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Unofficial Court Report: Siege of Castle Theo d’Ore III

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-09-25 16:59

This Unofficial Report was narrated by Mistress Gwenhywfar dinas Emrys who was assisted in court by Tir Mara’s Badger, Tíarna Díarmait Ó Bríain,  and Lord Snarfi Snorrisson.

Archers line up to shoot “at” the rattan fighters at Siege of Castle Theo d’Ore III, Canton of Distant Shore – Photo Courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

On Friday evening, we gathered at a place called LORDA, where a great siege was to take place the next day. Lo and behold, even the King and Queen of the East were there to see the battle! As the people came together that evening the King and Queen called all those around to hear Their words. They requested the presence of the Baron of these lands, His Excellency Guthfrith Yrlingson, for it seems the King was concerned with the taxes that he received from our Barony, thinking them a little light. And as the Baron looked for assistance from his Baroness, the King grinned and said he was joking! for this was a ruse to have His Excellency before him. And so, the King and Queen called for their Order of the Laurel to join them and asked Guthfrith Yrlingson to contemplate joining the order.

And as he bowed his head in shock, Mistress Bess begged the boon that another be added to the order, her apprentice, Mergriet Van Wijenhorst. And so Mergriet Van Wijenhorst joined the other laurels in front of the Rulers of the East and she was also asked to contemplate joining the Order of the Laurel.

And then the Laurels led both candidates to their respective vigils, and the King and Queen thanked the populace gathered and closed the Friday court.

Saturday saw many fighting scenarios – Photo Courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

On Saturday morning, before the armies gathered to battle at the Siege of Castle Theo d’Ore, the King and queen did gather their populace together for an announcement. In their midst was one Gnaues Aurelius Andronicus, newly arrived from the shores of Ar n-Eilean-ne, who happened to be traveling through to his homelands. And the called Gnaeus in front of them and told him his peer had told them of his deeds in the far lands of the Barony of L’ile Dragon Dormant. And then they did call forth the Order of the Pelican, and asked Gnaeus if he would sit vigil and contemplate joining the order of the Pelican during the evening court. The pelicans gathered led him away and the King and Queen thanked those gathered, and closed the morning court.

After the battles had been fought and the Arts and Sciences had been seen and the arrows had been shot, the populace gathered for one last time to hear the words of the King and Queen of the East. Their Royal Majesties did process into court, and called in to join them the Baron and Baroness of Ruantallan, Baron and Baroness of Havres des Glaces and the Baroness of L’ile Dragon Dormant. The Baron and Baroness of Ruantallan did open a Baronial Court and handed out newcomer tokens to all those for whom the event was their first event or first court. They then closed the Baronial court.

The King and Queen of the East then opened their court. The first order of business was to award all the various winners who competed in the ten Arts and Sciences Challenges with their prizes, and to award the Silver Arrow for the Archery Tournament to Lord Otto Gottlieb.

Introducing Lady Catherine – Photo Courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

King Darius called Omega and Queen Etheldreda called before them Wolfgang Hummel, and told him They had seen him working very hard in the shop with his wife, and that They had heard of his good deeds and works and would make him a Lord of Their Court. They then called for Catherine Annot de Bruges, for whom They had heard about her brewing and work within her Shire. They made her a lady of Their court as well. They then called the wide eyed Anna of the Island to come before them, for they had heard that she was a member of the commodores privateers but also a member of the foresters, and that she counted the coin for Ynys Y Gwaed and for all those acts they did make her a Lady of the Court. They also called upon Gaston le Cordier, for whom They had seen him on the field at the Great Pennsic War and at the Siege of Castle Theo D’Ore, and heard of his other works of chivalry, honor and service and did make him a Lord of the Court.

The Serpent King and Queen Orientalis then called forth The Foresters, who protected the green spaces between the shores of Ruantallan to the far west reaches of L’ile Dragon Dormant from Brigands, Mercenaries and Cutthroats! After learning of their great deeds They did bestow upon them a Royal Charter.

The three newest Tyger’s Cubs are joined by those members of the Order there assembled – Photo courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

Turning to the younger generation, Their Majesties called before them Matthew nic Angus. They told him they had heard of his prowess in the youth rapier list and the King asked Matthew if he remembered the conversation they had on the field. Matthew said yes, but the Queen suspected the conversation meant more to the King than young Matthew! They then called forth the Order of the Tygers Cub, and added Matthew to their ranks. They then called for Seamus of Ruantallan to present himself before the court and asked Seumas if he enjoyed shooting archery, as They had heard he enjoyed that past-time. He did enjoy archery, and the Royals added Seumas to the Order of the Tygers cub. Yet the order was still not complete. They requested the presence of Decimus Tromentina Serverus to come before Them where They remarked They had seen him working in his parents shop. They asked him if he enjoyed it and he said yes. They then asked what his pay was, and he remarked he worked for free! They then asked him if he would follow in his parents steps running the shop and he said… No. Then inducted him into the order of the Tygers cub as well.

And while the children stood their greeting their order, The Queen called for all the children of the East to join Them in court. She told them, of the Royal Toy Sack, but that she ALSO knew that it was Rue of Red Bears birthday and had all the children sing happy birthday to her. Then The King called forth for the Royal Toy sack, and for Sir Angus McHaley to make himself available for the King. They handed the bag of toys to Sir Angus and told him to “run”. And he did so, with the children of the East trailing behind, where it was reminiscent of the Pied Piper. And then the scene turned dark, and Sir Angus McHaley fell at the hands of the children like a scene from Faust!

But court must carry on, and so the Queen called forth Mistress Gwenhwyfar Dinas Emrys, their herald, to receive an award of Seamstress to the Crown. And when the Queen was finished with her, she was called on by the King, who told her how she had helped Them throughout the reign and for that, he honored her with a King’s Cypher.

Master Guthfrith Yrlingson, OL – photo courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

And so it came towards the end of the court, when Their Majesties called before Them Guthfrith Yirlingson, whom They had sent on vigil the night before to contemplate joining the order of the Laurel. They asked him if he had enough time to make a decision on joining the order and he had, and he did wish it. So They heard the words of Duchess Thyra Eiriksdottir for the Rose, Master Kenric for the Chivalry (read by Sir Gareth Grey de Wilton), Mistress Elizabeth Darnley for the Laurels, Mistress Ygraine for the Pelicans, and Master Frasier for the Masters of Defense. A medallion was presented, made by the children of Ruantallan, and a cloak was presented worked on by many people, and a wreath made by Lord Hugh. And Guthfrith was made a companion to the Order of the Laurel.

Mistress Acilaldai speaks on behalf of the Masters of Defense for Mergriet – Photo courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

Mergriet van Wijenhorst was then called into court and asked if she had also had enough time to contemplate joining the order to wish she said she had and she wished to join them. She was then released from her apprenticeship to Mistress Elizabeth Darnley, with tears of joy. Their Majesties then heard the words of Countess Gwen a Brooke for the Rose (read by Mistress Bridget Greywolf), Syr Yesungge Altan for the Chivalry, Mistress Anetje Van Woerden for the Laurel (read by Magister D’Unstable), Mistress Elizabeth Darnley for the Pelican, and Mistress Acilaldai for the Masters of Defense. A medallion was presented from Syr Yesungge, The cloak was presented from Mistress Bess and a wreath made by Master D’unstable. Mergriet van Wijenhorst was then inducted into the Order of the Laurel. Before she left court, she did swear fealty to the King and Queen. As the order greeted the newest members of the order, the Ruantallan choir sang a song for Master Guthfrith.

Lady Mergriet van Wijenhorst joins the Order of the Laurel – photo courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

Before the next order of business had chance to happen, Sir Angus McHaley, disheveled and limping, stumbled back into court, his jacket torn from his immense shoulders, and returned the toy sack to the King. The King did note that Sir Angus had braved the mighty forces of the children, and commended him for living to serve another day.

Their Majesties once again turned back to the business at hand and called in Syr Yesungge Altan to come before them. As he knelt there, wondering what he was doing in court, the Queen turned to the heralds and asked for the coronet. Syr Yesungge was then presented with a mongol coronet and made a Baron of the Court.

Last, but not least, Dominus Gnaeus Aurelius Andronicus was called into court. They asked him if he had time to think about his answer to Their question of whether to join the order of the Pelican at which he said Yes. The King asked for that answer and Gnaeus replies yes as well. The King then asked his peer, Mistress Gwenhwyfar if she had released him from service to which she looked at her Protégé and replied “You are released” and gave him a thumbs up.

Dominus Gnaeus Aurelius Andronicus joins the Order the Pelican – Pictures courtesy of Lady Cat Lennox

King Darius and Queen Etheldreda then heard from Duchess Avelina (read by her protégé Baroness Allessandra) for the Rose, newly recovered Sir Angus McHaley for the order of the Chivalry, Mistress Alisay for the order of the Laurel, Mistress Tadea for the order of the Pelican, and Master Jean Paul Ducasse for the Masters of Defense (read by Mistress Acilaldai). A medallion was presented to him made by Lady Camilla di Bruno, a cloak was presented, made by Mistress Gwenhwyfar and a hat of maintenance was mentioned to be forthcoming, as it was left behind at the Crimson Hall.

Gnaeus was then inducted into the order of the Pelican.

The East Kingdom Seneschal made an announcement wishing to speak to members of various groups in the Crown Principality of Tir Mara, and the King and Queen thanked the scribes of the East for their outstanding service, noting that The Kingdom of the East was one of the few Kingdoms who gave out original artwork scrolls for almost all awards. They then asked the Siege of Castle Theo d’Ore III event staff to rise and be acknowledged, and lastly thanked all those for coming to court, and the Barons and Baronesses for hosting. The Court was then closed.

Filed under: Court Tagged: Distant Shore, Ruantallan

Olmec relief looted 45 years ago found in France

History Blog - Thu, 2015-09-24 22:06

An Olmec relief chiselled off a rock face in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas in the early 70s has surfaced in France and was officially returned to Mexico in a ceremony at the Mexican Embassy in Paris.

The relief was discovered at the archaeological site of Xoc and dates to between 1,150 and 900 B.C. It’s 220 centimeters (7’2″) high, 115 cm (3’9″) wide and about 30 cm (one foot) deep. It depicts a man in profile, except for the chest an arms which face front. He has some characteristic Olmec features — thick legs, no neck, small feet, a very high headdress with a crossed band decoration — and some that are very rarely seen in Olmec art, like the round earplug with a curved tassel hanging from it and the sharp talons on his feet. He is clad in breechcloth tied by a large square element. He carries a baton or a knife in his right hand and a bundle in the crook of his right arm that is likely maize.

It was first discovered in the 1920s, but its remote location and the sparsity of information kept people from exploring it any detail. A few archaeologists saw it, like B. Traven, author of The Treasure of the Sierra Madre which 20 years later would become an iconic Oscar-winning movie by John Houston starring Humphrey Bogart, who photographed it in the 20s. Thirty years later the relief was photographed by Wolfgang Cordan, a German-born poet, fighter in the Dutch resistance against Nazi occupation and anthropologist who roamed the ancient sites of Chiapas in the 1950s and together with William Brito Sansores devised the (now largely discredited) Mérida System of deciphering Maya hieroglyphics. Cordan published the picture in a 1964 book about his Mexican travels, but was deliberately vague on its location.

Because very few traces of an Olmec presence have been found in the hot, humid jungles of the eastern highlands of Chiapas and all of the previous finds were small, portable artifacts, the relief was of great archaeological significance. In 1968 Susanna Ekholm-Miller of the New World Archaeological Foundation undertook to locate the relief in Cordan’s picture. She found a reference in a 1957 survey narrowing down the Xoc site to somewhere between the towns of La Martinica and El Porvenir. She took a puddle jumper to the El Porvenir landing strip and quickly discovered that the locals knew about the site and the relief. An hour-and-a-half horseback ride later, she was standing in front of the rock carving.

Ekholm-Miller’s expedition was a brief one. Her field director approved a two-day trip, so she had less than two days to clean, photograph and map the site before flying back out. In July of 1972, she got approval for a second, longer trip with a larger team. The elements conspired to make it a much harder and longer slog this time giving them only a day and a half to work on the site. When they arrived, they found to their horror that the relief had been looted.

From her 1973 paper on the find, The Olmec Rock Carving at Xoc, Chiapas, Mexico:

[I]t is impossible to describe the shock and anger we felt when we approached the nearby rock face where previously Eduardo Martinez and I had viewed the magnificent Olmec figure. The carving was no longer there. It had been brutally and completely removed. Apparently it was chiselled off the rock face, probably piece by piece. At least a 30 cm-thick layer of the surface had been removed; a huge pile of fragments of the stone lay at its base, though we could find none that bore any definite carving. We assume that the carved surface is on its way to the antiquities market, undoubtedly in many pieces, as the rock had fissures in it besides being of a limestone which fractures easily.

In the hope that the unique and priceless artifact might someday be found again, Ekholm-Miller published all her photographs of the relief. They were used to make copies for scholars to study. Though her paper was widely disseminated and the lost relief was very famous among pre-Columbian experts, neither hide nor hair of it was seen or even heard of in the past 45 years.

Now that the relief has been recovered, we know that it was cut into four pieces for transportation. When it arrived in France is unknown, but it was soon after the theft. The previous “owners” inherited it and had no idea what it was or where it came from. They contacted pre-Columbian art expert Jacques Blazy and Drouot auctioneer Jean-Claude Binoche to have it appraised. Even stashed in a dark basement, cut into four pieces and filthy, the relief was immediately recognized by the experts, thanks to Ekholm-Miller’s work. They told the family that the piece could not be legally sold.

Blazy and Binoche took the relief to a conservator to have it cleaned and then had it authenticated by preeminent archaeologist Dominique Michelet. One the authenticity of the piece was confirmed, they contacted the Mexican Embassy and arranged for the formal repatriation ceremony.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

New Defence Academy to be Formed

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-09-24 20:55

With the Pennsic War now behind us, training begins. This October 4th, at the College of Cour d’Or in BMDL, fencing instructors from all over the Kingdom and beyond are gathering for the second Historical Rapier Schola. Come join us to learn from period styles, test yourself against fencers from all over Æthelmearc, and witness the beginning of the Defence Academy! See the event announcement for event times and details. The Facebook event page can be found here. The proposal letter for the creation of the Academy is offered herewith:

Throughout history, skilled craftsmen have banded together into ordered communities to share their knowledge and expertise, teach novices, and further refine the art and science of their trade. In this spirit, and with great enthusiasm, I am glad to more completely announce the founding of the Defence Academy at the upcoming Historical Rapier Schola in Cour d’Or. I am merely the voice of several dedicated individuals who have put great effort into bringing this idea into fruition. They have stepped forward, not only from our own Kingdom, but from the Society as a whole.

The rapier community is experiencing a time of great wealth in historical resources, advanced rapier simulators available, and in communication between historians and practitioners all over the world. There is such a wealth that one can easily be overwhelmed by it all. The Defence Academy aims to serve as a communal network, to connect questions to answers and students to teachers. Furthermore, the Academy will seek to incorporate period study of the masters at every stage of learning, to better refine our practice. As a group, we can face a world of opportunities and find the path we are looking for. In this letter, I intend to outline the structure and function of the Academy, and how it will be introduced.

General Disclaimers:

  1. This is an additional venture for the rapier community. Participation is entirely voluntary, and there will be no social advantage/disadvantage to participating or not.
  2. This is not meant to challenge or replace existing conventions, such as the taking of cadets.
  3. The ranks within the Academy exist only within the academy. They do not reflect social standing, nor do they influence Kingdom Orders or Precedence.
  4. Some titles used for ranks are already in use by other organizations and Kingdoms. Distinction shall always be maintained, and Academy titles end outside of the Academy.
  5. The Academy is at the service of the Crown and Kingdom always, but does not seek to challenge personal ethics and inclinations. The Academy defers to the judgment of the Crown on matters of those worthy to serve as Provosts and Masters.
  6. Communal development of the community is the singular goal, through the group oriented study, practice, and refinement of historical research and application.
  7. There is no polling, and all communication is intended to be open and transparent.


Without delving to deep into history, many of the guilds and skilled trade groups through period adopted a system of ranks. These ranks denoted a general skill level or mastery of the trade. One entered as a novice, and through hard work and study, they could move to higher ranks as their abilities improved. Eventually, as their skills reached close to perfection, the guild might acknowledge them as a master and look to them as new teachers of the ranks below. The famed London Masters of Defence, along with many other schools in Italy and Germany, were skill trade schools in the art of fence, with rapier, sidesword, and even longsword. The Defence Academy will follow this example and adopt a similar structure.

The Academy will be sectioned into four tiers, each with their own requirements to enter, expectations in behavior, and goals for the next rank. These ranks serve to identify and recognize efforts made and draw attention from those that might be able to assist or seek the experience of those recognized. Each rank will also bear a symbol, so that they might recognize their fellow members. Progression from one rank to the next shall be based on clear criteria, with the intention of encouraging that growth, rather than stand as unachievable or misunderstood standards. The ranks are as follows:


This is the entry level position. It is meant for those new to fencing or just beginning to develop their personal style. Guidance will be readily available to this rank so they might develop quickly.

Prerequisite- Authorization in the Kingdom entry form. (In Æthelmearc, this is single heavy rapier.)

Expectations- Attend practices and events. Seek out the experience of others. Practice the various forms available and work towards further authorizations. Work with other scholars to practice techniques. Ask about historical masters and their legacies.

Badge- A red scarf with a central white stripe, longwise, to be worn about the arm.

Free Scholar

Members of this tier have started to piece together techniques and concepts that serve them in combat, developing a recognizable quality to their style.

Prerequisites- As a more senior rank, more is expected for qualification. There are four criteria.

  1. Authorization in all forms for heavy rapier. Cut and Thrust is not necessary, although encouraged.
  2. Noted participation in a baronial or Kingdom level rapier champions tourney.
  3. Consistently displayed prowess of note to three Provosts or Masters of the Academy. At this stage, scholars should be developing successful strategies to combat their fellow scholars. Consistent, superior application of these techniques will draw the attention of the more senior ranks.
  4. Displayed familiarity with a historical fencing source, related to the application of fencing theory. This can take shape as a brief research paper, teaching/assisting with a class on historical style. Scholars are encouraged to seek guidance on this from more senior members.

Expectations- Attend practices and events out of your region. Work towards marshalate training and assist in the running of practices. Assist with authorizations. Assist or take the lead in teaching new members the basics of fencing. Continue to develop a personal style to your fight, seeking the advice of more senior ranks. Direct questions by scholars to more senior ranks, if necessary. Investigate different historical styles and sources to compare theories, develop technique, and draw context for the techniques. Serve the Crown and Kingdom, with and without sword in hand.

Badge- A gold scarf with a central white stripe, longwise, to be worn about the arm.


Years of practice and refinement lead the fencer to notable prowess and respected service, such that the Crown makes special acknowledgement.

Prerequisite- The office of Provost is offered to those deemed worthy by the Crown to serve as Defenders of the White Scarf (and equivalent positions if gained from out of Kingdom) and/or Master of Defence. The Academy has full trust in the wisdom of the Crown and will honor Their decision without hesitation.

Expectations- Provosts are the champions of the Academy, serving as its strength and influence. Provosts shall oversee and ensure the consistent availability of practices within their regions, such that anyone wishing to fence is met with opportunity, within the reasonable capacity of the Provost. They shall serve as mentors to the free scholars, offering the guidance necessary for growth. Take note of scholars that excel, and always consider those worthy of sponsoring as a free scholar. Maintain open and transparent communication with all ranks, sharing experiences freely. Continually refine personal ability, as combatants, teachers, and servants of the Kingdom. Continue to develop familiarity with historical rapier resources, for personal development or to assist in the development of others.

Badge- Provosts shall bear the white scarf as given to them by the Crown.


Masters of the Academy are those chosen worthy by the Crown so serve as Masters of Defence. They serve as the binding force to maintain solidarity in the community and open and safeguard friendly relations with neighboring Kingdoms. As peers of the realm, they are expected to ensure the development of the highest quality of courtesy, etiquette, and demeanor by all, such that none may bring shame upon the Academy.

Prerequisite-The office of Master of the Academy is offered to those deemed worthy by the Crown to serve as Master of Defence. The Academy has full trust in the wisdom of the Crown and will honor Their decision without hesitation.

Expectations- Members of this rank are expected to maintain the highest standards of prowess and behavior. They shall serve to guide and foster members of all ranks and ensure that the community as a whole is thriving. They shall oversee and refine the policies and conventions of the rapier community, in accordance with the appropriate Kingdom Officers. As peers, they shall continually interact with neighboring kingdoms to benefit fencing throughout the Society. Masters shall discern the needs of the Kingdom and develop strategies to serve those needs. They shall be, or endeavour to become, fluent in period styles, or be ready to refer to expertise elsewhere. They shall ensure that questions receive answers and that students find teachers, within the reasonable capacity of the individuals involved. They shall seek to find how best the rapier community can serve the Kingdom and Society as a whole, beyond matters of war and combat. They shall serve in all functions as outlined in Society Corpora for those members of a peerage. Above all else, they shall strive to ensure that the art and science of fencing remains a welcoming, enjoyable venture such that all those who wish to better themselves as students of fence are given opportunity to do so.

Badge- Masters of the Academy shall bear the regalia appropriate to the Order of Defence, as given to them by the Crown.


All fencers shall have opportunity to prove their value and worth, and skill shall be readily acknowledged. Upon first authorization, a willing fencer shall be offered position as scholar of the Academy by a Provost or Master of the Academy. As the scholar continues to grow, Provosts and Masters will look for verification of the outlined criteria above, and upon consensus of three Provosts or Masters, the scholar may be raised to the rank of free scholar. While no polling is necessary for this to occur, open discussion is encouraged amongst the Provosts and Masters, such that each scholar is given a complete evaluation.

At each of these circumstance, a prize tourney may be organized to serve as a display of the abilities of the candidate and to assist meeting more members of the community. Prowess displayed during these prize tournies is not necessarily grounds for further evaluation, although the tournies are a fine venue to demonstrate the fruits of hard practice and refinement. Comportment and etiquette are of great importance as members of all ranks, along with the Kingdom populace, may be present.

The offering of Provost and Master of the Academy are dependent on the Crown’s judgement, as outlined above. The Academy will tolerate no further scrutiny, and all reservations shall be dealt with openly.The Academy values growth and development for all, and has no room for ulterior motives.

The Academy shall be introduced with a tournament at the conclusion of the Historical Rapier Schola. All members of the populace that do not have grant level or peer level recognition for fencing are invited to participate in the tourney. The format shall be determined pending the number of entries. All who participate in the Schola and the tourney, if they wish, shall be offered the rank of scholar and the appropriate badge. During the day, those members of the Provost and Master ranks shall observe the prowess and conduct of the scholars, to provide feedback and begin evaluating those worthy of the rank of free scholar. While no free scholars will be made that day, discussion shall be initiated quickly and candidates identified within as brief a time period as possible.


The Academy shall maintain a presence on social media in the form of a Facebook group. Every member of the Academy will be given a thread, to allow for focused discussion on that member. All discussion will be open to the entire Academy, and constructive commentary is encouraged. No derogatory, demeaning, or slanderous commentary will be tolerated. Each thread shall have a picture of the candidate, along with their Society name and present rank in the Academy. Private communication is always tolerated, but it is preferred to maintain transparent intentions through public discussion. Participation and inclusion within this forum is completely voluntary, and no thread shall be initiated without specific permission by the member.


I would first like to thank the assistance of the Atlantian Academie d’Espee, that serves as a fostering sister to the birth of the Defence Academy. Members of every rank have offered support and enthusiasm for this venture, and strong ties are already being formed. The two groups shall always serve to support and strengthen the other, lending experience and a helping hand. The Defence Academy has modeled its structure off of the Academie d’Espee, and will recognize all ranks laterally. It is the intent of the Defence Academy to work closely with the Academie d’Espee in developing the rapier community across borders.

The Defence Academy wishes only for the betterment of the community through communal effort. It is our hope that everyone find a welcoming home within the Academy. The experience and wisdom of all members are necessary for the benefit of all. I, as merely a voice for the many that comprise the Academy, take great honor in inviting all to consider participation in the birth and growth of the Defence Academy.

Categories: SCA news sites

Medieval bones found under 1950′s Westminster Abbey lavoratory

History Blog - Wed, 2015-09-23 22:09

Demolition of a 1950s block of bathrooms outside Westminster Abbey’s Poet’s Corner has revealed scores of human skeletal remains dating to the 11th and early 12th century. The lavatory block is being removed to make way for the Abbey’s first new tower in almost 300 years, a subtle addition nestled behind the buttresses of the chapter house that will provide new and improved access to the Abbey’s attic (triforium) museum. Underneath Victorian drainage pipes, archaeologists found bones from at least 50 people, many of them disarticulated and stacked like cord wood, others in graves lined with chalk slabs in Anglo-Saxon/early Norman style, plus the remains of a three-year-old child buried in a wooden coffin and one adult man buried in an expensive coffin of Northamptonshire Barnack stone.

The child is too young to have been pledged to the monastery or to have worked there, and the fact that he or she was buried in a wooden coffin indicates a high social status. The bones aren’t preserved enough to determine sex by visual examination. The adult man is missing his skull. His stone coffin was moved to its current location by work crews under Sir George Gilbert Scott, the Gothic Revivalist architect and Surveyor to the Fabric at Westminster Abbey who restored the 13th century chapter house in the 1860s. Scott had the coffin moved because it would have blocked a new window in the chapter house and had it built into a brick wall. The coffin bears the tell-tale signs of interference from this period. A corner of the lid is broken, likely the result of workers lifting it to have a look inside. The skull was probably removed at that time.

The original Romanesque church that would become Westminster Abbey was built by saint and king Edward the Confessor as part of an expansion of the Benedictine monastery on the site. He dedicated it to Saint Peter the Apostle but it was known as the “west minster” in contrast to St. Paul’s Cathedral which was London’s minster to the east. St. Peter’s was completed in 1065 only days before Edward’s death. He was buried in front of the high altar.

It was King Henry III, a highly devout man who took Edward the Confessor as his patron saint, who decided to replace Edward’s church with a new one in the glamorous Gothic style pioneered by Abbot Suger in the Church of Saint-Denis in the mid-12th century. Henry envisioned the soaring new church as a more majestic shrine for Edward’s bones and those of England’s kings and queens. The Romanesque church was demolished in 1245 and construction began. Saint Edward’s remains were translated to the new shrine on October 13th, 1269. By the time Henry died in 1272, the apse and radiating chapels of the eastern end, the north and south transepts and choirs were completed.

The stacking of the bones was the work of Henry III’s construction team.

Paw Jorgensen, who supervised the excavation by specialist firm Pre-Construct Archaeology, said they had originally been buried in a small burial ground just outside the south transept walls. The highest status individuals, the kings, queens and most senior clergy, would have been buried within the church itself, but the newly found remains were close enough to indicate they probably were those of senior clergy. When Henry demolished Edward the Confessor’s church and began his own massive construction project, the land was dug up, and they were all reburied in a layer under the surface of what was the 13th-century masons’ yard, littered with chips of the stone used to build a platform to take the enormous weight of the new building.

Some of the skulls have small square holes in them which were likely caused by Henry’s workers wielding pickaxes with less than pious care. Even with holes the stacked bones are in quite good condition, much better condition than the chalk-lined graves which have been damaged by leaks in the Victorian drainage pipes. Archaeologists hope laboratory analysis of the bones will pinpoint who they were, their profession, age, diet, health and where they were raised.

Jorgensen says the lavatory block is “built as solidly as a nuclear bunker” making it “a nightmare to demolish.” As the tedious process continues, archaeologists expect to find more bones. As it is, the 50 or so already discovered bring the total number of people known to have been buried in Westminster Abbey to an impressive 3,350. Once the remains have been studied, they will be reburied in the grounds on the church.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Bardic Profile: Hersir Torvaldr Torgarson

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-09-23 10:17

Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres, Sylvan Bard, brings us the next Æthelmearc Bardic Profile.

What’s your full SCA name (and anything else you typically use to introduce yourself)?
Hersir (Baron) Torvaldr Torgarson when I am being formal, though I usually just say, “Hi, I’m Torvaldr.”

What attracted you to the bardic arts?
I have always been interested in artistic performances. Even before I found the SCA. I was very involved in band and drama from elementary school up into college. And a huge history and mythology nut as well. The SCA allowed me to combine them all.

How long have you considered yourself a skald?
Probably since the age of about 11 or 12 when I started being active in acting. Initially when I joined the SCA I just used our generic term of bard. Now a days I mostly introduce myself as a skald, but I am not picky about the artistic title and am perfectly happy if someone calls me a bard as opposed to skald. I am 51 now, so pardon me if I don’t do the math to figure out the exact length of time.

What’s your primary form (singer, storyteller, poet, etc.)? Do you play any instruments, and if so, which?
Instrument-wise I played brass though I haven’t played in a couple of decades now. Primarily I consider myself to be a storyteller and poet, though I write songs and sing as much as the other. But I think I am best known for my storytelling. Especially my silly Viking stories. I am also heavily into skaldic verse and have several projects in I am working on combining drottkvaet with physical items such as shields and rune stones.

Where can we find your work?
You can find some of my work on my website, click on the poetry link. Most of that is some of my early work as I was still learning to compose in drottkvaet.

You can find more on the West Kingdom History website here; scroll down to my name, and if you want to see and hear some of my stories you can go to my youtube channel and go to the Viking Home Companion playlist here.

What sorts of pieces do you enjoy producing? What attracts you to that style?
I really enjoy working in drottkvaet skaldic verse, the formal court poetry of the Norse. It is a very rigid style but there are ways to use it less formally as well. Occasional verses – which are usually single stanzas about someone or something that just inspired you. Flokkr – which could have several stanzas and is still considered informal, but could be used if the inspiration that caught you was too much for a single stanza. Then you have the drapa, the full on formal poetry that you would compose and recite in a formal setting such as court or the Jarl’s hall. Add in the heits or kennings, the poetic descriptives used in place of other things and you create not only a story or image, but a riddle as well. The entire world of skaldic verse is fascinating and complex.

Describe a favorite performance of your own in the SCA. What makes it a highlight for you?
It was during one of my performances as the Bard of Cynagua. I was singing the song that I had composed for the final court of the Prince and Princess and I was able to make several people cry. I was very proud of being able to convey all the emotion I was feeling myself. That is always my goal. I want my audience to see and feel everything that I am seeing and feeling as well.

Describe a performance by someone else that inspired you in the bardic arts. How did that performance guide you to improve your own art? What did it prompt you to do?
It was a performance by Mistress Siobhan the Fiddler. She wrote a song as a gift to the Principality of Cynagua called Black Swan Rising. It pulled up all the love and pride I had for my principality and its people. You get caught between wanting to cheer, cry, or kill something!

What projects are you working on now?
Several. I have a self-torture project that may never get done. I have been transposing the Saga of Beowulf into drottkvaet skaldic verse. It is my belief that the Story of Beowulf is much older than the Saga, and not of Anglo/Saxon origin. So I have been transposing it into a Norse poetry form. Drottkvaet would not have been the form used for a saga like this, but I am taking a few liberties. By composing and performing the story in drottkvaet I am intimating that the audience (presumably a Norse noble or royal) is as great a hero as Beowulf.

I have been recently inspired by an old Norse custom of gift giving. It was customary when giving a gift to someone that a return gift would be given. If it was between people of an equal status then the return gift would be of a similar value. When from a higher rank person to a lower rank the return gift would not generally be a physical object, but friendship, loyalty, and support instead. But when the gift was given to a skald the rules changed. The skald was expected to present the gift giver with a poem written about them and/or the gift. The most famous example of this is Ragnarsdrapa written by Braggi Boddason the Old. It was a poem written about a very expensive shield that King Ragnar had given to Braggi. So Braggi wrote a drottkvaet drapa about the shield with a stanza describing each of the various fittings on the shield that reminded him of different mythological references.

So what I have been doing is creating shields with Norse imagery on them and then writing drottkvaet drapas about them. I have 3 so far. Eventually I want to start giving them away as gifts. Both the shields and the poems. I have several planned for friends.

Along those same lines I have also started making rune stones that would have imagery and poetry on them. I have completed 2 of those so far. With a third in the works.

Who are some of your favorite influences, either for your own research and composition, or for performing within the SCA?
I am inspired all the time by other people in the SCA. Those who struggle as well as those who achieve. I have always felt a bard’s/skald’s place was not only to record and/or praise what has been done, but to encourage people to keep trying when they fail. To lift people when they are down and bring them a little joy. Words are powerful, far more than many people realize. And sometimes it is easier for someone to hear the meaning when those words are in an artistic performance.

What other types of performance do you particularly love to see/hear?
I enjoy nearly all other forms of artistic performances. There are very few that I do not care for. Even ones done in a language that I can’t understand can still be enjoyable if the performer brings the right emotion to the performance.

What advice do you have for someone who wants to be a bard?
Perform. Perform often. Practice and pay attention to the details. Then perform some more. There is no substitution for live performance. The more you perform the better you will get. It is no different than fighting. The more you practice and fight, the better warrior you become. The more you practice and perform the better bard you will be. And don’t be shy. There will generally be people around who you can ask for help or advice. Ask them.

A Sample of Torvaldr’s work:

War Song for Aethelmearc

by Hersir Torvaldr Torgarson

on the occasion of Arnthor’s knighting
May 16th, 2015
At Aethelmearc War Practice
Coopers Lake Campground
Written in 9th Century Drottkvaet drapa

Hear heroes and people
hardy of Æthelmearc!
Before you comes brave and
bold Arnthor inn Sterki!
Valkyries vie for his
victory and glory
in war, to waylay
wastrels lost before him.

Thunder thrums across by
Thor’s will, ever hunting
jotun’s bane, boldly strokes
blazing spears from heaven.

War wise thane, the battle
warden races ahead
his courage to claim first
clash of the Valkyrie.
Seeking serpents bent on
seeping into kingdom
well loved.
Lords praise him and
ladies sing of his glory!
White horse, winter foal, bears
warriors to honor.
Singing death and dealing
danger to the haughty.
Border lords brav’ly watch
beating hearts so proudly,
Arnthor open hearted
ever to the many.
Doubt not his daring lest
death be thy wyrd.
Flee should sharpened war tooth flow,
shower milk of corpses.
On the fields fierce yet his
friendship even greater,
blesse’d are the bonds now
between the fortunate.

Thunder thrums across by
Thor’s will, ever hunting
jotun’s bane, boldly strokes
blazing spears from heaven.

Praise him people of the
Proud lands of Æthelmearc!
Praise his deeds and daring
dancing to your glory!
Praise the power raised to
protect the realm beloved!
Praise him now and never
need to doubt his honor!

Categories: SCA news sites

How Changes to EK Event Calendar Policies May Affect You

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-09-23 08:38

Greetings to the Populace of the East Kingdom from the Webminister,

A few reminders about changes that have affected the East Kingdom Event Calendar, and what it means to you; Especially for Seneschals and Event Stewards (Autocrats).

As of January 1st, 2014 all East Kingdom Seneschals must have an official email address of seneschal@localbranch.eastkingdom.org hosted on the East Kingdom server. If you do not currently have one, you are not in compliance with this Office of the Seneschal policy. Please contact your Local branch Webminister for the email box creation immediately.

This is even more important now with the East Kingdom Email Box Transition Project well underway.

As of February 1st, 2015 the East Kingdom Event Calendar process has been updated to follow East Kingdom policies regarding approval of the submission. Please see below for what the current process is:

When an Event Steward submits an Event to the East Kingdom Event Calendar using the website http://www.eastkingdom.org/NewEvent.php and hits “Next ->”, reviews the entry and then hits “Send”, two things now automatically happen.

1) An email is sent to the submitting Event Steward for any future updates, and the link provided will be used to perform that function. As stated on the submission form “Be sure to enter your real email address, as without a valid email address the update and password reset systems will not work.”

Please make certain that you are choosing the correct Hosting Local branch as well as that tells the submission where to place the location.

Additionally, if you do not receive an e-mail with instructions on how to edit your announcement within 24 hours, please e-mail “eventform-help@eastkingdom.org” instead of the Webminister email address directly. This will ensure proper handling of your issue.

2) An email is sent to the Local branch Seneschal for approval of the submission. The Seneschal is the Officer required to review the entry and verify that it meets with the criteria of a Kingdom Event submission as found in the policies of the Office of the Chronicler regarding such an entry. If it does meet these requirements, when the Seneschal clicks on the “Approved” button, the entry will show on the Calendar immediately.

This change announcement was initially sent out on January 27th, 2015 to all Webministers through the Mailing List and to all Seneschals that had valid email addresses, as “East Kingdom Event Calendar Approval Process Change”.

I continue to receive emails about pending Events that are not displaying on the Calendar, and for 99% of them it is the Local branches that need to update to be in compliance that are the cause of these inquiries.

If you have any questions or concerns regarding this reminder, please open a Help Desk ticket on the website http://helpdesk.eastkingdom.org and we will get to it as quickly as possible.

In Service to the Kingdom,
Lord Lorenz Greylever

Filed under: Announcements

Getty and Armenian Church reach agreement over stolen Bible pages

History Blog - Tue, 2015-09-22 22:16

Five years ago, the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America filed a $105 million lawsuit against the J. Paul Getty Museum alleging that the museum was wrongfully in possession of seven pages ripped out of the 13th century Bible that belongs to the Church. Now the parties have come to an agreement: the Getty acknowledges that the Armenian Apostolic Church owns the pages; the Church donates the pages to the Getty. This way nothing has to actually move or change hands, but the Getty, which in its initial response to the suit insisted that it had “legal ownership” of the pages and that the lawsuit was “groundless and should be dismissed,” has to admit the Armenian Apostolic Church is the true owner.

The Zeyt’un Gospels were commissioned in 1256 by the Catholikos, the leader of the Armenian Church, Constantine I. This Bible is the first signed works of T’oros Roslin, scribe and the greatest Armenian illuminator of the Middle Ages. The pages (there are actually eight of them; the Church didn’t know about the last one when it filed) are canon tables, concordances listing passages in the Gospels that describe the same event. The text is therefore sparse, just chapter and verse references.

In the Middle Ages, canon tables were often depicted in an architectural setting, the columns of numbers placed between drawings of literal columns. What makes these pages exceptional is the illumination by T’oros Roslin who decorated each page in a riot of brilliant colors and gold paint. The tables are divided by columns and topped with intricately detailed geometric panels. Birds, vines, trees, vases line the borders and stand proudly atop the header panels. No two pages are the same.

This Bible, in addition to being an irreplaceable Armenian national treasure, is held to be sacred and miraculous. The Zeyt’un Gospels were venerated as having protective powers which is why in 1915 when the Ottoman government began massacring Armenians, the book was carried through every street of Zeyt’un in an attempt to ensure the entire city would be under its divine protection.

Later that year, church officials gave the Bible to a member of the Armenian royal Sourenian family. The Sourenians had connections in the upper echelons of the Ottoman government, so the hope was they wouldn’t be killed or deported and could keep the Gospels safe. They lasted a year before they were deported to Marash in 1916, but they did receive special treatment that allowed them to survive transportation instead of starving to death like so many of their compatriots.

The Sourenian pater familias loaned the Bible to his friend Dr. H. Der Ghazarian for what was supposed to be a few days. At the perfectly wrong time, the Sourenians were unexpectedly deported and lost track of the Zeyt’un Gospels. It seems the book remained in Marash for the duration of World War I. It surfaced there in 1928 but various obstacles kept it out of the Church’s hands until 1948 when the Armenian Patriarch of Istanbul took possession of it and gave it to the Mesrop Mashtots Institute of Ancient Manuscripts in Yerevan, Armenia, for safekeeping and display. The Bible remains there to this day.

The missing pages were spotted in 1948 when the Bible returned from Aleppo after it was authenticated by the same Dr. Ghazarian who had it for a while during the war. Although the Church investigated, it was never able to discover who stole the pages and when. At some point the pages ended up in an anonymous private collection in Watertown, Massachusetts. They were seen in public for the first time since the Genocide when the collector loaned the pages to the Morgan Library for a 1994 exhibition. After that exhibition, the Getty acquired the pages. Thirteen years later, Armenian attorney Vartkes Yeghiayan who has often represented victims of the Armenian Genocide discovered the pages were at the Getty and alerted the Church. The Getty refused all requests to repatriate the unquestionably stolen pages and the lawsuit ensued.

It seems to me the Church is conceding a great deal for the sake of a statement of historical ownership. There really is no question that the pages were stolen, so why shouldn’t they be reunited with the rest of the Bible?

The following statement from Getty director Timothy Potts irks me:

“That the pages were saved from destruction and conserved in a museum all these years means that these irreplaceable representations of Armenia’s rich artistic heritage have been and will be preserved for future generations.”

The removal of the pages was the destruction. They weren’t “saved.” They were ripped out and sold on the black market, bought by unscrupulous collectors and the Getty. The Bible itself survived a genocide and two world wars and has been conserved in a museum for 67 years. The Getty having taken care of blatantly stolen pages for a decade hardly makes it the heritage-preserving hero of the piece.

The plaintiffs’ attorneys seem happy, at any rate.

“This is a momentous occasion for the Armenian people, coming at a historic time, on the 100th anniversary of the Armenian Genocide. I want to thank the Getty for joining in a solution that recognizes the historical suffering of the Armenian people and that will also allow this Armenian treasure to remain in the museum which has cared for it and made it available to the Armenian and larger community in Los Angeles. We are pleased that both sides arrived at an amicable solution,” said Lee Crawford Boyd, the Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck shareholder representing the Western Prelacy of the Armenian Apostolic Church of America. “The sacred Canon Tables are now being recognized as having belonged to the Armenian Church. Together with the Church and the Armenian people, we are thrilled with this outcome.”

No word on whether this on-paper ownership switcheroo was accompanied by some kind of financial settlement.

To learn more about the Armenian Genocide, including primary sources, maps, eye-witness statements, a timeline of events and a collection of horrifying photographs, please visit the website of the Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Announcement Regarding Two Handed Swords in Rapier

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-09-22 21:29

Unto the Kingdom of the East do I, Master Frasier MacLeod send warmest greetings,

For the past 10 months we have been working on developing a rule set for 2 handed swords in rapier. I am pleased to announce that a rule set has been adopted at the Society level so we have the official go ahead to roll out our rules, along with a list of initial 2 hander authorized fencers/marshals who will be fully empowered to perform authorizations going forward. The rule set and marshal’s list will be included below. Thank you all who contributed to this endeavor, and to all of you for your patience with us while we hammered these rules out.

In Service,
Master Frasier MacLeod, KRM, East

Rule Changes:

Add new Sec. III.C.1.a: Weapon types are defined by the following length criteria. Blades are measured from the tip to the top of the tang. Grip length is measured from the top of the tang to the end of the pommel. Weapons that fall outside of these dimensions may be allowed at the discretion of the Kingdom Rapier Marshal. In no case may the overall length of a weapon exceed 60″.
(i). A dagger shall have a blade of 18″ or less and a grip length of 10″ or less.
(ii). A rapier shall have a blade of 18″ to 48″ and a grip length of 10″ or less.
(iii). A two-handed sword shall have a blade of 30″ to 48″ and a grip length of at least 10″ but no greater than 1/3 the length of the blade.

Add new Sec. IV.A.1.g.: “Two Handed Sword — The form covers the use of a two handed sword with or without secondaries. A fencer who is so authorized may use a two handed sword with any secondary for which he or she has obtained a prior authorization described above.

Add new Sec. IV.C.6: Two handed sword- the candidate must be able to demonstrate safely and competently all elements listed under Single Rapier, above, as well as the following:

• ability to switch from two-handed to one handed grip when guarding and attacking, while maintaining appropriate calibration and control
• use of any form of secondary which the candidate reasonably expects to use in conjunction with two-handed sword
• ability to use the weapon against a two handed sword or single rapier, with or without secondaries
• a refined sense of calibration and control of the weapon at all times

2 Hander Authorized Marshals List:
Master Frasier MacLeod
Master Donovan Shinnock
Sir Antonio Patrasso
Master Matthäus Plattnersohn
Master Malcolm Bowman
Baroness Alesone Grey
Don Thomas of Effingham
Don Orlando Sforza
Don Griffith Davion
Lord William Deth
Lord Yehuda ben Moshe

In addition to these gentles I have added a supplementary list as well:
Master Boroujin Acilaldai
Master Caine Ramsey
Don Alfonso Pontelli
Don Owynn Greenwood
Mistress Xandra Rozina Xiberras Galea

If your name does NOT appear on this list,and you use a 2 hander, you will need to authorize with two of these marshals at your earliest convenience in order to use the form in tournament or melee combat.

There are also new, updated authorization forms available with a line for 2 handers on both the new and additional forms. Marshals, please feel free to download those for use immediately.

In Service,
Master Frasier MacLeod, KRM, East

Filed under: Rapier Tagged: fencing

In Memoriam: Dave Cooper

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-09-22 14:43

Dave Cooper passed away last Friday after an extended illness.  Many members of the East Kingdom worked with him at Pennsic, which has been held for years at his family’s campground, Cooper’s Lake.  He was a presence with a lasting impact on those who knew him.

Baroness Katherine Barr, former East Kingdom Seneschale, said this about working with Dave.  “To me, Dave Cooper was a large reason of what has made Pennsic more than just another event.  Although extremely quiet, he was always there, working endlessly, to make our pilgrimage that much better. Some of my favorite memories of Dave would be the way he would acknowledge you by the twinkling in his eyes and the slow smile, or how he could end an entire debate by looking up, uttering one word, ‘no’, and it was over.  Dave Cooper truly made our Society better, and I will miss him.”

Funeral services will be held tomorrow in Slippery Rock, PA.  His obituary can be found at the New Castle News Online.

Filed under: Tidings

Event Map Added to EK Website

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-09-22 14:25

Greetings to all from the keeper of the Kingdom Event Calendar!

I am proud to announce that we have added a new and useful feature to the Calendar: a Map of all the Events, generated directly from the Calendar. The new Map indicates all upcoming Events in the next 60 days, color coded by which month they are in.  http://www.eastkingdom.org/EventMap.php (It is also linked from the Events dropdown in the banner across the top of all eastkingdom.org pages.)

I wish to thank Mistress Catrin and the rest of her team at the EK Gazette for initiating this concept, manually digging through the Event listings to create the maps they have been posting for the past many months, working out the design bugs, and providing extremely useful feedback to me as I was developing this new Map tool.

Any feedback on the Map or issues with it, please send to me at calendar (at) eastkingdom.org

Yours in Service,
Joel of Vestfell
East Kingdom Calendar Deputy Webminister

Filed under: Announcements

Dayboard Reminder for Artifacts of a Life II

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-09-22 09:05

Artifacts of a Life II will be held on September 26 in the Barony of Carolingia. The event stewards would like to remind attendees that there will NOT be a dayboard at the event. Water and light snacks (pretzels and fruit) will be available, but attendees should plan to bring lunch or go out to a local establishment during the lunch break.

Information on local eateries will be available at the gate. Additional information about the event is available at http://www.eastkingdom.org and http://sca-artifactschallenge.blogspot.com/.

Elizabeth Vynehorn
Co-steward, Artifacts of a Life II

Filed under: Events

Saint Andrew Visits the Patron Saint of Estonia

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-09-22 01:08

Saint Andrew Visits the Patron Saint of Estonia is an event that will be held on November 14, 2015, Barony of (Middle Island, NY)

After celebrating Wallachian Heroes in Transylvania, and Visiting his Old Emerald Isle for a Caber Toss, our own Saint Andrew travels by sea to help Estonian Patron Saint George prepare for his Festival days in the spring. Join us at the Estonia House in Middle Island as St Andrew Visits St George. We will have our annual Heavy Championship, and activities in the gentler Arts & Sciences as they do in the far off reaches of Estonia. After the Fall Court of Their Excellencies, baroness Suzanne Nueber de Londres and Baron David Vazquez de Valencia, there will be a marvelous feast Featuring the Flavors of Estonia.

The HEAVY LIST CHAMPIONSHIP TOURNEY at this year’s St. Andrew event is sure to please fighters and spectators alike! Their Excellencies have charged their Heavy List Champion, Tycho Mikkelsen, with providing martial entertainment for the populace. To that end, there shall be a brisk day of tournaments where the combatants shall be tested in four different weapon forms – mace and shield, two-handed sword, maul, and “sword and other list-legal one-handed implement”. The structure of the day’s events shall be formed so as to best accommodate the number of fighters who come to demonstrate their prowess and courtesy. Maces, polearms, great weapons, and gauntlets shall be available on loan for all authorized fighters who wish to participate. Regardless of the event’s format, there shall be prizes! Prizes shall be won by the fighters who demonstrate the greatest prowess in each of the four weapon forms. In addition, there shall be four other prizes for winning the following titles of the day– “Gallery’s Darling”, “The Sojourner”, “Exemplar of Franchise”, and “Prince of Possums”. Finally, the native of An Dubhaigeainn who best distinguishes themselves by their prowess and comportment during the day’s fighting shall be honored as the new Heavy List Champion of the Barony of An Dubhaigeainn.

There will be a Thrown Weapons Tourney run by our own Magnus De Londres & a Fencing Tourney run by Master Jean Xavier

Please see the East Kingdom Event Calendar for more details
Saint Andrew Visits the Patron Saint of Estonia

Filed under: Events Tagged: An Dubhaigeainn

Intact 4th c. B.C. Samnite tomb found in Pompeii

History Blog - Mon, 2015-09-21 22:28

A 4th century B.C. Samnite tomb has been found in the necropolis of Porta Ercolano, a burial ground just outside Pompeii’s northwest gate a few steps from the famous Villa of the Mysteries (see the top left corner on this map). The necropolis was in use from the 1st century B.C. until the city’s destruction on August 24th, 79 A.D. for cremation burials and tombs in keeping with Roman customs at the time, but earlier inhumation burials have been found there as well. They’ve been heavily damaged by construction of the Roman city, Vesuvius, looters, rough excavations and Allied bombing in World War II. That makes this find exceptionally rare because the tomb was discovered intact with an articulated skeleton and all of its grave goods.

The archaeological team from the Jean Bérard Center of Naples wasn’t even looking for graves, even you might think it was considering it was excavating a necropolis. In fact the Porta Ercolano area was what we today would call mixed use with shops, villas and tombs side by side. Archaeologists were exploring the site of a pottery production complex they’ve been excavating for the past four years as part of a research project focusing on artisanship and the economy of Pompeii.

While digging in area that had no surface construction, they unearthed the cyst grave of an adult woman about 35-40 years old with extensive grave goods. She was buried with about 10 vases and urns that date to the middle of the 4th century B.C. The skeletal remains haven’t been radiocarbon dated yet, so the style of the vases is what dates the tomb. The burial type is known in other Samnite centers like Paestum, but has only been recorded in Pompeii from 19th century excavations which leave a lot to be desired, to put it mildly. Finding an intact grave, left completely alone and undamaged by thieves or construction or the bomb that exploded feet away in 1943 leaving burn marks on the stone slabs of the cyst, gives archaeologists the opportunity to study Samnite Pompeii in heretofore impossible depth with all the advantages of modern technology.

“It is an exceptional find for Pompeii because it throws light on the pre-Roman city about which we know so very little,” said Massimo Osanna, the archaeological superintendent of Pompeii. [...]

The woman was buried with a series of clay jars, or amphora, which come from other regions of Italy revealing the extent of trade between the Samnites at Pompeii and other areas across the Italian peninsula. The contents of the jars will be analyzed in the weeks to come – but are thought to contain cosmetics, wine and food.

“The burial objects will show us much about the role of women in Samnite society and can provide us with a useful social insight,” Osanna told reporters.

The extraordinary events of its demise and preservation have ensured that Pompeii is thought of exclusively as a Roman city, but in fact only fell under Roman control when it was conquered by the dictator Sulla in 89 B.C. Pompeii was founded around the 7th century B.C. by the Oscans, a central Italic tribe. In the 6th century it was conquered by the Etruscans and in the 5th century by the Samnites. Rome’s influence over Pompeii came at the turn the 3th century B.C. after the Third Samnite War (298-290 B.C.) when the city was forced to accept status as a socium, an associate, of the Roman Republic. The status afforded them political autonomy — it could retain its ancient Oscan language and govern itself — but compelled military alliance.

For two centuries they took it, but when a series of Roman military defeats caused wholesale slaughter of Italian troops and when my namesake, the tribune Marcus Livius Drusus, was assassinated for his efforts in securing Roman citizenship for all of the Italian allied peoples, the Italian socii revolted against Rome in 91 B.C. and Pompeii joined its Italian cousins in the rebellion. Two years later Sulla besieged the city and in 80 B.C. he seeded it with his veterans and made it an official Roman colony.

The tomb dates to the decades just before the Second Samnite War and the humiliating Roman defeat at the Battle of the Caudine Forks (321 B.C.), which was so humiliating there wasn’t even a battle. The Samnites tricked the Roman commanders, co-consuls Titus Veturius Calvinus and Spurius Postumius Albinus, into deploying their army to the relief of the city of Lucera which 10 shepherds had told them was under siege by the forces of Samnite general Gaius Pontius. The shepherds were actually Pontius’ men and Lucera was not besieged by anyone. The Romans took a short cut through the Caudine Forks, a mountain pass that could only be accessed by two very narrow gorges. The Samnites cut off the entrance to the second gorge and when the Romans turned around, they found the Samnites had blocked the first gorge too. With unclimbable mountain cliffs on either side, the Roman army was well and truly screwed and everyone knew it.

To get anyone out alive, Calvinus and Albinus had to surrender unconditionally and the entire army was forced to pass “under the yoke,” (each man had to bow and walk under an ox yoke), the ultimate degradation for ancient soldiers. The consuls then signed a peace treaty that basically gave the Samnites everything they wanted and returned to Rome utterly humiliated. They had to hand in their symbols of office and resign. They even offered their persons to the Samnites to do whatever they wanted with, but Gaius Pontius refused because he thought it was a stratagem to get him to violate the terms of the treaty and render it null and void. Which it probably was.

Excavations are ongoing and archaeologists hope to find other Samnite-era graves around the newly discovered one. Where there’s one tomb, there are often more, but the odds of finding another grave miraculously unharmed by the Allied bomb that fell on this very spot are slim.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

In Memoriam: Dave Cooper

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-09-21 18:27

We offer condolences and mourn the passing of Dave Cooper, scion of the Cooper family and longtime friend to the SCA and the Pennsic War, on Friday, September 18, 2015. Cards and condolences can be sent to Cooper’s Lake Campground at 205 Currie Road, Slippery Rock, PA 16057.

An obituary for Baron Dave Cooper is available at the New Castle News Online.

Funeral services will be at the Smith Funeral Home, 421 New Castle St., Slippery Rock, on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. with the Rev. Thomas Meling, pastor of the Zion Baptist Church, presiding.

Family will receive friends at the Smith Funeral Home on Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. and Wednesday from 12:30 p.m. until service at 1:30 p.m.

Memorial contributions may be given to Zion Baptist Cemetery, 148 Currie Rd., Slippery Rock, PA 16057.

Dave Cooper was made a Baron jointly by the East and the Midrealm during the 22nd great Pennsic War, held at Cooper’s Lake, his home. He loved and served the SCA for the many years that Pennsic has come to Cooper’s Lake, not only running the War Room, but making the roads we are all so familiar with.”
Alison Gregg Choyce

Categories: SCA news sites

Their Excellencies’ Account of Court in Carolingia

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2015-09-21 07:46

The following account was written by Baroness Nicolette and Baron Colin of Carolingia of the court they held in Carolingia last month and is reprinted with their permission.  The Gazette invites the heralds or territorial heads of groups to submit their own court report and thanks Their Excellencies Carolingia for allowing up to print theirs.

As our Court Herald was unable to attend the event, Sir Michael of York graciously took on the role for the afternoon court. Per our request, we were preceded into court by all the attending warranted marshals, as we wished to introduce the populace to the folks who give up the thing they most enjoy doing so that others may participate.

The former Thrown Weapons Champion retires

Lady Sorcha Dhocair inghean ui Ruairc awarded prizes to several children who participated in the many children’s activities organized by Lady Abigail the Younger and herself.

Lady Creiddylad, who organized an inspiring Arts and Sciences Display and People’s Choice Award, announced the winners, Laurie and Richard, for their beautiful hand-carved wooden spoons, including reproductions of those from the Mary Rose, and also read off the names of all the participants and their entries.

Master Peter the Red presented a gift, which he had received anonymously, to the most improved archer over the course of the day.

New Carolingian Archery Champion

Baron Christoff Gockerhan von Loch was thanked for his long service as Carolingian Baronial Thrown Weapons Champion, and turned his regalia over to the new champion, Lord Pandulf.

Master Kobayashi was also thanked for being willing to step into the role of Baronial Archery Champion on short notice (as the Baronial Archery Champion became Baron), and turned his regalia over to the new Archery Champion, Cathain. The Archery regalia included the quiver of Marion of Edwinstowe, founder of the Carolingian Company of Bowmen – while we are sure she would be amused to know that her quiver is still given to each champion, her loss is still felt keenly and we miss her terribly.

Induction into the Order of the Perseus of Lady Deirdre and Lord Simon with child accompanying them

Then Lord Ulrich Reinhart read the Award of Arms scroll for Lady Gudrun, for which we received Their Majesties’ permission, as Lady Gudrun had been unable to attend Investiture when the scroll was originally presented by Their Graces Edward and Thyra.

Lastly, we were delighted to induct the following new members into the Order of the Perseus, Carolingia’s martial prowess and service award, at the recommendation of the Order: Eric Michaelson, Asher of Lincolia, Christopher Michaelson, Simon of Barnsdale, and Dierdre of Mitgaard.

Photographs courtesy of Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood

Filed under: Court Tagged: Carolingia

200 Napoleonic soldiers’ graves found in Frankfurt

History Blog - Sun, 2015-09-20 22:28

The graves of an estimated 200 soldiers from Napoleon’s Grand Army have been discovered at a construction site in Frankfurt am Main, Germany. Napoleonic soldiers’ remains were found nearby in 1979, so archaeologists were employed to survey the site before work began. They have so far unearthed about 30 skeletons; the 200 figure is an estimate based on the dimensions of the site.

Unlike the mass grave unearthed in Vilnius, this is a burial ground where each individual was buried neatly in his own coffin, which means the skeletal remains are in significantly better condition.

Andrea Hampel, the heritage and historic monuments director in Frankfurt, said it was certain that the “tombs were erected in an emergency”. Hampel said the skeletons were aligned in a row, without funeral articles, in a north-south orientation – not an east-west axis as was common for European Christians at the time – suggesting they were buried in haste.

I don’t really get that. How could it be an emergency burial if the buriers took the time to inter each body in its own coffin? Surely a mass grave would be the way to go in an emergency. Also, why is it any faster to inter coffins along a north-south axis rather than the traditional Christian east-west orientation? The expenditure of time and resources in the building of coffins and their deliberate arrangement, not in selecting one axis over the other. It’s weird.

Also weird is that in all the articles I’ve read on this find, Olaf Cunitz, the Mayor of Frankfurt, is quoted stating at a press conference that preliminary analysis indicates these are soldiers who died after fighting the coalition armies at the Battle of Hanau during the brutal retreat from Russia. That can’t be right. The retreat from Russia was in the winter of 1812 and it all but destroyed Napoleon’s Great Army. Hanau was fought on October 30-31st, 1813, in the wake of the four-day Battle of Leipzig. It was a rearguard action intended to block what was left of Napoleon’s second Great Army, hastily assembled in the summer of 1813, from reaching the Rhine where they could regroup.

Had it succeeded, it would have obliterated the second Great Army, which had suffered immense losses during the Battle of Leipzig, but Napoleon won the Battle of Hanau. Outnumbered, outhorsed and outgunned, Napoleon’s troops still inflicted 9,000 casualties on the Bavarian army under the command of Karl Philipp von Wrede which had literally weeks earlier been fighting on France’s side, only switching teams after Leipzig. Napoleon suffered half the number of casualties in the battle, but 10,000 of his men were captured. The rest of the Great Army headed for their rear base at Mainz, reaching Frankfurt on November 2nd.

Buttons found in the graves confirm the 1813 date, and given that the Great Army was actually in Frankfurt and environs in late October of that year, it seems likely these soldiers were from the second Great Army, not the Russian retreat.

The excavation will continue for another four to six weeks. Archeologists hope to unearth all of the graves and then study the remains to figure out how they died. Battle wounds are likely candidates for cause of death, as is typhus which had far killed more soldiers in the first Great Army than violence did. There was a major epidemic of typhus in Frankfurt in late 1813, spread by the soldiers, prisoners and city residents who looted the battlefield and brought back deadly microorganisms along with dead soldiers’ belongings.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Site Update and Supporting the show!

PainBank - Sun, 2015-09-20 17:27

Finally got around to updating the site.  Now there is a bit more navigation information on the side bar as well as finally showing the RSS feed again for those that want to subscribe via their favorite subscription service.  Also added a shopping system, so we now have a BotN USA Team Scarf for sale!  Please support the show and our adventures in medieval podcasting and fighting!

Categories: SCA news sites

Happy Æthelmearc Day!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-09-20 06:11

On this day in A.S. XXXII (1997), the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was born. Happy Æthelmearc Day!

“So it was in the presence of the Crowns of the East, Hanse and Moruadh, and the Crowns of Atlantia, CuÆn III and Bera, Susan of Fox Meadow witnessed as Sir Yngvar the Dismal, 2nd and 14th Viscount of Æthelmearc, prevailed over a field of 41 entrants to win the Crown for his soon-to-be-bride, Caryl Olesdottir, 14th Viscountess of Æthelmearc. Finally, on September 20, A.S. XXXII (1997), Hanse and Moruadh, King and Queen of the East held Their final court in the Principality of Æthelmearc. They released the landed Barons & Baronesses, peers, and officers of Æthelmearc from their oaths of fealty; They awarded Arms to Bethoc of Ravenswood; and created Susan of Fox Meadow as the last Viscountess and last Lady of the Garnet. With this business being taken care of, Hanse and Moruadh then closed the Principality.”

From An Introduction to the History of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, by THL Hfrena Ulfvarrinsdottir.

Categories: SCA news sites

Wadsworth Atheneum reopens to great acclaim

History Blog - Sat, 2015-09-19 22:23

After a five-year, $33 million renovation, Hartford’s Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art reopened to the public on Saturday and the public was eager to renew its acquaintance with the venerable museum, filling the entrance of the museum 15 minutes before opening.

The renovation has refurbished more than 38,000 square feet of the Wadsworth’s exhibition spaces and the historic buildings themselves. Areas that were previously relegated to storage have been reclaimed for display adding 17 new galleries and an exceptional 16,000 square feet of new exhibition space, a 27% increase. Artworks from the European collections that have been gathering dust in storage now have a chance to shine in the expanded museum, setting off the century-old Morgan Memorial Building, the first Beaux-Arts museum building in the United States, to its greatest advantage. This is the first time all the galleries have been open at the same time in 50 years.

The project took so long and was so expensive because there was a great deal of structural work to be done. There were leaks in many of the galleries and all five of the museum’s buildings needed new roofs with proper waterproofing. New climate control systems were installed in both the display areas and the storage facility to ensure the collection is protected. New lighting, restrooms, an elevator, wifi and signage bring the oldest continually operating public art museum in the country into the modern era.

The beauty of the historic buildings — the Gothic Revival Wadsworth building (1844) which housed the entirety of the original collection when the museum opened, the Tudor Revival Colt Memorial building (1910), the Renaissance Revival Morgan Memorial building (1910-15) — has been renewed with the uncovering of original architectural elements like concrete beams and window casings. Natural light is introduced through the placement of new skylights the restoration of a period one.

The Early Baroque gallery, now a rich, appetite-stimulating red, is home to two of the gems in the Wadsworth collection: Caravaggio’s Saint Francis of Assisi in Ecstasy (1595-96) and Self-Portrait as a Lute Player (1616–18) by Artemisia Gentileschi which was the museum acquired last year.

The Morgan Great Hall with its 24-foot-high topped with vaulted ceilings and new skylights has been repainted in a deep blue shade poetically called “evening dove,” an elegant backdrop for the collection of important 16th to 19th century European and American works that now cover the walls in gallery style. Before this renovation, the Great Hall was painted white and exhibited contemporary pieces. Before that, it was a sort of raspberry color and while it had classical works like it does now, there were far fewer of them. When it first opened in 1915 there was a line of large tapestries on the walls and sculptures on the floor.

The inspiration for the Great Hall as it is today is one of my favorite paintings in the Wadsworth collection: Interior of a Picture Gallery with the Collection of Cardinal Silvio Valenti Gonzaga by Giovanni Paolo Panini. Panini, master of the architectural fantasy, painted Interior of a Picture Gallery in 1749. He set Cardinal Gonzaga in the center of a vast be-columned fantasy gallery with his entire collection of artworks taking up every inch of space on the walls, propped against the furniture and stacked on tables. The painting was a great success for Panini, inspiring subsequent takes on the subject of the fantasy art gallery commissioned by Étienne-François de Choiseul-Stainville, duc de Choiseul, who was the French ambassador to the papal court in Rome. Panini made a pair of works for him in 1756 depicting the great art and architecture of Ancient Rome and Modern Rome (modern in this case being mainly Renaissance and Baroque), then another pair on the same theme the next year (both now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art).

The reviews of the renovation have so far been uniformly glowing.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

English legal documents date the f-word to the 1300s

SCAtoday.net - Sat, 2015-09-19 13:24

Paul Booth, an English historian at Keele University, has found the so-called f-word expletive used as an uncomplimentary nickname in several legal documents during the years 1310 and 1311. [NSFW]

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Categories: SCA news sites