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Unique Pictish Stone on display at Elgin Museum

History Blog - Tue, 2016-04-12 04:27

Three years have passed since Andy Johnstone broke a plough on a 1,500-pound Pictish Symbol Stone in a field in Dandaleith, near Craigellachie in northeastern Scotland. Landowner Mr. Robinson reported the find to the Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service (ACAS) and its experts determined the stone is Class I, the earliest type of symbol stone. It dates to the 6th-8th century B.C. and the symbols — an eagle, a crescent, a V-rod, a mirror case symbol, a notch rectangle and Z-rod — are carved on two adjacent sides, a unique configuration so far as we know.

Mr. Robinson allowed the five and a half foot-long pink granite stone to remain on his property for a year before arrangements could be made to remove it for conservation. In 2014, the Dandaleith Stone was transferred to Graciela Ainsworth Sculpture Conservation in Leith, Edinburgh, where Graciela Ainsworth’s team conserved it, documented it and laser scanned it to create a 3D model of the stone.

Meanwhile, the symbol stone was declared a Treasure Trove and the Scottish Archaeological Finds Allocation Panel allocated the find to the Elgin Museum, Scotland’s oldest independent museum (est. 1842), in Elgin, just 15 miles north of Dandaleith. The museum then had to raise the funds to pay the landowner and finder a fee equal to its assessed market value, plus more to pay for transportation, conservation and display. The fundraising was successful, thanks to contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, AIM, the Art Fund, the Pilgrim’s Trust, and Aberdeenshire Council Archaeology Service.

On March 1st of this year, the Dandaleith Stone was transported to the Elgin Museum by Graciela Ainsworth. She also brought the carved Pictish and early Medieval stones from the museum’s permanent collection that were conserved at her Edinburgh facility. The next day, the Dandaleith Stone was hoisted into position in the museum’s new display by the Elgin Marble Company which generously donated the equipment, time and manpower necessary to raise the massive stone and install it vertically next to a new row of lit shelves to display the museum’s other, much smaller carved stones.

The new Pictish Stone display opened to the public on Saturday, March 26th. Ploughman and finder Andy Johnstone was invited to cut the ribbon at the exhibition opening.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Event Report: Ice Dragon 40

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-04-11 16:26

The Fortieth Festival of the Ice Dragon, once again held on April 2nd at the Connecticut Street Armory in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael, was packed with its usual heavy fighting, youth fighting, fencing, Arts and Sciences Pentathlon, meetings, and courts. Lord Wolfgang Starcke, on his fourth stint as Ice Dragon autocrat, reports that about 650 gentles were in attendance.

Morning Courts and Curia

Morning court saw three gentles sent to contemplate elevation to the peerage: Baroness Laurencia of Carlisle was sent to vigil to contemplate elevation to the Order of the Laurel for her skill in costuming; Don Anias Fenne was sent to vigil and to play the prize in preparation for being admitted to the Order of Defense, and THLord Marek Viacheldrago was sent to vigil for elevation to the Chivalry.

Click to view slideshow.

Anais, Marek, and Laurencia are sent to vigil. Photos by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Baron Athos is sent to vigil for the Chivalry. Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.

After court, the Imperator held a Curia where the Award of the Golden Escarbuncle was officially entered into Kingdom Law. This award is to be given to gentles who impress the Crown on a specific occasion, whether for martial, artistic, or service activities.

Later, before the start of the Heavy Weapons Tournament, Augustus Tindal summoned the Order of Chivalry to him and then called forth Baron Aquila d’Athos, sending him to vigil to contemplate elevation to that Order.

Heavy Weapons Tournament

The Heavy Weapons bear pit tournament, run by Sir Sextus Plinius Callidus, commenced with 86 fighters lining up to test themselves against other combatants. Points were given for wins only, and any fighter who held a list for 5 rounds without being defeated was required to leave the list and join the line to return. The tournament ran for two hours, with the wait time in line averaging 2 minutes. Once again, Duke Maynard von dem Steine dominated the field, emerging from the tournament with 127 points. The next closest competitor, Sir Evander MacLachlan of the Kingdom of Ealdormere, accumulated 54 points. Duke Sven Gunarrsson was third. Duke Maynard has won the Ice Dragon Bear pit at least 8 times over the years.

Duke Maynard vs. Sir Dephinus. Photo by Michael Davis.

Rapier Tournaments

The Rapier list, run by Don Berhend von Elmendorf, held two tournaments. The first was a Pool Round Robin, where the fencers were divided into four lists of 10-11 fighters who fought round robin, and then the top two fencers in each list went on to a double-elimination final. The victor was Don Lodovic of Gray’s End, with Mistress Eyrny Ormarsdottir of the Kingdom of Ealdormere coming in second.

Photo by Michael Davis.

The second rapier tournament was a Bear Pit in which fencers were limited to a dagger and parry object. It was won by Master Will Parris with a total of 92 points. Don Clewin Kupferhelbelinc and Doña Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen were tied for second with 65 points each.

Master Will vs. Lord Jan ten Walde. Photo by Michael Davis.

The fencers also voted for who had made the “prettiest” kill. Don Po Silvertop nominated Duchess Dorinda Courtenay for slaying him in a particularly artistic manner, and the other fencers apparently agreed as she was named the winner of that honor.

Youth Combat and Youth Rapier

The Youth Combat list, run by Baron Edward Harbinger with MIT Baroness Anastasie Lamour, was busy with about 10 youth fighters. Many were new to youth combat so there was no tournament, but first-time fighters armored up with loaner gear and got to spar with more experienced youth fighters. All had fun and learned a lot.

Youth fighters marshaled by Baroness Anastasie. Photo by Michael Davis.

There was also youth rapier combat, with one young gentle, Simon Fjarfell, authorizing as a Division 1 youth fencer and then winning the three-person youth rapier tournament.

Wentliana authorizing as a youth fencer against Lady Gytha. Photo by Michael Davis.

Arts and Sciences Pentathlon

The Arts and Sciences Pentathlon, run by Mistress Ysabeau Tiercelin and Mistress Juliana Delamere with assistance from Mistress Filipia Cupbreaker, attracted a goodly number entries ranging from ceramics to fiber arts, scribal entries and woodworking, as well as soap-making and music. Many of the entries can be viewed in the slide show below.

Click to view slideshow.

Judging the culinary entries. Photo by Tiercelin

Although entries have always been divided into levels (from novice to Laurel), this year the levels were only judged against each other since there were places at each individual category level as well as for the Pent itself (in past years all entries had been judged together with scores only counting for the Pentathlon at the different levels, and the judges unaware of whether they were judging a beginner or more advanced artisan). The levels were novice (Sycamore or no arts award), artisan (Fleur or other grant level award) and Laurel. There was also a category for youth entries. To create more time for judges to give in-depth comments, the Pent eliminated the complicated scoring sheets and went back to the original ribbon system of awarding first, second and third places.

There were over 115 individual entries, more than double that of the previous year.

The Pent winners were:

  • Mistress Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen for the Laurel category

Mistress Fredeburg, Laurel winner. Photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato.

  • Mistress Irene von Schmetterling for the Artisan category

Mistress Irene, Artisan winner. Photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato.

  • Lady Elska Fjarfall for the Novice category.

Lady Elska, Novice winner. Photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato.

  • Simon Fjarfall for the Youth category, who impressed everyone with a wicker pack basket that he made, including woven straps.

Simon, Youth winner. Photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato.

Various nobles also chose their favorites to single out for recognition:

  • King’s Choice: Kalishka
  • Prince’s Choice: Lord Ruslan Igotavich Voronov
  • Princess’ Choice: Lady Arianna dal Vallone
  • Baron and Baroness’ Choice: Simon Fjarfall
  • A&S Officers’ Choice: THLady Rachel Dalicieux

In addition, the Imperator gave Golden Escarbuncles to Lady Edana the Red and Lord Ruslan Igotavich Voronov in recognition of the outstanding quality of their entries.

A full list of Pent category winners, with photos of all the first prize category entries, will be forthcoming this week.

Princess Ariella’s Favor Design Competition

Also in the Pentathlon room was Princess Ariella’s contest to choose the favor design for her reign. The design submitted by Lady Maggie Rue of the Shire of Hunter’s Home was chosen by both Her Highness and the populace as the favorite. Information on how to assist in making favors for Her Highness is available here.

Other Activities

While the rest of the site buzzed with activity, dancers made use of the court hall for dancing, and Lady Cordelia Colton ran children’s activities.

Of course no Ice Dragon is complete without the salons and merchants. Many of the usual merchants were there, including Mistress Gabrielle d’Auvergne with her fiber arts, Master John Michael Thorpe with an assortment of weapons and related goods, and other vendors selling items like jewelry and feast gear. Many of the salons offered displays and food themed to their group, including Clan Yama Kaminari’s Japanese salon. As always, the Scribes of Æthelmearc had a table where gentles could pick up completed backlog scrolls.

The Tavern was ably run by Lord Ursus Epicurius, and featured both meat- and vegetarian-based dishes.

As if all this activity was not enough, there were also numerous meetings, including one for autocrats and exchequers to explain the new terminology around what was previously referred to as the non-member surcharge, the first meeting of the new Æthelmearc Cooks’ Guild being formed by Lady Arianna dal Vallone of the Shire of Sylvan Glen, and meetings of various Orders and Marshals’ groups.

Afternoon Court

Afternoon court was long but many gentles stayed to the end to see their friends and family recognized for their accomplishments and skills. In addition to the tournament and pentathlon prizes listed above, numerous awards were bestowed on worthy gentles, notably a Fleur on Lady Katerina das Vögelein in absentia, Gage on Lord Garreth Whytbull, a Millrind on Baron Magnus de Lyons, and a Scarlet Guard on Baron Edward Harbinger.

Court ended with the elevation of the four new peers.

Baron Aquila d’Athos was first, with Barak Sir Carthalo (formerly of the Rhydderich Hael and now of Atlantia), speaking on behalf of his former squire for the Chivalry; Duke Timothy of  Arindale as a Royal Peer, Master Fergus for the Order of Defense, Mistress Alison of the Many Isles on behalf of the Order of the Laurel, and Countess Caryl Olesdottir for the Pelican. Sir Michael of Northwood and Duke Khalek Shurrag Od buckled the spurs of a knight on his feet, and his lady, Baroness Bronwyn nic Gregor, placed the white belt of a Knight around his waist. The Imperator delivered the traditional buffet and then hugged Sir Aquila in congratulations.

Sir Aquila d’Athos is dubbed a knight. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

Next, Don Anais Fenne processed in, preceded by the cutest sword-bearer in the Kingdom, his three-year-old son Elijah. For Don Anais, Count Isenwulf Thorolfeson spoke on behalf of the Royal Peers, Sir Tristen Sexwulf for the Chivalry, Master Quinn Kerr for the Laurels, Mistress Aleea Baga for the Pelicans, and Master Iago Benitez for the Order of Defense. Augustus Tindal placed the white livery collar around Don Anias’ neck and proclaimed him a Master of Defense.

Then the Silver Buccle Herald called forth Baroness Laurencia of Carlisle to be elevated to the Order of the Laurel. Master Llewelyn ap Goddodin of the East Kingdom spoke on behalf of the Chivalry, Duchess Dorinda Courtenay spoke on behalf of the Masters of Defense, Duchess Liadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh spoke as a Pelican, and Mistress Cori Ghora spoke on behalf of the Laurels. Her Excellency was invested with an ornate hood made by Mistress Elisabeth Johanna von Flossenburg and received a Laurel wreath crafted by Mistress Geirny Thorgrimsdottir. His Majesty pinned a Laurel brooch to her hood and named her Mistress Laurencia.

Baroness Laurencia is made a Laurel. Photo by Arianna.

Last came the elevation of THL Marek Viacheldrago. Having already surrendered his squire’s belt to his liege, Sir Tristen, at morning court, he pronounced himself ready. Dukes Maynard von dem Steine and Khalek Shurrag Od spoke as Royal Peers, Mistress Dorinda once again as a Master of Defense, Duchess Liadain once more represented the Pelicans, Mistress Chrestienne de Waterden spoke on behalf of the Laurels, and Sir Alric of the Mists spoke emotionally on behalf of the Chivalry. Sir Tristen bestowed upon His Lordship the Knight’s Chain of the West, which he proclaimed had been worn by 40 Knights, who had among them sat a throne 80 times. Sir Tristen and Sir Alric affixed the spurs to his boots, and his lady, Sybilla Julianna Detwyller, tied the white belt around his waist. Augustus Tindal delivered the buffet, and the populace cheered the new Knight, Sir Marek.

Sir Marek receives his spurs from Sir Alric and Sir Tristen. Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

The Augusta being absent, it fell to the Imperator to choose His inspiration of the day. He called forth THLady Zofia Kowalewska and thanked her and the scribes of Æthelmearc for their work completing backlog scrolls, many of which had been on display in the scribal booth.

THLady Zofia is recognized as the Augustus’s inspiration. Photo by Arianna.

With that, court was closed and another Festival of the Ice Dragon came to an end. Alas, the Ice Dragon itself was not through, and many gentles had long slogs home that night through a raging snowstorm. We can only hope that the Ice Dragon retreats soon to leave us to our long-awaited spring!



Categories: SCA news sites

Crown Tourney Letters of Intent – Deadline Extended

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-04-11 15:53
Due to the Crown Tourney Letters of Intent website inadvertently closing early, it has been reactivated and will remain active until approximately 6:00 PM EDT on Tuesday April 12th.


The address is http://surveys.eastkingdom.org/index.php/925981/lang-en

Mercedes Vera de Calafia East Kingdom Senechal
Filed under: Announcements Tagged: Crown Tournament, Crown Tourney, Letter of Intent

Rare 13th c. tile floor on display under new shelter

History Blog - Mon, 2016-04-11 02:15

An extremely rare surviving 13th century tile floor at Cleeve Abbey in Somerset is now back on display under a new, state-of-the-art shelter. The oak shelter will protect the 40 x 16-foot section of pavement from the elements, something its predecessor, a tent, could not do.

Cleeve Abbey was a Cistercian monastery founded by William de Roumare, Earl of Lincoln, in 1198. Populated by only 12 monks in the beginning, by the mid-13th century there was a cruciform church, a cloister, chapter house, sacristy and dormitory. The refectory was constructed in the second half of the 1200s, probably around 1270, and it was paved with expensive polychrome encaustic tiles nine inches square. Each tile is decorated with heraldic designs. The arms of several aristocratic benefactors of the monastery were kiln-baked into the floor tiles, including the chevrons of the earls of Gloucester from the de Clare family, the lion rampant of the earls of Cornwall, the double-headed eagle of Richard of Cornwall, second son of King John of Magna Carta fame, who bribed his way into election as King of the Romans (ie, King of what would become Germany) in 1257, and the three white lions of the Royal Coat of Arms representing monastery patron King Henry III, Richard’s brother. Archaeologists believe they were manufactured by a tilery in Gloucestershire and installed to celebrate the marriage of Edmund, 2nd Earl of Cornwall, to Margaret de Clare in 1272.

In the 15th century, the old refectory was demolished and a new, larger refectory was built just to its north. The old tile floor was not reused elsewhere (the usual practice when dealing with luxurious features like these tiles), but buried, keeping it in situ in its original configuration virtually undamaged for 400 years. Thanks to its hiding place, the floor made it through the Dissolution of the Monasteries unscathed while the abbey church was demolished. Henry VIII sold the abbey property and other structures, stripping any valuable architectural features for individual sale. The abbey became a farm, and most of the buildings are still standing today because of it.

The Cleeve Abbey tiled pavement is the only large example of a decorated medieval refectory floor in Britain. The fact that it survived with its original placement still intact makes it a rarity of international significance. A smaller piece of the 13th century church floor was also discovered at Cleeve Abbey, and while it too is made of colorful encaustic tiles, they have been relain and look like a patchwork quilt now.

The old refectory floor was rediscovered in 1876. To protect it for future generations, the floor was reburied until 1951 when it was again exposed and displayed to the public. It was covered each winter to save it from inclement weather and uncovered during the summer months so tourists could view it.

In the 1990s, tests by English Heritage found that the tiles were dangerous deteriorating from their exposure to the elements. Thermal stress was damaging the protective glaze surface and eroding the detailed patterns in the clay, while microbes and high salt gnawed away the priceless pavement. In an attempt to prevent further damage, English Heritage installed a marquee tent over the floor tiles, which helped keep the sun’s rays from hitting the tiles directly but was only a temporary solution while they worked on a permanent one.

Last year construction began on a new shelter made of louvred oak slats which allow light to enter the space for optimal viewing, but keep direct sunlight from beating down on the tiles. There’s a ventilation system which keeps the temperatures inside the enclosure stable at all times. Visitors can enjoy the floor comfortably from seating and viewing platforms.

The new shelter opened on Good Friday, March 25th, 2016, and will be open daily through October 21st, 2016, which is when Cleeve Abbey closes for the winter. It will open again next spring.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Artisan Profile: Angellino the Bookmaker

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2016-04-10 19:18

The next in our series of Æthelmearc Artisan Profiles, from Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe: Lord Angellino the Bookmaker.

For this month’s Artisan Profile, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lord Angellino the Bookmaker. During his years in the SCA, Angellino has done a little bit of everything: Fighting, marshaling, archery, thrown weapons, shopping, dancing (at least once), bardic arts, and the scribal arts. Despite his diverse experiences, his focus is on the scribal arts and running the Inter-Kingdom Scribal Guild (INKS Guild) with Lady Ylaire Sainte Claire and THL Ursula of Rouen.

What is your background? Specifically, did you attend school to learn your art or did you come to your art through the SCA or some combination of the two?

I mostly scribbled with pen and pencil back in high school in favor of actually applying myself. (don’t just stay in school kids but pay attention, it’s worth it). I had all but left art that behind in my adult life prior to joining the SCA. I had gone to a couple of scriptorium events in the Shire of Sylvan Glen when Marija Kotok mentioned that AE was always looking for new blank templates and I thought “I can do that”. I owe being a scribe entirely to her because she was the person who set me on the path. My first tentative steps were quaint, looking back. Each time I’d finish a template, like it or not, I’d paint it anyway (just to prove it could be turned into a scroll) then think “I can do better than that.”  The process still holds to this day.

Can you tell me a little bit about the INKS Guild?

This is a group that I had the idea of creating and my wife, Lady Ylaire, supported me in creating. THL Ursula is the administrator for the guild and is an essential part in its success. It’s a collective of scribes from 3+ Kingdoms that do scroll blanks for whatever Kingdom needs them. We use a facebook group to coordinate with each other.

Currently we’re finishing up a package for Atlantia but instead of blanks we’re doing 10 backlogs for Atlantian kids.

What inspires you?

All kinds of stuff. I comb through art both modern and historic. It’s surprising sometimes what I pick up and think “I can use that.”  Sometimes it’s just the way they turned a small line, added a brush stroke, two colors sitting next to each other or even how they went from nose curvature to eyebrow on a face. It’s all about breaking down what I’m looking at, how they layered the paint, spatial relations, shading or not, blending, any and all combinations of everything on the canvas. Taking it as a whole then drilling down and examining the pieces.

What work do you most enjoy doing?

All of it. Creating something from nothing scratches a very special itch for me that nothing else can compare. I know we’re a historical re-creation based society but I’m in it for the art part WAY more than I’m in it for the historical part.

What memorable responses have you had to your work?

For the most part, I don’t get a lot of feedback/responses to my work and I kind of like it that way. I like my art to speak for itself and I’m not doing this for recognition. All I ever want to hear about a scroll going out is if the recipient liked it and I can usually get that from a friend who was in court when it was given out.

I will say though, as part of the INKS guild, I had a scroll end up being awarded to a lady in The East Kingdom (Connecticut). I’d never had a scroll go so far before and she sought me out (with no real connection between us) through the web to ask if I would blazon her AoA and paint her device on it. She’d been in the SCA for quite some time and had never gotten her AoA [scroll]. She was excited and pleased with my work and wanted me to complete the scroll so she sent it back to me to put her device on it. It was like having a pen pal in another country! (which I guess it was when you think about it)

What research do you do?

I’m more obsessed with the art part than the historical part. I comb over picture after picture looking for new and unusual things to make something different for the recipient. Rarely a day goes by that I don’t squirrel something away in a folder on my computer with a thought of “I think I can take that style and make something new out of it”.

 How have your work practices changed over time?

I’m a structured planner sort of person. So, when I first started, I sat down and logically thought out how best to take something digital and move it to a finished state on paper. My general process has changed little since I’ve started; mostly what I change is style, pushing myself to draw stuff I’m not good at drawing (people and animals!) and try to put something new into every piece I do.

Who inspires you (either inside or outside of the SCA)?

Everything and everyone. I’m always looking through what other people are doing (both in and out of the SCA scribal circles). Deconstructing, trying to see what someone did to create an end piece. Everyone comes at scribal differently, everyone has something to bring to the table.

What is your dream project?

My next project, definitely. Have I shown you pictures? I’ve got this crazy idea and I’ll get it done in two weeks!!! Honestly, I drive everyone around me nuts talking about “my next big thing” that will never live up to the expectations in my head but darnit, in my head at least, it’s gonna be the freakin’ Mona Lisa! Only to mope at every errant brush stroke or every paint mix that didn’t dry to the color I wanted or didn’t have the right shading but that’s ok cause have I told you about my next project? It’s going to be 3-D and have unicorns and one hundred and seventy different colors.

If you would like to see Lord Angellino’s work, please visit his Deviant Art page.

If you would like to participate with the INKS Guild or learn more about it, please visit their Facebook page.

Categories: SCA news sites

17th c. treasure hidden during uprising found in Bulgaria

History Blog - Sun, 2016-04-10 01:20

A treasure of silver jewels buried in the 17th century has been found near the northwestern Bulgarian city of Montana. The hoard was discovered by local residents who very responsibly reported the find to the National Museum of History in Sofia. There’s a tiara, two forehead bands, two ear tabs, connectors between the headpieces and the ear tabs, a pair of earrings and two rings. They are all made of silver and are of very high quality, decorated with expensive, highly skilled techniques including filigree, granulation, niello, gold leaf and a green glass-like mass that is probably enamel. The objects were placed in a leather purse, surviving fragments of which were found at the site.

The jewelry is almost certainly local work. The area was known for its very fine gold and silversmiths. The work of the Chiprovtsi smiths was famous all over Eastern Europe for its complexity and delicacy. They had access to a steady supply of precious raw materials, thanks to local silver ore deposits which were extensively mined in the 16th and 17th centuries.

After the Ottoman conquest of the Second Bulgarian Empire in 1396, some areas were granted the right of Christian self-government, among them the village of Chiprovtsi and neighboring towns. When silver ore was found in the region in the second half of the 15th century, the population of the villages swelled with Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, Albanians and German miners while the old Catholic nobility appears to have ruled virtually undisturbed with only a token Ottoman representation in the municipal government. Chiprovtsi was closely linked to the Catholic ecclesiastical hierarchy as well. The official residence of the Catholic archbishops of Bulgaria was Chiprovtsi’s Monastery of St. Mary.

The mix of peoples, strong Catholic leadership and quasi-autonomy of the region spurred residents to seek to overthrown the Ottoman Yoke. The Chiprovtsi Uprising, a rebellion of Roman Catholic (and some Eastern Orthodox) Bulgarians against Ottoman rule, was precipitated by Austria’s capture of Belgrade from the Turks on September 6th, 1688. Chiprovtsi Catholics had been trying to induce the monarchies of western Europe to take Bulgaria from the Ottomans for more than four decades, coming very close several times to triggering elaborate invasion plans that ultimately fell through. When Belgrade fell to the Austrians, the Chiprovtsi rebels thought that after so many false starts, the moment had finally come. Hopeful that the Austrians would send reinforcements to support the uprising, extend their victory east and ultimately liberate all of Bulgaria from Ottoman rule, the insurrectionists rose up and fought the Ottomans and their Magyar allies.

It did not go well. There was no coordination between Austrian and Bulgarian forces, and the Turks handily won the military encounters. The decisive battle took place near Montana, then called Kutlovitsa, in October of 1688. The Ottomans won decisively. They captured Chiprovtsi on October 18th and razed it to the ground, killing almost everyone and enslaving whoever survived. While a much-reduced guerilla resistance continued for a few months, the Austrians never came and much of the remaining population fled west to the Danube or north to Wallachia. Archbishop Peter Knezevic led the emigration to Wallachia. Few Christians remained in the northwest and the Ottomans ruled directly, stripping the Bulgarian nobility of their old privileges and political power.

The National Museum of History experts believe the cache of silver jewels was a family fortune buried in the turbulent days of the Chiprovtsi Uprising in the fall of 1688. Since almost everyone in the area was killed in battle, executed, enslaved or fled, there was nobody left to dig up the treasure.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Tiny Arabic chess piece found in museum dig

History Blog - Sat, 2016-04-09 02:06

Archaeologists excavating the back yard of the Wallingford Museum on High Street in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, have unearthed a tiny medieval chess piece. At first museum curator thought it was a figurine of a cat, but once it was cleaned, they recognized the artifact as an Arabic chess piece carved from the tip of an antler.

[Curator Judy Dewey] said: [...] “It is one of only about 50 medieval chess pieces found in England and, at only 21.7mm high, it is unique in being the smallest medieval Arabic chess piece known in the country.

“The chess piece was made from the tip of an antler in the 12th or 13th century and is highly decorated with traditional roundels – most other such pieces are at least double the size.

This is a bishop so the other pieces in the set must have been really tiny – it may have been part of a travelling set.”

The museum’s main building was once Wallingford Priory, a Benedictine abbey that was suppressed by Cardinal Wolsey and of which only the foundations remain today, all of them underground. Wolsey secured a papal bull ordering the dissolution of Wallingford and 30 other small monasteries deemed to be rife with corruption. Funds raised from the dissolution would go to one of Wolsey’s pet projects: the construction of Cardinal College at the University of Oxford. The priory was surrendered in 1525 to notary John Allen, as witnessed by Thomas Cromwell, then Wolsey’s right hand man. It took three more years before the priory was finally suppressed for good. On July 6th, 1528, the monastery and its lands were formally transferred from the crown to Cardinal Wolsey for the construction of his college at Oxford.

Before the demise of the abbey, visitors to the castle of Wallingford were sometimes housed in the priory. Chess was deemed a game for the nobility and educated classes. Any one of those visitors might have owned a portable set, or the monks themselves may have played.

Chess was introduced to Europe from Persia by the Islamic Arabian empire, likely through Spain. The Norman French brought it with them to England after the Conquest in the 11th century. Within a hundred years the original Arabic designs and names of the pieces were altered to forms more recognizable to the elite players of northern Europe. The Vizir became the Queen, the Fars (horse) became the Knight and the Al-Fil, the war elephant, became the Bishop. The look of the pieces shifted from the non-figural representation of the Islamic tradition to the people and characters we know today.

The piece discovered at Wallingford is a war elephant, aka the future Bishop. The round protrusions represent tusks. To Christian European eyes those bumps were reminiscent of a bishop’s mitre, which is how the war elephant became a high-ranking clergyman. The piece likely dates to before the mid-12th century when the figural designs set in, increasing the game’s appeal and popularity across Christendom.

The chess piece is now on display at the Wallingford Museum. Digging is scheduled to resume this July, and archaeologists are crossing their fingers and toes that they might find more pieces from the set. It’s a long shot, however.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Court Report: Ice Dragon

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-08 21:51

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Magnus Tindal and Etain II, basileos kai basilissa Æthelmearc: the Business of The Emperor’s Court at The Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon, 2 April Anno Societatis L, in the Barony of Rhydderich Hael, accompanied by Their Highnesses Byron and Ariella, Prince and Princess of Æthelmearc; Their Highnesses Nigel and Adrielle, Prince and Princess of Ealdormere; and Their Excellencies Magnus and Miriel, Baron and Baroness of the Rhydderich Hael. As recorded by Their Silver Buccle Herald, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai, with the assistance of Baroness Miriel du Lac; Baroness Helena Mützhasenin, Fleur d’Æthelmearc Herald; Brehyres Gwendolyn the Graceful; THL Gytha Oggesdottir; and THL Sophie Davenport, Seedling Pursuivant.

In the morning:

The Imperator called for Baroness Laurencia of Carlisle, who had been served at Rhydderich Hael Investiture with a Writ of Summons to contemplate elevation to the Imperial Council of the Laurel. Confirming that it was her intent to sit vigil, the Imperator convened the said Council and directed them to conduct Her Excellency to the place that had been prepared for her.

Baroness Laurencia is sent to vigil for the Laurel.

The Imperator then summoned THL Marek Viacheldrago, who had been served at Gulf Wars with a Writ of Summons to contemplate elevation to the Imperial Council of Chivalry. Confirming that he too was prepared to sit vigil that day, he returned his belt of servitude to his Knight, Sir Tristan Sexwulf, who released Marek from his oath of fealty. The Imperator then convened the said Council and directed them to conduct His Lordship to the place that had been prepared for him.

THLord Marek is sent to vigil for the Chivalry. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

The Imperator next called for Don Annanias Fenne, who had also been served with a Writ of Summons at Gulf Wars, his to contemplate elevation to the Imperial Council of Defense. Confirming as well that he was prepared to hold the field in contemplation, the Imperator convened the Council and directed them to conduct His Lordship to the field that was prepared for him.

Don Anias is sent to vigil for the Order of Defense. Photo by Mistress Arianna.

The Imperator announced that following Morning Court, the Royal Curia would be convened to approve the addition of the Award of the Golden Ecarbuncle to Kingdom Law, and following Curia, Imperial business that had not been completed would be conducted.

At Curia:

The Kingdom Officers approved the addition of the Award of the Golden Escarbuncle into Kingdom Law.

Following Curia:

Lady Elsa Taliard was inducted into the Order of the Cornelian in absentia.

Ayleth of Stormsport was Awarded Arms in absentia.

Edwynne of Casa Valdez, called Lairdbreaker, was Awarded Arms in absentia.

Elva the Evil was Awarded Arms in absentia.

Lady Tomassa Isolana was inducted into the Order of the Golden Alce in absentia.

Master Ian Muir was inducted into the Order of the Golden Stirrup in absentia.

Count Sir Andreas Morgan was inducted into the Order of the Keystone in absentia.

Lady Laurentia of Caledonia was inducted into the Order of the Keystone in absentia.

Lady Maggie Rue was inducted into the Order of the Keystone.

Lord TW of Livonia was inducted into the Order of the Sycamore in absentia.

Before the heavy weapons tournament:

The Imperator had words for His Excellency, Baron Aquila d’Athos, whose skill on the field was matched by his service to the heavy weapons community and to the Kingdom at large. Thus is was decided that, instead of marshalling the day’s tournaments, His Excellency should instead sit vigil in contemplation of elevation to the Imperial Council of Chivalry. The Council was convened, and His Excellency was escorted from the field to a place that had been prepared for him.

Baron Aquila d’Athos is sent to vigil for the Chivalry. Photo by Master Fridrikr Tomasson.

In the evening:

The children of the Kingdom were assembled, and excused from the business of Court that they might be better entertained.

The Imperator granted leave to Their Excellencies to conduct the business of their Baronial Court.

During Baronial Court, the Imperator called for THL Ruslan Igorovich Voronov and Lady Edana the Red, and awarded them the Golden Escarbuncle for being his two finalists for King’s Choice in the Arts and Sciences Pentathlon.

Her Highness Ariella announced that of the many designs that had been submitted for her Queen’s Favor competition, she had chosen Lady Maggie Rue‘s design, and decreed that 700 of them should be made immediately. Any interested in assisting in this venture should contact Her Highness.

Cassandra MacTire of Norwich was Awarded Arms for her skill in leatherworking and her assistance in preparing for events, regardless of whether or not she would be attending. Scroll by Lady Vivienne of Yardley.

Siobhan Readnait was Awarded Arms for her service in preparing side boards, sitting troll, and event cleanup, as well as her prowess on the archery field. Scroll by THL Eleanore Godwin.

Siobhan Readnit is awarded Arms. Photo by Master Augusto.

Lord Wolfgar Ronaldson was inducted into the Order of the Golden Alce in absentia.

Lady Brigette de Sainte Mere-Eglise was elevated to the Order of the Keystone for her many years of service as Baronial officer, dance mistress, marshal, and mistress of the lists. Scroll illuminated by Baroness Juliana Rosalia Dolce di Siena and calligraphed by Tiarna Ard Padraig Ó Branduibh.

Mistress Liadin ní Chléirigh na Coille was created a Companion of the Order of Keystone for service to the Barony and to the scribal community. Scroll by Lady Vivienne of Yardley.

Mistress Liadin receives a Keystone. Photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato.

Lady Edith of Winterton was inducted into the Order of the Sycamore in absentia for her devotion to the research of fiber arts, including the raising of sheep and the spinning and dyeing of thread. Scroll by Baron Caleb Reynolds.

Lady Katerina das Vögelein was Granted Arms and inducted into the Order of the Fleur d’Æthelmearc in absentia for her skill in the art of tailoring. Scroll illuminated by THL Isabel Fleuretan and calligraphed by Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai.

Lord Garreth Whytebull was Granted Arms and elevated to the Order of the Gage for his skill in sword and shield combat, as well as his extensive travel to both learn and teach others. Scroll by Lady Felice de Thornton and Lady Juliana Stafford.

Lord Garreth is inducted into the Order of the Gage. Photo by Master Augusto.

Baron Magnus de Lyons was named to the Order of the Millrind for his extensive service to his Barony. Scroll by Lady Mary Elizabeth Clason.

Baron Magnus receives a Millring. Photo by Master Augusto.

Baron Edward Harbinger was created a Companion of the Order of the Scarlet Guard for his many years of teaching and leadership in the archery community. Scroll by THL Eleanore Godwin.

Baron Edward is inducted into the Order of the Scarlet Guard. Photo by Baroness Anastasie Lamour.

Baron Aquila d’Athos was called before the Imperator to answer the question that had been set before him earlier that day. Confirming that he had indeed sat vigil and received counsel, he was now ready to take his place among the Council of Chivalry. Duke Sir Timothy of Arindale came forth to thank the Imperator for righting a great wrong that His Grace had committed when he sat the throne and had not elevated Aquila to the Chivalry. Master Benedict Fergus of the Council of Defense recalled Aquila’s strong leadership when he was Baron of Thescorre and testified that he would be a strong defender of the Kingdom. Mistress Alison of the Many Isles of the Council of the Laurel sung the praises of Aquila’s devotion to his arts of metalworking and pouch making. Countess Caryl Olesdatter of the Council of the Pelican called Aquila a paragon of chivalry and service. Sir Barak Carthalo of the Knights of Atlantia, who had once called Aquila squire, praised his passion, heart, and prowess, and was proud to call Aquila “brother.” So moved by this testimony, the Imperator called for the regalia of a Knight: spurs for his heels, a belt for his waist, the Ancestral Chain of the Chivalry of Æthelmearc, and a personal chain to wear once the Ancestral Chain had been passed. The Imperator then used the Sword of State to dub Aquila a Knight and Peer of the Realm and Grant him Arms by Letters Patent. The Imperator then received Sir Aquila’s Oath of Fealty. Scroll by Mistress Gillian Llewellyn of Ravenspur.

Sir Athos is dubbed a knight. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

Don Annanias Fenne was summoned to answer the question that had been set before him. Confirming that he had held the field in the tradition of the Council of Defense of Æthelmearc, he was now ready to take his place among that Council. Count Sir Isenwulf Thorolfssone called him a positive example who balances ferocity on the field with the courtesy of an enjoyable fight. Sir Tristan Sexwulf testified that Annanias always strives for excellence and inspires those around him. Master Quinn Kerr of the Council of the Laurel praised his devotion to his arts, which makes his love for his art, his Kingdom and the Society clear to all those who see him. Mistress Baga Aleea of the Council of the Pelican named Annanias as someone who will help anyone who needs it and who will do so with enthusiasm that is infectious. Master Iago Benitez of the Council of Defense recalled good times with Annanias both on the fencing field and in the kitchen, and named him a master of the blade in all its forms and an inspiration. So moved by this testimony, the Imperator called for the Ancestral Livery Collar of the Defenders of Æthelmearc, placed it around Annanias’s neck and named him a Peer of the Realm and a Councillor of Defense, and Granted him Arms by Letters Patent. He then received Master Annanias’s Oath of Fealty. Scroll wording by Master Quinn Kerr.

Don Anias is elevated to the Order of Defense. Photo by Master Fridrikr.

Baroness Laurencia of Carlisle was recalled before the Imperator to answer the question that had been set before her, and she confirmed that she had received such counsel as to now be prepared to take her place among the Imperial Council of the Laurel. Duke Maynard von dem Steine recalled the skill and passion with which she teaches her art regardless of the distance she must travel to do so. Master Llewellyn ap Gododdin of the Eastern Council of Chivalry, for whom Laurencia had made clothes for his own vigil, spoke of her kindness and generosity. Duchess Dorinda Courtenay of the Council of Defense, likened the precision of Laurencia’s needlework to the skill one may master with a fencing blade, and like that skill, each takes time and devotion. Duchess Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh of the Council of the Pelican recalled how, when some new fighters had asked Laurencia to make fighting garb for them, she instead taught them how to create it for themselves, thus better serving them for their careers in the SCA. Mistress Cori Ghora of the Council of the Laurel stated that the Council needed this lady, for she brings new research to the Kingdom. So moved by this testimony, the Imperator placed upon Laurencia’s shoulders a hood, pin, and wreath signifying her as a Councillor of the Laurel, Granted her Arms by Letters Patent and named Her Excellency a Companion of that Council and Peer of the Realm. Finally, Mistress Laurencia was presented with the traditional Fruitcake of the Council of the Laurel of Æthelmearc. Scroll by Duchess Anna Blackleaf, Duchess Dorinda Courtenay, and Duchess Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh.

Baroness Laurencia is made a Laurel. Photo by Arianna.

THL Marek Viacheldrago was brought before the Imperator, and stated that he had spent the day preparing to accept elevation to the Council of Chivalry. Duke Maynard von dem Steine called Marek a quiet man who chooses his words wisely, and all who know him are better for it. Duke Khalek Shuraag Od called it the duty of Royal Peers to seek out virtues and nobility in all the populace, and having witnessed Marek’s accomplishments, was convinced that his elevation was right and just. Duchess Dorinda Courtenay of the Council of Defense refrained from regaling the Imperator with stories of Marek’s greater-than-normal courtesy, because “greater than normal” courtesy is normal for Marek. Mistress Chrestienne de Waterden of the Council of the Laurel witnessed his support of the arts, gathering all those who wish to learn the arts of metalwork and wireweaving. Duchess Líadain ní Dheirdre Chaomhánaigh of the Council of the Pelican called Marek an inspiration who embodies service. Sir Alric of the Mists testified that, while the Chivalry may foster prowess above all the other Knightly virtues, it was not necessarily the most important of them, and that Marek excels at all of them. So moved by this testimony, the Imperator called for spurs and a belt, then placed the Ancestral Chain of the Chivalry of Æthelmearc around his neck, followed by a traditional chain from his household, and an ancestral chain worn by more than 40 Knights across the SCA who have ruled as Royalty more than 80 times. So bedecked, the Imperator took the Sword of State and dubbed him a Knight and Peer of the Realm, and on that sword Sir Marek swore his Oath of Fealty. Scroll forthcoming.

Sir Marek is dubbed a Knight. Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

In the tradition of the Imperata, THL Zofia Kowalewska was named Inspiration to the Emperor for her diligence in running the backlog display table.

Lady Zofia is recognized as the Augustus’s inspiration. Photo by Arianna.

There being no further business, the Emperor’s Court was closed.

Categories: SCA news sites

18th c. marine chronometer found in Rhode Island collection

History Blog - Fri, 2016-04-08 02:41

On March 3rd of this year, the Newport Historical Society (NHS) in Rhode Island announced via Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that staff members were on a secret mission in the UK. A follow-up image taken at the Pitt Rivers Museum was posted the next day, and then a third photo showed a gloved hand working on what looks like a timepiece.

The secret mission, it turns out, was to send Ingrid Peters to the Royal Observatory, Royal Museums Greenwich, to have their experts examine a pocket watch from the NHS collection. The Royal Observatory’s curator of Horology Rory McEvoy confirmed that the watch was not just a watch, but rather fourth in a series of five precision marine chronometers made by watchmaker John Arnold to calculate longitude. It was made around 1772. The third of the series is the only other one in the series known to have survived, and it’s in the British Museum.

John Arnold was born in 1736 in Bodmin, Cornwall, the son of watchmaker and nephew of a gunsmith. He worked for his uncle for a while, ultimately following in his father’s footsteps and becoming a highly skilled and innovative watchmaker. In 1764, just two years after opening a shop of his own in London, Arnold secured permission to present to King George III and his court the smallest repeating watch in the world. The half-quarter repeating watch cylinder escapement watch was mounted in a ring. The king and courtiers were impressed, and Arnold quickly became the watchmaker to the rich and aristocratic.

His ingenuity was put to the test in a problem that had obsessed clockmakers for decades: create a timepiece that would allow British sailors to calculate longitude while on board ship. Clockmaker John Harrison invented the marine timepiece which made it possible for the first time to calculate longitude at sea in 1759. His invention, which looked like an oversized pocket watch, took him six years to build, too long for his timepiece to be in compliance with the 1714 Longitude Act‘s requirement that construction of the device be practical as well as accurate. The whole point, after all, was for every ship in the Royal Navy to have one, so production had to streamlined.

In 1767, the Board of Longitude published a detailed illustrated description of Harrison’s clock, The Principles of Mr. Harrison’s Timekeeper, and spread it around to inventors in the hope that one of them might figure out a way to build a faster, better mousetrap, as it were. Astronomer Royal Nevil Maskelyne gave Arnold a copy hot off the presses. He went his own way, creating a different device he presented to the Board in 1771. It was a clock in a mahogany box, and three of them were put to the test by Captains James Cook and Furneaux during Cook’s second voyage to the southern Pacific in 1772-1775.

Arnold’s were not very effective — only one of them survived the voyage in some semblance of working order — so he turned to pocket marine timekeepers instead. They worked. Captain Constantine Phipps, 2nd Baron Mulgrave, took one with him to the North Pole in 1773 and it performed like a champ. The Newport Historical Society’s chronometer — a term coined by John Arnold for a precision timekeeper and still in use today — is one of these.

This watch, produced in the early 1770s while one of Arnold’s see-saw escapement timekeepers was away on sea trials features a pivoted detent escapement; others had designed such mechanisms, but Arnold’s was a technological improvement.

It has an impeccable provenance, too.

The watch was acquired by Peleg Clarke in 1792. Clarke was a descendant of one of Newport’s first English settlers and wealthy merchant of the American colonial period who likely bought the watch from Arnold during a trip to London. He was an eyewitness to the Boston Tea Party and recorded his impressions in a letter now also in the society’s collections. The watch was passed down in the Clarke family for over 200 years, as a pocket watch, until it was donated to the society in 1997.

Arnold & Son, the company John Arnold founded in the 1787 with his clockmaker son, John Roger Arnold, is still in business today, and still makes marine chronometers, now in wrist watch form rather than pocket watch.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Mudthaw Court Report

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2016-04-07 21:25

The following is the court report from Mudthaw held by Their Majesties Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri on April 2, AS L.  Court heralds were Master Malcolm Bowman, Mistress Kayleigh MacWhyte, Master Ryan MacWhyte, and Baron Yehuda ben Moshe.

Filed under: Court

Share the Knowledge! How to Turn Your A&S Project Into a Class

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-04-07 11:38

From Mistress Alicia Langland, Chancellor of the Æthelmearc Æcademy:

Were you one of the many artisans who devoted uncounted hours to researching, crafting, and documenting your Ice Dragon entry?

Photo by Lady Aine ny Allane.

So much time and effort went into your piece … Wouldn’t it be nice to have all that work transcend a single event?

Why not have your Pent entry do double duty by using what you’ve created as the basis for a class?

Here are some ideas to get you started:

Historical Background Class

The research you did for your entry provides you with the historical background and practices needed to understand who, when, where, why, and how someone in the Middle Ages would have crafted your item.  This information would also be of interest to students in a class.  In a Historical Background class based on your research, you might include information about:
  • the item’s time period, culture, or geographical area
  • the artifact, illustration or painting, historical document, or website that inspired your work
  • how your item would have been produced in the Middle Ages or Renaissance
  • additional books, websites, and other sources you used for researching your project

Sharing this information will speed your students on their way toward creating their own versions.

How-I-Did-It Class Chances are, as you created your item, you had to make decisions along the way.  A class in which you describe in detail the decisions you made — about tools, materials, and procedures — would be of immense help to someone who’s always wanted to try doing what you’ve accomplished.  In a How-I-Did-It class based on your entry, you might include information about:
  • what tools and materials you used to make your item, why you chose them, and where you obtained them (If you made the tools you used, include how you did that as well!)
  • what techniques you used and why you used them
  • any particular steps you would change if you were to do this project again

Especially helpful — in addition to your finished project, of course — would be any practice pieces or missteps.  Sharing problems to avoid or solutions that worked for you would give your students confidence that they, too, can be successful.

Make-and-Take Class

With the knowledge and skills gained by creating your entry, you can help others make their own great thing.  By providing tried-and-tested materials and demonstrating recommended techniques, you can help your students avoid time-consuming and costly mistakes.  In a Make-and-Take class based on your entry, you might provide:
  • (for a reasonable fee) supplies and materials needed to make the item
  • loaner tools needed to make the item
  • step-by-step instructions needed to make the item

If you took progress photos of your entry as you worked on it, these would provide you with a step-by-step format to follow in your class.  Sharing the photos with the class would help visual learners — those who learn best by seeing — understand and remember what you’ve said.  They would also serve as a reminder for students who continue working after the class is over.

You’ve already done so much work to create your piece … in fact, much of the work of putting together a class is already done!

If you have questions about how to turn your Ice Dragon entry into a class, please contact me at ae.aecademy@aethelmearc.org

Categories: SCA news sites

Met conservators repair della Robbia that fell from wall

History Blog - Thu, 2016-04-07 02:00

Late on the night of June 30th or early in the morning of July 1st, 2008, a blue-and-white glazed terracotta relief of Saint Michael the Archangel by Andrea della Robbia (1435-1525) on display at the Metropolitan Museum of Art fell from its metal wall mounts high on a wall above a doorway and crashed to the ground. A security guard found the lunette the next morning on its back on the stone floor, broken into many pieces. The gallery was closed and conservators picked up the pieces, some large — Michael’s head was undamaged — and some as small as fingernails. The pieces were bagged and numbered and removed to the museum’s Department of Objects Conservation later that day.

The Met hasn’t had the greatest luck with the mounting of their Renaissance masterpieces. At least they were able to puzzle out this jigsaw in seven years. The fall of Tullio Lombardo’s Adam in 2002 was even more catastrophic; it took 12 years to put all of his pieces back together. The museum notes all wall-mounted sculpture was reviewed after the accident, and new systems — comprehensive and regular inspections, formal approval of all mounts — were put in place to prevent something like this happening again.

Andrea della Robbia’s uncle Luca (1400-1482), who in his youth had an illustrious career a sculptor in bronze and marble, invented the blue and white tin-based glazes that made terracotta reliefs exceptionally durable, easy to clean and impervious to the vagaries of the weather. The glazed earthenware pieces were significantly less expensive than marble or bronze, and since they looked so good and needed so little care, soon della Robbia reliefs were in great demand. Luca’s clients included some of the most important people and institutions in Florence — Piero de’ Medici, Jacopo de’ Pazzi, the Duomo — and elsewhere.

Andrea, who had learned the secret glaze recipe as his uncle’s pupil, took over operations of the della Robbia workshop on Via Guelfa in Florence in the late 1460s or early 1470s. He picked up where his uncle left off, executing high-end commissions for reliefs of increasing size and architectural importance from major private clients and churches all over northern Italy. Saint Michael the Archangel was made around 1475 for the church of San Michele Arcangelo in Faenza, a town outside Ravenna known for its majolica pottery. In fact, the town is literally synonymous with majolica tin-glazed earthenware which became known as faience after Faenza. The relief was installed above the church door and remained there until 1798 when the church was demolished and Saint Michael the Archangel sold.

The Met acquired the piece in 1960 at an auction of the estate of American industrialist and diplomat Myron C. Taylor for $40,000 (about $320,000 today). The museum has one of the most important collections of della Robbia works in the United States, including an exquisite Virgin and Child. Saint Michael, however, is probably the most important of all.

There was an upside to the crash. Conservators were able to study the relief thoroughly before they went about reassembling the pieces. They found the artist’s finger and tool marks which shed new light on della Robbia’s production process. The workshop made quality artworks for refined and wealthy clients, but it also had to crank out new pieces at a canter to keep up with demand. Conservators found evidence of this in Saint Michael’s robe. It was made separately and then attached to the lunette, but the toga cracked during firing. Instead of starting over again — a time-consuming and expensive approach — they stuck it back together. It was going above a door, after all, and nobody was going to be at eye-level to see the tiny fissure lines.

The sculpture was originally made in 12 interlocking pieces. While conservators Wendy Walker and Janis Mandrus reassembled the broken pieces and filled in the areas of paint loss, conservation preparator Fred Sager developed a custom mount that secured each of the 12 sections individually to an aluminum backing plate. This makes it safer while still allowing visitors to enjoy the entire composed piece.

The most challenging part of the restoration, Ms. Walker said, was the in-painting between repaired cracks — trying to recreate the signature cobalt della Robbia blue that the critic Walter Pater described as being like “fragments of the milky sky itself, fallen into the cool streets.”

“In the morning it would look good,” she said of the modern paint, “and by noon, in a different light, you’d see and go, ‘No!’ and just want to pull your hair out.”

But another lesson the accident taught, in the end, was how durable della Robbias were made to be, despite their humble, seemingly fragile clay origins. St. Michael’s head, for example, was completely unharmed after its violent detachment the night of the fall.

“For hundreds of years, this was outside, in the elements, protected by its glaze,” Mr. Bell said. “And the amazing thing about these ceramics is that the surface still looks pretty much the same as the day it came out of the kiln.”

The relief is now back in the Met’s European Sculpture and Decorative Arts Galleries, but this time it’s been mounted about at eye level to allow visitors to get a proper look at della Robbia’s amazing details, like the facial expressions and the little babies on the scale. They’re actually souls, not babies, weighed on the scales of justice and mercy. The happy light-weight one is saved for heaven; the facepalming heavy one is doomed to hell.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Final Reminder: Archery Muster this Sunday

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-04-06 20:42

The Region 2 Archery Muster is being held this Sunday, April 10th, at the Castle of Their Highnesses, 755 Stonegate Drive, Wexford PA 15090.

There will be Archery, Thrown Weapons, Youth Fighting, and Arts & Sciences. The muster begins at 10:00 am and will continue until 5:00 pm.

The archery and thrown weapons ranges open at 10:00 am and archery from the towers, led by THLord Deryk Archer, begins at 1:00 pm.

The Barony’s loaner archery gear will be available. Please bring something for a pot luck lunch.

Their Highnesses have asked that you dress in garb for the day.

In service to the Barony-Marche and the Kingdom,

Mestari Urho Waltterinen
crossbow1953 (at) earthlink (dot) net

Photo by Prince Byron.

Categories: SCA news sites

Call for Resumés for Kingdom Webminister

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-04-06 09:32

Greetings to the kingdom from THL Phelippe “Pippi” Ulfsdotter, Kingdom Webminister.

I am sadly reaching the end of my term as Kingdom Webminister and I would like to call for resumés.

If you are interested in filling this position, please send me your resumé and a few words about yourself and why you want this job.

Please send them by April 30th to ae.webminister@aethelmearc.org with the subject “Webminister Position.”

THL Phelippe “Pippi” Ulfsdotter

Categories: SCA news sites

Burial ground unearthed at Laos’ Plain of Jars

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Macclesfield Psalter Workshop – Get Your Scribal On!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mistress Antoinette de la Croix

Categories: SCA news sites

East Kingdom Server Planned Outage Notice

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Filed under: Announcements, Official Notices

Pistols Lafayette gave to Bolívar poised to break auction records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Princess Ariella Needs Your Help!

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

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

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

For the next step, we need your help!

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

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

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

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

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Ariella, Princess

Categories: SCA news sites

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

April 24:  Regional Scribal Playtime, Shire of Hartstone

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

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

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

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

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

Categories: SCA news sites