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Stolen de Kooning found 32 years after theft

History Blog - Tue, 2017-08-22 22:00

In a happy counterpoint to yesterday’s sad news, a painting by Willem de Kooning stolen from the University of Arizona Museum of Art in Tucson 32 years ago has been found and returned to the museum. Woman-Ochre was snatched November 29th, 1985, the day after Thanksgiving, in a classic two-person misdirection ploy. A woman and a man waltzed into the museum bright and early at 9:00AM. The woman ran interference with the security guard, capturing his attention while her partner cut the painting out of the frame. They quickly left together and that was the last anyone saw of them. The whole operation from entry to exit had taken less than 15 minutes.

The subsequent police investigation failed to find the culprits or the painting and for three decades the case was cold as ice. It turned burning hot earlier this month when David Van Auker, Buck Burns and Rick Johnson, owners of Manzanita Ridge Furniture & Antiques in Silver City, New Mexico, bought the painting at an estate sale. Van Auker saw it hanging behind the bedroom door at the home of Jerry and Rita Alter in Cliff, New Mexico, and decided to buy it along with a pile of other assorted gewgaws from the sale. He had no idea it was an original de Kooning; he just thought it was cool.

He propped the painting up against the wall of his shop and a customer told him it looked like a de Kooning. Then another customer noticed it and mentioned it could be a de Kooning oil painting. A third soon joined the chorus. Van Auker started getting antsy. Much Googling ensued, and when he read about the theft from the museum, he realized he very likely had a gazillion dollar stolen painting in his shop. He nervously moved it into the bathroom to keep it out of view of any more customers.

Van Auker called the UAMA and told them he thought he had their long-lost de Kooning. The next day the head of the museum, a curator and a restorer from the Arizona State Museum scrutinized the painting. The restorer examined it for two hours at the end of which she confirmed that it was authentic. After spending a night under lock and key at the local police station, Woman-Ochre was transported back to the museum in Tucson.

“This is a monumental moment for the museum,” said Meg Hagyard, director of UAMA. “We are thrilled at the possibility that this work could once again be on exhibit in our galleries. This is an especially poignant moment, as ‘Woman-Ochre’ was donated by Edward Joseph Gallagher Jr. as part of one of the largest gifts in the museum’s history. Having both the collection and that gift complete once again is something that we’ve always hoped for.

Woman-Ochre is one of a series of paintings de Kooning did exploring the female form, a subject that many critics and artists asserted had been superseded by abstract, non-representational art. While eschewing the traditional depictions of what he called “the idol, the Venus, the nude,” Kooning drew from a wide range of iconographic references — prehistoric mother goddess figurines, advertising models, pinup girls — to create abstract expressionist versions of figures out of thick lines and dynamic slashes of color.

Paintings in de Kooning’s Woman series today grace the walls of the world’s top museums, and on the rare occasions when they become available on the market, they sell for astronomical prices. Ten years ago one sold for $137.5 million. Bound by the terms of the Gallagher donation, the UAMA cannot sell the painting even if it wanted to, which it most emphatically does not, but based on the comparables, it could be worth something in the neighborhood of $160 million.

At the time of the theft, the painting was insured for $400,000, a risibly small sum compared to its market value today. The museum very wisely put the money in an endowment fund and used the interest to upgrade its security systems. Upon the painting’s return, the museum paid back the original $400,000 to the insurers so they again have clean title to the artwork.

The de Kooning is in need of some tender loving care. The edges are ripped from being hacked out of the original frame and whatever jackass reframed it stapled it to a board. The thieves also rolled it up for ease of transport, making the paint brittle in parts. Thankfully it has not begun to flake yet. Before the painting goes back on display, it will undergo thorough restoration and study. Meanwhile, the FBI is investigating how the stolen work wound up in the nice but humble three-bedroom home of a retired music teacher and a retired speech pathologist.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Alum Feces–An Unusual Medieval Ingredient

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-08-21 23:32

By THL Elska á Fjárfelli (Susan Verberg)

In period known as alumen faecis, alom de fece, lume di fecca, and lume de fezza, alum feces is an often-mentioned medieval chemical ingredient which, surprisingly, has nothing to do with alum.

Naturally occurring winestone from white wine, untreated. All photos by THL Elska.

Alum of lees (alumen faecis) is potassium carbonate and made by burning the sediments of wine, called lees. During the fermentation of grape juice harmless crystalline deposits separate in wine as crude tartar and are deposited in wine casks. These deposits consist mostly of tartar, the potassium salt of tartaric acid,[1] with small amounts of cream of tartar and of pulp debris, dead yeast, and tannins; impurities which contaminate the potassium tartrate. Tartrates separate from new wines because they are less soluble in alcohol than in non-alcoholic grape juice. Approximately half of the tartrate soluble in grape juice is insoluble in wine, and in white wines the sediment can look alarmingly like shards of glass.[2] Crude tartar was well known during our time of study and is used as an ingredient in many books of secrets dealing with medicinal recipes, fabric cleaning, dyeing, etc.

Unfortunately, while recipes using the ingredients are plenty, instructions on acquiring and purifying chemical ingredients including tartar and its derivatives are rare, up until the late 17th to 18th century as attested by the 1842 A Dispensatory “the pure salt was first prepared during the last [18th] century, and its constitution was unknown [before].”

My impression is that the craftspeople worked things out very well by trial and error, but did not know why certain combinations worked. This could show in the inclusion of superfluous items, ingredients with no apparent use. For instance, juice of celandine has no cleaning properties as far as modern chemistry is aware.

The addition of specific combinations of ingredients (chemicals) would react with each other (chemistry) to create a new ingredient, which would significantly boost the workings of the recipe but without the craftsman knowing why it worked more effectively. For instance, the combination of alum feces (potassium carbonate) with crude tartar (dipotassium tartrate) would chemically react and precipitate cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate), a more effective stain cleaner than tartar itself. While it is not difficult to crystallize cream of tartar out of crude tartar and use as a straight ingredient, the question is: were the medieval craftsmen aware of this chemical and did they find it easier to produced it in situ, or did they use the round-about way as they did not know, aside from, this works?

From working with soap recipes, I had come across the mentions of tartar, alum feces, and alum catini multiple times, and as part of my soap research I wanted to learn how to make these from scratch. While it took me about two years to find a reference to alum feces (at a Pennsic workshop on laundry; I later tracked down the bibliography) that identified it as the burnt lees of wine, I only recently found the final piece of the puzzle.

Alum feces and alum catini are often mentioned in the same context in similar or the same recipes. I assumed them to be of a similar background and when I found that alum feces was burnt tartar I made a leap and assumed alum catini to be the ashes of burnt cream of tartar. It made sense at the time!

Unfortunately, after doing lots of digging into the chemistry of tartar and finding out that ashing tartar and cream of tartar ends up with the same chemical (but they might not have known that! my little devil went…) I finally found a reference in the wonderful book The Art of Dyeing in the History of Mankind which translates “alum catini” (and mentions quite a number of other alums which are also not, technically, alum) as soda, or soda ash. This makes perfect sense, as alum feces actually is potash…
With my background in soap making I could have anticipated this, but it never even occurred to me. What I did wonder about is why I did not find any mention to soda ash in any of my medieval soap recipes… Now, not only did I solve one small mystery of identification, I actually ended up solving a much larger one on technique.

[For more background & chemistry on Tartrates, please check my Ice Dragon documentation here.]

The word alumen faecis occurs in many books of secrets written in the 16th century on chemical technology and is described as the burnt remains of tartar, indicating potassium carbonate. An exact translation of this word would mean the dregs or refuse of alum. In the French The secrets of the master Alexis of Piemont it appears as “alum de fece”; in the English Alexis as “alumen fecis,” and, of course, in the German Alexis as “alun de feta.” Cesalpino, the well-known authority of the 16th century in his De Metallicis, Rome, 1596, says, “Alumen faecis, quae fex vini est combusta” or “Alumen faecis is the dregs of wine that is burned.” Gargiolli in L’Arte Della Seta in Florence, 1868, says of allume di feccia that “Cotesto allume non e altro che cenera cavata dale vinacce bruciate” – “This alum is nothing other that the ashes derived from burnt wine lees.”[3]

The word “tartar” comes to English via Medieval Latin from the Medieval Greek tartaron.[4] This crude form of tartar, also known as winestone, argol, and beeswing, is collected and purified to produce the white, odorless acidic powder known as cream of tartar, or potassium bitartrate. As a food additive, tartar shares the E number E336 with cream of tartar, which does not help the confusion between dipotassium tartrate (tartar) and potassium bitartrate (cream of tartar).[5] Alum feces or potassium carbonate can be made by igniting and ashing tartrates (natural winestone or commercial cream of tartar) to produce pearl ash. This salt (alkali) of tartar was deemed stronger than almost any that is obtained from other matters.[6]

Potash could also be purified by baking it in a kiln or oven until all the carbon impurities are burned off, which would also resulting in pearl ash (sometimes called fly ash, as it easily blows away). The same technique works to make alum catini by ashing calcined marine plants in a kiln … or you could buy a box of washing soda, which is also pure sodium carbonate. The production of potash and pearl ash from wood were of such importance to Britain that these commodities could not be exported by the American Colonies to ports outside of the British Realm.[7] High-quality potassium carbonate was used in glass making, soap making, fiber cleaning, and dyeing and as a medicinal ingredient. Tartrates were used in fiber cleaning & dyeing and as a medicinal ingredient.

The different chemicals made from natural winestone:

  • Winestone is crude tartar.
  • Refined crude tartar becomes tartar or argol (dipotassium tartrate).
  • Refined tartar becomes cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate).
  • Burnt tartar & cream of tartar become alum feces (potassium carbonate)

In cleaning solutions and recipes, tartrates and carbonates have specific functions:

  • Tartrates are buffering agents. Tartar (sometimes in the form of wine lees), was a common ingredient in both lye-based and non-lye-based cleaning solutions. Tartar’s acidic qualities somewhat neutralize the harshness of an alkaline solution,[8] which greatly helps protein-based fabrics like woolen cloth.
  • Tartrates are acidic, and act as sequestrants. As well as providing buffering action, the acidity of tartar and cream of tartar makes these substances useful in removing inorganic stains. They have some ability to act as sequestrants,[9] by interrupting the oxidation of metals, making it possible to dissolve and removing metal and iron oxidation. It is taken from the Latin word “sequestrare” meaning to remove from use.[10] Cream of tartar is an effective and still in use household remedy against iron stains and fruit stains on linen.
  • Carbonates are alkalis. In solution with water carbonates (CO3) react to produce hydroxides (OH); for instance potassium carbonate (K2CO3) plus water (H2O) produces potassium hydroxide (KOH), which is alkaline. Alkaline solutions are common cleaning agent of the 15th and 16th centuries. Alkalis are best at removing stains of a fatty nature and some proteins. When applied to grease and oil stains, the saponification that occurs is an additional aid to stain removal.[11] Alkaline solutions were also made from boiling potash (including hearth ashes), a common source of potassium carbonates, but depending on the quality of the source is often significantly less pure (due to incomplete burn) than burnt tartar, or alum feces.

To make Tartar

“… as well as its property of not being soluble in water without much difficulty: for a very great quantity of water is requisite to keep the crystals of tartar in solution; and it must moreover be boiling hot; otherwise as soon as it cools most of the tartar dissolved in it separates from the liquor, and falls to the bottom in the form of a white powder” From the Encyclopedia Britannica, 1771.

From the information given in the above text, among others, I choose to boil the winestone and let it cool down to re-crystallize the tartar out of the suspension.

The Process:
Rinse and dry crude tartar. My tartar came from a local wine maker (Barry Family Cellars) and comes from white wine (which is why it is uncolored). It smells weird. The crude tartar is added to water. It only dissolves during the boiling stage of water and settles back out of solution when the water cools down.

The refined tartar settles out of solution in a fine powder and as a sludge can easily be dried.
When using red wine winestone, this stage would be done multiple times while decanting the water which would contain most of the colorants and tannins.

I assumed it would crystallize to the sides, given the text by Lémery from 1686 below:
“Boil in a great deal of water what quantity of white Tartar you please, until it be all dissolved; pass the liquor hot through Hippocrates his Sleeve, into an earthen vessel, and evaporate about half of it: set the vessel in a cool place two or three days, & you’l find little Crystals on the sides, which you are to separate; evaporate again half the liquor that remains, and remit the vessel to the Cellar as before, there will shoot out new Crystals: continue doing thus, until you have gotten all your Tartar , dry the Crystals in the Sun, and keep them for use.”[12]

This did not happen. I did not filter the hot liquid but let it cool down on its own, as indicated by the more recent texts. I wonder if the little crystals indicated are cream of tartar instead of straight tartar, as cream of tartar will keep appearing at each new boil until the liquid is exhausted.

The dried sludge is broken off and powdered in a fine mortar and sieved.
The resulting white powder is tartar, or potassium tartrate.

To make Alumen faecis

The crude tartar is calcined over open fire (propane burner) in a fireproof vessel in a well-ventilated area (sunroom) into charcoal. Iron was indicated to be able to withstand the heat, but because I enjoy my cast iron I choose to use a pyroceramic corningware dish (Pyrex would shatter). Calcining creates lots of smoke while the organic contaminants and volatile gasses are burned off.

Then the black charcoaled winestone is put on an iron dish (pizza plate) into the oven and ashed using the self-cleaning cycle. This worked really well (and I was very glad I did the calcining outdoors as we do not have an outdoor vent on our oven).

The powder is then filtered and stored in a jar. As mentioned in the 1686 A course of chemistry, if these ashes are dissolved or lixiviated in water, and then evaporated, another salt will appear, which will have become hygroscopic, or draw moisture from the air: “Break the Retort which served you for distillation of Tartar, and take the black mass you find in it; Calcine it until it becomes white, then put it into a great deal of hot water, and make a Lixivium, filtrate it, and pour it into a glass, or earthen vessel, evaporate in a sand-heat all the water, and there will remain a white salt, which is called the Alkali Salt of Tartar.

If you expose for some days in a Cellar this Salt of Tartar in a wide glass vessel, it will dissolve into a liquor that is improperly called Oil of Tartar per Deliquium.”[13] What this indicates is that the ashes of tartar, or the potassium carbonate, dissolved in water reacted to form potassium hydroxide, which when evaporated will re-crystallize, but will also be hygroscopic (pull moisture from the air, as soap makers know from experience hydroxide is wont to do!).

Following are two period recipes which include tartar and alum feces. For more samples, please see my Ice Dragon documentation.

From T bouck va wonder (The Book of Wonders), anonymous, 1513: this recipe would make an all-purpose cleaning soap ball. The rock alum would act as a mild deodorant and acidic buffer, the tartar would help buffer the alkaline soap and help remove mineral stains, the egg would help disperse trapped dirt (and help with sticking the dry powders to the hard Spanish soap). I am not familiar with waterlily rhizomes in specific, but know of similar plants which are saponaria (soap plants) and would act as a wetting agent to help the soap penetrate the fabric deeper so more debris can be rinsed away.

32. To make soap, that, purifies all sorts of stains, whatever they might be.
Take rock alum, lees [tartar] one pound and make this in a powder, rhizomes of flames or waterlilies of Florence, pulverized a half pound, a fresh egg, two pounds and a half of spanish soap, stomp the previously mentioned powders with the egg and the soap, and make little balles thereof. And if you think the egg was not enough, take as many as you like, or as you think is enough, to make the previously mentioned. And if you want to take on the stain, take clean water, and soak and wash the mentioned stain of both sides of the sheet, and rub with the mentioned ball, and sheet on sheet; that done, wash the dirtiness out with fresh water, and wring the sheet to get rid of the fat, and wash the sheet again with fresh water, and it will stay clean.

From Allerley Mackel (All Kinds of Spots) by Peter Jordanim, 1532: This recipe describes not only the use of tartar in a cleaning solution, but also a method by which cream of tartar was obtained for use in cleaning. When alum feces (potash or pearlash; potassium carbonate) is combined with crude tartar (tartaric acid) in a liquid solution, cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is precipitated. Some precipitation occurs naturally during the winemaking process, but collecting the tartar-rich solid leftovers during winemaking and adding them to a solution of potassium hydroxide (lye, or potassium carbonate mixed with water) allows for a much greater amount of pure cream of tartar to be created. (Leed) And once again just about all available cleaning materials are then mixed together. This combinations should form a concentrated emulsion containing solvents to hold fats and waxes in solution (the campfor and oxgall), tartrates to help remove mineral stains, and absorbents to help remove embedded dirt (the alum with the dragon’s blood would form an aluminum resinate which would give some viscosity to the mix).[14]

3. Another way
Six ounces alum feces, four ounces crude tartar, two ounces alum, one half quent [1/4 scruple or a dragme] camphor, one half quent dragon’s blood, grind all together to a fine powder and mix well, then take six ounces ox gall and six “bucklin” of clear water, put all together in a kettle, let boil to remove a third of the volume, then strain through a piece of cloth. Whenever you cannot get the ox gall or the camphor the water itself is strong enough. For use take a new piece of woolen cloth, moisten it with the water, and rub the spot or stain with it. When the piece of cloth becomes dry, moisten it again with the water and rub until the spot has disappeared; thereupon take warm water and wash the place where the stain has been. But for white cloth take the same water and add some soap, distill it, and work as before.

[Winestone donated by my friend Ian Barry of Barry Family Cellars.]

For a complete bibliography, more background, more photos, and how to make cream of tarter, you can download my documentation here.



[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_tartrate

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tartrate

[3] Edelstein, Sidney M. (1964) The Allerley Matkel (1532) Technology and Culture, Vol. 5, No. 3 (Summer, 1964). The Johns Hopkins University Press. p.313

[4] https://www.google.com/search?q=what+is+tartar&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Potassium_tartrate

[6] (1771) Encyclopedia Brittanica. Vol. II. Edinburgh: Colin Macfarquhar, Society of Gentlemen in Scotland.

[7] Ellis, Marietta (2015?) Colonial Soapmaking – Its History and Techniques. Spadét.

[8] Leed, Drea (2006) “Ye Shall Have It Clean”. Medieval Clothing and Textiles, Vol 2, the Boydell Press, NY.

[9 Leed

[10] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sequestrant

[11] Leed

[12] Lémery, Nicolas & Harris, Walter (1686) A course of chemistry. London: R.N. for Walter Kettilby, p.433

[13] Lémery, 433

[14] Edelstein 1964


Categories: SCA news sites

400 Viking, Iron Age artifacts stolen from Bergen museum

History Blog - Mon, 2017-08-21 22:57

At least 400 Viking and Iron Age artifacts were stolen from the University Museum in Bergen, Norway, during the weekend of August 11-1. The burglars climbed scaffolding on the exterior of the museum’s building (currently undergoing renovation) and broke in through a 7th floor window. They ransacked the rooms where the objects were being kept in cabinets and on shelves, making off with hundreds of pieces.

Two alarms rang on the evening of Saturday, August 12th. Security guards investigated the building, but reported nothing untoward, which does not speak highly of their competence given the 7th floor was left in a total shambles by the burglars. The theft was discovered on Monday by museum staff.

The museum acknowledges that the artifacts were insufficiently secured. In a painful irony, they were scheduled to be moved to a more secure location on August 14th, that same Monday when the theft was discovered.

Conservators are still tallying up the stolen artifacts. Most of the more than 400 that have been identified so far date to the Iron Age (500 B.C.-1030 A.D.) and the Viking period (800-1030 A.D.). They are small, portable objects, primarily jewelry of negligible monetary value, nor is there any particular value in the metals they’re composed of. It’s their historical value that matters, and the thieves are unlikely to be able to cash in on that.

To the museum, however, the loss is devastating.

“For us as a museum it is to take care of the cultural heritage our most important task. We have not met our requirements. It is incomprehensible and no explanations are good enough. The items that are gone do not have so much economic value, but very high historical value. We can now only hope that the lost is coming back and we can work purposefully to prevent the like from happening again. But I feel heavy,” says the museum director [Henrik von Achen].

All safety systems have been reviewed, the scaffolding and building secured, but closing the barn door after the horses have fled is little consolation to the museum staff. Many of the objects were going to be on display in an upcoming Viking exhibition scheduled for later this year. Unless the artifacts are recovered quickly, the exhibition will probably have to be postponed, perhaps indefinitely.

Norwegian police are actively investigating the theft, working with their counterparts in other countries in the hope of catching the thieves in the attempt to smuggle or sell the artifacts. The University Museum staff aren’t sitting on their hands waiting for the police to solve the crime. They are enlisting the power of social media to get the word out. As conservators work to inventory the stolen objects, images of the artifacts are being uploaded to a dedicated Facebook page. The museum asks that the photo album be shared as widely as possible and that people keep their eyes peeled for any pieces that might crop up on auction and sale sites that don’t monitor whether sellers have legitimate title to the items being sold. The more widely seen the artifacts are, the harder it will be for the thieves to unload them under the radar.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Court Report for Great Northeastern War, July 7 and 8

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-08-21 17:10

Master Rowen Cloteworthy submitted this unofficial Court Report on behalf of Mistress Mylisant Grey.

During the July 7 Court, The following awards were presented:

Anna Serena, Silver Wheel; C&I: Eleanor Catlyng

Kate the Wicked, Silver Wheel; C&I: Aud Leifsdottir

Kevin D’noe, Silver Wheel; C&I: Mickel von Salm

Radbod of Endewearde, Silver Wheel; C&I: Camille des Jardins

Ranka Sveinsdottir, Award of Arms; C&I: Millicent Rowan

Gabrielle de la Plume, Queen’s Order of Courtesy; Token

Richard Crowe, Vigil for Chivalry.

During the July 8 Court, the following awards were presented:

Nuala McKensie, Award of Arms; Scroll forthcoming

Aurelia Colleoni a’Buccafurno, Award of Arms; C&I: Elen Alswyth of Eriskay

Thomas de Winterwade, Silver Tyger; C&I: Lisabetta Medaglia

Gregor Von Medehem, Silver Tyger; Scroll forthcoming

Bison of Thunder, Silver Tyger; C&I: Sunniva Ormstung

Wilhelm von Hammaborg, Silver Tyger; C&I: Edward McGuyver dos Scorpos

Eirikr Oxnaháls, Court Barony with Grant of Arms; C&I: Edward McGuyver dos Scorpos

Cailte Crobdurg MacScandal, Court Barony with Grant of Arms; C&I: Wynefryd Bredhers, W: Nicol mac Donnchaidh

David Poirier de LeLoup, Award of Arms; C&I: þóra Eiríksdóttir

Tiberius Iulius Rufus, Tygers Combattant; C&I: Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova, W: Steffan ap Cenydd

Karl der Falchner, Award of Arms; C&I: Tactus Malus Scriptorium (V)

Christian Wolfe, Defense; C&I: Alexandre St. Pierre and Camille des Jardins

Richard Crowe, Chivalry; C&I: Katherine Stanhope

Perceval Gower, Vigil for Pelican

Stefan of Silverforge, Vigil for Laurel

Bryon de Burgh, Queen’s Thrown Weapon Champion; C&I: Emeline la chauciere

Cedric of Thanet, King’s Thrown Weapon Champion; C&I: Emeline la chauciere

Gaius Claudius Valerianus, Court Barony with Grant of Arms; C&I: Adrienne d’Evreus, W: Nicol mac Donnchaidh

Aureliana Curva, Court Barony with Grant of Arms; C&I: Aleksei Dmitriev

Úlfeiðr Artadóttir, Award of Arms; C&I: Embla Knútrdottir, W: Nicol mac Donnchaidh

Sorcha Dhorcha of Stonemarche, Award of Arms; C&I: Eva Woderose

Frederick Van Der Veer, Silver Brooch; C&I: Aelisif Hoarr Kona

Olalla Tristana, Silver Brooch; C&I: Elena O’Siridean, W: Marion of Ruantallan

Aesileif Hoarr Kona, Silver Brooch; C&I: Saerlaith ingen Chennetig

Edmund Beneyt, Award of Arms; C&I: Marieta Charay

Garrick Øxnhálsson, Silver Wheel; C&I: Olaf Haraldson

Asbjorn Øxnhálsson, Silver Wheel; C&I: Robert dwe Makminne

Lasair An Dunaich, Silver Wheel; I: Melina al Andalusiyya, C: Robin Dit Dessaint, W: Yehuda ben Moshe

Aloysius, Silver Wheel; C&I: Altani Khatagi

Rose Copper Steel, Queen’s Order of Courtesy; C&I: Techan MacGothraidh, W: Nicol mac Donnchaidh

Tiberius Iulius Rufus, Laurel; C&I: Conor O Ceallaigh

Brenden Crane, Court Barony with Grant of Arms; C&I: Elen Alswyth of Eriskay, W: Aneleda Falconbridge

Christiana Crane, Court Barony; I: Eleanore MacCarthaigh, C: Aleksei Dimitriev

Mora Ruadh, Award of Arms; I: Camille des Jardins, C: Mikel von Salm, W: Maxton Gunn

Boden Henebry, Silver Crescent; C&I: Harold von Auerbach

Antony Martin of Sheffield, Silver Crescent; C&I: Agatha Wanderer

Fortune Sancte Keyne, Silver Crescent; C&I: Aesa feilinn Jossursdottir

Steinar Bjornsson, Award of Arms; C&I: Triona MacCasky, W: Toki Redbeard

Galen of Blackthorne, Maunche; C&I: Robin dit Dessaint, W: Anastasia Guta

Helen Attebroke, Award of Arms; C&I: Katrusha Skomorokh, W: Tristan Chanticler

Stefan of Silverforge, Laurel; C&I: Alexandre St. Pierre and Camille des Jardins

Perceval Gower, Pelican; C&I: Mergriet van Wijenhorst

Michael Acrensis, Writ for Pelican; C&I: Briana de Luna

Other Business:

  • The Ridings of Giggleswick and Ravensbridge presented the results of their largesse competition to Their Majesties.
  • Don Eldrich Gaiman presented handmade scarves for the Eastern Rapier Champions team.
  • Lord Osmond de Berwick announced the victory of the Youth Archers of the East in several categories in the Inter-Kingdom Archery Championships
  • Their Majesties honored the children of the East with toys from the royal toy chest
  • Their Majesties thanked outgoing Thrown Weapons Champions Lord Magnus the Broken and Lord Matteo Genovese for their service.
  • Their Majesties invited newcomers forward and gifted them with tokens of welcome.
  • Master Godric of Hamtun announced a new Master Bowman: John Buchnan from the Barony Beyond the Mountain
  • Don Lupold Hass and Don Eldrich Gaiman announced the Pennsic Rapier Champions
  • Master Magnus Hvalmagi, Guildmaster of the East Kingdom Brewers Guild, announced a new Craftsman Brewer: Lady Aoife Beowyn

Filed under: Announcements, Court Tagged: court report

Polling Deadline Tonight

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2017-08-21 16:49

The deadline to answer the first order polling of Ivan and Matilde is today. Polls close at 11:59 pm.

Filed under: Announcements Tagged: pollings

The 1st photographs of a total solar eclipse

History Blog - Sun, 2017-08-20 22:08

It’s been far too long since I indulged in a theme post. As total eclipse of the sun mania has struck the US, I’m jumping on the bandwagon too. The subject covers three of my favorite obsessions: the history of photography, the history of astronomy and historical firsts, all accompanied by that greatest of all obsessions, great high-resolution pictures.

William and Frederick Langenheim were born in Schöningen, Germany in 1807 and 1809 respectively. The were from a prominent family — their father Friedrich Wilhelm was mayor of Schöningen from 1808 until 1813 — but left what was then the Duchy of Brunswick in the 1830s. They immigrated to the United States and carved out careers as journalists. By 1842, they had opened a photography studio in Philadelphia.

The Langenheim daguerreotype studio quickly rose to preeminence in the city, thanks to the brothers’ great talent, inventiveness and embrace of new technology. In 1850 they debuted a new projectable photographic slides they called Hyalotypes. The device used to project them was a better-mousetrap version of the magic lantern which projected small drawn or painted images onto large screens. The stereopticon, as the Langenheim’s device became known, was a huge leap forward because it projected photographic images, not drawings, and because daguerreotypes capture even the most minute detail that cannot be seen with the naked eye, they could be magnified onto a screen at enormous dimensions, large enough that an auditorium of thousands could see spectacular images of, say, Niagara Falls or St. Peter’s Basilica without loss of resolution.

The brothers’ stereopticon had another feature that would prove momentous: a twin lense system that allowed the images to be faded one into the other, a smooth transition that far outshone the magic lantern’s choppy switch-overs. When they conceived of showing slides in an orderly progression, one dissolving into the other in a chronologically rational sequence, they unwittingly introduced the forerunner to the moving picture. The Langenheims charged people a dime to see pictures of natural, historical, architectural, artistic and scientific wonders projected on the big screen and the device was a huge hit.

A perfect subject for the stereopticon appeared in the skies over North America on May 26th, 1854. It was a total eclipse of the sun, the first one in the US since Louis Daguerre announced his new image-fixing process in 1839. The Langenheim brothers took eight daguerreotypes of the eclipse as it progressed. Only seven of them have survived. They are now in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Although six other daguerreotypists and one calotypist are known to have documented the event, only these seven daguerreotypes survive. In the northern hemisphere, the moon always shadows the sun from right to left during a solar eclipse; these images therefore seem odd because they are, like all uncorrected daguerreotypes, reversed laterally as in a mirror.

It is noteworthy that these daguerreotypes are quite small, three exceptionally so. In order to produce any kind of image at all, the Langenheims were forced to use the smallest cameras available, since smaller cameras require proportionally less light and there was virtually no available light when the disk of the new moon eclipsed the largest part of the sun. The missing eighth image was probably made on the smaller plate size and showed nothing at all-a total eclipse.

As for our eclipse, now so easily captured by terrestrial and satellite technology, the National Archives in Washington, D.C. is going all out. They have secured safe solar telescopes from the National Air and Space Museum and will make them available to the public between 1:00 and 4:00PM so people can watch the eclipse up close and in total security. They’ve also created an exhibition, Solar Eclipses: Past and Present, from their pictures and records of other eclipses.

For all you eclipse watchers out there, don’t forget your protective eyewear. If you don’t have the opportunity to view the eclipse in person, you can follow its whole extraordinary path on NASA’s website.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Melee Madness in the Barony of Endless Hills – Court Report

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2017-08-20 14:17

From the Scrolls of the Reign of Timothy and Gabrielle, King and Queen of AEthelmearc, as recorded by Dame Kateryna ty Isaf, Jewel of AEthelmearc Herald with the assistance of Countess Margerite Eisenwald and Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta at Melee Madness in the Barony of Endless Hills on June 3, Anno Societatis LII.

Their Majesties, Timothy and Gabrielle, invited The Baron and Baroness of Endless Hills, Verdi Stephan and Fiona to Their court.

Their Majesties asked the Equestrians who participated in the Kingdom Equestrian Championship to come forth. They thanked them all, noting that for many this was the first event they attended and Their Majesties were greatly impressed with the horsemanship displayed. They were especially thankful for the opportunity the equestrians afforded Their son, Timothy the Younger to ride in the procession.

Their Majesties advised the court that while there were many participants who excelled, the Kingdom needed a Champion and thus They invited Mistress Ysebeau Tiercelin to stand as King’s Champion and Kingdom Equestrian Champion. They also invited Master Tiernach MacCaithal to stand as Queen’s Champion.









Their Majesties called forth Ashley of Endless Hills. For her work in helping in the kitchen, retaining, with set up and tear down, Their Majesties inducted her into the Order of the Silver Buccle. Scroll by Lady Jinx.

Their Majesties called forth the rest of the children present and asked Lord Nicolo to give the toy chest fleet feet. The children were instructed to take one toy each, beginning with the youngest child present. Having been given a count of ten, Lord Nicolo fled the court with the children fast behind.

Their Majesties gave leave to Their Excellencies of Endless Hills to hold Their court.

Upon the completion of the Baronial court, Her Majesty spoke of the honor and grace of the fencers who fought this day and how she was impressed by all the contenders. Knowing that there could be but one who would be called upon to be Her Champion, She invited before Her Master Clewin Kupfenhelblinc to stand as her Queen’s Rapier Champion. Her Majesty then called Lord Durante de Caravaggio forth and divested him of the regalia of the Queen’s Champion and thanked him for his service to both Coutness Marguerite and Herself. She invested Master Clewin with the regalia of his office and asked him to join the court as Her Champion.

Before dismissing Lord Durante, Her Majesty invited Countess Marguerite to join Her in the next business of the court. The Countess spoke movingly of the service Lord Durante had provided to her and was pleased to be part of the court during this moment. Her Majesty then Granted Arms to Durante and awarded him the Queen’s Order of Excellence for his faithful service to Her predecessor. To mark his new station, a circlet was placed upon his brow, gifted by Her Excellency. Scroll was limned by an unknown artist, words and calligraphy by Baroness Graidhne ni Ruaidh.

Their Majesties called forth Helena Kobot. Noting that she was working diligently on her fencing, had started making her own garb and was always helpful at events, They were moved to make her a Lady of the court by Award of Arms. Scroll by THLady Máirghréad Stí­obhard inghean uí­ Choinne.

Their Majesties called Vincenzo of Endless Hills. Gratified to see such a hardworking young man willing to take on the tasks of adulthood within the Society, They felt it only proper he be given the rank and station of an adult. Therefore for his work retaining, setting up and tearing down at events, helping autocrats and head cooks alike, They Awarded him Arms and made him a Lord of the court. Scroll by Baroness Fiona the Prepared.

Their Majesties called forth Eustacious di Mecina. Because of he is a person who is seen everywhere helping in tasks great and small and always with a joyful and enthusiastic smile, Their Majesties saw fit to make him a Lord of the court and Awarded him Arms.

Their Majesties asked Their Excellencies to convey an award for Them since it was known that the Gentle in question would not be in Their presence to be given the award by Their Hands and charged Their Excellencies to carry this missive to him at Their next opportunity. Their Majesties then had Lord Leo the Ronin added to the Order of the Keystone for his great endeavors in creating an online presence for the Barony of Endless Hills and his work as both Chronicler and Web Minister. Scroll by Baroness Barbary Rose.

Their Majesties called for Lord Alayn Pyett to attend Them. For his works of art as Blacksmith, wood carver and weaver, They inducted him to the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll by Baron Caleb Reynolds and Sir Murdoch Bayne.

Their Majesties called forth Lady Kolfina Jodisdottir. Knowing her to be skilled with rapier and bow, and dedicated to building her skills by rigorous practice many nights a week, They were moved to induct her to the Order of the Golden Alce. Scroll by Baron Caleb Reynolds and Sir Murdoch Bayne.

Their Majesties called Lady Valgeror inn rosti to attend Them. A fencer who has chosen and researched the form of Destresa fencing, she has overcome obstacles to become a force to be reckoned with upon the field and so They inducted her to Their Order of the Golden Alce. Scroll by Lady Kolfina Jodisdottir.

Their Majesties called forth Lady AEsa Hegulfsdottir. Knowing that she has served her Barony as Archery Champion, has been a heavy weapons fighter and is skilled with the bow, Their Majesties were moved to make her a Companion of the Order of the Golden Alce. Sir Murdoch presented her with the Golden Alce medallion passed down through the members of the order in her household. Scroll by Sir Murdoch Bayne.

Their Majesties advised that it is Their right and privilege to give recognition long overlooked. They called forth Lord Kenrick of Endless Hills and inducted him to the Order of the Golden Alce for his skill in heavy weapons fighting, his continued teaching of the combat arts and his service as Baronial Champion for Heavy Weapons combat. Scroll was limned by an unknown artist and calligraphed by Mistress Euriol of Lothian.

Their Majesties invited before them Dame Kateryna ty Isaf. Their Majesties then called forth the Order of the Fleur d’Aethelmearc to attend Them. Speaking of how delighted They were to recognize her gift for feeding Their Realm both delicious and well researched feasts and how They were looking forward to yet another such feast this day, They were moved to induct her into the Order of the Fleur d’Aethelmearc upon this day. The scroll was by Sir Murdoch Bayne, wordsmithing by Lord Gregory Hillson.

Their Majesties called before them Lady Antionette DeLorraine. Their Majesties advised They having asked Their Order of the Millrind for counsel regarding gentles in the Realm deserving inclusion in that order, one name did rise to Their attention that They felt needed to be done immediately. Their Majesties then called for the Order of the Millrind to attend Them. They advised that for her work as Seneschal, Autocrat and many times serving as Retainer, They were moved to induct her to the Order of the Millrind and grant her arms. The scroll is a work in progress by THLady Alianora Bronhulle.

Their Majesties asked that all scribes who contributed to the scrolls given during the courts today stand and be recognized.

Her Majesty asked Don Po Silvertop to attend Her. Her Majesty was moved to recognize Don Po as Her inspiration of the day and bestowed upon him the Golden Escarbuncle for not only his prowess on the fencing field, but also the joy he brings to his bouts and instills in others.

There being no further business this day, Their Majesties court was thus concluded.

– The Heralds and Signet would like to thank all the scribes who contributed to the day. If you worked on a specific scroll and were not attributed, please contact the Jewel Herald at damekateryna@gmail.com to have the court report amended.​​​

Categories: SCA news sites

Dutch shipwreck yields more treasures

History Blog - Sat, 2017-08-19 22:12

Divers exploring the wreck of the Rooswijk, an 18th century Dutch ship off the coast of Kent, England, have discovered a sealed seaman’s chest whose contents are unknown but could be actual treasure. The largest of several chests recovered from the wreck, it is about one meter long and could contain objects like sabre blades (known to have been on board) that need a long container. Or, like other chests previously recovered from the wreck, it could contain silver ingots and coins, a conventional treasure as well as a historical one.

Of course, any contents at all would be archaeologically precious, but archaeologists dare not open it for risk of damaging the chest and/or its contents.

It may never be possible, or even desirable, to open the mystery chest. Conventional x-rays often don’t reveal much of heavily concreted objects. Angela Middleton, a conservation expert at Historic England, hopes to persuade the customs authorities to bring along one of the scanners they use at the port to check for people and goods hidden in lorries, and see if it shows up anything.

“We might find out it is impossible to open the chest without destroying it. Or we might find out what is in it and decide it’s just not worth even trying to open it,” she said.

The Rooswijk, a three-masted Dutch East India (VOC) trading ship, had just set off from Amsterdam on its way to Jakarta with a hold full of silver bullion and coins to buy spices when it was blown off course in a storm and sank on the treacherous Goodwin Sands off Kent in January of 1740. Known as the Ship Swallower, the Goodwin devoured the Rooswijk and all 250 crew and passengers on board.

The ship was so heavily laden it went down in a flash. British newspapers reported on the wreck of a Dutch merchant ship in the storm. Letters and debris washed ashore. It’s not clear whether the VOC was made immediately aware of these reports. The voyage to Jakarta was so long Dutch East India officials wouldn’t have had reason to worry until after the ship failed to reach its scheduled stop at the Cape of Good Hope, months after its departure and sinking.

Whatever was left of the Rooswijk and its very heavy, very valuable cargo was covered over by the Goodwin Sands and its location remained a mystery for centuries. After years of documentary research and a magnetometer survey, a diver found the wreck and in 2005, a team of underwater archaeologists explored it. They recovered more than 1,000 artifacts, including musket parts, knives, sword blades, hilts and scabbards, pewter dinnerware, silver coins, more than 500 four-pound silver ingots. Because the wreck is owned by the Dutch government by virtue of its having absorbed the Dutch East India Company in 1798, the artifacts recovered from the wreck are property of the Netherlands and were returned to it. Some of them are now on display at the Maritime Museum in Vlissingen.

Because of its historical importance and rarity — just a third of the 250 known VOC wrecks have ever been found and the Rooswijk is the only one of them to be scientifically investigated — in 2007 the site was designated a protected wreck. The designation made any unauthorized interference with it a crime. Still, the location was kept under wraps to discourage treasure hunters from trying their luck.

Last year, the Cultural Heritage Agency of the Netherlands and Historic England launched a new excavation of the Rooswijk. There was an urgent need to survey the site because changing tides had drastically shifted the deep silt layers, exposing timbers that have long been shielded under the sediments. This not only triggered precipitous decay, but it made it more likely that looters might find the ship.

Working with the divers who first explored the wreck in 2005, archaeologists have recovered pewter tankards and spoons, glass brandy bottles, elaborately carved knife handles, shoes, wine glasses with twist stems, an onion jar, cooking tiles, Mexican silver dollars and cut up pieces of eight. All of the artifacts have been taken to a huge warehouse in Ramsgate to be recorded and receive any emergency treatment they require. They will then be moved to a Historic England facility for further conservation before being returned to the Netherlands.

There will be an open day at the Ramsgate warehouse on September 16th to give the public what may be their only chance and seeing some of these finds before they leave the country.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Five centuries of history unearthed in Roman villa

History Blog - Fri, 2017-08-18 22:34

An international team of archaeologists, students and volunteers excavating the Roman villa of Durreueli at Realmonte in Sicily have unearthed evidence of habitation and usage from a much broader period than previously realized.

Through a month of excavations, they determined the villa was consistently occupied between the 2nd and 7th century CE and reconfigured to settlement in the 5th century Common Era (CE). That conclusion comes following the discovery of new walls, floor levels, staircase and water channel.

The team found cookware and lamps along with a large quantity of African Late Roman pottery and related materials such as kiln spacers. This leads researchers to believe an important function of the village was to produce pottery, bricks and tiles in industrial scale, helping explain the economic history of Late Antique Sicily.

One of Sicily’s largest Roman villas covering 5,000 square meters (54,000 square feet) in area, the Durreueli remains were first discovered in the early 1900s during railroad construction. They weren’t professionally excavated until 1979 when a team of Japanese archaeologists explored the site for six years. They unearthed important parts of the villa, including its baths and exceptional mosaics dedicated to the deities of the sea the structure so dramatically overlooks, but nowhere near the wide range of dates that the current excavation has encountered.

After Japanese excavation ended in 1985, the site was closed the public and all but ignored, even though it is just a hop, skip and a jump from the area’s preeminent tourist attraction, the Scala dei Turchi (the staircase of the Turks), a limestone rock formation that looks like gigantic steps built on a golden beach. The city of Agrigento with its exceptional Doric temple is just six miles to the east.

Dig director Dr. Davide Tanasi, assistant professor in History at the University of South Florida, sought to rectify this unfortunate neglect of such significant archaeological remains. Working with the Superintendence for Cultural Heritage of Agrigento, Tanasi not only excavated the villa this season, making important finds that vastly expanded its chronology, he enlisted USF’s state-of-the-art Center for Virtualization and Applied Spatial Technologies (CVAST) to thoroughly scan the site and create 3D views that will prove invaluable in determining the best approach to ongoing excavations in interpreting the phases of construction.

There aren’t any really good pictures of the excavation (not by my standards anyway), but Dr. Tanasi’s YouTube channel steps into the breach. There are super-short videos of the excavators in action:

Charming testimonials from participants in the project:

And the greatest gems in the collection, aerial and terrestrial 3D scans of the whole villa which are extremely cool views for we civilians as well as and essential tools for archaeologists.

The USF team will return to the villa next summer for a second season of excavations.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Court Report: Pennsic – (The Condensed Version)

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-08-18 14:36

Rowen Cloteworthy reporting

Pennsic XLVI – August, 2017

__Friday, August 4, 2017__

Elias Gedney – Pelican – C&I: Eloise of Coulter

__Saturday, August 5, 2017__

Magdalena Lantfarerin – Silver Brooch – C&I: Kay Leigh Mac Whyte

Godric of Hamtun – Presentation of archery equipment to Her Majesty

Samuel Peter Bump – Vigil for Pelican

__Sunday, August 6, 2017__

Quintus Lucius Fortunatus – Silver Tyger – C&I: Elisabeth Greenleaf – W & Latin: Steffan ap Kennyd

Ulfr HofHorr – Tygers Combatant – C&I: Cassius Pontus

Ryoukojin of the Iron Skies – Vigil for Chivalry

Baptiste O’Brien – Vigil for Chivalry

Cassius of La Familia – Chivalry – W, C&I: Eleanor Catlyn – Latin: Eric and Christopher Michaelson – Greek: Michael James

Zohane Faber – Silver Rapier – C&I: Magdalena von Kirschberg – W: Remy Delamontagne de Gascogne

Brendan Firebow – Golden Rapier – C&I: Orlando Sforza – W: Lorenzo Gorla

Thomas del Broc – Vigil for Defense

__Monday, August 7, 2017__

Baptiste O’Brien – Chivalry – C&I: Jan Janowicz Bogdanski – Arabic: Tara al-Zahra

__Tuesday, August 8, 2017__

Thomas del Broc – Defense – C&I: Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova – W: Alys  Mackyntoich

Maria Charriez – Court Barony with Grant of Arms – C&I: Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova

__Wednesday, August 9, 2017__

House Bloodguard – Fealty

Donnan Fitzgerald – Vigil for Chivalry

Wilham de Broc – Court Barony – C&I: Chrestienne la pescheresse

Children of the East – Gifts from the Crown

Kythe Szubielka – Brewer to the Crown

Aleyd Czypsser – Seamstress to the Crown

Elgiva Wilhelm – Seamstress to the Crown

Winners of the Heroic Champions – Presentation of Arm Bands from Her Majesty

Reuben the Curious – Award of Arms – Backlog – C&I: Katherine Stanhope – Backlogged to First Court, Apr 1, 2017

Donovan Shinnock – Valor of the East

Southern Rapier Army – Blue Tyger Legion

Joseph of the Red Griffin – Golden Mantle – C&I: Tola knitýr – W: Eloise of Coulter

Helena Lundonie – Silver Crescent – C&I: Sarra Graeham of Birnham

Alys Mackyntoich – Defense – C&I: Fiona O’Maille ó Chuan Coille – W: Anastasia Gutane

Samuel Peter Bump – Pelican – C&I: Christiana Crane – W: Nicol mac Donnachaidh

Gaius Claudius Valerianus – Metalsmith to the Crown

Katerina Falconer de Lanark – Award of Arms – C&I: Myrun Leifsdottir – W: Remy Delamontagne de Gascogne

William Spicer – Silver Brooch – C&I: Marieta Charay – W: Serafina Medvednikova

John of Yseaux – Maunche – C&I: Christiana Crane – W: Nicol mac Donnachaidh

Aleyd Czypsser – Queen’s Order of Courtesy – C&I: Catarina Giaocchini

Zhigmun Czypsser – Augmentation of Arms – C&I: Elisabeth Greenleaf

Ryoukojin of the Iron Skies n- Chivalry – C&I: Lada Monguligin – W: Mariette de Bretagne

__Friday, August 11, 2017__

Shimazu Yasukaze – Award of Arms – C&I: Helena Osterholm

Donnan Fitzgerald – Chivalry – C&I: Nest verch Tangwistel

Filed under: Court, Pennsic

Half-Timber Malt House

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-08-18 13:31

The following article was submitted to the Gazette by THL Madoc Arundel, who displayed his Malt House reproduction project at this year’s Ice Dragon Pentathlon:

Historical Background

The malting of grain – converting complex starches into simple sugars – is necessary for the grain to be used in the production of alcoholic beverage. While early malting was crude and rudimentary, experience and innovation improved the process over time. By the middle ages, Europeans were producing malted grain in industrial sized batches. This advancement necessitated the move of the malting process from the campfire and kitchen to an industrial sized building or cavern known as a malting house.

As the process has not changed much in two millennia, so has the structure of a malting house remained similar. Archaeologists have uncovered sites in Great Britain and on the European continent of malting houses dating back as far as the Roman occupation. In general, these malting houses consisted of a grain storage area, a soaking pit, a growing floor, and a kiln. Variations existed; but the linear design of the malting house did not change. A very early version of a malting setup in Roman occupied Bavaria in the second century talks about the layout:

Within an oblong set of stone foundations are arranged—clockwise—a deep well; a water-tight basin at ground level; a kiln with a fire pit and a flue; and a stone-ringed fire place, about 3 feet in diameter. The probable date of the site, according to Dr. Andreas Boos, chief archaeologist at the Regensburg Historical Museum and keeper of the pavilion’s key, is the last quarter of the second century AD, when Regensburg was called Castra Regina, the largest Roman military camp in what is now Bavaria.[1]

While the layout is slightly different in this description of an early Irish archaeological site, the functional portions of the facility meet similar criteria to the Bavarian site:

The kiln consisted of a stone-lined bowl and T-shaped flue as well as a possible stoke hole, and measured 5.75m northeast–southwest and 5.9m northwest–southeast… A significant amount of sprouting barley was also recovered from within the kiln which prompted archaeobotanist Sarah Cobain, to suggest that the kiln might have been involved in the process of malting grain. Malting however requires the prolonged soaking of grain and brewing requires the steeping of malted grain in warm water. A large, sub-rectangular stone and mortar-lined pit was located c. 40m to the south-east of the T-shaped kiln. It measured 3m in length, 2.2m in width and 1.05m in depth.[2]

Illustration courtesy of the Great Dunmow Maltings restoration project

The Barley Store: A loft used for dry storage of the grain to be malted. Barley was delivered in sacks through a loading door at wagon height.[3] The store was at one end of the malting house with access to a street for the wagons. Underneath Nottingham, there are several cave complexes that were used in lieu of malting houses. In these locations, grain was delivered through a cave entrance and stored in a dry bin adjacent to a well or cistern.[4]

The Steeping Pit: A watertight room, a well, a cistern, or a large vat. Generally, the pit would be adjacent or immediately below the barley store, with a chute or trap for transferring the dry grain. The following is a description of a steeping pit at an archaeological site in Balbriggen, Ireland:

A large, sub-rectangular stone and mortar-lined pit was located c. 40m to the south-east of the T-shaped kiln. It measured 3m in length, 2.2m in width and 1.05m in depth. The lining consisted of mortared stone with a thick layer of compact lime and sand based mortar along the base. The stone lining within the pit suggests it was meant to retain liquid. It is likely to be associated with two further sub-rectangular pits uncovered in the immediate vicinity. Both possessed a lime mortar base but no stone or mortar on the sides.[5]

This is a more generic description of the function of the steeping pit, describing the exothermic reaction that assists with the germination process:

The grain was first soaked in a steeping pit or cistern for a day or more. This was constructed of brick or stone, and was sometimes lined with lead. It was rectangular and no more than 40 inches deep. Soon after being covered with water, the grain began to swell and increase its bulk by approximately 25 percent. The cistern was then drained and the grain transferred to another vessel called a couch…[6]

The Couch: A holding bin for barley between the steeping pit and the growing floor. Grain never spent more than a day in the couch. Although numerous archaeological references refer to the couch as the next step, the purpose was to enable a tax assessor to determine the volume of grain to properly assess the Malt Tax. Since the Malt Tax in England ran from 1697 to 1880[7], and there are no references to the couch in continental archaeological records, it is not likely that the couch was a necessary part of the malting process.[8]

The Growing Floor: This was the largest single area, since a great deal of space was needed to spread the grain to various depths. The growing floor was longer than it was wide, as the grain would be moved along the floor towards the kiln as the germination process advanced – new grains in one end and older grains out the other. The wet grain would be spread out, the depth dictated by temperature, but sufficiently deep to encourage vegetation. It was turned at intervals of a few hours to achieve even growth and assure that all grains had equal access to ambient air.[9] The temperature and humidity levels were partially controlled by ventilation using slatted windows, and partially controlled by thinning out the depth of the grain layer.[10] The ceiling was relatively low – six feet or so – to enable more stable temperatures throughout the room. “The flagged stone floor would serve excellently to first heap and then spread the steeped barley on, and with the low-roofed hall to keep down the temperature and prevent the malt being spoiled.”[11]

Drying was either done in the sun or in a kiln, each had its advantages. Sun-drying produced the cleanest tasting malt, but was, of course, dependent upon good weather, and the acrospire might continue to grow to the point where it consumed all the grain’s nutrients, making it useless for brewing.[12]

The Kiln: At times referred to as a grain oven, malt oven, drying kiln, or grain dryer, the kiln has three purposes: dry out the grain, stop the growth process, and caramelize the sugars.[13] The kiln is made up of a drying floor, fire box (consisting of a fire hole and a heat sink), and vent. The fire box had to allow for a gradual increase in the size and strength of the fire, since low heat was required to dry the grain while higher heat was necessary for caramelization. This was accomplished through a stoke hole in the side allowing for placement of additional fuel or for the fire tender to move hot coals around as necessary.[14] Special care had to be taken to avoid roasting the grain, which destroys the enzymes rendering the malt unsuitable for mashing.[15] The heat sink consists of sheets of metal, porcelain, or ceramic arranged to dissipate the heat and spread it more evenly across the underside of the grain bed.[16], [17]

The early furnace was a simple fire basket with a cast-iron sheet above it to disperse the heat. Hornbeam coppice wood was often used as a fuel in Hertfordshire as it produced an intense heat and was said to ‘burn like a candle.’ Later good quality anthracite became the fuel of choice since it creates hardly any smoke.[18]

The Baking and Brew House, Bolton Castle, Yorkshire c. 1379. Sketch courtesy of Jamie Olivers

The barley was moved onto the drying floor (above the fire box), and raked to a depth of about 4 to 6 inches.[19]

Because moist grain spoils quickly in storage, the Regensburg maltsters dried it in the kiln. The kiln walls have a narrow ledge that probably supported a floor made of organic material. An open fire pit and a praefurnium (a work area for stoking the fire) are in front of a covered flue that sent hot air into a hypocaustum (a heat chamber) under the kiln floor.[20]

The drying floor was porous to allow heat and air to circulate through and around the grain. A solid floor would heat up just fine, but would result in simply creating hot, wet grain.[21] The weave had to be tight enough to avoid the grain falling through. “The drying floor was originally a horse-hair carpet but later wire mesh, perforated tiles or iron plates were used. This floor was approximately twelve feet above the furnace.”[22] This distance was necessary to allow for the heat and airflow to reach the barley while preventing or minimizing the risk of a grain fire.

Photograph courtesy of Travis Rupp, University of Colorado Boulder

In 1978, the ruins of a malt house in what is now Regensburg, Germany show us a typical construct for such buildings in the first millennium.

Within an oblong set of stone foundations are arranged—clockwise—a deep well; a water-tight basin at ground level; a kiln with a fire pit and a flue; and a stone-ringed fire place, about 3 feet in diameter. The probable date of the site, according to Dr. Andreas Boos, chief archaeologist at the Regensburg Historical Museum and keeper of the pavilion’s key, is the last quarter of the second century AD, when Regensburg was called Castra Regina, the largest Roman military camp in what is now Bavaria.[23]

Photos and corresponding artist’s renditions courtesy of the German Beer Institute

In this example, we see the foundation which includes access to the fire pit (bottom pictures) for the kiln and the drying floor, and what is presumably the drying area (top pictures.) The drying floor would have been made of porous material, most likely woven straw or flax. The kiln, the oven and the cistern (seen in the near corner of the bottom left) are all made from stone or hardened clay.

The upper level would have been made of contemporary materials.[24] A half-timber or all-wood construction would have been lighter, easier to build, and fully functional. In the artist’s rendition (upper right picture), we see a smooth and level ‘capping’ of the stone structure, which would have been appropriate for a wood framed upper level. For this reason, I chose to make my model using a stone and mortar base with a half-timber upper level. Additionally, the Roman architectural style known as Opus Craticium involves…

…squared timber uprights or arrectaria (8 -12 cm thick) were combined with horizontal transversaria (6 – 8 cm) to form panels measuring between 50 and 80 cm. These were then infilled with concrete and rubble. To provide stability the main structure of the house was also supported by piers of brick and blockwork.[25]

This type of design, with masonry on the ground floor and half-timber on subsequent stories, extended into the construction of non-commercial buildings and homes during the 15th century.[26]

Half-timber construction was very popular in both the countryside and city in Germany in the middle ages and later. The frame of the building was made of timber, usually oak. The timbers were morticed and pegged together. Triangular bracing was used to give additional support. The spaces between the timbers were filled with waddle and daub, brick, stones or plaster. The timber remained visible both inside and outside the building.[27]

Diagram from Jackson’s “The Half-Timber House”

There are heavy timbers placed at strategic locations along a wall, followed with bracing in horizontal, vertical, or diagonal configurations. The gaps between the framing timbers and the bracing timbers is filled with non-load bearing material as a barrier against the elements.[28] The result is a less expensive option than full timber construction, and at times a pleasing aesthetic.[29]

These constructions have walls of granite stone with regular masonry in the corners and major parts. The half timbers with earth found in this region are not used for building the whole floor, which is common practice in other regions in Galacia, but only for small parts of the building which also support the roof structure. The structural wooden frame is made of a weak main skeleton of wooden pillars from the sleeper beam to the roof beam, reinforced half-height with other horizontal pieces.[30]

Timber construction

So then he will begin to chop; now it does not take many hours with an ax, squaring up the trunk of a tree, to learn that it is easier to make one’s timbers large than small. It is as much, if not more, bother to get out a thin plank, than it is a great stick; and so he will save time and use the big timbers. With their great size and strength, he may well space them some distance apart, and fill in between with something or other not so hard to make as planks. For this purpose, he will use a mortar or ‘daub’ made of lime and straw, or clay and twigs, or anything that will stick and harden, and reasonably resist the weather, which is not rigorous or one that makes great demands on building materials. As a groundwork for lathing for this plaster he will weave willow twigs together and make a groove in the sides of his timber to take the ends and make a tighter bond between the filling and the beams, so that if the timber does shrink away there will not be an open crack straight through the wall. Then if he plasters the inside of the wall all over he will be as snug as possible. He may make it a more substantial wall by using as a filling brickbats, small stones or what-not, and covering the whole with plaster.[31]

Graphic courtesy of Tony Graham (http://www.tonygraham.co.uk) showing interwoven sticks

For the corner posts a baulk was used, cut near the foot of the tree to get the beginning of the sweeping curve where it runs out into the roots. These sticks were turned upside down and the curved end formed the bracket to support the girt for the over-hanging second story, while the crooked branches were used for the curved struts and braces.[32]

In early southern Germany, connecting joints between the frame and the intermediate timbers were most commonly lap joints[33], while later designs increasingly used tenons.[34] Like modern design, windows were framed between a sill and a lintel.[35]

Sketch courtesy of Olivier Aymard (http://aymard.kemplaire.free.fr)

Photo courtesy of Jerzy Gorecki (https://pixabay.com) illustrates completed structure

The Project

Madoc working on the project’s walls.

I created the ground level using a mix of construction mortar and garden gravel. The upper level is constructed of green birch. I used greenwood, as it is likely that was the form used in period construction. As the wood shrinks, the joints tighten contributing to the stability of the structure. The corner joints are half-lap horizontal joins with vertical mortise and tenon posts. Each of the intermediate uprights is mortised into the horizontal beams. While the tenons were cut using a power tool, the mortises were done by drilling an initial hole with a bit and brace, and squaring the hole with a ¼-inch chisel. The documentation above shows that the tenons were pinned with wooden pegs. However, because of the scale of this model, I used metal pins instead.

Detail of the mortises

The half-timber fill is aggregated plaster over lath. One panel is lathed with woven willow twigs, as was common in period, to demonstrate the concept. Due to the thickness of the walls, the lath was applied in a series of three coats, allowing each application to completely dry and cure before applying the subsequent coat. Each layer was scored with a three-pronged stick to ensure that subsequent applications would adhere properly.

Wall detail

Soaking pit construction

The soaking pit is constructed of the same mortar and gravel mix as the ground floor wall. The interior of the pit is lined with clay to ensure that it is watertight. The fire pit and heat sink are constructed of clay lined with cut fire brick for safety. I needed the insulation the fire brick provides as protection from scorching that would otherwise be provided by lack of proximity in a full-size malt house. The chimney is constructed of baked clay. While the period examples I have found were constructed of brick, the size of the model precluded that option. Baked clay is a reasonable alternative to actual brick.

The following pictures show the construction of the fire pit and illustrate its use:

Fire pit floor and vent to heat sink in layout

Forming the fire pit cylinder








Fire pit and heat sink before encasing the pit

Heat venting into the heat sink





Flames from the fire pit come though the chimney – note the glow emanating from the stoke hole


Completed Project. Photo courtesy of Elska a Fjarfelli (Susan Verberg)


123RF – Royalty Free Digital Content (n.d.) Retrieved 30 January 2017, from http://it.123rf.com/photo_17688302_tradizionale-a-graticcio-case-strada-a-strasburgo-alsazia-francia-isolato-su-bianco.html

Adam, Jean-Pierre (1994). Roman building: materials and techniques. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.

Ailey, Chris (2004). “Bishop’s Stortford’s Malting Industry.” Bishop’s Stortford and Thorley: A History and Guide. Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.stortfordhistory.co.uk/guide10/malting-industry/

Blanck, Maggie (2005). “German House and Barns – Exteriors.” Retrieved 31 January 2017, from http://www.maggieblanck.com/Germany/Exteriors.html.

Cawley, Laurence (25 June 2008). “Medieval maltings found at famous brewer.” East Anglian Daily Times.

Clark, Christine (1998). The British Malting Industry Since 1830. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

Clements, Peter & Michael (n.d.) “House of the Opus Cracitium”, AD79: Destruction and Re-discovery. Retrieved 31 January 2017, from https://sites.google.com/site/ad79eruption/herculaneum-1/insula-iii-2/house-of-the-opus-craticium.

Craven, Jackie (2016). “What is ‘Half-Timbered’ Construction? Medieval Tree Houses Expose Their Timbers.” About Home. Retrieved 1 February 2017, from http://architecture.about.com/od/construction/g/halftimbered.htm.

Dineley, Merrin (13 September 2014). “Grain dryers, malt kilns & ‘malting ovens’.” Ancient Malt & Ale. Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://merryn.dineley.com/2014/09/

Dornbusch, Horst (1998). Prost! The Story of German Beer. Boulder: Brewers Publications.

Dornbusch, Horst (1 May 2004). “The World’s Oldest Malt and Brew House.” All About Beer, 25:2.

Duffy, P., Cobain, S. and Kavanagh, H. (2014). “From Skill to Skill: evidence for medieval brewing at Balbriggan.” Journal of Irish Archaeology, XXII: 59-76.

“Fancy a pint? Northampton’s first malting kiln.” Museum of London Archaeology (8 October 2015). Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.mola.org.uk/

Friedman, Donald (). The Investigation of Buildings. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Hagen, Karl (1995). “The Economics of Medieval English Brewing.” Unpublished. Presented at the 1995 conference of the Medieval Association of the Pacific. Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.polysyllabic.com/?q=medieval/brewing.

Harris, Richard (1993). Discovering Timber-framed Buildings (3rd ed.) London: Shire Publications.

Harrison, William (1577). A Description of England. London: Walter Scott.

“How Malt is Made” (2005). The Great Dunmow Maltings Preservation Trust. Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.greatdunmowmaltings.co.uk/

“How they tax common luxuries in England.” New York Times, 26 February 1865.

Howard, Wendy, Kirsten Bedigan, and Ben Jervis (2015). Food and Drink in Archaeology 4: University of Exeter Post-Graduate Conference 2010. London: Prospect Books.

Jackson, Allen W. (1912). The Half-Timber House: Its Origin, Design, Modern Plan, and Construction. New York: McBride, Nast & Company.

Kavanagh, H. and Bailey, F. (2010). Final Report of Archaeological Excavation of Development at Folkstown Great or Clonard, Area 2/3 08E054, Balbriggan, County Dublin. Unpublished final excavation report prepared for IAC Ltd.

Lomax, Scott C. (2013). Nottingham: The Buried Past of a Historic City Revealed. Barnsley: Pen and Sword.

“Medieval Malting Oven Unearthed in Northampton.” Archaeology News Network (23 August 2014). Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://archaeologynewsnetwork.blogspot.com/2014/08/

Mileto, C., F. Vegas, L. García Soriano, & V. Cristini (2014). Earthen Architecture: Past, Present and Future. Boca Raton: CRC Press.

Nicola (2012). “Beer Caves Redux.” Edible Geography. Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.ediblegeography.com/beer-caves-redux/

“Second medieval malting oven discovered in Northampton.” BBC News (10 September 2014).  Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-northamptonshire-29143708

Sygrave, Jon (2004). “From medieval malt house to 20th century pub: excavations at 9–11 Poplar High Street, London E14.” London Archaeologist, Spring 2004, pp. 215-222.

Trent & Peak Archaeology (2010). “Malt Kilns.” Nottingham Caves Survey, a project of the York Archaeological Trust. Retrieved 9 May 2016 from http://www.tparchaeology.co.uk/caves/caveswebsite/ce3/history.htm

Whitaker, Alan (2006). Brewers in Hertfordshire: A Historical Gazetteer. Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press.

World Heritage Encyclopedia (n.d.) Timber Framing. Retrieved 1 February 2017, from http://www.worldlibrary.org/articles/eng/Timber_framing.

Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Association (1900). The Yorkshire Archaeological Journal, Volume XV. Leeds: John Whitehead & Son.


[1] Dornbusch, 2004

[2] Duffy, Cobain, and Kavanagh, pp. 74-5

[3] Great Dunmow Maltings Preservation Trust

[4] Nicola

[5] Duffy, Cobain, and Kavanagh, pp. 63-4

[6] Commissioners of Inquiry, pp. 24-5

[7] Clark, p. 24

[8] The New York Times

[9] Whitaker, pg. 11

[10] Whitaker, pg. 12

[11] Yorkshire Archaeological and Topographical Society, pg. 396

[12] Hagen

[13] Great Dunmow Maltings Preservation Trust

[14] Nicola

[15] Museum of London Archaeology

[16] Great Dunmow Maltings Preservation Trust

[17] Sygrave, pp. 218-9

[18] Whitaker, pg. 12

[19] Commissioners of Inquiry, pg. 27

[20] Dornbusch, 2004

[21] Dineley

[22] Whitaker, pg. 12

[23] Dornbusch, 2004

[24] Lomax, chapter on Medieval Houses

[25] Clements

[26] Craven

[27] Blanck

[28] Friedman, pg. 59

[29] 123RF

[30] Mileto et al, pg. 141

[31] Jackson, pp. 13-14

[32] Jackson, pg. 14

[33] Master Eadweard Boisewright, “The half-lap with sill and a tenon into the half-lap joint.”

[34] World Heritage Encyclopedia

[35] Adams, pg. 239

Categories: SCA news sites

SCA Inc seeks candidates for Society Minister of Arts and Sciences

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2017-08-18 11:55

The Society for Creative Anachronism is seeking candidates for the position of Society Minister of Arts and Sciences (MOAS), which is a warranted 3-year term of service.
The Minister of Arts and Sciences is the officer responsible for reporting on the artistic programs of the SCA, fostering the study of medieval culture and technology, and for promoting methods for producing historically inspired artifacts and performances.

Duties and responsibilities include:
•       coordinating the efforts of kingdom officers in the field;
•       promoting the dissemination of accurate information;
•       responding to inquiries from the membership and artisans in a courteous and timely manner;
•       constructive problem solving;
•       ensuring accurate and consistent reporting from A&S officers to meet the SCA’s audited charitable reporting requirements;
•       reporting quarterly on the artistic programs of the SCA.
•       performing other duties assigned by the Board.

This is an unpaid position. Applicants should be paid members of the Society and able to travel to other kingdoms as approved by the board, and have easy access to phone, computer, mail and e-mail. Experience in both the practice and coordination of the Arts and Sciences as practiced in the SCA is strongly preferred.

Hard copies of résumés (both professional and SCA related, including offices held and honors) must be sent to the attention of ‘The Board of Directors’, SCA, Inc., P.O. Box 360789, Milpitas, CA 95036-0789. Electronic courtesy copies should also be sent to resumes at sca.org by October 1, 2017.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas,  CA 95036

You may also email comments@lists.sca.org.

This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism , Inc.  Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.

Filed under: Announcements, Corporate

Oldest surviving original picture of US President found

History Blog - Thu, 2017-08-17 22:54

A daguerreotype portrait of John Quincy Adams taken in March of 1843 by Philip Haas, the earliest surviving original photographic image of a US president, has been rediscovered after more than a century and a half of languishing in obscurity. It is going up for auction at Sotheby’s Photographs sale on October 5th in New York. This silver plate portrait has been in the family of Horace Everett, a congressman from Vermont who served in the House of Representatives from 1829 to 1843, since Adams gifted it to him in 1843, but the seller, a descendant who wishes to remain unnamed, thought it was a portrait of Horace Everett and had no idea that an object of national significance was stashed amidst his attic clutter.

Claims of historical precedence tend to come with caveats and asterisks, and it must be noted that the daguerreotype, a so-called half plate measuring about 5 inches by 4 inches, is not, technically, the earliest photographic image of an American president.

That honor, if few others, belongs to William Henry Harrison, who had his likeness taken in 1841, around the time of his inauguration. He died of an uncertain illness 32 days into his term, and the original daguerreotype is not known to survive, though the Metropolitan Museum of Art owns a copy, made by the Boston firm Southworth and Hawes around 1850. And Adams himself was first photographed in 1842, by the Boston photographer John Plumbe Jr., though the images appear to be lost.

With the earlier pictures surviving only in later reproductions, that makes this daguerreotype the oldest known original image of a US president. (Until someone reads the headlines, is inspired to dig through grandpa’s junk and finds the William Henry Harrison portrait.)

The son of second President of the United States John Adams and his redoubtable wife Abigail, John Quincy Adams ably filled his father’s very large footsteps, carving out an exceptional career as a diplomat and politician. He started out with a bang as a US Minister to the Netherlands under President George Washington. Other high ranking diplomatic posts followed, in between which he held his first high elected office as a Senator from Massachusetts (1803-1808). He was President James Monroe’s Secretary of State from 1817 to 1825 — it was Adams who actually crafted the Monroe Doctrine, not Monroe — and then succeeded him to the highest office in the land when he was elected the sixth President of the United States (1825-1829).

After his loss to Andrew Jackson in the 1829 presidential election, despondent by the ugliness of the campaign and devastated by the suicide of his son, Adams contemplated retirement. Within two years he was back in the public service game. John Adams had been a one-term president, after all, the first one. John Quincy was the second, so he was still very much following in his footsteps. Between 1831 and 1848 he was repeatedly elected to the US House of Representatives from Massachusetts.

Horace Everett’s time in Congress overlapped with John Quincy Adams’. The two men were politically aligned and personal friends. Everett happened to be at Haas’ studio when the former president sat for the portrait. Adams had interrupted Everett’s sitting, in fact, which is why Adams gave him the signed plate as a gift since he’d been witness to its conception and had graciously allowed him to cut the line.

A patchwork of labels on the back of the newly discovered daguerreotype, which is in a simple ebonized wood frame, attests to that personal connection. There’s a piece of brown paper, apparently clipped from an envelope, with “J.Q. Adams” in the return address space, in what appears to be the former president’s handwriting. “He had a distinctive way of making his H’s,” Ms. Bierman said.

There’s also a bookplate with the Everett family crest, on which someone else wrote “Presented by J.Q.A. to his Kinsman H.E. 1843,” and noted that it was said to be “one of the earliest daguerreotypes.”

That was a bit of an overstatement. Louis Daguerre released his process of fixing images onto metal plates in August of 1839 and American photographers were experimenting with his system within months.

It wasn’t even one of the earliest daguerreotype portraits. Hell, it wasn’t even one of earliest daguerreotype portraits Philip Haas made of John Quincy Adams. This plate was the product of Adams’ second portrait shoot with Philip Haas. The first one had taken place a week earlier. In his diary entry for March 8th, 1843, John Quincy Adams recorded with wonderment his impressions of the technology.

I walked this morning to Mr Haas’ shop, and he took from his camera obscura there Daguerrotype likeness of me. The operation is performed in half a minute, but is yet altogether incomprehensible to me. Mr Haas says it is a chemical process upon mercury, silver, gold and Iodine. It would seem as easy to stamp a fixed portrait from the reflection of a mirror; but how wonderful would that reflection itself be, if we were not familiarized to it from childhood.

He returned for a follow-up shoot on March 16th. From his diary entry from that day:

According to promises I walked up to Mr Haas’s shop about 9. my hands in woolen lined gloves bitterly pinched with cold. Found Horace Everett there for the same purpose of being facsimileed. Haas took him once, and then with his confront took me three times – the second of which he said was very good – for the operation is delicate: subject to many imperceptible accidents, and fails at least twice out of three times.

The daguerreotype is estimated to sell for $150,000–250,000, but it’s likely to go for much more than that due its illustrious subject, uniqueness and historical significance.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic: A&S War Point Competition

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-08-17 22:45

Master Cynwyl MacDaire’s Hand-carved horn with silver embellishment

By THL Elska á Fjárfelli (Susan Verberg)

Lord Otto Boese’s 13th century Magyar (Hungarian) archery kit. All photos by THL Elska.

For the Arts & Sciences portion of the Pennsic War Point this year, last year’s participant Mistress Fredeburg selected and organized this year’s contingent of Æthelmearc artisans.

Lady Shirin of Susa’s Canon page from the Armenian Gospels of Gladzor

As in previous years, each side could choose 12 entrants consisting of five Laurels and seven non-Laurels.

But this year, different from previous years, the item to be displayed could not have been entered in any previous A&S competitions, making this competition quite the last-minute challenge for our artisans.

Master Robert of Sugar Grove’s “bench for His Excellency”

To preserve anonymity performance entries were also not allowed, as were cooking entries for public health safety.

While in previous years only awarded artisans (Sycamore or higher) could vote, this year all Pennsic attendees could participate. Each person wishing to vote for their A&S Champions of choice would be given three beans to place in any of the entrants’ cups. At the end of the competitions the beans would be counted and scored for a winner-take-all for the 2 War Points.

Lord Hrólfr á Fjárfelli’s weaving broken diamond twill fabric to create a Viking-age apron dress

Although our side did not win, the results were very, very close with a difference of only 82 points from over a total of 1,800 votes cast. The quality of entries was incredible and I think our Æthelmearc artisans deserve a big thank you for giving it all they had!

Our artisans were:

  • Master Robert of Sugar Grove
  • Master Cynwyl MacDaire
  • Lord Hrólfr á Fjárfelli
  • Lord Otto Boese
  • Lady Shirin of Susa

Thank you Mistress Fredeburg for organizing such an amazing team, and thank you Lady Shirin for stepping in at the last minute when one of our allies had an artisan drop out.

Categories: SCA news sites

Information About Phishing from the Webminister

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-08-17 18:18
Greetings from Mael Eoin mac Echuid,  Interim EK ​Webminister

The webministry has had a report of a phishing attempt on a Kingdom officer this week, and figured it’d be a good time to remind all those who have an East Kingdom email address of the following:

No one in the East Kingdom Webministry will ever ask you for your password or *especially* not for other non-SCA personal information via email.  We never need your password from you; we can reset it for you if you need it, but we don’t ever need to _know_ your password for anything.  Anyone who asks for it is not representing the Kingdom or this office.

Here’s is an example email, broken down into pieces, with some hints and comments:

Subject: Scheduled Maintenance & Upgrade Date: 2017-08-14 14:28 From: Help Desk <jsmith@royalfair.org> To: <signet@eastkingdom.org> Reply-To: help.desk.team.center@tech-center.com First off, notice the “From” line.  jsmith@royalfair.org isn’t official, and nothing official would be coming from a personal email address.
All official correspondence – not just from our office, but all official emails – come from @eastkingdom.org addresses.  So if you don’t see @eastkingdom.org, don’t trust the email.

Your account is in the process of being upgraded to the newest Windows-based servers and an enhanced online email interface inline with internet infrastructure Maintenance. The new servers will provide better anti-spam and anti-virus functions, along with IMAP Support for mobile devices to enhance your usage. They throw jargon around here.  Some of it even makes sense, but the long and short of it is that if this were the Webministry, we would use more user-friendly language to explain what was going on. To ensure that your account is not disrupted but active during and after this upgrade, you are required to kindly confirm your account by stating the details below: * Domain\user name: * Password: No. Never.

We know your username and we don’t ever need your password.

Sincerely, Customer Care Team This is also a red flag. Whoever is sending the email will sign it with their SCA name and title/role in the Webministry.  You can look us up on the EK wiki, reach out to us on Facebook or via email, but you will _always_ have a name to associate with any email we send out. If you aren’t sure, forward the email to us with a note.  Don’t reply to the email, it’ll signal that they successfully reached a live account and they might keep trying.​

To sum it up:

    • ​ Phishing emails are passive attempts to   ​get access to your account for malicious purposes (hacking, spamming, etc.).
  • Sometimes they’re terribly obvious, sometimes they’re devious and seemingly on​-point.
  • Everyone gets these and everyone’s susceptible to believing them, sooner or later. Even experienced technical folks

Event Announcement: Artifacts of A Life

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-08-17 14:31

Another Pennsic War has come and gone, and now it’s time for the artisans of the East to focus on just one thing: entries for Artifacts of a Life!

Artifacts of a Life III will be held in the Barony Beyond the Mountain (New Britain, CT) on September 30, 2017. Artifacts is a different sort of arts competition: entries must be “themed” – the theme is things that would have been used/owned by a single individual sometime in period. Possibly they are the items that would have been left in a will, or even just the day to day paraphernalia of life. They do not have to be items owned by your persona, but they do have to be linked to one person in one time/place.

There are three categories: Typical, Elite, and Village. The Typical category must include 3 to 5 items from a single culture and time. The Elite category will include 6 to 9 items from a single culture and time. And for the communally ambitious, the Village category will allow you to work with others in a team to collaboratively create 6 to 9 items. To flog the horse, all of the items in an entry must be placed within a uniform time and culture.

And prizes! Did we mention the lovely prizes? As at the first two events, we will be bestowing hand-made wooden chests stuffed with materials to make the fingers of even hardened artisans twitch with avarice.

The event announcement is here. The event website, with information about the rules, and pre-registration is here. Please watch both spaces for updated information, as details about the event itself are always changing.

PLEASE NOTE: Entry in the competition REQUIRES pre-registration with Mistress Elizabeth Vynehorn (vynehorn (at) gmail.com) by September 23, 2017. Please see the contest rules at https://sca-artifactschallenge.blogspot.com/p/contest-rules.html for more information.
If you have not specifically notified her of your intention to compete, we will not be able to accept your entry. This is for the benefit of the contestants. Knowing at least roughly what you plan to enter allows us to recruit the best possible judges to give you the best possible feedback. Without pre-registration we will not have sufficient/appropriate judges.

Judges Needed
If you are available and interested in judging for Artifacts, please let us know. Recruiting judges is by far the most difficult aspect of the event, and if you can assist we would be most grateful. Please contact Mistress Elizabeth or Baron Jehan du Lac via the website or event announcement.
As a thank you to those who give of their time to judge, a hearty and delicious dayboard will be provided to judges at no cost.

Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Events, Uncategorized

An Interview with Prince Gareth and Princess Juliana

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2017-08-16 22:51

On September 16th in the Shire of Ballachlagan, Prince Gareth and Princess Juliana will be crowned King and Queen of Æthelmearc. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed the Prince and Princess to help you learn more about them and their plans for their upcoming reign.

Please tell us about Your personae.

Gareth: When I joined the SCA, I wanted to be a Scotsman of the 2nd Crusade, which was in the 12th century. That’s why I chose Gareth as my name. Since then, I’ve become interested in Roman history as well as early Greek history from around 400 BC.

Juliana: My name is 14th century English but shortly after I chose it I became interested in Viking culture. Because of Gareth, I  frequently wear Roman garb, but I’m not tied to any one time or place.

What do You do in the real world?

G: I’m a Methodist minister, which is why I sometimes have to leave events on Saturday night to be home in time to work on Sunday mornings.

J: I’m a high school science teacher, mostly teaching biology.

What sort of things have You done in the SCA?

G: I’ve been in the SCA for 21 years; Pennsic 46 was my 20th War. As many people know, I’m primarily an armorer, but I also enjoy woodworking, leatherworking, making jewelry, and doing scrolls including some in etched copper. I’m a heavy weapons marshal, former thrown weapons marshal, and recently I’ve been training to become a rapier marshal. I joined the SCA in Blackstone Mountain where I served as Knight Marshal before moving to Misty Highlands.

J: I’ve been in the SCA for 16 years. I received my Laurel in fiber arts, specifically Norse and brocade tablet weaving. My Fleur was for embroidery and Norse garb. I also enjoy making scrolls, though I think I’m a better illuminator than calligrapher. In addition, I’ve been a heavy fighter, a thrown weapons marshal, done combat archery, and autocrated events. Between us, Gareth and I have held most of the offices in our Shire of Misty Highlands over the years.

What are some of Your goals for Your reign?

We’d like to encourage the arts, which are really important to us. For example, we’ve been very impressed with the efforts of the artisans making us garb under the supervision of Mistress Elisabeth Johanna von Flossenberg. She’s gathered artisans from a variety of disciplines to make us multiple sets of clothing, and we plan to recognize their work by announcing their names in court at each event.

We’d also like to see more newcomer growth. We encourage people to help newcomers in as many ways as they can. Our household, Sable Maul, was built on new people, and we make a practice of providing the things they need, like garb and armor.

We would love to see as many people as possible to attend Gulf Wars. Gareth first attended Gulf Wars because King Henri gave an inspiring speech about the camaraderie and great deeds to be done there, and he’s been back most years since. Camping together at Gulf Wars with people from throughout Æthelmearc fostered a greater sense of unity and family than we get camping as separate shires, baronies, and households at events like Pennsic. In addition, the more people we bring to Gulf Wars, the more we build our Kingdom’s renown. Gulf Wars is very different from Pennsic. It feels more like a true medieval village, with a lot of permanent structures that help provide an immersive experience not only for the martially inclined, but also artisans and performers at the Green Dragon Inn, equestrian, falconry, and other cool things.

This year at Gulf Wars there will be a Crusader theme, which is right up Gareth’s alley. There will also be a Viking Deed battle with Danes vs. Saxons, like the Battle of Hastings at Pennsic, where Sir Marek will be the commander of the Danes. Fighters are requested to bring gifts; Gareth will be making arm rings to give away. Each participant is expected to bring “loot” in proportion to their rank, so we’ll need to have a lot of gifts. And of course it gives Gareth an excuse to make yet another new set of armor, not that he needs an excuse….

We also plan to travel extensively, though living on the southern edge of the Kingdom will make for some long trips. It’s about 12 hours from Misty Highlands to Coppertree, for example.

What would You like the populace to do to help You during Your reign?

Our website has information about the events we’re attending, and we welcome any type of assistance from the populace, most especially award recommendations.

We want people to think about the experienced SCA members who helped them when they first joined, and then “pay it forward” to new people joining now. The SCA can sometimes have too much headbutting and worrying over getting “cookies.” Let’s focus on having fun and helping each other. Being gracious to others is a gift you give yourself.


Categories: SCA news sites

Tudor palace remains found under Old Royal Naval College

History Blog - Wed, 2017-08-16 22:09

The remains of the Tudor-era palace have been discovered under the floor of the Painted Hall at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, England. The crew was working on an ambitious project to restore the King William Undercroft of the hall and reveal English Baroque architecture designed by Christopher Wren and Nicholas Hawksmoor that was covered up more than a hundred years ago when they found the remains of two rooms from Greenwich Palace. One has a rare surviving stretch of lead-glazed tile flooring.

Being set back from the river, these are likely to be from the service range, possibly where the kitchens, bakehouse, brewhouse and laundry were.

One of the rooms was clearly subterranean and contains a series of unusual niches, which archaeologists believe may be ‘bee boles’ for the keeping of skeps (hive baskets) during the winter months when the bee colonies are hibernating. Bee boles have occasionally been found in historic garden walls, but it is very rare to find them internally, making this find even more significant. The niches were probably used for keeping food and drink cool in the summer months when the skeps were outside.

The first palatial structure on the site was built by Humphrey, Duke of Gloucester, youngest son of Henry IV, brother of Henry V and uncle of Henry VI. Appointed Lord Protector upon his brother’s death, he largely ruled the country while his nephew was a small child and was even Regent, albeit a contested one, after the death of his elder brother. In 1433 he had a palace he named Bella Court built on the south bank of the Thames just downstream from London.

When he was accused of treason by his enemy, Queen Margaret of Anjou, and died in jail in 1447, she took Bella Court and renamed it the Palace of Placentia (from the Latin for pleasantness). From then on, it was the monarch’s playground and a highly popular one at that. Nestled in the bucolic splendor of Greenwich Park, it was a quick boat ride from Whitehall Palace and Hampton Court Palace, the primary London palaces of the Tudor monarchs. It offered all the clean air and verdant beauties of the country with all the advantages of easy proximity to the metropolitan heartbeat of London.

King Henry VII rebuilt and expanded the palace, and Henry VIII, never one to be outdone when it came to lavish spending on his personal luxuries, turned into one of the most glamorous palaces in the country, on a par with Hampton Court Palace. Henry VIII was born in the Palace of Placentia, so he had a particular affection for it. The future Queen Mary I was also born there. So was the future Queen Elizabeth I. Her mother Anne Boleyn was arrested there before being taken by barge to the Tower of London. Henry’s much longed-for but ultimately sickly and ineffectual male heir Edward VI died there.

Elizabeth I spent many a summer at Greenwich Palace and several events of momentous import in her reign took place there, including the parade of booty captured from the Spanish Armada, a performance by William Shakespeare, her knighting of Sir Francis Drake and, according to an almost certainly apocryphal tale, Sir Walter Raleigh’s chivalric act of covering a puddle with his cape so the Queen would not soil her dainty regal feet.

The Stuart monarchs weren’t as fond of Greenwich Palace as the Tudors had been, but it was still one of the most frequented palaces thanks to its prime location. Placentia was eclipsed when the Queen’s House was built nearby on the Greenwich Park grounds. Commissioned by Anne of Denmark, wife of King James I, Queen’s House was built between 1616 and 1635 by architect Inigo Jones, his first big royal job and the first palace built entirely in the classical style Jones would become famous for.

As with so many buildings associated with the British monarchy, aristocracy and church, the Palace of Placentia declined precipitously during the Civil War and Commonwealth. Cromwell tried to sell it at first, as he had sold off so many royal possessions. In 1652 the House of Commons authorized its sale to defray the Navy’s expenses. They ordered the palace, park and all associated lands be surveyed and their value assessed, but while the survey did take place, there is no record of the sale attempt going any further. Always practical minded, Cromwell converted the palace into a biscuit factory. Later he used it as a prisoner of war camp.

Come the Restoration in 1660, King Charles II decided to call time on the one glorious Palace of Placentia, by now so dilapidated it was beyond repair. He ordered it demolished and a new even grander palace built in its place. The expansive luxury compound he envisioned was never finished. His successors William and Mary had no interest in picking up where he left off. In 1685 they gave Charles’ unfinished nub of palace, a chunk of the grounds and other structures to Sir John Sommers with the intent that he use the estate to build the new Royal Hospital for Seamen, which he did.

And so Greenwich Palace became the Naval Hospital and then the Old Royal Naval College. When the restoration of the undercroft and elaborately painted ceiling after which the Painted Hall is named is complete in 2019, the hall will be the new visitor center for the Old Royal Naval College. The ORNC is hoping to include the newly discovered Tudor remains in the new visitor center, but that will require more money, and they’re still £2 million short of the total they need to complete the Painted Hall Project as it is. I’m sure they’ll find a way. How many more kings and queens had to have been born and died there before they can scrounge up the cash to preserve some of the only surviving remains of Greenwich Palace?

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Century-old fruitcake found in Antarctica

History Blog - Tue, 2017-08-15 22:41

Fruit cakes are famous for their longevity, mainly because they start off close to inedible so it takes years for them to cross the line into fully inedible. Conservators with the Antarctic Heritage Trust (AHT) have found a 106-year-old fruit cake in a 19th century hut on Cape Adare. It looks remarkably well-preserved, although none of the conservators have sampled the confection.

The hut is the oldest structure in Antarctica. The Borchgrevink huts are the only surviving first constructions by humans on a continent. It is one of two structures built by the Norwegian pioneer of polar exploration Carsten Borchgrevink in 1899 and used by later explorers. AHT experts believe the cake dates to the Terra Nova expedition (1910-1913), explorer Robert Falcon Scott’s calamitous final expedition to the South Pole. He and four others reached the South Pole on January 17th, 1912 only to find to their dismay that Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and his team had gotten there a month earlier on December 14th, 1911. Scott and his men died on the return voyage when their dog teams failed to meet them at the pre-determined rendezvous spot.

The fruitcake was made by the Huntley & Palmers company, purveyors of sweet treats since 1822, and Huntley & Palmers cakes are known to have been among the supplies for the Terra Nova expedition. Scott himself didn’t go to Cape Adare. It was First Officer Victor Campbell’s Northern Party who sheltered in Borchgrevink’s hut and used it to hold their stores in the summer and winter of 1911. When the party was picked up in January of 1912, they left tinned supplies behind.

The New Zealand-based Antarctic Heritage Trust began a project in May 2016 to recover and conserve all the artifacts in the Cape Adare huts before the huts themselves are conserved. Because the site is an Antarctic Specially Protected Area (ASPA), the objects will all be returned to their original locations after the conservation of the buildings is complete.

The complexity of the project and the short seasons of the polar environment required stringent deadlines for everything to get done on time. The team has conserved close to 1,500 artifacts between May of last year and July of this year. The fruit cake was one of the last ones and conservators had no idea what it was because the tin was so corroded the label and brand could not be identified. It was only when they opened the tin that they saw it was a Huntley & Palmers fruit cake still in its original paper wrapper.

Conservation treatment involved rust removal, chemical stabilisation and coating of the tin remnants. Deacidification of the tin label and some physical repair to the torn paper wrapper and tin label was also carried out. The cake itself was in excellent condition.

Programme Manager-Artefacts Lizzie Meek said “With just two weeks to go on the conservation of the Cape Adare artefacts, finding such a perfectly preserved fruitcake in amongst the last handful of unidentified and severely corroded tins was quite a surprise. It’s an ideal high-energy food for Antarctic conditions, and is still a favourite item on modern trips to the Ice.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Arts and Sciences Champions

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2017-08-15 13:25

The Gazette thanks the King’s Champion of Arts and Sciences, Lady Raziya bint Rusa, for this report.

The East Kingdom’s team of artisans displayed a wide array of fabulous skills at the Pennsic 46 Arts and Sciences War Point. Below, we are pleased to provide some highlights of their work.

A deliberately forged charter scroll for the College of Scribes of the East Kingdom, based on a 16th Century papal bull. Calligraphy and illumination by Duchess Thyra Eiriksdottir. The seal (not part of competition) was made by Master Aaron the Arrowsmith.

The reference document was a papal bull, and was chosen for its complexity and topic. The original has about 1850 words, and is the charter for St. Mary’s College. In addition to the reference material having clear parallels in use, the concept of a deliberate forgery is medieval.

Many medieval organizations would write up charters after they were established, because they needed a document to prove legitimacy. This was done despite the fact that the documents may not have been required when the organization was founded. The East Kingdom College of Scribes is in a similar situation, with no royal charter on record. This charter was not made to be an official charter, but instead to translate the concept of an official forgery to Society culture.

The charter itself is very similar to the original but not an exact copy. The scale is smaller because of the cost of parchment. The ink is walnut instead of black keeping with the ink of the original.

The text has undergone small changes in order to make the references to SCA culture, instead of the Roman Catholic Church. The beginning and ending lines have likewise been changed to note that the document is not official, and the date is written to society standards. Some of the changed lines now read (in translation): “By the order/request of the Signet, this document has absolutely no legal standing. In fact, this document should not be taken seriously.”

A lady’s red silk surcoat, circa 1350’s England. Dress created by Baroness Kathryn Fontayne.

This dress was made as an imitation of a wealthy noblewoman’s gown, and as such is fairly sumptuous. It is not as ornamented or as expensive as that of the queen. The garment is made of silk and linen and contains artificial pearls and metal accents.

The outer dress is red silk with white silk lining the tippets; linen lines the rest of the garment. The most expensive fabric is used on the most visible areas, and more utilitarian fabric is used elsewhere. This is an appropriate medieval practice that was deliberately duplicated here .

Internal non-visible seams were machine sewed to save time, due to time constraints. All visible seams were hand sewed, and can be seen in the felling of the body seams. The dress is covered in 36 “pearled” roses. Each rose took approximately a half hour to create.

16th century Italian reticello apron. Apron and lace by Lady Sofia Gianetta de Trieste.

The apron and samples of Reticello on display are based on 16th Century Italian lacemaking. This project was made more difficult to research because the all extant examples of the craft are later than 1600, despite confirmation that the craft occurred before 1600.

Reticello is the earliest documented form of needle lace. The process involves removing threads from the construction of the fabric and binding the remaining threads together into artistic patterns. The challenge arises from engineering the product to be both beautiful and structural.

The apron is made of 4.5 oz Barry weight weight linen with 60/2 linen thread for the lace. It has 23 2″ squares of reticello lace in a line through the lower part of the garment. Each square takes approximately 6-8 hours of work. Not including the sewing, or practive, this accounts for 138-184 hours of labor. There should be three additional vertical lines of lace on the apron to be more accurate to Italian aesthetics. The lacing was limited due to time constraints.

Viking silver spiral armring, Smithing by Duke Kenric aet Essex

This piece is made as a copy of an extant silver example from a Swedish museum. The armring was for a woman and likely dated to the 8th century.

The ring was constructed carefully because, due to cost of materials, there would not be an opportunity for a second chance at making the armring. 30″ (8.5 oz) of sterling silver bar were required to make the piece. Sterling was used instead of pure silver, because medieval silver was not very pure.

Practice for the final work was done in copper, although copper has significantly different properties when working. Silver melts quickly – a property which almost resulted in the loss of the piece.

The piece required forming by hammer, annealing, twisting, polishing, and stamping. The stamping was made with a tool that had two triangular shapes on it. The squares on the final product are the negative space left over between the stamped impressions.

Laurel headdress in the style of the 14th century. Metalwork by Master Stefan of Silverforge.

The laurel wreath was created in the style of wreaths seen in illustrations in the 14th Century. No surviving laurel wreaths from that time have been found, but older Greek and Roman versions exist. Given the context of one illustration – gold leaves, the brittle nature of real laurel, and the presence of the leaves upon an emperor – the assumption is that the illustration depicts a metal, rather than a real wreath made of the laurel plant.

The wreath was made of brass rather than gold, due to finanical concerns. Sheets of brass were soldered to wire in pairs; each pair was then attached to a spine. The brass pieces were so thin that several wore through during construction and had to be remade. Embossing veins on the leaves was done with fingernail and blunt pencil.

In period this kind of work would have been done with an alcohol blow lamp; this piece was made with a propane plumbers torch. A mix of ash, sand, and pumice in a matrix of wax and oil would have been used to clean up the marking and flux from construction. It would have been manipulated with sticks when applied to the metal; in this case a modern dremel with scouring pads was used because of time constraints.

NB: All photographs of the exhibition graciously provided by Mistress Anastasia Gutane.

Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Pennsic