Doña Gabrielle de Winter invites gentles from throughout Æthelmearc to join the good folk of the Shire of Silva Vulcani at some upcoming demonstrations.
California University of Pennsylvania is full of demo opportunities this April. I thought it would be an excellent time to give you the low-down, in case you are free and would like to participate.
Diada de Sant Jordi, April 27th, 10:00-3:00 (Thursday)
Saint George’s day is a very important holiday in Spain – a day of books, roses, and romance. Last year, we had dancing, arts and sciences, and fencing, and were considered one of the most important aspects of the event. This year, we already have wonderful scribal talent from the Bog, fencers, and dancers have already signed up to come, but we would be thrilled to welcome more people. High school students will be bused in, so the age range is high school to college.
A Trip Through Time, April 29th, 11:00-4:00 (Saturday)
This is a major reenactment event, advertised to schools, public libraries, VFWs, and more. The age range is open – anyone with an interest in history is invited. We already have a Civil War Encampment, Scottish dancers will be joining our medieval ones, people portraying French and Indian and Revolutionary Wars, hands-on demos of primitive food preparation, and fencing. I would love to add anything to this mix – to introduce the people coming here to the wide range of reenactment and living history opportunities.
There are reasons why these came so close together. Several people were given minor grants in order to have events on campus to help assist with bringing people to Cal U and recruiting new students. Unfortunately, all of our timelines came together (I started planning mine in November). It also means that I had to grab what space I could, and so had to pick a rather unfortunate date that coincided with Blackstone Raids. I understand that there is a lot going on, but I could not pass up any opportunity to both bring the SCA to a new audience and show the University how useful and awesome the College of Silva Vulcani (known to them as the Medieval Club and the Fencing Club) is and how we support the university. If you can come to any of these, I would be grateful, because the more support we have, maybe the more people we will recruit? In any case, it will be lovely to see you.
The Life of Christ tapestries have made their triumphant return to public view for the first time since a 1981 fire almost reduced these precious 17th century masterpieces to cinders. As of March 21st, they are hanging in the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. It has taken a decade and a half of painstaking labour from conservators for this day to arrive.
The story begins with a pope who had a great love of luxury textiles and an even greater love of nepotism. Maffeo Barberini was elected the Throne of St. Peter as Pope Urban VIII in 1623 and wasted no time in spreading the ecclesiastical wealth around to his family members. He made his brother Antonio a cardinal. He made his brother Carlo’s sons Francesco and Antonio cardinals too. Other family members got grand titles (Duke, Prince), extensive properties in the Papal States, cushy sinecures and military commands requiring little in the way of actual soldiering.
Rome was not known for its tapestry industry — France and Flanders dominated tapestry production in Europe — but for a brief window in the 17th century, it came to prominence thanks entirely to Cardinal Francesco Barberini, Urban’s nephew. He founded a private tapestry workshop in 1627, hand-picked its staff and oversaw the production of six multi-tapestry series depicting the early history of Christianity and the Church.
His papal uncle shared Francesco’s love for tapestries, the more silk, gold and silver thread the better. He already had a large collection before he was elected pope. After the dramatic improvement in family status, Francesco’s workshop gave the Barberini the opportunity to create personalized tapestries by the greatest artists in the richest materials, the kind of access only royalty (and in Italy the Medici family of Florence), had.
The Life of Christ cycle, designed by Giovanni Francesco Romanelli and woven by Gaspare Rocci, Caterina della Riviera and Maria Maddalena della Riviera, monopolized the workshop from 1643 to 1656. There were some gaps in there due to unforseen obstacles. Urban VIII died in 1644, severely hampering the production schedule. The new pope was no Barberini fan, and Francesco was soon tied up investigations on his alleged misappropriation of funds. Production cranked back into gear in 1647 but it still took another nine years to complete the series.
The workshop died with Francesco, its driving impetus, in 1679, and that was the end of Rome’s brief moment of relevance in the history of Baroque tapestry. The Life of Christ cycle hung on the walls of the Barberini family palaces until it was purchased along with the rest of the Barberini tapestry collection (135 in total) by wool manufacturer and tapestry expert Charles Mather Ffoulke in 1889. He moved them to the States where he resold the Life of Christ tapestries to Mrs. Elizabeth U. Coles. A devout congregant, Coles donated the complete series to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine in 1891, before the church was built.
The Barberini tapestries were added to by other donors, until by the mid-20th century, Saint John the Divine found itself the proud owner of Flemish tapestries depicting the Acts of the Apostles made from Raphael cartoons and nine Mortlake tapestries. With such an important and unique collection, the Cathedral opened an in-house Textile Conservation Laboratory in 1981.
That expertise proved invaluable when tragedy struck in December 2001. A five-alarm fire broke out in the sanctuary, and the six Barberini tapestries hanging on the other side of the wall in the nave (the other six were already in the conservation lab when the fire started, thankfully) took heavy smoke and fire damage. Two of them, The Last Supper and The Resurrection, were so damaged that 30 to 40% of them were destroyed.
The conservation lab has been working on the delicate tapestries ever since. It’s a time-consuming, incredibly detailed job to clean and repair tapestries 16 feet tall and 12-19 feet wide one inch at a time. It has taken 16 years, but now 10 of the 12 tapestries of Life of the Christ have returned to the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine. The two heavily damaged ones have been stabilized but are in no condition to be hung.
The Rev. Canon Patrick Malloy, the priest who oversees arts-related projects at the cathedral, in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of Manhattan, said the idea was to recreate a Baroque chapel and show the tapestries differently from when they hung over the transepts. But he said the exhibition was more than just that.
“They’re hanging in a liturgical space,” Dr. Malloy said, “so they’re not just works of art but devotional objects. It wouldn’t be the same if they were in the Met. I go to the Cloisters from time to time. It’s wonderful, but it’s not the same as if it were a monastery.”
The new installation will give visitors the chance to examine the tapestries in much more detail. Tangential to the religious theme of the tapestries but very much central to the monarchical power they were meant to telegraph, the three bees on the Barberini family coat of arms are plastered in the four corners of each tapestry.
The Barberini bees are a common sight in Rome. After the elevation of Urban VIII to the papacy, he slapped those bees on everything from Barberini properties, to the bronze baldachin in St. Peter’s made of ancient Roman beams stolen from the Pantheon and melted down, to frescoes in the Vatican made a dozen years before Maffeo was even ordained a priest.
Of course they were woven into the tapestries, just as the kings of France wove their fleurs-de-lis on the tapestries they commissioned. The ones in the corners are the traditional three bees, two on top, one of the bottom, encircled by a laurel wreath in place of the shield, but the bees also appear on the tapestries in a rather bizarre tableau that I’ve never seen before, notwithstanding the Barberini penchant for scattering their pollinators far and wide in the city of Rome. There are three bees, yes, but two of them are pulling a plough while one rides above them holding a whip. This curious arrangement is apparently a very, very arcane reference to Virgil’s Georgics, and symbolizes the powerful combination of “highest rule, sown fields of cultivated land, production of honey.” It may be a nod to Urban’s three nephews — Francesco, Antonio and Taddeo — who held the three highest offices (not counting the pope, of course) of the Roman Church and whose combined labours were meant to ensure the continued wealth and victory of the Church.
I don’t know if any of that makes much sense, but I’m kind of crazy about the image of the Barberini bees pushing that plough with their tiny bee hands while their brother/overseer cracks the whip.
Archaeologists have discovered a massive treasure from a 17th century shipwreck in Meishan City in the Sichuan Province of southwest China. The ship sank where the Jinjiang River branches off from the Minjiang River in 1646, and with it plunged more than 10,000 gold, silver and bronze coins, ingots, jewels, gold artifacts and weapons including iron swords, spears and knives. They are in pristine condition, with engraved inscriptions on the ingots still clearly legible, inscriptions that name one of the self-styled titles of Zhang Xianzhong, a famed rebel against the Ming Dynasty.
It all started with a looter. He, like everyone else in the region, knew the legend of the great treasure of Zhang Xianzhong which had sank with all his ships in the river. With the Minjiang less than 10 feet deep, the looter, who happened to be an experienced diver, decided to have a look around in the dark of night to see if he might get his hands on a little illegally obtained cultural heritage. He found a gold tiger first, then an inscribed square piece, also gold, with four little divots that the tiger’s feet fit into perfectly. The inscription confirmed it was a gold seal (the tiger was its handle) made in lunar November, 1643, and bearing the title “Grand Marshal of Yongchang,” one of Zhang’s honorifics. He also found an incredibly rare gold and silver books, ingots, coins and several other treasures, all of which he sold to an unscrupulous collector for 13,600,000 yuan (ca. $2,000,000).
More precious objects from this period began to appear on the black market. Police investigated and last fall were able to bust 10 artifact looting gangs and 70 traffickers and recover hundreds of artifacts of significant historical import. It was the largest looting case ever cracked in China. So, with the scofflaws apprehended and their contraband found, cultural heritage authorities turned their collective unblinking eye to the find site of some of the most important objects. Time for the professionals to get a turn.
The ambitious excavation project began in January with the arrival of the dry season. Water was pumped out of the river leaving a passable but very mucky riverbed. The archaeological team then had to dig down five meters (16’5″) beneath the surface of the riverbed before they literally struck gold. In the two months since excavations began, the team has unearthed more 10,000 objects. The inscriptions on several them point to them having been either produced under the aegis of Zhang Xianzhong or stolen by him during his long committment to raiding the valuables of Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) palaces. They even found an item that matched a description in the Qing Dynasty records as having been used by Zhang: a tree trunk split lengthwise, hollowed out, filled with silver ingots and then clamped back together with iron or copper shanks.
Zhang Xianzhong, known as Yellow Tiger after his complexion and his strong “tiger jaw,” was born in poverty in Shaanxi Province in 1606. He joined the army of the Ming Dynasty, but he wasn’t great at following orders and soon found himself with a death sentence hanging over his head for breaking military rules. He was spared by a superior officer who was swayed by his height and strength, but by 1630 Zhang was officially over it and went AWOL.
He joined a peasant revolt that was then spreading all over the country, spurred by the Ming administration’s oppressive taxation during a time of famine and drought. He carved out a space for himself as leader of a group of rebels in his home province of Shaanxi. Seven years later, he had an army of 300,000 at his command. While suffering occasional defeats, one a very big one, at the hands of Ming Dynasty armies, he and his forces won more than they lost, and they collected great gobs of loot along the way.
In 1644, the year of the fall of the Ming Dynasty, Zhang went for the big score. He and 100,000 of men conquered Sichuan. All of it. In September of that year, Zhang’s forces took Chengdu. He crowned himself the first king of the Daxi Dynasty and made Chengdu his capital. The good times didn’t last long. In the spring of 1645, pro-Ming troops retook Chongqing and in a classic piece of projection, Zhang started seeing conspiracy and rebellion everywhere. He decided to fight the seditious elements in his “kingdom” with a campaign of terror. Piles of body parts, flaying and killing became the order of the day.
It’s difficult to know precisely how many people he killed, but according to Jesuit priests who had worked for him in the beginning when it seemed like he would be a benevolent ruler, only a handful of people made it out of Sichuan alive. The only hard figures we have come from census records. The 1578 Ming census, the last we have for Sichuan before Zhang, recorded a population of 3,102,073. In 1661, there were a grand total of 16,096 men registered in Sichuan. The province was depopulated on a massive scale, that much is certain, and the blood of many was on Zhang’s hands, but there was a lot of conflict in the region before and after Zhang’s very brief rule, and widespread famine also must have taken a great toll on the populace.
In October of 1646, with a new and vigorous enemy, the army of the Manchu Qing Dynasty, coming for him, Zhang decided to leave Sichuan with a quickness and head back home. He loaded 1,000 boats with all the cash and treasures he’d accumulated over years of raids and conquest and sent them south to Shaanxi. The recently unearthed ship only made it about 50 miles from Chengdu before sinking. In July 1647, Zhang’s army and allies clashed with Manchu forces. He either died in this battle, or he fled with his troops on his treasure-laden ships which then sank either because they were set on fire by the enemy or because in the chaos of retreat, the vessels crashed into each other and went down.
“The objects have helped identify the area where the battle was fought and are direct evidence of this historical event,” said Wang Wei, a Chinese archaeologist. [...]
“The items are extremely valuable to science, history and art. They are of great significance for research into the political,economic, military and social lives of the Ming Dynasty,” said Li Boqian,an archaeologist from Peking University.
This news story has the best views of the excavation and a small fraction of the artifacts recovered I could find:
On March 5th, the Fiber Guild of the Barony-Marche of Debatable Lands (BMDL) conducted a demo at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. This was the second demo conducted at this site by the Barony within the last three months. The theme this time was medieval weaving and was held in the Museum’s MAKESHOP. MAKESHOP is a partnership between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). It is a space dedicated to making, reusing and designing things, using everyday materials and real tools. It has regular programs and special guests.
The Guild members were honored to be invited to be the guest artisans for the weaving program. Mistress Mahin Banu Tabrizi of Sunderoak and Lady Beatrix of Anglesey of Ballachlagan demonstrated medieval weaving techniques to curious kids and their grown-ups, assisted by Lady Luceta di Cosimo of the Debatable Lands.
We displayed a full size warp-weighted loom, a tablet weaving set up, and a sprang frame, as well as pre-made samples. The kids and adults who wanted to take something home could make little cardboard looms and weave with bits of yarn.
There were dozens of visitors, weaving samples, playing with the looms and asking questions. One of the MAKESHOP staff artists was a tablet weaver himself. He was particularly interested in learning how to weave letters and Mistress Mahin taught an impromptu tablet weaving class.
It was wonderful to be back at the Museum, and we are looking forward to more skill demos at this location. Thanks go out to the Museum staff for inviting us and sharing their MAKESHOP space, to Mistress Mahin and Lady Beatrix for sharing their skills, and to Sydney, Jacob, and Karl of Sunderoak for warping the looms for the demo, even though they couldn’t be there the day of the demo.
A related article written by WORKSHOP staff member Colin Williams can be found here.
The Society College of Heralds runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.
An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item.
The results from the December 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings can be found here.
Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry
The colossal statue discovered in the Matariya neighborhood of Cairo on March 7th is not of Pharaoh Ramesses II, Egypt’s Minister of Antiquities Khaled El-Enany announced at a press conference Thursday. When the head and bust of the statue were unearthed, the massive scale and style suggested it might be a depiction of Ramesses the Great who was fond of having giant sculptures of himself made. He was built extensively in the sacred city of Heliopolis whose remains underly Matariya.
After causing much controversy by removing the massive head of the statue from the muddy pit using a bulldozer, archaeologists took a kinder, gentler approach with the torso. It was strapped to a crane and slowly lifted out of the waterlogged trench on March 13th. The torso alone weighs three tons, the head 1.5 tons. The weight of the complete statue could have been as much as 50 tons; the estimated height is nine meters (30 feet).
When the head was moved, archaeologists noticed some stylistic features characteristic of later periods. Then, on the back pillar of the statue they found an inscription with key evidence for a very different and much later identification: Pharaoh Psamtek I.
Mr el-Anani, speaking at the famed Egyptian museum in the heart of Cairo, said they were lucky to spot an inscription of one of Psamtek’s five names on the statue.
“We were lucky to find the second title — the Nepti title — drawn with a vulture and a cobra, followed by the name Neb Aa.
“Neb Aa means the possessor of the arm, which means the mighty.”
The only pharaoh who was referred to as Neb Aa was the Pharaoh Psamtek I from the 26th Dynasty who ruled Egypt for 54 years.
Ramesses reigned from 1279–1213 B.C., more than 600 years before Psamtek I (664–610 B.C.) ascended the throne. Psamtek would have good reason to want to be associated with one of Egypt’s most successful and best remembered pharaohs. He too was a highly effective ruler, both military and political. Founder of the 26th Dynasty, Psamtek I kicked out the Assyrians after 17 years of occupation and reunified Egypt. His reign, almost as long as Ramesses’, was something of a renaissance for Egypt, a revival of its ancient glories, albeit in much diminished form. Psamtek and his successors deliberately sought to emulate the iconography of Old Kingdom Egypt.
Despite the strong evidence of the unique title in the inscription, Enany won’t categorically state that the statue depicts Psamtek I at this juncture, a wise choice in the wake of the overly enthusiastic Ramesses claims. First the excavation team must finish their exploration of the site. There may be more fragments still to be found there. A close study of the inscription and pieces will, hopefully answer some of the questions about its age and identity. For instance, what if it’s both Ramesses and Psamtek? There’s an outside chance the latter recycled a statue of his great predecessor, altering it to make it resemble him more and adding the inscription.
If the identification and dating is confirmed, the colossus will be far and away the best surviving example of an Old Kingdom throwback from Psamtek’s reign. More than that, it will be the largest statue from the Late Period (664-332 B.C.) ever found.
The most urgent issue is the stabilization of the statue fragments. The sudden change in environment from the muddy, wet and below the water table to the desert heat of the surface can damage the quartzite stone. Cairo Museum conservators will spend at least three months helping the statue adjust to its new circumstances.
I’ve always felt archery was more fun with 3D or moving targets.
Like the squirrel that falls over, this whole target is only 12 inches tall. Thinking bigger would be better, I made a multiple fish target that was over 3 feet tall.
In my backyard, which is wind free, it worked perfectly, but on an open range I found out it didn’t work quite so well. Every time the wind blew, the target fell over, and I realized I had built a giant sail. I took it home and added more weight to the base. In the next two pictures you can see that, when struck, it would rock backward but not completely fall over.
But sometimes it would rock forward, fall over, and break any arrows already stuck in it. Not good!
Finally, I realized that anything over a foot tall just doesn’t work properly. This was one of those times I learned more from making a mistake. So when you’re building, make sure the target won’t damage other archers’ equipment.
I just want to remind everybody that I’ll be at the unofficial Archery Muster at Earl Byron and Countess Ariella’s castle in Wexford on April 9. In addition, I will be Marshal-in-Charge at Blackstone Raid, where the prize is a bow and all the extra equipment to go with it.
I have been asked if people can repost my articles, and the answer is yes! The things I write are for the enjoyment and the safety of all archers of all kingdoms, so feel free to use any information I put in this article.
This month’s safety tip: be sure to warm up if you’re going out to shoot for the first time, and don’t shoot for more than 30 minutes until you get back into shape.
‘Til next month, in service,
THL Derek Archer
Archaeologists have discovered the grave of a Viking man containing gilded bronze and silver-plated mounts from a horse bridle in the town of Hørning near Skanderborg in Jutland, Denmark. The large grave complex consisting of multiple contiguous chambers was discovered in 2012, but only a very small section of it has been excavated. The site was cleared and a small test pit dug in one of the chambers revealed the bridle fittings. The bridle area was raised in a soil block and excavated in the laboratory. Archaeologists have dubbed the grave’s occupant the Fregerslev Viking, the name of the spot where the burial was found.
“The artefacts that we’ve already found are exquisite gilded fittings from a horse bridle. This type of bridle would only be available to the most powerful of people in the Viking Age, and we believe it might have been a gift of alliance from the king,” said Merethe Schifter Bagge, a project manager and archaeologist at the Museum of Skanderborg
“The fittings date to circa 950 AD, which means that the Fregerslev Viking could have been the confidant of the king, Gorm the Old – or alternatively a rival.”
The bridle artifacts are such a rare find and indicate such high status that the find is being compared to two of the greatest archaeological discoveries in Danish history, the impossibly life-like bog body Tollund Man and the fantastically stylish immigrant teenager Egtved Girl.
The discovery has been announced now, more than four years after it was made, because the team led by Museum of Skanderborg archaeologists has finally secured funding for a full excavation of the site. The grave complex is unusually large for the period, so there may be as many as three chambers. Archaeologists hope the excavation will reveal more about the Fregerslev Viking, perhaps additional grave goods, maybe even a horse sacrifice. There’s also the chance there are other people buried in the complex, possibly family members or servants. The wider goal of the project is to gain new insight into the power elite, trade and commerce of 10th century Viking society.
The excavation begins on April 18th, and best of all, the site is open to the public. There will be daily tours guided by a team member so visitors can get the full picture of the site while they watch the archaeologists at work. Meanwhile, the fittings that have already been excavated will be on display at the Museum of Skanderborg.
The museum has created a website dedicated to the Fregerslev Viking excavation. (It’s on Danish only, so you may have to deploy an online translator.) Follow it to keep updated on new developments.
This very brief teaser video from the museum show aerial shots of the find spot and X-ray of the fittings in the soil block.
From Countess Elena d’Artois:
[Thursday] morning in the Everyman tourney Mathias made it out of his round robin pool only to be taken out in the top 8 of a 40 person tourney!!
[Thursday] afternoon the rapier army of 11 from Æthelmearc had one job. Get the right-hand flag and keep it.
We. Did. Our. Job.
At the outset of the melee, Robert Hawksworth and Mathias Al Tabai set the pace ! They were the first to the flag and they slowed the opponents long enough for our main force to approach and take possession for the lion’s share of the battle. The combined forces of Trimaris, Northsheild, Meridies, Atlantia and Æthelmearc took home a decisive victory, but our worthy opponents truly made us work for it.
Acts of heroism and prowess included Mistress Illadore and Countess Elena each rolling the enemy lines at separate times to retake flags that had been lost. Count Byron of Haverford, Master Anias Fenne, and Duke Titus Germanicus used their melee expertise and leadership to solidly control the flag we were assigned. Kudos to Kara Burkhart, Don Jacob of Dunmore, Brehan Lapidario, and Lady Cairdha Eilis O’Coileain on their battlefield awareness and willingness to go wherever there was a problem, to support and hold weak points and, in many cases, turn the tide.
Our contingent was small but mighty. We worked extremely well with our friends from Trimaris.
And an especial kudos to all who fought this war point. The combat was tactically brilliant, well planned and chivalric. All were a joy to fight.
Many of the rapier army participated in the Rose tourney [Friday] morning. I do not know how all of them did. When i find put i will post a supplement.
On the rattan field our unit was asked to gain and hold a bridge until such time as help could come from the back field. Each time we united with either the Midrealm or Northshield to do just that. We did “fight in the shade” in 2 passes as we were peppered by combat archers. We were successful in our mission. Those times we did have breakouts on our bridge we beat them back successfully. Kudos especially to Sir Marek on his hero moment facing 3 enemies and besting them in the backfield. Kudos to Baroness Beatrix on her field command. Kudos to Master Anias on his spear work in the last bridge. And kudos to Sir Maghnus in the fort for taking out the enemy King with his first ballista shot!
We are small, but we are mighty. Vivant to all the combatants!!
Final report from the cabin [on Saturday morning]. We have quit the field. Camp is broken down and clear. The wagon is loaded and intrepid heroes are on their various paths home.
Safe and brief travels to all. We anticipate arrival in the Debatable Lands in the wee hours of the morning not too terribly long after sunrise.
A good war. Ending with the only truly hot shower of the entire week. Simple joys.
From Baroness Beatrix Krieger:
Æthelmearc was small, mighty, and gallant in the Ravine. Recognized throughout the Known World for our cause. Well done!
Æthelmearc stood bravely in the Ravine with Clovenshield, Trimaris, Northshield, Atlantia, and [our] Allies, and faced a vast army of Calontir, Midrealm, East, Western Alliance, and their Allies, who stood to take possession of banners. The small but mighty contingent of Æthelmearc repelled our foes time and time again, and helped push the enemies back against the tides of shields, arrows, and spears. We were divided for a period to aid in two places, and we were able to stave off the mighty enemy. Though we numbered thirteen on the field, the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was recognized time and time again for melee skills, command, capability, and honor.
[On Friday] Æthelmearc fought on the bridges with our allies, the Mid and Northshield, with ferocity, helping to press the enemy and duel with our foes. We would hold off their pulses, buying time for our allies to sweep the center bridge. Our battalion was small but useful. We served our allies well, helping to acquire 3 victories to gain the point for Trimaris. The last battle, for fun, was also a victory for Trimaris.
One of the coolest moments at any SCA event, war, etc., EVER was something I got to watch [Friday] and something I had nothing to do with in any capacity. Between the bridges and the fort battles, they held a youth bridge battle. The children had an opportunity to fight two bridge battles against members of the chivalry. It was amazing. The kids stepped up without fear, and closed against the chivalry with a desire to crush the opposing forces. In both passes, the chivalry were slain to the last man, and each of the kids, varying in age, fought with courtesy, chivalry, and skill. It was a privilege to watch, it embodied the dream of the Society. Absolutely amazing.
We fought in the Fort battles, first attacking, then defending. Our numbers had dwindled somewhat, but nonetheless we fought bravely. Æthelmearc divided to aid our allies and crashed the shields in the side doors. To defend, Æthelmearc fought well, dying to the last man defending the side gates. We were not successful in taking the castle in the fastest time.
Æthelmearc: be proud of those who came on Crusade. To those who stood fiercely with our allies and served their Crowns, their kingdom, and each other with honor, be proud. You humbled and honored me.
Many have departed, including your Gulf Wars Warlord, for home. Safe drive for all, see you soon. War ends [Saturday], and the warriors of Sylvan Æthelmearc will be back to defend their homeland from invaders soon enough.
Names to remember for standing on the field: Baroness Gwen, THL Thorsol, THL Roland, Countess Elena, Sir Angus, Duke Titus, Duchess Morgen, Master Robert, Count Byron, Sir Marek, Master Anias, Sir Maghnus, Sir Koredono, Lord Random, Sir Graedwyn (in spirit), Nissan, Ben, THL Edward, and Master Jussie.
From Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne:
[On Wednesday], we had a tragedy! The oven for pie baking had an issue due to an o-ring, so we did not have pie. We made apples in wine instead.
[Thursday] was a great day – entirely due to to Æthelmearc ‘s amazing skill and strategy, our side also won both the heavy and rapier Ravine War Point. Thursday was also steak night, with THLady Pippi in charge. We also served fettuccini with parmesan and butter, spinach salad, more snow, and finally cheese and fruit slices for dessert. Friday night was chicken in orange glaze, farfalle with green sauce (pesto), and bread pudding with berries for dessert.
All combatants and consorts wishing to participate in the Crown Tournament of Ioannes and Honig are reminded that letters of intent are due in two weeks, by April 1.
Details of the submission process were previously published in the Gazette as follows:
Filed under: Announcements
In the wee hours of September 6th, 1622, the convoy of 28 ships in the Spanish Tierra Firme flota met the business end of a hurricane in the Florida straits. When the skies cleared and dawn broke, eight of the treasure ships were lost, smashed on the seabed, their glittering cargos strewn over 50 miles from the Marquesas Keys to what is now Dry Tortugas National Park.
The Tierra Firme fleet, so named because it departed from the southern Spanish Main, or Tierra Firme province, on the Gulf of Mexico, was absolutely heaving with treasure that year. Hundreds of tons of gold, silver, copper, indigo, tobacco, emeralds, pearls from Peru, Mexico, Colombia and Venezuela were transported to the coastal port cities of the Tierra Firme on mule trains. There was so much loot that inventorying it and loading it onto the ships delayed the expedition by six weeks, pushing the voyage into the peak of the Atlantic hurricane season. It took two months to load the Nuestra Señora de Atocha alone, and it was more heavily armed than the other ships of the fleet because it was the rear guard of the convoy so it could “only” carry 40 tons of gold and silver and 70 pounds of emeralds from the Muzo mines of Colombia.
The Nuestra Señora de Atocha was one of the eight ships that went down in the hurricane. It was torn apart on a reef, its hull breached and keel broken in two. It sank in minutes after that, taking almost the entire crew with it. Only five men survived, three sailors and two slaves, because they had the presence of mind to tie themselves to the mizzenmast.
The Spanish tried to salvage what they could from the lost treasure galleons. One of the ships, the Santa Margarita, ran aground near where the Atocha sank. Using bronze diving bells and slaves to man them — many of whom died performing this incredibly dangerous job, as we know from the insurance claims filed so the owners could be reimbursed for the sale value of their human chattel — crews were able to recover about half of the Santa Margarita‘s cargo. They knew the wreck of the Atocha was in the area somewhere, but the Spanish were never able to find it.
Almost four centuries would pass before someone did. Treasure hunter Mel Fisher searched for 16 years for the wreck and finally hit paydirt in July of 1985. Fisher and his team recovered vast quantities of coins, silver and gold ingots and emeralds, even though the bulk of the gold and emeralds are believed to have been stored in the ship’s sterncastle which has never been found. After a decade of legal skirmishes with the State of Florida, the courts awarded Fisher full rights to all of the treasure of the Nuestra Señora de Atocha.
Some of its riches are now on display in Mel Fisher Maritime Museum on Key West. A selection of its most exceptional emeralds will be going up for auction on April 25th at Guernsey’s auction house in New York City. The gemstones belong to Manuel Marcial de Gomar who started out working in the Chivor emerald mines of Colombia in 1955 when he was 19, opened the first emerald specialty store in 1964 and became one of the world’s leading emerald specialists.
Fisher hired him to appraise all the emeralds from the Atocha, about seven pounds of them, recovered over the course of more than two decades. Appropriately, Marcial’s consulting fee was paid in emeralds. Emeralds from the Muzo mines are considered the best in the world for the richness of their blue-green color. Add the Atocha history and these stones become even more than the sum of their beautiful parts. Marcial selected some of the stones to be cut and set in jewelry of his design. Some he kept in their rough state.
It’s one of the rough emeralds from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha which is the star player in the upcoming Marcial de Gomar Collection auction. La Gloria is a 887 carat rough emerald, bigger than the one in the Smithsonian (857 carats) and the one in New York’s Museum of Natural History (632 carats). The pre-sale estimate is $3,000,000-$5,000,000.
Coming in close at its heels is a group of loose emeralds romantically dubbed the Nine Pillars of the Andes (pre-sale estimate $3,000,000-$4,000,000). From largest to smallest they weigh 26.72 carats, 15.54 carats, 11.65 carats, 9.82 carats, 7.77 carats, 6.68 carats, 6.45 carats, 4.56 carats, and 2.50 carats for a total of 91.69 carats.
Not to say there aren’t any bargains. For a mere $100,000-$125,000, you can score the Andina del Mar, a 2.51-carat round cut emerald Marcial cut from a 5.35 rough emerald. It’s the second largest known round faceted emerald recovered form the ocean. Or how about its pear shaped sister, the Lagrima de Atocha, a 1.61 carat emerald cut from a 4.41 carat rough gemstone, which is also estimated to sell for $100,000-$125,000.
In addition to the emeralds, some coins recovered from the famous shipwreck are also part of the sale, like this Spanish eight escudo coin made of 22-karat gold. It’s a comparative bargain with a pre-sale estimate of $15,000-$20,000. This coin comes from the personal collection of Mel Fisher, as do several other gold coins going under the hammer at this auction, including a group recovered from the wreck of the 1715 Treasure Fleet.
Construction of a new subway line and station in Algiers has revealed archaeological remains dating from Roman times through the French colonial period. Remains were first discovered in 2009 during archaeological surveys along the proposed subway line. The full excavation began in 2013, recovering archaeological materials going back to the 1st century B.C.
The site is in the historic Casbah area of Algiers which was founded in the 3rd century B.C. by Punic Phoenicians as a small trading post. It became a Roman colony 146 B.C. after the Fall of Carthage and its name was Latinized from Yksm (“Island of the Seagulls”) to Icosium. Icosium became part of the Roman client state of Mauretania in the late 1st century B.C. which became a Roman province under Caligula in 40 A.D. Mauretania was divided into two provinces, Mauretania Tingitana and Mauretania Caesariensis, the latter of which included Icosium.
During the chaotic decades of imperial musical chairs, barbarian invasions, epidemics and economic woes that became known as the Crisis of the Third Century, Berber tribes made incursions into what is now Algeria contracting the areas of Romans control. A fortified city on the sea, Icosium held out a long time, but was sacked in 371 A.D. by the Berber Prince Firmus during his revolt against Romanus, the military commander of Rome’s Africa Province. Icosium never recovered and disappeared from the historical record in the 5th century.
The city of Algiers was founded by Berbers in the mid-10th century. The Casbah, a fortified citadel common in North African cities, was built over what had once been Icosium on the cliffs overlooking the sea. In the late 15th century Algiers was conquered by Spain, but their occupation would not last. The Ottoman admiral Hayreddin Barbarossa tossed the Spanish out permanently in 1525 and established Algiers as the capital of an Ottoman regency which would become the empire’s primary base in the region. The Ottoman Regency of Algiers lasted until the French took the city in 1830.
The French pillaged Algiers, destroying religious sites like the Es Sayida mosque in the Casbah. Between the French and the long line of conquerors that preceded them, it didn’t seem likely that there would be much of Algiers’ history left to find below the surface. Nobody imagined they’d unearth such a wealth of archaeological materials, even from the long gap between the fall of Icosium and the rise of Berber Algiers.
Finds over the 3,000 square meters (32,300 square feet) of the excavation site include a public building with mosaic flooring dating to the 5th century, a 7th century Byzantine necropolis with dozens of graves, large numbers of Roman-era architectural elements — columns, capitals, pediments — ancient catapult balls and 385 coins. The excavation even found parts of the Es Sayida mosque, a thoroughly unexpected survival given that the French colonial government built a square over the levelled mosque and named it King’s Square, renamed Martyrs Square after Algeria won its independence in 1962.
Algeria has some of the most significant Roman architecture still standing in the world, but none of it is in Algiers. That makes the metro ruins exceptionally important, so much so that the city completely changed its plans for the line and station. The Martyrs Square subway station, originally planned to be 8,000 square meters in area, will now take up only 3,250 square meters and will have a museum built into it. The train line is going way underground, as much as 115 deep, to avoid interfering with the ancient remains.
The Martyrs Square station is set to open in November, part of an extension to the main metro line inaugurated in October 2011.
The museum will open shortly afterwards, covering 1,200 square metres and organised chronologically.
Some of the remains will be exposed to a depth of over seven metres.
“In Rome or Athens, museums present particular periods, whereas here the visitor can embrace the whole history of Algiers over 2,000 years,” [archaeologist and excavation co-director Kamel] Stiti said.
Unto glorious Æthelmearc do Timothy and Gabrielle, Prince and Princess send warm greetings,
Prior to moving here, the SCA had lost much of its magic for us. Once we got to Æthelmearc , we found ourselves once again enjoying all the wonders that the Society has to offer. But we understand that isn’t the experience that everyone has here. Like any large organization it can be easy to feel left out or left behind if you aren’t part of the “in” crowd. We have always endeavored to treat everyone, regardless of rank, with courtesy and kindness, and are pleased that so very many of everyone in this kingdom does the same.
However, with many thousands of members, sometimes personality conflicts arise. Members with different ideas of how things should be compete with one another and typically, one comes out on top. This can cause many fine people to become disillusioned and leave, taking with them a little piece of our magic. We have solicited for ideas, and continue to do so, as to what we can do to bring people back into the fold. As you can imagine, we received quite a bit of feedback. There were many ideas, many of which (big surprise) were in direct conflict with one another. Setting those aside for now, there was one large, over-arching theme, the cliquish nature of the organization makes our warm welcome, while not the sole exception, far from the norm, even for people whose first experience with the society is in Æthelmearc .
There are several steps we would like to implement to try and correct this situation. First and simplest, for the duration of our reign, we would welcome those with Peerages into the Grant level order meeting along that track Knight/Gage, Pelican/Millrind, Laurel/Fleur, Mod/WS. Further, we invite those who have the equivalent Grant level award from other kingdoms to join us in our order meetings. We welcome PMs discussing this matter, as we will be considering adding this to kingdom law. These members have valuable contributions, and why should we exclude them simply because they have not had the good fortune to spend their entire SCA career in Æthelmearc?
Second, and more difficult, concerns the single largest facet of the cliquish nature of our organization. There is no polite way to say this, so we will be blunt. There are more times than any of us care to admit that some of the more strong willed members of our polling orders can effectively and thoroughly block someone who is deserving of recognition in perpetuity. We clearly don’t know every personality conflict, we haven’t been present at every conversation where someone spoke rashly, or when a sentence was taken out of context. In the past, We have given awards to gentles we are familiar enough with to recognize that they have been blocked unfairly. As King and Queen, we had that right, and as Prince and Princess, we soon will once again, but not everyone is afforded the opportunity to correct injustices they perceive. So we would ask our citizens this: if you feel someone has been unfairly victimized in this fashion, make your best case to us. We certainly will not grant all of these requests, but we will honestly listen. It is easier to go into an order meeting and discuss a candidate if we understand some of the background and personality conflicts before people voice their opinions. Just please do this prior to our order meetings, so we have time to look into the background, and your case.
Finally, we want to see members of our polling orders actively fostering others. If you are a knight, or would like to be, go out and train newer fighter, whether they are your squire or not. If you are a Laurel or a Fleur, why wait for an Æcademy? Run a workshop or a guild. In short, mentor people. We should be shepherds, nurturing folks as they grow, rather than serving as goaltenders keeping them out of our Orders.
In service to Æthelmearc,
Timothy and Gabrielle
From craftsman to Queen, in the Middle Ages embroidery was part of the fiber of everyday life. Using materials from earthy wools to ethereal silk, gold, pearls, and precious stones, women as well as men devoted uncounted hours to embellishing and enriching their fabrics. The organizers of The Academy of St. Clare of Assisi: MORE Stitches in Time invite stitchers of all skill levels to spend the weekend of March 31-April 2 immersing themselves in the study and practice of these exquisite techniques. This unique all-you-can-embroider event offers short classes on specialized topics, long detailed “kit” classes on beloved styles, and a chance to spend time with others who love the art of the needle. This year’s classes will feature a both a Beginners’ Track and a Scandinavian Track.
Those arriving Friday night may choose to spend the evening chatting and stitching in the large meeting room. It’s a great chance to share favorite suppliers, talk about tools in your embroidery kit, and get to know others from far away. (FUN FACT: Last year’s attendees came from five Kingdoms!). A hearty breakfast will set the stage for Saturday’s activities, which begin with a Keynote Address — “Dismantling Musiaphobia: learning to approach museum collections with confidence” — by Patrikia Maria Agrissa Sgourina. Maria, herself a life-long stitcher, is interested in embroidery styles that span the centuries, from early- to late-period. She received her Laurel in 2004 for her research, especially in Byzantine and Sassanid clothing and culture before the year 1000 CE. A full day of learning follows, starting with these one-hour classes Saturday morning:
After a break for lunch, students will spend the afternoon in their pre-selected “kit” class, where they will not only learn the skills needed to complete their hands-on project but will also spend ample time working on the project. “Kit” class options include:
To enable instructors to provide students individual attention, “kit” classes have size limits. Once a class is filled, no more students will be accepted in that class. Some classes are nearly filled, so for the best selection, we encourage you to mail your event registration today. (Please note that the “kit” classes require pre-payment; we will email you instructions on how to register for your “kit” class upon receiving your event registration.)
In addition to the classes, the event will also offer an all-day Embroidery Display Area, where entrants can get feedback on their work and where everyone can be inspired. A Reference Library of on-loan embroidery books will be available to peruse all day. (The library will be staffed, and books will not leave the library area.). In the afternoon, the Stitching Solar will give students an option to sit and stitch in good company while others are in class. Returning from last year by popular request, we will break for Tea after the “kit” classes end. Following the tea, the Embroidery Display Show-and-Tell will allow us the chance to chat with those whose work we admire.
To help defray our out-of-Kingdom teachers’ travel expenses, a Silent Auction will be held. Attendees are encouraged to bring excess and unwanted embroidery supplies and books – or SCAdianly-useful items — for the auction. (After all, your no-longer-wanted items might be just what someone is looking for!) All proceeds from the Silent Auction will be split among the out-of-Kingdom teachers.
After Feast – once again prepared under the direction of Lady Elizabetta Tempesta, our Head Cook from last year — an Embroidered Fashions Show will let us hear about the lovely garments we’ve been admiring all day. Those who didn’t get their fill of stitching during the day will be welcome to spend what’s left of the evening stitching and schmoozing in the large meeting room.
On Sunday morning, following breakfast, Lady Shirin of Susa will offer a class on Teaching Fiber Arts.
Does this sound like the event you’ve been dreaming of? Then please mail your event registration TODAY!Event registration (includes 4 meals, served family-style, plus lodging) is as follows:
Feast spaces are nearly full, so we urge you to mail your event registration today to avoid disappointment!
Please make your check payable to “SCA PA Inc. — Shire of ACG” and send it, along with the requested information listed below, to THL Aibell ingen Dairmata, c/o Lea Wittie, 913 Colonial Lane, Lewisburg PA 17837.
Kindly include the following with your event registration:
Bunk spaces in the heated cabins are filled on a first-paid, first-served basis. Those needing access to electricity should request a bottom bunk near an outlet.
The event will be held at the same site as last year, Boy Scout Camp Karoondinha, 225 Thomas Dam Road, Millmont PA 17845-9448 (GPS Coordinates: 40.85630, -77.2547) Please note that the site does not permit alcohol.
Questions? Please contact the autocrat, Mistress Alicia Langland (email@example.com)
Want more info? Visit:
Archaeologists have discovered an unusual pyramid-shaped tomb on the south bank of the Yellow River in Zhengzhou, central China. A small village once occupied the property, but it was displaced to make way for a new residential development to be constructed in its place. Before the new apartment complex goes up, a team from the Zhengzhou Museum of Cultural Relics and Archeology is excavating the site.
On the north side of the construction site near a busy road, the team unearthed a burial chamber containing two brick tombs, the first built in a pyramid shape, the second an elongated dome like a cylinder cut in half lengthwise. The chamber is almost 100 feet long and 26 feet wide and is laid out along an east-west orientation. The entrance faces east and has a narrow ramp leading down to the tombs.
The elongated dome tomb is about 13 feet long, significantly larger than the pyramid, and was the primary tomb which likely held the remains of the most important personage. There’s a hole in the vaulted roof about two and a half feet in diameter left by tomb robbers at some point in its long history. The archaeological team has not yet opened the tombs so we don’t know what, if anything, remains inside either of the structures.
The pyramid tomb was not interfered with and appears to be intact, probably because the looters didn’t realize it was there. While the pyramid shape is unusual for brick tombs, rounded tombs with pointed tops have been found before and the pyramid’s bowed walls suggest a connection to the more traditional form. The burial chamber has not been officially dated yet, but brick tombs are characteristic of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C.-220 A.D.), and there are several Han-era sites in the area, including metallurgic workshops just a mile away.
Countess Elena d’Artois reports:
An uneasy truce has been called to rest the troops and tend the wounded. In the quiet of mid-day our heroic champions on each side tested themselves upon the prowess and chivalry of the noble best that our cousins to the west had to offer. For rapier, Duke Titus Germanicus, the death bringer and Dark Knight of Æthelmearc, stood for our side. He fought valiantly and with great chivalry, but was bested after a very long exchange. In the Meridian Rose Tourney THLord Thorsol Solinauga fought for me and did fabulously well. He made it past the first round successfully against a formidable opponent. The second round saw him bested but he made the poor chap pay dearly for the victory. He fought with honor and courtesy. A spectacular showing!!
Wednesday morning Robert Hawksworth, Don Jacob of Dunmore, and I started the day early at 9 am fighting in the street brawl in Verona. I was on the Capulet’s team and the gentlemen were on the Montegue’s team. Good melee. Good schticky fun. Good fellowship. Both of the gentlemen did a great job, including Don Jacob shanking me with his dagger as I tried to hide my weapons from the Night Watch. Karma came back to bite him as I killed him from behind in the next round.
Photos of the Street Brawl in Verona by Brehan Lapidario.
Baroness Beatrix Krieger reports:
Æthelmearc fought with ferocity and honor, with a troop fewer than 15 today to stand with our allies. Sides were evened and the Field Battles were on after opening ceremonies. The small battalion of Æthelmearc showed chivalry, bravery, and prowess on the battefield, and fought to the last man more than once. Æthelmearc was able to help win two of the five melees and stand with Trimaris, Northshield, and allies. It is a beautiful, cool, and sunny day, and while the day was not a victory for us or our noble allies on the heavy field, Æthelmearc was recognized by many to be a force to be reckoned with in every engagement.
Duke Titus Germanicus fought for Æthelmearc as the fencing representative for Heroic Champions [on Wednesday]. He was fierce, quick, and honorable, but was ultimately thwarted. Although he was not called upon to the heavy lyst for Champions, THL Thorsol Solinagua was to stand for the Allies for Æthelmearc. Afterwards, Thorsol represented Countess Elena in the Rose Tourney. He fought with ferocity, honor, and courtesy. He was eliminated, but fought for his Rose very well.
[Thursday] is the Ravine Battle at 11am. Vivat Æthelmearc!
Brahen Lapidario reports:
Since I didn’t make it to [the rapier] War Point, I took the opportunity to attend a class that compared meads made with ale yeast to those made with wine yeast. It was very interesting and I learned a lot (and drank a bit more than I learned, perhaps). But, I was a little disappointed that the experiment wasn’t better designed. The gentleman doing it used one recipe for all the meads made with ale yeast, and another recipe for those made with wine yeast. Thus, it was possible to compare ale yeast to ale yeast & wine yeast to wine yeast, but not ale yeast to wine yeast (which was the primary reason I attended the class).
There’s only one thing to do about it: run the experiment myself!
Milord Brehan also sent some photos, including Merchants’ Row, the Gode Bakery (run by Master Alastar Scott MacCrummin with assistance from his lady wife, Maistres Myfanwy ferch Rhiannon, and Maistir Brandubh o Donnghaile), and the dog-powered “Great Machine” first unveiled at SCA 50 Year.Click to view slideshow.
Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne reports:
[On Tuesday], once again, Trimaris and her allies (including Æthelmearc) lost in the heavy battles, again in part due to superior numbers. However, the fighters enjoyed the battle and were happy to get hit people. On the rapier side, once again. Æthelmearc was victorious!
Æthelmearc won the Ballista Target competition [on Wednesday] with Sir Maghnus de Cnoc an Iora and Bryheres Gwendolyn the Graceful manning the ballista.Click to view slideshow.
Several rapier fighters also participated in the Green Tavern Brawl for fun.
The three AE Baronesses decide to try to win the Shopping Warpoint for Aethelmearc. [Wednesday] night’s dinner was again from Scappi; I’m cooking From Scappi all week and have requested that all participants come up with “Pope Facts” to discuss during dinner, as Scappi cooked for two Popes and several cardinals. Dinner included Beef stew, lentils with pepper and cinnamon, macaroni and cheese (its period!) marzipan, and pear and cheese pie.
One of the biggest factors is how cold it is. [Tuesday] night it dropped into the 30s. However, we are making do and are looking forward to it warming up later in the week
It’s fun and rewarding and there’s nothing to shovel.
If you’re a scribe you know something that someone else wants to learn, so consider sharing your knowledge, talent and a little bit of your time with the Known World at Pennsic this year. You’ll be glad you did! Register your class here.
Would people in your area like to learn more about designing and executing beautiful scrolls, serving as herald in court or during a tournament, how to design premodern names and heraldic devices, how to incorporate your armory into your clothing and equipment, or how to participate in the name and armory review process?
Or maybe you would just like to hang out for a day with a bunch of interesting people from across the kingdom and even a few other kingdoms? The preferred time is after Labor Day this year and ideally not in the same month as Æcademy.
Basically, you need to secure a site with plenty of classrooms and provide lunch. Typically, the more classrooms the better. The scribes particularly like to have a scriptorium where they can practice calligraphy together. Scribes also like to have a display area for samples of their work. It would be good to have a display area for heraldic objects as well. Ideally, several of the classrooms should accommodate projection equipment. The scriptorium and at least one of the classrooms should accommodate “messy classes” where scribes actually practice their art. Built in internet access is nice, but we can probably find people with hotspots.
Beyond the various classroom areas, there should be a commons area for people to hang out and eat lunch. The most recent collegium had heraldic activities running from 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., the last two hours of which were devoted to a Q&A session with a College of Arms officer followed by a general meeting of the Æthelmearc College of Heralds. The event staff cleaned and restored the other classrooms during this period.
Who to contact:
Note: There will be a staff change with at least the office of Silver Buccle this Spring. However, please do not let that deter you. Please provide the new staff people with an excellent site for this Autumn! Please send in event proposals as soon as you can.
Thank you very much for considering my request.
In service to Æthelmearc, Sólveig
Last year, the grave of a wealthy 10th century woman was discovered in Enghøj on the Jutland peninsula of Denmark. Archaeologists from the Museum East Jutland were excited to find a gilt bronze buckle of Irish or Scottish manufacture in the grave. The woman wore it to pin the ends of her petticoat together, but it wasn’t originally a brooch. Made in the 9th century, the 2.4-inch disk once adorned a Christian reliquary or other container of sacred objects before it was pillaged by Viking raiders. Less than a hundred years later, it was the highly prized treasure of a rich Norsewoman, so highly prized that it was buried with her.
This was an unexpected and significant discovery, because while precious objects from the British Isles have been found before in Viking graves, they are very rare and all but unheard of in Denmark. None of the experts who examined the buckle knew of anything like it in the Danish archaeological record. The Irish/Scottish origin and style of ornamentation make it a unique find in Denmark. The artifacts most comparable to the Enghøj buckle were found in Norway, like this Celtic brooch unearthed from a 9th-10th century barrow in Lilleberge, this crozier fragment found in Romsdal. Swedish Vikings tended to go east for their raids, while the Norwegians roamed the North Atlantic islands, Scotland, Ireland and northern England, so it makes sense that the few surviving Celtic artifacts pillaged in those areas are concentrated in Norway.
Museum East Jutland archaeologist Ernst Stidsing, who led the excavation the site, hypothesized that the woman in the Enghøj burial might have some kind of link to Norway. Strontium isotope analysis on her teeth could pinpoint where she was born and spent her childhood.
“I’m pretty excited about the outcome of the analysis,” says Stidsing. “Especially as the Norwegian Vikings were often on expeditions to the north of England. It’s exciting that a woman may have come from Norway and have lived part of her life in Jutland [west Denmark].”
Archaeologist Jens Ulriksen of the Museum Southeast Denmark was also intrigued by the prospect of the lady’s possible Norwegian origin.
“It’ll be exciting if we find some indication that she was raised, married, and settled over greater distances. We know that Danish kings married Slavic princesses from 900 AD,” he says.
“It wouldn’t surprise me that there was an exchange, but it’s worth gold to have it confirmed. And you might see some dynastic connections across the Nordic region,” says Ulriksen.
Well, the strontium isotope analysis results are in and the woman buried in Enghøj was indeed born and raised in Norway, southern Norway, to be precise.
She probably wasn’t a princess, but she was buried with expensive grave goods beyond the Celtic brooch. There were several bronze buckles, silver jewelry and a strand of glass and metal beads. She would certainly have been one of the richest people in town, perhaps the wife of a local chief or regional leader. As with the Slavic princesses mentioned by Ulriksen, marriage could well have been the reason for the woman’s move to Denmark. Her pillaged petticoat pin heirloom indicates she came from a wealthy family, the kind of family that might arrange a marriage with a distant Danish potentate.
Countess Elena d’Artois, Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne, and Baroness Beatrix Krieger report from Gulf Wars in Gleann Ahann.
From Countess Elena:
Monday’s Rapier Town Battle was brisk. Our side was outnumbered by 10, but we still emerged victorious through the plans and strategies of our general, Doña Miriam d’Hawke [of Trimaris]. Since our side won the war point in the first two iterations of the scenario, we fought the third round to the last man. Great teamwork [was] displayed by Master Anias Fenne and Duke Titus Germanicus, holding a group from flanking us and turning the tide to roll the enemy’s edge. Kudos to Kara Burkhart, Robert Hawksworth, and Lord Nicolo Loredan da Venesia, [who] especially did a great job screening so that we were able to help our buddies achieve the victory condition.
Thanks to Lady Racheldis of Swansmere for serving as marshal today for the rapier field.
From Baroness Beatrix:
Today was the Town Battle. We were small in number but very, very good. We killed many; we united with parts of Trimaris and Atlantia on one of the bridges to hold our foes off as they tried to push through our line. We repelled them as best we could and reinforced small buildings all throughout the battle. Our chivalry crossed and pressed them at the river, and together our army held them at bay for as long as we could. We could not keep the hordes from overrunning us, and while Ansteorra and their allies were victorious, Æthelmearc fought with great skill, courtesy, and with tremendous honor.
Tomorrow: field battles after opening ceremonies.
From Mistress Illadore:
Today saw Æthelmearc fighting with Trimaris, apparently highly outnumbered on the heavy side in the Town Battle. Our fighters fought valiantly and enjoyed the target rich environment. On the rapier side, Æthelmearc won the day!! Alright, alright, we had help. The Rapier Town Battle included finding the right chest inside the “town” and getting it out through the front gates of the fort, best two out of three.Click to view slideshow.
After the Town Battle, much of the camp enjoyed the first of [several planned] meals based on the Opera of Bartolommeo Scappi’s, with the main entree being roast chicken with pomegranate sauce. Peach pie was for dessert. [Ed. Note: Mistress Illadore is the camp cook for Gulf Wars.]