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Barony of Delftwood Walks in Relay for Life

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-04-26 18:49

On April 18th, from 5 PM to 5 AM, the Barony of Delftwood walked in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life. Twenty members of the Barony wore the clothes of their persona as they walked to raise money for cancer research. They did this to honor Lord Jarrah ibn Zakariya al-Hamandani, who passed away January 27th, as well as survivors, those still fighting, those who have passed, and caregivers. “Jarrah had a huge impact on the barony in the two short years he played in the SCA. He left a hole in this barony and our hearts. The Relay has been a healing experience for all of us,” said Mistress Othindisa Bykona.

Delftwood collected over $3,844 before the event. An additional $55 was raised at the Relay as Baron Benedict Fergus atte Mede gave fencing lessons, Lord Justin Lymner sold soaps, and Lady Genevieve de Chaumont sold peacock feathers as a tribute to Jarrah’s favorite bird. Other members of the Barony pitched in by helping with set-up and tear down or bringing refreshments for the group.

Other highlights included Lady Lijsbet de Keukere “walking” with a broken ankle, THL Ruslan Igotavich Voronov’s weapons display, and Delftwood being one of the last of two teams on the track. When asked what her favorite part of the night was, “The music,” said one of the barony’s youngest members and the youngest Relay participant, Vita Cincinnatus.

Delftwood would like to thank all those who gave donations to this important cause. Donations came from across the kingdom, including from Their Majesties, Timothy and Gabrielle. It is inspirational that so many people outside the barony supported Delftwood. “We are so touched by the outpouring of support, both moral and financial, from all across the kingdom,” said Baroness Helene al-Zarqa. Delftwood finished in third place out of ninety-five teams.


Categories: SCA news sites

Viking blacksmith grave even greater than expected

History Blog - Sun, 2015-04-26 10:23

Last fall, farmer Leif Arne Nordheim borrowed his neighbor’s backhoe to remove some pesky flagstones from his garden in Sogndalsdalen on the southwestern coast of Norway. Lifting the last flagstone revealed tools — a hammer and tongs — which Nordheim first assumed were of relatively recent manufacture. When he found a bent blade, he realized it was likely archaeological and called in the county Cultural Department. Archaeologists from the University Museum of Bergen soon followed and an excavation of the find site ensued.

The find turned out to be far greater than originally realized, and the ancient blacksmith tools were impressive enough already. Archaeologists unearthed a large collection of forging tools and weapons, including three hammers of different sizes, two anvils, blacksmith tongs, coal tongs, a rake to remove coals, a tray used to add coals, a chisel, a scythe, a sickle, a drill, pieces of grindstone, nails, a single-edged sword, an axe, two arrows and a knife. Underneath the tools and products of the blacksmith trade archaeologists found more personal items: a razor, beard trimming scissors, tweezers, a frying pan and a poker.

The deepest layer of excavation contained ashes, charcoal and small bone fragments. The pieces of bone haven’t been identified yet, but archaeologists believe they are human remains, likely the blacksmith owner of the marvelous tools above. Between the ashes and bones fragments, researchers found the objects that the deceased was probably wearing when his body was cremated: beads and a bone comb.

In total the excavation yielded about 60 artifacts and 150 assorted fragments. Forging tools have been found in graves before, but this is an exceptionally rich collection for a blacksmith burial. Indeed, it’s the richest burial, blacksmith or not, found in the area in years.

“We think that the blacksmiths’ contemporaries wished to show how skilful he was in his work by including such an extensive amount of objects. He might have forged many of these tools himself.”

“The grave gives the impression that this was a local blacksmith and he enjoyed a high status in his society beyond being his trade,” says [co-leader the excavation Asle Bruen] Olsen.

The design of the axe and some of the other metal objects dated them to the 8th or 9th century A.D. Subsequent radiocarbon dating confirmed the date of the burial to be around 800 A.D.

The artifacts are currently being conserved by experts at the University Museum of Bergen. Once they’re stabilized they will go on display, possibly in a dedicated exhibition. Incidentally, the University Museum of Bergen has a neat Instagram account, incidentally. As always, I wish the pictures were bigger, but the highlights from the museum’s collection are fascinating.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

On Target: Making Styrofoam Heads

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-04-25 17:10

Archery season is upon us! This is the first in what we hope will be a series of articles by THLord Deryk Archer on how to make various types of novelty targets for SCA archery practices and competitions.

Greetings. I am THLord Deryk Archer, and I have been an archery marshal for 20 years.

As much fun as archery can be, shooting at novelty targets takes the sport to another level. Today I’ll start with how to make styrofoam heads.

THLord Deryk Archer with one of his styrofoam head targets. Photo by THLord Juan Miguel Cezar.


  • Styrofoam head
  • Duct tape in various colors
    • “Cookie Dough” for face, and black, brown, red, or yellow for hair
  • Masonry cord or other very sturdy rope
  • “Googly eyes”
  • Adhesive-backed Velcro
  • Carabiner, wooden skewer, or part of a broken arrow
  • Optional:
    • For a William Tell shoot:
      • Plastic apples to affix on top of the head
    • For a “hanged man” shoot:
      • Manila rope (~25’)
      • Clothes hanger
      • 2-3 Pool noodles
      • An old t-shirt

You can sometimes find styrofoam heads at thrift stores, or you can buy them inexpensively online. Male heads are thicker at the neck, while female heads are better for a “hanged man” scenario because they have thinner necks which are easier to get rope around.

Many people have tried to use foam heads for archery targets but found that they shatter. Duct tape is the answer. Wrap the entire head in duct tape to give it better structural integrity. “Cookie Dough Duck Tape” is similar to flesh tone, and black duct tape works for hair.

I like to add “googly eyes,” which you can buy at a craft store. I use adhesive-backed Velcro to attach the eyes to the head.

Velcro for googly eye attached. Photo by THLord Deryk Archer.

Googly eye attached. Photo by THLord Deryk.

Carabiner holding rope at the bottom of a styrofoam head. Photo by THL Deryk.

Usually a styrofoam head is suspended from above by a rope. Most Styrofoam heads are hollow, so it’s easy to add the rope. Punch a hole in the top of the head, then run a masonry cord down through the hole to the bottom of the neck. Tie the cord to a carabiner, wooden skewer, or piece of a broken arrow to hold it at the bottom of the head, then tie the top of the rope to a target or tree and you’re ready to shoot.

At first the head will be a little hard, but the more you shoot it, the more arrow-friendly the head becomes. When it’s been shot so much that it looks like it’s done, all it needs is a fresh retaping. I have a head I have retaped 15 times. When the inside becomes mulched, it can be restuffed with cut up pool noodles. Noses can be restored with old wine corks.

Apple attached to the head for a William Tell shoot. Photo by THL Deryk.

Once you’re good at hitting the head, you can add a plastic apple (available at Wal-Mart) on top by drilling a hole through the apple from top to bottom and running the cord that goes into the head through it. Then you have a William Tell shoot, where archers must shoot the apple without hitting the head. Get more then one apple, because people will love this shoot!

You can also do a “hanged man” shoot where archers try to shoot the rope that’s hanging their friend. Get about 25 feet of 1 in. rope. Tie a hangman’s noose around the neck of the Styrofoam head and hang the head from a tree or target. Whoever gets closest to the noose without hitting the man wins. For this target, you need to put some weight under the head, so I suggest creating a body. Attach the head to a clothes hanger with pool noodles tied to it for the shoulders. Cover the hanger and noodles with an old T shirt and add two more noodles to fill out the arms. The body will catch any misses.

“Hanged man” target. Photo by THL Deryk.

I hope you find these ideas fun and add them to your practice. If you have questions or ideas, contact me on Facebook.

Remember shoot safely, shoot often, and have fun!

Categories: SCA news sites

Liquid mercury found under Teotihuacan temple

History Blog - Sat, 2015-04-25 14:37

The excavations under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent in Teotihuacan have unearthed another exceptional find: large quantities of liquid mercury. Archaeologist Sergio Gómez and his team have been excavating the tunnel underneath the pre-Aztec pyramid, discovered by accident in 2003 when a sinkhole opened up in front of the temple, since 2009, using a robot to reveal three chambers at the end of the tunnel and last year discovering an enormous cache of 50,000 artifacts (sculptures, jade, rubber balls, obsidian blades, pyrite mirrors) and organic remains (animal bones, fur, plants, seeds, skin). It has taken so long to excavate it because the tunnel was filled to the brim with soil and rocks and sealed 1,800 years ago by the people of Teotihuacan about whom we know very little.

The mercury was found in one of the chambers discovered by the robot at the end of the tunnel.

“It’s something that completely surprised us,” Gomez said at the entrance to the tunnel below Teotihuacan’s Pyramid of the Plumed Serpent, about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Mexico City.

Some archeologists believe the toxic element could herald what would be the first ruler’s tomb ever found in Teotihuacan, a contemporary of several ancient Maya cities, but so shrouded in mystery that its inhabitants still have no name.

Unsure why the mercury was put there, Gomez says the metal may have been used to symbolize an underworld river or lake.

(mercuric sulfide) is the most commonly found source of mercury ore and ancient Mesoamericans were intimately familiar with it both as a red pigment and for its mercury content. They knew how to extract mercury from crushed cinnabar — heating the ore separates the mercury from sulfur and the evaporated mercury can then be collected in a condensing column — and employed it as a gilding medium and possibly for ritual purposes. It was very difficult and dangerous to produce. Before now, traces of mercury have only been found at a two Maya sites and one Olmec site in Central America. This is the first time it has been discovered in Teotihuacan, and I suspect this is the first time it has been discovered in large amounts anywhere in ancient Mexico. (The exact quantities discovered under the Temple of the Feathered Serpent and at the other sites haven’t been reported.)

Reflective materials held a great deal of religious significance in Mesoamerican cultures. Mirrors were seen as conduits to the supernatural. A river of mercury would make one hugely expensive and ritually important conveyance to the underworld. Added to the exceptional finds already made in the tunnel, the presence of so much mercury indicates that if anybody was buried in these chambers, it would have to be someone of enormous importance in Teotihuacan society. It could be a king, but we don’t know what kind of governing system they had in Teotihuacan, so it could be a lord, several oligarchs or religious leaders. The hope is that this excavation and its unprecedented finds will answer many of the long-outstanding questions about the city of Teotihuacan.

I’m excited about this discovery because I’ve been fascinated by the notion of underground rivers of mercury since I first read about the ones reportedly created for the tomb of the first Emperor of China Qin Shi Huang. Better known today for the terracotta army found in pits around the emperor’s burial mound, the mausoleum itself was apparently a thing of shimmering splendour. Grand Historian to the Han emperor Sima Qian, writing a century after the Qin emperor’s death, described Qin Shi Huang’s mausoleum in Volume Six of the Shiji (Records of the Grand Historian), China’s first official dynastic history.

They dug down deep to underground springs, pouring copper to place the outer casing of the coffin. Palaces and viewing towers housing a hundred officials were built and filled with treasures and rare artifacts. Workmen were instructed to make automatic crossbows primed to shoot at intruders. Mercury was used to simulate the hundred rivers, the Yangtze and Yellow River, and the great sea, and set to flow mechanically. Above, the heaven is depicted, below, the geographical features of the land.

As the emperor’s burial mound has not been excavated (just the environs), we don’t know if the rivers of flowing mercury really existed, but high levels of mercury have been found in soil samples taken from the tumulus so significant amounts of the heavy metal were certainly used for some purpose. I think it would be the coolest thing if the people of Teotihuacan created their own shimmering splendor of an underworld too.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Teacher Registration Deadline Fast Approaching

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2015-04-25 12:36

Have you always wanted to teach at Pennsic? Are you a veteran teacher, but find yourself procrastinating this year? Don’t delay! While classes will be accepted right through Pennsic, the deadline to have your class appear in the Pennsic site book is May 1.


It’s a very easy process to sign up. A link for teacher registration appears on the Pennsic War home page. The registration process is very user friendly. With just a few clicks of the mouse you will be able to create your class.

Take a minute to look at all the wonderful classes that have already been scheduled. Then commit to sharing your knowledge and passion for the arts and sciences with the Pennsic populace. If you have questions about registering your class, contact Capt Elias Gedney, Chancellor, or THL Artimesia LaceBrayder, the Registrar.

Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences, Pennsic Tagged: a&s, classes, Pennsic

A Missive from the Order of the White Scarf

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-04-24 21:18

To the populace of Sylvan Æthelmearc,

The Order of the White Scarf sends well wishes and greetings. We are reaching out to anyone who has ever considered joining us on the rapier field, but hesitated due to lack of equipment, not knowing who to talk to, or even just where to begin. To those people, and all who would believe that they cannot make a difference: You are who we want standing with us!

The Order of the White Scarf is a source of information, help, and guidance that is here for you. Even if you are unable to participate on the field, there are other avenues to help.  We welcome all who would be interested to contact us through our Clerk at whitescarf_clerk@aethelmearc.org after which one of the order will assist you as best we can.

In service to the Sylvan Kingdom,
Æhelmearc Order of the White Scarf
Categories: SCA news sites

Mystery of the Viking pot: Solved

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2015-04-24 16:40

In September 2014, metal detectorist Derek McLennan discovered over 100 artifacts in a field near Dumfries, Scotland. Among them was a 1,200-year-old Viking pot, heavy enough to contain something, but too fragile to open. Now archaeologists have been able to determine what is in the pot with the help of a CT scan. (photos)

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Categories: SCA news sites

Bacon & Brewing!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-04-24 16:30

This past Saturday, the Shire of Hunters Home hosted the second iteration of its popular Bacon and Brewing Bash.

Brewing activities were a featured part of this event, and well received. The brewers, vintners, meadhers, and apothecaries of Hunters Home and the surrounding area provided an even dozen beverages for the Tasters Tavern – a corner of the main hall where the populace could enjoy the beverages throughout the day. As part of the tavern, the populace was asked to vote on their favorite beverage. Additionally, a visiting guest from outside our organization was asked to make his choice of favorite.

Two competitions were also held: a Judges’ Choice, in which each competitor was required to judge all entries – including their own – using the kingdom’s A&S rubric for brewing; and a competition for “Best Brew with a Bacon Theme”. The winners were as follows:

Judges’ Choice: THL Madoc Arundel for his Riesling wine
Populace’s Choice: Baron Rauthbjorn Lothbroke for his blackberry melomel
Guest’s Choice: Lady Caolifhion of the Woods for her hard apple cider
Best Bacon Theme: Lord Geirolnir the Huntsman for his “Baconator” bacon bock

In addition, Lord Hundthor the Master Pintsman was presented his award of arms scroll for brewing excellence, read into the court record by Their (then) Majesties Titus and Anna Leigh at the Coronation of their heirs two weeks ago.

THL Madoc Arundel

Categories: SCA news sites

Gulf Wars 2015 photos online

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2015-04-24 11:31

Giovanni della Torre reports that his lady, Kathy, has posted photos from Gulf wars 2015. The photos are available to view on PhotoBucket.

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Categories: SCA news sites

The Founding of a Barony circa 1970

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-04-24 10:23

Tabitha of Windmoor, one of the first members of the Barony of Carolingia, graciously wrote this account about how the group got its start.  The Gazette thanks her for providing more information about the early years of the East Kingdom.

I was in the SCA from 1970 – 1975. Virtually all of my involvement was with the Barony of Carolingia. I was one of the founding members, more or less by chance.

In the fall of 1970 I started my sophomore year at Wellesley with a roommate selected by lottery. Lois and I were friends at once. We threw a party a couple of weeks into the school year for all our friends. Lois invited Patri Pugliese, a freshman roommate of her boyfriend. Pat and I became friends at that party where he also acquired a new girlfriend, Ann, who was one of my friends.

When Patri landed in the infirmary with a sore throat a few weeks later I stopped in to see him on my way to join Lois and her boyfriend for the Yale/Harvard game. While I was trying to cheer Pat up – he was very sick and things were already going bad with Ann – a guy neither of us knew just walked right into the room and asked “Are you Patri?” Upon being assured that the guy in the bed answered to that name, he introduced himself as Dan and said he had been told that Pat might be interested in helping him start a branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Neither Pat nor I had ever heard of it. Dan described it with great enthusiasm. I said it sounded like fun and would be interested in hearing more. Dan invited me to talk further at his place that evening and I went on to join the game watchers. Lois and I went to the post game party as well and had a bit more spiked cider than was consistent with any further activity than a long nap on boyfriend’s bed. We were awakened by Dan’s knock on the door and I did go off with him for further discussion of what he envisioned us doing – namely starting a barony. He was clear that he did not want to be baron and preferred merely to be seneschal (which he pronounced sennaskull, it was several months before I discovered the correct pronunciation).

Somehow, Dan’s clock “got mis-set” and by the time I realized that was the case I had missed the last bus back to Wellesley which in those days departed Harvard square at 11PM. Not being interested in Dan’s offer to spend the night I said I would walk home – it’s only about 12 miles. Dan insisted on walking me home where we arrived just in time for me to rush off to a Sunday morning babysitting job. Left on his own in my dorm room, he was surprised by Kathy (SCA name Giselle de Lavande, I think) who was looking to borrow something from me. He talked SCA to her too. She was our first mistress of arts and for a short time baron John Smythe of Isleoway’s girlfriend.

I think the organizational meeting of the barony took place in November. The meeting, attended by people from Wellesley, Harvard, and MIT, established a barony which after much discussion we named Carolingia because we were based around the Charles river, Carolus is latin for Charles, and besides it had a nice medieval sound to it (think Carolingian dynasty of the Holy Roman Empire – started by Charles the Great – Carolus Magnus).

We did not have a baron. Dan from MIT (Daniel de Tankard) was to be Seneschal, Carl  from MIT (Chaim Elyhu ben David) Secretary of State, Patri  from Harvard (Patri des Tours Gris) Master of Sciences and Master of Arms, Dianne – not a student and don’t recall her SCA name – Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lorraine from MIT (Lorimel the Gentle) Mistress of Equiries, and I was herald which mostly meant recording secretary back then. Pat was charged with finding a place and setting times for fighting practice. I was asked to design a barony coat of arms and I offered to create a newsletter. Dianne was set to raising funds – i.e. dues and we all were to figure out how and where to hold a first event.

Filed under: History Tagged: Carolingia