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Midrealm Gazette Now Online

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2015-03-15 12:41

We are pleased to welcome the Midrealm Gazette to the growing family of unofficial Kingdom blogs!

You can find the Midrealm Gazette here. They are also on Twitter and Facebook.

Congratulations to Master Philip the Pilgrim and his staff!


Categories: SCA news sites

Ice divers to return to Erebus in April

History Blog - Sun, 2015-03-15 05:39

April in the High Arctic does not involve showers bringing flowers. It still the dead of winter up there, the water frozen over with ice more than six feet thick. When the Parks Canada-led underwater exploration of the Victoria Strait in search of the two ships from Sir John Franklin’s doomed 1845 voyage to find the fabled northwest passage discovered the wreck of the HMS Erebus last year, it was the first week in September. The 2014 Victoria Strait Expedition began in mid-August. They found the wreck three weeks later using side-scan sonar and a remotely operated underwater vehicle. After that they only had two days to dive to the wreck before storms came in, the temperatures dropped below freezing and the summer diving season came to an abrupt end.

Now that the Erebus has been found, this year’s expedition will be able to focus on diving the wreck site, but that tiny window of less than a month of above-freezing temperatures can’t quench the Canadian government’s thirst to explore the shipwreck. Researchers want to get back to the Erebus as soon as possible to explore it more thoroughly before artifacts are damaged by the elements or any putative looters with Bond-villain levels of equipage. Canada’s government and military want to get the show on the road “to assert Canada’s sovereignty over its northernmost regions, demonstrate the ability to operate in the harsh environment in remote areas of the High Arctic, and enhance its capability to respond to any situation in Canada’s North.” That’s a quote from Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s press release announcing that this year the diving will begin in April.

Winter dives are, it goes without saying, hugely dangerous. They require heavy equipment to cut through the ice sheet, specialized diving gear including an umbilical to provide air and communication lines, extensive supplies, emergency medical services and lots and lots of training. It’s not something Parks Canada’s underwater archaeologists can handle on their own, so for nine weeks they’ve been working with expert ice divers from the Royal Canadian Navy’s Fleet Diving Unit Atlantic. Parks Canada divers and the Navy divers have been training together so that the former can learn how to dive safely in below-freezing water under a sheet of ice that’s at least six feet thick (a terrifying practice known as confined space diving) and the latter can learn how to properly handle an underwater archaeological site and its artifacts.

The logistics are daunting, to say the least. The Navy will establish a divers’ camp on the sea ice in eastern Queen Maud Gulf where more than 50 people will live for the 11 days of the expedition. Those people all have to be fed, housed, fueled and heated. Inuit Rangers will be on the team to handle wayward polar bears and help the camp survive any frigid gales from the North Pole that might assault it. Once the divers’ ice camp is set up, three triangular dive holes with sides two meters (6’7″) long will be made in the ice sheet with a gas-fired hot water drill. Each hole is expected to take five hours to cut and the blocks of ice they cut out will weigh something in the neighborhood of four tons. Heavy equipment will be needed to haul the ice chunks out of the water.

About two dozen team members will be divers who will go down the hole to explore the wreck site in pairs — one underwater archaeologist, one Navy diver — in shifts over a 12-hour workday. The tasks they will perform include trimming the kelp bed that is obscuring the view of the ship, testing a new laser device that makes 3D scans of the interior of the hull and film/photograph inside the hull with cameras affixed to a pole. Mapping and documenting the wreck is the primary focus, but the team will also come prepared to recover any artifacts they think should be recovered. They won’t be wearing specialized hot water-warmed suits; they’ll be protected from frozen death by thermal underwear, cotton gloves and triple-layered dry suits. In those kinds of temperatures the fingers get creaky very quickly, but if you pile on the layers you can’t use your hands. The solution is short shifts just 50 minutes long. That’s why there are so many divers on the team, to man 12 or so dives a day.

All of this is conditions permitting, of course. Storms over the ice sheet can be brutal and could grind operations to a halt. The thick ice actually seals the sea underneath it keeping it relatively calm in a storm, so divers would actually find good conditions and visibility even in violently unpleasant surface conditions, but obviously their lives are dependent on base operations being uninterrupted so if the weather gets too severe the dives will have to stop.

To learn more about the team members, their training and to follow their adventures on the 2015 Franklin Expedition, check out this Parks Canada site. The Dive Diary is particularly bookmarkworthy.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

St. Patrick’s Cathedral gates in salvage sale

History Blog - Sat, 2015-03-14 04:45

Before Urban Archaeology (UA) became a manufacturer of tiles, lighting, furnishings, bathroom fixtures, etc. based on period designs it was in the business of salvaging the originals. Even though it’s been decades since the primary focus of the company changed, Urban Archaeology still has thousands of architectural features of illustrious heritage salvaged from historic buildings like the St. Regis Hotel, the Paris department store Bon Marche, the Yale University Library, Place de la Concorde, the Chrysler Building and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

At the end of the month, Guernsey’s auctioneers will be selling 6,000 of these salvage treasures at UA’s Franklin Street office. The auction will be held in two parts, part one on March 27th (catalogue here) and part two the next day (catalogue here). Follow the links to the catalogue entries to bid online.

Although the day one catalogue starts a little dry with pages of duplicate light fixtures, once you get past that hump it’s a wonderland for anyone who enjoys fantasizing about Frankensteining themselves up a house full of vintage features. Look at this enamel cast iron stove made by the Glenwood Stove Company around 1920. It runs on both gas and wood, with four gas burners, two wood burners, one gas oven and one wood-burning oven. Look at the white enamel handles to control the burners. Gorgeous and still in working order. Very useful for zombie apocalypse preparedness. The starting bid is $1,500 and the top estimated sale price is $4,000.

In the more affordable range, how about a 1940s bobsled? It’s handmade, hence the car steering wheel, but by someone who knew what they were doing because that is some quality bobsled construction. It seats four, too, so instant winter party. The high estimate is $500.

If it’s an actual piece of architectural history you’d like, look no further than this Art Deco pendant light from Chrysler Building, icon of Art Deco and of New York City since it was built in 1930. The Chrysler Building’s design is still inspiring artists and architects today. The brass and clouded glass pendant light used to hang over the building’s staircase. The opening bid if $4,000 with a top estimate of $12,000.

You could make practically build yourself a whole Grand Central Station with the spate of architectural features salvaged from iconic Paris department store Bon Marche, including iron balcony railings and curved glass ceiling panels by French Art Deco blacksmith Edgar Brandt. Then you can mix it up by adding two cast iron mermen and one cast iron mermaid made by sculptor Jacques Hittorff in the 1830s for the fountain in the Place de la Concorde. The fountain is still in place in Paris but the sculptures there are replicas. The originals can be yours for just an estimated $150,000 each.

How about a public clock or two to decorate your new gigantor Frankenpalace? I’m partial to this Reed & Stern train clock from Union Station, Troy, NY, made in the early 1900s. It’s made of white terra cotta and glazed in a handsome malachite green. I am completely in love with the locomotive charging out of a tunnel through its own steam cloud above the clockface. I also heart the Karl Flugel iron tower clock from 1878. It used to keep time in a German tower but now stands a new iron base with the mechanical version of its swimsuit area exposed to our fixed stares.

Another architectural gem of illustrious pedigree is these St. Patrick’s Cathedral wrought iron gates made around 1880, possibly by Arts and Crafts decorative ironwork master Samuel Yellin. They were installed at the cathedral’s 51st Street and Madison Avenue corner at the entrance of the baptistery. In the 1980s the baptistery was moved and the gates found a new home at Connecticut museum of master metalsmith Kenneth Lynch. Lynch has decided to donate his museum collection to Xavier High School and is putting the gates up for sale with the proceeds benefitting St. Patrick’s.

If you prefer your entrance areas to have fewer holes in them, consider these gorgeous Art Deco nightclub doors from around 1940. They’re wood painted in a metallic silver and the circular pattern is mesmerizing.

But they’re flimsy little sticks compared to these 1910 brass pocket doors salvaged from the United States Assay Office in lower Manhattan. Not only do they look badass, but they have the badass history to support the look. The doors weigh 1500 pounds each and were used to secure precious metals in the last public gold refinery in the country (it was shut down in 1982, its gold refining duties contracted out to private concerns, the building and its fixtures sold at auction in 1983). Until the day it was shut down, the Assay Office and its sturdy doors protected 4,140 bags of gold coins confiscated from the Nazis in World War II and more than 100,000 28-pound gold bars. Even the horse-drawn cart bomb that exploded in the Financial District on September 16, 1920, killing 38 people, injuring hundreds and taking large chunks that are still visible on some of the building facades couldn’t scratch these doors.

Seeing catalogues like this ignites the secret hoarder within me. No I cannot have enough cast iron planters, large Art Deco skylight ceiling panels and train station clocks, thank you very much. I DON’T CARE IF WE HAVE NO PLACE TO PUT THEM.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Polypropylene Swords Now Allowed for Rattan Combat

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2015-03-13 16:25

As of March 12th, 2015 polypropylene swords are legal weapons for rattan combat in the Kingdom of Æthelmearc with the below restrictions:

1) The polypropylene rod must be 1.25” in diameter.
2) All polypropylene swords must have the length of the blade completely wrapped in strapping tape.
3) The polypropylene must be one of the below two listed types. Any other type (such as Tecafine PP or other random co-polymer) are explicitly banned for use in combat within Æthelmearc under any circumstances.

Type A: co-polymer 7823, also known as pro-fax 7823 from McMaster-Carr.
Type B: “SCA ROD” from Brast Industrial Solutions. (Brast does not have a part # for this, the “sca rod” designation identifies the rod required, as per Barry Ellison.) Brast Industrial Solutions can be reached at 502-585-5171 or 800-292-2396.

My thanks to everyone who helped with the testing and tracking of the test results. Especially to Duke Malcolm MacEoghainn, my experiemental deputy for the above wording.

Tessa, KEM

Categories: SCA news sites

2015 Known World Children's Fete at Pennsic Seeking Volunteers

SCAtoday.net - Fri, 2015-03-13 15:26

The organizers of this year's Children's Fete are seeking volunteers to assist with, and to sponsor, activities.

read more

Categories: SCA news sites

250-year-old pretzels found in Bavaria

History Blog - Fri, 2015-03-13 02:52

Archaeologists excavating the Danube Market location of Regensburg, Bavaria, have discovered the charred remains of two pretzels, three bread rolls and a croissant that date to the 18th century. Radiocarbon dating placed the baked goods to between 1700 and 1800, but historical research suggests they were made in the second half of the century. While very ancient bread products have survived thanks to charring — Herculaneum leaps to mind — these are the oldest pretzels ever found.

The Danube Market site has been a rich source of archaeological finds. The waterlogged soil next to the river has preserved a swath of history that would otherwise have decayed, like the remains of wooden house that is 1,200 years old (the only Carolingian home ever found in Bavaria), a medieval place of execution and a wooden jetty that is at least 1,100 years old.

The site was excavated between 2012 and 2014 to thoroughly explore its archaeological layers before construction of the Museum of the Bavarian History to mark the 100-year anniversary of the Free State of Bavaria in 2018. Archaeologists found the bakery goodies in the remains of a house that once stood at number 3 Hunnenplatz which was demolished in 1964 along with much of the neighborhood. City archives indicate that the house at 3 Hunnenplatz was bought by one Johann Georg Held, a master baker, in 1753. He used it as his shop for years. The house remained a bakery for more than a century even as it passed through different hands. The last known baker to reside there was Karl Schätz in 1881.

Archaeologists believe the pretzels, rolls and croissant were burnt to a crisp under Held’s tenure, probably part of a tray of failed baked goods that were thrown away. They were found in a waste pit dug into the soil in the corner of the house. Once dumped into the pit, the charred breads were covered with soil. With the moisture firmly burned out of them and the soil they were buried in low in oxygen, the discarded pretzels and friends survived intact for 250 years and now Mr. Held’s trash is our treasure.

There are many origin stories for the pretzel with Italy and France in the running as the starting point as well as Germany. Whichever country it was in, it was likely a monastery kitchen that baked the first pretzels in the early Middle Ages. The looped form of the pretzel was said to be inspired by the crossed arms of monks, and a simple flour and water pretzel became a traditional Lent food since Catholics were forbidden from eating eggs and dairy. By the 12th century pretzels were firmly ensconced in the secular culture of southern Germany where the pretzel was the symbol of bakers and bakery guilds. Pretzels were a special issue in the beginning, baked and sold on Saturdays only. In 1532 that changed when the Duke of Bavaria ordered all bakers to make and sell pretzels daily.

The baked goods are now on display at the Historical Museum of Regensburg.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

An Announcement from Master Padraig MacEanruig, East Kingdom Pennsic Warlord/Une annonce de Maitre Padraig MacEanruig, Seigneur de Guerre du Royaume de l’Est à Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-03-12 18:54

Photo courtesy of Baroness Leonete D’Angley.

En français

An announcement from Master Padraig MacEanruig, East Kingdom Pennsic Warlord

Greetings all, after consulting with Their Royal Highnesses  I am pleased to be able to announce the chivalric advisor and co-captains of this years Eastern Unbelted Team. They are Sir Alex as advisor, and as captains, Lord Harald Hokonson and Lord Tiernan MacAlpine. Although the format has yet to be decided for this upcoming war, they will help the Chivalric advisor and myself prepare a strong and chivalrous team.

En français

Une annonce de Maitre Padraig MacEanruig, Seigneur de Guerre du Royaume de l’Est à Pennsic:

Bonjour à tous,

Après avoir consulté leurs Altesses Royales, je suis heureux de pouvoir annoncer qui seront le conseiller chevaleresque et les co-capitaines de l’équipe Sans-Ceinture de l’Est pour cette année. Ils sont Sire Alex comme conseiller, et comme capitaines, Seigneur Harald Hokonson et Seigneur Tiernan MacAlpine. Quoi que le format de la guerre à venir reste encore à être choisi, ils aideront le conseiller et moi-même à préparer une forte équipe chevaleresque.

The Gazette thanks Mórag filia Scayth for translation services.

Filed under: Announcements, En français, Heavy List, Pennsic Tagged: Pennsic, unbelts

Spring Schola and Feast

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-03-12 15:48
The Ducks of the Barony of Andubhaigeainn are excited to announce this year’s annual Spring Schola and Feast in Huntington, NY, inspired by a visit to the Sorbonne in the 13th Century.  Learn to cook the “local” cuisine, take classes in various artistic and scientific endeavors. Schola Classes Our Friendly Neighbors in Lions End had their Schola just four short weeks prior, and many of their classes were PART I. Come on out to the Ducky Domain for the PART II’s. Please see the event announcement on the East Kingdom website or SCADucks.org for more details on the classes.  Some classes are RSVP dependent so the instructor can have enough materials on hand. Some classes have a materials fee. There is a track especially for youth and there are many, many classes that do not require that you completed a PART I in Lion’s End. Baronial Championships Baronial Bardic Champion Eanraig MacEanraig and Baronial Arts and Sciences Champion Lady Saruke thugater Elmanos will be stepping down after a long hard winter, choosing new Bardic and Arts & Sciences Champions. All are invited and encouraged to participate in these annual competitions that welcome Spring’s beauty back into the lands of our Barony. The rules of both contests can be found on the event announcement on the East Kingdom website. Garb Sale We have an over abundance of “Gold-Key” or Loaner Garb.  In order to help cut down on the extra, there will be a display and SALE of many pieces.  Please contact the Autocrat with any questions. Populace Badge A badge for the people, by the people.  Try out your badge designing skills to help come up with ideas for the An Dubhaigeainn populace badge!
Lady Violet Hughes has a few ideas to suggest, and can help you with sources for inspiration and rules for how it all goes together.  This is not a formal class, and Violet will be available all day long. Feast and Dayboard There will be a delectable dayboard and a fantastic feast prepared by our own Lady Vetra with assistance from those participating in the Feast Creation Class. The feast will be served after the Spring Court of Baron David and Baroness Suzanne.
Filed under: Events

A Kingdom for a Stage

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2015-03-12 11:45

A Kingdom for a Stage is just a few weeks away on March 28, A.S. XLIX, and there are very fun things happening at the event that you won’t want to miss!

The Bardic Bear Pit
Bring your best pieces to do battle against other bards! Bards will go head to head, and the person with the most wins will win the day!

The Brag Off
Have you ever wanted to be a Vocal Herald? Ever wanted to announce a person into Crown Tourney? Here is your chance to brag with the best. Each participant will be given their “Bragee”, and then will have 10 minutes to sit down with this person and write a brag for them. The brags will be rated by some notable judges and the top four scores will have a final brag off after being given 4 new “Bragees.”

The Bad Bards Room
Not the best bard in the world? Like to write and may not be the best performer? We have an area for you to hang out, have fun, and hone your skills!

Children’s Activities
Lady Aíbell ingen Chernacháin has plans for a Children’s Bardic Circle and Puppet-making for Puppet shows! Also Kid’s Mask Making!

Baroness’ Bower
Not a Bard? Bring an A&S project to work on, hang out with Baroness Constance and others, and work on a project while enjoying the entertainment.

Did I mention Food? The will be an all day sideboard prepared by Drotinn Jorundr hinn Rotinn, with a very secret theme.

There will be a performance by the Debatable Choir, and there is space for others to perform in areas around the site throughout the day.

We also have room for Bardic-related classes. If you are interested in teaching or holding a discussion on a bardic-related class, e-mail Baron Liam.

The event will take place at the Lodge at North Park (no street number) North Ridge Drive, Allison Park, PA 15101. North Ridge drive is directly across from the North Park Skating Rink.

Reservations for this day can be sent to Lady Hara Kikumatsu, 246 Whipple Street, Pittsburgh PA 15218.

Prices: (all prices include dayboard)

  • Adults (12 and up) – $10.00
  • Children (5-11) – $5.00
  • Under 5: Free

Make checks payable to “SCA-PA Inc. – Debatable Lands.” The $5 Non-Member Surcharge shall be collected at the door from adults not presenting proof of membership.

So come and join us for a day of Bardic Arts and Fun!

Categories: SCA news sites

Q&A: East Kingdom Mistress of Lists

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2015-03-12 09:41

This is one of a series of Q&A articles with East Kingdom Officers.  The Gazette thanks Lady Sabina Luttrell, East Kingdom Mistress of Lists, for answering our questions.

Please describe your job responsibilities.
My job as the Kingdom Minister of Lists is multi-layered.

My very visible task is to run the Crown Tournament of the King and Queen twice a year. I am also responsible for running the King and Queen’s Champions Tournaments for Heavy Rattan Combat and Period Rapier. “Running” means that I check all fighter and rapier authorizations to make sure that everyone is safe and playing within the rules of the East Kingdom. I am also the scorekeeper and historian for each tournament. I keep track of who has won what bouts and who moves on to the next round of the tournament.

Behind the scenes is a much busier place. All rattan fighters and rapier fighters are required to authorize in different weapons forms. They are also required to sign a waiver to participate in practices and tournaments in the East Kingdom. I am the person that keeps track of all of those waivers and weapons forms. I, along with my database deputy, update a central database roughly once a month, that allows all marshals and MOLs (local minister of lists) to do their jobs efficiently.

What do you enjoy about this activity?
I LOVE being the Minister of Lists. I enjoy interacting with the people of the East Kingdom. It is so much fun to see other people enjoying themselves. I get a front row seat to all of the best tournaments and get to cheer on everyone! I also have to admit that I like to organize things. Paperwork and databases are fun to me. Call me crazy!

Do you have a goal for your term?
My goal for this term, as in last term, is to continue to update entries regarding all combatants and marshals. If you ever see anything in the database that is incorrect, I would love to fix it.

Are you currently looking for any deputies?
I am always looking for MOLs for local groups. MOLs at large are also very important and help the fighters of the East more than you would imagine.

What was your first event? And what made you stay?
My first event was around 7 years ago with my family. We attended a very wet and rainy archery event in the Barony of Stonemarche. My children were young and we didn’t stay long, but the people were very friendly so we decided to try again. We next attended A Shire 12th Night in the Barony of Smoking Rocks. This is a 10 foot rule event that is geared toward a specific time period. I think that year it was 1180? Anyway, it was a fabulous event and again, the people were fantastic. I couldn’t wait to attend more. All in all, I would have to say that it is the people of the East that keep me coming back.

Which people made an impact on you in the SCA and why?
Three people have really shaped my SCA experience.

The first was Duchess Avelina Keyes. She was the first person that my husband and I made contact with in the Society. She was welcoming and encouraged our enthusiasm for archery and “All the things”. She made sure that we felt welcome and at home.

The second and third great SCA influences were Baroness eLeri of Concordia of the Snows and Baroness Lily of the same. These ladies were having so much fun running tournaments! They loved every minute that they spent behind an MOL table. I couldn’t help but fall in love with them both and want to spend more time doing what they were doing and spend it with them. I am so grateful that I was able to spend the time that I did with eLeri. She showed me what it was to have a true love of service to the people of the East.

Filed under: Interviews Tagged: Mistress of Lists

Unofficial Court Report – Estrella War

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2015-03-11 21:25

The Court of our most excellent prince and lord, Edward, by right of arms most illustrious King of the East, third of that name, and Thyra, his Queen by agency of that same right, second of that name, held upon 1 March in the forty-ninth year of the Society upon the fields of the Estrella War; on which day were called all and sundry the lords of the realm and the great persons of the kingdom to hear the following publicly proclaimed:

Their Majesties called before them the following good and noble gentles and inducted them into the Company of the Pennon of the East, the which Company had formerly been known as the Tyger of the Foreign Legions, it being a gift of the Crown for those honored persons who support the East Kingdom at events held in another Kingdom:

• Matthias Grunwald
• Simony Gwyn
• Mael Eoin mac Echuid
• Eva Woderose
• Ellisif Veymundarsdottir

I, Alys Mackyntoich, Eastern Crown Herald, wrote this to memorialize and make certain all such things that were done and caused to be done as above stated.

Filed under: Court

Welcome to the SCAdian Castle in the Debatable Lands

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2015-03-11 15:35

- by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

This castle looks like it would be entirely at home in Europe, but it’s actually situated in the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, aka Pittsburgh, PA.

Many gentles from the western portions of Æthelmearc are familiar with the castle of Sir Byron of Haverford and Sir Ariella of Thornbury through their generosity in offering it as a site for occasional events in the Debatable Lands. For those who have never seen the castle, we offer you a photographic tour and encourage you to attend an event or practice there. The next one will be the Regional Archery Muster on Sunday, April 12, which is the day after the Coronation of TRH Timothy and Gabrielle.

Their Excellencies, Sir Ariella of Thornbury and Sir Thomas Byron of Haverford

For many years, Byron and Ariella dreamed of a home that reflected their interest in late 14th century England. They began planning for their castle in 1998. In 2002, they took their architect with them to England, where they visited the castle they had chosen as their model, Bodiam Castle in East Sussex, to look at how it was designed and constructed.

Byron and Ariella explained, “One of the major goals in constructing this castle was maintaining historical accuracy. We used Bodiam castle as a model in part because the entire castle was built at one time. Most castles were built over centuries, with elements ranging from the Norman invasion to the Tudor period. These different styles make it difficult to maintain a consistent style of construction in reproductions.”

Originally, there was only a manor house at Bodiam. Then, due to the impending invasion of French forces in 1385, King Richard III granted Sir Edward Dalyngrigge a license to “strengthen and crenellate” the manor house at Bodiam, and “to construct and make thereof a castle in defense of the adjacent countryside and for resistance against our enemies.” However, instead of fortifying the manor, Edward decided to build a new castle near the River Rother, where any attack would most likely have occurred. Bodiam Castle was completed between 1385-1389. Sir Byron and Sir Ariella requested and received a similar license to crenellate their castle from King Malcolm and Queen Tessa of Æthelmearc.

After returning home to the Debatable Lands from their trip to England, they had architectural plans developed to match those period elements as much as possible, while also providing a comfortable home for a family with growing children as well as complying with local building codes. They also engaged Master Johan von Traubenberg to provide a historically accurate design for the post and beam columns that support and frame the Great Hall.

“The castle is divided into “period sections” and “modern sections”, so that we can suspend our disbelief when we want to, but still live comfortably.” Their Excellencies said. “The appearance of the construction and all of the furnishings within the period sections of the house have been researched and are documentable within 50 years of 1385AD in Great Britain.”

Another decision Their Excellencies had to make was how authentic they could afford to be in the construction of their castle. They explained, “There are two basic philosophies of castle reconstruction: authenticity of style, and authenticity of materials. Ideally, one would have authenticity of both style and materials, but that is prohibitively expensive. We have chosen authenticity of style as our primary goal.”

Construction began in the fall of 2004 with the clearing of the land, followed by pouring of the foundation the following spring.

The exterior of the castle was built of wood framing with Tyvek sheathing, then a cast concrete veneer was applied to give the castle the appearance of being made completely of stone.


By the fall of 2005, work could begin on the interior. The exterior of the castle was completed in the spring of 2006.

Their Excellencies were also very exacting in their requirements for the interior of the castle. They chose lighting to look like sconces, and special-ordered the interior and exterior wood doors from England. The main entrance features a portcullis (non-lowerable, alas, for safety reasons) and “murder holes” accessible from the 2nd floor laundry room. Their Excellencies’ three children have been known to drop ping pong balls through the murder holes on entering visitors, which most guests take in good sport.

While the windows at the front of the castle are small to simulate arrow loops, the windows at the back of the castle along the Great Hall are large to let in lots of light.

The Great Hall, which can seat about 65 people for a feast, also features period-style chandeliers, a large fireplace, patterned tile floor, and murals that Master Brendan Brisbone spent a year of weekends painting with assistance from Mistress Kris Gilibari. Each mural represents various aspects of the family’s life, including a portrayal of a battle with combatants bearing the Kingdom and Barony badges, feasts, hawking and hunting, and the entire family dressed for their favorite pastimes. There are four large murals, each in a different style and covering multiple time periods, as well as a set of roundels reflecting the seasons of the year surrounding the entrances to the kitchen and the upper musicians’ gallery.

The fireplace wall has a diapered floral pattern and a motto in Latin that translates as “I am for my beloved, and my beloved is for me.”

Though the upper floor of the castle is reserved for the family’s private living quarters, it is used as changing rooms or classrooms at events. The musicians’ gallery opposite the fireplace is frequently employed for performances by the Debatable Choir and Consort. Another gallery along the adjacent wall makes a good vantage point for watching people in the Great Hall below.

Around the time the castle was being completed, Byron and Ariella also gained new responsibilities when they were elected Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands. They served in that position from May of A.S. XLII to August of A.S. XLVI. While ruling the Barony, they hosted numerous smaller events at their castle, which they have continued to do since stepping down as Baron and Baroness in 2011.

Scadians have enjoyed fighting on the drawbridge over the dry moat (the drawbridge is fixed in place) as well as in the woods behind the castle, or fencing in the Great Hall or on the driveway.

A thrown weapons range is traditionally set up along the driveway in front of the castle.

Gentles especially enjoy using the castle for archery, both from the western side of the castle at ground level at traditional Royal Round and Gwyntarian Winter Challenge targets…
…and from the parapets, engaging in either combat archery at fighters below or target archery at novelty targets in the wooded hillside in front of the castle, which are often provided by the ever-inventive THLord Deryk the Archer.

While archers typically shoot from the lower level of the roof, stairs lead to the top of the northeastern tower, from which archers can test their skill at distance shooting. It’s very, very high up; well over three stories above the ground. During these shoots, marshals gather spent arrows and place them into a basket that is lowered from the main parapet so archers don’t have to go up and down the stairs each round.

You can learn more about the castle by visiting Their Excellencies’ website at http://www.pitt.edu/~caram/castleindex.htm


The castle is Their Excellencies’ private home, so please do not show up unannounced. However, Their Excellencies welcome guests at regularly planned events and practices. If you would like to visit the castle, we encourage you to attend the Regional Archery Muster on Sunday, April 12th, A.S. XLIX, which is being organized by Master Urho Waltterinen.

Master Urho shooting from the parapet of the castle

When: Sunday, April 12, 10am – 5pm
Where: 755 Stonegate Drive, Wexford, PA 15090 (Byron & Ariella’s Castle) (parking on the street)

By the kind generosity of their Excellencies, Sir Byron and Sir Ariella, we will once again have a regional archery practice open to all at the Castle on Sunday, April 12th. This is the day following Æthelmearc Coronation. We will begin at 10:00 in the morning and continue until 5:00 that afternoon.

We will be joined by Thrown Weapons, Youth Combat, and Arts & Sciences.

One of the goals of this practice is to allow people to shoot their last rounds for the Gwyntarian Winter Challenge which closes a few days later. We would like to conduct this as our morning project and leave the afternoon for everything else, although the range will be open all day.

We will have novelty targets and anything that we can think of that is safe to shoot at. Space permitting and marshal availability, there may be some individual training. Of course, we will have archery from the Castle parapets. His Lordship Deryk Archer has been challenged again.

The Barony-Marche loaner gear will be available.

Food will be pot luck. You are encouraged to bring hot and cold meals, side dishes, desserts, and snacks as you wish. Try out something new – we’re all hardy souls. Plates, cups, utensils and soft drinks will be provided.

Their Excellencies ask that everyone wear garb for the day.

This is not an event; it is an “enhanced practice.”

Please contact Master Urho Waltterinen with any questions and requests.

- All photos courtesy of Sir Byron and Sir Ariella.

Categories: SCA news sites

Bedlam burial ground dig to unearth 3,000 bodies

History Blog - Wed, 2015-03-11 04:42

The construction of the high-speed Crossrail train line in London has generated the UK’s largest archaeological project. So far more than 10,000 artifacts spanning 55 million years of history have been unearthed at more than 40 worksites over 100 kilometers (62 miles) of the city. This week, archaeologists from the Museum of London Archeaology (MOLA) began to excavate the burial ground of Bethlehem Hospital, aka Bedlam, next to the Liverpool Street railway station. While the hospital building began life as a priory in 1247, it was seized by the crown in the 1370s and by the early 1400s was detached from its religious roots and administered by the City of London as a hospital for the mentally ill.

This burial ground, known as the New Churchyard, was built in 1569 and was in use until at least 1738, spanning some prime years for death in London: the English Civil War, the Great Plague of 1665 (and three other major outbreaks of Bubonic plague) and the Great Fire of 1666. Unaffiliated with any parish church, it was London’s first municipal burial ground. When the hospital itself moved to a new facility in Moorfields in 1676, the New Churchyard continued to be used as an overflow cemetery during mass death events, by people who could not afford or did not want (for religious or political reasons) a church burial.

A single trial pit dug in 2011 found more than 100 skeletons, and preliminary surveys in 2013 and 2014 found more than 400. Archaeologists predict there are at least 3,000 individuals buried on this site and they plan to unearth them all over the next few weeks. The excavation is going on while the eastern entrance of the new Liverpool Street Crossrail station is being built, so surrounded with the noise and vibration of heavy construction, the MOLA team of 60 archaeologists will work in two shifts six days a week to dig through layer upon layer of skeletal remains. Right now they’ve dug down about a meter into the topmost layer and they’re finding individual burials were stacked on top of previous ones. When the wooden coffins decayed, the human remains pancaked downwards. Separating these bones pressed into each other over centuries is an arduous task, and they haven’t even gotten to the plague pits and mass graves in the lower layers.

The skeletons will be excavated over the next four weeks. The remains will be moved the MOLA laboratory for osteological examination and tests that will hopefully determine diet, work, demographics, geographic origin, sex, medical history and more of the thousands of people interred at Bedlam. Archaeologists hope that tests on plague victims will provide a new understanding of how the plague pathogen moved through the early modern population.

Jay Carver, Crossrail Lead Archaeologist said: “This excavation presents a unique opportunity to understand the lives and deaths of 16th and 17th century Londoners. The Bedlam burial ground spans a fascinating phase of London’s history, including the transition from the Tudor-period City into cosmopolitan early-modern London. This is probably the first time a sample of this size from this time period has been available for archaeologists to study in London. The Bedlam burial ground was used by a hugely diverse population from right across the social spectrum and from different areas of the City.”

Identification of any of the remains is unlikely, to dramatically understate the case. Since the Bedlam burial ground didn’t keep its own records of who was buried there, 16 volunteers enlisted to scour the records of parish churches who made a note when parishioners were buried at “Bedlam” or “New Churchyard.” Archaeologists also appealed to the public for any family records, lore or anecdotes that might illuminate the history of the cemetery.

Here’s a video of researchers digging through the church registers at the London Metropolitan Archives. Keep your eye open for the “New Churchyard” annotations on the records.

When that video was shot, Jay Carver said they expected to find about 1,000 relevant burial records which would be used to help interpret the archaeological data from the dig and be compiled in a single database and made available to the public for genealogical or other research. Well, they left that already lofty goal in the dust. The final tally of names and histories of individuals buried at Bedlam cemetery was more than 5,000, an incredible accomplishment that testifies loudly to the dedication of the volunteers and the phenomenal record-keeping of 16th and 17th century churches and the London Metropolitan Archives.

According to the research Dr John Lamb (also known as Lam or Lambe), an astrologer and advisor to the First Duke of Buckingham, is among those buried at the site. Lamb was said to have been stoned to death by an angry mob outside a theatre in 1628 following allegations of rape and black magic. Others identified in the research include victims of riots by ‘Fanatiques,’ noted in the diaries of Samuel Pepys in January 1661.

Plague was the most common listed form of death, followed by infant mortality and consumption. The burial ground was established in 1569 to help parishes cope with overcrowding during outbreaks of plague and other epidemics. Crossrail workers recently discovered the gravestone of Mary Godfree who died in September 1665, as a result of the ‘Great Plague’ which peaked that year.

The Bedlam Burial Ground Register can be searched on the Crossrail website.

Once the skeletons are fully excavated, the MOLA team will continue to dig down through the medieval marsh and lost Walbrook River to the Roman layer. Tunnelers installing utility cables 20 feet below the surface in 2013 encountered Roman artifacts and human remains. The Liverpool Street excavation is scheduled to finish in September after which construction on the station will begin on the site. The human remains will be reburied after they are studied.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

A Memorial Roll for Their Majesties

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-10 18:23

by Gun∂ormr Dengir and Eleanor Catlyng

As the end of the reign of our Majesties Edward and Thyra approaches, we have started work on a scroll to commemorate their reign. The pattern is that of a Mortuary Roll. These were sent upon the death of an Abbot, Prioress or other high-ranking member of a religious community to other, related houses. The roll began with an obituary for the deceased and then, upon arrival, each house added a short, usually formulaic, prayer. These begin with the place name, introduced with the word “Titulus”, and then proceed to offer a prayer for the deceased. In some cases, they then tack on the names of deceased members of their houses, with the admonition “When praying for them, please also remember ours”. The final scroll, in some cases more than 10 meters long, then returned to the original house with a complete record of its travels.

One titulus, that of Notre Dame in Watten, from the roll for Abbot Foulques of Corbie with the title line of the following one, for St. Omer. Despite Folques having died in 1095, the roll probably dates to about 1106. (BNF Latin 11636, f.208v)

Using this pattern, we are constructing a memorial roll for the soon-to-be-former King and Queen. A modified text has been written to use as a skeleton for the Tituli.   In addition to asking for prayers for the soul of the dead, we’re remembering the wisdom, deeds or fame of those who have left us for other lands or those whose deeds inspire words and songs that travel the world.

The goal is to represent as many of the Baronies, Shires and Cantons of this and even other kingdoms to with contributed Tituli, adding any members from their local community whom they wish to celebrate. Where possible we are working with resident scribes, but the fates are harsh mistresses and the end of the reign draws nigh. Therefore we’re hoping to have other local groups contribute names to be remembered, with the Titulus added by whichever scribes may dedicate themselves to this work.

As such, those who wish to contribute one for remembrance, should submit information here.

We shall arrange a scribe to record your memorial, provided that we receive your contribution by the 22nd of March.

Those who may wish to lend their hand to the project as a scribe are also welcome to submit their interest here.  One does not need to be a well practiced scribe, as those who laid letters historically also ranged in skill, but a willingness to learn the appropriate hand for this project is necessary.

For more information about this project and the research behind it, please visit: www.wiglaf.org/~aaronm/edward-thyra/ or contact Gun∂ormr Dengir or Eleanor Catlyng.



Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Court Tagged: Calligraphy and Illumination, Edward and Thyra

From the EK Seneschal about Tir Mara/De la part du Seneschal du Royaume de l’Est, à propos de Tir Mara

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-10 16:27

En français

The following is posted at the request of the East Kingdom Seneschal.

After much thought and conversation I am pleased to announce the selection of Baroness Allessandra Francesca di Milano as the regional Seneschal for Tir Mara. She and I will be working together to continue Tir Mara’s vital place in the East Kingdom.

Please feel free to contact her at Tirmaraseneschal@gmail.com.

Yours, In Service to the East,

Mercedes Vera de Calafia
East Kingdom Seneschal

En français

Ce qui suit est annoncé à la demande du Seneschal du Royaume de l’Est.

Après beaucoup de réflection et de discussions, je suis heureuse d’annoncer la sélection de Baronne Allessandra Francesca di Milano en tant que Seneschal régional pour Tir Mara. Nous allons travailler ensemble afin de maintenir et continuer la place vitale que Tir Mara a dans le Royaume de l’Est.

N’hésitez pas à la contacter à Tirmaraseneschal@gmail.com

Bien à vous, au Service de l’Est,

Mercedes Vera de Calafia
Seneschal du Royaume de l’Est

The Gazette thanks Lady Frenya Thorsteinndottir for translation services.

Filed under: En français, Official Notices Tagged: seneschal, Tir Mara

Spin Like a Viking!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-10 09:32

In our ongoing series featuring Æthelmearc bloggers, we bring you The Missing Spindle, the spinning blog of Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa, OL, OP (mundanely known as Lois Swales).

You will find the blog here.

You will find information on drop spindles, distaffs and whorls (including an interesting and humorous section on using potatoes as whorls).

There are also links to her YouTube videos, a sample which can be seen here:

If you are interested in period hand spinning, check out this blog!

Categories: SCA news sites

Unique Olmec jadeite corncob found in Mexico

History Blog - Tue, 2015-03-10 08:50

Underwater archaeologists exploring a stream in the Arroyo Pesquero site in southern Veracruz, Mexico, have discovered a unique Olmec artifact carved out of jadeite that appears to be a stylized corncob. The small object is 8.7 centimeters high by 2.5 centimeters wide (3.4 inches by 1 inch) and is made of mottled orangey brown and white jadeite. It is highly polished and is carved in smooth relief with some scratched incised lines. At the base is tapering cylinder that was broken at some point and was smoothed afterwards. Above the base the object has three sides divided by grooves, each side carved with two rectangular stacked shapes that have v-shaped clefts in the center top. At the bottom of each rectangle is a scratched incision in a scalloped shape. At the top of the object is a tapered cone emerging from the top row of clefts.

Cleft rectangles with cones emerging from them are relatively common in Middle Formatic Olmec iconography, but this piece is unique because the cleft rectangles are stacked instead of being a single individual and because they are carved in three dimensions in the round. Many Olmec scholars contend that cleft rectangles represent an ear of corn, but if that is accurate in this case, the artifact depicts six stacked ears of corn with an ear of an entirely different shape rising from the top of the stack. The archaeologists who found and published the artifact in the journal Ancient Mesoamerica believe that the cleft rectangles represent corn kernels, perhaps of seed corn, which would make the conical element on top a representation of the corn plant as it grows from seed. It could also be a husked corn cob. If their reading is correct, the standard interpretation of corn elements in Olmec iconography will have to be revised.

Archaeologists date it to the Olmec Middle Formative period (900–400 B.C.). No Olmec buildings from that period have been discovered at Arroyo Pesquero above or below ground, but just 10 miles northeast lies the Olmec center of La Venta which at its peak during the Middle Formative had a population of 10,000 and is renown for its 112-foot-high Great Pyramid, mosaic pavements and monumental sculptures including four of the colossal heads most associated with Olmec culture.

In addition to its one-of-a-kind iconographic approach and three-dimensional form, this artifact is unique for having been the first found at Arroyo Pesquero as part of a systematic archaeological investigation. The underwater archaeological site of Arroyo Pesquero was discovered by a local fisherman in 1969 who was searching in a deep stream for a metal basin that had been dropped by the son of a friend when he was at stream collecting fresh water for the family’s use. In the course of looking for the basin, he found stone masks, anthropomorphic figurines, celts (smooth axes). Archaeologist Manuel Torres Guzman heard about it and visited the site in 1970, hiring divers to retrieve thousands more stone artifacts and pyrite mirrors from the streambed.

Since then, the site has been a magnet for local and foreign artifact looters. There was only one other official archaeological exploration of the Arroyo Pesquero site: a week-long expedition in 1986 that aimed to recover objects for the new Museo de Antropologia de Xalapa. They found some pottery sherds downstream of where the masks were found in ’69 and that’s it. Artifacts discovered at Arroyo Pesquero are now in the Museo de Antropologia de Xalapa, the Museum de la Universidad de Veracruz and in major museums and private collections all over Mexico, the United States and Europe.

In 2005, archaeologists Carl Wendt and Roberto Lunagómez initiated the Proyecto Arqueológico Arroyo Pesquero (PAAP), a research program to collect survey data and excavate a number of Olmec sites in the Arroyo Pesquero area. It was the first underwater archaeology work done in Veracruz. Since then PAAP has completed a regional reconnaissance survey and seven years of fieldwork. The 2012 season focused on the Arroyo Pesquero streambed where the Olmec artifacts were discovered in 1969. The goal was to map the topography of the underwater surface and to record the presence and distribution of artifacts.

Between April and May of 2012, PAAP divers braved atrocious underwater conditions — zero visibility and obstructions including large logs, debris, decomposing leaves and assorted other vegetation — to measure the streambed features, precisely note artifact positions using sub-meter GPS and recover a few them. The corncob was the most significant of the finds. It was recovered from a shallow depression on the bed between two and three meters under the water’s surface.

Given the great numbers of artifacts found at the bottom of the freshwater stream, archaeologists believe the site held religious significance to the Olmecs. The cache spot is in a point of the stream where fresh and brackish water meet. If this confluence of fresh water necessary to sustain human life and salt water necessary to sustain the life that helps sustains human life was in the same location 2,500 or so years ago, that would make it an ideal place for votive offerings. In many Mesoamerican cultures, springs, cenotes, watery caves were held as sacred, entrance points between the underworld and our living earth. People would leave offerings and make sacrifices to the gods in these hallowed places.

The corncob, symbol of abundance, life, power and authority, would make for a powerful offering. Archaeologists aren’t certain how it was originally used. The bottom is truncated and was smoothed over after the breakage. It could have been a finial topping a scepter or staff carried, as one sees often in Olmec art, in one hand by individuals presented as lords or rulers. It could also hae been the handle of a perforator (aka a blood-letter) which was deliberately broken and then refinished at the break point. Or it could just be a portable figurine representing corn.

Whatever its use, its symbolism was powerful. Depositing such a representation of abundance and strength at the spot where salt and fresh water meet would have been a highly meaningful offering, all the more so because the coastal region is replete with salt water while freshwater sources are rare.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Are You Going to Gulf Wars?

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2015-03-10 08:41

photo by Master Guiseppe di san Donato

Greetings, this missive is for those attending Gulf Wars with Æthelmearc.

Their Majesties thank you for crusading to the southern climes with Them! A
couple of details you may want to know.

1. If you happen to Facebook, please do join the group “AEthelmearc Goes to
Gulf Wars”. It’s not necessary, but it is a handy thing.

2. As is traditional, there will be a Kingdom Court in the Æthelmearc
encampment during Gulf Wars. It will be Thursday at about 7pm.

3. Dona Illadore has offered to run a meal plan, and it looks mighty
tasty!! However, you must contact Sir Koredono at koredono at gmail dot com by
the end of today (3/10) at 9pm if you want in. Or comment on the relevant
post on the Facebook group.

The details:
• The meal plan will consist of breakfast and dinner each day; everyone is
on their own for lunch;
• Breakfast will consist of oatmeal, eggs (probably scrambled and
hardboiled), fruit (probably bananas and oranges), commercially-produced
muffins and pop-tarts, along with coffee (I think);
• Dinners will consist of whatever Illadore comes up with (she has a menu
already), but there will be vegetarian / non-mammal options for each night;
if you have more specific dietary requirements, you’ll have to speak with
Illadore either online or on site;
• The cost for being on the entire meal plan will be $35 for 5 days,
Monday-Friday (plus breakfast Saturday); if you want to be on for *just*
breakfast or *just* dinner we can do that, but you must be on for the
entire week, or not at all. Also, each person must help with prep /
clean-up once or twice (depending on numbers), to spread the labor and not
overburden Illadore. Note that this is a personal endeavor and uses
personal funds, not SCA funds.

4. Their Majesties are trying to compile of list of folks from Aethelmearc
that are going, but are having a difficult time. If you’re going (and
haven’t been commenting such on the Facebook group), please drop me a line at krista.cogan at gmail dot com.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

In Levitate et Caritate,
Mistress Hilderun, co-Head of Court to King Titus and Queen Anna Leigh

Categories: SCA news sites

White Hart Refunds and Future Plans

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2015-03-09 23:06

The following information was posted to the Tournament of the White Hart Facebook page by the Autocrat and Reservations Clerk.

Greetings from the White Hart Autocrat and the Shire of Port Oasis,

We deeply regret having to cancel this year’s Tournament of the White Hart and the disappointment it has caused. Originally, in our hurried planning of what to do, we thought to just hold the tournament at our next event. Several other options have been considered since that time and we feel we have reached a plan that will work best for everyone.

After much consideration, it has been decided to not have a 2015 Tournament of the White Hart at our June event as had been previously published. Instead, the current Lord and Lady will continue in their role along with the rest of the White Hart Champions until the next Tournament to be held on March 4 – 6, 2016. At that time the current Champions can hold there respective tournaments and choose their successors.

We feel that this option will give the Lord and Lady, and other Champions an event with the focus that they deserve.

Updated event announcements will be forthcoming.

Thank you
Master Robert the Grey
WH autocrat

Greetings, a message from our reservations clerk.

Attention to all who pre-registered for White Hart…

Please contact Lady Máirin Ó Nialláin (Debbie Serrianni Preston), the reservations clerk, to make arrangements to have your payments returned.

You may contact her via personal message on Facebook or email at mairin@portoasis.org so she can discuss refunding options with each of you individually.

Thank you for your understanding in this matter and our apologies for the inconvenience of cancelling this wonderful event.

Lady Máirin Ó Nialláin

Categories: SCA news sites