nineteenth century
Wool from military uniforms, with embroidery thread; hand-embroidered, pointed and pinked edges
88 x 85″
The Annette Gero Collection
Photo by Tim Connolly, Shoot Studios

Regimental Bed Rug
Sergeant Malcolm MacLeod (dates unknown)
India
c. 1865
Wool, mostly from military uniforms, with embroidery thread; inlaid, hand-embroidered
95 x 63″
The Annette Gero Collection
Photo by Tim Connolly, Shoot Studios

Soldier’s Quilt
Artist unidentified
Probably India
c. 1850–1880
Wool, probably from military uniforms, with embroidery thread, rickrack, and velvet binding; inlaid,
layered-appliqué, hand-embroidered
67 x 66″
Collection American Folk Art Museum, New York
Gift of Altria Group, Inc., 2008.9.1
Photo by Gavin Ashworth

Soldier’s Mosaic Quilt
Jewett W. Curtis (1847–1927)
United States
1880–1890
Wool
90 x 70″
International Quilt Study Center & Museum,
University of Nebraska-Lincoln (2016.033.0001)

Army Uniform Quilt from the Napoleonic Era
Artist unidentified
Region unknown, possibly Prussia
Late eighteenth/early nineteenth century
Wool, probably from military uniforms; Silesian pieced
69 x 55″
The Annette Gero Collection
Photo by Tim Connolly, Shoot Studios

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Royalty Retainers Urgently Needed for Pennsic

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2017-07-23 15:07

Lady Elena. Photo by Jinx.

Pennsic is shortly upon us, and I am in search of gentles to help attend Their Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle. They will need retainers beginning Thursday of Peace Week and continuing through closing ceremonies on Friday of War Week.

Each shift is an hour long and every willing gentle is welcome – whether you’d like to retain for one hour on one day, or return multiple times over the course of the war. As always, new retainers are very welcome!

If you wish to sign up in advance (really encouraged!), please get in touch with me. I can be reached via Facebook message (Elena de la Palma) or via email.(elenadelapalma@gmail.com)   You can also sign up by coming to Æthelmearc Royal (at the corner of Brewer’s and St. Lawrence, right next to Pennsic University) at any point during Pennsic – even after the War starts, more hands will always be needed!

And finally, we will need many hands for some of the bigger events like Opening Ceremonies, Æthelmearc Court, the Known World Party, and Closing Ceremonies. Your help will always be welcome – simply come to Æ Royal before the event and let us know you’d like to help!

 Generous Æthelmearc, you have been so gracious in attending Their Majesties these past months. I am humbled with gratitude as I think ahead to Pennsic, and to the many gentles who will give of their time to ensure Their Majesties’ comfort. Truly, there is no place like home!

 Want to get in touch about retaining for Their Majesties at Pennsic?

Elena de la Palma, Head Retainer


Categories: SCA news sites

Battle of Five Armies

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2017-07-23 07:34

Greetings,

The Shire of Quintavia has discovered gold and more in our hills, and, while the Barony of Smoking Rocks has graciously “guarded” our mining operations for the last year, Quintavia has many neighbors who may wish to “liberate” us from this arrangement.

The following is a partial understanding of the goings on that have happened in and around the Shire of Quintavia.

February 13th, AS L, Carolingian Service University, Baron Colin of Carolingia and Citizen Ulrich von der Insel of Bridge begin plotting an alliance for the upcoming event.

March 12th, AS L, Black Rose Ball, Clothilde and Ulrich usurp Baron Eloi, taking control of the Barony of the Bridge. Word of the growing tensions in the Central Region is overheard in Royal Court.

AS LI – gold is discovered in Quintavia

September 3rd, AS LI, Smoking Rocks Baronial Investiture, the Dread Baron Richard Leviathan leads his forces to seize control of Quinatvia’s gold mines, allegedly in an attempt to block Carolingia from doing the same.

September 17th, AS LI, Falling Leaves in Exile, Carolingia pledges to overthrow Smoking Rocks’ intolerable interference.

February 18th, AS LI, Ice Weasel 12, Quintavia pays tribute to Smoking Rocks.

March 11th, AS LI, Novice Schola & Birthday Feast, Bergental pinky swears to come to Quintavia to combat Smoking Rocks’ aggression.

What’s more, our miners have recently discovered a magnificent stone that glows with an inner light.

There shall be competitions and Melees in all of the combat arts(Heavy List, Fencing, Archery, and Thrown Weapons), A&S challenges for artisans, War Points specifically encouraging Youth participation, and even a riddle contest.

In addition,  Dancing and Feasting (Please pre-reg!) will be had by all.  Finally the Shire of Quintavia invites one and all into a party at their encampment the Friday night of the event.

The site does have tenting facilities, please Pre-Reg to ensure spaces.

As part of the event Households in about Quintavia have issued challenges with the winners receiving renown for there the Baronies.

House Fiori – Quintavian Colors Challenge

The Defender of Quintavia shall be chosen from among those residents who present anything green and white, or green, or white. This is to represent the shire colors. Hurrah for the green and white!! Long may our banner wave!

House Lochleven – Practical Garb

Duke Edward and Mistress Cassandra wish to see your practical garb. Whether for smithing, nursing, cooking, plowing, or viking, show off your plain, stained, efficient, or comfy garb.

House Thorgeir – Viking Embellishment

Countess Svava encourages one and all to engage in Viking Embellishment, whether in trim, embroidery, carving, or storytelling.

House Darostur  – Flamingus:

“We of House Darostur. enjoying the finer things in life, such as decorative lawn ornamentation, inflatable creatures, and nylon structures invite the populace to expound on their appreciation of the most noble of birds found throughout our fair Shire and the Known World…the Noble Flamingo. Such expressions of wonder and thoughtfulness will be judged using the arcane and dubious methodology that this Noble House is best known for. Creativity and flair should be used to great affect and will indeed be remarked upon by all of the Household.”

Bring your finest flamingo festooned forms for display Saturday and earn your Barony the Darostur War Point (and maybe some gracefully awkward prizes).

House Viborg is sponsoring a Dirty Dozen Largess challenge!

Each entrant must make 12 items of largess to be given to the Crown. There is no limit on the number of entries. These can be sets of the same item (12 pairs of earrings) or a suite of items to showcase the breadth of an artist’s talent.

More information can be found at the event website, including the pre-reg form.

http://fivearmies.eastkingdom.org/

All are invited to come support the Shire’s neighbors in their bids to see which Barony shall earn the right  to bear the Arkenstone!

This event is co-sponsored by the Shire of Quintavia, the Barony of Carolingia, and the Barony of Bergental, please do come.


Filed under: Announcements, Events, Tidings Tagged: Bergental, Carolingia, events, Quintavia

Smiley found painted on 3,700-year-old pitcher

History Blog - Sat, 2017-07-22 23:43

A team of Turkish and Italian archaeologists have discovered what may be the first known smiley face in the ancient city of Karkemish in Turkey’s southeastern province of Gaziantep near the border with Syria. The terminally cheery curved line topped by two dots was painted on the side of pitcher around 3,700 years ago.

“The smiling face is undoubtedly there (there are no other traces of painting on the flask) and has no parallels in ancient ceramic art of the area,” [excavation leader Dr. Nicolo Marchetti of Bologna University] said. […]

The unusual pitcher in question was originally off-white in colour and features a short thin neck, wide body and small handle. Found in a burial chamber, it was used for a sweet sherbet-like drink, and dates back to 1,700 BC.

Archaeologists only realised the smile was there when the pot was taken to a lab for restoration work, Turkish news agency Anadolou reported.

Occupied from the 6th millennium B.C. until it was abandoned in the late Middle Ages, the remains of Karkemish were first discovered and excavated in the late 19th century. Some illustrious figures — T.E. Lawrence, Leonard Woolley, Gertrude Bell — participated in later digs before and after World I. Even with this long history of archaeological exploration, the site still had much to reveal. The joint Turkey and Italian team has been excavating Karkemish every year since 2011. The smiley pitcher was found this season, which began on May 2nd, and it was not the only important discovery.

The team also unearthed 250 bullae, clay tokens impressed with seals that would be attached to legal and commercial documents as proof identity and authenticity. The seals were found in the late Bronze Age layer and date to the Hittite Empire in the 13th century B.C. when Karkemish was the seat of the Hittite viceroy who controlled the entire region. Among the 250 bullae are the seals of some of the highest ranking individuals in the Hittite administration of the city, most notably that of Taya or Tahe, prince and “charioteer of the goddess Kubaba.” Researchers are excited by the great number of bullae recovered because they hope the seals will reveal new information about the people, trade and administrative systems of Karkemish during its most prosperous period.

Another exceptional find made in the same area of the city is a large basalt relief of two rampant griffons. It was carved at the end of the 10th century B.C. during the reign of the Neo-Hittite king Katuwa who was better known for his construction and sculptural endeavors than his prowess on the battlefield. The griffon relief is believed to be one of a pair with a relief of a winged bull discovered during last year’s excavation. Archaeologists found significant architectural remains as well, including the remains of a massive fortress and a grain silo, both dating to the end of the Neo-Assyrian period, around 1100 B.C.

Seven season of digs will soon come to a culmination when the site is opened to the public for the first time next year. Karkemish is in a militarily sensitive area and access has long been restricted. The Turkish Minister of Culture and Tourism announced earlier this month that on May 12th, 2018, the site will open its doors as the Karkemish Ancient City Archaeological Park. The smiley jug will go on display at the nearby Gaziantep Museum of Archaeology.

There is a whole new sense of urgency and meaning behind the excavations and the upcoming archaeological park. On the Syrian side of the border, the civil war has taken an unbearably onerous toll on its rich ancient history. While some of the most precious and beautiful archaeological remains in the world have been brutalized by ISIS and other belligerents in this quagmire from hell, excavation and conservation of ancient material culture has continued undeterred just over the border in Turkey.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

From the Æthelmearc Gazette: Paladin’s Pantry at Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-07-22 21:27

Reprinted from the Æthelmearc Gazette

PALADIN’S PANTRY RIDES AGAIN!

Dear Gentles,

Have you ever found yourself with more to pack at the end of Pennsic then you did when you set out from home, only to find that your vehicle seems to have shrunk? Is your kitchen area full of boxes of cereal, pasta, jars of peanut butter, and jugs of bottled water you can’t remember buying?

Never fear! The annual Paladin’s Pantry Food Drive is here to help by conveying your camp’s extra food and drink to a local food bank. Just drop any unopened foodstuffs or beverages (no alcohol, please) at one of our handy collection points:

  • Æthelmearc Royal (N04) Next to Pennsic University
  • Atlantia Royal (N40) Near the Gothic Abbey
  • Northshield Royal (E02) Across from Soalr Showers
  • Trimaris Royal (W17) Runestone and Great Middle Highway
  • Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands (N10) Central Serengeti
  • Barony of Bhakail (N11) Corner of Brewer’s and Fletcher
  • House Sable Maul (N29) Count Jehan’s Bounty
  • Puffin’s Rock Inn (N01) Next to Great Hall
  • Barony of Blackstone Mountain (E04)
  • Venshavn (E24) Next to Wulfden’s Back Door
  • Clan Blue Feather (E12) Slope of Horde Hill
  • House Akeru Thunder (E17) Hill Road
  • The Lusty Wench Tavern (E17) Across from Chalk Man Pub
  • The Chalk Man Pub (E17) Hill Road and Good Intentions
  • House Finisterre (B09) Far West Side
  • House Iron Lance (W13) Base of Runestone Hill
  • Maison Rive (Merchant Space 23) Across from Cooper’s Store
  • Offices of the Pennsic Independent –Top of Runestone Hill
  • Herald’s Point (Low Road, next to playground)

In addition, this year the program will be collecting used tents, sleeping bags, cots, and rain gear, (especially those in child sizes), which will serve no one in a dumpster, to benefit the homeless.

Exercise your charity, lighten your load, and help members of the community that has made us so welcome over the years!

Please direct any questions to Lord Alexander of Ayr (301.401.2045) or Master Morien MacBain (304.283.5640).

Paladin’s Pantry: We put the “large” in “largesse”!


Filed under: Pennsic

Court Report: Æthelmearc War Practice

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-07-22 16:28

From the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy and Gabrielle, King and Queen of Æthelmearc, as recorded by Dame Kateryna ty Isaf, Jewel of AEthelmearc Herald with the assistance of Lord Arias Beltran del Valle,   Misty Highlands Herald, Master Liam Mac An TSaoir, Sycamore Herald, Drotin Jǫrundr hinn Rotinn, Golden Alce Herald and Master Fridrikr Tomasson, Gullskel Herald at War Practice in the Canton of Steltonwald on May 20, Anno Societatis LII.

The Court of Their Majesties, Timothy and Gabrielle was opened upon the Fencing Field:

As Their Majesties, Timothy and Gabrielle, accompanied by Their Heirs, Gareth
and Julianna, observed the fencing melee They asked for the crowd to assemble. They discussed the pride They found in the tremendous forces assembled. They spoke of the joy They had in creating the first of the Masters of Defense and asked the members if they felt there was anyone missing from their rank. The Masters of Defense advised Their Majesties that there was such a lack. So counseled, Their Majesties called forth Emily of Dunvegan and asked she sit vigil and play her prize at a date of Their choosing so that she may be so elevated to this Order. Scroll calligraphed by Isabella Montoya upon wording by Mistress Gabrielle Winter.

At the Court in the Afternoon:

Their Majesties, Timothy and Gabrielle, accompanied by Their Heirs, Gareth
and Julianna, invited The Baron and Baroness of BMDL, Brandubh and Hilderun, to Their court.

Their Majesties invited Mistress Arianna Winthrope to speak regarding Their Youth Combat Championship. Mistress Arianna advised that there were two Youth who were victorious in their divisions, Fox and Katrina. Their Majesties being so advised did invest both Fox and Katrina as Their Youth Combat Champions. The outgoing Youth Combat Champions, Karl and Timothy of Arindale the Younger, were thanked for their service.

Fox and Katrina invested as Kingdom Champions. Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

Their Majesties called forth Evelyn of Stormsport. For her work in helping with pre-cook for feasts, serving feast and especially her assistance with the Queen’s Tea, Their Majesties inducted her into the Order of the Silver Buccle. The scroll by Lady Edena the Red.

Their Majesties also called forth Alva Halfdansdottir. For her work as a List Runner at Crown Tournaments, kitchen assistance and serving at the Queen’s Tea, Their Majesties inducted her into the Order of the Silver Buccle.

Their Majesties called forth the rest of the children present. They asked the children to assist with singing Happy Birthday to someone before Lord Robert MacEwin took the toy chest and ran from the court. The children were instructed to take one toy each, beginning with the youngest child present.

Their Majesties called Meisteren Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen forth to be serenaded with the appropriate aforementioned song. Upon completion They asked her to remain a moment while the children departed. Once the children had left They asked her take a knee while the Order of the Master of Defense were invited before Their Majesties. Their Majesties advised Meisteren Fredeburg that she should present herself at a future date of Their choosing to sit vigil and play her prize so that she may be inducted into this most noble Order. Scroll calligraphed by Isabella Montoya upon wording by Mistress Gabrielle Winter.

Their Majesties invited to Their court His Majesty, King William of the MidRealm. His Majesty William thanked Their Majesties for a rousing day of fighting and advised that although He will take the field at Pennsic to oppose the armies of Æthelmearc, He yet counts Their Majesties as friends. Their Majesties presented Him with a gift basket in appreciation of His visit.

King William of the Middle. Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

Their Majesties invited to Their court His Majesty, King Quilliam of Ealdormere. His Majesty Quilliam remarked on how enjoyed His day and looked forward to clashing with the might of Æthelmearc upon these very fields in the Pennsic War to come. Their Majesties presented Him with a gift basket to return home with and thanked Him for His visit.

Their Majesties gave leave to Their Excellencies of Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands to hold Their court.

Upon the completion of the Baronial court, Their Majesties invited before them Edelvrouw Lisbet de Keukere to discuss the Scarlet Apron competition this day. Edelvrouw Lisbet advised that there was a strong showing of competitors and was pleased to announce the populace choice was La Connectsion Frances and the Winners of the Scarlet Apron were Team Pel/Laurel comprised of Mistress Myfanwy ferch Rhiannon and Master Alastar Scott MacCrummin.

The Scarlet Apron is awarded to Master Alastar and Maistres Myfanwy. Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

Their Majesties invited before Them Mistress Yvianne de Castel d’Avignon. Touched by her teaching of the tournament and hospitality in the galleries They rewarded her years of dedication her by adding her to Their Court as a Baroness. They asked Sir Aengus to attend Them so that he might present the Coronet to mark her station. The scroll was a work by Baroness Ekaterina Volkova.

Their Majesties called forth Baron Friderich Swartzwalder, Kingdom Deputy Earl Marshall for Combat Archery. They asked if he felt it was time to step down from the post he had held with great diligence and he advised that he agreed and had found a suitable replacement in Mistress Zoe Akropolitina. Their Majesties asked Mistress Zoe if she was willing to take on this role and having assented They received her oath of service.

Mistress Zoe swears fealty as Kingdom Combat Archery Marshal. Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

Their Majesties next demanded the presence of the Wild Hunt. Countess Elena and Don Po came forward to announce the results of the Wild Hunt throughout the year and bestow gifts upon the winners. In third place was Lord Robert Hawkesworth, second place THLady Gytha Oggsdottir and first place went to Lord Ru Cavorst.

Lord Ru Cavorst collects his prizes as winner of the Wild Hunt. Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

Their Majesties called forth Duncan MacCoulagh and Isabella of Steltonwald. For Duncan’s work in the archery community and blacksmithing, Their Majesties Awarded him Arms and made him a Lord of the court. For Isabella’s interest in cooking, help in the kitchens and with whatever tasks need done, Their Majesties Awarded her Arms and made her a Lady of the court. Both scrolls were created by Countess Anna Leigh.

Their Majesties called before Them Jack Falleinwell. His Majesty commented on how He could not help but smile at this gentleman’s name, since as a small lad, the great and intelligent hound Lassie had often been known to call for Him to find a gentle with this very last name. Their Majesties advised that such a man must be mighty indeed and found that his extensive work at the Pennsic Wars did indeed make him a mighty helper for the Pennsic staff and especially mayor. Having been advised of such accomplishments They conferred upon him the title of Lord and Awarded him Arms.

Their Majesties called forth Illyria of Delftwood and for her beautiful work on garb and accessories and her generously donated works for largess and fundraisers They Awarded her Arms making her a Lady of the court. Scroll by Lady Genevote Nau d’Anjou.

Their Majesties called Charlotte Starke to attend Them. For her work in crafting lovely garb and fencing bucklers and her participation in fencing They made her a Lady of the court by Awarding her Arms. Scroll by THLady Mary Elizabeth Clason with wording by Mistress Gabrielle Winter.

Their Majesties called forth Mathias Al Tabai. Because of his helpfulness including willingness to become an exchequer and his fencing acumen, Their Majesties saw fit to make him a Lord of the court with an Award of Arms. Scroll was created by Elspeth of Wormwald with wording by Mistress Gabrielle Winter.

Their Majesties called Salvador Moro de Medici to come before Them. For his skill both on the Heavy and fencing fields and his willingness to teach others, They Awarded unto him Arms, thus making him a Lord of the court. Scroll by THLady Felice de Thornton.

Their Majesties requested Lady Rebekah Whytebull come before Them. Praising her work as tolner, kitchen staff, water bearer and watching the children of the Realm, They noted her gentle and quiet smile was always a staple of her work. Seeing fit to recognize such work for the betterment of the Kingdom, They inducted her into the Order of the Keystone. Scroll was created by Lady Elena Modarovavnuka.

Their Majesties called forth Lady Alysoun of the Debatable Lands. They remarked upon her beautiful work as a scribe, delicious brews, and lovely voice. Knowing her to be an anchor of the Debatable Choir, They found it right to induct her into the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll created by the hand of Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Their Majesties called before Them Lord Theowulf fitz Renault. Remarking upon his regular attendance at musters and notable prowess They adjudged him to be a dedicated fighter and saw fit to induct him into the Order of the Golden Alce. Their Majesties directed him to note that this scroll had been created by the hands of Countess Aidan in the 50th year of the society and while the date was incorrect, They could not in good conscience alter or amend what was likely the last scroll Her Excellency had produced for the court. They enjoined Lord Theowulf to treasure the great gift bestowed upon him.

 

Their Majesties called forth Lord Nicolo Loredan da Venesia. Noting that he had served for several years as the exchequer of Silva Vulcani and worked diligently as a fencing marshal, They inducted him into the Order of the Keystone. The scroll was by THLady Elyse la Bref.

Their Majesties called forth Lady Takasukasa Riku. They advised They had seen how she was a stalwart of the archery community and a heavy weapons fighter of skill. Such a Samurai, should be given recognition befitting her accomplishments and so They inducted her into the Order of the Golden Alce. The scroll was created by Lord Sasson della Sancta Victoria.

Their Majesties invited before them Sir Arnthor inn sterki. For his tireless promotion of heavy weapons fighting and siege weapons, for his work as Regional Army commander, his service as Deputy Warlord and Shire Knight Marshal, Their Majesties inducted him into Their Order of the Keystone. The scroll was limned by Baron Caleb Reynolds and calligraphed by Baroness Graidhne ni Ruaidh.

Their Majesties invited before Them Maestro Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato. They noted how he creates clever thrown weapons targets. They remarked upon his creations such as the Rhydderich Hael gate and the fire ring and box for the Kingdom. Having seen the beautification of Their Kingdom done by his hands, They inducted him into the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll was created by Baroness Rosamund von Glinde.

Their Majesties invited before them Lady Vivienne of Yardley. Their Majesties then called forth the Order of the Fleur d’Aethelmearc to attend Them. Speaking of how the works of art created with pen and brush grace many halls and homes in Their Kingdom and how her ability is recognized throughout the Kingdom, They were moved to induct her into the Order of the Fleur d’Aethelmearc upon this day. The scroll was limned by Master Caoinlean n Seachaidh, also known as Tower, and calligraphed by Mistress Antoinette de la Croix.

Their Majesties called before them Baroness Anna Eisenkopf. Their Majesties advised They had been counseled that an order was missing a member. Their Majesties then called for the Most Noble Order of the Pelican to attend Them. They advised that her work as Mistress of the Lists, at crown tournaments and Pennsic, as well as at smaller events had been seen for many years. Her support for the Thrown Weapons community was known to all. She was never seen idling for an event when hands were needed. For all this, They would have her sit vigil upon a date of her choosing to contemplate induction into the Order of the Pelican. The scroll was by the hand of Baroness Graidhne ni Ruaidh.

Their Majesties were asked for a boon from Mistress Morgana bro Morganwg of Ealdomere. She asked that Their Majesties consider Brehyres Gwendolyn the Graceful as worthy of the Laurel Leaves and peerage for her gifts of song heard throughout the Known World. Assenting to her request, Their Majesties called Brehyres Gwendolyn forth. Accompanied by song as always, she presented herself unto Their Majesties. They asked her if having heard the counsel of her peers and bards, she agreed to proceed. Having her answer They called forth the Most Noble Order of the Laurel to attend Them.

Brehyres Gwendolyn is asked if she will accept elevation to the Laurel. Photo by Lady Aine.

From the Kingdom of the West, the words of Duke Frederick of Holland speaking as a Royal Peer were read by Countess Margerite Eisenwald. From the Kingdom of Ansterorra, Sir Kenneth MacQuarrie of Tombermory speaking for the Order of the Chivalry were read by Count Jehan de la Marche. From the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, speaking for the Order of the Master of Defense, the words of Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta were read by Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne. From the Kingdom of Trimaris, the words of Master John Lyttleton speaking for the Order of the Pelican, were read by Countess Caryl Olesdattir. From the Kingdom of Ealdormere, Mistress Morgana bro Morganwg spoke finally for the Order of the Laurel. All these bards, accomplished in every aspect of the Society, spoke to the depth of impact that Gwendolyn has had upon the bardic arts throughout the Known World.

With joyful hearts, Their Majesties received this wise council and agreed that Gwendolyn should be recognized as a member of the Order of the Laurel and so elevated her to that noble station with the Laurel leaves to mark her forevermore a peer. A cloak to warm her during bardic circles deep into the night was laid upon her shoulders. The ancestral fruitcake of the Order of the Laurel was presented to her. She was further advised that her name and arms will be added to the book of the Order of the Laurel ennobled in Æthelmearc. There were two scrolls in process of creation, one with words by Master Fridikr being limned by Lady Raven Whiteheart and the other by Lady Emer nic Aidan of Ealdormere.

Their Majesties asked that all scribes who contributed to the scrolls given during the courts today stand and be recognized.

Her Majesty asked Lord Tassin to come before Her. She spoke of how there is a great deal of work that goes on behind the scenes and is rarely noticed unless it is not done. Her Majesty was moved to recognize Lord Tassin as Her inspiration of the day and bestowed upon him the Golden Escarbuncle because of all he had done to ensure the Kingdom encampment was built from the ground up, including the driving of well over a hundred stakes for the pavilions.

Lord Tassin receives a Golden Escarbuncle. Photo by Lady Aine.

There being no further business this day, Their Majesties’ court was thus concluded.​


Categories: SCA news sites

Shire of Hunters Home- Demo Report

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-07-22 16:13

On July 1st, the Shire of Hunters Home met for a day of fighting in Venango County. First we offered a fighting demo for the Utica Festival Days, offering the audience a chance to pick their heroes and receiving free snow cones when their fighters won.

Later that afternoon, the Shire participated in Franklin’s Independence Day Parade, themed “Fairytales and Fantasy”. Franklin may have expected a normal march down their main drag known as Liberty Street, but what they got was a series of fighting bouts, with a melee topping the excitement. The crowds went wild and the fighters made it look good. To top off a great day the Shire won third Place for best presentation!

Maggie Rue

Click to view slideshow.
Categories: SCA news sites

Britain’s first Roman fleet diploma goes on display

History Blog - Fri, 2017-07-21 23:33

The first complete Roman fleet diploma ever found in Britain has gone on display at Durham University’s Museum of Archaeology. The inscribed copper alloy plaques record the rights granted an honorably discharged sailor after many years of loyal service. The recipient of the fleet diploma, one Tigernos, is Britain’s first named sailor.

Roman Military Diplomas were the physical proof of rights granted to non-citizen soldiers to mark their honourable discharge on retirement after 26 years of service. This diploma was issued by the emperor Antoninus Pius (AD 138-191) to Tigernos, a native of Lanchester, Co. Durham, in around AD 150. The diploma granted him and his descendants Roman citizenship and the legal right of marriage. To earn the diploma he had served in the Classis Germanica -the Roman fleet in Germany, most likely for 26 years, before being honourably discharged on his retirement.

It was discovered in February of last year by metal detectorist Mark Houston near Longovicium, the Roman fort in Lanchester, County Durham. Houston found the plates about eight inches below the surface in a spot where his detector had signalled loud and clear. He saw the tell-tale green of copper and cleaned around it, revealing a small stack of copper plates. He had no idea what it was at first, or even that it was ancient. He thought it might be the remains of a motorcycle battery or some other old piece of machinery.

So Houston dug them up, took them home and cleaned them. It was only when he put them on the window sill where the sunlight streamed over them that he saw there were letters engraved on the copper sheets. He took a closer look through a magnifying glass and realized it was Latin. Understanding that what he thought were old motorcycle parts could be ancient artifacts, Mark Houston contacted the Portable Antiquities Scheme (PAS) and reported his discovery. PAS experts and Dr. Roger Tomlin from Oxford University have been studying and conserving it ever since.

The thin sheets of copper alloy were originally two rectangular plates stitched together by metal wires threaded through holes in the plates. Over time, the two rectangles corroded and broke into eight fragments, so some areas of the inscription are damaged, missing or illegible. Researchers are still working out as much of the inscription as they can, but what they’ve already been about to transcribe and translate paints a detailed picture, listing names of military cohorts, commanders, governors and consuls as well as the recipient and his father.

The Emperor Caesar Titus Aelius Hadrianus Antoninus Augustus Pius, son of the deified Hadrianus, grandson of the deified Trajanus conqueror of Parthia, great-grandson of the deified Nerva, pontifex maximus, in his 13th year of tribunician power [150 A.D.], twice acclaimed Imperator, four times consul, father of his country, has granted to the cavalrymen and infantrymen of the Germany Army Dutiful and Loyal (PF) who have served in the 4 alae and 14 cohorts which are called Noricorum, Sulpicia CR, Africorum Veterana, I Thracum, I Flavia Hispanorum, I Latobicorum et Varcianorum, I Pannoniorum et Dalmatarum, II Civium Romanorum (CR), I Raetorum, VI Brittonum PF, II Asturum PF, I Classica PF, III and VI Breucorum, I Lucensium PF, II Varcianorum, VI Raetorum, IV Thracum, and are in Lower Germany under Salvius Iulianus, who have served 25 years, likewise soldiers of the Fleet 26 years, and have been honourably discharged, whose names are written below, Roman citizenship to those who do not have it, and the right of legal marriage with the wives they had when citizenship was given to them, or with those they later marry, but only one each.

The 13th day before the Kalends of December [November 19] in the consulship of Gaius Curtius Justus and Gaius Julius Julianus.

To Velvotigernus son of Magiotigernus, a Briton, ex-private soldier of the German Fleet Dutiful and Loyal which Marcus Ulpius Ulpianus commands.

I love the “only one wife each” stipulation.

There are only 800 Roman fleet diplomas known to exist, and most of them are incomplete because the children of the recipient would break off pieces to use as proof of their citizenship. Because this is the only complete example found in Britain, it is of enormous archaeological and historical import. Even so, the plates fell through a loophole in the UK’s Treasure Act: the only complete Roman fleet diploma ever discovered in Britain is not made of precious metal, therefore it’s not official treasure and the finder can dispose of it as he wishes. This is the same loophole that allowed the spectacular Crosby-Garret helmet to be sold to the highest bidder at auction instead of in a museum. Thankfully in this case the finder agreed to sell the diploma plates to the Museum of Archaeology at Durham University and split the proceeds with the landowner.

As of July 20th, Velvotigernus’ fleet diploma is on permanent display the museum’s Palace Green Library.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

BOD Seeks Nominations for Committee Members

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-07-21 21:14

The Board of Directors is seeking nominations from the populace for individuals to serve as members of the following Board Committees:

Youth Activities Committee
Mission: Completion of design and implementation of YAFA programs.

Risk Management Committee
Mission: to oversee insurance, legal, and related matters.

If you are interested in serving on any of these Committees, please send a letter of interest, together with your SCA and mundane resumes to Richard Sherman (rsherman@director.sca.org).

If you would like additional information, or have any questions about the Committees or the nomination process please contact Mr. Sherman or the Corporate Office.


Filed under: Announcements, Corporate

Paladin’s Pantry at Pennsic

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-07-21 19:31

PALADIN’S PANTRY RIDES AGAIN!

Dear Gentles,

Have you ever found yourself with more to pack at the end of Pennsic then you did when you set out from home, only to find that your vehicle seems to have shrunk? Is your kitchen area full of boxes of cereal, pasta, jars of peanut butter, and jugs of bottled water you can’t remember buying?

Never fear! The annual Paladin’s Pantry Food Drive is here to help by conveying your camp’s extra food and drink to a local food bank. Just drop any unopened foodstuffs or beverages (no alcohol, please) at one of our handy collection points:

  • Æthelmearc Royal (N04) Next to Pennsic University
  • Atlantia Royal (N40) Near the Gothic Abbey
  • Northshield Royal (E02) Across from Soalr Showers
  • Trimaris Royal (W17) Runestone and Great Middle Highway
  • Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands (N10) Central Serengeti
  • Barony of Bhakail (N11) Corner of Brewer’s and Fletcher
  • House Sable Maul (N29) Count Jehan’s Bounty
  • Puffin’s Rock Inn (N01) Next to Great Hall
  • Barony of Blackstone Mountain (E04)
  • Venshavn (E24) Next to Wulfden’s Back Door
  • Clan Blue Feather (E12) Slope of Horde Hill
  • House Akeru Thunder (E17) Hill Road
  • The Lusty Wench Tavern (E17) Across from Chalk Man Pub
  • The Chalk Man Pub (E17) Hill Road and Good Intentions
  • House Finisterre (B09) Far West Side
  • House Iron Lance (W13) Base of Runestone Hill
  • Maison Rive (Merchant Space 23) Across from Cooper’s Store
  • Offices of the Pennsic Independent –Top of Runestone Hill
  • Herald’s Point (Low Road, next to playground)

In addition, this year the program will be collecting used tents, sleeping bags, cots, and rain gear, (especially those in child sizes), which will serve no one in a dumpster, to benefit the homeless.

Exercise your charity, lighten your load, and help members of the community that has made us so welcome over the years!

Please direct any questions to Lord Alexander of Ayr (301.401.2045) or Master Morien MacBain (304.283.5640).

Paladin’s Pantry: We put the “large” in “largesse”!


Categories: SCA news sites

Date Change for Pennsic First Authorizations

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-07-21 08:29

The last date to authorize in heavy combat for Pennsic has been changed to Saturday, July 22, per the Pennsic website here.

You have two more days!

Note: The Æthelmearc Authorizations Clerk, THLady Ursula of Rouen, says if you authorize this weekend, she cannot guarantee that you’ll receive your authorization card before Pennsic, so you should plan to bring the paper copy with you. To speed processing, you can scan your paperwork, including the signed waiver, and email it to her at ursula.of.rouen@gmail.com.

Fighters at Pennsic. Photo by Lady Àine ny Allane.


Categories: SCA news sites

9-year-old boy trips over Stegomastodon tusk

History Blog - Thu, 2017-07-20 23:01

Nine-year-old Jude Sparks was hiking with his family in the desert of Las Cruces, New Mexico, last November testing walkie-talkies with his younger brothers when he tripped on something and fell. He thought it looked like petrified wood at first, but its shape seemed more animal than plant. Could it be that classic of desert art, the cow skull? That’s what his little brother Hunter thought. Jude’s parents thought it looked more elephant-like. They looked it up when they got home and none of the elephant skulls they found online matched the object Jude had stumbled on, so they emailed a photo of the find to Peter Houde, professor of biology at New Mexico State University (NMSU), in the hope he might be able to identify it.

Houde recognized it at a glance as the fossilized skull of a Stegomastodon, a large elephantine animal that roamed North America in the Pliocene era about five million to 28,000 years before the present. This particular specimen is approximately 1.2 million years old, and even though it’s from one of the more common species of extinct elephants that inhabited the area, as far as Houde knows it’s only the second complete Stegomastodon skull discovered in New Mexico.

Jude had tripped over one of its tusks and faceplanted in front of the lower mandible. He could see the second tusk a little ways away. It was an incredibly fortuitous stumble, because the fossil had only recently been exposed by heavy rains. Had it been exposed to the elements any longer, it would have crumbled to dust. Houde saw to it that the exposed fossils parts — the jaw and both tusks — were removed to NMSU’s Vertebrate Museum for their protection. After securing the permission of the landowner (the exact location of the find is being kept under wraps at his request) and the hardening chemicals necessary to preserve the fossil in situ, Peter Houde and a team of professors and students excavated the rest of the skull this May. The Sparks family was given the opportunity to join in the excavation, which is going to be hard to top as family excursions go.

Houde applauded the Sparks family’s decision to do the right thing in contacting him about their find. He encourages others who might come across fossils to reach out to an expert rather than try to dig it up on their own.

“As you can imagine, when people find out about these things, they might be tempted to go out there and see what they might find themselves and tear up the land or they might hurt themselves,” Houde said. “To be quite honest, all these fossils from this area are radioactive and especially for children, not something you would want in your home.”

Houde estimates the jaw weighs about 120 pounds and the entire skull as little as a ton. And while the skull may appear to be strong, it is quite delicate.

“The upper part of the skull is deceiving. It’s mostly hollow and the surface of the skull is eggshell thin,” Houde said. “You can imagine an extremely large skull would be very heavy for the animal if it didn’t have air inside it to lighten it up just like our own sinuses. That makes the thing extremely fragile and the only thing holding it together is the sediment surrounding it.

“In fact when the sediments are removed from the sides of them, they start to fall apart immediately and literally fall into tiny, tiny bits. It has to be done carefully by somebody who knows how to go about doing it. It is a very deliberate process that takes a little bit of time.”

The team spent a week excavating the skull, brushing it with the hardening chemicals to make it possible to remove it without damaging the delicate fossil. Once it was fully exposed, the skull was coated with a layer of plaster and reinforced with wood braces for support. It was raised by a tractor onto a flatbed truck and transported to New Mexico State University.

In the NMSU laboratory the skull will be studied, analyzed and reconstructed. The process is a painstaking one and it will likely take years before the complete skull is pieced back together and stabilized so it can be put on public display.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Æthelmearc Royal Setup and Breakdown

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-07-20 20:20

Aethelmearc Royal encampment, a few years past. Photo credit, Aoife

A call for volunteers from the Æthelmearc War Chamberlain, Master Janos:

It is the end of July. The smell of fresh duct tape and the cursing of people sewing permeates the air… War looms on the horizon. SCAdians across the globe check lists, pack, re-pack and hope that their travel plans will get them all the way to Cooper’s Lake for yet another Pennsic War.

The Kingdom of Æthelmearc will yet again set up its own presence to create a space where meetings can be held, stories can be told, artisans can show off their skills and scribes can teach their techniques. Creating this environment takes some effort; effort made easier when many hands come out to help.

This year, we are continuing a system set up last year that seemed to work very well, minimizing the impact on volunteers’ time while also allowing Æthelmearc Royal to be set up quickly and efficiently. Æthelmearc needs you to help out with the following:

Sunday July 30th
9:30AM to 12:00PM (Noon)

Truck Crew at the Trailer
Needed: 8 Persons (able to lift and carry)

This team meets out at the Æthelmearc Trailer (near the archery field) to offload the big trailer into the box truck that has been rented to shuttle things over to N04 (Royal). We offload the whole trailer; so this team quickly moves items to the truck, and waits while a small team empties the rental truck at N04 and then returns. This process usually takes about three trips and this team is be released at noon.

11:30 AM to 4:30PM

Ground Crew at Æthelmearc Royal
Needed: Many Hands Make Light Work (all skills and abilities)

This team meets at Æthelmearc Royal and sets up the encampment according to an orchestrated plan. Individuals set up pavilions, dig a sump, and finally erect the sheet wall that proudly identifies Æthelmearc’s heart at Pennsic. The Scribal tents, the main gate, meeting tent and other community spaces are created during this time. Refreshments are provided to keep this small army of workers hydrated and this activity will end at 4:30PM, allowing those that need to drive home or finish up things at their home encampments time to do so before supper.

Friday August 11th
10:00AM to 3:00PM

Ground Crew at Æthelmearc Royal
Needed: Many Hands Make Light Work (all skills and abilities)

We undo all the work done at set up, carefully packing and stowing the canvas and walls for another year of time in the trailer. Orchestrated again by a “foreperson” on the ground, items are made ready to be loaded back onto the rental truck to make the trip back to the trailer. As before, refreshments will be provided to keep workers safe. This session often has fewer people show up as there are battles and other morning activities still happening on Friday. Thus we need more folks to show up to this so that the camp can be packed up before people start heading home.

1:30PM to 4:00PM

Truck Crew
Needed: 8 Persons (able to lift and carry)

The encampment having been packed up, needs to be picked up and transported back to the trailer. A small crew rides the truck to assist with loading at Æthelmearc Royal as the rest of the crew waits at the trailer to pack things back away. We are trying to schedule this so that those who have had fought in the morning will have time to grab a bite to eat to help out afterwards.

Æthelmearc needs your help to set up and break down this communal space. If you are able and willing to assist please reach out to Master Janos (caseyodonovan@yahoo.com), especially if you want to be on the truck crews. You need not pre-register for this, though! Come on by during the ground crew times to assist! Thank you in advance for your help, and we look forward to seeing you in a few weeks. Until then safe journeys!


Categories: SCA news sites

From Their Majesties: the SCA Anti-Harassment Policy

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-07-20 10:21

Their Majesties have made the following announcement regarding the new SCA Anti-Harassment policy:

Unto Æthelmearc do Timothy and Gabrielle send greetings,

By now you are likely at least aware that the Society’s Board of Directors has issued a policy on harassment. While it is a bit broad and vague, We feel it is a necessary thing, and a good first step.

I have heard many voice a concern We share, that of the potential for this policy to be abused.

We would like to try and set those concerns at rest, if possible. In Æthelmearc, our Seneschal is Duke Christopher. It is his responsibility to handle these cases. It has been our experience that he is not prone to rash decisions or snap judgments. Hopefully long before his term is up, this policy has been fleshed out a bit, and he will have written policies for his office that make the chain of escalation one that will permanently set our minds at ease.

This is a good thing, and long overdue.

Timothy and Gabrielle

The policy may be found here: 

The SCA Harassment and Bullying Policy

 


Categories: SCA news sites

Æthelmearc Rocks!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-07-20 09:07

By Dame Aoife Finn

This summer across the country and around the world, people in random communities are sharing a hide and seek art project with complete and unknown strangers, to delight and support one another. A seemingly simple idea has had far reaching consequences. For some, it is a fun game. For some, an act of mindfulness. One participant just last week posted a message on Facebook telling her story, that she suffered with a chronic pain disorder, and had found a little painted stone in a public place with a simple but direct supportive message. That stone interrupted her thoughts of self-harm. You never know who will find your work, or what it might mean to them.

This whole movement, of leaving painted or decorated rocks for others to find, began in memory of two small girls from Oregon, aged 6 and 11. You can read the story of Anna and Abigail here. But it blossomed from there. My own town, Honesdale, PA, participates in a big way, an estimated 10% of the population following the Facebook page. Towns and cities outside the county began to join in. Soon, people traveling began painting and hiding and moving found rocks to other communities, sometimes many hundreds of miles away as they traveled.

As I watched my little town embrace the larger ideal, the sharing of mutual, anonymous delight and art and love for fellow humans that Love Rocks has become, an idea was born. You see, the issue being expressed in the Love Rocks movement is that love never dies. Perhaps your love is for your art, or for your dog, for your favorite shoes, for your past-times, for your kids or spouse or ancestry. Or maybe your love is for the annual vacation you take at Cooper’s Lake Campground in Pennsylvania every year.

One of the biggest acts of love, for lack of a better phrase, that happens every year, is Pennsic. Volunteers, attendees, and merchants from around the globe all come here, to the sponsoring Kingdom of Æthelmearc, to participate in something they love to do with the people they adore, in ways that are difficult to explain to the world. That’s okay, we do it, we work and volunteer and welcome the world because we love it, too. From no kingdom are there more participants and volunteers than here at Pennsic’s home, Æthelmearc, though it’s often a very close race. Thinking about our hard-working kingdom, often dubbed “The Friendliest Kingdom in the Known World,” the idea of Æthelmearc Rocks was born. If folks can leave Love Rocks in Greece, in Paris, in Africa, and on the Great Wall of China, why not at Pennsic? It’s all about our love of the unique community we purposefully create every year at Cooper’s Lake.

Isabelle and Elizabeth Von Halstern model the Æthelmearc Rocks they created to bring to Pennsic. (Photos courtesy of their mother, Duchess Ilish Von Halstern). Rock-painting will be just one activity available at the always-awesome Æthelmearc Children’s Party on Sunday August 6th in Æthelmearc Royal Encampment, from 5:30 to 7:00 PM.

What is Æthelmearc Rocks? It’s two things, actually. It’s an artistic hide and seek game at Pennsic, and it’s a Facebook page dedicated to the game.

Who can play? Anyone who wishes can play. Any age, any interested, any family-friendly message or artwork or sentiment.

How do you play? Anyone who happens upon a decorated rock at Pennsic can relocate that rock, and the hope is that they will be inspired to decorate another rock in family friendly style (children will be playing, too) to hide in whimsical places in plain sight for others to find. Every other part of the game is optional. People are free to keep one or two of their favorite rocks, and should feel free to post selfies with a found rock or hints about new locations. Anyone can create decorated rocks, as many as they want, at any skill level of decoration. Rocks should be placed in public areas only, and should be out of the common footpath to avoid falls. There are no prizes, it’s all about sharing appreciation and art (and bragging rights). For a better description, see the FaceBook page, “Æthelmearc Rocks!

How do you make the Rocks? Rocks may be any easy to carry size, and can be decorated in many different ways from paint to permanent marker to decoupage to incised. You can decorate rocks at home to bring, or paint some at Pennsic while you’re there. Rocks should be weather-resistant enough to stay colorful for the 2 weeks of Pennsic. Many people find acrylic paint an inexpensive medium for their rocks.

We ask two items be included on every rock:

Any skill level of decoration is welcome.

1. As a thank you to the Kingdom of Æthelmearc for hosting Pennsic and its citizens for working so hard every year, please make an Escarbuncle a part of the design in some fashion, large or small. An Escarbuncle looks a lot like an eight armed snowflake (or the Chaos symbol) when big or an asterisk when small. Find an Æthelmearc banner, and you’ll find an Escarbuncle. Other than that, decorate as you wish in some sort of SCA or related historical style, but please keep it PG-13. If you want your rock to live on after Pennsic, a light coat of clear acrylic, polyurethane, or clear nail polish would be a good idea. That rock may travel to other kingdoms!

2. On the back or side of the rock (marker may be easiest), please write “Facebook: Æthelmearc Rocks!” so folks have a chance to look up the game if they don’t know about it and happen upon your decorated treasure. Small rocks may need the word Facebook abbreviated to “FB.”

What happens to the rocks? Most rocks go unsigned, so artists may have posted their works on the FaceBook page as well, hoping to follow their progress from hand to hand. At the end of Pennsic you can leave your rocks in place or take some home. It’s up to you.

These rocks await a clear coat to protect the art from the weather.


Categories: SCA news sites

Mummy in Buddha statue goes to court

History Blog - Wed, 2017-07-19 23:17

Two years ago, a 1,000-year-old statue of the Buddha made headlines when a striking CT scan exposed the mummified monk within. The statue was scanned at a hospital in Amsterdam when it was in the country to take part in the Mummies exhibition at the Drents Museum in Assen, the Netherlands. The exhibition proffered the Buddha statue as an example of the extreme practice of self-mummification, in which Buddhist monks spent years starving and poisoning themselves before having themselves walled into a constricted space to die. If three years later their bodies were found mummified, they were considered to have attained the rank of Buddha and their remains were venerated.

According to the information on the exhibition’s website and labels, the monk sealed in the statue was believed to be Master Liuquan of the Chinese Meditation School, aka Zen Buddhism, who died around 1100 A.D. There was no evidence offered in support of this surprisingly specific identification, nor were there any details about who owned the statue. The press materials alluded to this being the first time the statue was allowed to leave China and that it was the only Chinese Buddhist mummy made available for scientific study in the West.

Well, that may all be a big bunch of lies, or at least misinformation of the “Swiss private collection” variety to act as a smokescreen for some very shady dealings in stolen cultural heritage. A lawsuit currently in the Dutch courts presents an entirely different ownership history and identification of the statue and mummy. The plaintiff is the tea-farming mountain village of Yangchun in southeastern Chinese province of Fujian which claims the statue was stolen from a temple there in 1995. The defendant is a Dutch collector, who bought the statue and the human remains it contains in Hong Kong in 1996.

In March of 2015, one of the villagers saw a photograph of the statue on display at the Mummy World exhibition at Budapest’s Natural History Museum. He immediately recognized it as the Zhanggong Patriarch, a statue containing a mummified monk that he and his fellow villagers have venerated for centuries.

The lawyers will argue that according to Dutch law “a person is not allowed to have a known body in their possession,” Holthuis said.

“We also have enough evidence to prove that the statue is indeed the one that was stolen from the temple,” he added.

“The fact that it was sold a few months after it was stolen, that it contains certain texts referring to the name ‘Zhanggong’ and that its dating more or less corresponds to the period that the monk was alive,” were some of the arguments which will be presented, he said.

There are some pictures of it in the temple in 1989, and the village still has the clothes and crown the statue was wearing before the thieves stripped it. The picture alone isn’t as dispositive as you might think because of those clothes and crown. They obscure some of the identifying detail of the statue which has been displayed without its traditional accessories in the mummies exhibitions.

According to centuries of village tradition, the statue contains the remains of a monk named Zhang who moved to the village with his mother when he was a boy during the Song dynasty (960–1279). He went from cowherd to Buddhist monk to a gilded mummy worshipped by generations of residents. (There is no suggestion of self-mummification. He was mummified after his death as an indication of the great esteem in which he was held, an account that is consistent with the discovery that his organs had been removed and replaced with paper fill.) The villagers prayed to him at all major festivals and seasonal events. Each year the statue was transported through the village stopping at every house, and the monk’s birthday was celebrated every year with a grand festival. The village’s ancestral records seemingly confirm the oral history; they document the presence of the Patriarch as early as the Song Dynasty.

The theft of the Zhanggong Patriarch was devastating to the villagers. Some of the older residents had risked their lives to protect him from the iconoclastic marauders of the Cultural Revolution. The statue was kept constantly on the move for its safety, hidden in pits and people’s homes, sometimes moved twice in a night. They put a replica in his place, a rather rough grey version of the elegant gilded original, and the villagers still pray to it.

There’s one big problem. Nobody knows where the statue is right now. Apparently the collector, Dutch architect Oscar van Overeem, traded it with somebody in 2015 and he’s not saying who. The timing of this swap is curious, especially in the light of van Overeem’s strenuous denial that his mummy was the Zhanggong Patriarch. He insisted that he had easily disproven the village’s claim to the Chinese representative who contacted him to negotiate repatriation, but worked out a deal anyway to donate the statue to an unnamed Buddhist temple near Yangchun. He had struck this bargain, he said in May of 2015, “because he believed it deserved to return to its homeland ‘to be incorporated in truly Buddhist surroundings’ and worshiped ‘by those who love and appreciate him.'”

So in May of 2015, the collector believed that the mummy deserved to be home among those who love and pray to him, but I guess that belief wasn’t all that strongly held because the statue and mummy are not in any Buddhist temple near Yangchun. It’s nowhere to be found. Whoever the third party is has little incentive to come forward, so even if the village wins in court — which would be a landmark decision for Chinese cultural patrimony repatriation because it would be the first time a heritage object is returned due to the courts rather than through diplomatic channels — it could still be left bereft of its beloved Zhanggong Patriarch.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #20: Knit Purses in 14thC Switzerland

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-07-19 16:08

Our twentieth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lady Tola knitýr, of the Shire of Quintavia. She examines the history and background of these beautiful small purses, and then demonstrates how they can be made by a skilled modern craftsperson. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Knit Purses in 14thC Switzerland

Detail of Lady Tola’s reconstruction of a fourteenth-century knitted purse.

Table of Contents
I. Historical Overview of Knitting
II. Textiles and Religion
III. The Knit Purses of Sion and Chur
IV. Recreating a Sion-style purse
V. Conclusion
VI. References

I. Historical Overview of Knitting

The oldest items that can be truly defined as knit (rather than made with naalbinding techniques), are knitted cotton fragments from Egypt, approximately 11th to 12th Century.  Slightly later, but still in Egypt, knit cotton socks appear, with museum authorities estimating that they were made somewhere from 1200-1500.  These Egyptian pieces were the first knit in stockinette stitch in the round, where a tube is knit with needles that are pointed on both ends.  In The History of Handknitting, Richard Rutt indicates that these were almost certainly knit with rods, that may have been hooked.  Very few extant knitting needles have been found, which may be a result of the simplicity of double-pointed needles, but an excavation in York discovered two copper alloy rods with a rounded point on each end, dated to the late 14th century, that scholars suggest may have been used as knitting needles.

Copper alloy knitting needles, photo from The Archaeology of York 17/15, Finds from Medieval York, Craft, Industry and Everyday Life, Patrick Ottaway and Nicola Rogers, p. 2743.

In Europe, the earliest knit pieces appeared in the mid to late 13th century, as a Spanish glove, Spanish cushion covers, and a mitten fragment from Estonia. Following these pieces are five knitted purses from Sion, Switzerland and a sixth purse found in Chur, in the German-speaking eastern Switzerland.  All six are dated to the 14th century.  The purses were all knit with silk thread, very finely knitted from the top down, closed at the bottom with a three-needle bind-off, and usually used two colors at a time to create a pattern.

A number of paintings in the middle ages show Mary, mother of Jesus, knitting with double pointed needles.  The “knitting Madonnas” lead me to believe that at this time, knitting was done by women in the home, rather than in guilds, as was the case towards the end of the Middle Ages.

Detail from the right panel of the Buxtehude Altar, Master Bertram, c. 1400

“Madonna dell’Umiltà”, Vitale da Bologna, c. 1353.

Detail from “The Holy Family”, Ambrogio Lorenzetti, c. 1345

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II. Textiles and Religion

Across Europe, the Roman Catholic church was a vital part of life in the Middle Ages.  The papal states in Italy were the seat of power, and became independent from the Holy Roman Empire, which allowed the church to hold land as a sovereign entity. Massive landholdings as well as financial gifts to the church in the form of tithing helped the church become powerful politically.  Because of the great importance and wealth of the church, the finest materials were used in furnishing churches and clothing the clergy.  Precious metals like gold and silver, as well as luxurious silk, ivory, and gems, were crafted into decorations, vestments, and reliquaries used to hold the remains of holy places, saints, or items they had touched.  Because of the importance of the church to this day, many textiles in the form of garments and reliquaries were preserved through the ages.

Detail from “Altarpiece of the Virgin and Saint George”, c. 1400, Lluis Borrassa, showing girls working on embroideries for the Church.

Many of these textiles were created by women, both nuns and laywomen, to show their piety and devotion to the church.  Because of the importance of the textiles, which were largely in the form of intricate embroidered items, the Church kept detailed records of many of these donations.  In some cases, it is unclear as to whether the names of the women who donated the textile items were the artisans, or commissioned the pieces for the church.  Many Queens, such as Queen Matilda, wife of William the Conqueror, are listed as the donors of embroidered items.  Queen Margaret of Scotland even established a workshop for noble women to gather and create religious textiles.  While embroidery gets most of the attention in historical study and recreation, a number of church textiles were also knitted items.

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III. The knit purses of Sion and Chur

The city of Sion is home to the oldest Roman Catholic diocese in Switzerland.  Historical records reflect bishops there as early as the 4th Century.  Several churches have stood in Sion over the centuries, and construction on the present-day cathedral began in 1450.

In the early 20th Century, Ernst Alfred Stückelberg was granted access to relics in the treasury of the cathedral of Sion.  Stückelberg was a professor of Christian antiquarian studies at the University of Basel as well as a researcher and lecturer of Christian archaeology and monuments.  Stückelberg’s essays do not detail the excavation of the artifacts, which could provide greater context for the items, but we do know that one of the items that he found was a wooden chest studded with gold-plated silver, which contained five knitted purses.  During the Middle Ages, purses were used for both secular and religious purposes.  The Sion purses are thought to have been used as reliquary bags, to hold the remains of saints.

Sion chest, from Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen Und Klöstern Der Schweiz: Katalog, p. 283.

The Sion purses appear in Richard Rutt’s A History of Handknitting, but were first studied by Brigitta Schmedding in Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen Und Klöstern Der Schweiz (Medieval Textiles in Churches and Monasteries of Switzerland).  Schmedding had a doctorate from the University of Freiburg, having written her dissertation on the Romanesque Madonnas of Switzerland in the 12th and 13th century, and also graduated from the Abegg Foundation’s three-year training in textile preservation.  The purses are currently located in the Château de Valère, the historical museum in Sion.  I have attempted to contact the staff of the museum to obtain color pictures of the purses, but have not received any response.

Schmedding also studied a sixth purse, found in Chur, Switzerland, which is generally referred to as the Chur purse and is strikingly similar to the Sion purses.  Both Schmedding and Rutt conclude that the purses likely came from the same creator or workshop due to the similarities.  I believe that these purses were likely knit by one woman, who then gave them to the church, since they are very similar and could represent devotion to the church.

The purses were all knit with silk thread, very finely knitted from the top down, closed at the bottom with a three-needle bind-off, and usually used two colors at a time to create a pattern.  Schmedding indicates that the threads are s-spun (spun in a clockwise manner), but does not indicate whether they were singles or plied.  Silk thread from the same time period used in embroidery and sewing was 2-ply, with the single threads Z-spun and the two threads plied together with an S-spin.

Diagram of yarn structure, courtesy Britannica Online.

For the technique, Schmedding describes the knit in the round technique, describes the bottom of the purse being laid flat and knit together, and indicates that it was probably knit on a frame.  Her description of the bottom of the purse matches the technique of a three-needle bind off, which is a technique used to join two pieces of knitting that are still on the needles, essentially binding off the stitches and seaming them together at the same time.  With regard to Schmedding’s suggestion of a frame, the stocking knitting frame was not invented until 1589.  There are, however, images of double-pointed knitting needles in art from the Middle Ages, as referenced earlier, so I would conclude that these purses were likely knit on double-pointed knitting needles.

The following analysis relies mostly on Schmedding, but also references Rutt.  Since Rutt’s names for the bags are simpler, each bag is referenced first with Rutt’s naming convention, then Schmedding’s, with the associated catalog number.  I also created my own charts, because I found that I was not satisfied with Rutt’s interpretations (and Schmedding doesn’t have any charts).  Rutt’s charts can serve as a starting point, but close examination of photos often reveals mistakes or omissions.  There is even a case where he indicates different colors on a purse than Schmedding describes, and as Schmedding had documented hands-on experience restoring the purses, I am inclined to trust her conclusions over his. All photos are taken from Mittelalterliche Textilien in Kirchen Und Klöstern Der Schweiz: Katalog; the charts that follow each description are my own.

Sion relic-purse I (268 Reliquary bag), p. 285

Measurements: Bag is 27 cm x 24 cm (10.6” x 9.4”) Fringe is 17 cm (6.7”) Pattern repeat is 2.7 cm x 1.6 cm (1.1” x 0.6”)
Gauge: 70 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”) (a note about gauge – knitting gauge is measured by the number of stitches and the number of rows in a 10 cm x 10 cm or 4” x 4” square)
Colors: Red, light green, light blue, white, beige

                                                                                                                              Sion relic-purse II (271 Reliquary bag), p. 287


Measurements: Bag is 31.5 cm x 26 cm (12.4” x 10.2”) Fringe is 16 cm (6.3”)
Gauge: 80 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Violet, red, light green, white, beige, light blue

Sion relic-purse III (269 Reliquary bag), p. 286

Measurements: Bag is 23 cm x 19.5 cm (9.1” x 7.7”) Fringe is 16 cm (6.3”) Pattern repeat is 7.4 cm x 1.9 cm (2.9” x 0.75”)
Gauge: 50-60 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Violet, red, light green, light blue, white, beige

Sion relic-purse IV (272 Reliquary bag), p. 288

Measurements: Bag is 20.6 cm x 19 cm (8.1” x 7.5”) Fringe is 14 cm (5.5”) Pattern repeat is 3 cm x 1.7 cm (1.2” x 0.67”)
Gauge: 70 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Violet, white, beige, light green

Sion relic-purse V (270 Fragment of a reliquary bag), p. 287

Measurements: Fragment is 20.5 cm x 21.8 cm (8.1” x 8.6”) Fringe is not present, because the lower half of the bag is missing. Pattern repeat is 6.5 cm x 2.3 cm (2.6” x 0.9”)
Gauge: 75 stitches and 90 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Red, light green, beige, white, violet, light blue

Chur purse (92 Reliquary bag), p. 91

Measurements: Bag is 34 cm x 24.5 cm (13.4” x 9.6”) Fringe is 13 cm (5.1”) Pattern repeat is 12 cm x 12-13 cm (4.7” x 5.1”)
Gauge: 90 stitches and 70 rows = 10 cm (4”)
Colors: Red, light blue, dark blue, white, beige, green

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IV. Recreating a Sion-style purse

I chose Sion relic-purse III for my first attempt at recreating one of the Sion purses.  To get the appropriate gauge (50-60 st to 10 cm/4”), I needed to use size 00000 (5/0) needles, which are 1 mm in diameter.  For reference, the knitting website Ravelry has a database of over 400,000 patterns, with the largest percentage of patterns using size 6 needles.  On size 6 needles, a knitter could reasonably expect to get 21-24 stitches to 10 centimeters.  When using standard commercial yarn, even the smallest common gauge range, for size 000-1 needles, is approximately 33-40 stitches to 10 centimeters.

Detail of Sion III reconstruction with penny for scale. Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

For the thread, I chose Halcyon Yarn’s 2/30 Gemstone Silk.  The 2/30 designation indicates that it is 2-ply and the single plies equal 30 times the standard length of 560 yards, or 16,800 yards.  The larger the second number is, the thinner the yarn is. This yarn was also spun in the same way as silk threads from the time period of the Sion purses, with a Z-spun single and the two threads plied together with an S-spin.

With metal knitting needles and silk thread, there is little resistance to keep the stitches on the needles.  The needles I had on hand were 4” long, so I would recommend longer needles or a circular needle (though not period, it makes things a lot easier) to alleviate the slipping issues.  There are also not point protectors in small enough sizes for 5/0 needles, so I cut pieces of a cork to use for that purpose.

About halfway through knitting the bag, I realized that working the ends of the yarn in as I knit the bag would save me a lot of weaving in work in the end.  There are multiple ways of doing this, but my main technique was just carrying the ends along as if they were part of the colorwork, and twisting them behind the working yarn every three or so stitches.  Some of the different ways to work the ends in can be found here.

To finish the bag, I wove in and trimmed all of the ends, and then blocked the bag.  Blocking serves two purposes – to gently shape the knit object, and to even out stitches.  To block the bag, I soaked it in water and then used metal rods woven through the stitches to shape it into an even rectangle, then let it air dry.  The blocking made a big difference in the appearance of the purse.  After it was blocked, I attached 12 tassels, then used fingerloop braiding to make a drawstring and a carrying loop.  The only pictures I have found of this particular purse are in black and white, but a picture of the Chur purse shows that the tassels, drawstring, and loop were all made of multiple colors, so I concluded that they could be the same on this purse.  It is unclear from the pictures what technique was used to make the strings, so I decided to use fingerloop braiding, since I already knew how to fingerloop braid.  The drawstrings are “A Round Lace of 5 Loops” and the carrying loop is “A Broad Lace of 5 Loops,” both of which were found on medieval purses.

Sion III reconstruction, complete.  Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

After completing the purse, I discovered that my purse measured considerably smaller than the original.  Sion Purse III measured approximately 9.1″ x 7.7″ and my recreation measured 5.75″ x 5.25″.  The vertical repeats were the same, the horizontal repeats were the same.  I measured the gauge of my purse, and it had a gauge of 88 st and 92 rows = 4″.  The extant piece had a gauge of 50-60 st and 70 rows = 4″.  I realized that the gauge swatch I had knit was in one color.  When knitting colorwork (two or more colors), the knitting will tend to have tighter gauge than when knitting with a single color.  Lesson learned: Knit your gauge swatch in the same manner as you will knit your project.  If it’s in the round, do it in the round (which I did).  If it’s colorwork, do it in colorwork (which I did not).  I could have knit this project with needles the next size up, if not larger.  However, The Sion and Chur purses do vary in gauge, and one purse has gauge of 75 st and 90 rows = 4″ while another has gauge of 90 st and 70 rows = 4″.  So while my gauge is not accurate for the specific purse I was recreating, it is historically accurate for other knit purses.

My next goal is handspinning silk to knit a purse of my own design.  Silkworm cocoons have been used to make silk for thousands of years, and there are two basic varieties: wild and cultivated.  Wild silkworms, since they feed on whatever leaves happen to be available, do not produce a uniform fiber.  They are also usually harvested after the silkworm has emerged from its cocoon, so the cocoon can not be harvested as a single thread, but results in multiple pieces and makes it more difficult to process for spinning purposes.  Cultivated silkworms may be referred to as Bombyx (their scientific name) or Mulberry (after their food source), and produce a much finer and smoother fiber.  These silkworms have been bred in controlled environments for over 5,000 years.  Since they only eat Mulberry leaves, there is much greater consistency across cocoons, and the silk is harvested before the silkworm emerges, so the cocoon can be processed in one unbroken strand.  I was interested in what the difference really looked like when thread was spun and knit, so I tested it out.  In the below picture, the reddish pink is a wild silk, and the white is a cultivated silk.  The difference between the two types is readily apparent when presented side-by-side.  To make the most reliable comparison, I spun and plied each silk within days of each other, trying for the thinnest spin I could manage without breaking, and knit them on the same size needles.  The wild silk was more difficult to spin, and spun thicker despite my attempts to draft it to a smaller thread.  It was dyed, which the cultivated was not, but it was commercially dyed, so the process shouldn’t have affected the fibers in an adverse manner.

Detail of knitted handspun silk sample, with penny for scale.  Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

In addition to the handspinning, I also decided to try my hand at natural dyeing.  I have done a couple experiments with natural dyes, namely with black walnut hulls, alkanet root, and onion skins, using alum as a mordant.  Mordants are used to help dyes adhere to the fiber, and alum was a commonly used mordant in the middle ages.  All three of the dyestuffs I used were available and used during the middle ages.  The alkanet root and black walnut hulls were purchased as powders, and I gathered the onion skins to create the dyebath myself.  In the below images, the smaller skeins are commercially spun silk while the larger skeins are my handspun.  From left to right, the colors were obtained with alkanet root, black walnut hulls, and onion skins.  My next step with this project will be charting a design with a medieval aesthetic and knitting a purse with my own handspun and natural dyed silk.

Commercial and handspun silk skeins. The purple is dyed with alkanet root, the pale brown with black walnut hulls.  Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

Commercial and handspun silk skein, dyed with onion skins. Photo by Lady Tola knitýr.

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V. Conclusion

The knit purses that were found in Sion and Chur, Switzerland and dated to the 14th Century were likely reliquary bags, used to hold important religious objects.  They were made from silk, a prized material, and were found with other religious items in cathedrals.  Because several paintings of the same period depict Madonna knitting, I believe that they are the work of a woman, who made them to show her devotion to the church.  Because they have slightly different gauges, they were likely knit over many years, or with different sized needles.  They are intricately designed, finely knit, and show a high level of skill.  The knitter who created them likely also made other objects, since colorwork knitting and knitting on very small needles are skills that take considerable time and practice to get to a competent level.

VI. References

Barber, E.J.W. Prehistoric Textiles: The Development of Cloth in the Neolithic and Bronze Ages with Special Reference to the Aegean. New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1991.

Benns, Elizabeth, and Gina Barrett. Tak v Bowes Departed: A 15th Century Braiding Manual Examined. Great Britain: Soper Lane, 2005.

Boehm, Barbara Drake. “Relics and Reliquaries in Medieval Christianity.” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. (originally published October 2001, last revised April 2011). 14 May 2017.

Crowfoot, Elisabeth, Frances Pritchard, and Kay Staniland. Textiles and Clothing, C.1150-c.1450. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK: Boydell, 2006.

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Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences

On Target: Backyard Backstops

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-07-19 11:22

This month, we have a question and answer from Hereward of Richmond. Hereward wrote me about do-it-yourself backstops.

I use four sheets of cardboard and one sheet of Coroplast, a corrugated plastic used for signs. It’s slightly stronger than cardboard and is water resistant. The pictures below show how they go together with zip ties. Note that in this picture there are only three sheets of cardboard, but I found since making this backstop that four is much better.

Remember, glue makes the cardboard harder and less arrow friendly, so you don’t want to use it. Coroplast can be found on most street corners for free because church fish fries, gun bashes, and political signs are never removed after the event. By law, the signs should be removed 10 days after the event, so on the 11th day, if you take them, you’re performing a public service.

Carefully remove the wires from the Coroplast sign before adding it to your cardboard. Then, with a little cutting and artistry, you can have a ninja.

After completing your target, take the sign wires and push them back into the Coroplast at the bottom where the ninja’s legs are. Zip tie everything together and then push the ninja into the ground standing upright.

In the picture below, we have a dark, gloomy scene on the left and a bright, sunny day on the right, both of which are backstops for the ninja.In the video below, I’m shooting a 35 pound bow at full draw at less than 10 yards into the ninja. It stops all the kinetic energy. Even if you have a blow through, the backstops behind the target stop what little energy the arrow has left.

Once again, thank you, Hereward, for the question. Next month, I’ll do even more on backyard backstops.

This month’s safety tip pertains to situations that happen at Pennsic when you have a large number of archers. If people go looking for arrows behind the nets used to stop arrows that miss the targets, they will seem to disappear, so marshals need to be alert. Here’s an example of why this is important.

Note: the arrow in this video was NOT actually fired, it was pushed through the target by hand for the purpose of demonstrating the danger to people hidden behind targets. Obviously, archers should not be firing when someone is standing behind the target.

‘Til next month.

In service,

Deryk Archer


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