The SCA Board of Directors seeks commentary on a proposal to eliminate the official Office of the Chirurgeonate, and the associated changes to Corpora necessary to accomplish this action.
If you haven’t preregistered yet and would like to know about availability of the feast, contact Madelaine de Mortaign The autocrats expect seats for the feast may still be available at the door. Dayboard will be available at the door for $3 but can be included in your preregistration. The feast is being cooked by Mistress Anastasia and the courses are listed below. Dayboard is being cooked by Lady Zsuzsy.
Both Dayboard and the Feast are also being run as classes for people who want to learn more about how an event kitchen works. Other classes include ironworking, fiber arts, glass bead making, performance arts and a wide variety of other options. A complete schedule is up on the website and so are the class descriptions. Royal Court will follow the classes. More information about the event is available at its website or the listing on the East Kingdom website.
Order of Service for A Faire Feast in Midwinter at Maker’s Faire
Filed under: Events Tagged: Carolingia
A new Sanction Guide was passed by the SCA’s Board of Directors at their meeting on January 18th and is now available online. The guide covers several kinds of sanctions on both a kingdom and society level. The fifty-nine page document includes an investigator’s guide, flowcharts, checklists and template letters. An updated version of Corpora was also approved at the same meeting.
Filed under: Corporate
A team of archaeologists excavating the site of Sant’Omobono in the historic center of Rome have unearthed the foundations of one of the oldest temples in Rome. In the shadow of the 15th century church of Sant’Omobono just east of the Tiberine Island, archaeologists and students from the University of Michigan, the University of Calabria, the Museum of London Archaeology and the City of Rome dug a trench 15 feet deep to reveal the remains of an archaic temple from the 6th century B.C. when Rome was still ruled by Etruscan kings. Along with the remains of the first temple of Jupiter Capitolinus, also built under the reign of the kings in the 6th century B.C. and destroyed in 83 B.C. during Sulla’s second civil war, these are the oldest temple ruins found in Rome.
Because the depth of the trench was seven and a half feet below the water table, the walls had to be shored up with metal sheeting and multiple sump pumps to allow the team to dig through the ancient layers. That’s why Alison Telfer, the Museum of London Archaeology expert, joined the team this season, because of her expertise in excavating waterlogged environments thanks to years of digging in soggy London.
After weeks of excavation, the team found three levels of masonry and a step. The stonework is exceptional, dry wall construction of precision-cut volcanic tufa blocks that are still beautifully flush even after millennia.
Terrenato says the archaeologists had to fight claustrophobia to be able to spend as much as 8 hours a day at the bottom of that trench.
“You’re in a very deep hole, and although you know in theory that the sheeting is going to hold everything up, there is a primal part of your brain that tells you to get out of there, if the walls come closing in there’s not going to be any way out for you,” he says.
The foundations of the temple of Fortuna were visible for only three days — for security reasons, the team could not leave the trench open and it had to be filled up again.
To the west of the temple remains was discovered a large bank of clay that is so straight is can’t have been formed by human hands. Archaeologists believe it may have been built up against a vertical structure that is now gone, perhaps a wooden form that was removed or wall that has long since decayed. It could have been a river wall to protect the temple from flooding or perhaps used during the construction of the temple. About halfway down the clay bank, the team unearthed a group of vessels that are thought to have been votive offerings, sacrifices to the gods that were placed on the site when the bank was being built.
The area in which the temple remains were discovered was known as the Forum Boarium, meaning “cattle market,” a center of trade on a bend in the river that was both a natural harbour and a crossing point of the Tiber. When the temple was built, Rome was already trading with the likes of Cyprus, Lebanon and Egypt as well as Italian peoples including the Latins, Etruscans and Sabines. The temple was deliberately built on the harbour so that it would welcome visitors and merchants, standing as a symbol of good will and fair trade guaranteed by the deity.
Archaeologists believe the temple was dedicated to the goddess Fortuna. It was dismantled in the early Republican period, around the 5th century B.C., and replaced with twin temples dedicated to Fortuna and Mater Matuta, a Latin mother goddess whose temples have been found on other ports. The temples were added to and rebuilt over the centuries through at least the second century A.D. In the sixth century an early Christian church was built on the site. The podium of the twin temples, made out of tufa slabs, still survives. It is now part of the foundation of the church of Sant’Omobono.
And that’s not all this archaeological site has to offer. Since it was first discovered during the burst of Fascist construction in the city center in the 1930s, the Sant’Omobono area has revealed evidence from 17 different phases of human occupation, from pottery sherds that date to between the 16th and the 12th centuries B.C., some of the earliest artifacts ever found indicating human habitation of the spot that would become Rome, to the remains of wattle and daub structures from the seventh century B.C.
To read Alison Telfer’s short and ever so sweet weekly reports on the dig, see the Museum of London Archaeology website. Keep an eye on the Sant’Omobono Project’s publications page for upcoming papers on the newly discovered temple and other finds from the season.
At Curia it was announced that the long awaited Order of Precedence website overhaul was nearing completion, and was now online. The Gazette contacted Master Justin du Coeur, who oversaw the program, and he provided the following:
The new Eastrealm Order of Precedence is now available online! You can access it here
The Order of Precedence (OP) is the record of all of the awards and honors that have been given by the East over its long history. The new system is the result of a 2-year project to take the original OP — which was a labor of love for the late Mistress Caitlin Davies, who maintained it as hundreds of separate HTML files — and put it into a reasonably modern database system. The new system should generally be easier to search and keep up to date than the old one was. It allows you to search for a person by their SCA name; look up the recipients of a particular Order or Award; and see which awards were given by which monarchs, in chronological order.
This conversion has been challenging, involving thousands of individual corrections and collations of the data; we’ve done our best, but there are certainly still errors in it. In particular, there was a major challenge of collating records that were listed under different SCA names (or simply spelled differently) in different parts of the OP — we put a lot of effort into that, but there are undoubtedly still some people who have some awards listed under one name, and some under another. If you find errors or omissions in your award listing, please send them to the Shepherds Crook Herald, Duchess Anna. If you find problems with the software itself, please drop a note to Master Justin
This is an early “beta” release of the OP — the software is still very much a work in progress, and there is a lot to do yet. It is based on a package generously donated by southern neighbors in Atlantia, which we have been “Eastern-izing”. (You may see the word “atlantia” still crop up here and there, along with some oddly-named awards and “awards” that were actually notes from old court reports.) Expect to see further changes in the coming months, but we’re glad to be able to make the current version available to the populace.
Filed under: Court, Heraldry, Official Notices Tagged: awards, heraldry, OP, order of precedence
From Lady Raffaella Mascolo,
Please be advised that the Laurel and Maunche pollings will be closing at 11:59 PM on February 24. All other pollings will be closing at 11:59 PM on February 10, 2014.
Filed under: Official Notices
When we were asked to help publicize an event held in Montreal, the Gazette thought we would give our primarily English speaking readers a different experience. Below you will find the event announcement for Courtyard Carousing at our Baronial Investiture Anniversary in the Barony of L’ile du Dragon Dormant printed with the French paragraphs followed by English translations. Brush off your high school French and experience the other side of the linguistic challenges of a bilingual kingdom.
Ce sera un évènement festif tout au long de la journée, avec une ambiance de festival, pleine de sons, d’odeurs et d’imageries, digne d’une véritable cour médiévale. Un délicieux festin sera servi par une équipe de quatre cuisiniers, alors que nous célébrons ensemble une autre année dans la Baronnie de l’Ile du Dragon Dormant.
This event is an all day festival, full of the sounds and smells and sights of a true medieval courtyard. A delicious feast will be served by a staff of 4 head cooks, whilst during the day we all make merry together and celebrate another year in the Barony of Ile du Dragon Dormant.
Cette année a été celle de Mayuki Yuri, qui a porté, en honneur de notre Baronnie bien-aimé, à la fois le titre de Champion des Arts et Sciences et celui de Champion du combat à la rapière. Elle veillera sur les deux compétitions qui serviront à choisir ses successeurs. Qui prendra les armes et l’aiguille afin de servir leur baronnie et être honoré comme exemple à suivre dans son art de prédilection?
This Year was the year of Mayuki Yuri, who held both the A and S and Rapier Champions baldrics for our beloved Barony. She will host two competitions to choose her successors. Who will take up arms and needle to serve their barony and be the shining example of their chosen artform?
Il y aura des arts Bardiques présentés tout au long de la journée par Dame Katherine Ashwode la pocketbard et sa bande de conteurs, dignes de confiance, qui n’ont jamais dit un mensonge et qui n’ont jamais été pris à inventer le moindre des détails.
There will be Bardic Arts presented throughout the day by Lady Katherine Ashwode the pocketbard, and her band of trustworthy tale spinners who have never told a lie, nor been known to fabricate even the smallest of details.
Il y aura des ateliers d’Arts et Sciences, des activités pour les enfants, pour les archers et pour les nouveaux arrivants de même que des classes de combat en armure mais pas de combat en armure à cet évènement. Nous terminerons la journée ensemble en savourant le délicieux festin servi par nos quatre cuisiniers. Ce sera une journée à ne pas oublier
There will be Arts and Science classes, activities for children, archers, and newcomers as well as armored combat classes but no armored combat at this event. There will also be a Princesses tea mid-day. We will end our day together sampling the delicious feast served by four cooks. It promises to be an exciting day.
Filed under: Events Tagged: Barony of L'ile du Dragon Dormant
Greetings from the Brigantia Principal Herald of the Kingdom of the East.
At Curia on Jan 26th in Stonemarche it was proposed by Baron Rowen H.E. to their Majesties and I to eliminate the requirement for Shires to have a Herald. The reasoning was, when the requirement was added in January 2002, that having a local officer for heraldic consultation was a very good thing. This requirement was more than what Corpora requires of Shires.
Ryan Mac Whyte
Brigantia Principal Herald of the Kingdom of the East
Filed under: Heraldry, Law and Policy
Start: 02/08/2014 12:00 pm End: 02/08/2014 3:00 pm Start: 02/08/2014 12:00 pm End: 02/08/2014 3:00 pm
The Marche Alderford's demo at the Canton Museum of Art is to help them showcase the museum's exhibit of the first bible created using calligraphy and illumination techniques from the Middle Ages is on Saturday, February 8th from 12-3 PM.
Categories: SCA kingdoms and branches
The British Library has announced that it will be adding its collections of public domain digital images to Flickr. The first collection set is Highlights from the Mechanical Curator, which includes images from over 65,000 books from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Other collections are also scheduled to be added.
Although the 7th century B.C. Greek lyric poet Sappho of Lesbos was one of the most revered poets of antiquity and highly prolific, by the Middle Ages most of her works were lost. Only one complete poem and parts of four others have survived, including three fragments among the Oxyrhynchus Papyri. Now two new poems have been found on a 3rd century A.D. papyrus in private hands.
The anonymous owner brought the papyrus to Oxford University classicist and papyrologist Dr. Dirk Obbink who recognized its enormous significance. The condition is exceptional. Harvard classics professor Albert Henrichs calls it the best preserved Sappho papyrus known to survive. The two poems are 20 and nine lines each, with a total of 22 lines preserved in their entire length. The last seven lines are missing three to six letters from the beginning and end of verses and there are only traces of the last line remaining.
The subject matter is even more exciting than the condition.
One of the two recovered poems, Prof. Henrichs notes, speaks of a “Charaxos” and a “Larichos,” the names assigned by ancient sources to two of Sappho’s brothers but never before found in Sappho’s own writings. It has as a result been labeled the Brothers poem by Prof. Obbink.
“There will be endless discussion about Charaxos and Larichos, who may or may not be Sappho’s brothers,” Prof. Henrichs commented. One important point in that debate will be the Brothers poem’s clear implication that Charaxos was a sea-going trader. The historian Herodotus, writing about two centuries after Sappho, also describes Charaxos as a wayfarer—a man who traveled to Egypt, where he spent a fortune to buy the freedom of Rhodopis, a beautiful slave he had fallen in love with. Upon his return home, Herodotus relates, Sappho brutally mocked her brother’s lovestruck folly in one of her poems.
The Brothers poem contains no such mockery, but rather depicts an exchange between two people concerned about the success of Charaxos’ latest sea voyage. The speaker — perhaps Sappho herself, but the loss of the poem’s initial lines makes this unclear — advises that a prayer to Hera would be the best way to ensure this success, and expounds on the power of the gods to aid their favorites. The poem’s final stanza speaks of Larichos, presumably Sappho’s younger brother, “becoming a man…and freeing us [Sappho’s family?] from much heartache.”
The second poem is an appeal to the goddess Aphrodite, possibly a prayer for aid in securing the affections of a new lover.
The source of the papyrus is not known. It’s most likely to have come from Egypt where the dry climate preserves papyrus like the Oxyrhynchus fragments.
Dr. Obbink has published a paper about the discovery which is available online here (pdf). It includes a transcription (not a translation) of the text, so those of you who can read Aeolic Greek can read the full poems.
UPDATE: The Telegraph has a translation of the Brothers Poem!
Still, you keep on twittering that Charaxos
Beneath 20 layers of paint and lime, conservators have recently uncovered "stunning" 15th century wall paintings in the small, 13th century church of St Cadoc's in Llancarfan, Vale of Glamorgan, Wales. (video)
Retired security system specialist Bruce Campbell (no relation to Ash from Evil Dead) was looking for Victorian-era coins and artifacts along the Gorge Waterway in Victoria, British Columbia, on December 13th, 2013, when he found a coin buried three or four inches deep in the mud flats at low tide. It was so caked in the area’s characteristic blue clay that he couldn’t identify it. He posted pictures of his finds — an 1891 Canadian nickel, a 1960s a silver dime, an early Canadian penny and the mystery coin — on the Official Canadian Metal Detecting forum where he is a moderator. It was the clay-caked coin that aroused the most interest of the forum denizens, some of whom recognized it as a rare silver shilling from the brief reign of King Edward VI, son of Henry VIII and half-brother of Elizabeth I.
The coin is one millimeter thick and 33 millimeters in diameter and was minted at the Tower of London between 1551 and 1553. On the obverse is a bust of the young king crowned facing left. It is inscribed EDWARD VI D G AGL FRA Z HIB REX (Edward VI by the Grace of God King of England, France and Ireland). On the reverse is a shield bearing the royal coat of arms over a long cross fourchee, a heraldic term for a cross where the end of each arm is forked. The inscription reads POSUI DEU ADIUTORE MEUM (I have made God my helper).
This is a significant coin for many reasons. It was one of the earliest shillings — the 12 pence coin was called the Testoon when it was first minted — and it’s the first one that was made of sterling silver instead of base. Edward VI restored the silver standard in 1551, increasing the silver content from a paltry 0.250 (meaning 25% silver by mass) to 0.925. The sterling silver shilling was popular and widely circulated, but that popularity means surviving coins tend to be heavily worn, trimmed or damaged.
The one Bruce Campbell found is in quite good condition. The dense blue clay of the Gorge is a low oxygen environment which makes it an excellent preserver of 500-year-old coins. Campbell attempted to remove the mud crust by cleaning the coin first in olive oil. When that didn’t work, he soaked it in lemon juice for two days and then wrapped it in aluminium foil for a half hour. The crust came off, revealing the details of the design. Obligatory disclaimer: although the results in this case appear to be okay, don’t clean things! Let the experts handle it. You could so easily damage the artifact, ruin its market value and historic patina. Also, you never know what’s in the stuff that looks like dirt.
The coin’s condition and discovery spot has led some to speculate that it might have made its way to Victoria via Sir Francis Drake who may or may not have visited Victoria on a secret mission in 1579. The main evidence of this mission appears to be two other English coins from the 16th century found elsewhere in British Columbia, which is not exactly solid ground considering that coins can travel at any time after they’re minted.
It doesn’t need a Drake association to be awesome. It’s the oldest coin found on the west coast of Canada and it’s an important coin in English history. Now it has drawn the attention of the Royal B.C. Museum. Curator Grant Keddie has made contact with Mr. Campbell and plans to examine the shilling. He’s interested in the Drake theory and will test the material to attempt to discover how long the coin has been in Victoria. Keddie would like other metal detector enthusiasts and mudlarks “to take another look at things they may have found here that are not identified — such as ceramics or glassware — that might date to the same time period as the coin.”
The deadline is fast approaching for the artisans and scientists of the East to register for the King’s and Queen’s Arts and Sciences Competition. All good gentles must pre-register by February 7 if they intend to compete. Already artisans from all corners of the Kingdom have indicated that they will be coming with their best work in the fields of illumination, embroidery, glass work and clothing. If you come to the event you will also meet people exploring velum making, medieval make-up, soap making, and bread recipes. Our researchers will also be there to talk to you about their work in linguistics, and the history of knighthood.
We need your help! With the competitors representing such a wide variety of interests and skills, it is especially important to have a varied group of judges to participate in the event. Please contact Lady Ose Silverhair or Lady Solskinn if you are able to lend your expertise on February 22.
Whether you want to compete, or display, or have the opportunity to discuss the arts and sciences with some of the best in the Kingdom, it is sure to be a day where everyone will learn something new. See the event notice for more information.
Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: King and Queen's Champions
Quivers & Quarrels is the SCA quarterly publication dedicated to target and combat archery. Each edition of Q&Q turns the spotlight on a Super Star of SCA archery.
It looks like I'm not the only one who disliked having to carry around a lot of books. Back in the mid-16th century a German publisher created this six books in a book, where you can open it up in different ways to read the different texts.
This particular book is owned by the National Library of Sweden, and it contains religious texts including one by Martin Luther. You can see more images of it from the Flikr page of the National Library of Sweden, but if you want to see it in action, check out Erik Kwakkel's Tumblr! You can also follow him on Twitter @erik_kwakkel
Two paintings by French rococo master Jean-Honoré Fragonard will be on display together for the first time in 25 years in an exhibition at the Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio. Blind Man’s Buff and The See-Saw were created as a matched pair when Fragonard was still a student in the atelier of François Boucher. Like almost all of his works, the two paintings are not dated. We know they were done after he began to study under Boucher in 1750 and before 1752 when the young Fragonard won the prestigious Prix de Rome. He was just 18-20 years old, therefore, when he painted these works that already display the characteristic playfulness and thinly veiled eroticism that would make him famous.
The paintings are thought to have been commissioned by Baron Louis-Guillaume Baillet de Saint-Julien, a writer, amateur artist and avid collector. It is certain that the pair were in his collection when it was sold in 1784 after the Baron’s death. Blind Man’s Buff and The See-Saw sold as a pair for 500 livres to the leading art dealer of the time: Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun, grand-nephew of painter Charles Le Brun and husband of Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, official portrait painter of Queen Marie Antoinette. Jean-Baptiste-Pierre Le Brun was a pioneer in his field. He actually invented the saleroom lit by overhead lighting, now a staple of art galleries and museums.
The pair then moved through the hands of various other dealers and collectors, including Baron Nathaniel de Rothschild in Vienna and Baron Maurice de Rothschild in Pregny-Chambésy, Switzerland, always staying together. In 1954 they were sold again by Baron Maurice three years before his death. This time, they did not survive as a couple. They were sold separately. Blind Man’s Buff was acquired by the Toledo Museum of Art with funds from the Libbey Endowment, a gift from glass magnate Edward Drummond Libbey, founder of the Toledo Museum of Art and president from its founding in 1901 until his death in 1925. The See-Saw was bought by Baron Hans Heinrich Thyssen-Bornemisza, heir to a great naval construction and oil fortune which he spent building a world-class art collection. It was on display at his private museum in the 17th century palace Villa Favorita on the banks of Lake Lugano in Switzerland, and when those works were transferred to Spain to become the permanent collection of the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum in Madrid starting in the late 1980s, The See-Saw went with them.
Divided by an ocean, the two Fragonards rarely caught a glimpse of each other. They’ve come together three times since their separation: in London in 1968, Paris in 1987 and New York in 1988. Now, thanks to a loan from the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, they’ll be together again in Toledo.
“They’re risqué, they’re provocative—and the artist intended these canvases to be seen together,” said Lawrence W. Nichols, William Hutton senior curator of European and American painting and sculpture before 1900. “So to reunite these two very important paintings by one of the most significant French artists of the 18th century is quite an exciting opportunity.”
They may not seem all that risqué to our jaded eyes, but even though the only actual glimpse of slightly naughty flesh is the leg of the woman on the see-saw, the erotic imagery was clear to its original audience.
In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, artists and authors used blind-man’s buff as a symbol of the folly of marriage, where one took one’s chances in choosing a mate. In Fragonard’s portrayal, however, because only one couple plays the game, neither the ultimate partner nor the final outcome is in doubt. As the youth tickles his blindfolded beloved on the cheek with a piece of straw, an infant, in the role of a classical cupid or putto, brushes her hand with the end of a stick to distract her from the object of her desire. Reaching out to locate her lover, the woman steals a glance from underneath her blindfold and catches the viewer’s gaze with a knowing look—she is the one in control of the situation.
The setting for this courtship game is a terrace surrounded by a low wall—a reference to the enclosed garden, traditional symbol of virginity. Leaning against the wall is a gate that has fallen off its posts. The sexual symbolism of the gate—not only open but broken off—would have been obvious to eighteenth-century viewers.
Blind Man’s Buff and The See-Saw will be on display at the Toledo Museum of Art from January 24th through May 4th, 2014.
A silver coin, found recently in the crusader city of Acre, is believed to be the earliest depicting a king of Bohemia ever found. The coin bears the image of St Christopher and the inscription Zl Rex Boemo, king of the Bohemians. Experts place the date of minting in the 13th century. (photos)
KNOWN WORLD Jan 3, 2014 Estrella War Announcement Digest Special Events Addition
It’s not certain who first built the castle. Clan MacDougall is one possible candidate, but by the time the window was sealed, Mingary Castle was the seat of Clan MacIain, one of the most powerful septs (vassal branches) of Clan MacDonald. Although technically they were vassals of kings of Norway and Scotland at various times, in practice they ran their territories independently as Lords of the Isles. Mingary was one of a chain of strategically important castles in the MacDonald fiefdom.
It was a new threat from the landward side that caused the MacIains to block up the north windows. The slender pointed arch windows, used to fire arrows and crossbow bolts onto attackers, were in walls that ranged in thickness from 60 centimeters (ca. 1’12″) to 80 centimeters (2’7″). This was the thinnest the castle walls got and since they faced land, they were particular susceptible to recently-invented cannons that packed enough punch to pierce much thicker masonry walls. To fix this weak spot, the MacIains had stonemasons fill in the windows and the chambers where defenders wielded their weapons. They did a most thorough job of it, too.
The castle fell out of MacIain and MacDonald control in the early 17th century. The Campbell family, Earls of Argyll, took the castle and held it so effectively that they destroyed Clan MacDonald when they attempted to retake the castle by besieging it. In the early 18th century the Mingary estate was sold to Alexander Murray; 50 years later it was sold to James Riddell whose family owned it until 1848. All of these post-MacIain owners made modifications and additions to the castle, keeping it in livable condition without destroying the original structure from the 1200s. After 1848, the estate was still used by locals, but the castle increasingly deteriorated until the interior was too dangerous to inhabit.
The estate was purchased by Donald Houston 20 years or so ago. He has restored many of the structures on the property, and is now restoring the castle itself with the goal of keeping the walls from crumbling and making the castle inhabitable as a residence for humans again. Because of its relative remoteness and the long centuries of occupation, Mingary Castle is the best preserved 13th century castle in Scotland. It’s therefore of great historical significance to the country.
Mr. Houston has founded the Mingary Preservation Trust, a charitable organization that is raising the £2 million ($3,300,000) needed to restore the castle. (If you’d like to contribute, click here to donate or, if you’d prefer to get a piece of the castle itself, you can adopt your very own stone.)
Part of the restoration project was the reopening of the north wall chambers and lancet windows. On Thursday, January 16th, workmen broke through the incredibly hard infill that blocked off the left top window, gingerly removed the stones and opened it to expose a beautiful view last seen by human eyeballs 500 years ago.
Jon Haylett, a local historian who has been overseeing the excavation said: “There was a real sense of excitement that we could, for the first time in 500 years, look out at a view which was last seen when members of Clan MacIain held Mingary Castle.
“Looking out of the window was an eerie experience, realising that the last person to see that view was probably a stonemason, some half a millennium ago.
“Next to me, doing the clearing, were two modern stonemasons from Ashley-Thomson, the building restoration firm, and I think they were equally moved.”
They were hoping to find organic material or some artifacts embedded in the fill that would help narrow down when the windows were sealed, but so far all the attending archaeologist has found are some tiny bone fragments, probably the detritus of a meal left behind by the masons who last worked there half a millennium ago. They did find an interesting architectural element: a groove around the inside of the window, probably used to hold a shutter or wooden board to close the window when necessary.
Now the restoration team is digging across to the double lancet windows on the right. You can read all about their progress and enjoy the exceptional photographic documentation of the restoration on the marvelous Mingary Castle blog authored by Jon Haylett.