Archaeologists excavating Mingary Castle in west Ardnamurchan, Scotland have recovered a musket ball and canonball in the moat of the castle, speaking of an attack sometime in its past. Mingary is considered to be "the best preserved 13th-century castle in Scotland."
A metal detecting club has discovered a small lead coffin in a plowed field in the village of Witherley, Leicestershire, central England. Members of Digging Up The Past had been searching the field all day, turning up part of a Medieval seal matrix, Medieval silver coins and a few Roman bronze coins probably from the 3rd and 4th centuries, when around 4:00 PM 30-year-old surveyor Chris Wright’s metal detector gave off a very strong signal. It indicated the object was fairly deeply buried, but the signal was strong enough over a large enough area that Wright decided to start digging. After digging down two feet he had a colleague come help him. About three feet down, they encountered a corner of something they at first thought was made of stone, but soon realized it was a metal lid, probably of a coffin.
They called in club founder David Hutchings who agreed that it was a coffin and immediately called the police. The police arrived at the scene with Leicestershire County Council archaeologists and they all kept vigil overnight to protect the open grave from would-be treasure hunters. The archaeologists recognized it as an exceptional find. Preliminary examination suggests it may date to the 3rd century A.D. and its east-west alignment points to it being an early Christian burial. The coffin is less than one meter (3.3 feet) long so if it was used to bury someone, that someone was a young child. Lead was extremely expensive, so the deceased must have been the son or daughter of a wealthy family.
The council archaeologists were not able to start a professional excavation, for reasons that have gone unstated in the news stories but I’m guessing involves budgetary constraints. Police and volunteers guarded the site while Digging Up The Past got necessary permissions and raised funds to have the box excavated privately. Archaeology Warwickshire was enlisted to do the job. On Thursday, October 24th, the casket was exhumed and brought to Warwick for further analysis.
The field in which the coffin was found is about two miles away from the Roman fort and town of Manduessedum (today Mancetter) which was founded around 50-60 A.D. along the Roman road known today as Watling Street. Manduessedum is one of the possible locations historians have suggested for the Battle of Watling Street, Iceni warrior queen Boudica’s final confrontation with Rome in 60 or 61 A.D. The much smaller army of Gaius Suetonius Paulinus decisively defeated Boudica’s army of allied tribes at that battle, the last organized military resistance to Roman control of southern England. After that, Manduessedum settled into a civilian life becoming a local center of pottery making. Thirty kilns from the Roman era have been discovered in the area.
Stuart Palmer, business manager for the appointed experts, Archaeology Warwickshire, said: “Everything points to the coffin being from the Roman era and it is the first lead coffin to be recovered from the area. It might be one of the few Roman burials recovered from the Witherley-Mancetter cross border region.”
“We know quite a lot about the Roman military activity in that part of Leicestershire and Warwickshire but not a great deal about the indigenous population. This coffin might provide us with one of a very few opportunities to examine how those people lived.”
Here’s a video of the finder telling his story and of the coffin in situ:
I wish they hadn’t dug all the way down to expose the sides and everything. That’s archaeological context they’re digging up, not just spoil. At the very least, as soon as they hit the lid they should have stopped. I hate seeing the dig marks on the lid and that big puddle of water.
EDIT: Finder Chris Wright assures me that they did stop digging when they hit the lid. The fuller excavation you see in the pictures was done by professional archaeologists.
Students and competitors of Crytek's Off the Map contest have developed a game-quality video of London, starting in Pudding Lane, with great detail (photos and video).
A team of scientists from the Institute of Nuclear Chemistry at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany has analyzed glass beads found in former Rhaetian settlements in Bavaria, and concluded that the beads, dating from the 1st through 4th centuries, must have originated "somewhere near a soda lake like those in Wadi El Natrun in Egypt." (photo)
The Blackfox Awards are given for excellence in a variety of areas related to local and Kingdom newsletters. They were instituted in memory of Master William Blackfox, author and illustrator of the Warthaven cartoons, which he generously sent every month for many years for publication in the various kingdom newsletters.
Each spring Kingdom Chroniclers across the Known World peruse the past year of local newsletters within their kingdoms, chose a maximum of three deserving examples for each of the award categories, and submit them to the Society Chronicler and her panel of judges for consideration. These worthies ponder the entries, and eventually come to a decision, which is announced in the Fall issues of Tournaments Illuminated. You can read about the process in more detail on the SCA web site: http://www.sca.org/officers/chronicler/blackfox-awards.html
This years awards are out, and the East is well represented, with winners in two categories:
For Best Layout and Design:
Notes from Underground, Barony of the Bridge, Chronicler: Lady Mina di Pasquale.
Awarded for the best looking newsletter in balance and style. Awarded to the newsletter and the Chronicler.
For Best Artwork:
Northern Watch, Barony of Endewearde, Chronicler: Oleksandr Brazhnyk, Artist: Lady Agatha Wanderer, Portrait of Master Gregory Finche .
Awarded for artwork on cover or interior of the newsletter. Awarded to the newsletter and the artist.
The complete list of nominees can be found in the current Tournaments Illuminated, and will eventually be added to the Blackfox Awards page on sca.org. A hearty and well deserved Vivant to both the winners, and all the hard-working local chroniclers who were nominated. With twelve to fiftenn Kingdoms nominating in most categories, the competition was fierce.
The other nominees for the East are:
Best Overall Newsletter – This does not necessarily mean the best-looking newsletter, but rather the newsletter which best meets the needs of the local group or guild for which it is published. It should accurately reflect the status of the group and be a valuable tool for growth and promotion of the SCA goals and ideals. This title is awarded to the newsletter and the Chronicler.
Best Layout and Design – for the best looking newsletter in balance and style. Awarded to the newsletter and the Chronicler.
Best Regular Feature – for those cartoons, articles, columns, etc. which appear regularly in the particular newsletter. Awarded to the creator or feature writer and the newsletter.
Best Article – recognizes excellence in articles appearing in a local newsletter. Awarded to the writer and the newsletter.
Best Artistic contribution to a Kingdom Newsletter – Recognizes the artist of a piece provided for use by a Kingdom Newsletter. Awarded to the artist.
Honorable Mention – Nominations which didn’t fit into the above categories, yet are still deserving of recognition for their exceptional work and/or dedication to producing the best possible newsletter for the local group served. Awarded to the individual nominee.
Filed under: Tidings Tagged: Blackfox, Chronicler
For those readers who have purchased a sustaining or international membership in the SCA, we would like to alert you that the electronic edition of the November issue of Pikestaff, the official newsletter of the East Kingdom, is available to download.
The November issue features cover art provided by Baroness Shadiyah al-Zahra.
The Chronicler apologizes to those who receive the print edition. There was a problem with the printing process, as yet unexplained, which resulted in some of the text on the cover being improperly placed when printed. The error was not noted until after the issues were printed and mailed. The Society Chronicler is pursuing explanations with the printer. If you download the electronic copy, you will see what the cover should have looked like.
E-newsletters are available only to those who have purchased a sustaining membership or an international membership.
Here’s a quick reminder about how to access the newsletters, if you have the appropriate membership. You’ll start by visiting the newsletter web site: http://enewsletter.sca.org
There you’ll be greeted with a login screen. You’ll need your membership number and password. (The initial password is the word “start”, all lower case. It is recommended that you change the password to something more secure the first time you use the site.)
Once you’ve provided that you’ll see a screen with a list of all the publications available. You can access not only the Pikestaff, but the newsletters of all the Kingdoms, and the Board of Directors meeting minutes. Click on the name of the Kingdom or other publication you want, and on the next screen you’ll see all the
If you have trouble accessing the site, your next step should be to contact Membership Services to check the status of your membership. You can find all the contact information on the SCA web site: http://www.sca.org/members/MbrSvcsStaff.html They will be able to help you. The kingdom chronicler does not have the necessary access to do so.
Filed under: Official Notices Tagged: Pikestaff
Holy Trinity Church in Rothwell, England has a secret: a medieval ossuary lies beneath its floor. Now a team of scientists from the University of Sheffield hopes to learn some of the secrets using the latest scientific technology. (video)
Once upon a time, a medieval manor house graced the countryside of Leicestershire, then it disappeared. Today the land is a sheep pasture, at least until archaeologists reveal what lies beneath the field.
Analysis of soil samples has revealed the suffering of a 13th century Danish child in the days before his death, according to chemist Kaare Lund Rasmussen from University of Southern Denmark. The 10-13 year-old child from Ribe had been treated with mercury, causing great suffering.
Today would be Theodore Roosevelt’s 155th birthday. In honor of the 26th president, Harvard’s Houghton and Widener Libraries have put together a slideshow of the young Teddy from childhood to his undergraduate days at Harvard College. It’s a small selection from the collection of 172 images of Roosevelt in his youth that was gifted to Harvard by the Theodore Roosevelt Association in 1943. They provide a glimpse into Roosevelt long before his grinning, bespectacled, moose-riding presence became instantly recognizable, and they’re smartly captioned with brief anecdotes and descriptions. Many thanks to the Houghton and Widener Libraries for allowing me to use high resolution versions of the photographs in this post.
He’s really quite unrecognizable, an adorable little boy and a handsome young man. His blue eyes, later hidden behind his characteristic wire-rimmed pince-nez glasses, are striking. His mutton chops are downright impressive once they get going. Of course instead simply enjoying the growth and development of TR, I had to go falling down a couple of rabbit holes inspired by the images and captions.
First observe a four-year-old Teddy looking like Little Lord Fauntleroy in a velvet jacket holding a fuzzy cap. Those baggy pants tied under the knee he’s wearing were known as Knickerbockers after the fictional author in Washington Irving’s 1809 Knickerbocker’s History of New York. Diedrich Knickerbocker is the descendant of 17th century Dutch immigrants who settled New York when it was New Amsterdam, and as such is a member of the highest ranks of New York society. In Irving’s book these New York Dutch aristocrats wear old-timey knee-breeches, emblems of their long heritage in the city. It was an entirely fictional depiction, but the name stuck. From then on, the Dutch-descended patricians of New York became known as Knickerbockers and so did the poofy pants. Later, New York sports teams would take on the name too.
The Roosevelts were Knickerbockers par excellence. They were descendants of one Claes Maartenszen van Rosenvelt who settled in New Amsterdam in the 1640s and purchased 48 acres of prime farmland bounded by Lexington Avenue and Fifth Avenue between 29th St. and 35th St. Midtown Manhattan, including the lot that now hosts the Empire State Building, was the first American Roosevelt’s personal stomping ground.
The other picture that sent me down history nerd lane was the 1878 tintype of Theodore after he shaved off his fine set of sideburns. The caption quotes a letter Teddy wrote to his sister Corinne Roosevelt Robinson on May 3rd, 1878:
“At last the deed is done and I have shaved off my whiskers! The consequence, I am bound to add, is, that I look like a dissolute democrat of the fourth ward. I send you some tintypes I had taken for distribution among my family and friends. The front views are pretty good; although giving me an expression of gloomy misery that I sincerely hope is not natural. The side views do not resemble me any more than they do Michael Angelo or John A. Weeks.”
(John A. Weeks was a wealthy lawyer, real estate mogul, philanthropist and art lover. His wife was Alice Hathaway Delano, relative of Sara Delano who was the mother of Frederick Delano Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt’s fifth cousin.)
It was TR’s description of himself looking like “a dissolute democrat of the fourth ward” that caught my eye. It just sounds cool, first of all, and it’s a neat early glimpse into a concern that would help define Roosevelt’s political career. The Fourth Ward of New York City was a crime-ridden slum on the Lower East Side. This was full Tammany territory, the uncontested domain of corrupt bosses who could deliver votes en bloc to their pet politicians.
Tammany Hall was a Democratic Party machine and Teddy would fight it at his first opportunity. He was elected as a Republican to the New York State Assembly in November of 1881, just three years after he wrote that letter to his sister. The fact that he was a mere baby of 23 years did not deter him from focusing on his reformist agenda. In his first 48 hours of the legislative session, he introduced four reform bills (water purification, alderman election reform, finance reform and judicial reform). Only the alderman one passed and only after major changes, but TR didn’t let that slow him down. He was re-elected in 1882 and in 1884 introduced three bills aimed at kneecapping the party machines. Of the three, the Reform Charter Bill was the highest priority because it focused on increasing the power and accountability of the mayor to weaken the stranglehold of the board of aldermen which was controlled by the party machines.
The Reform Charter Bill passed and was signed into law by Governor Grover Cleveland, a Democrat who had formed an alliance with Tammany Hall to win the election only to govern with integrity and honesty, much to Tammany’s horror. The bill became known as the Roosevelt Bill and newspapers went nuts over how Roosevelt and Cleveland were cutting Tammany down to size.
Ten years later, Theodore Roosevelt came to a whole new understanding of the Fourth Ward. In 1895, he became New York City Police Commissioner. Accompanied by reformer photojournalist Jacob Riis who had exposed the vile living conditions of the immigrant poor in the tenements of New York City’s Lower East Side in his 1890 book How The Other Half Lives, Roosevelt patrolled the poverty-stricken streets between midnight and dawn, checking up on his beat cops to be sure they were a) awake, b) sober, c) not spending all night in saloons, d) not taking bribes, inspecting tenements for compliance with health codes, deterring crime with his mere presence.
He became such a common figure on the streets of the Lower East Side at night that he earned the outstanding nickname of Haroun al Roosevelt after the character of Harun al-Rashid in the One Thousand and One Nights. In his autobiography Riis described the two years of Roosevelt’s patrols as a Golden Age. Roosevelt called Riis “the most useful citizen of New York” for having shone a light — literally; the new invention of flash made it possible to effectively photograph the dark tenements for the first time — on the reality of life in the slums.
In a complete coincidence, one of those Fourth Ward streets TR patrolled was Roosevelt Street. It was named after one of early Rosenvelts who owned the property in the 17th century. The street is gone now, built over in 1950 by the Alfred E. Smith Houses, a public housing development named after the former governor and candidate for president who made wet dreams come true.
Unto the populace of the East Kingdom does Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell send greetings!
King Kenric and Queen Avelina have set me to the task of coordinating gifts for the upcoming reign with the assistance of Baroness Marguerite de Sainte Nazaire.
More specifically we will be creating gift baskets for visiting Royals at Birka and an assigned set of Royals at Gulf Wars.
If you would like to make an item or have an idea please email either myself or Baroness Marguerite at:
Mistress Elizabeth: email@example.com
We can also be reached by telephone (no calls past 8pm please)
Yours in Service,
Filed under: Arts and Sciences
It's a time for celebration in Durham, England, as a page is turned in the 1,300-year-old Lindisfarne Gospels. Carefully-regulated, early visitors viewed two pages of the open book: the Canon Tables, but for the remainder of the exhibition, the book will be opened to a portrait of St John the Evangelist. (photo)
Having revolutionized individual transportation and industrial production with his Model T car, after World War I Henry Ford turned his sights to airplanes. He had been interested in aviation from its early days, lending three automobile factory workers to his 15-year-old son Edsel to help build a monoplane powered by a Model T engine in 1909, just six years after the Wright Brothers’ seminal flight at Kitty Hawk. Edsel’s Model T monoplane never did fly well and its brief life ended when it crashed into a tree. During the war, Ford applied his production genius to aircraft engines. In the fall of 1917, the War Department commissioned 22,000 12-cylinder Liberty engines from all of Detroit’s automotive companies. Ford redesigned the process for cylinder production, streamlining it so production rose from 151 cylinders a day to more than 2,000. In the end, Ford produced all of the Liberty cylinders (433,826 in total) and 3,950 complete engines.
(Fun fact: Cadillac initially declined to build Liberty engines because General Motors co-founder William C. Durant was a pacifist. Henry M. Leland, creator of the Cadillac company who had sold it to GM in 1909 but stayed on the payroll as an executive, wanted in on the Liberty order, so he left General Motors and founded Lincoln solely to produce the airplane engines. It was only after the war that the Lincoln plant turned to automobile production, using a luxury V8 engine inspired by the design of the Liberty. Ford bought Lincoln in 1922, streamlined operations to make it profitable, muscled Leland out within months and to this day Ford Motor Company still produces luxury cars under the Lincoln imprint.)
It wasn’t until 1923 that Henry Ford dipped his toe into commercial aviation by investing in William Bushnell Stout’s Stout Metal Airplane Company. Henry and Edsel invested $1,000 each in Stout’s company which went on to produce the Stout 2-AT “Air Pullman,” the first all-metal single engine monoplane. That single engine, by the way, was a Liberty. In April of 1925, the Ford Air Transport Service, the first regularly scheduled commercial airline, went into operation carrying 1,000 pounds of freight aboard an Air Pullman between Detroit and Chicago. In August of 1925, Henry and Edsel purchased the Stout Metal Airplane Company outright and created the Stout Metal Airplane Division of the Ford Motor Company.
To get the word out and assure potential customers that air flight was a dependable means of transporting cargo, Ford launched the Ford National Reliability Air Tour with the Air Pullman as its featured player. The tour was effective and less than a year after that first cargo flight, Henry Ford and William Stout accompanied the first bag of air mail to be carried by a commercial flight from Detroit to Cleveland under escort of fighter planes.
While the 2-ATs went to work delivering mail, Stout went to work on a new model: the 3-AT trimotor, an all-metal craft with three engines (originally Liberties until they proved too heavy and were replaced with Wright J-4 engines) and a large passenger or cargo compartment. Ford thought the 3-AT was the future of aviation until he saw the test flights. They were abject failures and Henry barred Stout from the engineering room after that.
Sans Stout, the Stout division of Ford started over after a fire destroyed all their 2-ATs and the prototype 3-AT on January 16th, 1926. They updated the 3-AT design to create a trimotor that was actually able to maintain altitude and the Ford 4-AT Trimotor, aka the “Tin Goose,” was born. Designed for passengers but with removable seats for cargo transport, the sturdy metal plane was an immediate success. It would become the first mass-produced passenger airplane with a total of 199 manufactured between 1925 and 1933. In 1927, Pan American used Trimotors for its first international flights from Key West to Havana, Cuba. Transcontinental Air Transport, with routes and airports designed by Charles Lindbergh, used Ford Trimotors to carry passengers coast to coast (albeit with train legs in between) in 1929. The next year it merged with Western Air Express to create TWA. Franklin Delano Roosevelt flew a Trimotor during his 1932 presidential campaign, replacing the traditional train whistle stop tour.
Its heyday was brief as new technology superseded the Trimotor by 1933, but the plane still flew for decades. Trimotors were used as sightseeing planes, barnstormers, crop dusters and to carry freight to remote mining operations far from city airports. One particularly heroic Trimotor transported 50 people a day off the island during the 1942 Battle of Bataan until Japanese fighters shot it out of the sky.
There are 18 Trimotors still in existence today, eight of which are airworthy. One of them, a 4-AT-E model built in 1929 for Eastern Air Transport, is owned by the Experimental Aircraft Association out of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, which spent 12 years putting it back together after the plane was lifted up by a gust of wind and slammed into the runway. That model is now touring the country giving nine people at a time the full 1929 experience in its restored cabin.
This weekend it’s in Waco, Texas, at the McGregor Executive Airport.
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You can’t book online anymore for this weekend’s rides, but you can still get walk-up tickets, $75 for adults, $50 for children 17 and under. The plane will be in St. Simons Island, Georgia, next weekend and Savannah, GA, the weekend after that. The final flights of the year will take place the weekend of November 14th in Jacksonville, Florida.
Lighten up your weekend with a bit of historical humor! The BBC presents an amusing (and yet educational) music video of the story of Mary Tudor.
“I am hugely excited by the discovery. We have definitely put it up there to be possibly on a par with Clonmacnoise or Inishmurray,” said archaeologist Mick Drumm of Wolfhound Archaeology about the recent discovery of a 7th century monastery at Drumholm, near Ballintra, Co Donegal, Ireland. (photo)
Posted on behalf of Her Excellency Imigla Venture, Baroness Carolingia
Crown Tournament is just around the corner (11/2 in Walpole MA), and we wanted to remind you that for your convenience, you can pay by credit card using ACCEPS through Monday, October 28th. Adult pre-registration is $5 for members, and a dayboard will be available for an additional $5. If you prefer to pay via cash or check, you can do so at the door.
Filed under: Events Tagged: events, Fall Crown
Dutch graffiti artist Niels Meulman, AKA Shoe, is no stranger to medieval manuscripts, having been inspired by such works as the Irish Gaelic poem Pangur Bán, so it isn't surprising that he has been chosen to help celebrate the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels to the north of England as part of an exhibition.
Two intact mummy bundles from the pre-Incan Wari civilization have been discovered inside the walls of the adobe and clay brick temple of Huaca Pucllana. Seventy burials have been found since intensive excavations began in 2005, but most of them are not intact. They’ve been damaged by deliberate human interference or simply the passage of time. The first intact burial found dates was a young woman with an exceptional death mask buried around 700 A.D. and unearthed in 2008. Two years later another female mummy buried around 850 A.D. with two infants and a young child was found undisturbed. Now three years after that a third intact burial has been found which early estimates date to around 1000 years old.
The two mummies are of different sizes, one is much larger the other and is probably an adult while the smaller one is the mummy of a child. The adult was a member of the elite, a high-ranking official or priest, and the little one may have been a child sacrificed in his or her honor, possibly even buried alive. Alternatively the child may be a relative who died at the same time. Both are wrapped snugly in woven rope bundles. The mummies are still in situ. They will be taken to a Ministry of Culture lab for testing to determine their age and sex. The full array of tests should take about six months, after which we’ll know what diseases they may have had, what they ate, the kind of work they did, and if DNA collaborates, whether the two are related.
Nestled in the cavity along with the mummies, archaeologists also found seven vessels used to drink mate, 12 textile bags and the skeletal remains of three guinea pigs. The burial site was carved out of a wall on the sixth platform of the pyramid, one of the most thoroughly looted areas of the Huaca Pucllana complex. Destruction began long before the arrival of the Spanish, which makes the human remains and artifacts particularly rare survivals and this tomb one of the most important discoveries made at the site.
The pyramid which long predates the Wari. The Huaca Pucllana complex was a ceremonial and administrative center built by the Lima culture between 200 and 650 A.D. in what is today the tony neighborhood of Miraflores. The Lima used a construction system known as the “bookshelf” style wherein hundreds of thousands of clay bricks are stacked together like books on shelves. Over time they lean in towards each other at opposite angles, like books on a shelf that isn’t completely full. This made the pyramids highly resistant to earthquakes.
When the Wari spread out from their capital of Ayacucho (about 200 miles southeast of Lima in the Andes) and reached Lima around 650 A.D., they put their own imperialist stamp on the previous culture’s monuments: they buried their elite inside the walls of the pyramids. It was a means to assert their dominance over the Lima culture and to give their important dead impressive eternal resting places.
All the archaeological excavations, research and maintenance of Huaca Pucllana is funded by revenues from the site’s museum and restaurant. Last year, 60,000 visitors went to see the temple; the number is expected to rise to 100,000 this year. The museum is innovative in its exhibits as well, including a room designed for the visually impaired with replicas of ancient artifacts visitors can touch and Braille descriptions. If you’re ever in Lima, Huaca Pucllana is not to be missed.
Everyone knows the face of the Mona Lisa, but Silvano Vinceti hopes that he can show the world her actual face by identifying her remains removed from the Sant'Orsola convent in Florence. The task is expected to be accomplished by matching DNA from eight skeletons removed from the convent with that of remains taken from the lady's family tomb.
A special fundraiser will be held at Nordenfjord’s Schola tomorrow. A one of a kind, custom piece of jewelry was created and will be offered up for sale by silent auction – a pin rendered in copper featuring the Viking drakkar from the Shire device and handmade by Gretta Coerfan (Margo Konikoff, a professional jeweler and member of the Shire of Nordenfjord). Own a piece of history as only one will ever be made. You can see more of her work here, and additional pictures of the pin on Facebook.
Filed under: Events Tagged: Nordenfjord