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Genoa port dredge finds cannons, huge anchor

History Blog - Tue, 2015-06-02 10:10

A dredging project in the port of Genoa has recovered a record haul of English cannons, other artillery and anchors dating from the 16th century through the 19th. The project has been ongoing since 2009 to make the port accessible to high tonnage commercial container and cruise ships. So far they’ve moved three and a half million cubic meters of port sludge which, after being sifted through for artifacts and unexploded ordnance from World War II (20 of them have been found and disarmed so far), is being used to expand the container dock of Calata Bettolo.

The artillery recovered includes five 17th century front-loading cast iron cannons almost three meters (10 feet) long each weighing around one ton. These are all of English manufacture. Earlier weapons found include two breechloading light cannons small enough to be fired by one person that are 1.5 meters (five feet) long and weigh a quintal (100 kilograms, or about 220 pounds). They are of unknown manufacture and date from the late 16th to the middle of 17th century.

The rarest piece discovered is a bronze falconetto cannon. About two meters (6’6″) long and weighing two quintals, the small caliber cannon bears the mark of the Alberghetti family, a Venetian foundry active in the second half of the 16th century. The German Landsknecht mercenary troops famously used a falconetto in the Battle of Governolo on November 25, 1526, to take down Giovanni dalle Bande Nere, scion of the Medici family and leader of the papal troops. The falconetto shot hit his right leg leaving a wound so severe the surgeon had to amputate. The operation was too late and possibly too circumspect; a recent exhumation of his remains found that only his foot was amputated when witnesses like poet Pietro Aretino reported his wound was at the knee. (Aretino wrote that the surgeon ordered 10 men to hold Giovanni down, but the warrior insisted not even 20 men could hold him down, so he just picked up the candle to illuminate his own surgery and told the doctor to get to it. The scene was too much for Aretino who fled the room to return only after it was all over. “I’m cured,” Giovanni told him.) Four days later, Giovanni dalle Bande Nere died from gangrene. The Landsknechts would take their falconetti and go on to sack Rome.

The anchor haul is impressive as well. Most of them are from the 19th century — a Rodger’s Small Palms anchor from 1832, several British Admiralty examples from the 1840s — but one is a British example from the 18th century and it’s massive. The anchor is five meters (16 feet) long and weighs four tons. It is the largest anchor and the only one of its kind ever recovered from Italian waters.

You can get a better look at how huge the anchor is in this Italian language video.

If you’re worrying about those cannons and anchors being left out in the sun, fear not. Artifacts retrieved after centuries in the ocean (eg, the Erebus‘ bell and the H. L. Hunley submarine) need to take very long baths to ensure their stability, and the artifacts are currently beginning their conservation with a leisurely desalinization treatment. Once they’ve been stabilized and cleaned of their copious incrustations, the cannons and anchors will go on display, likely at Genoa’s Galata Museo del Mare, the largest maritime museum in the Mediterranean, and at the Palace of St. George right across the street from the city’s Ancient Port.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Queen’s and King’s Archery Championship

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2015-06-01 23:39

The new Archery Champions, as previously reported, are:
Tournement winner and Queen’s Champion: Master Li Kung Lo
King’s Champion selected by His Majesty: Baroness Jehannine de Flandres

Archers on the line for the charging Bulls shoot (Photo by Arlyana)

May 30, 2015 was a hot and humid day in Carillion, as 55 archers took to the range to vie for the honor of serving Their Majesties as Royal Archery Champions. Queen Etheldreda gave Her encouragement to those gathered, Master Rupert the Unbalanced and Master Peter the Red (the retiring champions), and Captain General Jehannine de Flandres provided instructions and thanked helpers, and the tournement commenced.

Archers shoot at the long-distance windmill (Photo by Arlyana)

All participants could shoot the full course of 10 stations, each in keeping with the “Don Quixote” theme. The first shoot of the day was at a long distance “giant” (a windmill with moving blades), followed by a charging bull shoot (a traditional advancing soldier timed shoot, at 70 through 20 yards). After a break for lunch, shooting resumed, and the tests of skill included shooting the bars of a cage, killing scurvy sailors, slaughtering a wild boar, puncturing wine skins and flasks, herding sheep, and shooting through knot holes. Scores were then totaled and sorted. Captain General Jehannine reminded all present of the obligations and duties of serving as a Royal Champion, and as the top scorers were announced, each was asked if they wished to compete. Six finalists chose to step out of the competition:

King Omega, Peter, and Jehannine, in front of the first 2 shoots (Photo by Arlyana)

declined – Krakken Gnashbone (83)
declined – Colin Ursell (78)
declined – Phillip Reed the Facetious (73)
1 – Alexandra Krakkensdottir (70)
2 – Mark Squirrelsbane (67)
3 – Nathaniel Wyatt (65)
4 – Jehannine de Flandres (63)
5 – Godric of Hamtun (62)
6 – Alexander von Heisler (62)
declined – Radagast (59)
declined – Kusunoki Yoshimoto (59)
7 – Li Kung Lo (59)

Finalist pairings (Photo by Ygraine)

8 – Miles Boweman (57)
9 – Conor O’Ceallaigh (55)
10 – Otto Gottlieb (54)
11 – Tamsin Whitlocke (53)
declined – Aaron the Arrowsmith (52)
12 – Siobhan Inghean Cormaic (50)
13 – Treya min Teanga (59)
14 – Ygraine of Kellswood (48)
15 – Tomaloc (47)
16 – Alec Craig (43)

 

 

Mark vs Li in a quarter-final pairing, observed by Krakken, Rupert, King Omega and Godric (Photo by Arlyana)

The 16 finalists were addressed by King Omega and Queen Etheldreda. The overall winner of the competition would be the Queen’s Champion (per usual), and the King said He would select His Champion from among the other finalists (as has been occasionally done in past years), then the shoot-offs between pairs of seeded competitors began.

Each archer had to knock down six “books” from a shelf, and the first to shoot a final, center target would advance to the next round. Between rounds, the shooting line was moved, and several books were replaced by smaller ones. (It is worth noting that the “books” were such famous works as Facing the Perils of Castle Anthrax by Sir Galahad, Distribution of Wealth in a Medieval Economy by R. Hood, PhD, How to be Very, Very, Quiet While Hunting by Sir E. Fudd and other similarly lofty titles.) The final pairing was a hard-fought contest between Baroness Jehannine and Master Li; she was ahead by two targets, then he caught up and hit the final target a split second ahead.

Final round targets (Photo by Ygraine)

Final pair – Jehannine vs Li (Photo by Ygraine)

 

 

 

 

 

Queen Etheldreda congratulated Her new Queen’s Archery Champion, Master Li Kung Lo. Because of the excitingly close finish, King Omega selected Baroness Jehannine de Flandres as His King’s Archery Champion.

For those who keep such statistics, the 16 finalists were evenly split between handbow and crossbow, and this year six of the final archers were women.

Reported by Baroness Ygraine of Kellswood

(Photos by Baroness Arlyana van Wyck and
Baroness Ygraine of Kellswood, as noted.)


Filed under: Archery Tagged: champions

Metal (and Glass) Symposium is Coming!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-06-01 15:18

Greetings unto all of the metalsmiths and glassworkers in the glorious Sylvan Kingdom of Æthelmearc. The time has come for me to put together a class schedule for the Metal Symposium next weekend at the Myrkfaelinn Summer War Practice.

This site is a wonderful Boy Scout camp on the shores of Cayuga Lake
with a variety of venues for teaching. We have fully enclosed buildings, sheltered open pavillions, a sheltered barbeque area for forges, and a
beach. And did I mention a gorge with a river and a waterfall?

I know there are a lot of folks in this Kingdom who would like the
opportunity to showcase their teaching skills (and maybe teach the King, Queen, or Prince new skills?) we are looking for people willing to teach anything metal, glass, or similar technology related.

Please email here. (use Metal Symposium in subject line)

A class description
Instructor SCA name with titles if any
Desired facilities type (enclosed, sheltered, open, power necessary etc)
Handout yes/no
Fees, if any
Class length (or if ongoing all day)
Hands on or demonstration?
Tools if any participants should bring
Prerequisite experience/skills if necessary for participants
Desired time range for Saturday or Friday evening.

Please feel free to email me at the above email address with any questions
Master John Michael Thorpe
Guildmaster: Royal Guild of Æthelmearc Metalsmiths

Info on the event can be found here.


Categories: SCA news sites

Bodicacia’s tombstone doesn’t mark her grave

History Blog - Mon, 2015-06-01 08:06

The rare Roman tombstone found earlier this year at the site of the former Bridges Garage in Cirencester does not mark the grave of the woman mentioned in its inscription. The headstone is engraved “DM BODICACIA CONIUNX VIXIT ANNO S XXVII,” meaning “To the spirits of the dead, Bodicacia, wife, lived 27 years,” and since it was discovered on top of the remains of an adult human and next to the remains of three very young children, there was much excitement at the prospect of this being the only known inscribed tombstone ever found in Britain to identify the person buried beneath it. Those hopes are now officially dashed because the skeleton belongs to an adult male, not a 27-year-old woman.

In fact, not only does the skeleton not match the gender of the person memorialized on the tombstone, it’s not even from the same period. The tombstone was carved in the 2nd century A.D.; the burial is much later, from the 4th century A.D. That means the archaeologists’ first idea that the gravestone had fallen on top of the grave soon after its installation and was soon covered in soil protecting it from masonry looters is also wrong. The tombstone was looted. It’s just that instead of being broken up and built into a wall, it was reused whole to mark a different person’s grave.

In March University of Oxford Roman sculpture experts Dr. Martin Henig and Dr. Roger Tomlin examined the stone. They noted that the pediment has features that mark it as top of the line: the cresting topped with a finial is a very rare feature and finely carved in the Cotswold style sculpture. The mask of Oceanus centered inside the pediment has no parallels among the 300 or so Roman tombstones that have been found in the UK. As a marine deity, Oceanus didn’t figure much (or at all, really, with this one salient exception) on funerary monuments anywhere in the Roman world.

Someone must have taken a dislike to the unusual iconography, because Oceanus’ face was chiselled off in antiquity. This may have been done when the stone was reused, a refurbishment perhaps inspired by religious fervor. Christianity was well-established in late Roman Britain — five signers of the canons adopted at the Council of Arles in 314 A.D. were British, including Eborius, Bishop of York, Restitutus, Bishop of London and Adelfius, Bishop of Caerleon — so perhaps Oceanus was defaced to cleanse the stone of its association with pagan beliefs and rituals so it could be reused in a proper Christian burial.

In contrast to the sculpture on the front that was the height of refinement and skill in its time and place, the back of the tombstone is very roughly hewn. It doesn’t even look finished. Henig and Tomlin believe this stark contrast indicates the stone wasn’t meant to be a freestanding headstone in a cemetery, but rather set in a wall in a temple or mausoleum. It’s in keeping with the expense and quality of the piece that it would originally have been part of a grand funerary enclosure.

Its fancy original home had to have been relatively nearby its more modest final location because it’s so heavy and unwieldy it can’t have been carried far. The cemetery with the high proportion of inhumations that was excavated from the former Bridges Garage site in 2011 was a walled enclosure. It’s a possible candidate for the source of the stone.

St James’s Place Wealth Management, the owners of the property where the tombstone was found, have donated it to Cirencester’s Corinium Museum who are delighted to have such a rare piece in their permanent collection. It will be a couple of months before it’s on public display. Once Cotswold Archaeology have finished cleaning and documenting it, the museum staff and consultants have to determine how best to exhibit a heavy slab of limestone five feet long. The charming little bronze cockerel, found at an earlier excavation of the same site, was much easier to place.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pieces of triumphal Arch of Titus found in Circus Maximus

History Blog - Sun, 2015-05-31 10:19

The Arch of Titus which still stands today at the end of the Via Sacra next to the Roman Forum, famous for its period depiction of spoils from the capture of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., is an honorific arch commemorating the emperor’s greatest deeds and apotheosis, not a triumphal arch. Built by his brother Domitian in 82 A.D., the year after Titus’ death and deification, it’s often called a triumphal arch because of the high relief depictions of Roman soldiers carrying the treasures of the Second Temple — the seven-branched Menorah, the silver trumpets, the Table of the Shew Bread — in Titus’ triumphal procession of 71 A.D.

That’s just one motif, however. The central panel in the single arch’s soffit relief depicts Titus being carried to the heavens by an eagle. The inscription also emphasizes the recently deceased emperor’s divinity: “SENATUS/ POPULUSQUE ROMANUS/ DIVO TITO DIVI VESPASIANI F(ilio)/ VESPASIANO AUGUSTO” (The Senate and People of Rome [dedicate this arch] to the divine Titus Vespasian Augustus, son of the divine Vespasian).

Titus’ real triumphal arch was erected in 81 A.D., the year he died, at the curved east end of the Circus Maximus. The triple arch was explicitly dedicated to Titus’ conquest of Judea and Jerusalem. It’s not very well known today because in the Middle Ages it fell victim to the Roman thirst for building materials, leaving only old epigraphic records, coins and drawings testifying to its existence. It was still standing with a relatively intact capital when one of the anonymous authors of the Codex Einsidlensis (Einsiedeln manuscript no. 326) recorded the inscription in Inscriptiones Urbis Romae, an invaluable record of pagan and Christian epigraphy on monuments in the city of Rome that was written in the late 8th, early 9th century.

A marked contrast with the inscription on the extant arch, the wording on the Circus Maximus arch’s inscription leaves no doubt that it was a genuine triumphal arch:

Senatus populusque Romanus imp(eratori) Tito Ceasari divi Vespasiani f(ilio) Vespasiani Augusto pontif(ici) max(imo), trib(unicia) pot(estate) x, imp(eratori) XVII, [c]o(n)s(uli) VIII, p(atri) p(atriae), principi suo, quod praeceptis patri(is) consiliisq(ue) et auspiciis gentem Iudaeorum domuit et urbem Hierusolymam, omnibus ante se ducibus regibus gentibus aut frustra petitam aut omnino intem(p)tatam, delevit.

The Senate and People of Rome [dedicate this arch] to the Emperor Titus [snip many titles], because by his father’s counsel and good auspices, he conquered the people of Judaea and destroyed the city of Jerusalem, which all of the generals, kings, and peoples before him had either failed to do or even to attempt.

In the 12th century the central arch was used as part of the Mariana aqueduct that Pope Calixtus II built to convey fresh water to the city in 1122. A few years later the powerful Frangipani family had control of the Circus Maximus. They built a mill powered by the Mariana and a tower, the Torre della Moletta, was integrated into the Frangipani’s defensive fortifications extending up the Palatine. Modest homes and squatters’ huts grew up all over what had once been a triumphal arch. The grounds of the Circus Maximus were converted to agricultural use, irrigated by the Mariana.


After the Unification of Italy in 1870, construction of the huge retaining walls along the banks of the Tiber and the Lungotevere boulevards cut off the Mariana or drove it underground into culverts. Most of the medieval construction around the Arch of Titus was demolished in the 1930s and 1940s, leaving only the tower, where Saint Francis of Assisi reputedly stayed on his last trip to Rome in 1223 as guest of the Graziano Frangipani’s widow and Franciscan lay sister Jacopa, still standing. Excavations at the time revealed medieval canals and walls made of ancient marbles pilfered from the arch.

Now archaeologists excavating the eastern hemicycle of the Circus Maximus have found large blocks of Carrara marble (marmor lunensis) that were part of the ​​attic, entablature and columns of the Arch.

Archaeologists found more than 300 marble fragments of the monument, some of them the size of a small car.

They discovered the bases of the four giant columns that formed the front of the arch, as well as the plinths on which they rested and traces of the original travertine pavement.

From the remains experts were able to calculate the arch’s original dimensions. It was 17 meters (56 feet) wide, 15 meters (49 feet) deep with columns 10 meters (33 feet) high. The full height including the attic has yet to be determined. In antiquity there was the monumental bronze sculpture of a quadriga on top of the arch which would have added significant vertical heft.

Excavation is difficult because the remains were found about 10 feet below ground level, which is on the wrong side of the water table. Further digging is going to require blocking off the water in the area, a particular challenge considering a river literally ran through the arch and its ruins for hundreds of years.

Archaeologists want to reconstruct as much of the arch as possible using the technique of anastylosis which attempts to put the ancient pieces back together as accurately as possible with only the modern materials necessary for structural stability. In order to do that, they’ll have to find a solution to the water seepage problem and a million euros, two daunting prospects. Since that’s sure to take time, the foundations will be reburied shortly for their own protection. Meanwhile, archaeologists are working on a virtual model of the triumphal Arch of Titus.

Here’s a puny slideshow of the site. The only really good views of the waterlogged excavation I could find are in this unembeddable ( ) Italian TV news story.

 

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

King’s and Queen’s Archery Champions Selected

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2015-05-30 18:38

The King’s and Queen’s Archery Champions have been announced at Southern Region War Camp.

The winner of the championship, and Queen’s Champion, is Master Li Kung Lo.

The second place finisher of the championship, and King’s Champion, is Baroness Jehannine de Flandres.

Results provided by Mistress Ygraine of Kellswood.


Filed under: Archery Tagged: archery, King and Queen's Champions

Artifacts recovered from HMS Erebus dive

History Blog - Sat, 2015-05-30 03:05

The recent ice dive to the wreck of the HMS Erebus recovered 15 artifacts, including brass buttons from a tunic, ceramic plates and one six-pounder cannon. Pairs of divers — one Parks Canada underwater archaeologist paired with one Royal Canadian Navy ice diving expert — explored the wreck in shifts for 12 hours a day for a week in the middle of April. The original schedule was for two weeks of diving, but weather delays reduced diving time by half.

The first plan was the remove the tall kelp that had grown around the wreck reducing visibility. With the initial weather delays making a time a factor, the team cut off the kelp only on the port side of the ship.

“It’s tedious, but all of a sudden you have a shipwreck that looks like a wreck site,” says Harris, noting that it was “extremely gratifying to see the shape of the hull as it turns up. You really get a better sense of how big the site is” and how it towers five metres over the sea floor.

“It is so well preserved of course that it does sort of look like a storybook shipwreck.”

They also identified Franklin’s cabin, although they weren’t able to actually enter it.

“We see that that cabin is still there,” says Harris. “It’s just largely crushed between the collapsed upper deck and the lower deck, but you can peer in through… these little spaces where we’re inserting a point-of-view inspection camera.”

Archaeologists saw where artifacts from his cabin fell onto the sea bed. Before they retrieved anything, they made sure to draw a virtual grid of the wreck site so the discovery spots can be documented. The 15 artifacts recovered include a copper alloy (probably brass) 6 1/4″ hook block which may have been part of the ship’s standing rigging or part of the mechanism that lowered the boats, and two illuminators — one brass and glass circular piece, one rectangular glass prism — that were miniature skylights of sorts, installed flush with the upper deck so sailors could walk over them without tripping while they allowed a little light to penetrate the darkness of the lower decks.

The three ceramic plates, which are in excellent condition, are fine earthenware pieces with Chinese motifs. One is the “Whampoa” pattern depicting China’s Whampoa Island; the other two are blue willow pattern marked “Royal Patent Staffordshire China.” Ceramic dishware was a common feature in the officers’ quarters of 18th century Royal Navy ships. This discovery fits with the testimony of an Inuk man named Puhtoorak who in 1879 told members of the search expedition funded by the American Geographical Society and led by explorer Frederick Schwatka that he had seen a ship trapped in the ice off the Adelaide Peninsula and found its contents, including china plates, in perfect order.

The largest object was a brass six-pounder, three of which were known to have been on the Erebus, recovered from the deck of the ship. Its foundry marks are well preserved. They identify it as having been cast by John and Henry King at the Royal Brass Foundry at Woolwich in 1812. A numerical mark “6-0-8″ indicates the gun’s weight was 680 pounds.

The smallest artifacts may reveal the most personal history: two brass buttons from a navy tunic. They are decorated with a crowned anchor encircled by rope, a laurel wreath and the inscription “ROYAL MARINES.” The last two elements are only present on Royal Marines uniforms, and there were only seven Royal Marines aboard HMS Erebus.

The artifacts were on display over the Victoria Day long weekend, May 14th through the 18th at the Canadian Museum of History in Gatineau, Quebec. They are now undergoing conservation at the Park Canada lab where they will be stabilized for eventual long-term display.

Many unanswered questions remain, most significantly what caused the ship to sink. Archaeologists are hoping that they’ll find pertinent evidence when they clear the starboard side during the summer dives. The summer expedition doesn’t just have the Erebus to contend with; they’ll also be searching for its companion ship, the HMS Terror. That’s a lot of ground to cover in the short window before the ice returns in September.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Join the Assassins’ Guild at Pennsic!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-05-29 21:01

A message from Lady Maggie Rue of the Royally Chartered East Kingdom Assassins’ Guild and the unchartered Æthelmearc Assassins Guild.

Last year at Pennsic a game was quietly played out among three teams at Pennsic: Æthelmearc, East Kingdom, and Acre. Aethelmearc won!

This year, however, Her Majesty Etheldreda Ivelchyld of the East Kingdom has not only decided to play, she’s going to PLAY as head of her assassins’ guild. Their Majesties of the Midrealm, Atlantia, and Outlands have also expressed interest and may be constructing teams as we speak..

Æthelmearc needs to show that they are still the best and sneakiest. Currently, we have three people who are hoping to play on the Æthelmearc team. For a full team we would need:

A Grandfather
up to Four Agents
up to Four Apprentices
At least one Spymaster in control of up to three spies.

There will be codes, packages, targets, and a plot.

Anyone who wishes to play MUST be willing to play by the rules provided as per the EK Royal Charter, which states (among others) the game must not interfere with the public, no harm may come to any, and no spam killings can occur–we’re not kidding about rules.

If seriously interested come to the Facebook page for the Aethelmearc Assassins’ guild here or contact me at tinamhrain@yahoo.com for further information. 

Lady Maggie Rue


Categories: SCA news sites

Equestrian at Panteria report

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2015-05-29 16:19

Panteria XX, in the Shire of Panthervale in the East Kingdom was held this past Memorial Day weekend in Vermont. We saw a big jump in the number of horse attending, from the usual 6 or 7 to 11 horses this time, including 4 for whom this was the horse’s first event. They all did extremely well. My thanks to all the riders, ground-crew and horse owners for a terrific weekend with no injuries or incidents. Extra bonus thanks to the kitcheners who sent lunch up to us at the barn!

We did a Gambler’s Choice challenge course, where the riders each had 3 minutes to rack up as many points as possible from an array of different obstacles. Gambler’s Choice was won by Master Julian le Scot riding Galen, who beat Lady Lasairfhiona Inghean Cheallaigh by just a single point. Later that afternoon, Sir Ankara led a few rounds of Tippet Tag to introduce the horses and riders to the basics of mounted combat. Hopefully someone got video, because it was hilarious to watch and quite a bit of fun to play. On Sunday we did skill games in lanes – spearing rings, hitting heads and knocking down targets while passing a horse heading in the opposite direction in the other lane. Sir Ankara had the highest score, followed by Master Julian. The weekend concluded with a jousting demo. The demo was originally scheduled as a balsa jousting competition between two experienced jousters, but Master Julian’s horse had had enough by that point in the weekend. Instead we took the opportunity to train a horse that was new to the joust, Medallion. The basics of working in a lane and working around armor having been done already, Master Julian and Sir Ankara took Medallion through being ridden by an armored rider and having his rider strike the oncoming rider with a lance as well as having his rider by struck by a lance. The audience assembled for the demo seemed to enjoy watching the teaching process and meeting the horses and jousters afterwards.

Lane game scores: Sir Ankara on Thunder: 45 points Master Julian on Galen: 39 points Mistress Eleanor on Medallion: 33 points Lady Lasairfhiona on Bailey: 30 points Sir Artos on Oleandra: 28 points Mistress Ellen on Taro: 24 points Lady Walpurga on Oleandra: 24 points Baroness Lillian on Medallion and Bailey: 21 points Baron Duncan on Medallion and Thunder: 15 points

Gamblers Choice scores will be forthcoming if I can locate the paper they’re written on.

Report submitted by Mistress Eleanor fitzPatrick, Equestrian Marshal in Charge for Panteria XX.


Filed under: Equestrian Tagged: Panteria, Panther Vale

Murder through the lines of medieval land charters

History Blog - Fri, 2015-05-29 06:03


In 2014, the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Books Library received a donation of medieval and early modern charters from private collector Eric Robertson who had bought them in an Edinburgh book store decades ago. There are 60 charters in the collection, all from the Fleming family of Biggar in the South Highlands of Scotland dating between the 14th and the 17th centuries.

The Fleming family played an important role in medieval Scottish history. Flemish knights and merchants came to Britain from Flanders as early in the 11th century. The Flemings of Biggar are thought to have descended from a knight who was given lands in Devonshire by William the Conqueror. Some Flemish knights fought for King Stephen during the upheavals of the Anarchy. When Henry II came to the throne, the Flemings who had been on Stephen’s side were banished and found refuge in Scotland under King David I (reigned 1124 – 1153). The first Fleming of this family recorded in Scotland was Baldwin Le Fleming who settled in Biggar and was appointed Sheriff of Lanarkshire by David I. As sheriff he controlled the Upper Clyde Valley which was of great strategic importance as the gateway to Scotland for any number of hostile invaders. Baldwin served under two more kings after David — his grandsons Malcolm IV and King William the Lion.

The Fleming holdings expanded significantly in the 14th century when Robert Fleming was granted the fiefdom of Cumbernauld in Dunbartonshire by Robert the Bruce. It was a reward for Fleming’s involvement in one of the era’s most notorious incidents: when Robert the Bruce stabbed John “Red” Comyn, his main competition for the throne of Scotland, to death in the church of the Greyfriars in Dumfries on February 10th, 1306. Fleming reputedly decapitated Red Comyn and presented the head to the Bruce telling him “Let the deid shaw,” meaning “Let the deed show.” That phrase became the Fleming family motto thereafter.

Robert Fleming died shortly thereafter, but his son Malcolm would benefit even more directly from Red Comyn’s death. Robert the Bruce granted him the barony of Kirkintilloch which had belonged to Comyn. The Flemings held Cumbernauld Castle until Cromwell destroyed it in 1650, and along the way gained and lost or sold a number of properties and associated titles. Flemings continued to be closely linked to generations of Scottish monarchs. Much of this history survives in the form of charters, most of them land grants, and the Fleming family collection includes many kings and queens — David II, Robert III, James III, James IV, Charles II, Mary, Queen of Scots — as parties to the charters.

The charters, written in Latin and many still bearing the wax seals of their signers, had not been studied, translated or published before Robertson donated them. The Fisher Library is making up for lost time by digitizing and researching the charters. Once the documents are scanned, the library is sending high resolution images to the University of St Andrews Institute of Scottish Historical Research where researchers can translate and study them.

The first two charters sent to the University of St Andrews have already proved intriguing. The earliest of them dates to 1395 and grants to Patrick Fleming, younger son of Sir Malcolm Fleming of Biggar, the lands of Glenrusto and Over Menyean in the Tweed valley. The second is dated November 3rd, 1421, and transfers property from Malcolm Fleming, grandson of the Malcolm party to the 1395 grant, to his cousin James, son of the Patrick who was the other party to the 1395 grant. Gelnrusto and Over Menyean are two of the properties transferred to James.

This may seem like the dry business of a large family with a vast feudal estate, but the 1421 charter is unusual in that it is part of an indenture. The cutouts along the top of the document are the equivalent of an anti-forging watermark today. Both parties to the indenture would have copies with uneven edges, preventing one of the parties from forging a document that gave them some advantage. What makes the mark of indenture noteworthy in this case is that this type of contract was employed when there were disputes, not in simple transfers of property between family members.

Comparing this document to an inventory of charters in the National Library of Scotland reveals the hidden machinations and violence behind this intrafamily land transfer.

At the same time as receiving this grant, James Fleming made a separate formal resignation of the lands referred to in the charter to his cousin. This included a penalty clause: should James, at a later date, quarrel with Malcolm over the latter’s rights to these lands, James was bound to surrender another estate, Monicabo in Aberdeenshire. This clause is a strong pointer to the fact that what was going on in November 1421 was no simple property deal but involved a degree of coercion of the lesser man, James Fleming, by his more powerful cousin.

Direct evidence of the extent of this coercion is provided by a final document. This is a copy of what is described in the inventory as a ‘writ’, a suitably vague term. In this, James Fleming clears Malcolm Fleming of Biggar and his accomplices of any part in the death of his father, Patrick Fleming, and agrees to end any hostility towards Malcolm. This document would obviously repay further examination but even this record makes clear that the land transactions were associated with the killing of their previous holder. It is surely not a huge stretch to suggest that Patrick Fleming had been killed in a dispute over his estates and that, after his death, his son was being forced to surrender the lands in question to a man implicated in the killing.

Malcolm had all the cards in this relationship. He was the head of the family and had supporters in the highest echelons of power. James had to take this land settlement and its confidentiality clause forcing him to keep his mouth shut about the shady circumstances surrounding his father’s demise or he’d wind up empty-handed and very probably as dead as his father.

Researchers hope that as the digitization of the Robertson Collection continues, more of this story and other unexplored facets of Scottish history will be revealed.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Arts and Sciences War Point Announced / Pennsic Arts et Sciences points de guerre annoncé

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-05-28 23:11

En français

Their Royal Majesties have asked the Gazette to distribute the following announcement which can also be found in the June issue of the Pikestaff

Greetings to the East Kingdom!

We are very excited to announce that this year there will be an Arts and Sciences War Point at Pennsic. The following individuals have all committed to serving as our Eastern champions for the war point at Pennsic:

  • Agatha Wanderer (Queen’s Champion)
  • Naomi bat Avraham (King’s Champion)
  • Elysabeth Underhill
  • Katheryn Fontayne
  • Osazuwa n’Kante
  • Rosina von Schaffhausen
  • Guthfrith Yrlingson

Please come and support our champions on Wednesday of War Week in the Aethelmearc Royal Encampment! All Maunches and Laurels are allowed to vote but the populace is encouraged to attend to see all the wonderful work being done in the Kingdoms of the East, Midrealm and Aethelmearc!

In Service to the East,
King Omega and Queen Etheldreda

En français
Traduit par Behi Kirsa Oyutai

Salutations au Royaume de l’Est ! Nous sommes très heureux d’annoncer que cette année, un point pour les Arts et Sciences sera accordé à Pennsic. Les personnes suivantes ont toutes promis de servir en tant que nos champions de l’Est pour le point de guerre à Pennsic:

Agatha Wanderer (Championne de la Reine),
Naomi bat Avraham (Championne du Roi),
Elysabeth Underhill,
Katheryn Fontayne,
Osazuwa n’Kante,
Rosina von Schaffhausen,
et Guthfrith Yrlingson.

S’il-vous-plaît, venez supporter nos champions le mercredi, dans la Semaine de Guerre, au Campement Royal d’Aethelmearc ! Les gens faisant partie de l’Ordre de la Manche, ainsi que de l’Ordre du Laurier, seront alloués un vote, mais la population est encouragée a assister et apprécier tout le merveilleux travail accompli dans les Royaumes de l’Est, du Milieu et d’Aethelmearc !

En Service pour l’Est,
Roi Omega et Reine Etheldreda


Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences, En français, Pennsic Tagged: a&s, champions, Pennsic, pennsic war points

His Majesty Requests Your Help!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-05-28 19:12

photo by Sophie Davenport

Unto Æthelmearc does Timothy of Arindale send greetings,

On Saturday, June 20th, our local Shire is going to be invaded by ravaging hordes! It is our now annual Lake Augusta Renaissance Festival (more info here). Last year, we were the only attraction at this Demo, and there was a constant stream of over six hundred potential SCAdians in attendance. We expect the same this year. With everyone’s help we set the bar sky-high, and now hope to outdo what was done last year. I know everyone has a tight schedule, but once again we could really use a hand. We are expecting an even larger crowd this year, and I don’t know if we have the manpower to pull it off as well as we did last year. We need fighters, fencers, artisans and merchants, and especially people willing to help join me in setup and tear down. If you are willing to help in any way I will be eternally grateful, and will gladly work beside you.

Timothy


Categories: SCA news sites

New Historical Combat Policy

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-05-28 11:44

Good morning!

It is my pleasure to announce to the Kingdom that we have a newly approved Historical Combat Policy. This policy will allow us to pursue, study, and demonstrate additional historical combat techniques and weapons in controlled and safe environments.

This is a non-competitive historical martial art activity that does allow for full practicing of scripted plays and maneuvers in controlled settings and with some restrictions. I think it will be a great avenue for further research and growth of the fighting arts. One of the big differences that this format will allow is the incorporation of grappling and weapon techniques not permitted in existing SCA martial systems. I look forward to getting this program off the ground.

I will be looking to add marshals for this activity in the coming weeks. Anyone wishing to be considered as a marshal should contact me at ae.historiccombat@aethelmearc.org. Please include any relevant experience and study. Currently Master Ian Muir is our only other approved marshal.

For those looking to participate, and I hope there are many of you, please take the time to review the policy which can be found here. Feel free to contact me with any questions and look for more information in the near future.

Finally, let me take the time to thank everyone that helped make this happen. It was a collaborative process and I appreciate everyone’s efforts.

Óláfr
Deputy for Historic Combat


Categories: SCA news sites

Scythian gold vessels found with opium, cannabis residue

History Blog - Thu, 2015-05-28 04:03

Gold vessels found in a Scythian burial mound in the Caucasus Mountains near Strovopol, southwestern Russia, have traces of cannabis and opium inside them. The artifacts were discovered in the summer of 2013 when kurgan Sengileevskoe-2 was being excavated in advance of power-line construction. Archaeologist Andrei Belinski didn’t expect to find anything of note — the kurgan had already been looted — but after a few weeks of digging, the team encountered a thick layer of clay. Underneath the clay was a rectangular chamber lined with flat stones that held a treasure trove of 2,400-year-old solid gold artifacts.

The trove consists of two gold bucket-shaped vessels turned upside down on top of three gold cups with holes in their bases, a heavy gold ring, two neck rings and a bracelet. Their total weight is 3.2 kilos (seven pounds). Seeing a black residue at the bottom of the vessels, Belinksi had forensic criminologists in Strovopol analyze the substance. It tested positive for opium and cannabis, providing archaeological evidence for a practice mentioned by ancient Greek historian of dubious accuracy Herodotus.

Herodotus gives an account in Book IV of his History of Scythians using hemp in a purification ritual after the funeral of a king.

After the burial, those engaged in it have to purify themselves, which they do in the following way. First they well soap and wash their heads; then, in order to cleanse their bodies, they act as follows: they make a booth by fixing in the ground three sticks inclined towards one another, and stretching around them woollen felts, which they arrange so as to fit as close as possible: inside the booth a dish is placed upon the ground, into which they put a number of red-hot stones, and then add some hemp-seed. [...]

The Scythians, as I said, take some of this hemp-seed, and, creeping under the felt coverings, throw it upon the red-hot stones; immediately it smokes, and gives out such a vapour as no Grecian vapour-bath can exceed; the Scyths, delighted, shout for joy, and this vapour serves them instead of a water-bath; for they never by any chance wash their bodies with water.

The elaborate decoration on one of the upside down gold vessels may also tie into one of Herodotus’ anecdotes. At the beginning of Book IV, he describes the Schythian warriors returning home after 28 years of war in Persia to find that their wives gave up on them years ago and had children with their slaves instead. The sons, knowing they would not be accepted by the cuckolded husbands, attempted to block their return. They were successful at first, winning battle after battle, but soon they were overcome by the mere symbols of their slave heritage.

“What are we doing, Scythians? We are fighting our slaves, diminishing our own number when we fall, and the number of those that belong to us when they fall by our hands. Take my advice — lay spear and bow aside, and let each man fetch his horsewhip, and go boldly up to them. So long as they see us with arms in our hands, they imagine themselves our equals in birth and bravery; but let them behold us with no other weapon but the whip, and they will feel that they are our slaves, and flee before us.”

The Scythians followed this counsel, and the slaves were so astounded, that they forgot to fight, and immediately ran away.

This conflict became known as the Bastard Wars. One of the vessels has a scene of an older bearded man slaying a young warrior, a possible reference to the Bastard Wars. Andrei Belinski thinks the imagery isn’t referring to a specific battle, but is more likely to be a metaphoric representation of chaos in the wake of a king’s death, an appropriate subject for royal grave goods. It would be more in keeping with the decoration of another vessel: a mythological scene of griffons tearing apart a horse and stag in what may be the Scythian underworld.

The high quality of the decoration on the solid gold pieces suggests they were made for royalty. The designs are exquisitely detailed.

To archaeologists, the information contained in the images on the gold is exciting. From the warriors’ shoes to their haircuts, the depictions are amazingly lifelike. “I’ve never seen such a detailed representation of the clothing and weaponry of the Scythians,” says Belinski. “It’s so detailed you can see how the clothing was sewn.”

The excavation of the kurgan was completed last fall, but archaeologists are hoping to return to excavate the network of trenches and earthen rings circling the mound which may indicate a ceremonial complex built around the central mound.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

'History geeks" learn siege warfare in Atlantia

SCAtoday.net - Wed, 2015-05-27 14:11

“This is very much the kind of group where you get out what you put in. You find something you love and pursue it. Then when you know a little bit about it you can share it with others,” said Jason Shealey about the SCA. Lisa Kaylor of the Augusta (Virginia) Chronicle has the story. (photo)

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

Request for Brewing Articles

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-05-27 12:31

Forwarded from the SCA Publications Manager

Contribute to our next Quest Article Now!

From the editor of Tournaments Illuminated: Our upcoming Quest topic is “Hints For Brewers“, with Guest Editors Brian Kettering | Donal O’Brien and Elspeth Payne / Sorcha Crowe.

Beverages, sauces and syrups: The brewer’s art encompasses many libations and potations, alcoholic and non-alcoholic, still and sparkling, convivial cups and condiments. Whatever the end product, brewers practice a sort of liquid alchemy. Share the skills that make the magic: Hints, tips and tricks on any aspect of the brewing art, any product, any stage of production.

Send your “tun” of information (up to 300 words) to tieditor@sca.org by June 1 and it may be included in the 3rd Quarter 2015 Issue of Tournaments Illuminated. If you’d like to include images of your process, please write for photo specs.

Submission of any work to TI constitutes permission to publish said work without compensation in any form, including, but not limited to, electronically on a publicly accessible webpage. The author retains all original copyrights to the submission.


Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences

Polling Responses due May 28

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-05-27 10:24

Their Majesties, Omega and Etheldreda, issued Their second round of Award Order Pollings on April 28, and responses are due back to Them by tomorrow, May 28.

This is just a friendly reminder to complete and submit your replies!


Filed under: Official Notices Tagged: awards, pollings

Update: Youth Combat at Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-05-27 09:07

The following update was posted on the official Pennsic website:

In compliance with new Pennsylvania Commonwealth Law and due to potential medical risk considerations involving martial activities the following policy is now in effect:

Minors authorized in Martial activities and bearing a gold tape diamond on their helms on which their parent or legal guardian’s cell phone number is written, may participate in battles. Parents should have the cell phone in hand in case of emergency.


Filed under: Pennsic

Minors Fighting at Pennsic

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-05-27 07:47

The following announcement is from the official Pennsic website:

In compliance with new Pennsylvania Commonwealth Law and due to potential medical risk considerations involving martial activities the following policy is now in effect:

Minors authorized in Martial activities and bearing a gold tape diamond on their helms on which their parent or legal guardian’s cell phone number is written, may participate in battles. Parents should have the cell phone in hand in case of emergency.

The Gazette will keep you posted on new developments if and as they arise.


Categories: SCA news sites

Staffordshire Hoard helmet band, pommel pieced together

History Blog - Wed, 2015-05-27 03:47

Anyone who has ever done a large jigsaw puzzle knows how essential it is to put like with like. When your puzzle is 4,000 pieces of Anglo-Saxon gold, silver and gem-festooned objects, sorting out which are part of the same artifact is essential. Thus one of the most important and complicated labours in the first phase of conservation of the Staffordshire Hoard was the grouping together of fragments according to their physical and stylistic characteristics. From the grouping exercise, researchers identified more than 1,500 fragments of silver gilt foil they believe were part of an extremely rare Anglo-Saxon helmet.

Only four other examples of Anglo-Saxon helmets have been found, including one unearthed in the famous Sutton Hoo ship burial in 1939, so it’s imperative that the puzzle be pieced together. It’s a painstaking job, figuring out how 1,500 sheets and strips of foil, many of them no larger than 10mm (.4 inches) across, fit together. So far they’ve been able to piece together a zoomorphic frieze and many of the fragments making up the helmet band that runs around the circumference of the object. The helmet band designs are die-stamped warriors armed and kneeling.

Here’s a glimpse of the tiny pieces of a zoomorphic frieze from the helmet conservators are negotiating:

The Sutton Hoo helmet is silver. The Staffordshire Hoard is gilded. That suggests that whoever donned this elaborate and expensive helmet was of extremely high status, perhaps a king or prince.

Another object conservators have pieced back together from fragments is a pommel. There are more than 70 pommels in the Staffordshire Hoard, but this one is unique. Reassembled from 26 fragments, the gold, gold filigree, garnet, niello and inlaid glass pommel has a rounded piece on the shoulder called a “sword-ring.” Although only one of the pommel’s sword-rings has been found in the hoard, the construction indicates there were two originally, one on each side. This is the first pommel ever discovered to have two sword-rings, making it an entirely new type. It is also lavishly decorated in a combination of Anglo-Saxon and British or Irish motifs. It may even have a combination of early Christian and traditional polytheistic decorative themes — the garnet and glass inlaid disk could be a stylized Christiana cross, while three serpents on the back of the pommel are pagan.

Chris Fern, project archaeologist, said “The Staffordshire Hoard links us with an age of warrior splendour. The gold and silver war-gear was probably made in workshops controlled by some of England’s earliest kings, to reward warriors that served those rulers, when multiple kingdoms fought for supremacy. The skill of the craftsmen is equally thrilling to behold, with many of the finds decorated with pagan and Christian art, designed to give spiritual protection in battle.”

“The newly recognised pommel is truly exciting. It combines multiple different styles of ornament, much in the same way as the earliest 7th century illuminated manuscripts do, like the Book of Durrow. It suggests the coming together of Anglo-Saxon and British or Irish high cultures.”

The second stage of conservation and research has been funded to the tune of £400,000 by Historic England, but they need to raise another £120,000 to complete the project. This phase will entail the conservation and physical joining of the fragments that have been matched to each other, a comprehensive study of the exquisite cloisonné cellwork seen on so many pieces from the hoard (see the gold and garnet Bible bindings in the video below for an example), a microscopic analysis of materials that are as of yet unidentified, contextual research of the practice of hoarding and the creation of an online database of the complete hoard by 2017.

If you’d like to donate to the cause, you can make an online payment here. You can also download this donation form (pdf) to contribute by check.

If you’re in the Birmingham area today, hustle on over to the museum to meet the Staffordshire Hoard conservation team. You’ll get to ask them questions and you’ll even have the chance to clean a piece of the hoard and examine it under a microscope. The event is free and open between 11:00AM – 1:00PM and 2:00 – 4:00PM.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History