SCA news sites

In Memorium: Yvan Wolvesbane

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-12-27 17:02

Lord Yvan Wolvesbane passed away suddenly on December 4, 2016. Always an upholder of the chivalrous arts – he was the third Knight Marshal for the Barony of Concordia of the Snows.

Yvan Wolvesbane discovered the SCA while he was in the Navy.  His first assignment on a ship was a great adventure for him.  When his was off duty he explored.  Imagine how surprised he was when he climbed a ladder to go on deck and stepped into a fight practice!

The ship was a successful little shire. The Shire even had permission to have little events on board.  His attempt at medieval clothing for his first event  was to pull the blanket off his cot and pin it on backwards as a cloak.  The blanket was stamped NAVY of course.  Rather deeply.  The ink had soaked through. When he told a shipmate he had not chosen a name, someone laughed and said it was written on his cloak! YVAN was a name that stuck for his entire career in the Game.

Reading was a great passion with Yvan.  There he discovered that choosing a persona was going to be a difficult decision.  He found the fascination with working metal and the fearlessness in battle that comes with believing that death is followed by waking up with your friends in Celtic cultures fascinating.  The Norse focus on fighting, travel, entrepreneurship, and farming was very, very appealing too.  He discovered that the culture in the around early Cornwall was a delicious blend of the two.

After his discharge, Yvan bought a Harley and traveled wherever his whims took him for several years.  But he never missed Pennsic.  He managed to take his armour and tent as well as his garb along with him on the bike, a pole arm sticking out on each end.  When there were fewer rules there he used his bike as a tent pole.  Once!   In a storm that year his tent fell over him!  After that the bike was usually a quiet companion in his tent.  His first air mattress exploded when Yvan hopped into bed.  Every year after that for a long time he broke his bed at Pennsic.   These are stories that will make you laugh for hours.

For him, fighting and metalwork were both arts.  Arts requiring study, research, skill acquired by practice, and creativity.  Making armour for fighting and tools for the forge were just as interesting to him as using them.  His helmet and his forge were prized possessions. Not only did he work at the forge, he found joy and passion in sharing his knowledge with anyone who showed interest. In 2015 he was inducted into the Order of the Maunche.

“Yvan Wolvesbane was a charismatic and honorable man who will be missed by everyone who knew him.  Sail off on your Death Ship, my friend, to Valhalla.  I will meet you there when I come to the Blessed Isle.” Mistress Brid nic Shearlais

Filed under: In Memoriam

Pennsic 46 Rapier Champions Teams Kick-off & Signups

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-12-27 09:00

The Rapier Pennsic Champions Coordinators have announced the tryout and selection process for both the Single’s Team & the Melee Team. Below is the selection committee’s email, originally sent out to the EK Rapier email list.

Greeting unto the East!

Preparations for the rapier champions teams are already underway in order to give everyone plenty of time to plan for next year. Here are the pertinent details.

Selection Process

We will be running tryouts again for both teams. We like how much this allows us to see people in action, how much it makes us travel, and how it gives so many people more excuses to fence.

Don Lupold intends to organize tryout tournaments for the singles team throughout the Kingdom all the way through July. It should be noted that while winning one of these tournaments will certainly put you on the short list of candidates, it is no guarantee that you will be selected.

Don Eldrich intends on running at least half a dozen melee tryouts throughout the Kingdom between January and May so that he can best observe every candidate. His intention is to narrow the list as quickly as possible and produce the final list of team members no later than May so that there is time for the team to prepare together throughout June and July.

In addition to subjective observation of skill, Eldrich will be attempting to harvest more objective data from the tryouts than what was gathered last year. It is our hope that this information will be informative and will reinforce his subjective impressions rather than challenge them. Either way, the data will be used to inform his decisions, but will not be the only deciding factors.

Sign Up

Go sign up! The form is here: Pennsic EK Rapier Champions Signups 2017

In addition to being the starting list from which the champions will eventually be chosen, the sign up list will also guide us when deciding when and where the best places to host tryouts might be.

An Expanded Melee Team

While only ten of us can take the champions melee field at Pennsic, Eldrich believes that the East Kingdom has many more fencers worthy of being called champions and who could contribute to the team’s success. Therefor, there will be a round of cuts around May down to approximately twenty-five semi-finalists. These semi-finalists will be asked to serve as an expanded champions team whose role will be to practice and train in the final months before ten of them will represent the East Kingdom on the field at the champions melee battle at Pennsic. The primary goals are to encourage local training and exercises among the most likely candidates and to provide a dedicated group for the final team to practice with without requiring everyone to travel half-way across the Kingdom on the same weekend.

If you have any questions or wish to volunteer your event or practice to host one of the tryouts, you can email either of us directly at or .

General questions or comments for the East Kingdom Rapier command can always be sent to .

Yours in service to the East,
Don Lupold Hass, Captain of Rapier Champions & King’s Champion of Fence
Don Eldrich Gaiman, Captain of Rapier Melee Champion

P.S. – Please help share this message with your local fencing communities. Thanks!

Filed under: Pennsic, Rapier Tagged: Pennsic, pennsic 46, pennsic war points, Rapier

An Announcement From TRH Regarding Pennsic Rapier

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-12-26 10:00

Here is the news we have promised and you have all waited with such grace and patience.

We have searched high and low throughout this vast kingdom for a gentle to lead our fencers into war. We are pleased to announce that we have found what we have sought.

Enemies of the East beware for an army of fencers come before you! Their leader is fierce of blade, strong of hand and one helluva dresser!

The next Rapier General of the East – Don Remy Delamontagne de Gascogne

The rest of his illustrious staff:

East Kingdom XOs: Dona Sorcha Dhocair & Gallant Xavier the Sinister
Aide de Camp: Dona Anastasia da Monte 

Northern Army Commander: Master Ogedei Beccinjab Northern Army XO: Lady Elewys Yun Shi of Anglespur   Southern Commander: Duchess Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolàin Southern XO: Don Eldrich Gaiman  

Champs Coordinator: Don Lupold Hass
Melee Champs Captain: Don Eldrich Gaiman
Champs Advisory Council: Master Donovan Shinnock, Don Devlin MacPhearson & Don Thomas of Effingham

Yours in service,

Princess Honig and Prince Ioannes

Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic, Rapier Tagged: pennsic 46, Rapier, rapier champions

The Æthelmearc Guild Hall: an Interview with Master John Michael Thorpe

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-12-23 15:35

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed Master John Michael Thorpe about his new Guild Hall. Here’s his original announcement, posted on December 15, 2016:

I have been thinking for a while about how best to promote the growth of medieval and renaissance material culture (The tangible items that are part of the daily experience of the people and cultures that we as members of the SCA try to emulate). My personal view is that we can greatly enhance our shared experience as members of the society, as well as make it more authentic if we promote the idea and practice of producing period items using period (or as close as we can approximate) tools and materials and using them as they would have been used. Æthelmearc has guilds both at a Kingdom and local level, as well as artisans, and hobbyists (and just people who are interested in learning how to do something, or saw something cool that they want to try in a book) so after briefly bouncing the concept off of Their Majesties and Their Highnesses, and basing the concept on the Guild Hall in the Medieval City of York (Jorvik) where all of the guilds would meet. I have created the Æthelmearc Guild Hall as an informal organization.

This organization will be dedicated to communication between artisans of all genres, whether it be cooking, ceramics, metals, tailoring whatever. The Guild Hall will be run by and for the artisans, outside of the structure of the formal A&S community, answering as the medieval guilds did directly to the Crown. As we grow more members we can decide as a body how formally or informally we as a group want to do things, but the first step is to set up a forum where we can all communicate. Facebook is the easiest way to do this so I have created a public group.

All who are Æthelmearc subjects and are interested in the material trades are welcome to join. The usual prohibitions on mundane politics and being a jerk apply. Until this is up and running I will retain the right to ban anyone who is acting like a jerk so be nice

Master John Michael Thorpe
Guildmaster, Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths

Master Thorpe at a forge. Photo by his wife, THLady Fionnghuala ingean Diarmada.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview, Master Thorpe. What prompted you to create the Guild Hall, and what do you hope people get out of it?

One of the things that I have been noticing consistently in my 32 years in the SCA is that there is a real dearth of material culture evident. While you see newbies invariably outfitting themselves with various props that to their mind signify that they are in the SCA version of what was called “Theater Space” when I was working as an actor, the cheesy Chinese-made, junk vendor-supplied “dagger” comes to mind… (yes I had one or three as well when I was new) the use of objects that were commonly used in period as part of our daily life while we are at events is lacking. When I see people making things as A&S competition entries, so many times they are using modern tools and modern materials in modern ways to make something that in their interpretation looks like a period item. Additionally, there are people who are working on making things that were done by artisans in the middle ages. Some of them are working together in groups, whether they be Kingdom guilds, local group guilds, or just a weekly “stitch and bitch,” and some are working alone. There is not really a single group where (for instance) the threadworkers, the cooks, and the metalsmiths communicate to organize ways of increasing their visibility, building an event together, or looking for artisans who can help them figure out something outside of their discipline. I initially considered applying to the Æthelmearc Gazette to become a “trades” correspondent after my term as Kingdom Chronicler was over as a means of helping to increase the visibility of the trades, but ultimately decided that a better role would be organizing within the guild structure.

What kinds of things do you consider “material trades?” What was your reason for choosing that particular group of activities? 

The things that I consider “Material Trades” are things like Carpentry, Joinery, Blacksmithing, Leatherworking, Weaving, Goldsmithing, Bookbinding; pretty much anything that produces material goods that was practiced as a profession in our period of study. Technically, even bread baking and sausage making were guild-controlled activities in some medieval cultures (It was illegal in medieval England, for instance, to bake your own bread according to some accounting records if I remember correctly). My focus, both in the SCA and mundanely, has been making things. I am known mostly for my metalwork, but I have experience from an early age working in leather, wood, metal, plastic, and glass. My attraction to the material arts has been the fact that when you make something tangible, it has not just a physical form, but if it is a recreation of a period item and it is made well and used in a period manner, it brings a measure of authenticity to that which it touches. It is easy to assess the tangible merits of an item, (is it well crafted, does it look finished) and the functional merits (if it is a tool, does it perform the task that it was meant for well, and without injuring the hand that wields it?) but there is another dimension (intrinsic?) – using a good reproduction to perform the task that the original would have been used for in the manner that the original would have been applied lends an element of authenticity to what we as a society are trying to do, and as such elevates what we are doing beyond just another “Ren Faire.”

Why was it important to you that the Guild Hall be “outside of the structure of the formal A&S community?”

I really want the Guild Hall to be something run by and for the tradespeople, and something that is dedicated to promoting the material arts. The Ministry of Arts and Sciences is a very well-meaning group, but their focus is providing a reporting structure for verifying that people do arts as part of their local culture, and organizing specific activities. I want to take a more encompassing approach. As the type of people who are most likely to drive what I am looking for (myself included) are not the type given to rigid deadlines and quarterly reports, I want to have the freedom to let the Guild Hall grow in whatever direction fits the community.

You say that material culture is “often lacking” in the SCA. What do you feel we need but don’t have? How would you like to fix that lack?

I see a lot of people who are wearing their garb like a costume, often without the accessories that would complete an outfit in period (myself included), and using modern substitutions for items that would have been in daily use in period. This can be because they are not aware of what the item would have been, or there is not a proper period piece available that they are aware of, or there is not sufficient awareness of the role that a given item played. Also, and I am guilty of this as well, camping events have very modern items and furnishings scattered pretty much everywhere, unless you are in an authenticity-high setting like Enchanted Ground. One thing that helps to establish the illusion is replacing modern items and processes with the proper period equivalents, and the easiest way to make that happen is to provide encouragement and education for people to make the pieces. Not just a one-off A&S competition entry, but individually or as groups people producing all sorts of goods.

I am all for people learning their craft well enough to do it professionally if that appeals to them. I [have] an unattainable goal [of] events like Ice Dragon having all of the merchant spaces filled with people making all or most the merchandise that they sell,and all of that merchandise being reasonably documentable. But on a practical level, I want to help spread the knowledge of how material goods were produced and used, and encourage people to do that as a regular part of what we all do.

One of the things I have noticed is that awareness of the methods and tools used to craft common items, and the aesthetics common to period items, is often missing. I see people using power tools to knock huge chunks of material down into something that loosely approximates the shape of something they have seen photographed face on in a book. I have found that it is often easier to create a proper period form of something if you recreate the tools that would have been used and try to use the materials that the original was made with. Many times if you approach a task as you think a period tradesman would have, the tools and material guide you to a period form as that is the path of least resistance. For instance, if you try to bull a gothic arched window frame out of plywood with power tools it will look clumsy and unfinished no mater what you do, and will not be strong. On the other hand if you rive green oak splints and steam them into form with pins and tenons to hold them top and bottom you end up with a marvelously light and graceful yet extremely strong form with all of the right geometry. You can take that insight to almost all of the trades.

What do you mean when you say the Guild Hall would “answer directly to the Crown?” 

When I started the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths, I read a lot about the medieval guilds, particularly the Worshipful Company of Goldsmiths. Virtually all guilds were established by Royal charter and were charged by the King to maintain the standards of quality of goods and services, but also to collect or provide a tax or a tithe to the Crown. When I established the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths, our charter was signed by Malcolm I and Tessa I. It pledged to serve and advise the Crown and populace of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc . I have included His Majesty and Their Highnesses in the initial Guild Hall Facebook group (I couldn’t directly include Her Majesty, I assume due to privacy settings, but I tried) so that they would have direct access to the members both to observe what level of activity the Guild Hall members were engaged in, and to have a direct link to suggesting ideas or projects that would enrich the Kingdom as a whole.

Do you envision the group expanding beyond Facebook to in-person meetings, or even hosting events?

Absolutely! When the ideas that this grew out of initially formed, I was talking with Master Angus (OL East, housewright work), Master Simon de Okewode (OL Æthelmearc, pottery and metalcrafts) Master Erwilliom MacFergus (OL Æthelmearc, metal crafts) and a few others about starting a “Trades Company.” It would be sort of like the Tournament Companies, doing event space inside of events that had workshops set up, with only documentable tools and processes being used, starting out at a 25-foot authenticity level, and evolving over a period of time to “sight and feel” authenticity of tools, processes, and materials. Life intervened and we all got extremely busy, so that never came into being, but the Metalsmiths guild efforts to hold events within the events of local groups have a good track record, so I would like in the future to find groups that have events with enough room that we could add a Guild Hall meeting and trades demonstration as an additional attendance draw.

Do you expect the Guild Hall to end up with a formal structure – perhaps the “apprentice/journeyman/master” structure of medieval guilds?

At some point that will likely happen. I want to avoid the term “Master” for anything involved in a ranking system as that term is already formally linked to Bestowed Peerages, and the term “Apprentice” is already in use to describe the pledged vassal of a Laurel, so at some point I am sure that the Guilds will sort out some sort of universally acknowledged means of addressing who is an experienced mentor, who is a novice, and who is well on their journey, but I have no strong desire to push it. If people are merely looking to add a new title to their alphabet soup, they are probably looking in the wrong place

For those who don’t already know you, could you provide a brief SCA resumé?

I initially joined the SCA in Myrkfaelinn in 1982, and fought heavy until a motorcycle accident wiped out my left knee. After that I was kind of fringy until, as an RIT student in 1986, I stumbled on a Thescorre fencing practice at RIT. I made myself a fencing sword hilt because what was available at the time commercially was junk. After I moved back to Ithaca, I continued fencing, and made my second rapier hilt under the careful tutelage of Master Roberto di Milano (Mac the Armorer).

I started making swept-hilt fencing rapiers in 1991 back before schlager was an experimental weapons form, and as they got more accepted and eventually became the main fencing weapon of the SCA, my business making them kind of grew. At that point I was still focused on the rapier world. I became a rapier marshal, then group rapier marshalI, and eventually Seneschal of Myrkfaelinn. At one point early on, I entered an A&S competition at Sergeants and Yeomen’s, had a bad judge, and swore off any and all A&S involvement in the SCA. Mundanely I had been working as a bench goldsmith on and off since I had worked up from being the polisher at a wholesale jewelry repair trade shop.

Around the time I became Seneschal of Myrkfaelinn, I approached Don Ivan ap Myrddin about becoming a cadet. He told me that, because of politics, I would never become a White Scarf, and took me as a protegé instead. He told me that to become a candidate for Pelican, I would have to broaden my service beyond Rapier. Since I was already mundanely a goldsmith and bladesmith, the metal arts seemed like a good fit, so I started teaching and demonstrating metalsmithing in the SCA as well as researching period practices. Part of that service was setting up the Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths and organizing multi-Kingdom metal symposiums. Long story short, I got a Laurel for metalsmithing, metallurgy, and jewelry manufacturing, and abandoned the Pelican path. Oh, and for a couple of years I was heavily involved as a musician in trying to bring back European dancing to events, and helped organize a couple of dance events.

Master John Michael Thorpe currently lives in the Barony of Delftwood. Despite his claim to have “abandoned” a service path, he has served as a rapier marshal at the local and deputy Kingdom levels, as a local chatelain, and as seneschal for both Myrkfaelinn and Delftwood. He just stepped down as Kingdom Chronicler this fall.

Categories: SCA news sites

King’s & Queen’s Bardic Champions Has New Website

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-12-23 08:07

King and Queen’s A&S and Bardic Champions will take place on February 11th in the Barony of Concordia of the Snows.

There is a wonderful new website for the event: Details about the formats and requirements of both competitions can be found on this site. Please read all of the information carefully if you intend to compete. Questions about each competition can be directed to its respective champions.

Please remember that entrants for both competitions must register their intention to compete before the event. Registration information and deadlines can be found on the website. Please note that A&S research papers also have an advanced submission deadline.

Judges are still needed for the A&S competition! If you are willing to volunteer your time, please e-mail here .

Remember, there will also be a Youth A&S Display at the event! Please see the website for more details.

Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences, Youth Activities

Duchess Siobhán Visits a Medieval Textile Dig in Finland

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-12-21 12:25

Duchess Siobhán inghean uí Liatháin recounts her trip to a textile seminar in Finland, including a visit to an archaeological dig!

Back in October, I found myself truly emerging myself in history. I had flown to Finland to participate in a weekend-long seminar that focused on ancient textiles, techniques, and materials from the coasts of the Baltic Sea. I was surrounded by archaeologists and history enthusiasts like myself, all there to learn from those who have had their hands on the “real deal” and learn ways to create the items ourselves. And even though this seminar was amazing, it did not hold a torch to what happened to me 2 days prior.

One of my hostesses in Finland was the amazing Mistress Joutsenjärven Sahra. Lovers of Tablet weaving may know her as one of the co-authors of Applesies and Fox Noses – Finnish Tabletwoven Bands. One morning she asked me if I would like to visit an actual archaeological site where Iron Age items had been newly discovered. I just about fell out of my seat with excitement and a resounding YES PLEASE came quickly from my lips.

The drive to the site was not long but it was long enough for her to tell me that the place where we were going had been discovered in 2013. It is known as Ristimäki Hill in Ravattula village near Turku. The small hill was on private farm land and it was the farmer who noticed that there might be something in the ground that was not put there naturally. An archaeological team was called in and they were shocked at what they had found. What was discovered on this small hill was the remains of a late 12th century-early 13th century church. The church is, so far, the oldest in Finland and also the only one dating from the period before the creation of a Finnish parish system.

As we parked our car and started to walk the dirt road to the hill, I questioned whether we would get in trouble for walking on the private farm land. She told me that the site was protected by the Antiquities Act. This meant that visiting the site is possible within the framework of the Act and the Finnish “everyman’s right” (or in Finnish: jokamiehenoikeus). As long as we stuck to the road and did not disturb the site or surrounding area, we were allowed to visit. 200 meters down the road we turned left and there I was, standing in the middle of history.

Looking around, I saw taped off areas and tarps covering the ground. There was a team digging in few of the sites as well. I asked Sahra if they work all through the winter, as I pulled my wool jacket tighter because it had started to drizzle cold rain. She said no, they will soon stop digging and cover all open areas with tarps. I asked if security then comes and looks after the sites and I was shocked to learn that there was no security. The digging is donation-based and there was not enough money to pay for security. The archaeologists have to hope that no one comes and disturbs the sites. I also learned that publication is also donation-based and that even if they find amazing things in the ground, if there isn’t enough money to research it and publish, then it can sit in storage for months or even years.

Taking all that in, I walked over to where most of the people were and watched them carefully scrape and dig in the ground. Sahra also said that most of the people at this site were volunteers, probably from the local collages. There is one archaeologist in charge of the whole site, but everyone else is a volunteer. Just as I was thinking about how cool it would be if I could volunteer, there was a commotion in the digging area I was standing by. Sahra came over and asked a volunteer, in Finnish, what was happening, and she was told that they had just found a female bronze spiral apron. I just about fell over!

Here I was…in Finland because I love to recreate Finnish Iron Age aprons, and one was being discovered before my eyes. There are no words to properly describe my feelings but I can say I cried from being overjoyed. Sahra explained to the volunteers that I have made reproductions of aprons and because she said that to them, they brought up some of the spirals for me to look at. I was blown away at this opportunity I was given. I stood there staring at history and the source of my passion. It was magical.

I could not thank Mistress Sahra enough for taking me to this place and letting me experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The memories will stay with me for a lifetime.

If you want to read more about the excavation (sorry, it’s mostly in Finnish) you can go to

All photos by Duchess Siobhán.

Categories: SCA news sites

Academy of St. Clare of Assisi Next Spring

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-12-17 17:38

If you love embroidery, please save the weekend of March 31-April 2, 2017, because you won’t want to miss the Academy of St. Clare of Assisi: MORE Stitches in Time!

This weekend-long, embroidery-only event drew stitchers from five Kingdoms the first time it was held, and we are anticipating even more in 2017.

Activities will begin Friday night (March 31) and run through Sunday morning (April 2).  This year’s event offers:

  • all-new class topics
  • an additional hour of classes Saturday morning
  • FIVE “kit” classes to choose from (instead of four)
  • a Beginning Embroidery Track
  • an Embroidery Display Show & Tell
  • an Embroidered Fashions Show

Saturday morning classes will include these topics:

  • Some Basics on Gold and How It Relates to Embroidery by THL Jaqueline de Molieres
  • 14th century embroidered purses by Lady Vika Grigina z Prahy
  • Would You Know a Saint If You Met One? by Lady Johanna Lemercer 
  • How to Teach Fiber Arts by Lady Shirin of Susa

MORE morning classes are in the works!  (Details will be posted to the event website soon!)

On Saturday afternoon, attendees may choose to attend one of these intensive “kit” classes:

  • Assisi work by Maestro Filipia Capriotti (Good for beginners)
  • Bead embroidery by Mistress Jeanmaire Ilaria Beatrice du Domrémy
  • Embroidered book covers by Cristina inghean Ghriogair
  • Viking bag and embellishment by Lady Elska á Fjárfelli
  • Opus Anglicanum by Mistress Elspeth nic Cormac

Please note that “kit” classes require pre-registration and pre-payment. This enables the instructor to know how many kits to prepare in advance. Instructions for preregistering for “kit” classes will be emailed to you when we receive your event registration.
On Sunday morning, Mistress Elspeth nic Cormac, a left-handed embroideress, will offer a class on “Teaching Embroidery to Left-Handed Stitchers.”

Want more info?

Visit  for details!

P.S. — If you are planning to attend, mail your event reservation by the end of December and save $5.00.  The event registration price increases by $5.00 after January 1.

Categories: SCA news sites

Æthelmearc Herbal and Apothecary Guild

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-12-16 21:42

The Æthelmearc Herbal and Apothecary Guild would like to announce that they have a Facebook page and a quarterly newsletter!

The newsletters are posted on the group’s Facebook page. Volume 2 was posted at the beginning of December and includes articles on the history of gardening, the use of flowers in food, and a list of herbals ranging from early Chinese and Eqyptians to renaissance Italians and Spaniards.

Interested parties are invited to join the discussion on the guild’s Facebook page, which is managed by Lady Maggie Rue (mka Jen Sadler).


Categories: SCA news sites

Tasty Sharing at Æcademy Brewers Round Table

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-12-15 17:36

By Lady Elska á Fjárfella, round table host.

At the Æthelmearc Fall Æcademy, the Brewer’s Guild was invited to host a Brewer’s Round Table as it was blessed with a wet site. Initially scheduled in the main class room, we quickly packed up and invaded the quiet, out-of-the-way Troll table as it was a wee bit noisy (had nothing to do with us…).

With about a dozen brewers ranging from novice to Laurel and from all parts of our kingdom, we proceeded to have an informative and tasty round table on the topic of Fall fruit, in any shape or form.

 Many had brought tasty samples of fruit-flavored beverages. Madoc Arundel graced us with a Belgian Tripel, and he later confessed he thoroughly enjoyed the citrus melomel brought by novice brewer Cristina Inghean Ghriogair, who supplied us with several choices, ranging from blackberry wine made with baking yeast (from a traditional family heirloom recipe) and dandelion wine to  plum wine, apple citrus, and a raspberry cordial sampled together with dark chocolate. Her favorite was the mixed fruit rum someone had contributed. Leioolfr Grimr shared a blueberry cordial sweetened with beet sugar, or cherry, he did not quite remember…

My contribution was an example of how using fruit can throw a learning curve. I brought two bottles of red currant mead, based on a red raspberry mead recipe. Substituting one-to-one currants for raspberries made for a rather tart mead, which I personally did not quite like. Back sweetening with a little honey made all the difference, I thought. It was interesting to find that some people liked the tart original, some preferred the sweetened, and most wondered if downscaling the currants to lower the tartness might also lessen the currant flavor, which nobody wanted to mess with… so, surprising to me, the consensus was to not mess with the recipe , and make those dry wine lovers happy!

We traded some secrets, such as where to get grape juice in bulk (many local vineyards growing their own grapes sell plain grape juice, ready to ferment), shared some tips (freezing whole fruit helps free up the fruity goodness, and using a masticating juicer is not ideal as it is difficult to ferment apple sauce), and, as always, we had a great time.

 Thank you Æthelmearc Æcademy for inviting us, and thank you all for coming!

Categories: SCA news sites

Kingdom Bardic Competition at Twelfth Night

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-12-14 15:57

From Master William de Montegilt, Kingdom Bard:

Good greetings to the wonderful bards of Sylvan Æthelmearc! Their Majesties desire a competition be held at Kingdom XIIth Night to choose Their new Bardic Champion. The rules are simple: Anything goes, with two exceptions. The songs titled “Song of the Shield Wall” and “Born on the List Field” will not be considered. Tune your instruments (if you use them) and learn the words! So saith William.

Categories: SCA news sites

Christmas Shopping for Medievalists

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-12-13 21:53

The Æthelmearc Gazette does not endorse any vendors or products. This article is intended solely for entertainment purposes, and is entirely Arianna’s fault.

Christmas is less than two weeks away, and you say you haven’t found the perfect gift for your SCA friends and kids? Never fear, the Gazette has some great gift ideas for the medievalists in your life!

Medieval knight hoodie: look like you’re in armor even when you’re not! Bonus: keeps your nose warm! $49.99 from ThinkGeek.

Medieval battle T-Shirt: Show your love of medieval combat, art, or both! $31.65 from Zazzle.

Unicorn tapestry T-shirt: for those more interested in gentle pursuits. $20.10, also from Zazzle.

Knights of the realm wall sculpture: 13″ wall-mounted sculptures of armored men in two different designs. $35 for one or $60 for both from Design Toscano.

Lancelot and Guenevere shower curtain: make your bathroom look like an illuminated manuscript! $56.95 from CafePress. They have other medieval designs ranging from images out of the Unicorn Tapestries, to castles, weaponry, and scenes of armored men. Search on “medieval shower curtains.”

Medieval chess set: Figures include medieval knights, kings, horsemen and towers. $99.50 from Wal-Mart.

Throne: want to feel like lord of your own castle? This medieval-inspired full-size throne chair is $749 from Design Toscano plus another $97 shipping.

Glass top dragon coffee table: If you’re going to have a medieval throne, you absolutely must have a medieval coffee table to go with it. $397.86 from

And for the kids in your life, we have some more great options!

Playmobile Knights play box: start your little ones early with this set of knight and king figures. Comes with weapons (including a functional crossbow), a throne, and a carrying case. $19.99 from Kohls. If you’re feeling generous, Playmobile also offers a castle for $100.

Go Fish for Art: your kids can play Go Fish with famous renaissance art like the Mona Lisa instead of regular playing cards. $10.99 from

Make-it-youself unicorn hobby horse: Feeling inspired and ready to do some sewing? Download this pattern to make your child their very own unicorn hobby horse. $9 from Whileshenaps on Etsy.

Knight wall art: You can decorate your kid’s wall with a 25″ x 28″ knight graphic. $17.00 from Stateofthewall on Etsy.

Knight and shields toddler bed set: Keep your little one dreaming of knightly deeds with this sheet and blanket set. $25.99 from Target.

Knight-themed books: Medieval historian Ewart Oakeshott wrote a series of books on knights and their armor, weapons, and battles. This is one of several from which you can choose. $13.95 from Barnes and Noble.

Happy medieval shopping, everyone!

Categories: SCA news sites

SCAdian Steps Bravely into Void Left by Statue Incident

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2016-12-11 13:12

photo by Kaitlyn Sweeney

Sadly, the town of Pittston, PA (in the Barony of Endless Hills) suffered a great loss this week when a car demolished their statue of Christopher Columbus, necessitating the removal of the statue until it can be replaced.

Lord Cormacc mac Gilla Brigde from Endless Hills stepped bravely into the void until the northeast Pennsylvania cold forced a retreat.

His feat was even picked up by local news, and he was later interviewed about his “shenanigans” both by an online newspaper and a local radio show

Categories: SCA news sites

East Kingdom 50 Year Event Bids Sought

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2016-12-10 17:21

Greetings  unto the populace of this great East Kingdom.

Bids are now being accepted from those that want to run an East Kingdom 50 year event.

The East will hit the 50-year mark in 2018.  This results in a really tight window for bids to be received and reviewed by the Council of the Exchequer.

Had it not been for the desire of several people to run such an event, this momentous occasion could have passed by without any acknowledgment at all.

Considering that this event is unique in its nature it will likely have more detail than the standard East Kingdom event bid form.

Submit all details and costs on the form or in additional attachments.  Include any and all information so that the council has a complete picture of your event and bid.

Your bids are to be sent to the  Kingdom Exchequer and Seneschal as well as Their Majesties and Highnesses. The deadline to receive bids is January 15, 2017.

In Service,

Ignacia,  Kingdom Exchequer

Mercedes, Kingdom Seneschal

Filed under: Announcements, Events, Uncategorized Tagged: EK 50th, Exchequer, seneschal

The Largesse of the Great Heart of Saint Kenric of Blessed Memory

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-12-09 23:21

The following was shared with the Gazette by Meister Ulric von der Insel, Baron Bridge.

It is with humility and reverence that we, Ulric and Clothilde, Baron and Baroness Bridge do announce the rediscovery of the Great Patrimony bestowed upon us in days gone by! Much like the noted Donation of Constantine, whereby the Papal States were formed and which in NO WAY at all might be a forgery, Bridge was the recipient of the Largesse of the Great Heart of Saint Kenric of Blessed Memory, which, also, is in NO WAY a forgery at all! The document was rediscovered and read to the delight of all assembled at the barony’s 43rd birthday. Much as with the miracle of saints’ blood still staying wet over the centuries, herein was a miracle of Saint Kenric that the ink even appeared wet upon the scroll! Here it reads verbatim as follows:

Kenric Masculobarbatus Rex Defender of the East & Patron of Prosperity to All to whom these letters come, especially around AS 51, greetings. Know that Our Crown Barony of the Bridge being home of Our Heart & Body We would ensure its future lest it fall into poverty and so it must also prosper as a fit home for My Dearest Avelina in the unfortunate case of my demise by oh, I don’t know – maybe many black arrows in the chest. Thus do We gift forever said Crown Barony with the full income of the Great Kings Highway from one end to the other without gainsay, hindrance, stay or molestation upon pain of censure, forfeiture of estate, dismemberment and disembowelment. This We command upon this 24th day of September AS 46 being the birthday of Our most beloved brother Ulric. So say We Kenric Rex the First of Three or So.


Post Script: This document is in no way a forgery
Signed Kenric’s Scribe’s Notary

This was read by myself – Meister Ulric von der Insel, Baron Bridge – on Sunday December 4 at Bridge Birthday 43. The document was discovered after long laying forgotten in a chest. (Note: It’s a forgery patterned after the famous Donation of Constantine, by which the Papal States were granted to the popes in perpetuity by Emperor Constantine. Really, it’s just for instigation and fun!)


Filed under: History Tagged: Barony of Bridge, Kenric and Avelina

Entertainers Wanted for Kingdom Twelfth Night

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-12-08 18:57

Kingdom Twelfth Night is looking for entertainers!

What’s a Carnivale without jugglers and minstrels? Please share your talents and entertain us! There will be a “town square” space set aside in the main hall for you to show us your best!

For event information click here.

-Mistress Othindisa Bykona
Kingdom 12th Night 2017 Autocrat

Categories: SCA news sites

Æthelmearc Fall Photography Contest

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-12-06 18:17

A story by Duchess Dorinda Courtenay, at large reporter

Last Spring I was scrolling through my social media, and I came across a stunning photo from an event in another Kingdom. It was a photo from the feast, and it was gorgeous. Beautiful dishes of food sat on a real trestle table. People with perfect garb smiled as candle light reflected from their eyes. For just a moment, I felt like I had a window into the time we study.

Jennet and Rian by Lady Ginevra Isabetta Del Dolce

“I really appreciate the encouragement and opportunity afforded by this contest to showcase the Period over the Modern. I’m honored that my photograph was chosen among such gorgeous entries. Mistress Jennet & Master Rian are a true embodiment of the ideals of our Society.”

Not long after this, I came across a somewhat random picture of some fencing. One of my friends asked the poster “Is that from that war practice event they just had”? The answer came back “Nah, it can’t be from Æthelmearc – there aren’t any cars in the picture!”  Ouch! Is that how we were known? Obviously, it can be hard to keep the modern out of pictures taken at events, but I knew we were better than that, and I set out to prove it with the Æthelmearc Fall photography contest!

“Crowning the Queen and King” by Fridrikr Tomasson

“The tradition of simultaneously crowning the king and queen is one I learned in the East many years ago. I was very happy to see it occurring in Æthelmearc. My picture is an attempt to capture the passing of power from one reign to the next, to focus on the hands and the crowns, not the faces.”

Throughout the fall, the photographers of Æthelmearc were invited to submit up to five of their best pictures to the contest. For this first contest, there were few rules and no categories – just the general request that they be family friendly pictures and that attempts be made to keep out the modern elements that creep into our events.  Several dozen pictures were submitted, and given my limited knowledge of the art form, Master Raeve Hella was invited to help judge.

Combat of the Thirty by Lady Zinoviia Ivanova

“I enjoy the challenge of capturing the action of heavy fighting with my photography. However there are times when a shot like this, of the fighters waiting and ready, feels just as powerful to me as a shot of them engaged in battle.”

During the judging phase of the contest, I learned several things. First, it is very difficult to get pictures of martial arts that are devoid of the modern. In general, there are modern pads and braces, hockey helms and fencing masks, sword tips and inspection stickers, and lots and lots of rattan. List ropes are often in pictures, and at outdoor sites, it can be difficult to both get that special moment and keep the modern at bay. This lead to the second lesson – posed pictures are more likely to avoid the pitfalls than candid shots. For this reason, when done again, and it *will* be done again, there will likely be a category for each type of picture.

“Baroness Slaine” by Ian Ashbaugh

“It’s always exciting to get a capture without the mundane lurking in the background.”

When asked about the contest, Master Raeve noted, “One thing I enjoyed about this contest was the opportunity to see how people curate their experience in the SCA. Some documented moments, some constructed scenes, others hunted for the ideal as they saw it. What I had the opportunity to witness was a visual representation of the spirit of Æthelmearc. From that I have high hopes that this contest and similar events will inspire people to record our collective history.”

Recognizing Sir Ian by the lady Karli of Heronter

“I was happy to capture a moment from Sir Ian’s Laurel ceremony, including the solemn grace of Their Majesties and the rapt attention of Sir Ian’s son, Kai, bathed in the light and shadow.”

While choosing from over four dozen amazing photos, it was very difficult to select only a few to honor. Most captured priceless moments, and many showed the best of what we do. However, as that is how a contest works, winners were chosen.

Grand Prize Winner: Master Orlando di Bene del Vinta for the Viking in Winter
Second Place: the lady Karli of Heronter for Recognizing Sir Ian
Third Place (tie): Lady Zinoviia Ivanova for Battle of the Thirty
Third Place (tie): Sir Ian Kennoven for Baroness Slaine
Honorable Mention: Lady Ginevra Isabetta Del Dolce for Jennet and Rian
Honorable Mention: Master Fridikr Tomasson for Crowning the Queen and King

The Viking in Winter by Master Orlando di Bene del Vinta

Grand Prize Winner

“This photo was part of a set that happened spur of the moment. Snow had just started falling and I turned to my roommate at the time and told her to get on some garb because I wanted to do some snow shots. I loved this opportunity because it was a chance to use my very modern hobby to capture the spirit and essence of my medieval hobby.”

Congratulations and thank you to all who took time to share their pictures with us. More of the wonderful pictures can be found on the facebook page “AEthelmearc Fall AS 51 Photography Contest”.

It is my intent to run it again in the spring, so start planning those pictures now!

Categories: SCA news sites

East Kingdom Bardic Championship

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-12-06 16:03

The East Kingdom Bardic Championship will take place on February 11, 2017 in the Barony of Concordia of the Snows (Scotia, NY)

East Kingdom Bardic Championship

Photograph courtesy of The Honorable Lord Hugh Tauerner

King Brion and Queen Anna will select their Bardic Champions based on a three-round competition.  Competitors will be judged by Their Majesties and the current Champions, along with an advisory committee, on choice of material, artistic impression, audience impact, technical skill, and individual response.

Questions regarding the competition format or requirements should be directed to the current Queen’s Bard, Mistress Alys Mackyntoich.  Mistress Alys is not on Facebook, but Lady Aethelflied Brewbane, the King’s Bard is, and will answer questions arising in that forum.

***For the first time this year, we are asking those intending to compete to pre-register with Mistress Alys, the Queen’s Bard, by sending her an email at  Emails must be received by midnight on February 6, 2017 if you wish to compete.  The email need only contain your name and a statement of intent.***

Responsibilities of the Champions

Before competing for the position of Bardic Champion, please consider the responsibilities of the office.  Bardic Champions are expected to:

Photo by The Honorable Lord Hugh Tauerner

  • Make an effort to attend at minimum the Crown Tournaments and Coronations during their tenure, and Pennsic if at all possible, as well as other Kingdom Events and Royal Progresses as the Champion is able.
  • Be willing/able to perform at courts, feasts, and other functions (and at the whim of Their Royal Majesties).
  • Be willing/able to perform something on the spur of the moment (especially in the event of a delay breaking out).
  • Commemorate the history of The Crowns and the East Kingdom in song and story.
  • Advise and assist the Crown in the organization of the competition to choose their successors.
  • Run the East-Middle Bardic Exposition at Pennsic, featuring performances by representatives of the East, the Middle and their “daughter” Kingdoms.
  • In appropriate years, Champions may be asked to organize or provide performances for State Dinner or Queen’s Tea at Pennsic.
Display Option

Time permitting, those who do not wish to compete for the Championship will be allowed time to display their performance skills between rounds of the competition.  If you think you would like to display, please contact Mistress Alys in advance so that we can try to make sufficient time available for you.

Performer Resume

Each performer is asked to submit, prior to the first round, an index-card-sized summary of types of performances and styles the performer would be willing to perform with little or no prior notice.  This “resume” gives the performers a chance to display versatility as well as skill, and gives Their Majesties additional information as they consider their next bardic champions.  Their Majesties will choose something from this list for the final round, so consider well what you may be called upon to perform!


Name (list relevant SCA info) what you do as a performer, and what you can do on command.

Queen Thyra Inducts Her Bard: William Photo by Cateline la Broderesse

Romanus Gaius Cantus (SC, OTC, Troubadour)  Roman-style boasts, filk on any topic to the tune of the Maltese Bransle or Greensleeves, good at extemporaneous speaking, can chant war-style marching songs in Latin.  Excellent at theatre-style reading text I have not seen before.

Skihald the Viking (King’s Bard to John VIII, Troubadour, Order of the Maunche, Order of the Laurel) Perform and write Norse-styled poetry in English, tell skaldic tales from 4 to 10 minutes in length from hilarious to morose, excellent teller of jokes, intermediate juggler, have several magic tricks I have worked into period settings.

Ysibeau du Provance Period pieces in French for solo voice or recorder, Latin sacred music of the 12th century, improvisational harp.  Can write small praise poems in French and English with some notice.  Familiar with some music from most SCA periods, and SCA-appropriate songs.  I am good at selecting music for different occasions.

Haven Fortnight (Bard to Baron of the Place) I know a handful of period pieces, but my strengths are really SCA-appropriate non-period songs composed by others (traditional, folk tradition, SCA-composers) or by myself.  I also play guitar.  I can write pieces on commission with some notice.  I can play and stroll at the same time.  I can write in rhyming verse on short notice on nearly any topic and present it.

Structure of the Competition

The competition will take place over three rounds with the following parameters.

FIRST ROUND: a documented period piece, a period-style piece OR a piece written on an SCA theme.

SECOND ROUND: a piece of a different type or style than that done in the first round.  For example, if you performed a documented period piece for round one and wish to perform another documented period piece for round two, the two pieces should differ in some other way, such as mood (happy vs. melancholy), type of performance (poetry vs. song, prose vs. instrumental), etc.

THIRD ROUND: Their Majesties’ choice.  Their Majesties will instruct the competitors on what they wish to hear, guided by their earlier performances, the skills which have been listed in their “resume”, and (possibly) a brief interview of the entrant.  Performers will have a few minutes to prepare.

For this competition, a “period piece” is defined as an actual historical piece of poetry, prose or music, with appropriate documentation.  A “period-style piece” is an original or adapted work using documented period forms.  A “piece on an SCA theme” is any work written about SCA persons, events, or culture, and does not require documentation.

For period or period-style pieces, please provide a brief executive summary, such as would fit on an index card.  Any additional documentation, such as a paper explaining the period style in which the piece was written or documenting the source of the period piece, will be accepted happily and will be counted in favor of the competitor.

**Competitors will have a total of twelve minutes of performance time split over the all three rounds.  For the third round, Their Majesties may add additional time at their whim.**

The new Bardic Champions will be announced and begin their service at Court this day.


Note: This list will be maintained and updated as new questions arrive on their own web page.

Do I need to pre-register in order to compete?

Yes, for the first time this year, we are asking Bardic competitors to pre-register with the Champions stating their intent to compete.  Those intending to compete must pre-register with Mistress Alys by February 6, 2017.  Note that this is not the same as pre-registering for the event, although we encourage that as well.

What are the judges looking for?

Both the King’s and Queen’s Bard this year prefer documented period pieces and period-style pieces, and encourage performers to try those forms. Their Majesties are looking for pieces that move them emotionally, and enjoy pieces that evoke SCA history and culture.  So, the whole performing arts spectrum will be represented in the judging.

Do I need documentation in order to compete?

ONLY IF you are performing a period or “period style” piece.  The documentation can be as brief as an index card citing the source of your piece.  E.g., “Now Is The Month Of Maying” by Thomas Morley (1595), found in The Oxford Book of English Madrigals (Oxford University Press, 1978).  However, more documentation, particular if the piece is an original one, written in a period style, will be accepted quite happily and will be counted in the competitor’s favor.

Can I compete as an instrumentalist?

Yes, as long as vocal performance is also part of what you do.  At least one of your first two rounds should involve some sort of vocal presentation, whether spoken word or song.

Can I use a group performance for one of the rounds?

Only individuals can compete to be King’s or Queen’s Bard.  However, a group performance such as a choral song, recorder consort, or a brief mumming may be offered as part of an individual’s body of work IF the exact role of the person actually competing is made clear.  For example, when Lady Hextilda offers a group performance of a recorder piece, she states on her index card and documentation that she wrote the piece in a particular period style and is performing the alto recorder part.

What if I don’t want to be a Royal Bard but I want to get feedback?

Schedule permitting, there will be time between rounds for people to display their performances without competing for either Bardic position.  If you think you would like to display, please contact Mistress Alys in advance so that we can try to make sufficient time available for you.

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: Bardic, champions, Kings and Queens Champions

A Holiday Request From Their Royal Majesties

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-12-05 16:07

Citizens of Æthelmearc, good morning.

Our Monarchs Marcus and Margerite will be travelling to foreign lands and would like examples of the bounty and excellence of their people.

They are looking to put together gift baskets for TRMs to take to Market Day at Birka (East) and Gulf Wars (Meridies). Needed are artisans to contribute to these baskets. Needed are items that Their noble cousins can give to their populace as well as supporting their own Reigns. Suggestions include awards of excellence, or personal tokens that can be given out. Their Majesties are also hoping for someone to step forward to coordinate collection of these items over the next two months.

Their Majesties are also looking to commission an artisan or artisans to create personal tokens of their own to hand out while travelling. These would be given to individuals that inspire TRMs as well as thank you gifts for those that perform acts of personal service to Æthelmearc citizens abroad.

If you think you might be interested to add your talent to the pool, or wish to serve the Kingdom with your skills of organization, you are encouraged to contact TRMs’ majordomo Mester Janos. They are looking to have this position filled before the holiday break.

Their Majesties thank you for your continuing support and look forward to seeing many of you at Their 12th Night Celebrations this winter.

Categories: SCA news sites

On Target: Archery Stocking Stuffers

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-12-01 22:35

This month’s On Target: Stocking stuffers for the Archer you love!

It’s Christmas time and we’re all just a little lost about what to give that archer in our life. I found this cute little Christmas tree ornament you both can enjoy. Everybody that looks at it will say, “Where did you find that?” The truth is, I’ve forgotten… but if you Google “archery ornament” you’ll find some like it.

Now just like the “Marshals Field Box,” your archer may need nocks, fletching, glue, and points. For those all day trips, a modern shooter may need some jerky, power bars, and carb mixers to go in their water. Also, the hunter in him or her might need field dressing gloves and doe scent.

Finally, remember “GLG” – Guys (and Gals) Love Gadgets. No matter how many pocket knives or multi-tools we have in that overstuffed pocket, one more is always welcome. And at the end of the day, who doesn’t need a corkscrew or a bottle  opener?

I hope this helps you out with your Christmas shopping.

This month safety tip: whether you’re driving to the range or driving to Mom’s house, it’s Christmas and people are always in a rush and not very careful. Drive safely, my friends!

In service,

THLord Deryk Archer

Categories: SCA news sites

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #15: On the Preservation of Lemons

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2016-12-01 09:09

Our fifteenth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Edmund Beneyt of the Barony of Endewearde, who demonstrates that the delicious preserved lemons of the Middle East have a very long history indeed! (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

On the Preservation of Lemons

Lemons, preserving. Photo by Aildreda de Tamwurthe.

The preservation of food has been an ongoing struggle against Nature since man first started storing food for later use. There is evidence of the most basic form of preservation being used 14,000 years ago in the Middle East[1], and many different strategies have been discovered.

Pickling, the process of preserving food by either anaerobic fermentation in brine or immersion in a liquid of pH 4.6 or lower, is in use by most cultures across the globe. The range of pickled foods is astounding, from meats and fish to grains. The only limit on what can be pickled seems to be what is available to pickle.


A Little History
Preparing the Lemons

A Little History
Preserved lemons are an ingredient in North African stews and tagines, especially prevalent in Moroccan and Libyan cooking where they are known as “leems”[2]. Preserved lemon can be used as a flavour intensifier in stews, pot roasts and slow cooked dishes. Within North African cooking, chicken and lamb benefit from having preserved lemon added. Grated or fine chopped it can be added to salads or dressings, julienned it can be served as a snack or as part of an appetizer platter.

Some of the earliest references to the use of preserved lemons point towards a medicinal value. The Indian Ayurvedic cuisine uses the consumption of lemon pickle to remedy stomach disorders[3]; in East African folk medicine lemon pickle is given for excessive growth of the spleen[4].

One of the very earliest proponents of preserved lemons, Abū al-Makārim Hibat Allāh ibn Zayn al-Dīn Ibn Jumay‘ [ Ibn Jumai/Jumay] (b ???? d 1198), was a Egyptian-born Jew who went on to serve as physician to An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub (Saladin the Sultan)[5].

Ibn Jumay is infamous for bringing the dead back to life. While watching a passing funerary procession he saw that the feet of the corpse were upright rather than flat, a sign that life had not left the body. He stepped in and treated the man, reviving him and preventing his being buried alive. The man had suffered a cataleptic fit, a condition that causes muscle seizures and non responsiveness, which could be mistaken for death[6].

He also wrote a minor treatise; On Lemon, it’s Drinking and Use. A medical cookbook, it is the earliest written source that I could find that details the preservation of lemons. Sadly none of the original documents survived past the 12th Century, but thanks to the work of other scholars (Ibn al-Baitar, Compendium) and the great Islamic translation projects the details are available to us[7]. It has been said that the process Ibn Jumay documented has been universally copied since[8].

Take lemons that are fully ripe and of bright yellow color; cut them open without severing the two halves and introduce plenty of fine salt into the split; place the fruits thus prepared in a glass vessel having a wide opening and pour over them more lemon juice until they are completely submerged; now close the vessel and seal it with wax and let it stand for a fortnight in the sun, after which store it away for at least forty days; but if you wait still longer than this before eating them their taste and fragrance will be still more delicious and their action in stimulating the appetite will be stronger.

– Translated into English by Samuel Tolkowsky, “Hesperides: A History of the Culture and Use of Citrus Fruits” 1938 from the original, “On Lemon, it’s Drinking and Use”; Abū al-Makārim Hibat Allāh ibn Zayn al-Dīn Ibn Jumay‘, 12th century .

If we take this as a true translation, the process as described here is virtually unchanged in modern cooking. The process of opening the soft inner pulp to salt and then covering them in an acidic liquid forces a process known as fermentation. The outer rinds soften as the inner pulp desiccates leaving a vibrant lemon flavour. For use, they are rinsed, the pulp removed and discarded and the rinds used as required.

The climate in Egypt has daytime temperatures are around the 90-100F levels, so my first thought of oven warming would be impossible due to most modern ovens minimum temperature being in the 160-170F range. The only other option that could provide the required temperature range would be a hot water bath, but that would be prohibitive in terms of cost. I reluctantly decided to update my recipe to a more modern room temperature (70F) processing,

This change would also mean adjusting the fermentation time. The original also has a 54 day timeline, 14 days exposure to high temperatures plus 40 days “store away” (by which I would suggest was in a cold store or pantry). After consulting more modern recipes, it appears that between 30 and 45 days at room temperature will suffice to recreate the same quality of product.

The earliest reference to lemons in a European context would be as decorative trees in Southern Italy circa the first century CE. From there the plant was taken to North Africa, appearing in the 10th C. CE in an Arabic treatise on farming, spreading throughout the Arabic sphere of influence. Christopher Columbus transported lemon seeds to the New World in 1493.[9]

While preserved lemons have a wide usage in period North African and Middle East cooking (it is not unreasonable to expect those who went on Crusade to have encountered dishes that contained preserved lemon), lemons were not much used by Northern Europeans for cooking until post Renaissance.[9][10]

Lemons would have been rare and expensive during the medieval period, available to the influential and rich.[11] England imported much of their lemons from the Azores after cultivation began there in 1494. (A more esoteric use was to rub lemon slices on your lips to deepen the colour, something that apparently does work. There is the apocryphal tale of the basket of lemons given to Anne Boleyn by Henry VIII as a courting gift, the last of which she used to deepen her lips colour just before she went to the Headsman’s block.)

There are recipes that use preserved lemons in late Tudor cooking;

To boyle a Capon larded with lemons:

Take a fair capon and truss him, boyl him by himselfe in faire water with a little small Oat-meal, then take mutton broath and half a pint of white-wine, a bundle of herbs, whole mace, season it with Verjuyce, put marrow, dates, season it with sugar, then take preserved lemons and cut them like lard, and with a larding pin, lard in it, then put the capon in a deep dish, thicken your broth with Almonds and poure it on the capon.”

 – Taken from “A New Book of Cookeire…..”; John Murrell, Printed London 1617.

This recipe repeats through later works including the Compleat Cook with almost no deviation in wording.[12]

Preserved lemons are a versatile and simple condiment that can be produced easily.
What follows is the process I used to recreat Ibn Jumay’s recipe.

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Preparing the Lemons
To prepare 1 Quart Mason Jar of Preserved Lemons

6 Medium sized lemons
2 Tablespoon of natural sea salt per lemon
2 Cups of lemon juice

1 Quart Mason preserving jar with sealing lid
Dish to collect juice while working with the lemons
Boil the Mason jar for 10 minutes, fully immersed, to sterilize it. Allow to cool and air dry.

Modern lemons are sprayed with a layer of protective wax-like material for transportation. Gently scrub lemons under warm running water to remove wax from the surface of the lemon. Use only scrubbing pads/foams that have not been used for cleaning or exposed to any soap as the lemon’s skin will absorb detergents very easily. Once the waxy looks has gone, hand dry with paper towel.

Make two opposite cuts into the lemons over the dish, using the tops and bottom stems as guides. Collect any juice.

Remove the top and bottom stems from the lemons.

Taking one lemon at a time, pinch the fruit from top and bottom to open cuts. Shake and press the salt into the cuts. Once all the cuts are well salted, reform the fruit into it original shape and place to one side. Repeat and collect any excess salt and juice.

Fill the Mason jar with the fruit. Leave a ¼ inch gap between the top of the fruit and the start of the jar neck. In the dish that was used for collecting excess juice and salt, mix in one cup of lemon juice. Pour mixture into the jar up to the neck. Use additional lemon juice if necessary to fill jar to ½ inch below the neck.

Seal the Mason jar, shaking gently to distribute the juice evenly and upending the jar to check for a proper seal.

Store at room temperature for 30-45 days.

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Primary source: 

Ibn Jumay (Abū al-Makārim Hibat Allāh ibn Zayn al-Dīn Ibn Jumay‘) d. 1198, “On Lemon, its Drinking and Use” undated (No copy of the original document has survived.)

Secondary source:

Ibn al-Baitar (Ibn al-Bayṭār al-Mālaqī, Ḍiyāʾ Al-Dīn Abū Muḥammad ʿAbdllāh Ibn
Aḥmad) b. 1197 d. 1248, “Compendium on Simple Medicaments and Foods”, 1240.


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2. Herbst, Sharon. Food Lover’s Companion (3rd ed). Hauppage, NY: Barron’s Educational Series Inc, 2001. p. 492.

3. Johari, Harish. Ayurvedic Healing Cuisine: 200 Vegetarian Recipes for Health, Balance, and Longevity. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions / Bear & Company, 2000. p. 29-30.

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Königsberg, 1884.

7. Sonnerman, Toby. Lemon: A Global History. London: Reaktion Books, 2012. p. 36.

8. Kraemer, Joel L. Maimonides: The Life and World of One of Civilization’s Greatest Minds. New York: Penguin Random House, 2010.

9. Morton, Julia F. Lemon in Fruits of Warm Climates. Miami, FL: Julia F. Morton, 1987. pp. 160–168

10. Lind, James. A treatise on the scurvy. Second edition. London: A. Millar, 1757.

11. Davidson, Alan, and Tom Jaine. The Oxford Companion to Food. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014.

12. Anonymous. The Compleat Cook. N Brook at the Angel, 1658.

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