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Rare intact rosary found in Michigan colonial fort

History Blog - Sun, 2015-07-05 18:14

Archaeologists excavating the fur trading village and colonial fort of Michilimackinac on the tip of Michigan’s lower peninsula have discovered a rare intact rosary that may be as much as 250 years old. Colonial Michilimackinac is an open air museum and state park on the site of an 18th-century French fort and fur trading village just west of Mackinac Bridge on the shores of Lake Michigan. It has been excavated every summer since 1959, one of the longest continuous excavations in the country, and more than one million artifacts have been unearthed. The most common finds are fish bones and small objects like beads, buttons and broken glass. Finding an intact artifact of any kind is very rare — the last one was a pocketknife about four years ago — and finding a delicate rosary still intact is exponentially rarer.

State parks archaeologist James Dunnigan found the rosary, made of ivory beads with brass links, while excavating at the home of French-Canadian fur trader Charles Gonneville, who worked the area between the 1730s and 1750s.

The assumption is that the rosary belonged to Gonneville or a family member.

It makes sense that a rosary would fall through the cracks in the floorboards of Gonneville’s house since he and his family were Roman Catholic. The English who occupied in the fort after 1761 when it was ceded to the British along with the rest of France’s Canadian holdings after its loss in the French and Indian War would have been predominantly Anglican. Still, it was a hard-won find. The Gonneville house has been excavated for the past eight seasons.

The fort was built in 1715 on the Straits of Mackinac, part of a vast network of supply depots and trading posts established by the French from the St. Lawrence to the Mississippi. The British only occupied it for 20 years, abandoning it in 1781 for greener pastures in the form of the limestone fort on Mackinac Island. They were concerned that a wooden fort on the mainland was too vulnerable to attack by the rebellious American colonies, so from 1779 to 1781 the British moved everything that could be moved from Fort Michilimackinac to Fort Mackinac, including wooden buildings which were taken apart and rebuilt on the island. The rest was burned and soon buried by the wind-blown sands of the shore.

The site managed to survive without being developed or built over. When Mackinaw City was constructed in the mid-19th century, the fort site was made a park. The town gave the park to the State of Michigan in 1904 and the Mackinac Island State Park Commission claimed it in 1909 for Michigan’s second state park. A popular campground in the 1920s, the fort site saw its first attempts at reconstruction in 1933 when the palisade was rebuilt. In 1959, a year before it was designated a National Historic Landmark, the fort site saw its first professional excavation. The archaeological exploration made more accurate reconstructions of fort structures. Reconstruction began in earnest in 1960. The 1933 palisade was demolished and a more historically accurate one constructed.

Just as archaeology is an ongoing process in Colonial Michilimackinac, so is site reconstruction. The aim is to rebuild the fort as it looked in the 1770s. Guides, known as interpreters (of history), dress as British soldiers in the classic red coats, Native American residents, French traders, family members, anyone who would have had reason to be at the fort in colonial times. Visitors to the park can get a glimpse of colonial life through the reconstructions and reenactments like the ever-popular cannon fire demonstrations, and see archaeologists at work during the dig season from early June to mid-August.

The rosary is being conserved now. Curators expect that it will be ready for display at the fort’s permanent Treasures of the Sand exhibit this fall.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Hermione leads New York Parade of Ships

History Blog - Sat, 2015-07-04 17:03


L’Hermione arrived in New York City on July 1st, firing its cannons in salute to the city that welcomed the Marquis de Lafayette with a screaming throng of 50,000, a third of the city’s population at the time, in 1824. It docked at Pier 15 on the East River in Lower Manhattan right across from the South Street Seaport Museum and opened for visitors to explore the replica of the ship that brought Lafayette back to America in 1780 bearing reinforcements of troops and ships to support the neonate nation in its fight for independence from the British Empire.

Today the Hermione led the Parade of Ships past the Statue of Liberty to celebrate the 239th anniversary of the American independence that Lafayette fought for with such dedication and at no small personal cost.

The Hermione YouTube channel has a great video showing the ship’s arrival in New York from the perspective of the crew.

There are tons more videos of Hermione previous stops along the east coast of the United States and I suspect the channel will soon have better footage of today’s parade than I was able to find.

New York will continue to celebrate Lafayette and the Hermione even after she leaves. The New-York Historical Society Museum’s exhibition Lafayette’s Return: The “Boy General,” the American Revolution, and the Hermione examines Lafayette’s youth when, still a teenager, he became a tireless advocate on behalf of US independence, his involvement in the war and his continuing close ties to the people who know now as the Founding Fathers after the war was over. On display are artifacts that have never been seen before from Lafayette’s chateau La Grange. There are letters he wrote to and from his family, swords, medals, secret codes he shared with Washington, locks of hair from Washington and Jefferson that he was given as fond keepsakes.

Three of my favorite pieces on display in the exhibition are written materials. One is the letter announcing his arrival that Lafayette wrote to Washington from the Hermione after it dropped anchor in Boston Harbour in 1780. Datelined “At the entrance of Boston Harbour 27th April 1780,” the letter opens with a beautiful glimpse into the genuine love Lafayette bore Washington: “Here I am, My dear General, and in the Mist [sic] of the joy I feel in finding Myself again one of Your loving soldiers.”

The second is an almost unbearably adorable letter written to George Washington by Lafayette’s six-year-old daughter Anastasie in 1784 (all idiosyncratic spellings hers).

Dear Washington, I hope that papa whill come back son here. I am verry sorry for the loss of him, but I am verry glade for you self. I wich you a werry good health and I am whith great respect, Dear Sir, your most obedient servent, anastasie la fayette.

Washington was reportedly charmed to bits by this letter, and how could he fail to be? Not only are the sentiments expressed so sweet and brave and polite, but look at how great her handwriting is! She was six years old and using a quill pen, for crying out loud. In response, Washington asked Lafayette to convey his warmest regards and an invitation from his wife Martha for the Marquis, his wife Adrienne, their daughters Anastasie and Virginie and son Georges Washington Lafayette to visit Mount Vernon someday.

The third is an invitation to dinner Lafayette sent to Benjamin Franklin in Paris in 1785. Lafayette’s house on the Rue de Bourbon served as the unofficial headquarters of the Americans in Paris. Dinners with the likes of Franklin, John Adams, John Jay and Madame de Staël were weekly events and the invites, like the conversation, were always in English. I am in deeply love with the capital W and F.

Lafayette’s Return: The “Boy General,” the American Revolution, and the Hermione is at the New-York Historical Society through October 4th, 2015.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The First (Bouncing) Armor of Carolingia

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-07-03 21:17

Two of the first members of the Barony of Carolingia, Tabitha of Windmoor and Wescott de Gwhite, shared their memories of with the Gazette of the first weapons created in Carolingia using nothing but rumors of what was required.

Tabitha of Windmoor :

Swords have a story all their own. Dan (Daniel de Tankard) had told us that SCA swords were made of rattan. The council set to work locating a rattan source. Poring through the Yellow Pages (no internet yet), we turned up The Rattan Store on Rte.9 in Wellesley. Dan, Patri and I set out from my dorm to find the place. Yes—we walked up to Rte. 9 and walked along it toward Natick until we found the place (no GPS either). The store sold rattan furniture from the country we still called Burma (Myanmar).

After much talk with the manager, we persuaded him to order us a dozen uncut lengths of the light weight, ridged canes that looked kind of like bamboo from his supplier. Patri opined that it looked too light and brittle to use as a blade, but Dan assured him that rattan was what was used, though he admitted that he had never seen an SCA weapon or combat, only heard about it.

Dan drove out when our order came, bungeed it to the roof of his little yellow car, and brought it back to Cambridge where Doug, Patri, Carl, and anyone who could lend a hand made crude short swords of it.

Wescott de Gwhite:

All of our armor was designed and built to work well against the smaller, lighter bamboo.  Patri made a beautiful shield from a piece of Homosote (cellulose wall board), covered in fiberglass and painted with a coat of arms.  I made detachable basket hilts that could swap out the bamboo blades quickly, and I fumigated my MIT dorm room making up a fiberglass helmet from scratch.  Garb was also fabricated, although it was pretty simple by today’s standards.

We arrived Saturday early afternoon at the event, looked around quickly and realized that we were in trouble.  The real rattan swords were a LOT bigger & heavier than our gear was designed for.  They were using steel freon tank helmets, which had big dents in them!  They offered to lend us use of some swords, but that the padding in the armor was an awful lot lighter than what they wanted to fight in.

They allowed that Patri could wear it if he wanted to.  They said the helmet would never do, which I took exception to.  I had built it with a lot of overkill for the bamboo, and thought it would probably still work OK (for a while).  Lord El said they wouldn’t allow Patri to use it unless he “tested” it first.

El set it upright on the ground and grabbed a large two handed sword.  He took a big swing and tried to come down right on the crown.  I’m sure he was convinced it was going to shatter, or at least crush, but he didn’t hit it quite square, and it basically flexed a bit & bounced into the air.  He was clearly disappointed, and insisted on another attempt to hit it more solidly.  He succeeded, but the result was
pretty much the same.  We examined it, and saw no sign of damage, and it was declared usable.

I believe Patri fought in a total of 3 bouts.  Thanks to his fencing background, he managed to hold his own reasonably well. I think he lost two & might have actually won one.  At that point, the helmet was showing signs of impending delamination, and it was retired.  Every place Patri’s shield had taken a solid blow to the edge looked like someone had taken a good bite out of it.


Filed under: History, Interviews Tagged: Carolingia

Two 16th c. silver vessels found in pre-Inca fortress

History Blog - Fri, 2015-07-03 19:12

High in the Andean cloud forest of Peru’s remote Amazonas Region, archaeologists excavating the site of Purunllacta de Soloco have unearthed two silver vessels that lend unique insight into the history of the area in the transitional period after the Spanish conquest. Built by the pre-Inca Chachapoya culture, Purunllacta de Soloco is a thousand-year-old fortress with forbidding stone walls perched on a mountain top covered in jungle vegetation. The site, while known, was excavated by archaeologists for the first time in 2014, and no wonder, since it takes three hours of hard climbing from the town of Chachapoyas to reach the summit.

The cups are ceremonial vessels known as aquillas, used by the Inca in almost every ritual and found all over their former empire. They are 4.4 inches high and 4.6 inches in diameter at the widest point around the rim. They each weigh 152 grams (5.36 ounces) and are made from sheets of relatively thick (.8 – 1mm) silver. They taper to a wide mouth with a straight lip around the rim. They are in excellent condition, with no visible signs of corrosion or any corrosive by-products like carbonates, chlorides and copper oxides. The lack of silver chlorides indicates the percentage of pure silver is very high.

The slightly concave walls are decorated under the rim with a high relief of figures divided into four scenes separated by two parallel vertical lines. Horizontal parallel lines frame the relief top and bottom. Each of the scenes features two characters, male and female, wearing clothes with geometric patterns and hats or headdresses. The characters hold hands, facing outwards. Some of them carry a bag or an axe. There are also points and notches in low relief in the background. The hats are typical of Spanish colonial style and the geometric garments are the traditional dress of the Inca empire.

The decoration was made using a mixture of three techniques: repoussé, embossing and incision. The repoussé was done by wrapping a single sheet of metal around a wooden mold on which the decoration had been carved and hammering the sheet against the molds until the relief transferred. Embossing was done by drawing concave shapes into both sides of the metal with a blunt tool. The incised designs were carved into the outside of the metal sheet. The quality of the relief work is exceptional.

Because of the Spanish influence, archaeologists believe these vessels were carved during the first Spanish occupation of the area between 1536 and 1580. This is the first time silver aquillas have been found at Chachapoya sites. They were not known to have worked in precious of semi-precious metals so it’s probable the vessels were of Inca manufacture rather than made locally. Wood artifacts carved with Inca-style figures dating to 30 years after the Spanish conquest have been recovered from Chachapoya sites before, however, and it’s not entirely impossible that the aquillas were made by Chachapoya artisans influenced by the Inca and Spanish, but the strength of the relief indicates very expert silversmithing that was not native to Chachapoya culture.

The aquillas were found nested into each other inside a hole and were probably ceremonial offerings. A stone building was then constructed above the vessels. The fact that they were made and deposited up to 50 years after the Spanish arrived means that the Andean elites were still practicing traditional rituals for decades after the conquest. It also confirms that both the Inca Empire, which conquered the Chachapoya in the 15th century (a fitful conquest, since the Chachapoya resisted their invaders so consistently for so long that they actually sided with the Spanish when they first arrived), and the Spanish in the 16th century reached the remote, strongly fortified settlement of Purunllacta de Soloco, something archaeologists have believed but found no archaeological evidence of until now.

After they were excavated, the aquillas were sent to the Brüning National Archaeological Museum in Lambayeque for cleaning and conservation. Some kind of organic residue has been found inside the vessels. Researchers will test the substance to identify its makeup. Since the vessels were likely used for ritual purposes before their deliberate burial, whatever they held will tell us more about the ceremony. (The Incas used chicha, fermented corn beer, in their rituals.)

Conservation took three months and is now complete. The aquillas have been officially transferred to the Regional Directorate of Culture of Amazonas who will keep them until they go on display in the new Regional Museum of Chachapoyas which isn’t open yet. The space will need to be modified to display the vessels in ideal climactic conditions and keep them secure.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic for Kids

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-07-03 18:04

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope has brought her two sons, now 16 and 19, to Pennsic every year since they were born. Here are some tips for making Pennsic fun for kids from babies to teens while avoiding making mom and dad crazy.

Note: Everyone has opinions about the “right” way to raise kids and/or deal with various things like diapering, feeding, sleeping, curfews, etc.. This article is not intended to promote any particular parenting choices. It’s simply a list of ideas for how to make Pennsic easier on you and more fun for your kids. Pick the ones that sound useful to you, ignore the ones that don’t. It’s all good.

Also, if you’ve been following the excitement and angst over the new PA Child Protection law, no need to worry – the lawyers (including the Society Seneschal) have determined that we’re fine as we are for this year, and even for next year, only youth marshals and youth officers need to get the PA Clearances.

Sending your kids to Camp Grandma for Pennsic? That’s great, if it’s an option, but not everyone can or wants to have a kid-free Pennsic. Here are some ways to have the best possible Pennsic experience with kids of various ages.

Know the Rules

Read the Pennsic Site Rules, especially section 11 dealing with kids, before you go. Here are the highlights (but don’t take my word for it, go read them yourself!):

  • Kids are only permitted attend Pennsic in the company of their parent or legal guardian (i.e. signed by a judge). Your kid wants to bring their best buddy to Pennsic but the parents can’t go? Your shire has a 17-year-old fighter who wants to go to Pennsic but his parents think the SCA is kind of odd? You take your niece to every event back home, surely she can come to Pennsic with you? Sorry, no, no, and no. And please don’t try to sneak kids without their parents onto the site. People who do are subject to civil and criminal penalties.
  • Kids under age 12 must be within sight/earshot of a parent or responsible adult or teen at all times. No exceptions. Parents, babysitters, teenage siblings, campmates, and friends are all acceptable supervision, but no wandering the site alone or being left in camp alone until age 12. And do not assume that your campmates will watch your kid unless they explicitly agree to do so.
  • All kids under 18 must be in their own camp or with a parent/guardian after 11pm. You can have your own, more restrictive curfew if you like; from ages 12-15, my kids’ curfew was dark. But 11pm is the latest that 12-17 year olds can be out without parents.
  • Fighters/Fencers ages 16–17 who are authorized to fight as adults must have a yellow diamond with their parent/guardian’s cell phone number on it affixed to the fighter’s helm or fencer’s gloves. This rule is new this year. The parent must have their cell phone turned on during the battles/tourneys in which the minor participates. The purpose of this rule is to ensure that parents can be contacted immediately if the minor is injured, because First Aid responders won’t treat non-life-threatening injuries without a parent’s permission.

Youth fighting as adults must have their parents’ cell phone numbers on yellow diamonds on their helmets. For fencers, the diamond goes on the gauntlet. Photo by Arianna.

Babes in Arms

  • Keep them cool when it’s hot and warm when it’s cold. Babies are extra sensitive to temperature extremes.
    • On hot days, dress them in light natural fabrics, and keep an eye on their skin. If they start to look overheated, put a cool wet cloth on them. An inflatable kiddy pool, or even a basin with cool water that they can sit and splash in, will help keep them comfortable. Make sure to keep them out of direct sun; small babies shouldn’t have sunscreen applied to them, so a canopy on a stroller or cart is good protection. If you use a sling or backpack, put a lightweight hat on your baby to help shade their face and try to stay in the shade as much as possible.
    • On cold nights, dress them in layers and make sure to include a warm hat. If you’re into co-sleeping, placing the baby on your bed between mom and dad is a great way to keep them warm. If not, bring a pack-n-play or similar place for them to sleep safely, and dress them in multiple layers. A light-weight long sleeve footed onesie under a heavier winter weight sleeper, plus a warm hat that ties so it stays on, are preferable to blankets that they’ll just kick off anyway. On especially cold nights you may want to bring them into your bed even if you don’t normally co-sleep with your baby, but never co-sleep if you have been drinking alcohol or are otherwise impaired.
  • Transportation: You may think you want to bring a stroller, but unless it has extra-large wheels like a jogging stroller, it’s probably a bad bet for Pennsic. Pushing a stroller meant for sidewalks through mud or grass, up and down hills, and on gravel roads, is no fun. A cart or wagon, backpack carrier, or a sling are better options. Some parents put cushions in a covered wagon so their kids can nap on the go while shaded from the sun.

A jogging stroller or a cart are good options for transporting babies. Photos by Arianna and Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi.

  • Prevent diaper rash. Pennsic is often hot. Hot baby bottoms get chafed. My older son went from just fine to almost bleeding in only two hours at his first Pennsic. After that, I applied lots of Desitin proactively multiple times per day. I used so much, I should have bought stock in the company, but there were no more rashes.
  • Put them in garb. Babies in garb are adorable, and baby garb is really, really easy to make. There’s honestly no excuse not to make your baby some tunics, given how little fabric and time they take to sew. Make sure they are made of natural breathable fabrics like linen or cotton. One easy source of cheap baby tunic fabric that’s comfy and great in the heat: cloth diapers. Two clean cloth diapers make one T-tunic in about half an hour. Another cute thing you can make for your baby is lightweight cloth hoods. These are especially good for babies who don’t like to wear hats, as they’re harder to pull off if you have them tie under the chin. Bonus: they cover the back of the neck and shoulders, too.

Baby garb from diapers, and a cotton hood. Photos by Arianna and Mistress Ts’vee’a.

  • Give your baby plenty of fluids. Babies will get dehydrated just like adults if they don’t get plenty to drink. Nursing is one of the easiest ways to do that, but bottles work fine, too.
  • Disguise mundane kids’ stuff. Use cloth to cover modern baby carriers and strollers, and make a medieval-looking diaper bag from pretty brocade or even a large leather pouch.
  • Aim for period-looking toys. Most modern baby toys are plastic, but there are merchants at Pennsic who sell wooden baby toys that are safe and help maintain a more medieval ambiance.
  • Be considerate of others. If your baby starts crying during a court, class, or performance, take them out of the tent or building if possible so they won’t disturb others. Try not to change diapers in public places, and dispose of dirty diapers in appropriate receptacles. Understand that some people simply arent into kids, and hang out with the folks who do like your baby.

Crawlers

  • Create a corral. A Pack n Play works great for a single kid. If your camp has multiple small kids, a rug with a baby gate “fence” that creates a safe zone can work well. Just don’t count on it to keep them safe (or even corralled!) without supervision.

Toddlers

  • Put a hat on them. You can use sunscreen on toddlers, but a straw hat is a good idea to keep the sun off.
  • Toddlers love to be “helpful.” Photo by Arianna.

    Give them a job. There’s nothing more dangerous and/or annoying than a bored toddler. Find something simple they can do to “help” while you’re setting up camp, making meals, or working on camp projects. They can sort small objects, fetch and carry light things, hold tools for adults, etc. Keep them busy and they will stay out of trouble. But keep an eye on them – sometimes they will “help’ in ways you don’t expect. One Pennsic when my older son was two, we couldn’t figure out where all the screwdrivers had gone. Then at the end of the War we took down the pop-up canopy and discovered that he’d put the screwdrivers inside the hollow metal tent poles.

  • Teach them the meaning of “Hold”. One of the most important safety things for small kids to know at events is to freeze when someone calls “Hold.” This can prevent kids from doing dangerous things in a wide array of situations. Every SCA kid should know what “Hold” means!
  • Bring out “new” toys. We had special toys that only came out at Pennsic. They were the same toys every year, but when they were little, the kids didn’t remember them from the previous year, and when they were older, they looked forward to seeing their Pennsic toys again after a year’s hiatus. A Fisher-Price castle with toy knights and horses was a huge favorite, but there were also medieval-themed coloring books, bubbles, a wooden horse, and stuffed animals. When my kids outgrew their Pennsic toys, we passed them on to another family.

Special Pennsic toys seem “new” each year. Photo by Arianna.

  • Take them to the playground. Across from the bathhouse by the Cooper’s store, the playground has lots of fun equipment and a sandy surface suited to beach toys like cups for building sand castles. Just keep an eye out for older kids who may be a little too rough with toddlers.
  • Go on walks around the site. There are frogs and fish to look at in the lake, birds and insects in the woods, musicians in the marketplace and performing arts venues, and battles and tournaments to watch.
  • Make time for naps. Ideally, find a place outdoors in the shade, but any place that’s not too hot and fairly quiet will do. That said, accept that Pennsic is exciting and some kids just won’t want to nap. Tiring them out at the playground right before naptime can be a good strategy.

Older kids (ages 5 to 11)

Some people have their kids carry info that can help identify their home camp in case they accidentally get separated from you. A bracelet, favor, medallion, or tabard with your camp name, block, and a parent’s cell phone are great ideas. You can even write that info on the back of their Pennsic medallion or bracelet/anklet. Also, teach your kids safe places and people they can go to for help – other moms with kids, people on golf carts (who will generally be Pennsic staff, possibly members of The Watch), the First Aid station, and most Kingdom camps. At age 7, my younger son wandered off and got lost while I was in a portajohn, but after a brief moment of panic he recognized Æthelmearc Royal as one of the landmarks he’d been taught and parked himself there until someone he knew came along and helped reunite us (thanks, Master Michael!).

For a complete list of activities aimed at kids, check out the Pennsic website’s page on Youth Activities.

  • The Playground – older kids can take full advantage of the climbing equipment, and right next door is…
  • Youth Point, which offers regularly scheduled activities and classes aimed at kids.
  • The Children’s Fete is on Wednesday 12-3pm in the Great Hall. Hosted by the Kingdom of Atlantia, each year it features activities ranging from face painting and crafts to hobby horse races and opportunities to whack real knights with pool noodles.

Children’s Fete. Photo by Lord Darter the Chronicler.

  • The Children’s Choir rehearses from 2-3pm daily starting the middle Saturday in the Performing Arts Rehearsal tent behind the bathhouse, and performs at the Pennsic Choirs Concert on Thursday of War week at 6:30 in the Performing Arts Pavilion. It’s for children ages 3 or 4 to 11.
  • Children’s Dance classes are held at 9am daily in the Dance tent at the corner of Dragon Trace and Chandler’s Road. Each day focuses on different types of European Dance.
  • Bedtime stories are offered every night at 7pm in AS13 in the University block on St. Lawrence Way.
  • The Youth A&S Display is on Sunday from 1-6pm in the Great Hall, so if your kid has made some cool things, they can display them there and meet other young artisans.
  • The Children’s Doll Meet is on Friday from 9-11:30am in AS6 on Chandler’s in the University block. Bring your doll of any size and make medieval accessories for it.
  • Youth Combat is held daily from 8-10:30 and 3-5 pm for kids ages 6-17. Kids don’t need to be authorized to fight at Pennsic, but there generally isn’t much if any loaner gear, so it’s best if you can arrange to bring your own armor and weapons. There are also special tourneys throughout the week, including a polearm tourney on Monday at 7pm, the Æthelmearc Youth/Adult Tag Team Tourney on Wednesday night from 5-8, the Night with the Knights on Thursday from 7-9, and the Castle Battle on Friday.

Youth Combat is held twice a day. Kids need to bring their own armor and weapons. Photo by Arianna.

  • Youth Rapier combat is also available on the battlefield. On Thursday and Friday of Peace week, youth fencing runs from 1 to 3pm. During War week, it will be held from 9am to noon daily except Wednesday. Hours for Wednesday are TBD; check with the marshal at Pennsic.
  • The Archery range has a special family range where kids can shoot at age-appropriate targets and distances, with classes from 9-10am on Monday and Tuesday and a novelty kids’ shoot both days from 10-11am. Again, you need to bring your own equipment, or you can buy bows, arrows, etc. from merchants on site.
  • The Children’s Water Battle is on Wednesday from 3-5 at the fort – bring your own super soakers and water balloons, though water will be available at the battle. No balloon catapults – they hurt!
  • University classes – some classes are aimed specifically at kids, like the class on spinning that’s being offered on Sunday at 10am in AS 6, while other classes are not specifically for kids but may appeal to kids with specific interests.
  • Join the Fools’ Parade on Tuesday at 3:00 starting at the bathhouse. Kids need to bring a parent/guardian with them.
  • Work for the Pennsic Independent selling newspapers each day for a commission and tips. Their office is located on the Great Middle Highway across from Runestone Park. Kids under 12 need to have a parent with them.
  • Review the “Mom I’m Bored!” column of the Pennsic Independent, which lists kids activities for each day.

Tweens (12-13)

Once kids turn 12, they become “free range,” which means they are permitted to walk around without a parent or other adult supervising them. But don’t just set them loose without a little education. It’s easy for kids to get lost and panic their first few times out alone at Pennsic. Walk the site with them while they navigate, and make sure they know how to find their way around. I recommend pulling the site map out of their Pennsic booklet and having them keep it in a pouch, with your camp marked, so they can always get help finding their way home. It’s also helpful to know other safe places they can go – the Cooper’s store, your local group or Kingdom camp, other friends’ camps, and places like the University, First Aid, and the Watch with lots of helpful adults.

It’s also a good idea to make sure your tweens have money and/or a water bottle, so they don’t get dehydrated while out on their own.

There are lots of activities that tweens can participate in. Some of the ones  listed above for younger kids, like youth combat, archery, dancing, the Youth A&S Display, and the Water Battle, are all great for older kids, too. Some activities are aimed specifically at tweens and teens:

  • The Youth Choir rehearses daily from 4-5pm starting the middle Saturday in the Performing Arts Rehearsal tent behind the bathhouse, and performs at the Pennsic Choirs Concert on Thursday of War week at 6:30 in the Performing Arts Pavilion. It’s for kids ages 12-19.

The Youth Choir. Photo by Mistress Arianna.

  • The Youth Commedia class meets daily at 9am in the Amphitheatre behind the bathhouse, and is open to kids ages 13-17. Performance is Friday at 5pm.
  • Perform with the Youth Readers’ Theater, which rehearses at noon on Thursday and Friday of Peace week in the Performing Arts tent, then performs on Friday evening at 6:30pm. For kids ages 10-17.
  • The Gaming tent is located next to the European Dance tent on Chandler Rd., and offers board games of all kinds for both kids and adults.
  • Attend Fool School. Daily at 10 am in the Amphitheatre behind the bathhouse, kids and adults can learn skits and skills to become jugglers, magicians, and singers. Performance is Wednesday evening from 6-7pm, though there’s no requirement to perform.
  • Many University classes may appeal to older kids. There’s a class on Middle Eastern dance for girls and teens offered in the Middle Eastern tent (on the Great Middle Highway, across from Runestone Park, next to the Pennsic Independent) on July 28 at 10:30 am; the Midrealm A&S 50 project is looking for kids to contribute regardless of Kingdom, and meets on July 28 at 1:30; there’s a Calligraphy 101 class for teens and adults that meets on August 1 at 11am and again on August 5th at 2pm in Æthelmearc Royal; and there are plenty of other classes on topics as diverse as juggling, runes, fiber arts, storytelling, chainmail, etc. that older kids can enjoy.
  • Make some money selling ice. Bring a cart or wagon and fetch ice from the Coopers’ store. Some kids haul the ice and cry their wares as they walk around the camp, but if you offer to supply specific camps and merchants with ice for the entire week, you’ll have guaranteed steady customers. The farther from the store, the more money you can charge for ice, but of course the farther you have to walk. It’s important to be reliable!
  • Busking – kids with musical or juggling talent often take spots on the path from the Food Court to the Cooper’s Store, sometimes called “Beggars’ Row,” and perform for coins from passers-by.

Buskers can earn coins from passers-by. Photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donatol.

Teens (14-19)

Teenagers can sometimes end up spending their time a little aimlessly at Pennsic, often hanging out in groups not doing very much. In addition to encouraging them to continue participating in many of the activities above, parents can point them at additional opportunities not open to younger kids:

  • Attend the Teen Party on Sunday evening in East Kingdom Royal, located at the corner of the Low Road and Brewers’ Road.
  • Work for pay at merchants or as a Pennsic Minion. Lots of teens earn good money working at Pennsic. Join the Pennsic Minions’ Union Facebook page or you can approach various merchants on your own, either before Pennsic or after you arrive. Merchants often need help with set up and tear down, and some of the larger ones like Mystic Mail and a few of the food merchants hire adults and teens to work shifts throughout the war. Master Bovi farmaðr, who runs Delights of Cathay, hires teens 17 years of age and up to work at his booth. You can also babysit for people with younger kids.
  • Do some service for your group or the entire War. Teens can be waterbearers, retain for their barons and/or royalty, help set up Pennsic venues like Performing Arts, assist at troll, or help staff the University Point, Lost and Found, or Information Point. There’s even a Service War Point this year, so they can do their part to help their Kingdom!

 


Categories: SCA news sites

Society Guidelines on Youth Activities in Pennsylvania

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-07-03 11:12

The Gazette is distributing the letter from the Society Seneschal regarding youth activities in Pennsylvania via the East Kingdom Earl Marshal. We expect a statement from within Æthelmearc to be issued soon, and will post that when it becomes available.

The following information has been forwarded to the East Kingdom by Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil, Earl Marshal of the East Kingdom, on behalf of the Society Seneschal, with instructions to distribute widely.

Below are the Society’s Guidelines:

A.J. Pongratz
Society Seneschal
Vice President of Operations, SCA Inc.

In reviewing the official website of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services and the recent statute with other officers and agents of the SCA, I have determined that this statute will not impact on Heavy Combat or Rapier Combat by minor children of the age of 16 or 17 nor youth activities.

An adult volunteer responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children you will need clearances beginning July 1, 2015; if approved as a volunteer before July 1, 2015, the volunteer has until July 1, 2016, to get an FBI clearance. Volunteers responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children can include:

  • Parent/Guardian chaperones for schools
  • Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts
  • Agency volunteers that help with transportation or other services
  • Big Brothers/Big Sisters
  • Literacy programs
  • Little League
  • Coaches
  • Church Sunday school teachers, child event coordinators
  • Hospital volunteers working with children

In determining if a volunteer is responsible for the welfare of a child, only a volunteer acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent, will need clearances. It is important to note that in SCA combat and youth activities, the parent of the child is effectively required to be present and that the marshal merely officiates over the safety of the heavy and rapier field. The rules set forth in the Seneschal’s Handbook regarding Youth Activities, including Youth Combat, the SCA, its officers and agents do not maintain care and custody of a minor child; unlike Boy Scout Leaders and coaches, SCA volunteers do not have care and custody of minor children. As the Seneschal’s Handbook (part of the SCA’s Governing Documents) indicates that no officer or agent may, under color of authority, may be in loco parentis (in the place of the parents):

X. DEALING WITH MINOR/YOUTH-RELATED POLICIES
3. Parents or guardians of minors shall have ultimate responsibility for the welfare and behavior of their children at all times. It is the responsibility of the adult who brings a minor to an event to ensure that the minor is safe and not in danger. At events and activities in which youth participate in any way, participating minors must either have a parent or legal guardian present at the event/activity, or a temporary guardian present in possession of a properly executed ―Medical Authorization Form for Minors. This Medical Authorization Form must designate an adult present at the event or activity as able to authorize medical treatment in the case of emergency (a form of temporary
guardianship).

As no officer or agent of the SCA may provide care, guidance, supervision or control of children in an official capacity. no volunteer acting in an official capacity by and for the SCA is covered by the “new” Pennsylvania statute by virtue of the fact that our volunteers are not “acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent”; however, if the SCA volunteer has direct contact with children because they provide routine interaction with children as an integral aspect of their volunteer position, e.g. Youth Officer or Youth Marshal, the individual must receive an FBI background check in excess of the standard SCA background check.

While some may question the concept of the “routine interaction with children” language, the Pennsylvania State Department of Health and Safety indicated that consideration should be given to what the volunteer’s role is within the agency. Is their contact with children regular, ongoing contact that is integral to their volunteer responsibilities? Clearly contact with youth is anticipated by Youth Officers and Youth Marshals; however, those individuals that do not have direct contact with children as an integral to their volunteer responsibilities, e.g. Marshals, Heralds, Gate Staff/Watch/ Constables, Arts and Sciences Officers, Exchequers and Seneschals, need not obtain a clearance. Furthermore, there is a proposed amendment to clean up this language of this law by changing the definition of “direct contact” to mean that an individual provides care, supervision, guidance or control of children –AND- has routine interaction with children. The current definition in law uses the word “or” instead of “and”, but changing the definition will significantly narrow the universe of volunteers required to obtain the background checks (Youth Marshals and Youth Officers would be exempt), but this has not yet been enacted.

All prospective Youth Officer and Youth Marshal for Æthelmearc and the East Kingdom must obtain the following:

  • Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP); and
  • Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services (Child Abuse).

Additionally, a fingerprint based federal criminal history (FBI) submitted through the Pennsylvania State Police or its authorized agent is required if the position the for is a paid position and the volunteer has lived outside Pennsylvania in the last 10 years.

From now until July 24, 2015:

  • The PSP criminal history clearance costs $10
  • The Child Abuse clearance costs $10
  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) federal criminal history clearance costs $25.75 through the Department of Human Services (DHS)

Beginning July 25, 2015:

  • The PSP criminal history clearance costs $0
  • The Child Abuse clearance costs $0
  • The FBI federal criminal history clearance costs $25.75 through DHS

Volunteers who are not required to obtain the FBI Clearance because they are applying for an unpaid position and have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years must swear or affirm in writing that they are not disqualified from service based upon a conviction of an offense under §6344 to be placed in the custody of the Kingdom Seneschal.

If a volunteer is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in a program, activity or service, or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, the volunteer must provide the administrator or their designee with written notice not later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. A volunteer who willfully fails to disclose information as required above commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination or denial of a volunteer position.

Individuals who reside in another state or country may serve as a volunteer for no more than 30 days as long as they provide clearances from their state or country of residence. If the individual will be volunteering for more than 30 days, they must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.” Volunteers who reside in Pennsylvania do not have a provisional period and must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.” As Pennsic is less than 30 days, there is no need to have any volunteer from another state have a background check in excess of what is required in their own home state.

While Youth Marshals and Youth Officers should apply for a background check through the Department of Human Services, the monitoring and maintenance of Background Check Clearances, the responsibility for maintaining Youth Marshal and Youth Officer background checks should be monitored and maintained by the Kingdom Seneschals. I will leave it to the respective Seneschals to determine the method for maintaining and monitoring the clearance status in a reasonable manner for at least 3 years.

All Child Abuse clearance information is confidential and may not be released to other individuals. The Kingdom Seneschal must monitor and must maintain the paper work related to the background clearance; however, this information is confidential and can only be shared with another officer for an official purposes. As such, it should be up to the individual to obtain a background check and then submit the clearance to the appropriate Kingdom Officer. Upon submission of the clearance, the marshal or officer submitting to the check can either chose to tender the results to the Marshal or Seneschal (if they pass) or not tender the results (if they do not pass). Every individual who tenders the results should be reimbursed. In terms of maintaining the results of the check (whether the individual in question passes or does not pass), such results must be considered confidential.

Respectfully submitted this 1st day of July, 2015.

A.J. Pongratz
Society Seneschal,
V.P. Operations SCA, Inc.


Categories: SCA news sites

Your Kingdom Camp at Pennsic Needs You! And Your Truck…

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-07-03 10:32

Greetings Æthelmearc.

The Royal encampment setup is scheduled to begin Sunday, July 26 at 10 a.m. The flatbed should be at the camp at that point to load up. However, there is one GIANT change starting this year…

Due to staffing issues for the Coopers, we have been advised that the flatbed will only be available for one trip per Kingdom encampment as of this year.

Because of this change, we will need assistance from Æthelmearc citizens who can help haul equipment from the storage trailer behind the archery field to Æthelmearc Royal.

We also will need assistance hauling equipment back to the storage trailer during breakdown on Friday, August 7. If anyone can commit to assisting for even an hour or two, we could really use the help.

We are looking for several individuals with trucks or trailers to help haul tents, poles, tables, benches, and everything else out of the trailer. I am asking volunteers who would be willing to commit to doing so to contact me at damekateryna@gmail.com so that we can work out a time you can commit to helping.

We also need the normal help in Æthelmearc Royal to assist with setting up the Kingdom encampment tents, sheet walls, field pavilions, etc. We will need people throughout the day on a rotating basis, either as individuals or as groups. Even just an hour or two would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Dame Kateryna
Æthelmearc Royal Camp Coordinator


Categories: SCA news sites

Gazette Editor Profile: Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-07-02 21:39

The next in the series of Gazette editor profiles.

One of these photos is Aoife, and one is a perfect representation of how she feels when approaching a deadline (snap of a portrait taken at the Vatican last year).

Name: Dame Aoife Finn of Ynos Mon
Editor Area/Title: Ephemera, Aoife’s Links

What made you want to join the Gazette staff?
My service has often been about communication. The Gazette was such a worthwhile endeavor, I couldn’t resist. I just graduated last year with a spiffy communications degree. It’s what I do. When my former Apprentice asked me if I wanted in, I was so very proud to see a little of my legacy come forward into the next era of reenactment communication. It touches my heart.

What do you like most about being on the Gazette staff?
There is a seriousness to the craft, even when we are being funny. We bounce ideas around to be sure we haven’t missed anything important not only in coverage, but in attitudes that might need to be curbed (or promoted) for the benefit of others. We often know about others who have a “mission” in the SCA, and yet that mission is often skewed by the demands of others, the needs of important people, and while we like to talk about those things that impassion us in our articles, we want to be kind, thoughtful, and mindful. There are few, if any, opinion pieces, and that’s on purpose.

We also want to know who won the arts tourney in the Shire, what special projects are being taken up in the Dominion, which group welcomed a new member or a new baby, and how citizens travelled to other lands, and witnessed the traditions of other Kingdoms. The Gazette is the first news source in Æthelmearc that holds no official capacity. Even though that is true, it has grown dramatically in readership because we know we can be trusted not to over inflate, to not pander to personal points of view, and to be respectful. It might be exaggerating to say that we champion the underdog, but I am fairly sure that we represent those who don’t have fancy hats or high ranking titles as well as those who do. The Gazette is, simply, everyman’s SCAdian news source in the Kingdom. We are here to tell you the news, and that’s it.

How has the Gazette been received in your area?
Honestly, I’ve been a little more forward about my affiliation with the Gazette than others, so there’s starting to be some interest in getting the Eastern areas of the Kingdom into the arena, so to speak. I and my fellow editors don’t need to create your content, unless you need help. We want to hear those voices, the folks who might be new to putting together an article. I know there are some fabulous writers out there, so everyone should feel free to write up their own stuff and submit it. Whomever is editing that day we receive it will look it over briefly for simple stuff like spelling and swear words. Don’t be surprised if you get a request for pictures, or more information. If your group is doing it, and it’s interesting, we want to know.

What kinds of articles would you like to encourage people to submit?
We’re all used to shortening the event announcements for the newsletters because we had to do that for so long. The Gazette has no such limitations. If your event has a fun theme or special challenge, we’d like to know about it! The Gazette covers all of the Kingdom, not just the “Golden Crescent” on the western border. That means smaller groups should feel free to use the Gazette as a resource to attract an attendance for their events. Those smaller events are my personal favorite. I hope the Gazette can help preserve and promote them.

Interested in submitting articles to the Gazette, suggesting blogs to feature, or to be put on our roster of photographers whose work we have permission to use? Email us at aethgazette@gmail.com. Check out our submission guidelines here.

 


Categories: SCA news sites

Gold torc found among coin hoard

SCAtoday.net - Thu, 2015-07-02 10:00

In 2012, a hoard of nearly 70,000 coins, dating to the first century BCE, was discovered by metal detectorists on the Island of Jersey. Recently, while separating the coins, experts were surprised to find an intact gold torc. (photos)

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Gold Chain Tournament at Pax Interruptus

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-07-02 09:01

Knight’s chain from quietpress.com.

Unto the Populace of Æthelmearc do Sir Byron and Sir Ariella send Greetings!

In the Barony of Thescorre was held a tournament of heavy weapons, where the Chivalry of Æthelmearc bore witness to feats of prowess from amongst our unbelted fighters. The Chivalry present were His Majesty Timothy, His Highness Tindal, Their Graces Maynard, Marcus, and Khalek, His Excellency Yngvar, and ourselves. The unbelted fighters who met us on the field to test their mettle were Athos, Lothar, Bjorn, Bluestar, Beatrix, Thorsol, John, Esmar, Fridrich, Sittius, and Tadgh.

The Knights met in conference to select the two gentles who had most impressed them, and thus were the finalists, Bluestar and Thorsol, brought before the assembled crowd. In a finals match that saw 5 double-kills, Bluestar emerged victorious.

We salute all of the noble fighters who came to the listfield for this Gold Chain Tournament. We extend our thanks to the Marshall in Charge, Ciaran, who allowed us to fight on this day. We would also thank Master John, who provided a large tent for the fighters.


Categories: SCA news sites

Ancient footprint found in tile at Vindolanda

History Blog - Thu, 2015-07-02 05:46

The Roman fort of Vindolanda in Northumberland one mile south of Hadrian’s Wall, the northernmost boundary of the Roman Empire, is renowned for the great number of organic artifacts preserved for 2,000 years in its anaerobic soil. The Romans built nine forts on the site, each time demolishing buildings and covering them with clay and turf. This capped the old layers and ensured the wood, leather, textiles and other organic remains trapped in them would survive in exquisite condition. The hundreds of wooden writing tablets from the late 1st, early 2nd century A.D. were voted Britain’s top treasure by British Museum curators for a 2003 BBC program, propelled by their immense social historical significance past the likes of the Sutton Hoo ship burial and the Lewis Chessmen. The tablets were found only in one section of the fort. Leather shoes, on the other hand, have turned up all over the site. There are more than 6,000 of them, many perfectly intact, forming the major part of the largest collection of Roman leather in the world. The Vindolanda Museum has a wall of ancient shoes on display.

What it hasn’t had until now was a print of one of the feet those shoes once shod. Mel Benard, a Classical Studies student at the University of Western Ontario’s Vindolanda Field School who has been volunteering this digging season, unearthed a clay tile bearing the very clear partial imprint of a human foot on its surface. It was June 25th and this was the first artifact she found. The print is of a the ball and four toes of a small right foot probably belonging to an adolescent. The youth traipsed across the tile while it was drying in around 160-180 A.D.

Animal prints have been found embedded in tiles fairly often at the fort. In fact, the Vindolanda Field School team unearthed a tile with cat or dog print (I vote dog; those big toe pads and claws look far more doggy than catty) just two days before Benard’s discovery. Human animals aren’t as likely to run across wet tiles and incur the dreadful wrath of the tile-maker.

“This find is really extraordinary”, explains Co-Director of the University Field School, Dr Elizabeth Greene, “it brings full circle the story that Vindolanda has to tell. The thousands of leather shoes from this site (over 6,000) give us a unique perspective on the people who lived at Vindolanda but this footprint highlights even more that archaeology has the potential to illuminate the lives of otherwise voiceless individuals from antiquity”.

Once the tile has been conserved, it will go on display in the Vindolanda Museum, a rare honor that Mel Benard and her teammates feel keenly. “Finding something which would be considered special enough to go on display in the Vindolanda museum with all the other amazing artefacts was one of the ambitions of the Field School, we are all absolutely thrilled.”

You can and should follow the blog of the Vindolanda Field School here. They post recaps of their excavations almost daily and include some great photographs. I hadn’t heard of iron pan, a road-building technique that combines characterstic Roman ingenuity and lack of squeamishness, until I read about it in this post.

When I was troweling the road I noticed a lot of iron in the ground and bone coming out from it. Andy, director of excavations told me it was called iron pan. This was the reason why the road was held together so well. Iron pan is a process that was caused by the Romans pouring animal blood and bones on their roads. This causes iron to build up between the cracks and create a kind of metallic mortar.

I’m officially obsessed.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Society’s Guidelines for Youth Combat at Pennsic and Changes to PA Laws

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 22:35

The following information has been forwarded to the East Kingdom by Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil, Earl Marshal of the East Kingdom, on behalf of the Society Seneschal.

Greetings Unto the East Kingdom: Below is the Society’s Guidelines

A.J. Pongratz
Society Seneschal
Vice President of Operations, SCA Inc.

In reviewing the official website of the Pennsylvania Department of Health and Human Services and the recent statute with other officers and agents of the SCA, I have determined that this statute will not impact on Heavy Combat or Rapier Combat by minor children of the age of 16 or 17 nor youth activities.

An adult volunteer responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children you will need clearances beginning July 1, 2015; if approved as a volunteer before July 1, 2015, the volunteer has until July 1, 2016, to get an FBI clearance. Volunteers responsible for the welfare of a child or having direct contact with children can include:
Parent/Guardian chaperones for schools
Girl Scouts/Boy Scouts
Agency volunteers that help with transportation or other services
Big Brothers/Big Sisters
Literacy programs
Little League
Coaches
Church Sunday school teachers, child event coordinators
Hospital volunteers working with children

In determining if a volunteer is responsible for the welfare of a child, only a volunteer acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent, will need clearances. It is important to note that in SCA combat and youth activities, the parent of the child is effectively required to be present and that the marshal merely officiates over the safety of the heavy and rapier field. The rules set forth in the Seneschal’s Handbook regarding Youth Activities, including Youth Combat, the SCA, its officers and agents do not maintain care and custody of a minor child; unlike Boy Scout Leaders and coaches, SCA volunteers do not have care and custody of minor children. As the Seneschal’s Handbook (part of the SCA’s Governing Documents) indicates that no officer or agent may, under color of authority, may be in loco parentis (in the place of the parents):

X. DEALING WITH MINOR/YOUTH-RELATED POLICIES
3. Parents or guardians of minors shall have ultimate responsibility for the welfare and behavior of their children at all times. It is the responsibility of the adult who brings a minor to an event to ensure that the minor is safe and not in danger. At events and activities in which youth participate in any way, participating minors must either have a parent or legal guardian present at the event/activity, or a temporary guardian present in possession of a properly executed ―Medical Authorization Form for Minors.‖ This Medical Authorization Form must designate an adult present at the event or activity as able to authorize medical treatment in the case of emergency (a form of temporary guardianship).

As no officer or agent of the SCA may provide care, guidance, supervision or control of children in an official capacity. no volunteer acting in an official capacity by and for the SCA is covered by the “new” Pennsylvania statute by virtue of the fact that our volunteers are not “acting in lieu of or on behalf of a parent”; however, if the SCA volunteer has direct contact with children because they provide routine interaction with children as an integral aspect of their volunteer position, e.g. Youth Officer or Youth Marshal, the individual must receive an FBI background check in excess of the standard SCA background check.

While some may question the concept of the “routine interaction with children” language, the Pennsylvania State Department of Health and Safety indicated that consideration should be given to what the volunteer’s role is within the agency. Is their contact with children regular, ongoing contact that is integral to their volunteer responsibilities? Clearly contact with youth is anticipated by Youth Officers and Youth Marshals; however, those individuals that do not have direct contact with children as an integral to their volunteer responsibilities, e.g. Marshals, Heralds, Gate Staff/Watch/Constables, Arts and Sciences Officers, Exchequers and Seneschals, need not obtain a clearance. Furthermore, there is a proposed amendment to clean up this language of this law by changing the definition of “direct contact” to mean that an individual provides care, supervision, guidance or control of children –AND- has routine interaction with children. The current definition in law uses the word “or” instead of “and”, but changing the definition will significantly narrow the universe of volunteers required to obtain the background checks (Youth Marshals and Youth Officers would be exempt), but this has not yet been enacted.

All prospective Youth Officer and Youth Marshal for Aethelmearc and the East Kingdom must obtain the following: Report of criminal history from the Pennsylvania State Police (PSP); and Child Abuse History Clearance from the Department of Human Services (Child Abuse). Additionally, a fingerprint based federal criminal history (FBI) submitted through the Pennsylvania State Police or its authorized agent is required if the position the for is a paid position and the volunteer has lived outside Pennsylvania in the last 10 years.

From now until July 24, 2015:
The PSP criminal history clearance costs $10
The Child Abuse clearance costs $10
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) federal criminal history clearance costs $25.75
through the Department of Human Services (DHS)

Beginning July 25, 2015:
The PSP criminal history clearance costs $0
The Child Abuse clearance costs $0
The FBI federal criminal history clearance costs $25.75 through DHS

Volunteers who are not required to obtain the FBI Clearance because they are applying for an unpaid position and have been a continuous resident of Pennsylvania for the past 10 years must swear or affirm in writing that they are not disqualified from service based upon a conviction of an offense under §6344 to be placed in the custody of the Kingdom Seneschal.

If a volunteer is arrested for or convicted of an offense that would constitute grounds for denying participation in a program, activity or service, or is named as a perpetrator in a founded or indicated report, the volunteer must provide the administrator or their designee with written notice not later than 72 hours after the arrest, conviction or notification that the person has been listed as a perpetrator in the statewide database. A volunteer who willfully fails to disclose information as required above commits a misdemeanor of the third degree and shall be subject to discipline up to and including termination or denial of a volunteer position.

Individuals who reside in another state or country may serve as a volunteer for no more than 30 days as long as they provide clearances from their state or country of residence. If the individual will be volunteering for more than 30 days, they must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.” Volunteers who reside in Pennsylvania do not have a provisional period and must obtain clearances as outlined above under “Which clearances are needed.” As Pennsic is less than 30 days, there is no need to have any volunteer from another state have a background check in excess of what is required in their own home state.

While Youth Marshals and Youth Officers should apply for a background check through the Department of Human Services, the monitoring and maintenance of Background Check Clearances, the responsibility for maintaining Youth Marshal and Youth Officer background checks should be monitored and maintained by the Kingdom Seneschals. I will leave it to the respective Seneschals to determine the method for maintaining and monitoring the clearance status in a reasonable manner for at least 3 years.

All Child Abuse clearance information is confidential and may not be released to other individuals. The Kingdom Seneschal must monitor and must maintain the paper work related to the background clearance; however, this information is confidential and can only be shared with another officer for an official purposes. As such, it should be up to the individual to obtain a background check and then submit the clearance to the appropriate Kingdom Officer. Upon submission of the clearance, the marshal or officer submitting to the check can either chose to tender the results to the Marshal or Seneschal (if they pass) or not tender the results (if they do not pass). Every individual who tenders the results should be reimbursed. In terms of maintaining the results of the check (whether the individual in question passes or does not pass), such results must be considered confidential.

Respectfully submitted this 1st day of July, 2015.

A.J. Pongratz
Society Seneschal, V.P. Operations SCA, Inc.


Filed under: Pennsic, Youth Activities

Update From the Earl Marshal Regarding Combat for Under 18 Years

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 19:45

Greetings unto the East Kingdom,

Pennsylvania Child Protective Act

After a productive conference call with the Society Seneschal and the Society Earl Marshal I am confident that we will have written guidance in the next few days, for dissemination, that will allow for full participation by the East Kingdom in Pennsylvania in all activities under the Office of the Earl Marshal.  I do not want to paraphrase or misquote anyone, but I will say that everyone can rest assured that this should not cause a disruption for more than a few more days and once we have the written guidance we can return to business as usual with direction of who must and how to comply with Pennsylvania law.

Baron Sir Jibril al-Dakhil,
Earl Marshal of the East Kingdom


Filed under: Pennsic, Youth Activities

Missive from Principal Herald regarding “Ask a Herald” link.

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:38
Greetings to all from Ryan Brigantia, Principal Herald of the Kingdom of the East.

We have recently discovered that the “Ask a Herald” link on the EK homepage was not properly forwarding requests. We are working to retreive any requests which may have been backlogged at this time. I know you have been patient in awaiting responses to your inquiries but I must ask for a little more time.


Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry

Organizational meeting for EK Heralds for Opening Ceremonies

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:36
From Ryan Mac Whyte, War Herald for the Kingdom of the East for Pennsic XLIV.

Greetings and every good thing to all to whom these letters come.

As we approach the coming campaign to… um… become closer to our fair friends of the Midrealm by acquiring lands adjacent to their lands, the Kingdom’s eyes turn Westward.

In just over a month the War Arrow shall be broken and the Horn shall sound. The populace of the known world shall gather on the field of Pennsic to bear witness.

In order to facilitate Opening Ceremonies an organizational meeting of the Kingdom War Heralds will be held in EK Royal at 4pm on Saturday August 1st. Following the War Heralds’ meeting at 5pm will be a organizational meeting for all those East Kingdom Territorial Heralds who will be leading their Provinces, Baronies, and Shires in opening ceremonies. I am STRONGLY encouraging all groups who wish to be represented in the procession to send a representative to this meeting. As the principal participants of the War are changing this year the ceremony will be unlike any before it.

Opening Ceremonies will be starting at 9am on Sunday August 2nd. The Royal procession will be stepping off from EK Royal at approximately 8:45am. I am asking that all groups be present and ready to go at 8:30am.


Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry, Pennsic

Deadline to submit recommendations for the first polling of TRH Brennan & Caoilfhionn

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:32
Greetings all, Recommendations to be considered for the first polling of Brennan & Caoilfhionn will be accepted through the end of Sunday 7/12. Recommendations received after that time will be considered for the 2nd polling. Please remember that you need not be a member of an order to recommend someone you consider deserving. If you know someone you feel strongly about, please recommend them via http://surveys.eastkingdom.org/index.php/945932/lang-en Thank you, and we look forward to hearing from you. In Service to the East, Brennan and Caoilfhionn
Filed under: Announcements

Æthelmearc Sings At Pennsic!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:23

Æthelmearc Sings At Pennsic

I will return to my article series after Pennsic, but since we are now truly in the season to prepare for War, I wanted to remind everyone (or maybe tell you, if you didn’t know), that Æthelmearc traditionally sings on our way to Opening Ceremonies (and if there’s time, while we’re waiting). Anyone who is marching with a barony or group for Opening Ceremonies, or anyone else who just wants to participate with the kingdom, is encouraged to come and sing with us!

“But I don’t know any Æthelmearc songs!” you cry.

Well, have we got a deal for you! It so happens that the Æthelmearc College of Bards has many of our kingdom songs available at the College website:

http://www.aebards.org/songs/

Each of the songs has two links: one for a downloadable version of sheet music, and one for a downloadable mp3 of the song.

One caveat about the sheet music: most of these songs feature a lot of variation in the melody and rhythm from one verse to the next, depending on the demands of the lyrics and the singer’s individual preferences. This is not choral singing; the music is meant to be sung freely, so the notes on the page are more of a guide to the melody than an iron-clad representation of it. It’s certainly enough to get everyone going, though!

If you want a copy of the songbook… the 2007 edition (which is the last update we can find) is there for your printing pleasure:

http://www.aebards.org/songs/2007PennsicBooklet.pdf

There’s also a lyric sheet which has Her Ladyship Silence’s updates to songs like Sylvan March (where groups have come and gone since I wrote it):

http://www.aebards.org/songs/lyrics2014.pdf

The lyric sheet is designed to be folded to fit into a pocket or pouch or you can download either copy to your portable pocket girdle book (i.e., your phone or tablet) and carry the songs with you that way.

After Pennsic, there will be a new version of the songbook. No, really. There will also probably be an article on the difficulty of herding bards who are even harder to herd than cats….

Meanwhile, if the Songs of Æthelmearc are not enough for you, and you are desperate for more bardic advice, I recommend the excellent series of blog posts on the seven bardic sins written by Master Brendan the Bard.

Here’s the first in the series:

https://bardlog.wordpress.com/2015/05/18/seven-deadly-bardic-sins-part-1/

Finally, I encourage everyone who will be attending Pennsic to find at least one performance, bardic circle, exhibition, or performance competition to attend. There is immense talent on the Pennsic stages, which can easily inspire and impress. There are also a complete catalog of bardic classes, including performance workshops, and the annual Bardic Collegium which offers discussion of the state of the bardic arts and tips and tales about performers’ efforts to grow and shape the community of performers within the SCA. Check out the Pennsic University for more details, and the Performing Arts schedule to find concerts, exhibitions, competitions, and other activities which will surely please and amaze.

Of particular note, Æthelmearc has been invited to participate this year in the inter-kingdom exhibition, which previously has been limited to the East and the Midrealm. More details to come, but the exhibition will be on Saturday, August 1, beginning at 5:00 PM. Come and support our Kingdom’s performers as they showcase their skills.

See you at the War!

Ever in Service,

Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres

Sylvan Bard


Categories: SCA news sites

A&S Research Paper #1. ‘A smoke of cameryke, wrought with blake worke’: An overview of monochromatic embroidery in Early Modern England during the reign of Elizabeth I

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-07-01 16:22

Greetings, and welcome to the East Kingdom Gazette’s new feature: A&S Research Papers! Our first article comes to us from Mistress Amy Webbe, of the Shire of Barren Sands, who is presenting her article on monochromatic embroidery. The paper was presented initially to the East Kingdom Embroiderer’s Guild, the Keepers of Athena’s Thimble. Thank you, Mistress Amy, for starting off the new feature so well! (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

‘A smoke of cameryke, wrought with blake worke’: An overview of monochromatic embroidery in Early Modern England during the reign of Elizabeth I

A woman’s coif, circa 1600, accession number 1996.51. Image from the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Abstract: Monochromatic embroidery in counted forms was prevalent throughout the medieval Islamic world. Subsequent contact with southern European cultures introduced this form into mainland Europe, where it spread throughout Christendom. The arrival of the Reformation in England 1534, and the accession of Elizabeth I in 1558 allowed this art form to develop in uniquely English ways, establishing a unique aesthetic specific to the time and place. This paper will examine the aesthetics and techniques of monochromatic embroidery during the 16th century, focusing primarily on England, where this style of embroidery enjoyed its heyday.

Table of Contents

1. Historical Overview of Monochrome Embroidery
2. Aesthetics of Elizabethan Monochromatic Embroidery
3. Conclusion
4. Appendix: Extant Monochromatic Pieces Personally Examined by the Author
5. References

Historical Overview of Monochrome Embroidery

Monochrome embroidery, that is, embroidery using only one color of thread, is likely to be as old as needlework itself. It is easy to imagine our ancestors with leftover dye, and using it on a bit of thread that could then be used on an undyed garment, embellishing their clothing with something small. In “the Old World”, the earliest extant pieces that feature this sort of singlecolored thread, on an undyed or white ground, are found in what was considered “the Islamic World”. Islamic tradition cautions against the representation of living things, believing the power to create life is unique to God. Islamic embroidery, therefore, is often restricted to geometric patterns, and these are sometimes worked in a single color, and in double running or pattern darning stitches, such as fragment EA1984.168 at the Ashmolean Museum. Fragment of an embroidered Islamic textile, Mamluk period (1250-1517), accession number EA1984.168. Image from the collections of the Ashmolean Museum.

Textile fragment 27.168.8 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art contains some simple stepped and geometric figures that closely resemble what we may identify as “modern” blackwork. Fragment of an embroidered Islamic textile, 13th or 14th century, accession number 27.168.8. Image from the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In contrast, extant European embroidery of the same time period is frequently ecclesiastical in nature, depicting many religious icons and figures, and polychromatic. What survives from prior to the Renaissance is a collection of altar cloths, copes, chasubles, miters—all items that would have been used and preserved in churches. English embroidery in particular had a famous period of embroidery, known throughout Europe as “Opus Angelicanum”, or “English Work”. This was characterized by the skillful use of color and shading, used particularly to denote people.

Monochromatic embroidery in Europe is mainly unknown from extant examples at this point in time, although a passage from Chaucer is frequently cited to show evidence of a history of English “blackwork”. A common translation reads:

Her smock was white and embroidered on the collar, inside and outside, in front and in back, with coalblack silk; and of the same black silk were the strings of her white hood, and she wore a broad band of silk, wrapped high about her hair. (NeCastro, 2011.)

However, this raises more questions than it answers. It has been posited that this statement is “proof” of a history of regular monochrome work existing in England prior to the 16th century, but one must ask the following questions with regards to the Chaucer reference: Are there pictorial examples or extant pieces to coincide with this reference? Is a 14th century smock of the same construction as a 16th, with a separate collar? What would the “collar” of the smock refer to? Are the “strings” on her hood perhaps ribbon, and the decoration on her “smock” ribbon as well? An alternate translation from the Liberius.org site reads:

White was her smock, embroidered all before/And even behind, her collar round about,/Of Coalblack silk, on both sides, in and out;/The strings of the white cap upon her head/Were, like her collar, black silk worked with thread.

This gives a slightly different interpretation, that may seem more plausible—that of these garments being made of black silk that was then embroidered. This also fits with the characterization of the Miller’s Wife as being a creature of fantastic taste and conspicuous consumption.

The end of the feudal system in Europe allowed workers to have more time and more money; workers could specialize in trades, and it is likely that this, combined with a more earthly focus after the Black Death, created an environment in which personal decoration was more accepted. The introduction of printed papers also meant patterns and images could be shared and traded, and this may also have contributed to a development of the culture of embroidery, particularly in the area of black on white embroidery, which may be an attempt to mimic woodcut illustrations. The influence of the Reformation also likely played a part, which we will consider later.

Although popular history holds that Catherine of Aragon brought the fashion for “blackwork” with her from Spain, there are no known extant pieces said to be the work of Catherine herself, and even her portraiture does not reflect this embroidery in great quantities. Some Spanish portraits hint at a bit of black decoration around the neckline, but this is not definitive, due to a lack of extant examples. Also, pieces housed in Spanish museums are frequently labeled as being of Italian origin. It seems as equally likely that Italian contact with the Islamic world may have been the connection, as many existing pieces share characteristics with each other, regardless of provenance. This may be expected under the universality of “Christendom”, as headed by the Pope in Rome. Henry VIII himself was even named a defender of the faith, a “fidei defensor”, by Pope Leo X, in 1521, and one could argue that this relationship accounts for the apparent similarities between European pieces in the first half of the 16th century.

A note on black dye: Prior to the discovery of the “New World”, black dye was often obtained from oak galls, which contained large quantities of tannin. However, this dye was extremely acidic, and would often eat away at fibers; many of the extant pieces we have today from England have disintegrating black silk needlework due to the dye being used. This was well known, and the Doge of Venice even went so far as to ban their use on wool fabrics. (Smith, 2009). This problem was solved somewhat by using a “provisional” natural dye as the base—first woad, then indigo, and later logwood. Logwood was under Spanish control as an import from the New World, and this may account for the reports of the higher quality of Spanish silk being much desired.

Beginning in the 16th century, we begin to see monochromatic embroidery represented in art. The paintings of Hans Holbein contains several images that seem to reference a geometric, “pixelated” style of embroidery. The Hans Holbein painting Darmstadt Madonna features a figure wearing a dress that many would argue reflects monochrome embroidery done in a simple linear stitch. And indeed, it does certainly appear to be so. However, almost no extant pieces exist from Germany at this time, so one cannot state that unequivocally, no matter how talented we presume the artist. Paintings of Jane Seymour done by him and attributed to his workshop show at least two different styles of what appear to be embroidered ruffles, although only one really represents this strictly geometric style. The archaeological record only minimally reflects this: Smock 2003.76 at Platt Hall of the Manchester City Galleries, dating from the mid 16thcentury England, does use what appears to be a double running stitch for the border of its neckline and down the sleeves, but this is supplemented by use of detached buttonhole embroidery. Shirt T. 112-1972 at the Victoria and Albert Museum also uses geometric styles and seems to imitate the styles common in Italian fashion of the time. Embroidered English man’s shirt, ca. 1560, museum number T.112-1972. Image from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

A portrait of a young Mary I by Master John hanging in the National Portrait Gallery in London features what appears to be geometric red embroidery on the white linen clothing. Portrait of Mary I, 1544, Item NPG 428 in the Primary Collection. Image from the collections of the National Portrait Gallery.

German modelbuchs from the time also feature geometric borders, that seem to be similar to painted examples.

It goes without saying that all art is influenced by the culture around it, and as that culture changes, so does the art reflect that change. Embroidery is no different, and following Henry’s break with Rome in the 1530s, we begin to see an “Anglicanization” of culture. Art and architecture both simplify. This is immediately obvious with the iconoclasm of the Churches; although the Church of England retained some simplified versions of ornament. Gone are the embroidered chasubles of the Bishops; in its place are simple white garments. The effort embroiderers may have spent glorifying the church now is spent glorifying themselves, and by the end of Elizabeth’s first decade of rule, in 1568, many aesthetics are becoming unique to the island, continually shunning anything Popish, be it embroidery, or Princes. As the reign continues, increased sumptuary laws sought to control the appearance of luxury, influenced, no doubt, by the Puritan element and their disdain of the sin of “pride” (Kirtio, 2012). This contrasts with embroidery on the Continent, which retains many of the geometric influences, and even expands into additional forms of counted embroidery, such as voided work.

So what, then, does this monochrome embroidery created during the reign of Elizabeth I look like?
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Aesthetics of Elizabethan Monochromatic Embroidery

In the simplest terms, the style of Elizabethan monochromatic embroidery reflects the flowers of the English countryside, and the animals in an English garden.

Many familiar flowers and fruits are represented. One can find roses; pansies and violas; pea pods; strawberries; pears; grapes; gillyflowers (carnations); cornflowers; borage; honeysuckle; foxgloves; columbines; lilies; pomegranates. The skill of the embroiderer, however, does mean that some motifs are more challenging than others to decipher. Additionally, all manner of small animal can be found peeking out amongst the leaves of the embroidery, and even some more fanciful creatures have been depicted. One can spot bees; worms/caterpillars; fish; birds; butterflies and dragonflies; small mammals and household pets; and even the occasional phoenix or tiger.

The fascination with the natural world, be it flowers, insects and all manner of mammal and bird, is prominently displayed in most of these pieces. Many of the flowers featured would have been commonly found in the Elizabethan household’s kitchen garden, and it is easy to see that  inspiration for many of the floral motifs used in these embroideries could have easily been found by looking out the kitchen window; however, images would also have been widely found in modelbuchs and “herbals”, such as Thomas Trevelyon’s “Miscellany”, which offered pictures of more exotic plants and animals, both old world and new.

In general, monochromatic embroidery during the reign of Elizabeth I, and continuing under James I, can be classified into several design “families”, based on final presentation: curved vines; lozenge patterns, diapered, and bands. It is important to recognize that many of these embroiderers were working “in a vacuum” in a sense. They would see what was becoming popular and fashionable, and replicate it as best they can. It seems unlikely they would have been engaging in a systematic study of the proper execution of these items—they would have been mimicking the styles within the limitations of their own skill and knowledge. (Please note the term limitation is used only in the sense of a narrow field of focus, and not as a disparagement of skill or execution.) The artistic expression of each embroiderer must also be taken into consideration—each individual will have a skill level and preference that is unique, and this must be considered when attempting to “classify” styles of monochrome embroidery. In the absence of widespread print or digital media, each embroiderer would need to determine for herself the best way for her to communicate the style.

Curving bands are some of the common layouts, and often this vinework is done in a metal thread, which contrasts nicely with the black embroidery, but one can easily find examples of curving vinework done only in the same black thread, although often with more elaborate stitching. It is interesting to note that these appear to be worked in two ways: in some extant pieces, it is very easy to see that the motifs were drawn on first, and the vines worked around them; on others, the regularity of the vines seems to suggest they formed the outline of the embroidery, and motifs added later. These curving designs usually terminate in a single flower or group of flowers; animal motifs are interspersed among the curves, and designs are often supplemented with little curlicues coming off of the main vine.

Lozenge designs are also quite common. This is when the embroidery is broken into a grid. As with the curving vines, this grid may be worked with either metal or silk threads. The motifs are then worked into the voids in the grid. This grid may leave rhombus and diamond shaped voids; hexagonal voids are seen in at least one example (Nightcap 198-1900 at the Victoria and Albert Museum); and some are simply constructed on a squared grid. The void in the grid is filled with one image large image, often a flower, but occasionally a bird or mammal.
English nightcap, ca. 1600, accession number 198-1900. Image from the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Diapered items also appear quite regularly, with the term “diapered” referring to the pattern consisting of repeats of small, identical figures. These repeats can be of one single design repeating, or a pattern of designs repeating. For instance, Coif and Forehead cloth 2003.63/2 at Platt Hall shows a simple flower and leaf design that is executed precisely throughout both pieces. In contrast, Coif and Forehead cloth 2003.64/2, also at Platt Hall, feature a more elaborate repeat—a three-armed strawberry bush with gold metal thread cinquefoils is alternated with small bees, also enhanced with metal thread. The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust has an even more fanciful coif that features stylized fish interspersed with crescent moons. Several of the embroidered jackets we have are done in this diapered style, although at least one, at the Bath Fashion Museum, could be argued to have a lozenge design (1.03.137).

Bands are stripes of design that run at least the half-width of the garment. Many of the extant smocks and shirts we have of English (and even Italian) design use bands in lieu of “broader” embellishment. These bands may incorporate curving vinework within the confines of the band, or use a geometric pattern within the confines of the band. This does not seem to be a common design aesthetic for headgear (although there is at least one example), and this may be due to the three dimensional nature of the pieces altering the layout of the of the design.

There are other consistencies throughout the fashions of monochromatic pieces during this time. One of the most unusual for the modern eye to grasp is the sheer density of the designs. While a modern eye may see white space as a necessity to “set off” the image, the Elizabethan eye seemed to see white space as a blank to be filled. The design even travels off of the edge of the piece, being worked right up to the margins. This is done both with embroidery and with metal accents. Spangles, or “oes”, small disks of metal, are frequently applied to the garments worn on the head and jackets; metal bobbin lace was often applied as well, even after an item has been elaborately worked.

Fills stitches can also be considered as closing up the white spaces; geometric patterns can be used for effect to create a variety of densities; stitches like detached buttonhole and trellis may fill in a shape completely, and seed and speckling stitches give a variety of shading to a piece, which may mimic the woodcut template from a Miscellany. Once again, it is important to remember that stitches may vary within a given household, or “shop”. The difference between a seed and a speckle may be merely in the hands of the embroiderer carrying out the work.

Many stitches can be used to execute monochromatic embroidery. We frequently see stem stitches being used in outlines, but one can also find buttonhole and blanket stitch; ceylon stitch can be used for vinework; back stitch and/or double running appear both as outline stitches and fills. Speckle and seed stitches are just two of the many ways of filling a figure. As previously mentioned, even denser stitches like trellis and buttonhole variants are seen.

A note on “Spanish work”: John L. Nevinson points out that Spanish work and black embroidery are distinctly identified on the registry of New Years Gifts. Two items from 1577 show the difference:

“By Fowlke Grevell, a smocke of camerick wrought abowte the coller and the sleves of Spanysshe worke of roses and tres, and a night coyf with a forehed clothe of the same worke.”

and

“By Julio, a cushyn cloth and a pillowbere of cameryk wrought with black worke of silke.”

Whatever “Spanish work” is, it seems distinct enough in the minds of the records keeper to be listed separately.

A note on double running: Many of the extant pieces that appear to be double running are in fact a back stitch, as a glimpse at the reverse shows. (Coif 2003.63/2, Platt Hall). While double running pieces do exist, they are by no means in the majority of extant pieces, and it is interesting to consider how this stitch came to be so closely associated with “blackwork”. Joan Edwards points out that prior to the 1950s, double running was not considered a “blackwork” stitch. Mrs. Archibald Christie counts it among canvas work stitches; Louisa Pesel includes it in “Far Eastern” stitches; and Mary Thomas associates it with Assisi and Romanian work. Jane Zimmerman points out that double running only became known as the “Holbein Stitch” in the 1800s, and the term was popularized by the Royal School of Needlework only in the 20th century. It seems likely that the 20th century association of double running and blackwork, due in part to its revival in the 1960s and 1970s, is responsible for this.

It is possible that artists each put their own “spin” on monochrome embroidery. Hans Holbein, Hans Eworth, George Gower, Lucas Horenbout, Master John, and Cornelis Ketel, all represent monochrome embroidery differently from each other in paintings. Now, it is possible that since, for example, Holbein painted the wealthy elite, that all of their clothing may have been embroidered by the same group of embroiderers who did the same thing. The artist may be accurately reflecting the work as done in an individual household or shop. However, different artists seems to interpret monochrome embroidery different across their paintings. The works of Hans Eworth show a blackwork which matches the rest of his paintings, and yet, is different than that of George Gower, and different again from Hans Holbein.

Linen (processed from the flax plant Linum usitatissimum )is the primary ground for this embroidery, and the thread itself is mostly silk (from the silkmoth Bombyx mori) . There are some examples of monochrome jackets worked in wool, and this may be due to several factors: wool is less expensive, and a jacket would require many more yards than a coif; perhaps wool is thought to be more durable; and it is possible that, due to Elizabeth I’s emphasis on the English wool market, that it was a matter of patriotism and access. The silk thread used appears to be both flat silk (unreeled), and spun silk. It is unknown if the appearance of flat or spun may be artifacts of the stitches and the embroidering—some of the stitches could put a twist in the thread during their execution; likewise, some stitching may untwist or give the spun silk a flattened appearance. It is probably likely that both were used, depending on access and the needs of the embroiderer at the time. Once again, there was no “how-to” manual, and individual households made decisions that met their needs.

While there certainly were professional embroiderers in late 16th century England, George Wingfield Digby points out that coifs and nightcaps are most likely the work of private hands, as these items were “intimate”, being mostly worn at home and in the presence of family members (although not slept in, since that would destroy the fine embroidery). The line between professional and “amateur” is a blurry one; Digby chooses to use the term “domestic”, rather than amateur, because the skill level between the paid embroiderer and the private lady can be so hard to distinguish. Elizabeth I’s ladies-in-waiting were known for their skills in needlework and embroidery, and Elizabeth herself often embroidered gifts as a young woman.

A note on cultural significance: As we have discussed earlier, the Reformation in England directs energies away from ecclesiastical decoration, and concentrates more of self-decoration. Attempts to flout sumptuary laws and “rise into place” were often accentuated by elaborate embroidered items, showcasing the flamboyant in an attempt to gain Royal favour. Items embroidered with black silk appear in the New Year’s Gifts Records as early as 1561. In every year on record during her reign subsequent, there are always many embroidered items, including “black silk” and “black worke” embroidered items. Lisa M. Klein points out that the value of these embroidered pieces may not be based solely on their intrinsic and monetary value. She argues that gifts of needlework are often a part of a complex social exchange, in which exceptional embroidered items (either done by or paid for by the giver) are given with the hope of a return favor from the Queen. The giving of these high-end luxury items may place an obligation upon the Queen that she would feel compelled to repay, although this was not always the case. Klein observes that this “shows women as active participants in cultural exchange, using their material objects to forge alliances…subjects as well as the queen were able to manipulate the occasions of gift-giving to promote self-interested social relations” (Klein, 1997). Elizabeth I herself is known to have embroidered gifts of book covers for her father Henry VIII and his wife, Queen Catherine Parr, and it is therefore likely that Elizabeth would have understood the subtle messages involved in exchanging embroidered gifts.
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Conclusion

Seemingly simple, the art of monochromatic embroidery as expressed by the English embroiderers during the reign of Elizabeth was surprisingly diverse and complex. From it’s humble geometric origins in the Islamic empire, “blackwork” crossed a continent and found a new home on the plain shores of small island. Under a Virgin Queen, it grew into a magnificent form of art, worn by the top tiers of society, showcasing a new “purely English” identity. It would be outshone in the coming centuries by polychromatic masterpieces, but for a brief time, monochrome embroidery took center stage as the pinnacle of a craftsperson’s skill.
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Appendix: Extant Monochromatic Pieces Personally Examined by the Author

At the Clothworkers’ Centre of the Victoria and Albert Museum:
Coif T.54-1947
Nightcap 814-1891
Coif T.320-1979
Coif 756-1902
Coif T.53-1947
Boy’s Shirt T.112-1972
Handkerchief T.133-1956
Smock T.2-1956
Forehead cloth T.26-1975
Nightcap T.10-1950

At Platt Hall, Manchester City Galleries (the Gallery of Costume collection is not currently available online:
Forehead Cloth 2003.65
Coif 1999.56
Nightcap 1959-271
Coif and Forehead Cloth 2003.63/2
Smock 2003.76

At the Museum of London:
Jacket A21990
Jacket 59.77a
Smock A21968
Skirt 59.77b

At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston:
Coif and Forehead Cloth 43.244a-b
Coif 1996.51
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References

Arnold, J. (1988). Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe unlock’d . Leeds: W. S. Maney and Son, Ltd.

Arnold, J. (2008). Patterns of Fashion 4: The cut and construction of linen shirts, smocks, neckwear, headwear, and accessories for men and women c. 1540-1660. London: MacMillan.

Beck, T. (1974). Gardens in Elizabethan embroidery. Garden History, 3 (1), 44-56.

Brooks, M. M. (2004). English embroideries of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries in the collection of the Ashmolean Museum. London: Jonathan Horne Publications.

Carey, J. (2012). Elizabethan stitches: A guide to historic English needlework . Devon: Carey Company.

Digby, G. W. (1963). Elizabethan embroidery. London: Farber and Farber.

Edwards, J. (1980). The second of Joan Edwards’ small books on the history of embroidery: Blackwork. Surrey: Bayford Books.

Figural representation in Islamic art. (n.d.) In Heilbrunn timeline of art history.

Hentschell, R. (2008). The culture of cloth in Early Modern England: Textual constructions of a national identity. Hampshire: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Jaster, M. R. (2006). ‘Clothing themselves in acres': Apparel and impoverishment in medieval and early modern England. Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 2, 91100.

Kirtio, L. (2012). ‘The inordinate excess in apparel’: Sumptuary legislation in Tudor England. Constellations, 3 (1).

Klein, L. M. (1997). Your humble handmaiden: Elizabethan gifts of needlework. Renaissance Quarterly, 50 (2), 459493.

Leed, D. (2010.) Queen Elizabeth’s wardrobe uploaded. DressDB.

Librarius. (n.d.) The miller’s tale: lines 125-162.

Mellin, L. (2008). A lady’s embroidered coif of the late 16th/early 17th century.

 Morrall, A., & Watts, M. (eds). (2008). English embroidery from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1580-1700: ‘Twixt art and nature. New Haven: Yale University Press.

NeCastro, G. (2011). The miller’s tale.

Nevinson, John L. (1938). Catalogue of English domestic embroidery of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. London: His Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Nevinson, J. L. (1940). English domestic embroidery patterns of the 16th and 17th centuries. The Twenty-eighth volume of the Walpole Society, 28 (1), 114.

Nunn-Weinberg, D. (2006). The matron goes to the masque: The dual identity of the English embroidered jacket. Medieval Clothing and Textiles, 2, 151174.

Quinton, R. (2013). Seventeenth-century costume . London: Unicorn Press Ltd.

Reynolds, A. (2013). In fine style. London: Royal Collection Trust.

Smith, G. (2009). The chemistry of historically important black inks, paints, and dyes. Chemistry Education in New Zealand, 12-15.

Trevelyon, T. (1608). Miscellany.

Victoria and Albert Museum. (1953). Elizabethan Embroidery. London: Her Majesty’s Stationery Office.

Wace, A. J. B. (1933). English embroideries belonging to Sir John Carew Pole. The Twenty-first volume of the Walpole Society, 21 (1), 4366.

Zimmerman, J. (2008). The art of English blackwork.
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Filed under: A&S Research Papers Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences, Embroidery

What's being found, what's being restored - Medieval News Roundup

Medievalists.net - Wed, 2015-07-01 10:32
Recent news for medievalists, including the restoration of a 15th-century manuscript, and the discovery of a Norman castle. And check out the great video from the people behind Just for Laughs Gags:

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Categories: History, SCA news sites

"XII scripta" game pieces found in Turkey

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2015-07-01 08:49

Ludus duodecim scriptorium or XII scripta was a popular Roman game played with dice on a 12-square gameboard. Recently, two game pieces, believed to have been used for XII scripta were discovered during a dig in Kibyra, in the southern Turkish province of Burdur’s Gölhisar district.. (photo)

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Categories: SCA news sites