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Burial ground unearthed at Laos’ Plain of Jars

History Blog - Wed, 2016-04-06 01:41

Archaeologists have unearthed a burial ground at one of Laos’ most fascinating and mysterious ancient sites, the Plain of Jars. The remains are estimated to be about 2,500 years old. An international team of archaeologists from The Australian National University (ANU), Monash University and the archaeology division of the Lao Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism discovered seven burials and four probable burials with ceramic grave goods.

The Plain of Jars is a group of more than 90 megalithic sites in the central Lao province of Xieng Khouang which are peppered with monumental stone jars carved from a quarry five to six miles away and then dragged to the various jar groupings. This was an impressive feat as some of the jars are massive; the largest weigh 10 metric tons. Most of them are made of sandstone, but four other rock types — granite, conglomerate, limestone and breccia — were also used. They range from three to 10 feet high, two to six-and-a-half feet in diameter and are basically cylindrical in shape although they funnel upwards a little with a wider bottom than top. Rims around the top suggest they used to have lids, but no lids have ever been discovered in situ. Other stone pieces have been found, however: discs placed on the ground over burial pits and unworked stone grave markers.

Each jar grouping contains between one and 392 jars, the latter of which is near a Hmong village that can only be accessed by foot. The group where the burial ground was recently discovered is called Site 1 and has more than 300 jars, stone discs and grave markers. Very little is known about the makers of the Plain of Jars megaliths. With no writing and few engravings on the stones, archaeologists haven’t had much to go on.

In the first excavations in the 1930s, archaeologists found evidence of cremation, including burned teeth and bone fragments, inside the jars. They also found unburned human skeletal remains buried around the jars along with pottery, iron and bronze objects, beads and other artifacts. After that, there was a gap of six decades before the next archaeological explorations of the site. For almost a decade (1964-1973), the Plain of Jars was pelted with an unspeakable number of bombs by the US in the Secret War against the North Vietnamese and Pathet Lao communists. US planes dropped 262 million cluster bombs on Laos, almost all of them on the Plain of Jars, and 80 million of them never exploded. Many of the ancient stones suffered irreparable damage, and the unexploded ordnance made one of the most important prehistoric sites in the world so dangerous that archaeologists didn’t return until 1994, and even though they stuck to surveys and a handful of excavations then they were taking enormous risks.

UNESCO and the Mines Advisory Group NGO cleared seven of the jar sites between 2004 and 2007, one of which was Site 1. This opened the door for a major archaeological excavation that might answer some of the many questions about who made these jars and why.

One popular theory was that the jars were used as vessels for decomposing bodies. Once the soft tissues had decayed, the bones were then buried around the jars. This year’s discovery of primary burial where the individual was interred in the burial ground and never moved is therefore of great importance.

[The Australian National University archaeologist and dig leader] Dr O’Reilly said the dig had revealed three distinct types of burial.

“There are pits full of bones with a large limestone block placed over them and other burials where bones have been placed in ceramic vessels,” he said. “Our excavations have also revealed, for the first time at one of these sites, a primary burial, where a body was placed in a grave.”

He also said that determining the status of the buried individuals was difficult due to a lack of material objects buried with them, but hoped some genetic analysis might shed some light on whom these people were related to.

DNA and stable isotope analysis could provide key information on the ethnicity and geographic origin of the people who used the stone jars. The project will continue for five years, stretching further afield to the Assam region of northeastern India where there are megalithic jar sites that are similar enough to the Laotian Plain of Jars to explore whether there may be a link between them.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Macclesfield Psalter Workshop – Get Your Scribal On!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-04-05 22:57

An all day scribal workshop focusing on the Macclesfield Psalter will be held in BMDL at The Castle (755 Stonegate Dr, Wexford PA 15090) on Sunday, April 24, from 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. Please heed the parking marshal, as the site is on a private street. Questions regarding the Castle or directions to the Castle may be addressed by TRHs Byron or Ariella- they may be reached by telephone (724) 933-4661.

Have you tried your hand at painting a Psalter style scroll? No? Well this is your chance to receive all the instruction and guidance needed to complete a Psalter style scroll. Scribes will be learning new techniques on exercise cards and then immediately applying that new knowledge directly onto the scroll blank.

Overview/Elements of the Psalter-Early period painting/shading techniques,Whitework, Diapering, Gilding and Caligraphy.

Materials fee is $10.00 and will include: Exercise cards for each of the above areas of instruction and hand outs. A hand drawn scroll blank with matching color photocopy of that folio from the book. Palette with enough paint to complete exercise cards AND scroll blank. Gilding supplies to complete scroll (done in class time). Correct caligraphy nib for the manuscript.

Class limit is 20 scribes with 4 wait list spots held per workshop; a total of 6 workshops are being planned for 2016.

~Wait listers~ will be given first choice for the next available workshop or future workshop of their choice and will be placed at the top of that workshop roster. Further, the registration for the next available workshop will open the day _after_ the current workshop is held.

No auditors will be accepted for the 6-8 hour workshop(s) because we want to make it possible for every scribe to participate fully in one of the six 2016 all day workshops and receive the full measure of attention and instruction that is only possible with the scribe as a full student.

Scribes are asked to bring their own scribal boxes w/ brushes, caligraphy pen/nib holder and a scroll case and any other creature comforts they require.

The focus is on scribal arts, there will be no other activities scheduled for the day, garb is optional.

A snack/potluck style table will be set up for participants to bring stuff to share. After the workshop those interested are invited to go out for a local Chinese buffet for dinner.

2016 workshops to include: Macclesfield Psalter(BMDL), A beginner French Illumination workshop (western PA), Visconti Hours (western NY), Gladzor Gospels (Pennsic), Grand Hours of Anne of Brittany (eastern NY) and a workshop in WV – pending site confirmation.

In an effort to make sure we have enough supplies on hand we ask that you send Antoinette an email to let her know that you plan to attend.

Registrations and questions may be sent to mistressantoinettedelacroix@gmail.com. 

Mistress Antoinette de la Croix

Categories: SCA news sites

East Kingdom Server Planned Outage Notice

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-04-05 19:08

“The East Kingdom Server will undergo a planned upgrade during the late evening of Wednesday, 4/6/2016.

This is the third in a series of planned updates this year. (The second update did not require an interruption of services, and was performed last Thursday.)

We will be migrating from our current level of service “Linode 8GB” to the next tier of service “Linode 16GB” with the same Hosting service, which will appear to be seamless to the populace. This will be expanding our available resources and offer a better user experience.

Time Frame 9:00pm-12:30am Eastern Time

This is expected to run for 144 minutes. (I am giving it extra time in case anything happens and a recover is required.)

During this time frame all East Kingdom services will be unavailable to the populace.  Tools that backbone or pull from the server will also be affected (IE: Email, Help Desk, List Server, etc).”

For more information on the EK Server upgrade, please see the EK Webminister’s notice.

Filed under: Announcements, Official Notices

Pistols Lafayette gave to Bolívar poised to break auction records

History Blog - Tue, 2016-04-05 02:30

A unique pair of pistols with a connection to two great revolutionary leaders — the Marquis de Lafayette and Simón Bolívar — and an association with a third — George Washington — are coming up for auction next week and may very well break the record for pistols sold at auction. They will be on the auction block at the Exceptional Sale on April 13th at Christie’s New York with a pre-sale estimate of $1,500,000-2,500,000.

The pair of silver-mounted rifled flintlocks were made by French gunsmith Nicolas Noël Boutet in 1824. They were a gift from Lafayette to Bolívar, the Venezuelan military leader who played a pivotal role in the South American revolutions against Spain and was instrumental in winning independence for Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, Ecuador, Peru and his namesake Bolivia. Bolívar had been an admirer of the luminaries of the American Revolution since he was a young boy, identifying particularly with George Washington, who like him, was raised a gentleman farmer.

In 1824, the Marquis de Lafayette visited the United States on last time, traveling to every state where he was acclaimed by huge crowds as a national hero.

Simón Bolívar’s nephew and adopted son, Fernando Bolívar, had come to the U.S. in 1822 to attend Germantown Academy (later attending the newly established University of Virginia because of his uncle’s great admiration of Thomas Jefferson). Lafayette met Fernando Bolívar in July 1825 when he went to Germantown to deliver an address. A great admirer of Simón Bolívar, Lafayette corresponded with him and famously named him ‘the George Washington of Latin America’. At the request of the Washington family Lafayette sent to Bolívar on October 13, 1825 a portrait of the President, a lock of Washington’s hair and a gold medal with his likeness. It was likely at this time that Lafayette sent the Boutet pistols to Bolívar, as his personal gift to the younger revolutionary – who perhaps he saw as carrying on the torch he had, by then, put down. Bolivar wrote from Lima on March 20, 1826 in reply: “Ah, what mortal could ever be worthy of the honors that you and Mount Vernon see fit to lavish on me!”

Lafayette’s pistols were not the first set by Boutet owned by Bolívar. He was an avid collector of firearms and is known to have owned at least one other pair of elegant pistols made by Boutet in his Versailles workshop. Bolívar acquired them during a sojourn in Paris in 1804 shortly after he was widowed at the young age of 21 and years before he became El Libertador. The precise circumstances and date of this acquisition are not known, but he may have had a very relevant personal reason for possessing the pistols. During his year in Paris, Bolívar was ushered into society by his lover Countess Fanny du Villars, wife of Count Dervieu de Villars, a retired Napoleonic colonel who spent most of his time at his country estate in Lyons, leaving his much younger wife to party as hard as she wished. Consequently, she had more than one lover (as did Bolívar), one of whom was Eugène de Beauharnais, Josephine’s son and Napoleon’s stepson, then only 19 years old and already a general. She enjoyed playing the two against each other.

One evening, she asked Eugène which animal Simón most resembled and Eugène said “moineau” (sparrow). That was less than flattering as it was, but Bolívar misheard it as “mono (monkey) and was enraged. He challenged Eugène to a duel on the spot. Fanny convinced him he hadn’t been called a monkey and tempers cooled, but it’s possible that exchange persuaded Bolívar to buy a pair of dueling pistols from the country’s premier gunsmith. It’s also possible that Fanny bought them for him as a playful present.

Although we know from letters and contemporary accounts that Simón Bolívar had many firearms in his collection, only five are known to have survived. There’s the pair going up for auction on the 13th, the Fanny-era pair and one single pistol now in a museum. The dueling pistols sold at Christie’s New York in 2004 for $1,687,500.

George Washington pistols are also very rare — only five pairs are known — and one pair of them holds the current record for pistols sold at auction. It’s a pair of steel saddle-mounted pistols by gunsmith Jacob Walster which the Marquis de Lafayette brought with him in 1777 when he traveled to the nascent United States fight in the Revolutionary War. Lafayette gave the pistols to Washington during the war, and Washington is thought to have carried them at Valley Forge, Monmouth, Yorktown, and, once he was President, during the Whiskey Rebellion. Two decades after his death, they were given to a future US President, Andrew Jackson, by William Robinson, husband of Washington’s grand-niece. With so illustrious an ownership history, it’s not entirely surprising that the guns sold for $1,986,000 in 2002. They were bought by the Richard King Mellon Foundation and are now on display at the Fort Ligonier museum in Pennsylvania.

Unlike Washington’s saddle pistols, there’s no evidence the Lafayette-Bolívar pistols saw actual combat. Even so, with their impeccable ownership history, extreme rarity and connection to the Revolutionary War heroes, they could well blow through that figure.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Princess Ariella Needs Your Help!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-04-04 23:06

Unto the Good Gentles of Æthelmearc does Ariella, Princess, send Warm Greetings!

The favor contest at Ice Dragon was a great success! We had six beautiful entries; thank you so much to the gentles who took the time to design and submit them. The populace’s choice, which was also my favorite for its simplicity and elegance, is shown here. It was designed by Lady Maggie Rue of the Shire of Hunter’s Home.

For the next step, we need your help!

I would love to have enough favors to give to everyone who requests one for both SCA 50 Year and Pennsic, most especially for those engaged in martial activities or serving as Kingdom Champions. That means hundreds of favors!

If you are willing to assist in the effort to provide Queen’s favors for the populace of Æthelmearc, please contact Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope

Favors can be done in any of the following media: hand or machine embroidery, silkscreen, or stencil on fabric, as well as tooled into leather or as pewter castings. If you have other ideas for favors, please let Mistress Arianna know. While we would like the design to remain essentially the same for all favors, you can feel free to embellish it by filling in the A or adding beads.

Mistress Arianna will be making kits available for those who wish to hand embroider or stencil favors. They will include the design and instructions for making it, as well as a piece of red fabric in the appropriate dimensions. You can get a kit from her at Coronation, the Siege of Harlech, and Æthelmearc War Practice.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Ariella, Princess

Categories: SCA news sites

Æthelmearc: A Great Place to Teach and Learn! (April)

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-04-04 16:00

Mistress Alicia Langland has compiled this list of opportunities to teach and learn arts and sciences across our Kingdom.

Their Highnesses have aptly named April the A&S month in Æthelmearc!

The Ice Dragon’s Passing signals the beginning of a month of opportunities to teach and learn.  Enjoy!

April 9:  Spring 2016 Æthelmearc Coronation, Shire of Gryffyns Keep

Features an A&S display and an Embroiderer’s Solar, a designated space for embroiderers and needleworkers to work on their latest project, share resources and books, and have fun together!

April 16:  Siege of Harlech IV, Barony-Marche of Debatable Lands

A brewing-only competition, organized by Master Tofi Kerthjalfadsson, to keep besieged spirits cheerful.

April 23:  AEthelmearc A&S Faire, Shire of Hartstone

An exhibition to display the talents of artisans who have a Sycamore or no kingdom A&S award.  Exhibits will be evaluated by teams of 3-4 evaluators, who will discuss the exhibit with the entrant after viewing the documentation and the exhibit.

April 24:  Scribal Workshop, Barony-Marche of Debatable Lands

Limited to just 20 participants, this all-day workshop will focus on the Macclesfield Psalter, a 14th century English manuscript.  After an overview of the Psalter and its elements, participants will learn early period painting/shading techniques, whitework, diapering, gilding and calligraphy.  Registrations and questions may be sent to MistressAntoinettedelaCroix@gmail.com.

April 24:  Regional Scribal Playtime, Shire of Hartstone

BMDL too far to travel on a Sunday?  Join Region 4 scribes for a hands-on gilding workshop hosted by Mistress Sthurrim Caithnes and Mistress Tiercelin.

April 28 – May 1:  Blackstone Raid XXV, Barony of Blackstone Mountain

Classes, an A&S Display, and a Scribal Playtime will offer plenty of opportunities to teach and learn.  To offer to teach, use the on-line form here or contact the event’s Arts and Sciences Coordinator, Lady Kathryn McLuing, at artsandsciences@blackstoneraid.org

April 30:  Pen vs. Sword IV, Shire of Angels Keep

This event features two distinct tracks: one for the scribal arts, and another for the science of the sword.  To offer to teach a class, contact Felice de Thornton, E. Harrison, at feliceofyork@gmail.com.

Categories: SCA news sites

Event Report: The Donnan Party

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-04-04 10:02

The Shire of Ballachlagan’s Donnan Party event on March 26 had its usual surfeit of heavy weapons and rapier, along with archery and thrown weapons.

Master Donnan MacDubhsithe, photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepori Levi.

The event began as a way to recognize the birthday of Master Donnan MacDubhsidhe by giving him a venue to receive the traditional fencer’s “birthday smacks.” It has evolved to include a heavy weapons muster for fighter to train for Pennsic.

The day started with the Court of the Imperatori, Tindal and Etain. Lady Julianna Ravenshaw explained the history of the event, and noted that while it was not Master Donnan’s actual birthday, it was the birthday of another gentle – Princess Ariella. Her Highness was presented with a cake, and the populace sang to her. The cake was later distributed with the lunch sideboard. The Imperatori then summoned Master Bastiano di Iacopo and asked if was ready to hold his vigil and play the prize for the Order of Defense, as he had received a Writ at Bog Twelfth Night in January. He answered in the affirmative and was escorted by the Masters of Defense to an area where he could meet with fencers and peers for that purpose. His elevation will take place at Coronation.

Court having ended, gentles scattered to don armor or pick up rapiers, bows, or axes and pursue the martial activities of their choice. The day being warm and sunny, the heavy and youth fighters went outside to the field behind the building, while the fencers took over the gyms to do Cut and Thrust training as well as hold classes on various rapier techniques. Master Benedict Fergus atte Mede, Kingdom Rapier Marshal, oversaw the authorization of about a dozen fencers in the new form of two-handed sword by various regional marshals. At noon the “birthday smacks” for Master Donnan began.

Click to view slideshow.

Slideshow photos by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Meanwhile, the heavy fighters outside took advantage of the large field to have pickup fights as well as a round robin novice tournament. The Marshal-in-Charge, Lord Oliver Lengthorn, commented, “The unbelt round robin was a ‘warmup tourney’ thing that occurs at the beginning of each of our Region’s musters. After the round robin was over, many of the Knights in attendance took the field to offer the unbelted fighters a few passes and one-on-one instruction. The rest of the day we worked on small unit maneuvers in field battles and also drilled some tactics for limited front engagements.
We spent the day making our AErmy stronger. Though there is no individual winner to report, the entire Kingdom wins!”

After the tourney and warmups, the heavy fighters held field battles under the watchful eye of Augustus Tindal and Sir Thorgrim Skullsplitter.

Video by Arianna.

The youth fighters also enjoyed the fine weather, with the Kingdom Division 2 Champion, Drake, helping to train two brand new youth fighters. Master Liam macanTsaoire and Lord Rouland of Willowbrooke, both youth sparring marshals, took time out to fight against the youth as well.

Youth Combat photos by Arianna. Click to view as a slideshow.

Lunch was a buffet taco bar that also included fruits, veggies, and the Princess’ birthday cake.

In the afternoon the fencers held a Scholar’s Tourney for fencers who did not possess a White Scarf or Master of Defense. It had about 15 participants, and was won by Lord Markus Skalpr Grimsson.

Photo by Arianna.

As the day wound down, the Imperatori held their afternoon court, where they recognized many worthy gentles as noted in the Court Report. Most notably, THLady Fiora d’Artusio was inducted into the Order of the White Scarf for her skill on the rapier field. She was presented with a scarf from her husband, Master Will Parris, which he said was the first scarf he had received and which he had worn into many battles.

THLady Fiora d’Artusio is admitted to the Order of the White Scarf. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Congratulations to the Shire of Ballachlagan on another successful Donnan Party!


Categories: SCA news sites

Medieval copper scourge found at Rufford Abbey

History Blog - Mon, 2016-04-04 01:07

Archaeologists excavating Rufford Abbey, a country estate in Nottinghamshire, England, that was once a Cistercian monastery, have discovered the remains of a vicious-looking copper scourge. Nottinghamshire County Council community archaeologists were digging under a meadow on the property in 2014 when they saw a green stain in the soil. The stain surrounded pieces of wire copper strands that had been braided together in tubular form.

They weren’t certain what the fragments were, but archaeologists Emily Gillott and Lorraine Horsley thought it was reminiscent of a copper scourge unearthed in the dormitory area of the ruins of Rievaulx Abbey in Yorkshire. Testing of the artifact and consultation with experts has now confirmed that Gillot and Horsley were correct. It is one of only four monastic copper scourges known in Britain. The other three are at Rievaulx, Roche Abbey and Grovebury Priory. The exact date of manufacture and use is unknown, but it’s from the late medieval period.

These were personal items, likely used in the privacy of a monk’s own cell. He would beat himself with the scourge in voluntary penance, to mortify his flesh for his sins and the sins of everyone he prayed for as Christ voluntarily sacrificed his body for the sins of mankind. There was a long and controversial tradition of self-flagellation in the Catholic Church, particularly in monastic life. St. Peter Damien introduced the practice as part of a new, stricter interpretation of the Rule of St. Benedict at the Camaldolese priory of Fonte Avellana in the 11th century. His self-flagellation rule was that it should be performed accompanied by the recital of psalms, 100 strokes of a leather thong on the bare back per psalm. The entire psalter would take 15,000 strokes to get through. Peter Damien suggested 40 Psalms and 4,000 stripes at a time should suffice, under normal circumstances, but the practice caught on like wildfire in the monastery and many monks outdid each other to pass that mark.

One of the monks at Fonte Avellana under St. Peter Damien’s leadership was St. Dominic Loricatus, whose moniker was a reference to the chain mail he wore next to his skin to torture himself harder than by wearing a mere hairshirt. He committment to self-flagellation was so extreme it seems impossible to be true. It got him a mention in Edward Gibbon The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire.

It is a maxim of the civil law, that whosoever cannot pay with his purse, must pay with his body; and the practice of flagellation was adopted by the monks, a cheap, though painful equivalent. By a fantastic arithmetic, a year of penance was taxed at three thousand lashes; and such was the skill and patience of a famous hermit, St. Dominic of the iron Cuirass, that in six days he could discharge an entire century, by a whipping of three hundred thousand stripes.

That’s 50,000 stripes a day. St. Peter Damien offered different figures in the biography he wrote of St. Dominic Loricatus. He said Loricatus did 12 Psalters without a break until he died of exhaustion in 1063. One Psalter = 15,000 lashes, so 12 = 180,000. Either way it’s horrifying, and that was with leather whip, not a copper one.

Self-flagellation became a regular part of monastic disciple for other rules as well, and spread far and wide during times of crisis, most notably when the Black Death tore through Europe in 1349. Flagellants would travel from city to city, naked from the waist up, whipping themselves while reciting psalms. They hoped their brutal public voluntary penance in imitation of Christ would persuade God to have mercy on the towns they visited and spare them from any further horrors of the plague. They probably helped spread it instead.

It’s possible that the copper scourges found in the English monasteries were used during the plague years as well. They’re certainly mean enough to suggest they were a response to a situation requiring extraordinary countermeasures.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Ancient textiles found in Nepal suggest Silk Road ran further south

History Blog - Sun, 2016-04-03 00:55

Analysis of rare ancient textiles discovered in a tomb in Nepal suggest the Silk Road network may have extended further south than previously believed. The textile fragments were found in the Samdzong 5, one in a complex of 10 shaft tombs dug into a cliff face in Upper Mustang, Nepal, between 400 and 650 A.D. (Samdzong 5 dates to around 500 A.D.). The complex is 4,000 meters above sea level and 30 meters above ground surface and can only be accessed climbing the cliff face. People didn’t even know they were there until an earthquake in 2009 sheered off the facade of the cliff and exposed the tombs. The earthquake also caused the ceilings of the tombs to collapse, damaging the contents and accelerating the decay of organic that had otherwise been well-preserved thanks to the high altitude and stable dry conditions inside the caves.

Archaeologists have discovered the remains of 105 people in the tomb complex, but Samdzong 5 only contained two sets of disarticulated remains, one of an adult, one of a child aged 8-12. The skeletal remains of the adult were found in a wooden coffin with an impressive array of associated grave goods: two large copper vessels, a ladle, iron daggers, cups and trays made of wood and bamboo, copper and bronze bangles and thousands of glass beads. The star artifact was a mask made of gold and silver that archaeologists believe was a death mask placed over the face of the adult. Pinholes border the edges of the mask, which indicates the mask was once sewn to fabric. Textile fragments were discovered in close proximity to the coffin and goods.

Small samples from four textiles were examined with a scanning electron microscope to identify the fibers and their source(s). Two of the samples are degummed silk in a fine tabby weave. The yarn is untwisted and glossy, typical of Chinese silk. These textiles almost certainly were traded over long distances to get to Nepal, because there was no local silk production. The other two samples were found to be animal fibers in a warp-faced tabby and a twill weave. Cloth beads and copper tubular beads were sewn into the textiles in parallel rows.

The metals and beads were also found to have originated outside of Nepal. Some of the metals came from either Tibet or India; the beads came from a number of sources including South Asia, Central Asia and Sassania. The pigments were analyzed using micro-Raman spectrometry (MRS), the organic dyes using high pressure liquid chromatography with diode array detection (HPLC-DAD). MRS identified cinnabar pigment; HPLC-DAD found Indian lac, munjeet, turmeric (curcuma) and dyer’s knotweed or indigo dyes. All of these materials can be sourced in India or environs.

Identification of degummed silk fibres and munjeet and Indian lac dyes in the textile finds suggests that imported materials from China and India were used in combination with those locally produced. Says Gleba: “There is no evidence for local silk production suggesting that Samdzong was inserted into the long-distance trade network of the Silk Road.”

“The data reinforce the notion that instead of being isolated and remote, Upper Mustang was once a small, but important node of a much larger network of people and places. These textiles can further our understanding of the local textile materials and techniques, as well as the mechanisms through which various communities developed and adapted new textile technologies to fit local cultural and economical needs.”

The use imported, expensive materials as well as local ones is all unique to Samdzong 5, as are the mask and coffin. The other tombs have very little cultural material of any kind, just the human remains. This indicates the person in Samdzong 5 was an elite individual.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Space archaeologist finds potential Viking site in Canada

History Blog - Sat, 2016-04-02 05:08

A test excavation in the peninsula of Point Rosee in southwestern Newfoundland, Canada, has unearthed evidence of a Viking settlement. If the site is confirmed as Norse, it will be the second of its kind and history books will have to be rewritten because Point Rosee is significantly more to the west than the Vikings were thought to have traveled.

Two Icelandic Sagas — the Saga of Eric the Red and the Saga of the Greenlanders — recount how Leif Eriksson discovered a land to the west called Vinland and how Thorfinn Karlsefni followed in his footsteps and attempted to found a settlement in Vinland. Very little archaeological evidence has been found to support the oral and literary tradition (the sagas were written down 250 years after the events they describe). In 1960, the first and so far only verified North American Viking site was discovered in L’Anse aux Meadows, a coastal settlement on the northernmost tip of Newfoundland, 300 miles northeast of Point Rosee.

Since then, a great many searches have turned up very meager evidence, none of it confirmed, of Norse settlement, but people keep looking. The Point Rosee site was pinpointed on satellite images by space archaeologist Sarah Parcak who has made the news recently because a) space archaeologist is probably the greatest job description of all time, and b) she won the $1 million TED prize last year for her work in locating ancient Egyptian sites and tracking looter activity from the skies. Parcak was enlisted by the PBS science program NOVA to scour satellite images from Baffin Island to Massachusetts in the search for Viking settlements in North America. She found hundreds of possibilities and one stand-out that appeared to have rectilinear structures hidden under vegetation.

Parcak and Canadian experts explored the site this summer. A magnetometer survey found a spot with high iron readings that according to the satellite images was surrounded by those buried straight-line features. The team dug exploratory trenches on the spot. They unearthed turf walls and a shallow pit. In front of the pit was a fire-cracked boulder. There also found ash residue, 28 pounds of slag and lumps of roasted iron ore. The evidence points to this being a hearth used to process bog iron, ore carried by rivers to wetlands where it forms metal deposits. The Vikings weren’t miners, but they needed a great deal of iron to maintain their ships. A replica longship in the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde, Denmark, has 7,000 iron nails keeping it together. That converts to 30 tons of raw ore just to supply enough nails for a single ship. That’s a lot of bog iron.

Only one other bog iron smithy has ever been found in North America: L’Anse Aux Meadows. Native Newfoundlanders did not practice this kind of metallurgy, nor is there any other evidence (flint, pottery) of indigenous or later European settlers present at the site.

It doesn’t look like much …, [b]ut lead archaeologist Sarah Parcak says the site is almost certainly only one of two things:

“Either it’s … an entirely new culture that looks exactly like the Norse and we don’t know what it is,” she told The Washington Post in a phone interview. “Or it’s the westernmost Norse site that’s ever been discovered.”

The excavation team will return to Point Rosee this summer to dig for more history-making treasure. Vikings Unearthed, the NOVA episode that documented their work last year, premiers on Wednesday, April 6th, on PBS in the United States. UK viewers get it two days earlier, Monday, April 4th, on BBC One. It will also be available streaming on PBS’ website starting Monday at 3:30 PM.

Here’s a preview of the episode:

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History


AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-01 16:48

Memes, get your memes here! This is what comes of Gazette editors with too much time on their hands…. and access to photos of Æthelmearc peers we love!














Thanks to the many photographers whose pictures we purloined.

This was a conspiracy between Arianna and Ursula with assistance from Hilda. Please don’t hurt us.

More seriously, if anyone does not wish their image used, please email us and we’ll be happy to remove it.

Happy April Fool’s Day!

Categories: SCA news sites

This is not an April Fool’s post

History Blog - Fri, 2016-04-01 16:39

Seriously. I don’t really do April Fool’s because I can never come up with anything clever. Last year my not even remotely fooling post was dismissed as a joke by one commenter because of the date, but the story was actually released a few days earlier and I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. So yeah, this year I’m holding the place so all y’all know there is no April Fool’s post.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

SCA anticipates upcoming "L-ebration"

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2016-04-01 13:33

Striving to be as period as possible, the SCA has renamed its upcoming anniversary event from "50 Year" to "L Year".

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Hilarious Heraldic Hijinks

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-01 13:07

Every year the heralds of the East (and the Known World) do their best to come up with silly, hilarious, ridiculous and generally foolish – but completely documented – names and armory. We’re pleased to share this year’s efforts with the Gazette and the whole Kingdom.

The names of consulting heralds frequently have been changed to protect the guilty.

Hugs and kisses from the College of Heralds Imaginary, Eastern Branch

1: Bogus Viking – New Name & New Badge  

Per fess argent and sable, a human male affronty armored vert bearing a spear and magic helmet proper

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Sound (BOW-gus) most important.

Consulting Herald: Refr refr

Bogus is a male given name dated to 1222 in Wickenden’s “Russian Names Database”


Viking is the Lingua Anglica form of the Old Norse byname vikingr, found in Geirr Bassi’s The

Old Norse Name at p. 29, where it is marked as coming from the Landnámabók.

Russian and Old Norse can be combined as long as the elements are within 300 years of each other, per Appendix C. As the events of the Landnámabók span between 870 and the 11th century, the submitter should get the benefit of the doubt that the names are within the the necessary time period.


2: Bruce le Hulke – New Name & New Device

Or, a pair of breeches purpure  

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Consulting Heralds: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby

Bruce is a saint’s name. The Middle English Dictionary s.v. lūt(e) (n.(1) dates the following quote to 1445: “For þis holy daunce, mynstralcy ys goode: Now, Seynt Bruce! helpe with þy sounded lute.”

le Hulke is a surname probably meaning “huge, clumsy fellow” is found dated to 1323 in the

Middle English Dictionary s.v. hulk.


3: Calomaria de Mare – New Name

Submitter desires a feminine name.

Consulting Herald: Octa Pode

Calomaria is a female given name dated to 1003 in “A handful of early southern Italian feminine names” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael


de Mare is an Italian byname dated to 1228 found in “Masculine Names from Thirteenth Century Pisa” by Juliana de Luna (http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/juliana/pisa/pisa-bynames-alpha.html).


4: Chilax Doode – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Consulting Herald: Gunðormr Ech Mir ein Herald Imaginary

Chilax is the name of a human character in the play The Mad Lover which was performed at some point prior to 1619. The play is reprinted in Miracle to Masque. Predecessors of Shakespeare. Minor Elizabethan Dramatists at pp. 333-364


Doode is a surname found in “Index of Names in the 1582 Subsidy Roll of London” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/english/engsurlondon1582a-m.html).


5: Crafft Beer – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Language (German) most important.

Culture (German) most important.

Consulting Herald: Iwan de Best

Crafft is a German male given name found in “German Names from Nürnberg, 1497” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/german/nurnberg1497.html)

Beer is a German surname found in the Family Search Historical Records: Hans Beer; Male; Marriage; 12 Oct 1579; Neuenbürg, Württemberg, Germany; Batch: M93230-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NCGF-8YN)


6: Donn Dona – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Client requests authenticity for 15th century Gaelic.

Consulting herald: Badde Idea Beare

Donn is a Gaelic male given name found in Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada’s “Index of Names in Irish Annals” (http://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnnalsIndex/Masculine/Donn.shtml) with a relevant Annals date of 1488.

Dona is a Gaelic descriptive byname meaning “[the] Unfortunate/Unlucky/Wretched,” found in Mari’s “Index” (http://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnnalsIndex/DescriptiveBynames/Dona.shtml) with an Annals date of 1468.


7: Egon Spengler – New Name & Badge 

(Fieldless) On an open book argent, the phrase “Print is dead” sable

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Consulting Herald: Harold Ramis

Egon is a male given name found in gray-period Germany:

Egon De Weyer; Male; Marriage; 06 May 1640; Sankt Pankatius Roemisch-Katholische, Anholt, Westfalen, Prussia; Batch: M99207-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JHD3-MYB) Spengler is a German byname found in “German Names from Nürnberg, 1497” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/german/surnamesnurnn-z.html).

Although he has submitted a badge, the submitter does not yet have a device design because he is attempting to document whether spores, mold or fungus were used in period armory.


8: Gendulphe Le Gris – New Name & New Device  

Azure, a pilgrim’s staff argent and in chief two fireballs Or enflamed proper

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Language (French) most important.

Meaning (the gray) most important.

Consulting Herald: Gunðormr Ech Mir ein Herald Imaginary

Gendulphe is the name of a French saint, mentioned at p. 31 of “Le Théâtre des antiquitez de Paris” by Jacques Du Breul, published in 1639 (http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/bpt6k6457319v/f53.item.r=Gendolphe).

Le Gris is a surname found in “French Names from Paris, 1421, 1423, & 1438” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/french/paris1423surnames.html).


9: Human de la Place – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Meaning (person from the place) most important.

Consulting Herald: More Cheseandbrede

Human is a male given name found in “Names Found in Commercial Documents from Bordeaux, 1470-1520” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/french/bordeaux.html). de la Place is a French byname found at p. 5 of “Names from the Rôle des taxes de l’arrière-ban du Bailliage d’Evreux, in 1562,” by Brunissende Dragonette (http://st-walburga.aspiringluddite.com/docs/TaxEvreux.pdf).


10: Ivanna Peach – New Name

Language (Russian) most important.

Consulting Herald: Iwan de Best

Both elements are found in Wickenden’s Russian Names Database.

Ivanna is a given name dated to 1618 s.n. Ioann (m) (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/paul/h-j.html).

Peach is a surname dated to 1530 s.n. Peach (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/paul/pa.html).


11: Jack Harkness – New Household Name & New Badge 

Torchewode Halle

Argent, on a hexagon voided a capital letter T sable

Consulting Herald: Gwen Cooper

The pattern of [place name] + Hall is found in the Middle English Dictionary, with examples including Westmynster Hall dated a.1500 s.v. attǒurnẹ̄ (n.).

Torchewode is a compound English place name based on the pattern of “family name followed by generic toponymic” set out in “Compound Placenames in English” by Juliana de Luna (http://medievalscotland.org/jes/EnglishCompoundPlacenames/).

Torche is a surname dated to the reign of Edward I (1272-1307) in R&W s.n. Torch.

-wode is a generic toponym referring to a group of living trees, a grove, copse, woods, forest, woodland. The surname atte Wode is found in the MED s.v. wọ̄de (n.(2)) dated to 1346. The MED s.v. wọ̄de (n.(2)) also lists the compound bynames Estwode (1151-54), Cherchwode (1380), Campwode (1380) and Quenewode (1475).

The spelling Halle for “hall” is found in the MED dated to 1225 and later.


12: Jokeford, Shire of – New Branch Name

No major changes.

Language (English) most important.

Culture (English) most important.

Consulting Herald: Gytta Klew

Jokeford is a place name dated to 1203 in the Middle English Dictionary s.v. yōke (n.).

13: Jokeford, Shire of – New Heraldic Title

OSCAR is unable to find the name, either registered or submitted.

Effing Pursuivant

Consulting Herald: Gytta Klew

This heraldic title follows the pattern of creating heraldic titles using English surnames, found in “Heraldic Titles from the Middle Ages and Renaissance: Overview,” by Juliana de Luna (http://medievalscotland.org/jes/HeraldicTitles/). Effing is an English surname found in the Family Search Historical Records: Richard Effing; Male; Marriage; 1627; Swaffham-Prior, Cambridge, England; Batch: M13535-6 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N6QK-KVS)

14: Justa Doll – New Name

Submitter desires a feminine name.

Culture (Iberian) most important.

Consulting Herald: Rogue Flamenco

Justa is a given name found in “Portuguese Feminine Names from Lisbon, 1565” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/portuguese/fem1565.html)

Doll is a surname found in “Catalan Names from the 1510 census of Valencia” by Aryanhwy merch Catmael (http://www.ellipsis.cx/~liana/names/spanish/survalencia1510.html)

Portuguese and Catalan are both part of the Iberian language group under Appendix C.


15: Kylo Ren – New Alternate Name

Ben Solo

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Both elements are found in the Family Search Historical Records:

Ben Sare – christened 6 April 1578, Fairstead, Essex, England


Robtus Solo – christened 1544, Devon, England



16: Manly Man – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

No changes.

Sound (Man-lee) most important.

Consulting Herald: Badde Idea Beare

Manly Man is found in the gray period, in England, in the Family Search Historical Records: Manly Man; Male; Christening; 13 Jul 1647; SAINT DUNSTAN,STEPNEY, LONDON, ENGLAND; Batch: C05576-7 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JW88-CDZ)


17: More Cheseandbrede – New Name

Submitter desires a feminine name.

Sound (given name like ‘more’) most important.

Meaning (where’s the dayboard?) most important.

More is an Anglicized Irish female given name dated to 1586 and later in “Names Found in Anglicized Irish Documents” by Mari ingen Briain meic Donnchada (http://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnglicizedIrish/Feminine.shtml).

Cheseandbrede is a byname found in the Middle English Dictionary s.v. chẹ̄se (n.) dated to 1303. English and Anglicized Irish are part of the same Language Group under Appendix C and thus can be combined despite the 283-year gap between the elements.


18: Octa Pode – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Sound (given name like Octa) most important.

Consulting Herald: same

Octa is an Anglo-Saxon male name dated to 731 in Bede’s Historia ecclesiastica gentis Anglorum.

Pode is a surname found in R&W s.n. Poad dated to 1230. Because both elements are English, this name just squeaks by with less than 500 years between the given name and the byname.

19: Original Sinne – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Consulting Herald: Eve atte Gardyne

Original is a male given name found in Bardsley’s Curiosities of Puritan Nomenclature at pp. 128-129, dated to 1606 and 1619.

Synne is an English surname found in the Family Search Historical Records: Mary Synne; Female; Marriage; 16 Jan 1614; Saint Andrew, Plymouth, Devon, England; Batch: M00183-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N23M-TY7)

The i/y swap is well-established in late-period English.


20: Petit Prince – New Name & New Device 

Azure, on a serpent argent an elephant passant contourny proper

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Consulting herald: Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Petit is an English surname dated to 1591 in “English Names found in Brass Enscriptions” by Julian Goodwyn (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/brasses/lastnameIZ.htm#P). Such surnames can be used as given names by precedent. [Alton of Grimfells, 4/2010 LoAR, A-East].

Prince is an English surname found in “Names from 15th Century York” by Karen Larsdatter (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/york15/surnames-alphabetical.htm#P).


21: Polly Puss – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Client requests authenticity for 16th cen. Baden, Germany.

Language (German) most important.

Consulting Herald: Octa Pode

Polly is a German male given name found in the Family Search Historical Record:

Polly Hauser; Male; Death; 14 Jan 1608; Wintersweiler, Loerrach, Baden, Deutschland; Batch: B06196-4 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:J4HB-5PT)

Polly Winter; Male; Marriage; 27 Apr 1594; Evangelisch, Haltingen, Loerrach, Baden;

Batch: M93574-2 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VCYV-Z41)

Puss is a German surname also found in the Family Search Historical Records: Martinus Puss; Male; Christening; 08 Nov 1597; DOMPFARREI KATHOLISCH, FREIBURG, FREIBURG, BADEN; Batch: C93394-1(https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:VHW7-NWM)

As both name elements are found in Baden within 3 years of each other, this name meets the submitter’s authenticity request.


22: Poole Boy – New Name & New Device 

Argent, a cartouche azure

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Language (Anglicized Irish) most important.

Culture (16th cen. Ireland) most important.

Consulting Herald: Frend MacEnemy

Poole is an Anglicized Irish male given name dated to 1601 in Mari ingen Briain meic

Donnchada’s “Names found in Anglicized Irish Documents” (http://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnglicizedIrish/Masculine.shtml) s.n. Paul.

Boy is a descriptive byname, probably from the Gaelic Buide meaning “yellow.” Mari’s “Names found in Anglicized Irish Documents”

(http://medievalscotland.org/kmo/AnglicizedIrish/Masculine.shtml) contains numerous examples of this byname, including:

Teig boy O Mollan (1599)

Tho. boye (1600)

Phelim boye (1598)

Mortagh boy O Birne (1600)

Hugh Boy (1614).


23: Refr refr – New Name

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Meaning (Fox) most important.

Consulting Herald: Badde Idea Beare

Refr is a male given name found at p. 14 of Geirr Bassi’s The Old Norse Name. refr is a descriptive byname meaning “fox” found at p. 26 of Geirr Bassi.


24: Rogue Fave – New Name

Rogue is a Spanish male given name found in the Family Search Historical Records:

Rogue Garcia Rodriguez; Male, Christening; 26 Sep 1593; SANTA MARIA LA MAYOR, TORDESILLAS, VALLADOLID, SPAIN; Batch: C87369-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:F5W5-277)

Fave is a French byname found in the Family Search Historical Records: Marie Fave; Female, Baptism; 09 Mar 1603; Mazamet, Tarn, France (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FG93-R4J) While there is no batch number, an image of the document is available and the name is visible onthe far right of Line 2, Paragraph 2.

Spanish and French elements can be combined under SENA Appendix C.

This name is well clear of previously registered and/or submitted Rogue Panda, Rogue Espada, and Rogue Flamenco.


25: Studley Greathead – New Name

Submitter has no desire as to gender.

Meaning (the name speaks for itself) most important.

Consulting Herald: Badde Idea Beare

Studley is an English given name found in the gray period in the Family Search Historical


Studley Hawes; Female; 08 Feb 1619; LITTLE BADDOW, ESSEX, ENGLAND; Batch:

C03600-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:JMNQ-4M4)

Greathead is an English surname dated to 1592, 1596 and 1607 in “Surnames in Durham and Northumberland, 1521-1615” by Juetta Copin (http://www.s-gabriel.org/names/juetta/parish/sur_faves.html)


26: Sweinchild in the dich – New Name & New Device 

Per chevron inverted argent and sable, a boar passant gules

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Consulting Herald: Bunny Ditchborne

Sweinchild is a personal name found in the Middle English Dictionary s.v. chīld (n.) dated to 1195. in the dich is a surname found in the MED s.v. dī̆ch(e) dated to 1327.


27: Úlfr inn illi – New Name & New Device  

Sable semy of domed ovens argent vented semy, a wolf dormant Or and in canton a hand one

finger extended to sinister base Or.

Submitter desires a masculine name.

Meaning (Bad Wolf) most important.

Consulting Herald: Roesia Tygheler

Úlfr is a male given name found at p. 15 of Geirr Bassi’s The Old Norse Name.

in illi is a descriptive byname found on p. 23 of Geirr Bassi, meaning “evil, bad.”


28: Victory Lapp – New Name

Submitter desires a feminine name.

Consulting Herald: Ama Panda

Victory is an English given name found in the Family Search Historical Records:

Victory Milles; Female; Christening; 22 Mar 1553; Wartling, Sussex, England; Batch: C14798-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NY45-LY1)

Joanna Lapp; Female; Marriage; 29 Nov 1544; Ugborough, Devon, England; Batch: M05177-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:N2TL-253)


29: Walt de Iseny – New Name

Submitter has no desire as to gender.

Consulting Herald: Butterscotch Crampet

Walt is a given name found in the Middle English Dictionary s.v. bōst dated to 1327. de Iseny is found as part of a manor name, (glossed as “Norton held by the d’Isney family”), dated to 1299 in Watts, s.n. Norton~Disney.


30: Werwulf of London – New Household Name

Hellepit House

No changes.

Sound (‘Hell Pit’) most important.

Consulting Herald: Roland Thompson Gunner

The submitter’s personal name appears on the April 1, 2012 East Kingdom LoI, which is due to be decided “any day now.” The pattern placename + House in English is established in the Dec. 2007 LoAR: “we would recommend late period household names following either of these patterns [surname] + [house or hall], [surname]+s + [house, hall, or lodge], [place name] + [house, hall, or lodge].” [Sythe Blackwolfe, Calontir-R]

Hellepit is a place name dated to 1240 in the Middle English Dictionary s.v. pit (n.)

The spelling house is dated to 1398 in the Middle English Dictionary s.v. hǒus (n.)


31: Yo Dawgs – New Name

Language (16th century English) most important.

Culture (16th century English) most important.

Consulting herald: Supp Doode

Yo is a feminine given name in FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NYD2- C7Z), but only in an I-batch: Yo Bygges Female Christening Date 02 Feb 1605 Christening Place Brumstead, Norfolk, England Batch: I03226-9

Names found in I-batches are generally not registerable without additional documentation. However, Yoe is also a 16th century English surname found in ‘Henry VIII: July 1535, 1-10’, in Letters and Papers, Foreign and Domestic, Henry VIII, Volume 8, January-July 1535, James Gairdner, editor (pp. 379-402; http://www.british-history.ac.uk/letters-papers-hen8/vol8/pp379-402). 16th and early 17th century English surnames are registerable as given names.

Examples of -oe/-o pairs can be found in FamilySearch: Joe/Jo, Fardinandoe/Fardinando, Noe/No, Barbaroe/Barbaro, and Mungoe/Mungo. Therefore, the spelling Yo appears to be a plausible variant of the surname Yoe.

Dawgs is an English surname found in the FamilySearch Historical Records (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NPST-RQ4): Giles Dawgs Male Christening Date 19 Jan 1587 Christening Place CHIGWELL,ESSEX,ENGLAND Father’s Name Wm. Dawgs Batch: C04186-1


Filed under: Heraldry

Fun Medieval “Facts”

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-01 12:23

Looking for strange or funny information about the Middle Ages? Stumped on a topic for your next A&S competition entry? Look no further! Here are some websites with all of the “facts” you need!

Odd medieval facts. A catch-all of silly medieval trivia.

Weird medieval medical practices (not for the faint of heart, possibly NSFW). Learn about how our ancestors treated all sorts of ailments… often unsuccessfully.

Medieval nobles with ridiculous nicknames. Find out who people like Ragnar ‘Hairpants’ and Wladyslaw ‘Spindleshanks’ were.

Unusual medieval weapons. Though this list includes some things we wouldn’t consider all that strange, like trebuchets, there are also some true oddities, like a shield with a port for a pistol.

Anglo-Saxon riddles that you can use to keep your campmates amused at War Practice or Pennsic.

Medieval jokes! Take my wife, please…

“Old English” insults. We’re kind of amazed they didn’t spell it “olde” but hey, don’t be a bespawler!

Medieval torture devices. Also not for the faint of heart, and NSFW. Because, well, torture.

Medieval games – bored with Chess, Neftafl and Go? There are all sorts of interesting games from our period that you can try:

  • Stool ball, a little like cricket
  • Pall-Mall. No, not the cigarettes, this is a variant on croquet or possibly golf.
  • Cockstride, which isn’t as naughty as it sounds.
  • Dwyle Flonking. No, we’re not going to explain, just read for yourself.
  • Shove Groat, for those of you who like petty stakes gambling.

Thanks to Master Dagonell the Juggler for many of the articles on medieval games.

The rest is Arianna’s fault.

Categories: SCA news sites

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #8: Matthew Paris and the Volcano

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-01 11:40

Our eighth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Sir Michael of York of the Barony of Carolingia. He examines a catastrophic climatological event with both modern and historical records, and in the telling introduces us to a very interesting chronicler. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Matthew Paris and the Volcano

Self-Portrait by Matthew Paris (c.1200-1259).
Photograph by the British Library. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the middle of the 13th century, a massive volcanic eruption occurred in Indonesia. The effects of this eruption changed the weather around the world for years. Modern climate research combined with recent archeological evidence and the medieval chronicles of Matthew Paris paint a haunting picture of a world-wide disaster that has no parallel for the previous several thousand years.

The Famous 1258 Volcano
Modern Understanding
Matthew of Paris Chronicles The Volcano’s Effect

The Famous 1258 Volcano

In the fall of 2013 (A.S. XLVIII) the scientific world was all aflutter—a new science paper announced that the location of “the famous 1258 volcano” had been determined. First identified in the 1980’s via ice-core and tree-ring data—the location of the 1258 volcanic eruption had been a decades-long puzzle for geologists. This new research showed location of the eruption (Lombok, Indonesia) and documented that it had been one of the largest of its kind, ejecting huge amounts of volcanic dust and gases high into the stratosphere.

My SCA persona is 13th century English, and when I heard this announcement my first question was “what famous 1258 volcanic eruption”?  I’d heard of Krakatoa (1883) and Mount Vesuvius (A.D. 79), but I’d never heard of any other large volcanic eruptions. As a child, I had walked across a volcano in Hawaii and had read about and seen television reports of more modern dramatic eruptions (Mount St Helens 1980, Mount Pinatubo 1991, and Eyjafjallajökull 2010), but apparently, this “famous 1258 volcanic eruption” was something much different.

At the time, for other reasons, I happened to be reading excerpts from a 13th century chronicler’s works. The Illustrated Chronicles of Matthew Paris: Observations of Thirteenth-Century Life had been loaned to me by a friend. In perusing it, I had learned that Matthew Paris was a garrulous monk with lots of opinions, observations and commentary about both the natural world and about every aspect of religious and royal politics. I’d noticed his descriptions of weather, strange events in the sea, eclipses and weird cloud formations alongside all of his various observations about political events, and rants on church and state policies. His Chronicles cover the time from 1235 until his death in 1259.

After hearing about this new volcano—I ran to see what Matthew had to say. I was disappointed to find that this specific book only covered his writings to the year 1250. It took a while to get his complete works—but in the process, I found lots of other news about that specific volcanic eruption: climate data analysis, cemetery burial data, descriptions of how much it changed the global environment et cetera.  Within days, I had the whole tale. It’s an amazing story.
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Modern Understanding

The volcano itself (named “Mount Samalas” by the research team that identified it) is located on the island of Lombok in the Indonesian chain of islands. This island is 770 miles (1240KM) and a couple of islands east of Krakatoa.  Today all that is left is a caldera lake with a small cinder cone in the center—the entire mountain having been blasted away by the eruption.

Volcanic Eruption Types. The left-most image is a Plinian Eruption. Illustration, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online, accessed March 29, 2016, http://www.britannica.com/science/Plinian-eruption/images-videos/The-major-types-of-volcanic-eruptions/3256

Like Mount Vesuvius and some other violent eruptions, this eruption was a “Plinian” eruption. The name comes from a description written by the Younger Pliny in A.D. 79. He compared the plume of ash and gasses from Mount Vesuvius to the shape of a “stone pine tree“—a narrow rising trunk with an umbrella-top splaying out immediately. This is the most explosive of the volcanic eruption types and can be responsible for global weather effects. The column of ash from these kinds of eruptions can rise all the way to the stratosphere—over 40 KM above the earth’s surface and then be spread around the globe.  This NASA article highlights the effects of the much smaller Mount Pinatubo eruption (1991) as documented by the SAGE II satellite (even though the article is actually about the SAGE III new effort). According to this report,  “The aerosols in the tropics increased by almost a factor of 100 immediately following the eruption. … had spread into the Earth’s mid-latitudes three months later. … slowly decreased in the atmosphere over several years.”

The effects were immediate and lasted years – and this was for a small eruption. The Mt Samalas eruption was much larger—with much more rock-turned-ash vaulted into the stratosphere.

The Mt Samalas eruption was first detected by examination of ice-cores and tree-ring data during the 1980’s. In various samples, the effects of the eruption were very clearly visible. Ice cores capture dust and ash that falls and is buried by subsequent snowfall. Trees that have a low-growth year have narrow rings in the core of the tree for those years.

The team that determined the location of this volcanic eruption (Dr. Lavigne et al) was able to compare the chemicals in the ice-core deposits to the ash deposits found on Lombok. The samples matched both in composition and date. Their report states that the eruption occurred in the summer of 1257 and that it ejected the most ash and sulfates into the atmosphere of any other volcano in the last 7000 years. Some parts of the island of Lombok are covered by 35 meters of ash—showing that the eruption was huge. Pictures included in their report are astonishing—the ash-fall is clearly visible at the coast where the ocean has eroded the shore.

Their report also mentions that there is evidence (from Indonesian records) of an entire Kingdom buried under all of that ash (like Pompeii). What is most interesting is that they can deduce the time of year of the eruption due to the way the ash from the eruption is spread on the island itself and surrounding areas: the trade winds blow from the east to the west in the summer, and the deposits of ash are much greater to the west of the volcano itself.

Tree ring temperature estimation. Image courtesy of Michael E. Mann, Jose D. Fuentes & Scott Rutherford, Nature Geoscience.

It is well understood that the ice-core data provides atmospheric composition changes, and that tree-ring data shows environment changes that affect plant growth. Modern evidence from modern volcanic eruptions (e.g., Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Pinatubo) demonstrates that lower world-wide temperatures occur when such Plinian eruptions occur. The blocking of sunlight caused by the ash and chemicals inserted into the atmosphere reduces the strength of the sun’s warming radiation. By comparing the ice-core data and the tree-ring data from modern (well recorded events), scientists can extrapolate and estimate the world-wide temperature of the Earth for historic events. The data shows that 1258 and the period just afterwards were substantially colder than usual on a global scale.  Both sets of data (tree-ring, ice-core) show that the world-wide temperature was reduced between 0.75 and 2.5 degrees Celsius depending on how you read the data and which prediction model you use. (For those of you that are in America, this is 1.0 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit.)

What is most interesting is that further study shows localized weather effects that are contrary to global averages. For instance, this study shows that Plinian eruptions, when they occur in the tropics, make Northern Europe warmer in winter and cooler only in the summer. Another study shows that when this happens, the weather in Northern Europe is wetter and the Southern European climate is drier. This is due to changes in the heating of the Atlantic Ocean and the resulting effects on weather patterns caused by the atmospheric pollution. Look up the term “North-Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)” for more information.

What this means is that different parts of the world get vastly different effects from the injected ash and sulfates from the eruption. Northern Europe gets hammered with weird weather – wetter warmer winters, colder wetter summers. Southern Europe gets drier than average weather with general cooling overall. You can imagine what this does to the farming industry which depends on specific “wet periods” and “dry periods” and specific temperatures.

In my searches for information about this volcano, I ran across stories about an archeological site that was linked with the “famous 1258 volcano”. The links pointed to burial data from a 1991-2007 archeological dig done in London by the London Museum of Archeology at the site of the SpitalFields Market. Their research demonstrates that in the middle of the 13th century, decades before the Black Death (1340’s) there was a period of mass-burial sites in one cemetery in London belonging to St Mary Spital, an Augustine Priory and hospital just north of the Tower of London. According to the report, the priory was in active use from the 1100’s through 1539 AD.  Although the data is not precisely datable, it is clear that in the late 1250’s and early 1260’s there was a period where some burial pits had as many as 20 sets of remains—a very unusual pattern, as normally, burials were singular or perhaps two remains in one site. In addition, the research shows that the likely cause of the deaths was not violence. This suggests that famine or diseases are the major causes of death in this era. The images that are available are haunting.

Excavations at St. Mary Spital. Image courtesy of the Museum of London Archaeology.

One data point from the burial site suggests that as many as 4000 bodies were recovered from this short period (late 1250’s, early 1260’s) for this one hospital – mostly in mass burial graves. There were other priory hospitals in other parts of England at the time, and several in London alone. If the burial data for any of those other active 13th century hospitals shows the same pattern, we can deduce that something was very wrong.

So—today we know that there were immediate world-wide effects of the volcanic eruption that occurred during the summer of 1257, and that the effects changed the weather, blocked the sunlight and covered the globe with a volcanic haze in the atmosphere. We see burial data suggesting massive deaths, as well as plant evidence (tree-rings) showing reduced growing seasons and cooling.
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Matthew of Paris Chronicles The Volcano’s Effects

What can we learn about what happened in the Middle Ages? How did all of this effect their lives and events in their times? What happened and what can we see?

Matthew of Paris only lives till 1259, but his words describe this event very clearly from what happens to his world. He doesn’t have the slightest idea that there’s this volcano half-a-world away. He just writes what he can see – and with this new view from scientific research, we can understand what he says all too well.

What follows here is a brief set of quotes from his Chronica Majora that illustrate what he saw at the time. Matthew of Paris’ writings are sometimes confusing because he apparently had a practice of taking notes and then entering them into his chronicles at some later time. There are some sections where events that happen months apart are put together in one sentence or two simultaneous sentences. This makes finely-detailed chronology hard to understand from his writings. Sometimes dates appear incorrect—and it appears that he exaggerates—although, now that I have read the science literature, I believe that he was not exaggerating when he wrote these entries.

One other note concerning chronology! Matthew’s “year” runs from the end of October through to the end of October because he uses Royal Year dates—Henry III was first crowned King on October 28th in 1216.  But oddly, Matthew uses the following year—so the year 1257 starts in October of 1256. There is a confusing aspect to the seasons as well since the calendar is 10 days off from our calendar (they were using the Julian Calendar, not the newer 18th-century Gregorian Calendar). Matthew also appears to use the planting cycle for his seasons. “Winter” is the end of September through Christmas. “Spring” is January through March.

Read on to see it in his own words. I’ve added personal notes in italics to illuminate essential points. The text is that of the Reverend James Giles’ 1883 translation.

1253 – This year throughout was abundant in corn and fruit; so much so that the price of a measure of corn fell to thirty pence.

Things are going well.

1254 – This year throughout was abundantly productive in fruit and corn, so that the price of a measure of corn fell to two shillings; and like proportion oats, and all other kinds of corn and pulse fell in price to the benefit of the poor plebeians.

Lots of good produce.

1255 – [This year] was throughout so productive in corn and fruit, that a measure of wheat fell in price to two shillings and the same quantity of oats to twelvepence.

Note the prices—two shillings for a measure of wheat and 12 pence for a measure of oats.

1256 … (on 10 Aug), an extraordinary storm, or succession of storms of wind and rain, accompanied by hail, thunder, and lightning, alarmed men’s heads, and caused irreparable damage. One might see the wheels of mills torn from their axles and carried by the violence of the wind to great distances, destroying in their course the neighbouring houses; and what the water did to the water-mills, the wind did not fail to do to the wind-mills. Piles of bridges, stacks of hay, the huts of fisherman with their nets and poles, and even children in their cradles, were suddenly carried away, so that the deluge of Deucalion seemed to be renewed. Not to mention other places, Bedford, which is watered by the Ouse, suffered incomputable damages, as it had done a few years before. Indeed, in one place, six houses immediately adjoining each other were carried away by the rapidity of the torrents, their inhabitants having much difficulty in saving themselves; and other places contiguous to that river were exposed to similar perils.

This is a major event—he described it using a reference to “Deucalion”, the son of Prometheus, who survived a flood brought by Zeus by building a chest with his father and staying afloat till the storm passed.

1256 – Then closed this year, which had been tolerably productive of fruit and corn. … It was beyond measure stormy and rainy, so that, indeed, the times of Deucalion seemed to be renewed. From the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Aug 15) to the anniversary of her Purification (Feb 2), the rain ceased not to fall daily in deluges, which rendered the roads impassable and the fields barren. Hence at the end of autumn, the corn was rotted in the ear.

Note that there was good produce, but the summer corn crop was lost to the rain. Note also that the dates here are confusing.  If the rain starts in August 1256, then it has to continue till February 1257.  This demonstrates that his entries are made long after the fact.

1257 – Of the extraordinary fall of rain, and the thunder during the winter. On the Innocents’ Day in this year such a quantity of rain fell that it covered the surface of the ground, and the times of Deucalion seemed to be renewed. The furrows looked like caves or rivers, and the rivers covered the meadows and all the neighbouring country, so that it presented the appearance of a sea. That from one case other similar ones may be understood, I may mention, that one river alone in the northern parts of England carried away seven large bridges of wood and stone, the mills, too, and the neighbouring houses, were carried away by the violence of the torrent-swollen streams and destroyed.

There are two possible interpretations of “Innocents Day”. One is the end of December – where the “Innocents” are the children. It is also the case that July 28 is “St. Innocent’s Day” (St Innocent was a Pope). This latter choice matches the likely eruption date for the volcano (summer).

On the aforesaid day, too, a fierce whirlwind, accompanied by a violent hail-storm, disturbed the atmosphere and obscured the sky with darkness like that of night. The clouds collected together, and from them the lightning darted forth with fearful vividness, followed by claps of thunder. This thunder was clearly a bad omen, for it was mid-winter, and the cold was equal to that generally felt in February. This weather was followed by sickly unseasonable weather, which lasted about three months.

This is a sudden onslaught of cold weather and fierce storms. The word “midwinter” suggests that this was in the late October or early November time frame. (“Winter” is late September through the end of December). The date very confusing because he just said 28-Dec (Innocent’s Day) which is at the end of “winter” but in an earlier note he says the rain started in mid August. My conclusion is that it rained pretty much all the time with lots of stormy weather. If the volcano erupted in the summer – it would take a month or three for the volcanic emissions to get to the northern latitudes, so this fits with the scientific evidence we have.

1257—The Summary of the Year—This year was throughout barren and meagre; for whatever had been sown in winter had budded in spring, and grown ripe in summer, was stifled and destroyed by the autumnal inundations. The scarcity of money, brought on by the spoilation practiced by the king and the pope in England brought unusual poverty. The land lay uncultivated, and great numbers of people died from starvation. About Christmas, the price of a measure of wheat rose to ten shillings. Apples were scarce, pears more so, figs, beechnuts, cherries, plums—in short, all fruits which are preserved in jars were completely spoiled.

Note the price of wheat—ten shillings. Note that fruit and other crops were destroyed by the autumnal rains—this is two years in a row (1256 and 1257) where there was rain that damages the crops in the fall.

…This pestiferous year, moreover, gave rise to mortal fevers, which raged to such an extent that, not to mention other cases, at St Edmund’s alone, more than two thousand dead bodies were placed in the large cemetery during the summer, the largest portion of them during the dog-days. There were old men, who had formerly seen a measure of wheat sold for a mark, and even twenty shillings without the people being starved to death. … This year too generated chronic complaints, which scarcely allowed free power of breathing to anyone labouring under them. Not a single fine or frosty day occurred, nor was the surface of the lakes at all hardened by the frost as was usual; neither did icicles hang from the ledges of houses; but uninterrupted heavy falls of rain and mist obscured the sky until the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This reference to mortal fevers clearly indicates disease (e.g., dysentery, influenza). He mentions a large numbers of deaths. The chronic complaints about breathing suggest air pollution from the volcanic ash, or perhaps mold from the damp weather. The weather is off—The Feast of the Purification is in early February, so this winter is warm.

1258 – Of the arrival in England of some ships laden with wheat. At this same time, too, whilst an extraordinary famine was prevailing to such a degree that numbers pined away in themselves and died, a measure of corn being sold at London for nine shillings or more, about fifty large ships arrived there from the continent, having been sent by Richard, king of Germany, laden with corn, wheat, and bread. … It was stated as positive fact, that any three counties of England united had not produced so much corn as was brought by these vessels.

Richard, the King of Germany is Henry III’s son. Notice the price of corn. Notice the complete loss of crops.

1258—Of the remarkable nature of the season. In this same year, the calm temperature of autumn lasted to the end of January, so that the surface of the water was not frozen in any place during that time. But from about that time, that is to say, from the Purification of the Blessed Virgin till the end of March, the north wind blew without intermission, a continued frost prevailed, accompanied by snow and such unendurable cold, that it bound up the face of the earth, sorely afflicted the poor, suspended all cultivation, and killed the young of the cattle to such an extent that it seemed as if a general plague was raging amongst the sheep and lambs.

The winter started mild and then turned bitter cold in the spring.

1258—Of the great famine which prevailed throughout the whole of England. About the feast of the Trinity (May 19) in this year, an awful and intolerable pestilence attacked the people, especially those of the lower orders, and spread death among them in a most lamentable degree. In the city of London, fifteen thousand of the poor had already perished. … In fact famine prevailed in England to such great extent, that many thousand human beings died of hunger; for the crops only arrived at maturity so late in the autumn, in consequence of the heavy rains, that the harvest was only got in by All Saints’ day in several parts of the kingdom, and a measure of corn was sold for sixteen shillings.

There are no crops and this causes disease and death. Notice that 15,000 die in London which at the time had a population of about 45,000 to 50,000. Notice the price of corn.

1258—Of the mortality caused by the famine amongst the people. About the same time, such great famine and mortality prevailed in the country, that a measure of wheat rose in price to fifteen shillings and more, … and numberless dead bodies were lying about the streets. … Unless corn had been brought for sale from the continent, the rich would scarcely have been able to escape death. … the dead lay about, swollen up and there was scarcely any one to bury them; nor did the citizens dare or choose to receive the dead into their houses, for fear of contagion. … if corn could have been sold for a small price per measure, scarcely any one could have been found with the means of buying it.

Notice the price of wheat. The bodies accumulate too fast for normal burial—hence mass burials are likely.

… At this time, too, that is, at the end of July and beginning of August, … such misery, want and famine prevailed, that those who usually aided others were now amongst the unfortunates who perished from want. What alarmed the lower orders more than the nobles, was the continued heavy falls of rain, which threatened destruction to the rich crops which God had given hopes of previously. To sum up briefly, England would have failed in herself, had she not been restored to life by the arrival of some vessels, belonging to traders on the continent, which were laden with corn and bread for sale, brought from Germany and Holland; still many who spent all their money, died of hunger and want.

Even the people who help others are now perishing. Without food imports, there was no chance. Notice it is still raining.

At the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Aug 15), when generally the barns are filled with the yearly crops of corn, scarcely even a shingle sheaf was ripe; and as the rain increased daily, the hired labourers and their cattle caused a great expense daily, without being able to leave their houses or to do any good in the fields. In consequence, a circumstance hitherto unknown, at the feast of All Saints, the corn was standing about the country ready to be cut down, but useless and spoiled almost. In some places, indeed, although late and the crop of little use, it was cut and carried, whilst in many others it was left altogether in the fields to be used as manure to enrich the soil. It should be known also, that in that year the land produced such an abundant crop, that, had it all been saved, it would have been sufficient for nearly two years’ consumption.

The rain ruins the crops despite wonderful promise (lots of crops—just all spoiled).

1258—Of the general disposition of events during the whole year. This year throughout was very dissimilar to all previous ones, bringing disease and death, and heavy storms of wind and rain. Although in the summer-time a fair promise of abundant crops of corn and fruit was given, yet in the autumn the continual heavy rains spoiled the corn, fruit and all kinds of pulse; and at the Advent of our Lord, in some parts of England, as above stated, the barns remained empty, and the crops remained ready to be cut, but entirely spoiled: for as the corn shot up, the ear and the straw rotted together, and as men died from the want of corn, so the cattle died from the want of fodder; and though England was drained of money on many pretexts, yet the people were obliged, at the instigation of hunger, to pay sixteen shillings for a measure of corn, whilst still moist and shooting; and consequently the poor pined away with hunger, and died.

The yearly summary includes a political stab at the King (England being drained by him of money on many pretexts). The poor don’t have warehouses filled with grain and can’t buy grain—so they perish.

…The dying staggered away into different by-places to yield their last wretched breath; and of these there was such a great number, that the gravediggers were overcome with weariness and threw several bodies into one grave. The people of the middle class, seeing their food failing them, sold their flocks, diminished the number of their household, and left their land uncultivated, whereby all hope of rising from this abyss, which hope generally consoles those despairing, was entirely extinguished. Had not corn been brought for sale from the continent, there is no doubt but England would have perished in herself.

Proof that mass-burials became necessary. A repetition of the import of food from the mainland shows how much worse the UK was affected by this weather.

In the same [year], when the sun was in Cancer (late June thru July), an unexpected pestilence and mortality fell upon mankind; and to say nothing of the great numbers that died in other places, in Paris alone, more than a thousand human beings were consigned to the tomb. Oil, wine, and corn also were spoiled. As the two-handed sword of death, which spares no-one, strikes sometimes one and sometimes another, and hurries from the world the rich and the poor alike, so Fulk, bishop of London, died during that deadly pestilence…

This looks like a repetition of the previous entries except for the mention of Paris. Oil and wine don’t keep long—so what reserves would be spoiled due to age. Bishop Fulk was very-well regarded.
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Matthew Paris died in 1259, probably from old-age – he was nearly 60. It’s also possible that the depredations of the time made survival harder and that he was one of the fatalities from the agricultural and environmental changes wrought by the volcanic eruption. So far, I’ve found no other written records on the mainland or other parts of England that are as detailed as Matthew’s work.

The astute reader will notice that the nasty weather starts almost exactly one year before the volcano erupts and the descriptions sound just like the global cooling effects of the weather one expects from the volcanic eruption. Combined with Matthew’s repeated phrases (e.g., references to the Deucalion and specific dates) one wonders whether there are errors in Matthew’s chronicle (he was getting old) – or translation errors or perhaps errors in the scientific literature.

However, if you read Matthew’s Chronicles, you will find lots of repeated stock phrases and milestone dates. (For instance, he seems to favor dates associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary).  In addition, as noted above, Matthew is noted for poor chronology because he makes notes which are put into the Chronicle long after the events occurred.  I’ve been able to validate some of his dates from other sources so I’m fairly sure that many are accurate.  Given what we know now, the only real conclusion one can draw is that England got a double-whammy of an uncharacteristically bad year followed by the volcanic winter. This makes the events described here all the more tragic.

If you want to know more about the amazing stories of Matthew of Paris, you can find copies of his work in Latin (Henry Richard Luard made the canonical transliteration), or in English (Reverend James Allen Giles made the canonical English translation), or look up the works of Professor Richard Vaughan, a modern historian who wrote several works about Matthew. Look also for Susan Lewis’ work on Matthew’s art.

Matthew’s work is an inspiration for me. His writings contain countless little snippets that become stories for the campfire or other venues. His opinions enlighten our understanding of how that world worked and provide a rare insight into that period. His tales of plots, political shenanigans and the movements of the major actors in that period show us a vital, dynamic, widely aware population of smart people.  Almost every page of his Chronica can be used as a starting point for yet another story or search for understanding.
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If you want another story like this one, look for a book published in 2014 by Gillen D’Arcy Wood (see citations below). The author chronicles an equivalent world-wide volcanic disaster that takes place in 1815 on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa right next to Lombok. The volcano (named Tambora) produced an eruption that was about half the size of the Mt. Samalas eruption. According to the author’s research, that eruption is responsible for many well-known social memories (“the year without a summer”, Frankenstein, Dracula). As I was discovering Matthew of Paris and his story about Mt. Samalas, this story about Tambora was published. The descriptions of events in this book are as chilling as Matthew’s story. It reinforced my belief that indeed, what Matthew reports is very accurate.

Sir Michael can be contacted via email at michaelofyork@gmail.com.
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Connell, B., A. G. Jones, R. Redfern & D. Walker (2012), A bioarchaeological study of medieval burials on the site of St Mary Spital: excavations at Spitalfields Market, London E1, 1991–2007, MOLA 2012. ISBN 978-1-907586-11-8

D’Arcy, Gillen, (2015), Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World, Princeton University Press , Princeton, NJ.

Fischer, E. M., J. Luterbacher, E. Zorita, S. F. B. Tett, C. Casty, and H. Wanner (2007), European climate response to tropical volcanic eruptions over the last half millennium, Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L05707, doi:10.1029/2006GL027992.

Giles, J.A. (trans.), Matthew Paris’s English History from the year 1235 to 1273. H.G. Bohn, London, 1853, Three Volumes (multiple editions available from various publishers).

Lavigne, F., J. Degeai, J. Komorowski, S. Guillet, V. Robert, P. Lahitte, C. Oppenheimer. M. Stoffel, C. M. Vidal, Surono, I. Pratomo, P. Wassmer, Irka Hajdas, D. S. Hadmoko & E. de Belizal (2013) Source of the great A.D. 1257 mystery eruption unveiled, Samalas volcano, Rinjani Volcanic Complex, Indonesia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110: 16742–16747, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1307520110 .

Mann, M., J. D. Fuentes, S. Rutherford, Underestimation of volcanic cooling in tree-ring-based reconstructions of hemispheric temperatures (2012), Nature Geoscience 5, 202–205 (2012), 2012. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1394  (See image: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n3/fig_tab/ngeo1394_F1.html)

NASA Sage III, Verified March 2016 http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/SAGEIII/SAGEIII_2.php

Oppenheimer, C. (2003), Ice core and palaeoclimatic evidence for the timing and nature of the great mid-13th century volcanic eruption. International Journal of Climatology, 23: 417–426. doi: 10.1002/joc.891

Pauling, A., J. Luterbacher, C. Casty & H. Wanner (2006), Five hundred years of gridded high-resolution precipitation reconstructions over Europe and the connection to large-scale circulation, Climate Dynamics 26: 387–405, doi: 10.1007/s00382-005-0090-8

Timmreck, C., S. J. Lorenz, T. J. Crowley, S. Kinne, T. J. Raddatz, M. A. Thomas, and J. H. Jungclaus (2009), Limited temperature response to the very large AD 1258 volcanic eruption, Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L21708, doi:10.1029/2009GL040083.

Vaughan, Richard, (trans.), (1993), The Illustrated Chronicles of Matthew Paris: Observations of Thirteenth-Century Life, Alan Sutton Publishing, Gloucestershire, UK.

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Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences

What Your Heraldry Says About You, Take 2!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-01 08:47

An SCA device can be viewed as a Rohrschach test to learn more about the Scadian who registered it. Let’s see what these devices tell us about their owners, shall we?

Last year this was one of our most popular articles. Who knew? So since we are all about shamelessly racking up the views, we’re doing it again!

These are some actual registered devices of people in Æthelmearc. Please note that this is all intended in good fun, and since these belong to people we call friends, we hope it’s taken that way!

Stop by later to learn who these arms belong to!

  1. If you’re driving down the road in Calontir and see these things hovering on the horizon, turn around. Fast.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

2. It looks like Dracula was hungry for bat tonight.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

3. Algae problem in your pool? No worries, our unicorn service will take care of it!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

4. Yes, those are bunnies. Playing bagpipes. Wielding swords. Your argument is invalid.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

5. You get a butterfly, and you, and you, and you. Butterflies for everyone!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

6. Someone has it out for the Geiko gecko.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

7. Why did the heron cross the river? You’ll have to ask these guys…

Click to see who these arms belong to.

8. Is it the plague?

Click to see who these arms belong to.

9. If only I could get my cat to help out in the garden like that.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

10. Not taking any chances on our luck, are we?

Click to see who these arms belong to.

11. Why yes, those are her monkeys and her circus.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

12. Owls’ eyes? Glasses? We’re not sure.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

13. Ramming speed!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

14. Kill it! Kill it! Dead, dead, dead! Whew, that was a close one.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

15. Look! Deer swimming toward us! It’s venison for dinner tonight!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

16. When just one Thor isn’t enough….

Click to see who these arms belong to.

17. Levitating wyverns!

Click to see who these arms belong to.


Bonus points if you can identify the owners of these arms!

Happy April Fool’s Day!

It’s all Arianna’s fault.

All images taken from the Æthelmearc Kingdom Roll of Arms, which is maintained by Mistress Alheydis von Körckhingen.

Categories: SCA news sites

Roman mosaic bonanza at the Getty

History Blog - Thu, 2016-03-31 23:09

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles has an exceptional collection of Roman floor mosaics from the Imperial era. Some of them have been on display consistently, but others will be seen by the public for the first time in Roman Mosaics Across the Empire, a new exhibition that opened on Wednesday at the Getty Villa. It features mosaics from provinces of the Roman Empire all over the Mediterranean — Italy, France, North Africa, Syria — done in different styles with different themes.

There’s bear hunt from Baiae, outside of Naples, a head of Medusa surrounded by a glorious optical illusion-inducing geometrical design from Rome, an Orpheus surrounded by animals from Saint-Romain-en-Gal, France, a hare and two birds with geometric border panels from Antioch, Syria, a dramatic lion attacking an onager from Hadrumentum, modern-day Sousse, Tunisia. These are top quality artworks which adorned the homes of the very wealthy, public baths, even early Christian churches.

The show also features a close look at the Getty Conservation Institute’s work conserving the mosaics from the Imperial Roman heyday of Bulla Regia in Tunisia, North Africa. Known for its unique villas with subterranean floors — smart design in the heat of Tunisia — Bulla Regia had the greatest numbers of senators in Roman North Africa. It was an important city and its exquisite art and architecture testify to that importance. The GCI is working with the Institut National du Patrimoine of Tunisia and the World Monuments Fund to fully conserve one of the most important private residences in the city, the House of the Hunt, and to devise a plan for the long-term conservation and maintenance of the 400 mosaics that have already been unearthed at Bulla Regia over the past hundred years. Some of the works will be restored for display; others will be reburied. The idea is to make Bulla Regia a template for in situ conservation that can be applied to mosaics elsewhere in North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

Highlights of the site’s breathtaking beauty can be seen in this video about the project:

The focus on best practices of situ conservation is in marked contrast to the Getty’s past see-no-evil acquisition policy evinced in more than one of the mosaics on display in this exhibition. The Getty bought 23 panels of the Bear Hunt in 1972 from a Switzerland-based antiques dealer (surprise!) who told them only that it had been in an Italian collection. It was almost certainly illegally exported, but the museum looked the other way as it so often did. Recently Getty researchers attempted to trace the ownership history and there’s a big gap between 1929 and 1972. The last known owner in 1929 was refused an export license because there were doubts as to whether he actually had legal title to the mosaic. Somewhere in those four decades, probably closer to 1972 than 1929, the mosaic was trafficked to Zurich and thence to the Getty. Four other panels from the original mosaic were eventually found by the Italian police and are now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

The Getty is offering a number of lectures related to the exhibition. The Handling Session looks particularly compelling.

How were mosaics created from pieces of stone and glass? Learn how these intricate architectural decorations were made in this multisensory handling session. Touch tools and materials similar to those used by ancient mosaicists, including tesserae, slaked lime, marble dust, and nippers.

Lucky Angelenos can take an early lunch and handle tesserae every Thursday and Friday from 11:00 AM-12:00 PM through September 9th. The exhibition runs until September 12th, 2016. For those of us who won’t be able to see the mosaics live, the Getty has made a companion catalogue to the exhibition available free online: Roman Mosaics in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Court Report: Gulf Wars

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-03-31 18:39

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Magnus Tindal and Etain II, basileos kai basilissa Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Court at Gulf Wars, 13-20 March Anno Societatis L, in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann, accompanied by Their Highnesses Byron and Ariella, Prince and Princess of Æthelmearc. As recorded by Countess Caryl Olesdattir and Baron Robert O’Connor, Sycamore Herald, with the assistance of Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta.

17 March, following the Champions Tournament:

The Imperatori presented the Sigil of Æthelmearc to the following gentles for their assistance in Royal camp and to the Imperatori during Gulf Wars: Countess Elena d’Artois le Tailleur, Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne, THL Marek Viacheldrago and Lady Verica ingean Domnaill.

Sigils given at Gulf Wars. Photo by Lady Silence de Cherbourg.

The Imperatori established the Award of the Golden Escarbuncle, a non-armigerous award given at the whim of the Crown for any particularly impressive achievement regardless of discipline, and which may be given multiple times to the same recipient if they so earn the recognition, and awarded the first Golden Escarbuncle to THL Beatrix Krieger for her prowess during the Champions tournament, in which her victory over a Knight from An Tir was so impressive that Duke Cuan of Atlantia was moved to gift her with his sword.

THLady Beatrix Krieger fighting in the Diamond Tourney. Photo by Lady Silence.

The Imperatori thanked all present for making the long trip to Gulf Wars to represent Æthelmearc.

18 March, in the Kingdom encampment:

THL Marek Viacheldrago was summoned before the Imperatori, who spoke of his martial prowess and his many chivalric qualities. They then convened their Council of Chivalry, and presented Marek with a Writ of Summons that he might return to Them at a time and place of his choosing and answer whether he would accept elevation to the Peerage and induction into that Council.

THL Marek receives a Writ for the Chivalry. Photo by Lady Silence.

Don Annanias Fenne was then called before Them, for not only had his prowess upon the fencing field won him great renown, but he was also well known and respected for his teaching of others, and the Empress spoke particularly of the many times that his conduct upon the list had inspired Her. They then convened their Council of Defense, and presented Annanias with a Writ of Summons, that he also might return to Them at a time and place of his choosing and answer whether he would accept elevation to the Peerage and induction into that Council.

Don Anias receives a Writ for the Order of Defense. Photo by Lady Elaine Fairchild.

The Imperatori then called for Baron Robert O’Connor and spoke of the service they had seen him display at Gulf Wars this year and of his effort during the bad weather that had plagued the event. For this service they awarded him a Golden Escarbuncle.

Baron Robert “Bob the Herald” receiving a Golden Escarbuncle. Photo by Lady Silence.

The Imperatori once again thanked all who had traveled to Gulf Wars this year for all of the support They had received, and wished everyone safe travels on their way home.

There being no further business, the Imperial Court was closed.

Following Court, THL Marek and Don Annanias both informed the Imperatori that they would answer their Writs of Summons at the Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon, 2 April in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael.

In Honor and Service,

Kameshima Zentarō Umakai 高貴国境の王国の治部卿 Silver Buccle Principal Herald, Kingdom of Æthelmearc
Categories: SCA news sites

Court Report: The Donnan Party

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-03-31 09:29

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Magnus Tindal and Etain II, basileos kai basilissa Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Court at Donnan Party, 26 March Anno Societatis L, in the Shire of Ballachlagan, accompanied by Her Highness Ariella, Princess of Æthelmearc. As recorded by Their Silver Buccle Herald, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai, with the assistance of Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres.

In the morning:

Lady Juliana Ravenshaw presented a history of the Donnan Party, being originally a birthday celebration held in honor of Master Donnan.Today, however, was not Donnan’s birthday, but it was Her Highness’s birthday, and so she presented Her Highness with a celebratory cake baked by the Shire. Her Highness was then serenaded by all assembled.

Princess Ariella celebrated her birthday at the Donnan Party. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi.

Master Bastiano di Jacopo. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Maestro Bastiano de Iacopo was invited before the Imperatori and confirmed that it was still his wish to hold the field in contemplation of elevation to the Imperial Council of Defense. The said Council was then convened and voiced their assent. Maestro Bastiano was given into their care to convey him to the field that had been prepared for him.




In the evening:

Sienna Ravenshaw was created a Companion of the Silver Buccle for her service in setup and teardown of events, watching children, and assisting with arts and sciences efforts in the shire. Scroll forthcoming.

Sienna de Ravenshaw receives a Silver Buccle. Photo by Mistress Arianna.

The children of the Kingdom were called forth and, with the assent of their parents, given into the care of Sienna Ravenshaw to keep them amused during Court.

THL Aelric Ravenshaw, the autocrat of the day, was invited forth and gave thanks to the event staff. He also announced that Lord Markus Skalpr Grimsson was the victor in the fencing tournament sponsored by the Æthelmearc Academy of Defense. Markus was presented with a scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Lord Markus is named the Fencing Tournament winner. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Susannah DeHart was Awarded Arms for her dedication to many arts and sciences, including brewing, crafts, stained glass, cooking and herbs, and for bringing her apothecary knowledge to the aid of her camp at Pennsic. Scroll by Lady Vivienne of Yardley.

Susannah DeHart is awarded Arms. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Kaylee of Ballachlagan was Awarded Arms for her service as deputy exchequer and tollner, and her skill in dance and the scribal arts. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Kaylee of Ballachlagan is awarded Arms. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Wilhelm Isenhart was Awarded Arms for his prowess with fencing blades, his skill in woodworking, and his service to his shire in the kitchens, and in the setup and teardown of events. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Wilhelm Isenhart is awarded Arms. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Lord Oliver Sutton was created a Companion of the Keystone for serving as the Knight Marshal for Ballachlagan, teaching new fighters, assisting with the setup and teardown of events, and being part of the burgeoning Ballachlagan scribal guild. Scroll by Lord Tegrinus de Rhina.

Lord Oliver Sutton recieves a Keystone. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Lady Dominique von Weissenthurn was inducted into the Order of the Sycamore for her research into period headwear and buttons, her skill in sewing, and her enthusiasm in teaching that knowledge to others. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Lady Dominique von Weissenthurn receives a Sycamore. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Lady Iaroslava Ivanovna was given Their Majesties’ Award of Excellence for her many years of service to the Kingdom.  She was then further admitted into the Order of the Sycamore for her diligent research into the arts of Pysanky eggs, ceramics and dance. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Lady Iaroslava receives the Award of Excellence and a Sycamore. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Beatrix of Anglesey was presented with the Sigil of Æthelmearc for her service to the Crown.

Beatrix of Anglesey receives a Sigil. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

THL Fiora d’Artusio was elevated to the Order of the White Scarf of Æthelmearc for her research into and skill in the art of fencing and those arts associated with it: teaching, garbmaking, the works of the fencing masters, and supporting the fencing community. Scroll illuminated by Meestress Odriana vander Brugghe and calligraphed by THL Kieran MacRae.

Doña Fiora with her White Scarf scroll and the scarf presented by her husband, Master Will Parris. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

The Imperata presented Mistress Katla ulfheðinn with her token of inspiration, for though many had given of their time and effort to make the day comfortable for Her Majesty, Mistress Katla had, in Her opinion, gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Mistress Katla receives the Augusta’s token of inspiration. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

The Imperatori thanked all scribes and medallion wrights who had contributed their talents and largesse to enhance the Court’s proceedings.

There being no further business, the Imperial Court was closed.

In Honor and Service,
Kameshima Zentarō Umakai
Silver Buccle Principal Herald, Kingdom of Æthelmearc


Categories: SCA news sites