Feed aggregator

Spring Crown Tourney: Duke Sven Defeats Sir Murdoch

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-13 14:09

Duke Sven has advanced to the finals.

Categories: SCA news sites

Spring Crown Final 4

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-13 13:59

AEthelmearc Crown Tourney finalists are, from the winners’ list:

  • Duke Sven Gunnarsson
  • Sir Gareth Kincaid

And from the losers’ list:

  • Duke Marcus Eisenwald
  • Sir Murdoch Bayne

Categories: SCA news sites

Spring Crown Tourney Round 4 Complete

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-13 13:50


Sir Murdoch defeats Sir Finn.



Sir Hauoc defeats Baroness Beatrix.



Categories: SCA news sites

Spring Crown Round 3

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-13 13:33

Round 3 is complete.

Reporting courtesy of Mistress Arianna.

Categories: SCA news sites

Spring Crown Round 2

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-13 13:10

Round 2 is now complete.

Reporting and photo courtesy of Mistress Arianna.

Categories: SCA news sites

Spring Crown Live Feed I

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-13 13:03

Courtesy of Mistress Arianna, the Gazette today brings you continual updates of Spring Crown 2017.

Follow her continual postings here today: https://aethelmearcgazette.com/2017/05/13/crown-tourney-has-begun/

Their Majesties Gabrielle and Timothy

Countess Ariella and Count Byron enter Crown, each fighting for each other.

As of noon, Procession ended and challenging began.


Their Majesties inducted Arden Scot into the Gage during the procession.


All photos courtesy of Master Alaxandair O’Conchobhair

Categories: SCA news sites

Spring Crown Tourney has begun

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-05-13 12:58

Arianna of Wynthrope reporting from Æthelmearc Crown Tournament in Sylvan Glen.

26 combatants processed before Their Majesties as aspirants to the Sylvan Thrones. During the procession, Their Majesties paused to admit Lord Arden Scot of Clan Scot to the Order of the Gage, then the tourney began with Salvidore Moro de Medici, last in precedence, challenging Duke Sven Gunnarsson, first in precedence.

The first round has now been completed with the tourney tree showing the results below:

Categories: SCA news sites

Unknown Caxton leaf found in university archive

History Blog - Fri, 2017-05-12 21:47

A two-sided page from a 15th century priest handbook printed by William Caxton has been discovered in archives of the University of Reading. Written in Medieval Latin, the leaf was part of a book called the Sarum Ordinal or Sarum Pye, a manual for priests on managing feast days for English saints during the ecclesiastical year. It was printed by William Caxton in his shop, the Red Pale, in late 1476 or early 1477 and was one of the first books printed in England. The University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library has a notice from Caxton’s shop promoting the manual which is the earliest surviving printed advertisement in English publishing history.

One of only two known surviving fragments from this enormously significant edition in the history of English publishing, the leaf is in very good condition even though it hasn’t exactly been treated with kid gloves over the years. For three centuries it was glued into the spine of another book to reinforce the binding. It was saved from that ignominy by a University of Cambridge librarian in 1820 who put it in a scrapbook along with other fragments rescued from bindings, but not even he recognized it as an original Caxton page.

University of Reading Special Collections librarian Erika Delbecque, on the other hand, knew right away she had struck gold.

“I suspected it was special as soon as I saw it. The trademark blackletter typeface, layout and red paragraph marks indicate it is very early western European printing. It is incredibly rare to find an unknown Caxton leaf, and astonishing that it has been under our noses for so long.”

The pages are part of the John and Griselda Lewis Collection. John Lewis was a typographer and pioneering scholar in the field of printed ephemera. Griselda was a writer. Between them, they amassed a collection of more than 20,000 items pertaining to the history of printing. The University bought the John Lewis Printing Collection at auction in 1997 for £70,000 ($90,000), with the aid of a £60,000 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The collection is stored in 87 boxes at the University of Reading’s Centre for Ephemera Studies in the Department of Typography & Graphic Communication.

The collection is still in the process of being catalogued, which is what Erika Delbecque was doing when she came across the Caxton leaf.

Copies of the Sarum Ordinal were produced in Westminster, before the Reformation, and consisted of around 160 leaves. The text was originally established as a manuscript by St Osmund, the Bishop of Salisbury, in the 11th century. It would have been owned by clergymen and consulted on a regular basis, but was discarded after the Reformation.

Only one other surviving fragment of the book exists, consisting of eight double-sided leaves, which are held at the British Library in London.

The University of Reading’s leaf is from a different part of the book than the British Library’s pages, so it is unique.

The Caxton leaf is on display at the University’s Special Collections department at the Museum of English Rural Life on London Road through the end of the month. Admission is free.


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Ammonite’s epic final drag mark immortalized

History Blog - Thu, 2017-05-11 23:51

Every once in a great while, a track or drag mark left by a long-dead animal is discovered in the fossil record. The most commonly found ones are known as mortichnia and are the traces of arthropods, bivalves, fish and other animals left just before their death. The longest mortichnial trackway recorded is 9.7 meters (32 feet) long and was left by a horseshoe crab in the Upper Jurassic Solnhofen Lithographic Limestone near Wintershof, Germany. (Solnhofen limestones are among the richest sources of fossilized tracks and drag marks in the world.)

Finding both a fossilized drag mark and the fossil of the creature that left it is exceptionally rare. An ammonite fossil discovered in the late 1990s in the Upper Jurassic limestone of a quarry near the village Solnhofen in Bavaria put even the rarest of its brethren to shame by leaving a fossilized drag mark an unheard of 8.5 meters (28 feet) long. All the examples of ammonite drag marks found before this one were less than one meter in length.

The ammonite in question (Subplanites rueppellianus) was dead and drifting when it left its final testament: multiple continuous parallel lines dug into the sediment of what was then the sea floor by the ribs of the shell. At first glance, it’s not a terribly impressive specimen. A sub-adult male, it’s comparatively small at 114 x 101 mm (4.5 x 4 inches) and poorly preserved. It was damaged when it was collected; there’s a crack running through it, and a separate fragment was reattached during restoration.

The little guy’s drag mark, on the other hand, is in excellent condition. It was recovered in multiple pieces and put back together. Its dramatic length isn’t even complete, because the spot where the ammonite first began to drag along the sediment did not survive. Based on the depth of the furrows, researchers believe the ammonite started off buoyant courtesy of the gases in its shell generated by the decay of the dead animal. The drag marks start off light, then get deeper as the gases wear off and the ammonite shell drops lower onto the top layer of carbonate mud substrate.

The preserved start begins with two prominent ridges, with a single furrow. Here, the mark width measures 5.7 mm. From this point, the drag mark width was measured at approximately every 50 cm (Table 1). At one metre, additional ridges created by the ribs of the ammonite appear in the substrate, but they are faint and poorly preserved. Noticeably, at 1.7 m, an additional three ridges are present but disappear again.

Four ridges appear consistently from around 2 m (Fig 1), until about 6.5 m, where five prominent ridges appear. At approximately 7.5 m, only four prominent ridges can be seen, but beyond this point the drag mark preserves five very prominent ridges. It is not until the drag mark is nearly terminating, at 30 cm anterior to the ammonite, where six ridges are present and prominent. At 3 cm from the ammonite, the number of ridges increases to 11, showing that more of the ammonite is clearly in contact with the substrate (Fig 3). Here, the orientation of the ridges turns from being parallel to the long axis of the specimen to almost perpendicular to it, and increase in number to 18. Here, the ridges and furrows in the substrate mirror the spacing of the ammonite ribs that are well preserved, indicative of a touch down mark (Fig 3).

The shell was likely bounced along the substrate by currents and waves, not by another animal. The exceptional length of this drag mark indicates a very stable, calm current that was steady enough to keep the ammonite shell moving without tumbling or excessive rotating while not disturbing the sediment on the sea floor.

A digital model of the full surviving drag mark has been created using photogrammetry, a high-resolution composite generated from 645 photographs. And thus the ammonite with his epic drag mark, already preserved by fossilization, achieves digital immortality as well.


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

2017 Battle of the Nations – Barcelona ~ Así es la vida

PainBank - Thu, 2017-05-11 21:51
La Monumental

As I sit here on the plane and reflect on my 6th year of campaigning in Europe at medieval tournaments, I ponder where to next and how shall I commit.  I am over traveling alone.  I have not the drive to do it myself any more.  Having someone with you to just talk with, assist you when confused on how things should work in an unknown place or even to decide on where to eat is an immeasurable bonus and happiness.  Then there is the question of what happens should you get hurt, who can assist you with the heavy stuff and getting to the airport or perhaps even home from the hospital?  These are the things to consider, which you might not even think of, until it is too late.

Trying to travel with armor sucks.  How do you pack? Where does it all go?  This makes things very difficult. What if you have a pole ax or halberd?  What is the length of the poles?  Can you buy a pole to put it on at the site?  Or do you get (my current usage) a snowboard bag and attach then axe head on site?  Then can you get it off, should you need to, for getting it home?  Is it now long enough to compete properly, 6.5 foot or 7 foot?  Of course, there is always the questions that occur from the airlines when you check it in!  What is this?  Sports equipment… then there is some waving of hands and attempts to explain it to them.  Of course, there is always questions, but usually they let you go.  I also pack in about 1/3 of my armor in the snowboard bag as well.  Of course, that is now two bags, so there is a cost to take it over, then one to bring it back.  So now you are looking at about a $200 extra cost for flying and returning. 

Then there are the emotions.  What is the greatest about fighting is also the worse.  The highs are followed by lows to the same degree.  Expectations, anticipations and preparations, which having lead one to the tournament, build you up to a climax that is an amazing experience.  This is something that is slightly different for every person and every tournament.  It is part of the sport and I am yet unsure how to suggest one cope with it.  Ride the emotional wave and enjoy life.

Then there is the fighting.  Every tournament except Battle of the Nations (BotN) seems to be pretty lax on armor and weapons requirements.  (I’m not sure about Dynamo Cup) And weapons for that matter, although they still check those out pretty well.  The actually marshaling to address safety concerns seems to be at a fairly high level all around.  There always seems to be some kind of issue that gets raised or set of issues at and I suppose there always will be until the sport matures to a professional degree.  Something like where you check in/out your arms and/or armor or some such.  But the logistics of that is pretty significant.  They were up to the old ways of running things some.  late rule changes, odd enforcements both in the list and out of the list for registration.  There are definitely some improvements to be made, but overall it is getting better a little by a little.  My #1 suggestion to improve this is for them to schedule things more sooner and to let teams supply volunteers to join in in making some of the stuff happen.

I would say one the biggest disappointment I have seen from BotN is the lake of catering to the fans or new fans of the sport.  They price the event out of the range of average folks that want to enjoy the show.  They could have probably filled 10k+ fans into the arena in Barcelona, however, by charging 30 euro per session or half day, per person, that made it 60 euros for someone to watch just one day of action.  Yup, not many families or other coming out.  What is the right price, maybe 20 euro for the day.  In Belmonte, the price being 30 euros kept the crowd pretty low, compared to the IMCF championship where the price was like 10-20 euro for the day, which had a huge crowd.  Until this sport is completely filling arenas, we should be keeping those ticket prices good for all.   

Barcelona was a wonderful city to visit, which I wish I had more time to explore.  Maybe one day I’ll return just to enjoy the city.  Walking through the gothic quarter it was easy to image what walking through Diagon Alley in Harry Potter might have felt like or perhaps walking through Waterdeep.  I’ll be back, but not sure how much I want to go to Battle of Nations again verse attending other potential tournaments, as there could be a lot of fun at smaller ones as well.  It all depends upon where my travel companions wish to go and have fun at.  Look for me in the list though as I will be there again.  I’m also leaning toward doing more singles fights too.  Hell, I’ll fight in as much as I can.

Categories: SCA news sites

Wilhelm’s Hastilude & Demo III Canceled – no rescheduled date

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2017-05-11 16:34

Due to a powerful nor’easter predicted for this weekend, it is with much regret that we announce the cancellation of Sir Wilhelm’s Hastilude & Demo III.

Unfortunately, there is no raindate, but we hope to have it again next year.

If you know someone who was planning to come, please pass this cancellation around. Thank you.

~ Vienna & Wilhelm, autocrats

Filed under: Announcements, Events, Local Groups Tagged: event, event announcement, event canceled, events

Girl found in coffin under San Francisco home identified

History Blog - Wed, 2017-05-10 23:26

Last year, construction workers digging underneath a garage in San Francisco unearthed a child’s coffin. The bronze casket was three-and-a-half feet long and had two leaded glass windows, a popular design in the Victorian era for those who could afford it. Through the windows the well-preserved body of a little girl could be seen. She was wearing a white lace christening dress and ankle high shoes. She was also wearing a long necklace and holding a single flower which was at first believed to be a rose, but later found to be a purple nightshade flower. Little purple flowers had been woven into her hair and roses, baby’s breath and eucalyptus leaves were placed around her body.

The find was poignant, but not surprising. The home is in the Richmond District, which in the 19th century was the site of multiple cemeteries. When the real estate value of the district outpaced its value as a (not so) eternal resting place in the early 20th century, San Francisco evicted the underground tenants from Richmond and almost every other cemetery within city limits, leaving only two cemeteries of 26 intact. The city claimed this mass exhumation was necessary to prevent the spread of disease, but nobody was fooled. The remains of about 300,000 people were exhumed and reburied south of the city in Colma, which a decade later would be officially founded by cemetery owners as a necropolis that would never be subject to the political considerations that had spurred the liquidation of San Francisco’s graveyards. The little girl was one of 26,000 people buried in the Odd Fellow’s Cemetery, most of whom were moved to Colma’s Greenlawn Memorial Park in around 1920.

The medical examiner’s office examined the body in situ, but told homeowner Ericka Karner that it was entirely her responsibility to see to its disposition because the child was found on her property. She looked into reburial options, but the most modest estimate was $7,000. The priciest quote was $22,000. Meanwhile, the casket had been unsealed during the examination and the remains of the child, whom she named Miranda Eve, were beginning to deteriorate.

With the body of a little girl decaying in her backyard, Karner called City Hall. They wouldn’t take responsibility for the remains their predecessors had so half-assedly overlooked either, but they did put her in touch with the Garden of Innocence, a non-profit organization that arranges dignified burials for unknown or abandoned children. Elissa Davey, genealogist and founder of Garden of Innocence, raised money and arranged donations for the reburial. A month after she was found, Miranda Eve was reburied in a donated plot in Greenlawn Memorial Park. She was placed in her original bronze coffin, and it was placed inside a new wood casket inspired by the two-window design of the original.

Davey didn’t stop there. She wanted to give Miranda Eve her identity back. The task was monumental. First they were able to discover the manufacturer of the coffin: N. Gray & Co. Undertakers. Then they found a map of the Old Fellow’s Cemetery which they compared with modern street and other maps to pinpoint the location of the burial. It took more than 1,000 hours of research and a year of assiduous work, but the Garden of Innocence team was finally able to discover Miranda Eve’s real name. She was Edith Howard Cook, daughter of Horatio Nelson and Edith Scooffy Cook, who died on October 13th, 1876, when she was less than two months short of her third birthday.

Funeral home records show Edith died from marasmus, or severe undernourishment. It’s not clear what caused the illness, but in late 1800s urban living could have led to an infectious disease, the nonprofit said.

Information released Tuesday reveals that Edith was born into two prominent families in the world of commerce and society. Her mother was born into a San Francisco pioneer family, as her father Peter Scooffy was an original member of the Society of California Pioneers.

Horatio Cook and Edith Scooffy married in 1870 and baby Edith’s father tanned hides and manufactured leather belts. He also served as Consul for Greece.

After her death at a young age, Edith’s parents had another daughter, Ethel Cook, who was declared by a Russian nobleman as the most beautiful woman in America, the nonprofit reported.

Her identity was confirmed by DNA which was a match with the DNA of Edith’s grand-nephew Peter Cook. The headstone of “Miranda Eve” was left blank on the back so they could engrave her real name on it, should it ever be found. Now that it has, Edith Howard Cook will have her name on her headstone again.

The Garden of Innocence website has uploaded a detailed report of the discovery, reburial and their exceptional research on their website.


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Peerage Committee – Call for Commentary

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-05-10 17:30

At the April meeting the Board of Directors established a committee to research the process of creating new Peerages.

The committee will review the Board’s present procedure, determine whether any changes are needed, and suggest how any future proposals, e.g. Valiance, will be accommodated.

The committee invites the membership to share their ideas and comments. Those letters can be submitted by email to peerage@sca.org.

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 Tagged: 5th peerage, board committees, board of directors, call for comments, fifth peerage, peerages, sca announcements, sca corporate, sca inc

King & Queen Rattan Champions Tourney Format / Format du Championnat de combat en armure du Roi et de la Reine

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-05-10 15:21

En français

On June 3rd, AS 52 the Barony of Bhakail will host the King & Queen’s Rattan Champions Tourney. The format will be as follows.

Pre-16 Round:
All combatants will be split into buckets and will fight round robin with any weapons form they choose, the top scoring combatant(s) will advance from each bucket into the Round of 16.

Round of 16:
A double elimination list will be fought with pairings based on points earned in the Pre-16 Round.

The winners list will be restricted to Great Weapons ONLY: Dane Axes, Great Swords, Dire Mauls, etc; specifically weapons between 4 ft and 6 1/2 ft wielded with 2 hands. Weapons need not be matched exactly.

Once a combatant loses a bout they may switch to any form of their choice.

Round of 4:
Once 4 combatants remain they will fight best of 3 bouts with matched forms.The combatant from the winners list starts with one win. Combatants will alternate form selection.

All Loses are forgiven and the combatants will fight best of 5 bouts with matched form. selection of forms will alternate between the combatants.

Sir Gelleys Jaffery
Kings Champion of Arms

En français
Traduction: Behi Kirsa Oyutai

Le 3 juin, AS 52 en la Baronnie de Bhakail, se tiendra le Championnat de combat en armure du Roi et de la Reine. Le format sera comme suit:

Avant les 16 finalistes: Tous les combattants seront séparés en groupes et feront un tournoi à la ronde avec leur choix d’armes. Les meilleurs combattants de chaque groupe avanceront à la prochaine étape.

Ronde des 16: Une double élimination sera tenue, avec des paires basées sur les points accumulés dans la ronde précédente.

La liste des gagnants sera restreinte aux grandes armes SEULEMENT: Hache Danoises, Épées à deux mains, Grandes Masses d’armes, etc; spécifiquement des armes entre 4 et 6 1/2 pieds, utilisées à deux mains. Les combats ne se doivent pas d’être à armes égales.

Une fois qu’un combattant présente une défaite, il peut alors choisir de se battre avec les armes de son choix.

Ronde de demi-finale: Une fois qu’il restera seulement 4 combattants, ceux-ci combattront dans un meilleur de 3 à armes égales. Le combattant provenant de la liste des gagnants commence avec une victoire.

Finale: Toutes les défaites sont pardonnées et les combattants combattront dans un meilleur de 5 à armes égales. Le choix des armes alternera entre les combattants.

Sir Gelleys Jaffery,
Champion d’Armes du Roi

Filed under: Announcements, En français Tagged: champions, heavy list, Kings and Queens Champions

Mongoose on a leash identified in Middle Kingdom tomb

History Blog - Tue, 2017-05-09 23:30

The Egyptian mongoose (Herpestes ichneumon) was one of the many animals in the Egyptian bestiary that figures in tomb decorations going back to the Old Kingdom. They were depicted mainly in hunting scenes, stalking their prey in the swampy riverlands, climbing a papyrus stalk to snatch hatchlings from a nest, feasting on a fish in the rushes, even attacking a goose mid-flight.

They are easily recognizable in this context and from the animal’s characteristic features — short legs, long tail, long body, short snout and small ears — but divorced from its natural setting, one depiction of a mongoose has been the subject of debate for more than a century. A new field study of wall paintings in the cemetery of Beni Hassan has identified an Egyptian mongoose being led on a leash in the 11th Dynasty tomb of Baqet I (Tomb 29). This is the only known depiction of a mongoose on a leash in ancient Egyptian art.

Beni Hassan is a Middle Kingdom (21st to 17th centuries B.C.) cemetery about 12 miles south of the modern city of Minya in Middle Egypt. There are almost a thousand rock-cut and shaft tombs in the cemetery. The rock-cut tombs are carved into the limestone cliff face that overlooks the lower part of the cemetery where the shaft tombs are located. The elite, mainly hereditary nomarchs (regional governors) were buried in the upper cemetery, their rock-cut tombs elaborately decorated with animals and scenes from daily life (wrestling, chipping flint tools, spinning, playing music, pot making, smelting, feeding oryxes).

Several of the decorated tombs were documented by Egyptologists in the 19th century, including luminaries of the field like Jean-François Champollion and, most notably, Scottish pioneer Robert Hay, who undertook the first exceptionally thorough project to illustrate, trace and draw every ancient Egyptian tomb and temple he encountered in the 1820s and 30s. By the time of British Egyptologist Percy Newberry’s expedition to Beni Hassan in 1890, the paintings in one of the tombs Hay had documented (Tomb 3) were so faded and damaged that Newberry had to rely on Hay’s 60-year-old work in his own publications. Newberry’s team made important new tomb discoveries and meticulously illustrated every painting found, tracing them in full-size or drawing them from life. One of the draughtsmen on that team was a young Howard Carter. Newberry would be part of his team 30 years later when Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Newberry noted the unusual image of the leashed animal in his reports, suggesting it might be a mongoose, but other scholars disagreed with his identification. The Egyptian Antiquities Ministry team has recently conserved and cleaned the Beni Hassan tombs, and Professor Linda Evans of Macquarie University in Australia has surveyed the refreshed paintings using the latest technology.

The conservation and recording has “revealed many scenes not found in Newberry’s reports,” wrote Evans. In addition, the new work has identified creatures in the drawings that Newberry had been uncertain about. [...]

Evans’ team determined that the animal is “morphologically identical” to the Egyptian mongoose, wrote Evans, noting that the animal is also clearly depicted on a leash. “The animal clearly sports a gray collar that tapers to join a long, gray leash, which is held in the left hand of a bearer, who also holds the leash of a spotted hunting dog situated below the mongoose,” Evans said. [...]

“While mongooses have never been fully domesticated — that is, subjected to controlled breeding — some cultures have chosen to keep the animals as pets in order to control unwanted pests, such as snakes, rats and mice,” Evans wrote.

Evans speculates that the mongoose could have been used the way some bird dogs are used today, to scare birds out of the bush so hunters can have at them. That’s one possibility, but there’s no reason they couldn’t have been used to stalk and catch prey as well.

My grandmother told me that her mother, my very formidable great-grandmother who was reputedly a crack shot, used to hunt rabbits with ferrets. Their long, tubular bodies easily fit into warrens, and they had an implacable drive to get to the other side of whatever tunnel they were in and to kill whatever might be in their way. They’d clear a warren in no time, keeping the rabbit population under control and providing the family with much-needed food.

I had pet ferrets at the time, which is what inspired the story-telling, and according to my grandmother they bore only superficial resemblance to the ones my great-grandmother used for ferreting. The hunters were much larger and much, much meaner. My guys were sweet and cute and funny with the vestiges of that powerful prey drive turned into quirky, charming behaviors like stealing keys out of guest’s purses and hiding them under the bed. That’s because they were fully domesticated, bearing as much relation to their wild cousins as that tabbycat on your lap does to a serval. Maybe the ancient Egyptians went mongoosing just like my great-grandmother went ferreting. (People still use ferrets to hunt today, btw, especially in the UK.)


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Dead Men Walking

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-05-09 20:46

Apotropaic Burials Display

The following article Dead Men Walking – an Overview and Reconstructions of Apotropaic Burials was written by Lady Luceta di Cosimo. Her research was recently displayed at several A&S competitions including the Ice Dragon Pent and the A&S Faire.


We can say with absolute certainty that everyone who ever lived during the SCA period of study has died, and their body was buried or otherwise disposed of in some way. The way it was done reflected on their contemporaries’ attitude towards death, afterlife, religious belief or lack thereof, and now provides an interesting insight into their beliefs in general, and, in some cases, their definition of humanity.

For the most part, it was “business as usual”; the dead were accorded their rites, which varied greatly between times and places, and the living moved on. However, in a persistent minority of cases, the neat model of “dead and gone” broke down. A portion of the dead was feared as a potential threat to the living. Specifically, throughout Medieval Europe, from the fall of the Roman Empire to late Renaissance, there was a persistent belief that some dead will come back and will harm or kill their survivors. These dead were treated differently, and their burials reflect the preventive measures the living took to decrease the probability of their post-mortem return. These are known as apotropaic measures, and the dead coming back to life were referred to as the revenants. A burial which shows that these measures were employed is called an apotropaic burial.

In period, fear of the walking dead was common and persistent. The accounts of the revenants come to us preserved in legends, but they can also be found in accounts of the lives of saints, ecclesiastical writings, sagas, and chronicles. We are still fascinated with the concept of the reanimated dead, judging by popularity of the shows such as “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, “The Walking Dead”, and numerous remakes of “Dracula.”

From watching all these movies, we are very familiar with dealing with vampires and zombies – our versions of the medieval revenants. All of us can name a few vampire slaying techniques, such as staking or decapitation. Interestingly, these have not changed all that much, and many were used to deal with period revenants. However, what was also done frequently was to employ preventive measures, designed to prevent a suspicious corpse from rising as a revenant, rather than hunting it down and destroying it later.

Apotropaic measure of decapitation. Source – “Vampire Graves in Poland Where Skeletons Were Buried with Skulls between Their Legs,” 2013 article from Daily Mail

As such, the corpses considered at risk for returning from the dead were buried differently from their normal mortal counterparts. These measures, called apotropaic measures, were thought to prevent or decrease the probability that a body would rise after death.

Who was at risk? The were four possible life outcomes: one could have lived a good life and died a good death; lived a bad life and died a bad death; lived a good life and died a bad death; or lived a bad life, and died a good death. Those living a good life and dying a good death were safe from post-mortem wanderings. Anyone else could rise after death and bother the living.

People who lived a bad life and died a bad death were the most obvious suspects. These included criminals, especially executed criminals, and a lot of burials with apotropaic measures are from early period execution cemeteries[1]. Sacrificial victims fell into the same category (and there is an overlap between criminals and sacrifices).

However, victims of accidents, epidemics, unexplained death, excommunicates, and people dying without proper last rites (people who had a good life and had a bad death) were also at risk.

People who lived non-normative lives, different in sexual orientation, religious affiliation, and such (considered to have lead bad lives, though may have died a good death), were also suspects.

Not all potential revenants were social outcasts. Sometimes respected members of the community were buried in a regular cemetery with proper respect, but still treated as a potential revenant.[2]

The apotropaic measures themselves were very similar to the techniques used to slay the revenants but were employed preventatively. Researchers seem to agree that these rites reflected the living’s attitude towards the dead and were designed to render the suspicious corpses “safe.”[3]

By making these models, I hoped to make it easier to understand variations on period funerary rites, which were employed on potential revenant corpses.

How I Did This 

I have narrowed down the apotropaic measures to the most commonly employed. I made a conscious decision to limit these to the treatment of the corpse itself and decided not to delve into magical apotropaics, such as spells, special prayers, or rituals which may have been used in conjunction with these burials. These are ephemeral, and leave no material traces. I have also stayed away from apotropaic grave goods. These were many, varied greatly through time and place, and left a material, though incomplete archeological record. If these were made from material other than metal, bone, or pottery, they have decayed. I have however included items interacting with the corpse itself, such as stakes or stones.

I researched available literature, including but not limited to, news releases, archeological surveys, books, etc., and accumulated a number of images of the apotropaic burials.

I have narrowed these to the representative burials, which demonstrate one or more apotropaic measures. In some cases, I have an incomplete record, such as only a detailed description of the burial from an article, or a partial burial picture. In these cases, I have used the evidence from similar burials to reconstruct the rest of the body.

Materials and Methods

Due to numerous ethical, legal, sanitary, and financial constraints, no period materials or methods were used in the recreation of the burials.

I have written a short summary for each type of burial, and given some theories behind the method used and period examples. I also made a display illustrating common apotropaic burial methods. I used the images of the excavated apotropaic burials I found during my research as well as period depictions of revenants and malevolent dead from period sources, mostly from various books of hours, the stories of the three living and the three dead, and dance macabre engravings.

I used Halloween skeleton garlands which I bought at RiteAid, self-drying terracotta clay I got on Amazon, aquarium pebbles, small stones from my back yard, toothpicks, and heavy duty tinfoil. I modified the skeletons according to the treatment of the corpses in the period burial, and arranged them on rolled out clay tablets, to simulate an appearance of the skeleton in situ. Then, if there were other objects, such as stakes, stones, etc., these were also placed according to the records. I let the clay dry, and then glued the skeletons and objects in place using Well-Bond glue.

Apotropaic Measures 


There is a significant overlap between apotropaic and judicial (punitive) decapitation, just as there is significant overlap between executed criminals and potential revenants. However, the ‘safe’ decapitated corpses would be buried with the head in anatomic position, while the dangerous ones would have it placed elsewhere, or buried without the head.[4]. In England, decapitations appear in the 5th and become more common in the 6th and 7th centuries.[5]

Burial with corpse decapitation

Interestingly, this mode of burial was considered not only apotropaic, but also may have been derogatory: one of the early Norwegian laws states that “ if the head is severed from the body, and the head is placed between the feet, the wergild shall be doubled.”[6]

Prone (face down) burial

Prone, or face-down burials, are not limited to execution cemeteries, but are sometimes encountered in consecrated ground. Prone burials are chronologically and geographically scattered, but, at least in England, are seen during the 6th and 7th centuries.[7]  This type of burial is found much earlier, and some burials from the Frattesina graveyards (near Verona, Italy), probably of social outcasts, date from the 12 to 10th century B.C., and are also found during the Roman Period.[8]  Prone position is also found in some of the Bog bodies from Denmark, as late as the 14th century A.D.[9] The prone position was employed to make it difficult for the spirit to return into the body. There is a 16th century account from a shepherd in Bavaria who had out of body experiences and commented it was harder to get back into his body if it was face down.[10] Additionally, the gaze of a corpse was considered dangerous causing illness, death or possession, and turning it face down, limited its effect.[11] [12] [13] The combination of prone burial and hands tied behind the back is not infrequent. The hands tied behind the back is considered a sign of death by hanging.[14] 

Leg Mutilation/Restraint

Mutilation of the legs to prevent the dead from walking appears to be widespread. The degree of damage differs. In some Frattesina 12-10th century B.C. burials in Italy[15] and Anglo-Saxon England, the legs were bent backwards and sometimes disarticulated.[16] Broken tibias are seen in the bog bodies of Denmark, which span a 2000 year period, and are found as late as the 14th century.[17] Occasionally in Anglo-Saxon England burials, legs or feet are amputated completely.[18] Alternatively, mutilation of the legs may be minimal. In Oedipus Rex, by Sophocles, written about 430 B.C., Oedipus (whose name means “swollen foot”) was left out in the wilderness to die, with feet tied together and pierced by a thorn, to prevent the exposed infant from walking back as a revenant.[19]

Burial with leg mutulation

Occasionally the legs are tied, which serves as a physical restraint designed to prevent the corpse from walking. In burials, the crossing of legs at the ankles is interpreted as previously tied extremities, as the ropes were usually made of organic material and decayed.[20]

Stoning/partial stoning

The placement of stones in graves presented a physical impediment to the dead rising. Bodies weighed down with stones, either across the chest, throat, or the entire body, or bodies in graves filled with large rocks, are found throughout Europe. [21] [22]

Burial – corpse covered with stones

Related to the stoning of the body is the custom of placing stones on roadside cairns, which often housed the bodies of the dead travellers found by the side of the road or criminals buried in liminal places. While it is still considered good luck to add a stone to the pile, in period the luck was more literal, as it was definitely lucky not be followed by a murderous revenant as one travels. Sometimes, other objects such as branches are also used but the stone mounds are better preserved.[23]  [24] The custom of placing small stones on the grave of one’s loved ones in some cultures may be a remnant of the same superstition.

Placement of rock or bricks into the mouth, on throat or the chest of the potential revenants

Placement of rocks or bricks in the mouth served a different purpose: it prevented the corpse from chewing on its shroud, itself and its neighbors, which could have caused the death of its family and friends, or caused epidemics.[25] (This belief was widespread, and is even mentioned in Malleum Maleficarum.[26]) Additionally, stuffing the mouth with rocks also prevented the spirit from returning into the body.[27]

Burial with stones placed in the mouth


Staking occurred either with metal or wooden stakes, or sharp pieces of metal. The body may be staked through limbs, or through the heart. There are regional variations, and the placement, number of stakes, and materials of the stakes vary. The places of burials also vary greatly. Some are on hard ground, and some are in bogs and rivers or in liminal places (which are discussed below). There is a very late example of a burial in 19th century Lesbos, Greece, with iron stakes through the limbs. There are well known Bulgarian 13th century burials where the bodies were staked through the heart with broken ploughshares,[28] and there are multiple examples of bodies buried within bogs, dating to the Iron Age, which were staked to the turf with wooden stakes or wickets.[29]

Staking had several functions including physically pinning the body to the ground. In watery burials, stakes prevented the body from floating up. Staking through the heart prevented the dead from rising – a folklore motif well preserved to this day. If the staking was through the legs, it served a dual function by pinning the body down and it also mutilated the legs, further preventing it from walking.

In 11th century England, staking was employed specifically as an apotropaic measure in burials of unbaptized children, and women who died in childbirth.[30] Staking also persisted very late in suicide burials. In England, it was widely practiced in period, where the suicides were also buried at cross-roads. The latest documented occurrence of the staked suicide burial at cross-roads in England occurred in 1823. This practice was outlawed by the Burial of Suicides Act later the same year.[31]

The body of the Bocksten man, murdered and staked face down in a bog in Denmark around 1360, is further evidence of this type of burial. The stakes through the side and back may have been purely functional – pinning the body down in the turf, however the stake through the heart was to prevent the man from walking, as was burying him at the “meeting point of four parishes.” [32]

Bocksten man

Burial with a sickle or a scythe fragment across its neck is found in eastern Europe.[33] It was believed the deceased would decapitate themselves when they rose out of the graves. It is possible that the widespread use of such burials contributed to the period depictions of death as a corpse with a sickle/scythe.[34]

Burial with a sickle across the throat

Liminal Burials

Liminal burials include burials in non-normative locations. Burying outside of consecrated ground,[35] outside of the local district, or far away at the borders of geographical of political entities[36] fall into this category. Liminal burial places include:bogs,[37] [38] tidal margins,[39] ditches (indicates both the borders of human lands and water/earth border),[40] rivers, [41] [42] on the borders of parishes,[43] and cross-roads.

As noted above, suicides in England were customarily buried at cross-roads, and Aelfric of Eynsham refers to the witches raising the dead at cross rods at night.[44] [45] Burial on river banks or river flood zones [46] were thought to relate rivers to borders between the realms of the dead and the living. This is a common motif in folklore of multiple cultures and can be encountered in modern mythology and different media, such as Miyazaki’s Spirited Away animated film, and Susan Cooper’s The Dark is Rising book series.

Burial “between heaven and earth” in the form of elevated burials, or exposure of executed criminals with eventual burial of the resulting skeleton[47] is another form of Liminal burial.  Other Liminal burials  include Execution cemeteries[48] which were special places for keeping the unwanted/dangerous dead. Charnel houses would be in the same category.

Note that other apotropaic measures were often used in conjunction with liminal burials. Furthermore, not all liminal burials are apotropaic in nature: intent is important! Some unusual burials are due to hasty body disposal, or accidental death, and not motivated by fear of revenants. [49]


While death, burials, and funerary culture are not commonly included in SCA activities, I believe it is important to be aware of them in period. The attitudes of the living towards the dead, and the process of demonization of corpses are fascinating, and are reflected in many aspects of then contemporary culture – in miniatures, paintings, books, frescoes, chronicles, and folklore. The status of the outsider, or other, assigned to the revenant in period, is very useful. These dead have created the negative spaces around living, which can sometimes tell us more about their society than the people themselves. Even if we are not always aware of it, we have inherited this culture, which still permeates our lives, although, thankfully, mostly as entertainment.


Barber, Paul. Vampires, Burial, and Death : Folklore and Reality.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988.

Barrowclough, David. “Time to Slay Vampire Burials? The Archaeological and Historical Evidence for Vampires in Europe.” Cambridge: Red Dagger Press.

Blake, Matt. “Pictured: ‘Vampire’ Graves in Poland Where Skeletons Were Buried with Skulls between Their Legs.” Daily Mail, July 15, 2013.

Caciola, Nancy. Afterlives : The Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages.  Ithaca; London: Cornell University Press, 2016.

Devlin, Zoe, and Emma-Jayne Graham. Death Embodied : Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse. Studies in Funerary Archaeology.  Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2015.

Farrell, Maura. “Prone, Stoned, and Losing the Head: Deviant Burials in Early Medieval Ireland in the 5th to 12th Centuries.” Trowel (2012): 56.

Glob, P. V. The Bog People; Iron Age Man Preserved.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969.

Gregoricka, Lesley A., Tracy K. Betsinger, Amy B. Scott, and Marek Polcyn. “Apotropaic Practices and the Undead: A Biogeochemical Assessment of Deviant Burials in Post-Medieval Poland.” PLoS ONE 9, no. 11 (2014): e113564.

Griffiths, Bill. Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic [in Text in English, Icelandic, Latin, and Old English] Rev. ed.  Hockwold-cum-Wilton, Norfolk, England: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2003.

Institoris, Heinrich, Jakob Sprenger, and Montague Summers. Malleus Maleficarum.  New York: B. Blom, 1970.

Laskey, Mark. “Rites of Desecration: Suicide, Sacrilege and the Crossroads Burial.” http://www.cvltnation.com/rites-of-desecration-suicide-sacrilege-and-profane-burial-at-the-crossroads/

Lecouteux, Claude. The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind. 1st U.S. ed.  Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2009.

Reynolds, Andrew. Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Press, 2009.

Riisøy, Anne Irene. “Deviant Burials: Societal Exclusion of Dead Outlaws in Medieval Norway.” (2015).

Zelenin, D. K., Tolstoy Nikita, and E. E. Levkievskaya. Essays on Russian Mythology : People Who Met a Violent Death and Mermaids: Selected Works (Ocherki Russkoy Mifologii: Umershie Neestestvennoi Smertyu I Rusalki: Isbrannyye Trudy). Traditsionnaia Dukhovnaia Kultura Slavian Moskva: “INDRIK” 1995.


[1] Andrew Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs (Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press, 2009).

[2] Ibid.194.

[3] Ibid. 89.

[4] Ibid. 34, describing a late seventh- early eighth century Anglo Saxon burial.

[5] Ibid. 89.

[6] Anne Irene Riisøy, “Deviant Burials: Societal Exclusion of Dead Outlaws in Medieval Norway,” (2015), 69, quoting Larson, 1935, The earliest Norwegian Laws, geing the Gulathing Law and the Frostathing Law.

[7] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 89.

[8] Zoe Devlin and Emma-Jayne Graham, Death Embodied: Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse, Studies in Funerary Archaeology (Oxford: Oxbow Books, 2015), 145.

[9] P. V. Glob, The Bog People; Iron Age Man Preserved (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1969), 149-151.

[10] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 89.

[11] Paul Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1988), 49.

[12] Nancy Caciola, Afterlives: The Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages (Ithaca, London: Cornell University Press, 2016).

[13] Riisøy, “Deviant Burials: Societal Exclusion of Dead Outlaws in Medieval Norway.”

[14] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 163.

[15] Devlin and Graham, Death Embodied: Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse, 145-147.

[16] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 163.

[17] Glob, The Bog People; Iron Age Man Preserved.

[18] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 93-94.

[19] Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality, 61.

[20] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 40.

[21] Matt Blake, “Pictured: ‘Vampire’ Graves in Poland Where Skeletons Were Buried with Skulls between Their Legs,” Daily Mail, July 15, 2013.

[22] David Barrowclough, “Time to Slay Vampire Burials? The Archaeological and Historical Evidence for Vampires in Europe,” (Cambridge: Red Dagger Press).

[23] D. K. Zelenin, Tolstoy Nikita, and E. E. Levkievskaya, Essays on Russian Mythology: People Who Met a Violent Death and Mermaids: Selected Works (Ocherki Russkoy Mifologii: Umershie Neestestvennoi Smertyu I Rusalki: Isbrannyye Trudy), Traditsionnaia Dukhovnaia Kultura Slavian (Moskva: “INDRIK”, 1995), 62-65.

[24] Claude Lecouteux, The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind, 1st U.S. ed. (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2009), 23.

[25] Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality, 47.

[26] Heinrich Institoris, Jakob Sprenger, and Montague Summers, Malleus Maleficarum (New York: B. Blom, 1970).

[27] Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death: Folklore and Reality, 47.

[28] Barrowclough, “Time to Slay Vampire Burials? The Archaeological and Historical Evidence for Vampires in Europe.”

[29] Glob, The Bog People; Iron Age Man Preserved.

[30] Lecouteux, The Return of the Dead: Ghosts, Ancestors, and the Transparent Veil of the Pagan Mind., 38. From the Decret by Burchard of Worms, early 11th century:

If a very small child dies without baptis, they take the body into a secret place and pierce it through with a rod. They say that if they did not do this, the child would come back and could cause harm to a great many people. If a woman does not manage to give birth to her child and dies in labor, in the very grave both mother and child are pierced with a rod that nails them to the ground.

[31] Mark Laskey, “Rites of Desecration: Suicide, Sacrilege and the Crossroads Burial,” http://www.cvltnation.com/rites-of-desecration-suicide-sacrilege-and-profane-burial-at-the-crossroads/

[32] Glob, The Bog People; Iron Age Man Preserved, 149-151.

[33] Lesley A. Gregoricka et al., “Apotropaic Practices and the Undead: A Biogeochemical Assessment of Deviant Burials in Post-Medieval Poland,” PLoS ONE 9, no. 11 (2014).

[34] Barber, Vampires, Burial, and Death : Folklore and Reality, 50-51.

[35] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 25.

[36] Caciola, Afterlives: The Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages, 213, in Laxdaela Saga Hrapp is far away in an attempt to stop him.

[37] Ibid. 237, 12th century account of William of Malmesbury of a man weighed down in a bog to prevent wandering.

[38] Glob, The Bog People; Iron Age Man Preserved.

[39] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs.

[40] Maura Farrell, “Prone, Stoned, and Losing the Head: Deviant Burials in Early Medieval Ireland in the 5th to 12th Centuries,” Trowel (2012).

[41] Caciola, Afterlives: The Return of the Dead in the Middle Ages, 237.

[42] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs, 24. In 10th century England, witches were punished by drowning or throwing into a river, which took care both of the execution and body disposal of a potential revenant.

[43] Glob, The Bog People; Iron Age Man Preserved, 149-151.

[44] Laskey, “Rites of Desecration: Suicide, Sacrilege and the Crossroads Burial”.

[45] Bill Griffiths, Aspects of Anglo-Saxon Magic, Rev. ed. (Hockwold-cum-Wilton, Norfolk, England: Anglo-Saxon Books, 2003), 33.

[46] Farrell, “Prone, Stoned, and Losing the Head: Deviant Burials in Early Medieval Ireland in the 5th to 12th Centuries.”

[47] Devlin and Graham, Death Embodied : Archaeological Approaches to the Treatment of the Corpse, 64.

[48] Reynolds, Anglo-Saxon Deviant Burial Customs.

[49] Ibid. 38

Categories: SCA news sites

The 100 Days of A&S Challenge

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2017-05-09 07:43

By Lady Elena de la Palma

Have you seen the 100 Days Challenge making the rounds amongst the fighting community on Facebook these past few months? I saw it here and there – people posting about pell work they’d done, or days in armor. I thought in passing that it’d be nice to have something like that for A&S, but didn’t give it much more brain time than that.

Until, that is, I saw this link on Her Excellency Ekaterina Volkova’s Facebook page: http://artsandsciences.lochac.sca.org/2017/04/100-days-challenge/

The idea is a simple one: For the next 100 days, spend 10 minutes a day pursuing your art. This can mean whatever you want it to mean. It could be actual physical work on a project, but it could just as easily be research or planning. Like it says in the link above, you’ll know it when you see it (hint: inspiration-hunting on Pinterest doesn’t count). And if you miss a day? Your day count resets to zero and you start over again.

Reading through this challenge, I suddenly realized just how much my focus on the arts had fallen to the wayside – but I also saw a way by which I could shift that focus back. I decided to start the challenge the day following last Saturday’s Æthelmearc A&S Faire and Queen’s Prize Tourney. It just seemed the thing to do: go see a bunch of art, refill my inspiration to brimming, and then get started on the challenge. Sunday, May 7, A.S. 52 was my first day, and I spent it doing some comparative research on German tailoring manuals vs. Spanish tailoring manuals from late period.

Photo by Lady Elena de la Palma.

I spent a good bit of time with that big book of German tailoring manuals, but also visited with most of the other books piled on the table.

I posted about my pursuit of the challenge on Facebook, and a number of other people have since taken it up, too. If you’d like to join in as well, please do – it’s already been fun to see the progress that people are making. The original creators suggest using the hashtag #100daysofAS – that’ll serve you well on Facebook or on Twitter.

Over time, those 10 minutes a day will start adding up. Even before the first week is out, you’ll have done an hour, and by the time the challenge is up you’ll have done more than 16 hours – 10 minutes at a time.

Categories: SCA news sites

Mode Persuasive Cartography collection digitized

History Blog - Mon, 2017-05-08 23:22

Persuasive cartography is decidedly more the former than the latter. Its aim is to sell a product or influence opinion using the aesthetic allure and/or the impression of scientific rigor conveyed by maps. The actual science of mapmaking — accurate renditions of land masses, roads, structures, topographical features — isn’t the point, except insofar as it lends the cachet of objectivity to a pitch.

Retired lawyer PJ Mode began collecting maps after seeing an exhibition of old and unusual maps at the Centre Pompidou in Paris in 1980. Over the years he began to narrow his focus to maps of the persuasive persuasion, fascinated by the reasoning behind them. With the advent of the Internet, finding new cartographical gems and researching their background has become increasingly accessible. Today PJ Mode has more than 800 persuasive maps in his collection.

Last month, more than 500 of them were digitized by the Cornell University Library. Now there are 862 of them. They can be browsed by subject or date, you can just load the whole shebang and go through them front to back, or you can limit by date, date range, creator or subject from there. I’m partial to the subject divisions which convey a real sense of how far-reaching this medium was. Almost 200 of the maps are in the Advertising & Promotion category, and they are some of the most aesthetically interesting. The Niagara Belt Line uses one of the most spectacular views in the world to promote its electric trolley line.

A good image can sell even the worst product, as any advertiser knows. Patent medicines, most of which were useless at best, active poisons at worst, needed all the colorful artwork they could get: see Peruvian Bitters, for example, which used a literal bird carrying an ad for the product over a bird’s-eye view of San Francisco to flog its bogus cure for malaria, dyspepsia, addiction and unhappiness.

Even the plain ones without fancy graphics are intriguing because the dry presentation is often used to legitimize an extremely questionable proposition, like the Northern Pacific Railroad Gold Bonds or the Two Queens Mines in Australia, which was a straight-up scam.

The greatest number of maps, 349, are in the pictorial subject which covers an extraordinary amount of ground from military to political to moral advocacy. There’s even an edition of a map very similar to one I own in giant foldout poster form: a timeline of world history from a Biblically literal creationist perspective. Other subject categories you can browse include Alcohol, Heaven & Hell (schematics of Dante’s Inferno are always popular), Poverty, Prostitution, Crime, Slavery, Suffrage, Railroads, and lots and lots of wars.

All of the digitized maps are available for download in high resolution (the full Niagara view was so huge my server couldn’t even handle it, and my server is used to the strain, believe me), or if you prefer, can be zoomed in extreme closeup on the Cornell site itself. Fair warning: this is a timesink of gloriously massive proportions. The information on each entry was written by PJ Mode himself based on his research. He makes no claim to flawless understanding, so if you find something you think might be inaccurate, you’re encouraged to click on the “Contact” link at the bottom of the page and let folks know.

Speaking of which, the following video is 50 minutes long, but it’s so worth it. It’s a talk PJ Mode delivered last year to The Grolier Club and the New York Map Society about persuasive cartography. Unlike most lecture videos, the people doing the talking only appear rarely. The vast majority of the presentation is of the maps being projected. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been irritated by the neglect of the visual aids in recordings of these types of events. Whoever filmed this talk deserves an award. Be sure to watch it full screen so you can see the small details of the map as large as possible.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Artisan’s Playtime at AE War Practice

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2017-05-08 21:26

Artisans’ Play Time. Photo by Cat Clark.

From Mistress Orianna, Deputy Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences:

Greetings all! Once again we will be having an artisan’s playtime at Æthelmearc War Practice, Saturday, May 20 in the Great Hall. This is open to any and all who wish to share their art with others — the idea is to provide an opportunity for folks to try your art and share your art with like-minded or budding artisans. Ideally, we would like a community of artisans who work in the same medium to create a collective but if you are by yourself that is fine too.  And we welcome and encourage our youth artisans to join too! As much as is possible, all playtimes must be accessible to young people.  Younger children must be accompanied by a parent or responsible adult to participate, but sharing what we do with the youth of the Kingdom is important. If you have any questions or would like to let me know you would be participating, please contact Orianna. Looking forward to a fun and learning experience!
Categories: SCA news sites

7,000 bodies from asylum may be buried under Mississippi campus

History Blog - Sun, 2017-05-07 23:49

In 2013, workers building a new road on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) in Jackson unearthed the remains of 66 individuals buried in pine coffins. These were remains of patients of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum, in operation between 1855 and 1935, who had been buried in an area of the campus that is now known as Asylum Hill, for obvious reasons. The remains were removed to the Mississippi State University anthropology department for study before reburial in the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s cemetery where donated anatomical and past archaeological human remains are interred. Road construction continued.

Remains have been found before on Asylum Hill, but after the discovery of the 66 coffins, tests were done on 20 acres of the UMMC campus where extensive construction was planned, and experts found evidence of 1,000 bodies buried there, maybe more. Now a ground-penetrating radar study has found there are at least 2,000 bodies buried on those 20 acres, and there may be as many as 7,000. The staggering numbers pose a thorny problem, because it costs $3,000 to exhume and rebury a single body. At a $21 million price tag, it would be prohibitively expensive to rebury all of the dead, even if they had room in the UMMC cemetery to accommodate so many bodies.

It’s also far from an ideal solution for the many descendants who are desperate for information about their relatives and for a proper burial where they can pay their respects. Read the comments on my previous article for just a tiny sample of people who have searched high and low for any clue about the fate and whereabouts of their family members. Perhaps there’s a solution that can address both the financial hardships and give solace to the survivors of the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum’s patients.

Now UMMC is studying the cheaper alternative of handling those exhumations in-house, at a cost of $400,000 a year for at least eight years. It also would create a memorial that would preserve the remains with a visitors center and a lab that could be used to study the remains as well as the remnants of clothing and coffins.

Ralph Didlake, who oversees UMMC’s Center for Bioethics and Medical Humanities, believes the lab would be the first of its kind in the nation — giving researchers insight into life in the asylum in the 1800s and early 1900s.

“It would be a unique resource for Mississippi,” said Molly Zuckerman, associate professor in Mississippi State’s department of anthropology and Middle Eastern cultures. “It would make Mississippi a national center on historical records relating to health in the pre-modern period, particularly those being institutionalized.”

There were no dedicated state facilities for the mentally ill in Mississippi before the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum was built. The insane were kept at home, when families could handle it, and chained up in prisons with criminals when they couldn’t. Conditions were opprobrious. The Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum was designed according to the Kirkbride Plan, a new approach to the treatment of mental illness devised by Quaker physician Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride premised on the then-novel theory that insanity could be curable and that the environment in which patients were treated played a key role in their recovery. The facilities had to be cheerful, airy, with social spaces like dining rooms and parlors reminiscent of home. Patients were to get plenty of time enjoying the grounds, both for pleasure and to farm the land as an early form of occupational therapy.

The problem with the Kirkbride Plan when implemented by state asylums is that it required no more than 250 patients be admitted at one time. That was the magic number to ensure the space was conducive to healing and that there was sufficient staff to provide individual attention. But the states who invested serious money building these asylums — it took almost five years for the Mississippi legislature to appropriate funding for construction of theirs — had big problems adhering to Kirkbride’s ideal population density.

The Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum started off with the best of intentions. There were 150 inmates when it opened in 1855. After the Civil War, the numbers started to rise. In 1870 there were 300 patients. By the end of Reconstruction in 1877, the Mississippi legislature stopped funding maintenance and oversight, and as a result the asylum rapidly declined. Within a year the new superintendent described the conditions as “verging on what the original Bedlam must have been like.” The inmate population continued to rise through fires, polluted water, desultory repairs and additions. In 1920 there were 1,670 patients. In 1930, there were 2,649. At its peak, there were 6,000 patients. Finally the run-down, massively overcrowded conditions could no longer be ignored. When a new state hospital opened in Whitfield in 1935, the old one was closed and all remaining patients were moved to the new facility.

The structure was demolished, and in 1954 the University Medical Center was built on the site. Construction workers have encountered bodies and headstones ever since, but nobody did a thorough investigation or really conceived of the massive scale of burials until the 2013 discovery.

Didlake, Zuckerman and others have formed the Asylum Hill Research Consortium, made up of anthropologists, archaeologists, historians and even an expert in dating the wood of the coffins.

It was the consortium that developed the memorial/visitors center/lab plans.

“We have inherited these patients,” Didlake said. “We want to show them care and respectful management.”

That’s an important step in the right direction, but I like Karen Clark’s idea cited in the news article to collect DNA from descendants so there’s a chance the bodies could be identified. Her three-times great-grandfather, Isham Earnest, was an inmate at the Mississippi State Lunatic Asylum in its early days and is believed to have died there in the late 1850s. Depending on conditions of the remains, nuclear DNA may not be retrievable, although mitochondrial DNA is much hardier. The oldest of the remains are just over 150 years old, which is quite fresh, really, from an archaeological perspective, so it’s certainly within the realm of possibility. It’s an ambitious project and would require significant additional funding. It would so worthwhile, though.


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History