Master Fridrikr Tomasson and Mistress Orianna Fridrikskona, Kingdom Ministers of Arts and Sciences, post some answers to frequently asked questions (FAQ) regarding the Æthelmearc A&S Faire.
As the Æthelmearc A&S Faire approaches, we are getting questions about the Prize Faire. Here are some frequently Asked Questions and their answers.
The Arts & Sciences Faire is an event similar to the Queen’s Prize Tournament or the Laurel Prize Tournament held in other Kingdoms. It is an opportunity for up and coming Artisans to show their work and be interviewed by more experienced artisans. The event announcement can be found here.
Who can participate in the A&S Faire?
Anyone who only has an arts award at the Sycamore level or another Kingdom equivalent, or only a Baronial arts award, or no arts award. If you have a Grant or Patent level Arts award, you cannot enter.
What should I bring?
You may bring up to three items, or a display, which reflect the work you’ve been involved in. Your entry should also include some form of documentation (see below).
What about documentation?
You may provide whatever documentation you wish. Documentation is a means to help inform the judges of your work, your research, your sources, your processes, and your conclusions. Since you will be talking with the judges throughout the day, the extent of your documentation is up to you.
What part do members of the Fleur or Laurel play?
Every entrant must have a sponsor who is a member of the Order of the Fleur d’Æthelmearc, or another Kingdom Grant level equivalent Arts or Sciences Order, or a member of the Order of the Laurel.
Sponsors may have more than one entrant to sponsor.
Sponsors will be the judges who interview the entrants during the course of the day.
For every entrant, the Sponsors must provide a gift of some kind – either appropriate to the entrants or a general item – that will be given to the entrants at the end of the day. Every entrant will leave the day with a gift.
Sponsors are encouraged to have tokens for presenting to any entrants that they are impressed with.
What about Barons, Baronesses, and the Royalty?
Landed Barons and Baronesses, as well as any Royalty who attend, are encouraged to meet the entrants and discuss their work. Small tokens to present to those entrants you are especially impressed with are encouraged.
What about Children and Youth?
We would LOVE to have children and youth participate as well. They should also have a sponsor and will be given table space to set up a display of their work as well.
How do I register as either an Entrant or a Sponsor? And why am I registering?
Registration forms are located on the Æthelmearc Arts & Sciences Webpage.
Registration as either an Entrant or a Sponsor allows the organizers of the event to ensure there is sufficient table space for everyone, and to ensure we have enough judges for the day.
What if I want to sponsor someone but I cannot be there?
We encourage all of the sponsors to be in attendance but we understand that the date may preclude some from participating. You can still be a sponsor! We ask that you still register but let us know that you cannot attend. But please make sure you send along gifts for those you do sponsor.
What if I want to enter but I cannot be there? Can I send my work with someone else?
Unfortunately, no. Because the intent of the event is to allow face to face discussion of your work, if you are not there to discuss it, it defeats the purpose of the day.
If I can’t make this one, will there be another opportunity?
Absolutely! We will be using this format for the Kingdom Arts & Sciences Championship in the Fall, as well as hoping to hold another Faire in the Spring of 2017.
Fridrikr & Orianna, KMoAS
A folio of a play thought to be written in Shakespeare’s own hand has gone on display at the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, D.C., alongside 50 other of the most important manuscripts and printed books related to the Bard. The Shakespeare, Life of an Icon exhibition displays pieces from the Folger’s collection plus loans from the University of Oxford’s Bodleian Library, the British Library, the Kings, Heralds, and Pursuivants of Arms, the London Metropolitan Archives, the UK’s National Archives, the University of Edinburgh, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers. Many of these exhibits have never been shown in the United States before. Some haven’t been shown anywhere ever.
It’s a fascinating combination of the literary and mundane which reveal Shakespeare the man, actor and playwright. There’s Shakespeare’s copy of the contract to buy New Place, his last home in Stratford-upon-Avon, diary entries from people in the audience at his plays, the 1623 First Folio of his collected works, the only surviving letter written to Shakespeare and the only surviving copy of the first edition of Titus Andronicus which was the first Shakespeare play printed.
The only known account of Shakespeare’s death in on display as well. It’s a diary entry by John Ward, physician and vicar of Stratford-upon-Avon, written in the early 1660s, almost 50 years after the Bard’s death. He wrote: “Shakespeare, Drayton, and Ben Jonson had a merry meeting and it seems drank too hard for Shakespeare died of a fever there contracted.” Shakespeare was friends with playwright Ben Jonson and although we have no explicit records of a friendship with poet Michael Drayton, they traveled very much in the same circles and would almost certainly have known each other. No contemporary accounts of how Shakespeare died and of what have survived.
The play with Shakespeare’s handwriting wasn’t actually written by him alone. The Booke of Thomas More was the collaborative effort of several writers. Its main author was Anthony Munday who wrote it between 1596 and 1601. He submitted this copy (the original draft is lost) to Edmund Tilney who had the Spuds McKenzie title of Master of the Revels but the distinctly unrevelrous job of crossing out politically sensitive material. Once he was done marking the whole thing up in red pen, Munday brought in some help to rework the script. Henry Chettle is believed to have contributed first, possibly followed by Thomas Dekker, Thomas Heywood and William Shakespeare.
Despite all the changes, the play about Henry VIII’s Catholic Lord Chancellor who was executed for refusing to acknowledge the king was the head of the church was never printed. There are no surviving records that indicate it was ever performed. Most of the time there are no such records, so there’s no reason to assume the play was shut up in a drawer and forgotten about. It was probably staged and just not remarked up, like the vast majority of other plays from the period. The British Library’s manuscript on loan to the Folder is the only surviving copy of the play in the world.
The portion of the play thought to have been written by William Shakespeare is a three-page revision of a (fictional) speech delivered by Thomas More to anti-immigrant rioters during the Evil May Day Riots of 1517. Tilney objected to the scenes of the riots because economic hardship and potentially violent hostility to foreigners were again major issues when he wielded the censor’s pen and he didn’t want to angry up the blood, to quote Abe Simpson. In Shakespeare’s revision, therefore, the focus of Sir Thomas More’s speech was keeping the peace.
You can read a transcript of the pages here. (Scroll down to the Semi-diplomatic transcription and click Expand.) The original spelling and the formatting might make it a tad hard to read. Thimble summary: More decries the rioters’ violence, appeals to them to empathize with the foreigners, notes that their violence might beget more violence and chaos and lastly invokes the divine authority of the King which makes all violations of the King’s laws a sin against God himself.
The oratory matches the playwright’s poetic style. Because only six signatures of Shakespeare’s on four legal documents and no other writing have survived, authenticating the revision as written by Shakespeare is a challenge. With only his signed name to go on, the sample size is so small letter-by-letter comparisons can’t be definitive so the attribution is disputed by some scholars, but it’s been generally accepted since the mid-20th century. Scholars have named the contributor of the passages believed to be by Shakespeare “Hand D.”
The complete manuscript is currently being digitized. A version was published in 1911 that had photographs of some of the manuscript, but they’re blurry and not really readable. It Harley MS 7368 will be available to peruse in high resolution next month in the British Library’s Virtual Books gallery.
Shakespeare, Life of an Icon runs through March 27th at the Folger, after which the documents will move to the British Library where they will be on display as part of its Shakespeare in Ten Acts exhibition.
Here’s a timelapse video of the installation of the exhibition at the Folger. I like how they project elements onto the ceiling to give an immersive feel.
This article was originally posted at the Midrealm Gazette and is reprinted here in full.
Singers, storytellers, bards and buskers: Want to perform at 50 Year?
Please fill out this Google Form: Click here to submit your application to perform on the outdoor stage, tavern, busking area, or indoor stage. Please note: the application is NOT required for any Bardic Circle. The deadline for applying to perform is May 1.
The staff will be filling slots as we go, so the earlier you submit your application, the better selection of performance opportunities you’ll have.
A note about material in Performing Arts:
Opportunities for every level of performer are available at this event, and the Performing Arts Staff will assist any performer who submits an application by recommending resources for you. Our crack Performing Arts Team is bringing you a Performers’ Evening Tavern, Bardic Circles, Indoor and Outdoor Stages, Busking areas, and a special Performing Arts Day
Filed under: Events Tagged: Bardic, SCA 50 Year
The Ice Dragon Pentathlon is fast approaching and we know you are all busily working on projects. Visit the website for information on everything Pent, as well as information on Princess Ariella’s Favors.
Take a minute to pre-register. Pre-registration has changed slightly for this year in that you do not have to list our your projects, only your personal registration information and the approximate number of entries you will be bringing. It’s easy and will only take a short time to do. Thanks to all of you who have already registered; it will speed up your time on the morning of the event! Pre-registration is open until March 15.
We are still looking for judges. Please visit the judging page here and sign up today; judging will take less time this year so you will still have the day to enjoy Ice Dragon.
We are looking forward to seeing beautiful works from all of Æthelmearc’s artisans!
Last summer, two cave lion cubs were found in the permafrost on the bank of the Uyandina River in Yakutia, Siberia. The water levels of the river had risen with the warmth of the summer. When the waters retracted, cracks appeared in the banks. Yakov Androsov, a contractor with the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) who was in the area collecting mammoth tusks, spied some ice with something inside it in one of the cracks. Upon closer inspection, he recognized the remains of prehistoric felines in the ice. He quickly placed them in a glacier to preserve them.
When the remains were recovered and examined by experts from the Academy of Sciences, they were identified as two very young Pleistocene cave lion cubs in exceptional condition. The cubs have been named Uyan and Dina after the river where they were found. Both are almost complete, Uyan more so than Dina, with body parts intact. Fur, legs, ears, eyes, tails, soft tissue, even their whiskers were preserved by the deep freeze. The lions were very young when they died, no more than two weeks old. Their eyes weren’t open and all of their baby teeth hadn’t grown in yet. They are about the size of plump house cats.
These are by far the most complete remains of cave lions ever found. Worldwide, only bones, partial skeletons and carcass fragments of cave lions have been found before this discovery. In Yakutia, it was only a few skulls, teeth and individual bones. Those limited remains and Stone Age cave art were the sole sources of information scientists had what cave lions looked like. The preservation of the cubs will answer a great many questions about the species.
Scientist Dr Gennady Boeskorov said: “The main complexity of our task is that here we have not adult lions, but cubs, so we are searching for the specialists experienced in the research of cubs. It’s interesting to see the adaptive mechanisms, which helped them to survive in the cold. They definitely differed from the modern lions, and we think there should be something that allowed them to adapt to the climate.”
Dr Protopopov said: “We suppose that the cave lioness behaved like the modern lioness in pride,” he said. “It seems like she gave birth to the cubs and hid them in cave or hole to protect from the hungry lion. Then the landslide covered it and they remained surrounded in permafrost. Also the air intake was blocked, and this helped their preservation.”
Cave lions went extinct about 10,000 years ago, so the cubs are at least that old. The remains will be radiocarbon tested for a more precise date range. Scientists from all over the world will contribute to the study of these little guys in the hope we can learn more about how they lived and died, their familial relations and what they ate.
Earlier this month, Dina, the less preserved of the cubs, was partially thawed and had samples taken at the Mammoth Museum in Yakutsk so tissues could be studied under the microscope. Also present was controversial South Korean cloning expert Professor Woo Hwang Sok who wanted samples of his own for a potential cave lion cloning project. He’s taken mammoth samples before, but there is a big difference between a mammoth carcass and a lion cub and the Yakutian Academy of Sciences refused to let him take a piece of the cub large enough to satisfy him.
The Korean professor wanted a large section, such as part of the skull or a leg but this was opposed by the local experts who are anyway withholding one of the cubs from any research – the better preserved of the pair, called Uyan – confident that more advanced techniques in future years will ensure more is gleaned from it than if research is done now.
[Dr. Protopopov] revealed: “The dispute arose from the fact that the researchers, as always, want to be completely sure and take more tissue, and I can understand them. But the lion is not fully preserved and there are not so many tissues. We have planned other studies, so it is important to preserve the original morphology of the remains. Such disputes are normal in all studies, and in the end we came to a compromise.”
Director of the Mammoth Museum Semyon Grigoriev defended the decision to limit the sample available to the cloning guru. “The Koreans are sceptical and unhappy with the samples,” he said. “They expected to take more, as they did with the mammoth previously. But it will not work with these little kittens.”
Besides, I have yet to see any results from these ancient cloning studies. The institute Woo Hwang Sok leads, Sooam Biotech Research Foundation, does have a lot of material on its website about cloning your dead dog, though.
Oyez! Oyez! The Kingdom of Æthelmearc as well as the rest of the Known World is cordially invited to witness the Coronation of Their Highnesses, Prince Thomas Byron of Haverford and Princess Ariella of Thornbury. This celebration will be hosted by the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep on April 9th, 2016 with permission in the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands.
Æthelmearc will be celebrating new heirs to the Kingdom, and Æthelmearc pride is the theme for the day. Banners, standards, and Æthelmearc colors are all welcomed and encouraged. There will be an arts & sciences competition, a bardic competition, heavy fighting, fencing, and thrown weapons to keep all busy throughout the day.
A sideboard lunch and amazing feast will be prepared by Maestra Tomasia da Collivento that will surely delight all who attend. Lunch is included in the site fee for all attendees, and an evening feast will be provided at a cost of $12.00 for adults, $6 for children ages 6 to 17, and children 5 and under eat for free. Please contact Maestra Tomasia (Tammy Crawford), maestratomasia at gmail dot com or 412-983-0446, with any dietary concerns. Seating for the feast is limited to 80 individuals so reserve early if you plan to attend. Please remember, the only valid reservation is a paid reservation.
This event will be held at the Unity Community Church, 215 Unity Center Road, Plum Borough, PA 15239 on Saturday April 9, 2016. The site opens at 9:00 am and will close at 9:00 pm. Troll will be open for business from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm. To help speed up everyone’s check-in, reservations are strongly encouraged and should be sent ASAP to the Head Troll, Lady Alime bint Yorgi (Barbara Castellion) 408 Murrysville Road, Trafford, PA 15085. Questions on reservations can also call 412-337-5147. Site fees are Adults $8.00, Children (6 to 17) $4.00, and Children under 5 are free. (family cap is $24) A non-member surcharge of $5.00 will be added for non-SCA members. Please make checks payable to SCA-PA, Inc. – Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep.
This is a dry site, no pets are allowed (registered service dogs are permitted with documentation but please let us know you are attending), smoking is permitted in DESIGNATED OUTSIDE AREAS ONLY. Open flames are not permitted. This is a handicapped-accessible site, however any individuals who may need assistance are strongly encouraged to please plan to preregister and inform us at that time of your condition so we may make any necessary arrangements for your comfort.
Contact the autocrat for the day, Lord Thomas Lestrange (Tom Butts) thomas.t.butts at gmail dot com or 412-398-3808, 4655 Marjorie Drive, Murrysville, PA 15668, with any questions.
South and East: Take I-76 W / PA TURNPIKE to EXIT 57, toward MONROEVILLE / PITTSBURGH. Stay straight and merge onto I-376 W / US-22 W toward PITTSBURGH. Go 3.1 miles and take first exit RODI RD via EXIT 81 toward PENN HILLS. Go 2.0 miles and turn RIGHT onto PA-380 / FRANKSTOWN RD / YELLOW BELT. Go 1.5 miles and turn RIGHT onto PA-380 / SALTSBURG RD. Go 50 yards and turn SLIGHT LEFT onto LEECHBURG RD. Go 1.8 miles and turn RIGHT to stay on LEECHBURG RD. Go 0.3 miles turn RIGHT onto UNITY CENTER RD. Go 0.2 miles Site is on your left.
Legend holds that in 366 A.D., a Buddhist monk named Yuezun saw a vision of a thousand Buddhas on the face of a cliff near the town of Dunhuang in the Gobi Desert of northwest China. He began digging caves into the cliff face to make his vision a reality. Who knows if there was a Yuezun who had a vision, but it’s undeniable that in the 4th century, Buddhist monks began to dig grottoes into the cliffs and they didn’t stop for a thousand years.
From the 4th to the 14th century, the monks, sponsored by politicians and wealthy donors who wished to express their religious devotion, dug 492 caves and decorated them with exquisite wall paintings, tile work and more than 2,000 clay sculptures of Buddhas, bodhisattvas and other figures. The largest sculpture is a Buddha about 116 feet high, the third largest Buddha sculpture in China, which was made during the Tang Dynasty (618–907 A.D.). In total, there are almost 500,000 square feet of painted walls and ceilings depicting Buddhist stories, sutras, donors, abstract ornament and scenes of daily life.
The enormity of the Mogao Caves (Mogao means “peerless”) complex is a testament not just to the religious dedication of the monks, but to its location along the Silk Road. The evidence of the rich cultural exchange brought to the site by the Silk Road is evident in the mixed influences of the art, and it was the demise of the Road which led to the abandonment of the caves in the 15th century. They were all but forgotten, the painstakingly carved and painted grottoes sealed with sand from the Gobi Desert.
Hundreds of years would pass before someone embraced the ancient complex again. A Daoist monk named Wang Yuanlu took it upon himself to care for the caves in around 1892. Entirely alone and unsupported, he began to clean the sand choking the temples and repair the wooden elements. In 1900, he opened a cave that had been sealed in about 1000 A.D. and discovered a massive cache of documents without parallel in human history.
Cave 17, which for obvious reasons became known as the Library Cave, held almost 50,000 manuscripts, printed texts, paintings on silk and paper, intricate embroidered silks and other textiles. The dry air of the Gobi had preserved them in exceptional condition. The documents provide a unique view of life in medieval China. There are financial ledgers, calendars, legal papers, property sale contracts, dictionaries, medical books, artworks that capture the music, dancing and games of the period. The are Confucian, Daoist and Christian texts are written in Chinese, Sanskrit, Tibetan, Hebrew, Tangut, Old Turkish and other languages spoken along the Silk Road.
The stand-out document amidst the vast archival treasure discovered in the cave is the Diamond Sutra, the world’s earliest printed dated book. A copy of an ancient Indian Buddhist text, this Chinese translation of the Diamond Sutra was made in 868 A.D., and we know this because the maker noted it in the colophon: “Reverently made for universal free distribution by Wang Jie on behalf of his two parents, 11 May 868.” While there are extant woodblock printed art works on silk from the 3rd century, the earliest fragments of printing on paper date to the mid-7th century. Woodblock printing was established by the 8th century, but the Diamond Sutra is the first complete book that we have a precise date for known to survive. It is a scroll more than 15 feet long made from seven panels of paper pasted together.
Keen to preserve this great collection, Wang showed some of the texts to local government officials but they showed zero interest. In 1904, the governor order the Library Cave be resealed. Word of the find got out to archaeologists and explorers and in 1907 British archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein offered to buy thousands of the manuscripts and artworks. This is Stein’s description of Cave 17:
“The sight of the small room disclosed was one to make my eyes open wide. Heaped up in layers, but without perfect order, there appeared in the dim light of the priest’s little lamp a solid mass of manuscript bundles rising to a height of nearly ten feet, and filling, as subsequent measurement showed, close on 500 cubic feet. The area left clear within the room was just sufficient for two people to stand in.”
Wang wanted to build a Daoist temple but he had no money and since the government had told him to shove it in regards to conserving the Library Cave’s library, he went ahead and sold the documents to Stein for a pittance. The next year explorer French Paul Pelliot bought more than 10,000 pieces from Cave 17. Then came the Germans, Russians and Japanese. The collection was thoroughly picked over by the time the sales stopped with the beginning of World War I. Finally resurgent nationalism in the 1920s woke the Chinese government up and the remaining documents were moved to the National Library of China in Beijing.
The Diamond Sutra was acquired in 1907 by Stein and is now in the British Library along with more than 400 other pieces from Dunhuang. (The BL, incidentally, has spearheaded the International Dunhuang Project, an initiative to digitize images of texts, art and textiles found at Dunhuang and other archaeological sites of the Eastern Silk Road. There are almost a million images in the database as of now, and they’re not done yet.)
The Diamond Sutra hasn’t left Britain in more than a century, but that’s about to change. It will be the star of the Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China’s Silk Road exhibition at the Getty Center in Los Angeles. The Getty Conservation Institute has been working closing with the Dunhuang Academy since 1989 to conserve the paintings on the walls of the Mogao Grottoes. To give visitors a truly immersive experience, the Getty has constructed exact replicas of three of the caves. These aren’t Hollywood sets made to look like the grottoes. The replicas are precise duplicates in shape, size and decoration. The replica paintings were done using the same pigments originally used in Dunhuang. The Getty even imported the actual clay used to sculpt the Buddhas and bodhisattvas that inhabit the caves.
The exhibition runs from May 7th through September 4th, 2016. For those four months, Los Angeles may be the closest you can get to the Gobi Desert and the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas.
The following items were presented at the Court of Their Majesties Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri held on February 23-29, A.S. L (2016) in the Kingdom of Atenveldt at Estrella War XXXII.
Company of the Pennon:
His Majesty has explained, “The Company of the Pennon is given for exceptional martial prowess or work as support staff at an event in a foreign Kingdom. The Eastern Expeditionary Force was small, but ferocious on the field. They garnered glory and victory against strong and numerically superior foes in several battles.” He went to to mention the gracious hosting by the West Kingdom, particularly Master Joel and Baroness Elisheva, providing the Eastern Contingent with a camp, food, lodging, and all manner of hospitality which allowed the EEF to focus on their duties, and so these two gentles were duly acknowledged for their hospitality.
Order of Valor:
Lastly the gift Estrella Scrolls were presented to the following kingdoms:
Court Heralds: Baron Mael Eoin mac Echuid (Great Court)
Filed under: Court
On March 5, A.S. L, the Shire of Stormsport held its 20th Anniversary Bears event. Gentles from all over western Æthelmearc joined the fun and camaraderie of the day.
The Bears event was originally created to honor the “Three Bears” of Stormsport: Viscount Sir Bear the Wallsbane, Earl Sir Bearengaer hinn Ruadi, and Mistress Berengaria of Hainault. Mistress Berengaria no longer participates in the SCA, and Earl Bearengaer sadly passed away in 2007, but Viscount Bear was present and enjoyed the fighting.
The event featured tournaments in fencing, heavy weapons, and youth combat, as well as a silent auction and history display, not to mention lots of excellent food.
Sir Vladisla Nikulich organized a double-elimination rattan tournament which was won by Sir Aengus MacBain in a final round of combat against Prince Byron.
Prince Byron and Sir Aengus in the finals of the double elimination tournament.
As fighters were defeated in the double-elim tournament, they moved on to a bear pit tourney in which fighters were awarded one point for a loss and two points for a win. Duke Marcus Eisenwald won by a fairly wide margin, but Sir Vlad called out the amazing feat of new fighter, Benjamin, who accumulated 76 points despite only winning six bouts.
The only unhappy note of the day occurred before the tournaments began, when Eisen Brehm of Blackwater slipped and fell after a warmup bout, painfully injuring his knee. He was sent by ambulance to the hospital in the company of Baroness Rynea, and fortunately the injury was just a sprain. Duke Marcus noted that all of the fighters were rooting for Eisen’s recovery and hope he returns to the tourney field soon. Eisen later said he plans to be back in armor by Ice Dragon in April.
In between bear pit tourney bouts, fighters had the opportunity to fight at a barrier provided by Sir Aengus.
Fencers also had two tournaments in which to compete, both organized by Duchess Dorinda Courtenay. Master Caleb Reynolds won the round robin tournament, while Lord Alexander du Lac was victorious in the subsequent bear pit.
The victors received chocolate as their prizes, because that’s what Duchess Dorinda said she would want if she was the winner. She also gave the winners “northern long-eared bears” (aka stuffed rabbits, because she was unable to find teddy bears), though 10-year-old Willa wheedled Baron Caleb’s “bear” away from him.
After the bear pit, Master Diego Muñoz took over marshaling duties so that Duchess Dorinda could hold the field against the other fencers.
Youth combatants had the opportunity to fight against adult sparring marshals including Sir Arnþorr inn sterki, THLord Rouland of Willowbrooke, and Prince Byron, and then compete against each other in a triple round robin tournament organized by Mistress Jenna McPherson of Lion’s Tower and won by Ulfr. In addition to winning the tournament, Ulfr was commended for his chivalry, receiving tokens from the marshals and Prince Byron.Click to view slideshow.
Through all these tournaments, the List officers, Baroness Anna Eisenkopf, Baroness Aemelia Soteria, and Lord Cionaodh mac Éamoinn kept things organized and moving.
A silent auction with many desirable items was held throughout the course of the day, netting the shire a goodly sum of money.
There was also a display of photos and other memorabilia of past Bears events, including many pictures of the late Earl Bearengaer hinn Raudi, one of the other “Bears” (along with Sir Bear the Wallsbane) for whom the event was named.
Lady Ottilige von Rappoltsweiler supervised the Kids’ Kitchen, which had numerous children as young as 8 years old assisting in creating the sideboard lunch of spanikopita, fruits, veggies, bread, honey butter, and cold meats. This is the second year that lunch has been prepared by the children at Bears Event and, as last year, the children had a great time and did a fantastic job. The children also helped with the creation of a Bear Subtlety that was displayed during dinner At a brief court held by Prince Byron before the feast, the autocrat, Lady Leah Janette, gave each participating child a wooden spoon in thanks for their kitchen help.
The event was capped off by a feast cooked by Lady Ottilige and her kitchen crew. The theme of the feast was “greatest hits” from past Bears events and featured foods that had been served at past versions of the event, rather than focusing on how medieval they might be. The dishes included baked chicken that had particular meaning to the cook as it was her first exposure to medieval food. Each dish was a wonderful memory of the past, which made it tastier. Of particular note were the “eggs” served with dessert which were cleaned and washed eggshells filled with whipped cream and a marzipan “yolk” that you ate with a tiny spoon. While this was a new addition to the menu, it was reminiscent of medieval illusion food and was a wonderfully creative way to end the meal.
Thank you to Meesteress Odriana vander Brugghe for information about the feast. All photos not otherwise credited are by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
The wreck of an iron-hulled Civil War steamer has been discovered off the coast of North Carolina near Oak Island. It was found on Saturday, February 27th, by researchers from the Underwater Archaeology Branch of the North Carolina Office of State Archaeology who were scanning the area with sonar. So far the complete hull of the 225-foot ship has been recorded and the study is ongoing.
The identity of the vessel has yet to be determined, but experts believe it is a blockade runner used to smuggle supplies and saleable goods through the Union naval cordon blocking the port of Wilmington. The wreck is 27 miles away from Wilmington near Fort Caswell which guarded the mouth of the Cape Fear River and played a key role, along with the blockade runners and Fort Fisher (which guarded the other inlet to the river), in keeping the port of Wilmington open longer than any other port in the Confederacy. It was open for virtually the entire war, in fact, until the Fort Fisher fell to a massive Union assault on January 15th, 1865.
The three likeliest candidates are blockade runners Agnes E. Fry, Spunkie and Georgianna McCaw, all of which were lost in the area. Agnes E. Fry is the front-runner because she was the largest of the three and her measurements come closest to matching those of the wreck. The Fry was built in Scotland in 1864 and renamed after the captain’s wife. Like all blockade runners, it was equipped with the fastest engines money could buy, fast enough to dodge Union ships on its way to and from the Caribbean. Havana, Cuba, was a frequent port of call for the Agnes E. Fry, and it may also have stopped at neutral ports in the British colonies of Bermuda and the Bahamas.
It’s been decades since a Civil War wreck has been found in the Oak Island area and researchers are particularly excited about this wreck because it appears to be in significantly better condition than past finds. The Cape Fear Civil War Shipwreck District covers 27 known wartime wrecks, blockade runners, Confederate ironclads and Union vessels, the greatest assemblage of Civil War ships known. However, the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina is a very high-energy environment with a great deal of waves and sediment movement, so most shipwrecks are broken in pieces. Judging from the sonar image, this shipwreck looks almost intact.
As for why the wreck is in such good shape, Morris said the change in dune patterns means that sand has helped prevent the vessel from wearing down over the decades.
“She was sanded over for most of the time she’s been laying on the bottom,” [deputy state archaeologist Ray] Morris said. “Now, the sand’s been scoured free.”
Even though the risk of blockade running was high — the Union captured 1,100 blockade runners and either destroyed and forced aground another 355 — profits were so huge companies were willing to take the chance. A single successful run could pay for the ship and then some. The Fry ran itself aground to avoid capture. The engines, paddle wheels and other useable part of the ship were salvaged at the time.
A dive team will be exploring the wreck starting Wednesday. Researchers are optimistic that they’ll be able to confirm which ship it is once they explore it in person. Any surviving cargo, artifacts or ship parts will only be disturbed if they are needed to answer questions about the vessel. It’s illegal for people to remove anything from these protected vessels, but tourist divers are welcome to explore with their eyes as long as they keep their hands to themselves.
Their Majesties Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri, as well as Her Highness Avelina, did visit the Shire of Owlsherst on 5 March AS L, to attend the occasion of the King’s and Queen’s Bardic Championship.
The day began with a short court to send Jamilia al-Suba al-Hadid min Bhakail al-Sheikha and Magnus Hvalmagi to sit vigil to contemplate elevation to the Order of the Pelican and Order of the Laurel respectively.
There were many fine bardic performances for two rounds, when the third round was reached with four finalists. Drake Oranwood, Sol la Cantor, Alys Mackyntoich and Æthelflied Brewbane.
Not long after these final four performances, on the topic of Valor in a manner chosen by His Majesty Brennan, were complete, Their Majesties did open their court.
The Queen’s Bardic Champion, William the Alchemist, was called forward. He was thanked for his service. Her Majesty invited her new champion, Alys Mackyntoich. Alys was presented with the regalia of her championship, a scroll by Ysemay Sterling, and attended Her Majesty in court.
The King’s Bardic Champion, Ysemay Sterling, was called forward. She was thanked for her service. His Majesty invited his new champion, Æthelflied Brewbane. Æthelflied was presented with the regalia of her championship, a scroll by Ysemay Sterling, and attended His Majesty in court.
All four finalists received tokens from Their Majesties for their entertaining performances.
The Princess Royal, Courtney Rose, did wish to present a scroll of her making to a bard she chose as her champion. Thus it was that Lianor de Matos was invited into court to receive her accolade.
King Brennan and Queen Caoilfhionn invited representatives of the Shire of Owlsherst to attend court. They were thus presented with fine gifts, and Their Majesties thanks their hosts for their hospitality.
Next did Their Majesties invite into their court Ben the Rat Catcher. Though a youth of the Kingdom, they spoke well of his service, and named him a Page to their Court. The Order of the Tygers’ Cub were called forth. Ben received a medallion, and a scroll by Harold von Auerbach.
The order was not complete, however. Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri called into their court Spencer Oranwood. He was made a Page to their Court and inducted into the Order. Spencer received a medallion and a scroll featuring calligraphy by Leonete d’Angely, illumination by Tola Knyttir and words by Alys Mackyntoich.
Next did Their Majesties call into their court Sarah-Grace Blakeslee. Though she was not herself present, they presented for her the garter of the Order of Gawain, and a scroll with calligraphy by Aleksei Dmitriev and illumination by Isa of Ruantallan.
Her Majesty called forward all those children who had participated in Her Service Initiative. They received tokens for their service.
All of the children present were invited before the court. The toybox was run, and as per usual there was much laughter at the joy of the children.
Their Majesties next called into their court Emerald Unudottir. They made her a Lady of the Court. She was Awarded Arms, and received a scroll by Elsa de Lyon.
Their Majesties invited into court all those attending their first, second or third event. They were thanked for attending, and presented tokens to remember the day by.
Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri next called into their court Jamilia al-Suba al-Hadid min Bhakail al-Sheikha. She answered in the affirmative that she would join the Order, and so the Order of the Pelican was called forth. Suba was elevated to the order, receiving a medallion, robe and hat and a scroll by Saerlaith ingen Chennetig with words by Sabine de Kaerbriant.
Their Majesties next called into their court Siobhan Nic Ghadhra. They made her a Lady of the Court. She was Awarded Arms, and received a scroll by Marietta Charay.
Their Majesties invited Hashiji Morikatsu into their court. They spoke of his combat prowess, presenting him with a medallion and thus inducted him into the Order of the Silver Tyger.
The Order not yet complete, Their Majesties called into court Seamus Mac Neachtain. His prowess well regarded, he was presented with a medallion and inducted into the Order of the Silver Tyger.
Their Majesties called into court the companions of the Order of the Silver Wheel. Next was Josceline le esqurel called before Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri. For his service he was inducted into the Order of the Silver Wheel, receiving a medallion and a scroll by þóra Eiríksdóttir with words in French by Brunissende Dragonette de Brocéliande.
The Order still incomplete, Their Majesties invited before them Robert the Tall. For his service he was made a member of the Order of the Silver Wheel, presented with a medallion and a scroll by Onóra ingheann Uí Rauirc.
Next did Their Majesties invite into their court Donnchadh Lochlain. He was Awarded Arms and made a Lord of the Court, and further presented with a scroll by Sorcha Dhocair inghean Uí Ruairc with words by Ulrich Reinhart.
Their Majesties invited into court Drake Oranwood. Impressed with his performance overall, they named him a companion of the Order of the Silver Brooch. He would be presented with a medallion of the order after court.
Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri next called into their court Magnus Hvalmagi. He answered in the affirmative that he would join the Order, and so the Order of the Laurel was called forth. Magnus was elevated to the order, receiving a medallion, coat and hat and a scroll by Vettorio Antonello, as well as a drinking horn by Frigga with words by Toki Redbeard and Norse poem by Fridrikr Tomasson av Knusslig Hamn.
As Their Majesties went to close their Court, Ruslan Novgorodcev demanded a boon. So it was he offered to Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri his fealty.
There being no further business, the court of Their Majesties was closed. Long live the King and Queen! Long live the Prince and Princess! Long live the Kingdom of the East!
Malcolm Bowman, Eastern Crown Herald.
A thank you to the Heralds for the court. Ysemay Sterling, William the Alchemist, Sabine de Kerbriant, Alys Mackyntoich, and Colin Ursell.
Filed under: Court Tagged: Bardic, champions, court report
Scandinavian researchers have exhumed the bones of two direct descendants of Rollo, the 10th century Viking founder of the Duchy of Normandy, in an attempt to answer the long-debated question of whether Rollo was Danish or Norwegian.
Historians have differed on the matter of Rollo’s national origins since at least the 11th century. Norman historian Dudo of Saint-Quentin (ca. 965-1043) said in his Historia Normannorum that Rollo was the son of a “Danish” king who was exiled and made his way to France, but at the time Dudo was in the employ of Richard II of Normandy who was allied to the Danish king Sweyn Forkbeard. He had a dog in the hunt, as it were, and cannot be considered reliable on this question. Goffredo Malaterra, a monk in Sicily writing in the late 11th century, said Rollo hailed from Norway. In the 13th Norwegian-Icelandic sagas Heimskringla and Orkneyinga, Rollo appears as Ganger-Hrólf, the son of Rognvald Eysteinsson, yarl of Møre in western Norway. (Rollo is a Latinization of Hrólf.)
With these conflicting and vague sources, historians have argued the point for centuries. It matters because of how important Rollo was to European history. His raids along the Seine so bedevilled Charles III, aka Charles the Simple, King of Western Francia, that he finally bought Rollo off with huge tracts of land between the city of Rouen and the mouth of the Seine in exchange for him switching from raider to protector. He appears in only one primary source: a charter from 918 which mentions the lands ceded to Rollo and his “Northmen on the Seine.” It seems Rollo ruled those lands as Count of Rouen until at least 927 after which his son William I Longsword acceded to what would become known during his rule as the Dukedom of Normandy, after the Norsemen who founded it. William Longsword’s son was Richard I of Normandy. Richard I’s son was Richard II. Richard II’s son Robert I was the father of William the Conqueror.
This January, French government and church authorities granted the research team permission to open the tomb of Rollo’s grandson Richard I and great-grandson Richard II. This is only the second time a French king’s tomb has been opened since World War II. On Monday, February 29th, Per Holck, Professor Emeritus at the University of Oslo, and University of Copenhagen geneticist Andaine Seguin Orlando, opened the two small ossuary coffins buried under the floor southern transept of the gothic church of Fécamp Abbey. Inside one of them were the skeletal remains of Richard II, known as Richard the Good, including a lower jaw with eight teeth.
They were hoping to find teeth because extracting ancient DNA is tricky and the genetic material inside teeth is well-protected by the outer layers. Holck and Orlando retrieved five of the teeth. They will be tested at the University of Oslo and the Centre for GeoGenetics at the University of Copenhagen. If all goes well, the research team and French authorities will announce the results in the autumn.
The remains of the Richards have been moved before. Richard I, who rebuilt the church after it was destroyed in Viking raids, and Richard II, who made it a Benedictine monastery, were initially buried outside the church. Richard II’s great-great-great-grandson Henry II of England had his ancestors’ bones reburied inside the church. Remains that are not in their original location can be problematic to authenticate. I don’t know if this study plans to do anything specific to confirm first and foremost that they really are the bones of Richard II. Also, if the bones were treated at any point — boiled to remove the flesh and make them a clean fit for a small coffin — DNA extraction will be even more challenging, albeit not impossible. Teeth are the Fort Knox of the body.
If you’ve been watching Vikings on the basic cable station formerly known as the History Channel, Ragnar’s brother Rollo is very loosely based on the historical Count of Rouen. They had to conflate sagas and mess with the timeline to make them brothers, so who knows if he’ll wind up in Normandy on the series, but he’s in France and married to Charles the Simple’s daughter, who may or may not have existed and if she existed, may or may not have survived to adulthood, but is mentioned as Rollo’s wife in William of Jumièges 11th century chronicle Gesta Normannorum Ducum and in Dudo’s history which relied heavily on Jumièges’.
Baroness Oddkatla Jonsdottir has been a member of the SCA for about 10 years. She is a costumer and a cook who loves to organize things. She has participated in the East Kingdom Artisan Exchange since it’s beginning and enjoy making gifts or pieces of art for people. Her Excellency started the Æ Artisan Exchange in Æthelmearc to promote the artisans and art of our kingdom, plus it’s just plain fun.
1. What is the artisan’s exchange?
2. What is the purpose?
3. How do people participate?
4. What are the rules/deadlines?
5. How do people contact you?
The 8,000-year-old rock art painted on a walls of the Wadi Sūra II in the Sahara Desert is replete with handprints. It’s a common theme in ancient rock art. Artists used their hands as stencils and painted or blew pigment around them leaving a negative handprint. The cave was discovered in 2002 about six miles from the famous Cave of Swimmers which featured prominently in that endless bore of a movie, The English Patient. It’s 66 feet long and 26 feet deep and there are about 900 stencil paintings on the wall. In addition to the hands, artists used arms, feet, circular objects and sticks as stencils and red, yellow, orange and brown pigments. There are also drawings of headless people and a variety of wildlife which inspired the nickname Cave of the Beasts.
Among the hundreds of adult human handprints are 13 tiny hands. While children’s handprints have been found in ancient rock art from Argentina to Australia, they’ve never been found before in the Sahara. When anthropologist Emmanuelle Honoré of the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research first saw the small handprints in Wadi Sura II in 2006, she was shocked. They looked too tiny to be the hands of babies even a very small baby wouldn’t have the long, thin fingers of the prints on the cave wall.
Honoré took precise measurements of the handprints and set out to compare them to the hands of newborns and, because the prints are so small, to premature babies as well. Since she couldn’t very well just march into a maternity ward and demand to measure the hands of premies and full-term neonates, Honoré teamed up with doctors from the perinatal department of the Lille University School of Medicine, the largest medical school in France. They collected hand measurements from infants of 37 to 41 weeks gestational age and premature babies from 26 to 36 weeks gestational age. The parents of the babies, incidentally, were excited that their newborns would start off life contributing to a scientific study.
Just as Honoré suspected, the proportions were way off. She considered whether the stencils might have been wooden or clay molds, but the finger and hand positions were too irregular for that. Honoré then looked to other animals. Monkeys seemed likely candidates, but again the proportions didn’t work.
While doing research at a crocodile farm in Zambia, it occurred to Honoré that a reptile hand was a possibility. Reptiles like young crocodiles and desert monitor lizards leave handprints that at first glance look surprisingly like baby human hands. Crocodiles didn’t live there 8,000 years ago and would have had to have been transported to the Wadi Sura II area, or at least the feet would have. The desert monitor lizard, on the other hand, was native to the region, and its forefeet are tiny with long fingers, just like the stencils. Even today the desert monitor lizard lives in the area and is considered a protective force to the nomadic tribes who share their ecosystem.
Other prehistoric cultures used animals as stencils for their rock art. For example, the Aboriginal people used emu foot stencils in the Carnarvon Gorge and Tent Shelter in Australia, and choike/nandu (birds in the genus Rhea) stencils are in the rock art at La Cueva de las Manos in Argentina, the researchers wrote in the study.
It’s unclear why the ancient people at Wadi Sūra II used reptile hands as stencils, but Honoré said she’s working on a new study that analyzes possible reasons.
“I think we have to remain a bit prudent,” she said. “We have to explore all of the hypotheses without taking anything for granted.”
She’s also prudently avoiding speculation on whether the animal’s foot was severed before it was used as an artist’s stencil or whether the artists actually pressed the wee foot of a living lizard up to the wall.
This is the first time non-human five-fingered hand stencils have been discovered in rock art anywhere in the world. The study has been published in the latest issue of the Journal of Archaeological Science.
The King’s and Queen’s Bardic Champions were announced today at the event held in the Shire of Owlsherst. The finalists were Lady Aethelfeid Flied Brewbane, Mistress Alys Mackyntoich, Lord Drake Oranwood, and Mistress Sol la Cantor. Queen’s Champion is Mistress Alys Mackyntoich. King’s Champion is Lady Aethelfleid Brewbane.
Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: bardic champions
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope talks period pavilions.
As spring approaches, in many Kingdoms Scadians’ thoughts naturally turn to…. Pennsic!
What, did you think we’d say “love?”
Anyway, as you start your Pennsic planning, many of you may be considering getting a period pavilion. Whether you’re getting your first medieval tent or upgrading to something bigger and grander, we have some advice for you.
What type of tent should I get?
Every type of period pavilion has its pluses and minuses. Do you want a tent for a family, or a couple, or are you single? Do you have a lot of stuff like armor and a wood frame bed, or do you plan to just unroll a sleeping bag or blow up an air mattress? Will you spend a lot of time in your tent, or is it just going to be used for sleeping? How big is your vehicle? Are you strong and able-bodied enough to carry poles and lots of canvas? Do you have plenty of friends to help you set your tent up? How much do aesthetics and time period matter to you?
Here’s an overview of some of the most common types of period pavilions you’ll find in the SCA and their pros and cons.
European Pavilions of the Middle Ages and Renaissance:
Early Period Northern European/Norse Styles:
Other Types of Tents:
Should I buy a pavilion or make it myself?
I have built numerous pavilions. Making a tent is not for the faint of heart, but it can save you a lot of money. Most recently, I built the Geteld shown above for my son for about $450 including canvas, poles, and stakes. The same tent purchased from a retailer would have been about $800-1000.
That said, if you are not confident of your abilities, it may not be worth the risk. If your geometry and sewing skills aren’t up to the task, you could make some very expensive mistakes. There aren’t a lot of patterns available for making tents, and the ones you’ll find online are often vague and may not meet your requirements for size and width of canvas. You need lots of room to layout the canvas and cut it as well as sew it. You’ll also need a very heavy duty sewing machine. If you try to sew canvas tents on a regular sewing machine intended for making clothing, it might work, but it could cause major damage to your machine. Ask me how I know this….
And, of course, for most pavilions you also need the tools and skill to do some fairly simple woodworking like cutting and sanding poles, drilling holes for metal spikes, etc.
Building a Tent
If you are still undeterred, here are some basic things to know before building your own tent:
All of this said, your best bet is to do a lot of research, and if possible, get guidance and assistance from someone who has previously built a period pavilion. One great resource is the website of Mistress Mira Sherlock of the Kingdom of AnTir, which has links to over 100 articles and websites on building or buying tents.
Buying a New Tent
While you will pay more to buy a tent than to build one, you’ll know up front that you’re getting what you want and it will be professionally made. Reputable companies offer guarantees and provide accessories like tent stakes, poles, ropes, rope sliders, and other related items.
Mistress Mira Sherlock’s website also lists tent suppliers. I have personally dealt with Panther Primitives and highly recommend them, and have friends who have also been happy with Tentsmiths.
Some considerations when purchasing a new tent:
Buying a Used Tent
You will often find people selling period pavilions, whether because they are upgrading, downsizing, or just not interested in camping any more. As with all purchases of used equipment, be cautious.
Caring for period pavilions
Congratulations on your new pavilion! Now, you want to take good care of it, right? It’s probably one of the biggest investments you’ve made, on a par with a high-end laptop computer or big screen TV. Here are some ways to ensure that your new tent lasts a long time.
Thanks to THLord Sheriff Viktor von Murdoch, Dame Aoife Finn, and Master Brion Donul Gilbert for advice on pavilions for this article. Also thanks to all of the kind gentles who provided photos of their beautiful pavilions.
The following detailed information on the Heraldic Display Competition at Mudthaw was provided by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich.
This competition is intended to encourage period and period-style heraldic display. “Heraldic display” is not limited to banners. In period, a person’s armory was placed on any number of personal ad useful items, including household objects and clothing.
There will be multiple categories for entries: Youth (ages 12 and under), Teen (ages 13-17), Novice, Journeyman and Craftsman. Criteria for each category are explained below. Youth and Teens may, at their choice, enter in one of the other categories instead. Prizes will be given for every category in which there are entries. The Baron and Baroness of Settmour Swamp will also be giving out a prize to the artisan(s) of their choice.
Entries in all categories will be judged based on the following criteria:
(1) Heraldic style: Points will be given for the use of SCA-registered or period armory. Extra points will be given if the armory being displayed is good heraldic style. If you are using SCA-registered armory, please be sure to include a note stating to whom it is registered and when.
(2) Period display method: Is this the kind of item that people put heraldry on in period? Is the heraldry displayed on the item in the way period people did it? More points will be awarded for more period methods and motifs.
(3) Artistic merit: Is the item pleasing to the eye? Items that convey a good medieval or Renaissance feel will be assigned more points.
(4) Use of period materials and techniques: As this is an SCA arts and sciences competition, the use of period materials and techniques (or modern techniques replicating period techniques where reasonable) is expected. The more period your techniques and materials, the more points will be awarded.
As to each individual category:
Please note that documentation is required for Journeyman and Craftsman level entries. Even for the categories where documentation is not required, documentation is strongly encouraged and will make the judges very happy. Documentation assistance is available at Mistress Alys’ blog (http://alysprojects.blogspot.com/2016/03/heraldic-display-research-links.html).
Documentation for this competition should address the following issues:
There is no page limit for documentation.
Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Heraldry
Tonight at midnight (March 5) is the deadline for Literary Arts category entries for the Pent!
Lit1: Research Paper
Entries in Literary Arts must be received by the Pent Coordinator no later than March 5. Entries must be sent electronically to carnabyservices at yahoo dot com (email link also here). If you do not receive a confirmation email within 24 hours of sending, contact the Pent coordinator. You may attach your entry as a Word document or as a pdf.
Please make sure your name IS NOT on the entry itself.
Send the following information with your email and use “Pent Literary Entry” as your subject line:
The works will be assigned an entrant number (for blind judging purposes) and then forwarded to the judges. If you are entering the Literary Arts Category, we will automatically pre-register you and assign your general entrant number; this number will also be used for any other entries you have for the event.
General Pent information can be found on the Pent website. You can pre-register for the Pent on the Pent website as well – save some time that morning!
Remember the bumbling idiots who stole two Chinese Qing Dynasty artifacts worth $3 million from the Durham University Oriental Museum in April of 2012? It turns out they were just the stupid tip of a large and dangerous organized crime iceberg. Fourteen of them have been found guilty of stealing and plotting to steal Chinese antiquities and rhino horns from multiple museums and auction houses. Four masterminds were convicted on Monday, which allowed the Durham police to release the news about the full scope the plot and the connection between all these cases.
This is the culmination of a four-year investigation named Operation Griffin that began with the April 2012 thefts at Durham University, but the Oriental Museum was first targeted in January of that year. An Irishman tried to use decorators’ tools to steal a Ming Dynasty ceramic sculpture from a cabinet. The glass broke and the would-be thief was caught in the attempt to flee. In February four men tried to steal a rhino head from the Norwich Castle Museum. The head was so heavy they dropped it and ran. These four were later arrested and convicted. In March another bunch of crappy criminals tried to steal a rhino libation cup from Gorringes auction house in Lewes. They got confused and took a much cheaper bamboo bowl instead and were overpowered and arrested outside the building.
This pathetic litany of failure seemed to come to an end with the April 5th theft of the two Chinese jade pieces from the Durham Oriental Museum. At least they managed to cut a hole in the wall, take the objects they meant to take and get out before the police arrived. The dumbassness kicked in when they hid the loot on wasteland next to Harle Street on the outskirts of Durham. They neglected to note the exact spot and when the team of people dispatched to retrieve the artifacts arrived 16 hours later, they were unable to find them.
We owe this marvelous failure to a local resident who, after trimming his Leylandii hedge, threw the branches over his fence, unwittingly covering up a few million dollars worth of jade. Many frantic phone calls between the thieves and their bosses ensued. The police dubbed this “Panic Day” and it was key to their understanding that these thefts were part of a major criminal conspiracy.
The two dimwits were caught by the police so the gang wrote the loot off and quickly planned to replace the stolen goods with new stolen goods. On Friday the 13th of April, four thieves broke into the Fitzwilliam Museum and stole 18 very valuable pieces of Chinese jade. After so many failures, this was the motherlode. The thefts from Durham and Cambridge combined were worth about £17 million ($24,197,000) on the legal market, but on the Far East black market they were worth far more. Police estimate they could have gone for as much as £57 million ($81,131,000). Deep-pocketed Chinese collectors have been spending millions for heritage pieces at auctions and from dealers. Many have no particular concern about how the objects were acquired and are willing to pay whatever price no questions asked.
Another succesful raid took place a year later on April 17th, 2013, when three men broke in the National Museum of Ireland Archives and stole four 100-year-old rhino heads to sell their horns on the Chinese market. Rhino horn is used in traditional Chinese medicine, and with so few rhinos left in the wild, the price of their horns is astronomical. Those eight horns on the rhino heads in the museum’s storage facility were worth an estimated £428,000 ($610,000).
Six of the men convicted for this conspiracy are connected by family or business to a community of Irish Travellers in Rathkeale, County Limerick. That’s why the gang is known as the Rathkeale Rovers. The four convicted Monday — Daniel “Turkey” O’Brien, John “Kerry” O’Brien, Richard “Kerry” O’Brien Jr. and Michael Hegarty — are all family or friends. They didn’t sully their hands doing any of the burglaries. They just coordinated things from the safety of the Traveller camps. Instead, petty criminals were hired to do their dirty work, which is why so many of these thefts ended in ridiculousness, and why a slow 15-year-old boy who had never been to secondary school was arrested for the Fitzwilliam thefts, convicted and ultimately sentenced to four months.
Police believe at least one of the artifacts stolen from the Fitzwillian was deliberately chosen as a replacement for the jade bowl lost in Durham, which means this may well have been a commissioned theft, something often bandied about after important art and artifacts are stolen, but almost never really happens. One of the 14 convicted in the plot is Chi Chong Donald Wong, an antique-watch dealer and property owner in London and Hong Kong who acted as fence and middle-man between the Rathkeale leaders and buyers in Hong Kong. Police busted him twice with plastic bags stuffed full of thousands of pounds in cash.
The police investigation found that the conspiracy reaches far beyond the borders of the UK. The gang has been stealing and smuggling rhino horn all over the world for years.
The robberies in Britain were part of a much wider picture of criminality across Europe. A year before Supt Green’s team started work, the European policing agency Europol released details of its own assessment of an organised crime group stealing rhino horn across Europe.
Europol charted dozens of robberies of rhino horn and had identified an organised crime group Irish Travellers – dubbed by the media as the Rathkeale Rovers or the Dead Zoo gang – as being behind them. A single rhino horn – valued for its (ineffective) medicinal qualities in China and the Far East – could reach €200,000 (£156,000), it said. The group was active in North and South America, South Africa, China and Australia.
For years, the gang had been targeting museums, but because there were only a few raids in each country, nobody had joined up the dots. The criminals reinvested the proceeds in property and luxury cars – much of it back in Rathkeale in Co Limerick – while continuing to live in their caravans. All of the key players were still in circulation.
The British team fed their information about telephone numbers, suspects, car number plates into the intelligence pool gathered by Europol. “It lit up their database like a Christmas tree,” a police source told The Independent.
Since the arrests, there have been no new thefts of Chinese artifacts or rhino horns in the UK. Unfortunately none of the artifacts stolen from the Fitzwilliam have been found. Police think they were quickly shifted overseas for sale to Chinese buyers and are likely gone forever.
Someone started a Facebook Page about herbal and apothecary guild work in the Known World and, after some discussion, it became clear that Æthelmearc didn’t have one and would like a kingdom guild.
Botany is one of those subjects that goes hand in hand with medieval research. Whether attempting to cure an illness, make or dye cloth, or design a garden, plants are always important to our SCA persona.
The Æthelmearc Herbal and Apothecary Guild will be focused on all aspects of plant use throughout the Middle Ages, with the caveat that we include Anachronisms such as modern-day safety and knowledge. We shouldn’t poison ourselves with bracken ferns when it has recently been discovered they are severely mutagenic, right?
I will be at Ice Dragon 2016 and would love to talk with like-minded people about starting an Herbal Guild here in Æthelmearc.
I look forward to accomplishing much with you.
Lady Maggie Rue