SCA news sites

Organizational meeting for EK Heralds for Opening Ceremonies

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:36
From Ryan Mac Whyte, War Herald for the Kingdom of the East for Pennsic XLIV.

Greetings and every good thing to all to whom these letters come.

As we approach the coming campaign to… um… become closer to our fair friends of the Midrealm by acquiring lands adjacent to their lands, the Kingdom’s eyes turn Westward.

In just over a month the War Arrow shall be broken and the Horn shall sound. The populace of the known world shall gather on the field of Pennsic to bear witness.

In order to facilitate Opening Ceremonies an organizational meeting of the Kingdom War Heralds will be held in EK Royal at 4pm on Saturday August 1st. Following the War Heralds’ meeting at 5pm will be a organizational meeting for all those East Kingdom Territorial Heralds who will be leading their Provinces, Baronies, and Shires in opening ceremonies. I am STRONGLY encouraging all groups who wish to be represented in the procession to send a representative to this meeting. As the principal participants of the War are changing this year the ceremony will be unlike any before it.

Opening Ceremonies will be starting at 9am on Sunday August 2nd. The Royal procession will be stepping off from EK Royal at approximately 8:45am. I am asking that all groups be present and ready to go at 8:30am.

Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry, Pennsic

Deadline to submit recommendations for the first polling of TRH Brennan & Caoilfhionn

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:32
Greetings all, Recommendations to be considered for the first polling of Brennan & Caoilfhionn will be accepted through the end of Sunday 7/12. Recommendations received after that time will be considered for the 2nd polling. Please remember that you need not be a member of an order to recommend someone you consider deserving. If you know someone you feel strongly about, please recommend them via Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you. In Service to the East, Brennan and Caoilfhionn
Filed under: Announcements

Æthelmearc Sings At Pennsic!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:23

Æthelmearc Sings At Pennsic

I will return to my article series after Pennsic, but since we are now truly in the season to prepare for War, I wanted to remind everyone (or maybe tell you, if you didn’t know), that Æthelmearc traditionally sings on our way to Opening Ceremonies (and if there’s time, while we’re waiting). Anyone who is marching with a barony or group for Opening Ceremonies, or anyone else who just wants to participate with the kingdom, is encouraged to come and sing with us!

“But I don’t know any Æthelmearc songs!” you cry.

Well, have we got a deal for you! It so happens that the Æthelmearc College of Bards has many of our kingdom songs available at the College website:

Each of the songs has two links: one for a downloadable version of sheet music, and one for a downloadable mp3 of the song.

One caveat about the sheet music: most of these songs feature a lot of variation in the melody and rhythm from one verse to the next, depending on the demands of the lyrics and the singer’s individual preferences. This is not choral singing; the music is meant to be sung freely, so the notes on the page are more of a guide to the melody than an iron-clad representation of it. It’s certainly enough to get everyone going, though!

If you want a copy of the songbook… the 2007 edition (which is the last update we can find) is there for your printing pleasure:

There’s also a lyric sheet which has Her Ladyship Silence’s updates to songs like Sylvan March (where groups have come and gone since I wrote it):

The lyric sheet is designed to be folded to fit into a pocket or pouch or you can download either copy to your portable pocket girdle book (i.e., your phone or tablet) and carry the songs with you that way.

After Pennsic, there will be a new version of the songbook. No, really. There will also probably be an article on the difficulty of herding bards who are even harder to herd than cats….

Meanwhile, if the Songs of Æthelmearc are not enough for you, and you are desperate for more bardic advice, I recommend the excellent series of blog posts on the seven bardic sins written by Master Brendan the Bard.

Here’s the first in the series:

Finally, I encourage everyone who will be attending Pennsic to find at least one performance, bardic circle, exhibition, or performance competition to attend. There is immense talent on the Pennsic stages, which can easily inspire and impress. There are also a complete catalog of bardic classes, including performance workshops, and the annual Bardic Collegium which offers discussion of the state of the bardic arts and tips and tales about performers’ efforts to grow and shape the community of performers within the SCA. Check out the Pennsic University for more details, and the Performing Arts schedule to find concerts, exhibitions, competitions, and other activities which will surely please and amaze.

Of particular note, Æthelmearc has been invited to participate this year in the inter-kingdom exhibition, which previously has been limited to the East and the Midrealm. More details to come, but the exhibition will be on Saturday, August 1, beginning at 5:00 PM. Come and support our Kingdom’s performers as they showcase their skills.

See you at the War!

Ever in Service,

Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres

Sylvan Bard

Categories: SCA news sites

A&S Research Paper #1. ‘A smoke of cameryke, wrought with blake worke’: An overview of monochromatic embroidery in Early Modern England during the reign of Elizabeth I

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:22

Greetings, and welcome to the East Kingdom Gazette’s new feature: A&S Research Papers! Our first article comes to us from Mistress Amy Webbe, of the Shire of Barren Sands, who is presenting her article on monochromatic embroidery. The paper was presented initially to the East Kingdom Embroiderer’s Guild, the Keepers of Athena’s Thimble. Thank you, Mistress Amy, for starting off the new feature so well! (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

‘A smoke of cameryke, wrought with blake worke’: An overview of monochromatic embroidery in Early Modern England during the reign of Elizabeth I

A woman’s coif, circa 1600, accession number 1996.51. Image from the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Abstract: Monochromatic embroidery in counted forms was prevalent throughout the medieval Islamic world. Subsequent contact with southern European cultures introduced this form into mainland Europe, where it spread throughout Christendom. The arrival of the Reformation in England 1534, and the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 allowed this art form to develop in uniquely English ways, establishing a unique aesthetic specific to the time and place. This paper will examine the aesthetics and techniques of monochromatic embroidery during the 16th century, focusing primarily on England, where this style of embroidery enjoyed its heyday.

Table of Contents

1. Historical Overview of Monochrome Embroidery
2. Aesthetics of Elizabethan Monochromatic Embroidery
3. Conclusion
4. Appendix: Extant Monochromatic Pieces Personally Examined by the Author
5. References

Historical Overview of Monochrome Embroidery

Monochrome embroidery, that is, embroidery using only one color of thread, is likely to be as old as needlework itself. It is easy to imagine our ancestors with leftover dye, and using it on a bit of thread that could then be used on an undyed garment, embellishing their clothing with something small. In “the Old World”, the earliest extant pieces that feature this sort of singlecolored thread, on an undyed or white ground, are found in what was considered “the Islamic World”. Islamic tradition cautions against the representation of living things, believing the power to create life is unique to God. Islamic embroidery, therefore, is often restricted to geometric patterns, and these are sometimes worked in a single color, and in double running or pattern darning stitches, such as fragment EA1984.168 at the Ashmolean Museum. Fragment of an embroidered Islamic textile, Mamluk period (1250-1517), accession number EA1984.168. Image from the collections of the Ashmolean Museum.

Textile fragment 27.168.8 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains some simple stepped and geometric figures that closely resemble what we may identify as “modern” blackwork. Fragment of an embroidered Islamic textile, 13th or 14th century, accession number 27.168.8. Image from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In contrast, extant European embroidery of the same time period is frequently ecclesiastical in nature, depicting many religious icons and figures, and polychromatic. What survives from prior to the Renaissance is a collection of altar cloths, copes, chasubles, miters—all items that would have been used and preserved in churches. English embroidery in particular had a famous period of embroidery, known throughout Europe as “Opus Angelicanum”, or “English Work”. This was characterized by the skillful use of color and shading, used particularly to denote people.

Monochromatic embroidery in Europe is mainly unknown from extant examples at this point in time, although a passage from Chaucer is frequently cited to show evidence of a history of English “blackwork”. A common translation reads:

Her smock was white and embroidered on the collar, inside and outside, in front and in back, with coalblack silk; and of the same black silk were the strings of her white hood, and she wore a broad band of silk, wrapped high about her hair. (NeCastro, 2011.)

However, this raises more questions than it answers. It has been posited that this statement is “proof” of a history of regular monochrome work existing in England prior to the 16th century, but one must ask the following questions with regards to the Chaucer reference: Are there pictorial examples or extant pieces to coincide with this reference? Is a 14th century smock of the same construction as a 16th, with a separate collar? What would the “collar” of the smock refer to? Are the “strings” on her hood perhaps ribbon, and the decoration on her “smock” ribbon as well? An alternate translation from the site reads:

White was her smock, embroidered all before/And even behind, her collar round about,/Of Coalblack silk, on both sides, in and out;/The strings of the white cap upon her head/Were, like her collar, black silk worked with thread.

This gives a slightly different interpretation, that may seem more plausible—that of these garments being made of black silk that was then embroidered. This also fits with the characterization of the Miller’s Wife as being a creature of fantastic taste and conspicuous consumption.

The end of the feudal system in Europe allowed workers to have more time and more money; workers could specialize in trades, and it is likely that this, combined with a more earthly focus after the Black Death, created an environment in which personal decoration was more accepted. The introduction of printed papers also meant patterns and images could be shared and traded, and this may also have contributed to a development of the culture of embroidery, particularly in the area of black on white embroidery, which may be an attempt to mimic woodcut illustrations. The influence of the Reformation also likely played a part, which we will consider later.

Although popular history holds that Catherine of Aragon brought the fashion for “blackwork” with her from Spain, there are no known extant pieces said to be the work of Catherine herself, and even her portraiture does not reflect this embroidery in great quantities. Some Spanish portraits hint at a bit of black decoration around the neckline, but this is not definitive, due to a lack of extant examples. Also, pieces housed in Spanish museums are frequently labeled as being of Italian origin. It seems as equally likely that Italian contact with the Islamic world may have been the connection, as many existing pieces share characteristics with each other, regardless of provenance. This may be expected under the universality of “Christendom”, as headed by the Pope in Rome. Henry VIII himself was even named a defender of the faith, a “fidei defensor”, by Pope Leo X, in 1521, and one could argue that this relationship accounts for the apparent similarities between European pieces in the first half of the 16th century.

A note on black dye: Prior to the discovery of the “New World”, black dye was often obtained from oak galls, which contained large quantities of tannin. However, this dye was extremely acidic, and would often eat away at fibers; many of the extant pieces we have today from England have disintegrating black silk needlework due to the dye being used. This was well known, and the Doge of Venice even went so far as to ban their use on wool fabrics. (Smith, 2009). This problem was solved somewhat by using a “provisional” natural dye as the base—first woad, then indigo, and later logwood. Logwood was under Spanish control as an import from the New World, and this may account for the reports of the higher quality of Spanish silk being much desired.

Beginning in the 16th century, we begin to see monochromatic embroidery represented in art. The paintings of Hans Holbein contains several images that seem to reference a geometric, “pixelated” style of embroidery. The Hans Holbein painting Darmstadt Madonna features a figure wearing a dress that many would argue reflects monochrome embroidery done in a simple linear stitch. And indeed, it does certainly appear to be so. However, almost no extant pieces exist from Germany at this time, so one cannot state that unequivocally, no matter how talented we presume the artist. Paintings of Jane Seymour done by him and attributed to his workshop show at least two different styles of what appear to be embroidered ruffles, although only one really represents this strictly geometric style. The archaeological record only minimally reflects this: Smock 2003.76 at Platt Hall of the Manchester City Galleries, dating from the mid 16thcentury England, does use what appears to be a double running stitch for the border of its neckline and down the sleeves, but this is supplemented by use of detached buttonhole embroidery. Shirt T. 112-1972 at the Victoria and Albert Museum also uses geometric styles and seems to imitate the styles common in Italian fashion of the time. Embroidered English man’s shirt, ca. 1560, museum number T.112-1972. Image from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

A portrait of a young Mary I by Master John hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London features what appears to be geometric red embroidery on the white linen clothing. Portrait of Mary I, 1544, Item NPG 428 in the Primary Collection. Image from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery.

German modelbuchs from the time also feature geometric borders, that seem to be similar to painted examples.

It goes without saying that all art is influenced by the culture around it, and as that culture changes, so does the art reflect that change. Embroidery is no different, and following Henry’s break with Rome in the 1530s, we begin to see an “Anglicanization” of culture. Art and architecture both simplify. This is immediately obvious with the iconoclasm of the Churches; although the Church of England retained some simplified versions of ornament. Gone are the embroidered chasubles of the Bishops; in its place are simple white garments. The effort embroiderers may have spent glorifying the church now is spent glorifying themselves, and by the end of Elizabeth’s first decade of rule, in 1568, many aesthetics are becoming unique to the island, continually shunning anything Popish, be it embroidery, or Princes. As the reign continues, increased sumptuary laws sought to control the appearance of luxury, influenced, no doubt, by the Puritan element and their disdain of the sin of “pride” (Kirtio, 2012). This contrasts with embroidery on the Continent, which retains many of the geometric influences, and even expands into additional forms of counted embroidery, such as voided work.

So what, then, does this monochrome embroidery created during the reign of Elizabeth I look like?
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Aesthetics of Elizabethan Monochromatic Embroidery

In the simplest terms, the style of Elizabethan monochromatic embroidery reflects the flowers of the English countryside, and the animals in an English garden.

Many familiar flowers and fruits are represented. One can find roses; pansies and violas; pea pods; strawberries; pears; grapes; gillyflowers (carnations); cornflowers; borage; honeysuckle; foxgloves; columbines; lilies; pomegranates. The skill of the embroiderer, however, does mean that some motifs are more challenging than others to decipher. Additionally, all manner of small animal can be found peeking out amongst the leaves of the embroidery, and even some more fanciful creatures have been depicted. One can spot bees; worms/caterpillars; fish; birds; butterflies and dragonflies; small mammals and household pets; and even the occasional phoenix or tiger.

The fascination with the natural world, be it flowers, insects and all manner of mammal and bird, is prominently displayed in most of these pieces. Many of the flowers featured would have been commonly found in the Elizabethan household’s kitchen garden, and it is easy to see that  inspiration for many of the floral motifs used in these embroideries could have easily been found by looking out the kitchen window; however, images would also have been widely found in modelbuchs and “herbals”, such as Thomas Trevelyon’s “Miscellany”, which offered pictures of more exotic plants and animals, both old world and new.

In general, monochromatic embroidery during the reign of Elizabeth I, and continuing under James I, can be classified into several design “families”, based on final presentation: curved vines; lozenge patterns, diapered, and bands. It is important to recognize that many of these embroiderers were working “in a vacuum” in a sense. They would see what was becoming popular and fashionable, and replicate it as best they can. It seems unlikely they would have been engaging in a systematic study of the proper execution of these items—they would have been mimicking the styles within the limitations of their own skill and knowledge. (Please note the term limitation is used only in the sense of a narrow field of focus, and not as a disparagement of skill or execution.) The artistic expression of each embroiderer must also be taken into consideration—each individual will have a skill level and preference that is unique, and this must be considered when attempting to “classify” styles of monochrome embroidery. In the absence of widespread print or digital media, each embroiderer would need to determine for herself the best way for her to communicate the style.

Curving bands are some of the common layouts, and often this vinework is done in a metal thread, which contrasts nicely with the black embroidery, but one can easily find examples of curving vinework done only in the same black thread, although often with more elaborate stitching. It is interesting to note that these appear to be worked in two ways: in some extant pieces, it is very easy to see that the motifs were drawn on first, and the vines worked around them; on others, the regularity of the vines seems to suggest they formed the outline of the embroidery, and motifs added later. These curving designs usually terminate in a single flower or group of flowers; animal motifs are interspersed among the curves, and designs are often supplemented with little curlicues coming off of the main vine.

Lozenge designs are also quite common. This is when the embroidery is broken into a grid. As with the curving vines, this grid may be worked with either metal or silk threads. The motifs are then worked into the voids in the grid. This grid may leave rhombus and diamond shaped voids; hexagonal voids are seen in at least one example (Nightcap 198-1900 at the Victoria and Albert Museum); and some are simply constructed on a squared grid. The void in the grid is filled with one image large image, often a flower, but occasionally a bird or mammal.
English nightcap, ca. 1600, accession number 198-1900. Image from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Diapered items also appear quite regularly, with the term “diapered” referring to the pattern consisting of repeats of small, identical figures. These repeats can be of one single design repeating, or a pattern of designs repeating. For instance, Coif and Forehead cloth 2003.63/2 at Platt Hall shows a simple flower and leaf design that is executed precisely throughout both pieces. In contrast, Coif and Forehead cloth 2003.64/2, also at Platt Hall, feature a more elaborate repeat—a three-armed strawberry bush with gold metal thread cinquefoils is alternated with small bees, also enhanced with metal thread. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has an even more fanciful coif that features stylized fish interspersed with crescent moons. Several of the embroidered jackets we have are done in this diapered style, although at least one, at the Bath Fashion Museum, could be argued to have a lozenge design (1.03.137).

Bands are stripes of design that run at least the half-width of the garment. Many of the extant smocks and shirts we have of English (and even Italian) design use bands in lieu of “broader” embellishment. These bands may incorporate curving vinework within the confines of the band, or use a geometric pattern within the confines of the band. This does not seem to be a common design aesthetic for headgear (although there is at least one example), and this may be due to the three dimensional nature of the pieces altering the layout of the of the design.

There are other consistencies throughout the fashions of monochromatic pieces during this time. One of the most unusual for the modern eye to grasp is the sheer density of the designs. While a modern eye may see white space as a necessity to “set off” the image, the Elizabethan eye seemed to see white space as a blank to be filled. The design even travels off of the edge of the piece, being worked right up to the margins. This is done both with embroidery and with metal accents. Spangles, or “oes”, small disks of metal, are frequently applied to the garments worn on the head and jackets; metal bobbin lace was often applied as well, even after an item has been elaborately worked.

Fills stitches can also be considered as closing up the white spaces; geometric patterns can be used for effect to create a variety of densities; stitches like detached buttonhole and trellis may fill in a shape completely, and seed and speckling stitches give a variety of shading to a piece, which may mimic the woodcut template from a Miscellany. Once again, it is important to remember that stitches may vary within a given household, or “shop”. The difference between a seed and a speckle may be merely in the hands of the embroiderer carrying out the work.

Many stitches can be used to execute monochromatic embroidery. We frequently see stem stitches being used in outlines, but one can also find buttonhole and blanket stitch; ceylon stitch can be used for vinework; back stitch and/or double running appear both as outline stitches and fills. Speckle and seed stitches are just two of the many ways of filling a figure. As previously mentioned, even denser stitches like trellis and buttonhole variants are seen.

A note on “Spanish work”: John L. Nevinson points out that Spanish work and black embroidery are distinctly identified on the registry of New Years Gifts. Two items from 1577 show the difference:

“By Fowlke Grevell, a smocke of camerick wrought abowte the coller and the sleves of Spanysshe worke of roses and tres, and a night coyf with a forehed clothe of the same worke.”


“By Julio, a cushyn cloth and a pillowbere of cameryk wrought with black worke of silke.”

Whatever “Spanish work” is, it seems distinct enough in the minds of the records keeper to be listed separately.

A note on double running: Many of the extant pieces that appear to be double running are in fact a back stitch, as a glimpse at the reverse shows. (Coif 2003.63/2, Platt Hall). While double running pieces do exist, they are by no means in the majority of extant pieces, and it is interesting to consider how this stitch came to be so closely associated with “blackwork”. Joan Edwards points out that prior to the 1950s, double running was not considered a “blackwork” stitch. Mrs. Archibald Christie counts it among canvas work stitches; Louisa Pesel includes it in “Far Eastern” stitches; and Mary Thomas associates it with Assisi and Romanian work. Jane Zimmerman points out that double running only became known as the “Holbein Stitch” in the 1800s, and the term was popularized by the Royal School of Needlework only in the 20th century. It seems likely that the 20th century association of double running and blackwork, due in part to its revival in the 1960s and 1970s, is responsible for this.

It is possible that artists each put their own “spin” on monochrome embroidery. Hans Holbein, Hans Eworth, George Gower, Lucas Horenbout, Master John, and Cornelis Ketel, all represent monochrome embroidery differently from each other in paintings. Now, it is possible that since, for example, Holbein painted the wealthy elite, that all of their clothing may have been embroidered by the same group of embroiderers who did the same thing. The artist may be accurately reflecting the work as done in an individual household or shop. However, different artists seems to interpret monochrome embroidery different across their paintings. The works of Hans Eworth show a blackwork which matches the rest of his paintings, and yet, is different than that of George Gower, and different again from Hans Holbein.

Linen (processed from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum )is the primary ground for this embroidery, and the thread itself is mostly silk (from the silkmoth Bombyx mori) . There are some examples of monochrome jackets worked in wool, and this may be due to several factors: wool is less expensive, and a jacket would require many more yards than a coif; perhaps wool is thought to be more durable; and it is possible that, due to Elizabeth I’s emphasis on the English wool market, that it was a matter of patriotism and access. The silk thread used appears to be both flat silk (unreeled), and spun silk. It is unknown if the appearance of flat or spun may be artifacts of the stitches and the embroidering—some of the stitches could put a twist in the thread during their execution; likewise, some stitching may untwist or give the spun silk a flattened appearance. It is probably likely that both were used, depending on access and the needs of the embroiderer at the time. Once again, there was no “how-to” manual, and individual households made decisions that met their needs.

While there certainly were professional embroiderers in late 16th century England, George Wingfield Digby points out that coifs and nightcaps are most likely the work of private hands, as these items were “intimate”, being mostly worn at home and in the presence of family members (although not slept in, since that would destroy the fine embroidery). The line between professional and “amateur” is a blurry one; Digby chooses to use the term “domestic”, rather than amateur, because the skill level between the paid embroiderer and the private lady can be so hard to distinguish. Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting were known for their skills in needlework and embroidery, and Elizabeth herself often embroidered gifts as a young woman.

A note on cultural significance: As we have discussed earlier, the Reformation in England directs energies away from ecclesiastical decoration, and concentrates more of self-decoration. Attempts to flout sumptuary laws and “rise into place” were often accentuated by elaborate embroidered items, showcasing the flamboyant in an attempt to gain Royal favour. Items embroidered with black silk appear in the New Year’s Gifts Records as early as 1561. In every year on record during her reign subsequent, there are always many embroidered items, including “black silk” and “black worke” embroidered items. Lisa M. Klein points out that the value of these embroidered pieces may not be based solely on their intrinsic and monetary value. She argues that gifts of needlework are often a part of a complex social exchange, in which exceptional embroidered items (either done by or paid for by the giver) are given with the hope of a return favor from the Queen. The giving of these high-end luxury items may place an obligation upon the Queen that she would feel compelled to repay, although this was not always the case. Klein observes that this “shows women as active participants in cultural exchange, using their material objects to forge alliances…subjects as well as the queen were able to manipulate the occasions of gift-giving to promote self-interested social relations” (Klein, 1997). Elizabeth I herself is known to have embroidered gifts of book covers for her father Henry VIII and his wife, Queen Catherine Parr, and it is therefore likely that Elizabeth would have understood the subtle messages involved in exchanging embroidered gifts.
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Seemingly simple, the art of monochromatic embroidery as expressed by the English embroiderers during the reign of Elizabeth was surprisingly diverse and complex. From it’s humble geometric origins in the Islamic empire, “blackwork” crossed a continent and found a new home on the plain shores of small island. Under a Virgin Queen, it grew into a magnificent form of art, worn by the top tiers of society, showcasing a new “purely English” identity. It would be outshone in the coming centuries by polychromatic masterpieces, but for a brief time, monochrome embroidery took center stage as the pinnacle of a craftsperson’s skill.
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Appendix: Extant Monochromatic Pieces Personally Examined by the Author

At the Clothworkers’ Centre of the Victoria and Albert Museum:
Coif T.54-1947
Nightcap 814-1891
Coif T.320-1979
Coif 756-1902
Coif T.53-1947
Boy’s Shirt T.112-1972
Handkerchief T.133-1956
Smock T.2-1956
Forehead cloth T.26-1975
Nightcap T.10-1950

At Platt Hall, Manchester City Galleries (the Gallery of Costume collection is not currently available online:
Forehead Cloth 2003.65
Coif 1999.56
Nightcap 1959-271
Coif and Forehead Cloth 2003.63/2
Smock 2003.76

At the Museum of London:
Jacket A21990
Jacket 59.77a
Smock A21968
Skirt 59.77b

At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
Coif and Forehead Cloth 43.244a-b
Coif 1996.51
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Arnold, J. (1988). Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe unlock’d . Leeds: W. S. Maney and Son, Ltd.

Arnold, J. (2008). Patterns of Fashion 4: The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear, and accessories for men and women c. 1540-1660. London: MacMillan.

Beck, T. (1974). Gardens in Elizabethan embroidery. Garden History, 3 (1), 44-56.

Brooks, M. M. (2004). English embroideries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum. London: Jonathan Horne Publications.

Carey, J. (2012). Elizabethan stitches: A guide to historic English needlework . Devon: Carey Company.

Digby, G. W. (1963). Elizabethan embroidery. London: Farber and Farber.

Edwards, J. (1980). The second of Joan Edwards’ small books on the history of embroidery: Blackwork. Surrey: Bayford Books.

Figural representation in Islamic art. (n.d.) In Heilbrunn timeline of art history.

Hentschell, R. (2008). The culture of cloth in Early Modern England: Textual constructions of a national identity. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Jaster, M. R. (2006). ‘Clothing themselves in acres': Apparel and impoverishment in medieval and early modern England. Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 2, 91100.

Kirtio, L. (2012). ‘The inordinate excess in apparel’: Sumptuary legislation in Tudor England. Constellations, 3 (1).

Klein, L. M. (1997). Your humble handmaiden: Elizabethan gifts of needlework. Renaissance Quarterly, 50 (2), 459493.

Leed, D. (2010.) Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe uploaded. DressDB.

Librarius. (n.d.) The miller’s tale: lines 125-162.

Mellin, L. (2008). A lady’s embroidered coif of the late 16th/early 17th century.

 Morrall, A., & Watts, M. (eds). (2008). English embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: ‘Twixt art and nature. New Haven: Yale University Press.

NeCastro, G. (2011). The miller’s tale.

Nevinson, John L. (1938). Catalogue of English domestic embroidery of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Nevinson, J. L. (1940). English domestic embroidery patterns of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Twenty-eighth volume of the Walpole Society, 28 (1), 114.

Nunn-Weinberg, D. (2006). The matron goes to the masque: The dual identity of the English embroidered jacket. Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 2, 151174.

Quinton, R. (2013). Seventeenth-century costume . London: Unicorn Press Ltd.

Reynolds, A. (2013). In fine style. London: Royal Collection Trust.

Smith, G. (2009). The chemistry of historically important black inks, paints, and dyes. Chemistry Education in New Zealand, 12-15.

Trevelyon, T. (1608). Miscellany.

Victoria and Albert Museum. (1953). Elizabethan Embroidery. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Wace, A. J. B. (1933). English embroideries belonging to Sir John Carew Pole. The Twenty-first volume of the Walpole Society, 21 (1), 4366.

Zimmerman, J. (2008). The art of English blackwork.
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Filed under: A&S Research Papers Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences, Embroidery

What's being found, what's being restored - Medieval News Roundup - Wed, 2015-07-01 10:32
Recent news for medievalists, including the restoration of a 15th-century manuscript, and the discovery of a Norman castle. And check out the great video from the people behind Just for Laughs Gags:

[View the story "What's being found, what's being restored - Medieval News Roundup" on Storify]

Categories: History, SCA news sites

"XII scripta" game pieces found in Turkey - Wed, 2015-07-01 08:49

Ludus duodecim scriptorium or XII scripta was a popular Roman game played with dice on a 12-square gameboard. Recently, two game pieces, believed to have been used for XII scripta were discovered during a dig in Kibyra, in the southern Turkish province of Burdur’s Gölhisar district.. (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites

From the Chancellor Minor

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-06-30 21:15

Greetings to the Families of the East Kingdom,

Due to the child protection laws going into effect in Pennsylvania on July 1st, all formal youth activities in the state of PA must cease until the SCA makes a definitive ruling on how this law effects our youth activities. Family activities with parental supervision may still occur in PA. I will make a more specific ruling about Pennsic in the coming days. Please contact me with any questions.

Baroness Leonete D’Angely
East Kingdom Chancellor Minor

Filed under: Youth Activities

From the Earl Marshal Regarding Youth Combat and Play

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-06-30 21:06

Greetings Unto the East Kingdom,

Youth Play and Combat

If the youths are old enough to be in any of the youth divisions and are conducting sword fighting at an SCA event – a cornerstone of which is sword fighting – then it needs to comply with the requirements of youth combat regardless of whether the weapons are constructed at home or commercially constructed.   This includes proper armor, technique, safety and a youth marshal.  The youth marshal shall then determine if the “nerf” sword complies with standards for the appropriate division before any contact between youths.

Yours in Service,
Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil,
East Kingdom Earl Marshal

Filed under: Youth Activities

From the Earl Marshal Regarding Combat for Under 18 Years

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-06-30 21:04

Greetings Unto the East Kingdom,

Pennsylvania Child Protective Act
One of the first things I heard about upon taking this position in January 2015 was the change in Pennsylvania law. I was informed we would get guidance from the BoD. That has not happened to date.

In the event that legal guidance is not provided that indicates what, if any, provisions of SCA and East Kingdom laws needs to be changed to bring us in full compliance with Pennsylvania law is not given before July 1, 2015, I am left with no alternative but to suspend all activities under the office of the Earl Marshal of the East Kingdom that allows participation by anyone under the age of 18 in the state of Pennsylvania and to bar any East Kingdom marshal from participating, as a marshal, in the state of Pennsylvania where anyone under the age of 18 is allowed to participate in any marshal activities.

The sanctions faced for failure to comply with Pennsylvania law include civil and criminal prosecution. Anyone who supervises or comes into regular contact with persons under the age of 18 are subject to these sanctions. This affects all marshals as well as all chivalry. It is imperative that this issue be resolved immediately, considering that provisions of the law are already in effect.

Pennsic Issues
Furthermore, the current Pennsic Accord that seeks to subvert authority for field saftey from the Society Earl Marshal and place the Pennsic marshallate under control of the Deputy Mayor for Battlefield Activities is improper. The current accord violates the clear and long standing chain of command from SEM, to KEM, to DEM, etc. The Earl Marshals must continue to have free authority, subject to the rules of the Society and answerable to the Society Earl Marshal in all combat related activities and not to the Deputy Mayor for Battlefield Activities unless the BoD directs otherwise.

Yours in Service,
Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil,
East Kingdom Earl Marshal

Filed under: Pennsic, Youth Activities

Pelican Elevation for Master John the Pell at Pennsic

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-06-30 12:58

Photo by Master John Michael Thorpe.

The Crowns of Æthelmarc have decided to elevate John the Pell to the Order of the Pelican. Those of you who would witness this please note:

The ceremony will occur at Pennsic, on Monday of War week, at the East Kingdom battlefield pavilion. Timing is 20 minutes after the ending of the Heavy Weapons Castle Battle, but not before 12:15. There will be a tea time reception immediately after.

Anyone wishing to assist or contribute to the reception please contact Lady Cristina (Donna) 607 591 0999.

Categories: SCA news sites

Ming dining - Tue, 2015-06-30 12:25

A recent exhibition at the British Museum on the 14th century Ming Dynasty was accompanied by an exhibit book, Ming: 50 years that changed China. One chapter, by curator Jessica Harrison-Hall, Courts: palaces, people and objects, showcased dining in the royal circles.

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Categories: SCA news sites

Avacal Becomes the Society’s Twentieth Kingdom

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2015-06-29 17:32

Our thanks to the AEthelmearc Gazette for this article:

The first King and Queen of the new Kingdom of Avacal were crowned on Saturday, June 27th, A.S. L, in the Shire of Bitter End (located in central Alberta, Canada).

The SCA’s newest Kingdom is comprised of the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, and the eastern portion of British Columbia.

This video of the crowning of King Albrecht and Queen Nasheeta was posted to YouTube by Ryan Schriml.

Vivat Avacal!


And this photo of a good omen was provided by a friend of today’s East Kingdom Gazette Editor:

Avacal’s Griffin in the skies over the event (Photo by Viscountess Morrigan)

Filed under: Tidings Tagged: Avacal

Period or not… Names

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2015-06-29 14:13

This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence. There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period. If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.

Period or not… Gemstone Names

I was asked by an East Kingdom Gazette reader whether “gemstone” names were used in period.  Broad questions like this are always somewhat hard to answer, because different cultures adopted different naming styles at different time period.  What I can say is that, in some times and places, parents named their children after gemstones.

Some examples of gemstone names are below.  Note that these are only examples.  Not finding a particular time period or culture among these examples does not mean that additional research by a specialist in that language will not turn up evidence of a particular gemstone name.

The names Ruby[1] and Sapphire[2] are found as female names in late period England.  Pearle appears in late-period England as a male name.[3]

The Italian word for “emerald” is found in records as a male name, Smeraldo[4], and as a female name, Smeralda[5].

Interestingly, “diamond” seems to be the most popular gemstone for period names.  There are 13th and 14th century English examples of Diamanda as a female given name.[6]  Diamond appears as a male given name in 16th century England.[7]  Diamante is found as a female given name in 16th century Germany[8] and 13th century Italy.[9]

[1] Ruby [no surname]; Female; Marriage; 16 May 1581; Saint Andrew, Plymouth, Devon, England; Batch: M00183-1 (

[2] Sapphire Hill; Female; Marriage; 26 Jun 1638; Morval, Cornwall, England; Batch: M05293-1 (;  Sapphira Norkin; Female; Burial; 12 Oct 1635; St. Dunstan, Stepney, Middlesex, England; Batch: B02857-4 (

[3] Pearle Neale; Male; Marriage; 25 Jul 1621; Saint Andrew By The Wardrobe, London, London, England; Batch: M02232-1 (

[4] Names in 15th Century Florence and her Dominions: the Condado by Julia Smith (SCA: Juliana de Luna) (

[5] Late Period Italian Women’s Names: Florence by Julia smith (SCA: Juliana de Luna) (

[6] Diamanda is found in Feminine Given Names in A Dictionary of English Surnames by Brian Scott (SCA: Talan Gwynek) ( dated to 1221 and 1349.

[7] Diamond Diamonde; Male; Christening; 08 Aug 1563; Stoke by Nayland, Suffolk, England; Batch: C06314-2 (

[8] Diamante Garniche; Female; Christening; 05 Apr 1573; Evangelisch, Frankenthal, Pfalz, Bavaria; Batch: K98429-2 (

[9] Feminine Given Names from Thirteenth Century Perugia by Josh Mittleman (Arval Benicoeur) (

Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: names

Peers with Swords: Mistress Illadore de Bedagrayne

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-06-29 12:27

By Don William Parris.

This is the second in a series of interviews with peers of the rapier world, throughout the Society. I have spoken with representatives of the Order of the Laurel and the Order of Defense, digging into their experiences and perspectives on the evolution of the fencing world. While there is an admirable company of these respected individuals in our Kingdom of Ӕthelmearc, I have approached several more from our neighbors in the Midrealm, Atlantia, and the East. I hope these interviews offer an interesting look through the eyes of rapier fighters that have risen to the prestigious rank of Peer of the Realm.

Photo by Mistress Tsvia bas Zipporah Levi of Granada

Mistress Illadore de Bedagrayne

Credentials and History: Who are you, what do you do, and who elevated you?

I am Illadore de Bedegrayne, Premiere Member of the Order of Defense of the West Kingdom, elevated on May 1st, A.S. L, by Queen Aesa and King Miles. I am also the 29th White Scarf of Æthelmearc and a cooking Laurel. I have been in the SCA since I was 18 and have loved just about every minute of it. I started fighting rapier in 2001, after watching several of my friends get involved with fencing. I fell in love with it the second that (now Master) Michael Alewright put a sword in my hand at a fencing practice in the BMDL – and knew I was completely hooked after my first melee game of “Paranoia” at my second practice.

What draws you to fencing, inspiring your dedication towards excellence?

So many things. My dad taught me to love sports at a young age (including how to throw an elbow when I was nine) and my mom taught me that “a thing worth doing is worth doing well.”  I grew up playing sports and with the understanding that practice makes perfect and is worth doing because of the both of them. What brought me to fencing were my friends; what kept me was the camaraderie of the rapier community as well as the historic nature of our sport. I love the history and the research being done by the rapier community. It is just utterly fascinating that we can trace what we do back to the 15th century (and further back) – and use books and manuals written in that time to help train and hone our skills.

I was also inspired (and continue to be inspired) by so many rapier fighters in both the West Kingdom and Aethelmearc – and the rest of the Knowne World. The list is long and I’m afraid to write it all out as I may miss someone. I also take inspiration from many members of the Chivalry and how dedicated they are to their Art as well.

Serving as a Pennsic Champion. Photo by Lady Saskia van Ouwater

What goals do you set for yourself as a fencer, teacher, peer, and citizen of the kingdom?

My goal has always been the same – become the best fencer in the Universe. I am, obviously, still working on that one.

What challenges have you face as you became the fencer you are and as you become the fencer you wish to be?

While injuries have been one of my main challenges, I would have to say that the rapier community gaining acceptance in the Society has been the biggest challenge we have all had to face. It has been tough. Back in January, when the Board of Directors had first voted against the Order of Defense proposal and then reversed the decision, hearing the backlash against the rapier community on social media truly stung. The outcry really rocked me as I had thought we were past that – fighting is fighting. It should not matter what type of weapon you have in your hand, as it is the journey and the discovery that matters. I am grateful for all of the outpouring of joy for the new Peerage that has happened since then; however, I still think some bridge building is going to be needed to mend some of those rifts.

On the day of her elevation to the Order of Defence. Photo by Sandra Linehan

How did you feel when you were asked to be a Master of Defense? What did you think being a Master would mean?

This will be a surprise to no one who knows me – but – I was back in Court (actually, off to the side as Queen Aesa and King Miles were holding court on the field), blathering on about fencing with other fighters when I was called into Court, rather than paying attention. So, I was quite shocked when I was called and saw now-Master Joseph Blayde kneeling in front of Their Majesties.

As to what being a Master of Defense means – I think it means being a leader for the rapier community at the Society level. I feel my experiences as a White Scarf have given me a great foundation for this “new job” as well as my experience as a Laurel. As a Peer (and as a White Scarf), I know that it is no longer “all about me.” I have been given a job to do – to make the rapier community and the Society a better place, to help train newcomers, to be an inspiration, to make a path for those who come behind me. It is going to be a tough job and I am sure that I will not always be perfect at it. I will; however, get back up more times than I fall down. I also know that I cannot do this alone, either, and I will need help from all of you on this new path. Yes. All of you. :)

The Order of Defence is new, allowing for new traditions to be formed. How was  working with vigilants from around the Society to give birth to the new order?

Difficult. There are many strong voices and many strong opinions. The one thing that brings us together, however, is the idea that we are trying to do what is best for the Society and the rapier community. In that I think we all agree, we are trying to do what is best. How we get there, however, is the challenge.

My personal hope for starting a tradition – white garters. They are easy to spot on the field and most of us wear boots of some sort. Plus, I’m a knitter so it’s easy for me to produce those. :)

What advice would you give newer fencers aspiring to improve themselves as fencers and citizens of the Society?

There are some tried and true methods for becoming a better rapier fighter – practice all the time, travel and fight more people, read books, thinking about fighting – every day. The one other suggestion I have is to keep a fighting journal. It helps to go back and see how far you have come – and putting ones thoughts to paper often helps organize those thoughts and gain insight.  As to how to improve as a citizen of the Society – understand that both Service and Art are the backbones of our Society as well as fighting – so go get involved! Help out at events, become a marshal, run practices, be an officer, be the Iron Key keeper, etc. And make Art! Do research, make hats, sew a tunic, learn embroidery, build catapults, etc. The SCA is an amazing group – go out and explore.

How do you expect working with the Orders of High Merit, such as the White Scarf, to evolve as the Order of Defence grows into greater responsibility for the community?

First off, the White Scarf has always held a special place in my heart. Until a few months ago, the White Scarf was the highest award one could receive for rapier combat in both the West and in Æthelmearc. In the West, Duke Uther Schiemann der Hunt, as King, opened the Western White Scarf Order with the intent of helping the West get ready for a rapier peerage. With that understanding in mind, I see the White Scarves of both the West Kingdom and of Æthelmearc as my fellows, my compatriots, and as my brothers and sisters. I expect to work closely with them in the future – closed or open orders – they were given a job to do for the rapier community when they were made White Scarves, just as I was. I will also admit that I do not see the Masters of Defense as the “best of the best of the best White Scarves” either. I feel that the skill level of a White Scarf should be the equivalent of a Master of Defense and vice versa.

Categories: SCA news sites

Avacal Becomes the Society’s Twentieth Kingdom

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-06-29 11:47

The first King and Queen of the new Kingdom of Avacal were crowned on Saturday, June 27th, A.S. L, in the Shire of Bitter End (located in central Alberta, Canada).

The SCA’s newest Kingdom is comprised of the Canadian provinces of Saskatchewan, Alberta, Northwest Territories, Yukon Territory, and the eastern portion of British Columbia.

This video of the crowning of King Albrecht and Queen Nasheeta was posted to YouTube by Ryan Schriml.

Vivat Avacal!

In addition, at the request of Their Royal Majesties An Tir, this scroll was created to commemorate Their Principality becoming the Kingdom of Avacal.

Photo by THLady Sarra the Brave, Sable Sable Scribe of An Tir. Click the photo to open it, and then click again for a closeup view.

Scribes from throughout the Kingdom of An Tir collaborated on this great art. The team included:

  • Design & Line Art — HL Adrianna the Fierce
  • Words — Sir Styrkarr Jarlsskald & HL Laurin of Rosewood
  • Calligraphy — Lady Alicia du Bois
  • Gilding — HL Renart the Fox of Berwick
  • Base Paint — Lady Brewyn Celestia Wynhaven
  • Detailing — Viscountess Celdae the Seeker
  • Avacal’s Voice — Countess Inga in hraustliga, Avacal Kingdom Scribe
  • Project Manager — HL Sarra the Brave, An Tir Kingdom Scribe

The scroll is 22″ x 30″, reflects 165 hours (directly onto the paper), and traveled approximately 4,500km (2,800 miles) from inception to delivery.

It was an incredibly hot muggy day, so the scroll was signed in court but not sealed (the seals were melting in the heat).

Categories: SCA news sites

Court Report: Lake Augusta Renaissance Festival, Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, June 20, A.S. 50

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-06-28 00:23

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy & Gabrielle II, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Majesties’ Court at the Lake Augusta Renaissance Festival, 20 June Anno Societatis L, in the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais. As recorded by Their Silver Buccle Herald, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai.

Their Majesties called forth the children in attendance and presented them with treat bags that they might have something to amuse themselves through Court.

Sir Hauoc the Wild was invited to speak of the day’s bear pit tournament, and he announced that THL Murcadh Dal Cais, aka “Uncle Pat” had bested all others and proven himself victorious.

THL Murcadh Dal Cais, tourney winner. Photo by Lady Christina Mary Lowe, aka Jinx.

Meghan of Beck the Innkeeper was Awarded Arms for her diligence in promoting the Society, most importantly through the Sunbury Renaissance Initiative and the Lake Augusta demo. Scroll illuminated by Lord Angellino the Bookmaker and calligraphed by Lady Ylaire Sainte Claire.

Lady Meghan of Beck the Innkeeper. Photo by Jinx.

Lord Nicodemus ben Mordecha was inducted into the Order of the Keystone for his years of service to the shire as cook, fencer, teacher, and autocrat, including being the autocrat of the day’s festival. Scroll illuminated by Maria Adriane of Delftwood and calligraphed by Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai.

Lord Nicodemus ben Mordecha receives a Keystone. Photo by Jinx.

Raven Hilde re Novgorod was Awarded Arms and elevated to the Order of the Golden Alce for her relentless pursuit of skill in heavy weapons, both in and out of Æthelmearc. Scroll by Master Jonathan Blaecstan.

Lady Raven Hilde re Novgorod is inducted into the Golden Alce. Photo by Jinx.

THL Margeurite d’Honfleur was issued a Writ of Summons to contemplate elevation to the Most Noble Order of the Laurel for her mastery of the art of the clothier, making our Society a more beautiful place through the garb that she creates. Writ by Mistress Alicia Langland.

THLady Marguerite d’Honfleur receives a Writ for the Order of the Laurel. Photo by Jinx.

Don William Parris and THL Fiora d’Artusio were summoned forth to receive Her Majesty’s token of inspiration for their creation of the balloon rapier target for the day’s youth activities, allowing those children present to participate in the art of fencing that they both so truly love.

Don Will Parris and THLady Fiora d’Artusio receive the Queen’s token for inspiration. Photo by Jinx.

Those who had donated time and effort towards the scrolls given out that day were invited to stand forth and be recognized.

There being no further business, Their Majesties’ Court was closed.

In Honor and Service,
Kameshima Zentarō Umakai
Silver Buccle Principal Herald, Kingdom of Æthelmearc

Categories: SCA news sites

Playing with Fire: The Medieval Food Lab

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-06-27 21:36

In recent years, you may have walked by a group of people around a firepit or raised cooking surface at Æthelmearc Royal and just assumed they were cooking dinner, as you see occasionally in other encampments.

What you saw was actually the Medieval Food Lab, an ongoing research project spread over multiple days at the Pennsic War (and other events) with multiple teachers and several different classes and food experiments. It’s not a single class — it’s much, much more.

Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina (Chris Adler-France) interviewed the lab’s founder, Baron Janos Meszaros:

Baron Janos baking a pie at the portable Medieval Food Lab. The Medieval Food Lab is an attempt to learn and teach more about pre-Renaissance food preparation technologies and techniques. More and more research is coming out of the archaeological and anthropological communities on what was available and likely used day to day.

What is the Food Lab?

The Medieval Food Lab is an attempt to learn and teach more about pre-Renaissance food preparation technologies and techniques. More and more research is coming out of the archaeological and anthropological communities on what was available and likely used day to day.

The Food Lab was devised to apply that research in an experimental environment and to provide a gateway for re-creationists and cooks to experience something new.

What inspired you to create this ongoing project?

The initial concept for the lab came from a discussion with Duchess Rowan de la Garnison at a Cooking Collegium up in Coppertree. We were discussing what hurdles cooks and researchers in our Society encountered and the discussion of what was actually cooked on and in came up.

From that discussion I began looking less into new recipes and reading more and more works on food pathways and broad cultural themes. Often, I would encounter discussions on how changes in technology directly affected what nutrition cultures had access to and each new chapter took me further down the rabbit hole. Being more of an applied researcher than a straight academic, I started looking into ways to apply what I was learning.

Students and participants at the Food Lab should come ready to try new things and to expand on the skills and knowledge they may have developed during the winter months. All of the book knowledge and modern cooking they have accomplished comes to bear when they encounter cooking over coals or open flame and with non-modern materials and techniques. What is the goal of this project?

The overall goal of the Food Lab is to provide an open and collaborative environment for cooks and re-creationists of all skill levels to come and experiment with cooking techniques and tools that they would not normally have access to in a modern kitchen.

When and where did you hold the first Food Lab?

The first one was set up at Pennsic in 2013 by the grace of their Majesties of Æthelmearc. We were able to take a small corner of the Royal Encampment and set up some shade and a number of cooking pits. Since then, we have expanded our equipment and facility to be fully mobile, allowing it to show up at Æthelmearc War Practice and even Known World Cooks and Bards in the kingdom of Northshield last year.

What have you taught personally during Food Labs?

While my role in the Lab tends towards that of a facilitator and administrator, I have had the chance to teach courses on identifying temperatures without using a thermometer and basic fire building & maintenance, as well as an introduction to cooking in crockery over coals. Most of the classes that I teach are meant to build the fundamentals needed for a new cook, or one inexperienced with working with wood and charcoal fires to build the skills needed for more complex applications and recipes.

Who are some of the other teachers at past Food Labs and what have they taught there?

We have had the luck to be the host for a number of wonderful teachers in the Lab over the years. Our current favorite and recurring teacher is Mistress Lydia Allen with her cheese making class. Master Galefridus Peregrinus of the Kingdom of the East has taught us about a specific application of Islamic cooking over a brazier. We have also had team classes taught by Baroness Oddkatla Jonsdottir and Mistress Katla úlfheþinn of Æthelmearc on the raising and preparation of rabbits for cooking.

Mobile set-up of the Food Lab at an event.

This year at Pennsic, we will have classes on cheese making and how to craft pirogi. On Tuesday of War Week, we are focusing on bread baking with classes on sourdough and Islamic unleavened bread. These are made possible by the hands-on class we are having at the end of Peace Week on how to construct your own clay oven.

The most fun, though, happens during the Open Lab. Here, cooks from all over have access to the facilities, materials, and larder of the Food Lab to play and experiment at their own pace. We provide everything including refreshments during this time.

The free and open experience has been very well received in the past as participants can fit as little or as much lab time as they desire during the day. And all the participants get to enjoy the fruits of their labors and collaborate with colleagues from all over the Known World.

Cooking over coals in period-style ceramic pots

When are the next Food Labs planned?

Scheduling this summer has been “interesting” for many reasons, but the Food Lab will be back at Pennsic this year with improved infrastructure, a full list of classes, and the return of old faces. The class schedule can be found in the Pennsic University listing. (See the Pennsic University schedule and search for “Æthelmearc Royal – Food Lab (N04)”)

How can a teacher get involved?

The Food Lab is always looking for people wanting to participate and set up their own laboratories. We maintain a presence on Facebook especially to allow people from all over to keep in contact and to share information and resources, all in the hope to keep pushing the boundaries of awareness and information. (Go here or search for “Medieval Food Lab” in Facebook.)

If someone is particularly interested in using the Food Lab for a class at Pennsic or another event, I encourage them to join the group on Facebook or contact me directly (caseyodonovan at yahoo dot com) and we will see how to best support their idea with the materials and resources we have collected over the years.

How can class coordinators of future scholas decide whether they have the facilities to host a Food Lab?

As we gain new members to the Lab, the classes and skills that can be taught increase as well. Right now, the most important factor for using the portable Food Lab is to have a well-ventilated place. For the most part, we use a charcoal-based fire for cooking on, so any event site that will allow us to ignite and cook over charcoal is best. The portable Lab is raised specifically to allow its use in areas where we cannot cut a fire pit.

What should students attending the lab expect to learn? Should they wear or not wear certain garb or make any other preparations?

Students and participants at the Food Lab should come ready to try new things and to expand on the skills and knowledge they may have developed during the winter months. All of the book knowledge and modern cooking they have accomplished comes to bear when they encounter cooking over coals or open flame and with non-modern materials and techniques.

Since these are hands-on classes, individuals attending should come comfortably dressed for the weather, but also in clothing that is suitable to be cooking and preparing food in. It is strongly encouraged that sleeves be close fitting or able to be rolled up as participants will be working over and near fire.

Anything else you want to add?

From the beginning, the Food Lab has been a labor of love and not intended for one person alone.

We are constantly looking for individuals who would like to develop their own laboratories and the materials used in them. Experiencing the use of pre-modern tools and techniques is cross-disciplinary, bringing together cooks and bakers as well as potters, metalsmiths, clothiers, and weavers, to see how all of these technologies were applied in the kitchens of our forebearers.

I greatly encourage anyone interested in applied archaeology and desiring the chance to “play with their food” to come out, get involved, and enjoy themselves at the Lab.

Categories: SCA news sites

Court Report: Scarlet Guard Inn, Shire of Hornwood, June 13, A.S. 50

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-06-27 16:44

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy & Gabrielle II, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Majesties’ Court at Hornwood Guard Inn, 13 June Anno Societatis L, in the Shire of Hornwood. As recorded by Their Silver Buccle Herald, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai, with the assistance of Drotin Jorundr hinn Rotinn, Golden Alce Herald, and Takamatsu-san Gentarō Yoshitaka.

Their Majesties called forth the children in attendance, and bade them follow their daughter, Linette of Arindale, to the back of the hall, where treat bags had been prepared for them.

THLord Peregrine Falconer of the now-Kingdom of Avacal

THL Peregrine Falconer, ambassador from Albrecht and Nasheeta, Crown Prince and Princess of Avacal, came forth to offer warm greetings from Their Highnesses and invite one and all to Their Coronation as First King and Queen of Avacal two weeks hence. Their Majesties bade THL Peregrine return Their greetings and congratulations on Their
Highnesses’ impending Coronation and Avacal’s elevation to the station of 20th Kingdom of the Society.

THL Gunther Grunbaum, the Kingdom Thrown Weapons Champion, was summoned forth and created a Companion of the Keystone for his service not only to the Thrown Weapons and Siege communities, but also as cook, armorer and Chatelain. Words by Baron Daniel del Cavallo to be illuminated and calligraphed by THL Sophie Davenport were read.

THL Gunther Grunbaum receives his Keystone.

THL Gunther then reported to Their Majesties that a tournament was held to determine his successor as Kingdom Champion. Of the many competitors, Baron Master Tigernach mac Cathal proved the most worthy, and was invited forth to receive the station and regalia of Kingdom Thrown Weapons Champion. Scroll illuminated by THL Aibell Suil-Uaine and calligraphed by Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai.

Master Tigernach is invested as Thrown Weapons Champion.

Ichikiero-san Osorochi, the Kingdom Archery Champion, was recognized as a Ludicrous Archer of Æthelmearc, and inducted into the Order of the Golden Alce for his skill as an archer. Scroll illuminated by Ishiyama-roku-i Gentarō Yori’ie and calligraphed by Lady Isabel Fleuretan.

Lord Ichikiero Osoroshi steps down as Champion and is recognized as a Ludicrous Bowman and a Companion of the Golden Alce.

Ichikiero-san then similarly reported to Their Majesties that a grand tournament had been held that day to determine Their Majesties’ next Archery Champion, and that Lord Ru Cavorst had shot more true than any other. Lord Ru was then invited forth, named the Kingdom Archery Champion, and received the regalia of his new station. Scroll illuminated by THL Aibell Suil-Uaine and calligraphed by Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai.

Lady Katheryn Täntzel was brought forth to announce the results of the Dante’s Inferno archery shoot held that day. Lord Martin Lewis scored in 3rd place, Takamatsu-san Gentarō Yoshitaka placed 2nd, and John of Maplewood had bested all others.

THL Juan Miguel Cezar came forth and spoke of the Scarlet Guard Challenge held that day, and that Takamatsu-san Gentarō Yoshitaka had proven victorious. He also brought forth and congratulated the many gentles who managed to complete the day’s Iron Tassel Shoot.

Alrekr Bergsson came forward to announce that Brendan of Ealdormere had been the victor in the day’s Mythic Heroes shoot.

While Alrekr Bergsson was in Their Majesties’ presence, They Awarded him Arms for his skill as an archer, his service as an archery marshal and assisting in event setup and teardown. Scroll illuminated by Lady Alana MacLeland and calligraphed by THL Juan Miguel Cezar.

Alrekr Bergsson receiving his Award of Arms.

Goffrain Cleireach was Awarded Arms for his 22 years of service in the SCA as an archer at the Pennsic Wars, construction of archery targets, and assisting in the teardown of the Æthelmearc encampment at Pennsic. Scroll by Lady Vivienne of Yardley.

Goffrain Cleireach is awarded Arms.

Lady Aemilia Soteria was inducted into the Order of the Golden Alce for her great skill in thrown weapons and her service as a thrown weapons marshal. Scroll illuminated by Lady Isabel Fleuretan and calligraphed by Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai.

Lady Aemilia Soteria is inducted into the Golden Alce.

Lady Caolfhionn of the Woods was elevated to the Order of the Sycamore for her generous and quiet skill in the art of brewing, which has earned her multiple awards in A&S competitions. A scroll by Countess Aidin ni Leir was not present.

Lord Hanse Drachensohn was presented with his scroll commemorating his induction into the Order of the Sycamore by the hands of Titus and Anna Leigh. Scroll illuminated by Lady Edana the Red and calligraphed by THL Fiora d’Artusio upon words by Don William Parris.

Her Majesty then spoke of the ingenuity of Master Robert the Gray in designing and constructing the archery target launcher that had been used on the day’s ranges. She presented Master Robert with her token of inspiration.

Those who had donated time and effort towards the scrolls given out that day were invited to stand forth and be recognized.

Master Jacopo di Niccolo informed the populace that some archery equipment had been left behind at the last year’s Archers to the Wald event, and that it had still not been claimed. He invited anyone who could correctly identify the lost equipment to speak with him and claim it.

Baron Edward Harbinger, the Kingdom Archer General, announced that once again, House Wolf and Thistle had organized a Peerage shoot for the day as a fundraiser for the Kingdom Trailer Fund. He then reported that the shoot had raised $393 for the fund.

The peerage charity shoot run by Baron Edward Harbinger.

His Majesty reiterated his belief that this year’s Pennsic War may well be decided by the Mass Populace Archery Shoots, and implored everyone who could shoot a bow or crossbow to take their weapons and ammunition to the Archery Range at War and shoot for Æthelmearc. The Populace Shoots are not limited; each person can shoot as many times as they would like, and every point is counted towards the Kingdom’s total.

There being no further business, Their Majesties’ Court was closed.

In Honor and Service,
Kameshima Zentarō Umakai
Silver Buccle Principal Herald, Kingdom of Æthelmearc

Categories: SCA news sites

Æthelmearc Æcademy and War College plus Equestrian Champions’ Tourney

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-06-27 14:49

For this session, we promised classes that are icky, sticky, smelly, noisy, and messy. And boy, will we deliver!

This event combines 3 events: Stormsport’s Annual Army Muster, Their Majesties’ Equestrian Championship Tournament, and the Æthelmearc Æcademy and War College. It is sure to offer something for everyone!

In addition to the heavy fighting, archery, fencing, thrown weapons, youth combat, and equestrian activities, there will be classes a-plenty!

Not even Pennsic can boast such a wide variety as we will provide: hands-on classes, history classes, music and dance classes, martial and equestrian classes …. Who could ask for more?

Check out the class descriptions here.

Then mark your calendar for Saturday, July 4th, and we’ll see you at the Albion Borough Park /Fairgrounds in Albion, PA! For additional event details, please visit the event’s website.

War College/Martial

  • Atlatl Practicum ( THL Anlaith ingen Trena )
  • Basics of the Japanese Sword ( Lord Alessandro Devereaux )
  • German Sword and Buckler ( Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen )
  • Meisterhau in Practical Use ( Don Donnan MacDubhsidhe )
  • Morning Heavy Instruction Muster ( Baron Liam MacantSaoir )
  • Rapier Combat Body Mechanics ( Master Diego Miguel Munoz de Castilla )


  • Fashion Parade — A Trip through the History of Horse Barding ( Lady Maeve Ni Siurtain)
  • Groundcrewing at Equestrian Events ( Lady Aaliz de Gant )
  • Heraldry for Horses ( THL Meadhbh Inghean Ui Bhaoighill )
  • Riding to the Obstacle — A Practical Training Session for Equestrian Activities. ( Mistress Shishido Tora, called Gozen )


  • Beginning Pewter – Cold and Hot Pewter Look the Same (Lady Edana the Red)
  • Chests, Boxes, Straps and Locks ( Baron Langdon of Greymorne )
  • Inlaid Floor Tiles ( Lord Ian Campbell of Glen Mor )
  • Introduction to Green Woodworking ( Master Gille MacDhnouill )
  • Paternosters, Rosaries and Payres of Beades ( Mistress Aidan ni Leir )
  • Roman Food and Dining: A Roman Picnic ( Lady Ottilige von Rappoltsweiler )
  • Teaching in the SCA ( Mistress Alicia Langland )
  • Viking Age Women’s Beads ( Mistress Aidan ni Leir )


  • Everybody Dies ( THL Beatrice de Winter )
  • Hangmen, Headsmen, and Other Fun Ways to Die ( THL Beatrice de Winter )
  • How to Look Like You Have Stepped Out of a Renaissance Painting (Baroness Oddkatla Jonsdottir )
  • Islamic Science ( Master Gille MacDhnouill )
  • Period Card Games: Losing Loadem ( Lady Margaret of Enniscorthy )

Music & Dance

  • European Dance in the 15th and 16th Centuries — An Introduction ( THL sionn, the lost )
  • European Dance in the 15th and 16th Centuries — Intermediate Dances ( THL sionn, the lost )
  • Hammered Dulcimer ( Lady Brigette de Sainte Mere-Eglise )
  • Loud Band – Shawm and Rauschpiefe ( Master Remus Fletcher )
  • Pennsic Choir Sneak Peek ( Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope )
  • The Cornett and the Serpent: Renaissance Brass? ( Master Remus Fletcher )


  • Baby Steps for Beginner Illumination ( Lady Edana the Red )
  • Developing a Flourished Hand by Bocskay ( THL Kieran MacRae )
  • Fixing Mistakes on Scrolls ( Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope )
  • Painting White Flowers ( Mistress Antoinette de la Croix )
  • Scribal Arts: Shading/Drapery ( Mistress Antoinette de la Croix )

Photo by Kathleen Haag

Categories: SCA news sites

Court Report: Myrkfaelinn Summer War Practice June 6, A.S. 50

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2015-06-27 13:07

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy & Gabrielle II, King and Queen of Æthelmearc: the Business of Her Majesty’s Court at Myrkfaelinn Summer War Practice, 6 June Anno Societatis L. As recorded by THL Marcus Claudius Cincinnatus, Windmill Pursuivant, with the assistance of Vita Cincinnatus.

Photo by Baroness Ekaterina Volkova

Her Majesty summoned before her Simon Fjarfell and spoke of his efforts in the realm of Embroidery, despite his young age. Noting that such efforts deserved recognition, Simon was named a companion of the Silver Sycamore.  Scroll by Ekaterina Volkova.

The autocrat of the event, Don Mateo Pesci was invited before Her Majesty. Don Mateo addressed the populace, and thanked those artisans and teachers who had come forward to assist in the day’s Metalworking symposium, making special note of Master John Michael Thorpe’s contributions.

Her Majesty then declared that she would have words with Master John the Pell. Summoned by such authority, Master John found his seat no longer willing to contain him, and thus he came before the Sylvan Queen.  Her Majesty noted that His Majesty had wished to be in attendance, but mundane concerns had detained him, and thus she read the words of His Majesty to Master John.  Master John’s many years of service to Kingdom and Society were laid plain by the words of the Sylvan King.  So speaking, and so reading, Her Majesty then did summon the Noble order of the Pelican, and issue a writ of summons to Master John, that he attend Their Majesties at Pennsic, and answer whether or not he would accept elevation to said order. To further add to the moment, The Honorable Lady Gytha Oggsdottir was invited to read a letter for Master John and the populace, sent by former members of the Populace of Myrkfaelinn, in support of Master John’s elevation.  Upon accepting the writ, Master John returned to his place among the populace, and seated himself upon the ground.

Her Majesty then spoke of the day’s beautiful weather and of the many beautiful works and noble combats she had witnessed throughout. Being especially moved by the efforts of Lady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne, Her Majesty did present Lady Máirghréad with her token of inspiration.

There being no further business, Her Majesty’s Court was closed.

Categories: SCA news sites