A silver coin, found recently in the crusader city of Acre, is believed to be the earliest depicting a king of Bohemia ever found. The coin bears the image of St Christopher and the inscription Zl Rex Boemo, king of the Bohemians. Experts place the date of minting in the 13th century. (photos)
KNOWN WORLD Jan 3, 2014 Estrella War Announcement Digest Special Events Addition
It’s not certain who first built the castle. Clan MacDougall is one possible candidate, but by the time the window was sealed, Mingary Castle was the seat of Clan MacIain, one of the most powerful septs (vassal branches) of Clan MacDonald. Although technically they were vassals of kings of Norway and Scotland at various times, in practice they ran their territories independently as Lords of the Isles. Mingary was one of a chain of strategically important castles in the MacDonald fiefdom.
It was a new threat from the landward side that caused the MacIains to block up the north windows. The slender pointed arch windows, used to fire arrows and crossbow bolts onto attackers, were in walls that ranged in thickness from 60 centimeters (ca. 1’12″) to 80 centimeters (2’7″). This was the thinnest the castle walls got and since they faced land, they were particular susceptible to recently-invented cannons that packed enough punch to pierce much thicker masonry walls. To fix this weak spot, the MacIains had stonemasons fill in the windows and the chambers where defenders wielded their weapons. They did a most thorough job of it, too.
The castle fell out of MacIain and MacDonald control in the early 17th century. The Campbell family, Earls of Argyll, took the castle and held it so effectively that they destroyed Clan MacDonald when they attempted to retake the castle by besieging it. In the early 18th century the Mingary estate was sold to Alexander Murray; 50 years later it was sold to James Riddell whose family owned it until 1848. All of these post-MacIain owners made modifications and additions to the castle, keeping it in livable condition without destroying the original structure from the 1200s. After 1848, the estate was still used by locals, but the castle increasingly deteriorated until the interior was too dangerous to inhabit.
The estate was purchased by Donald Houston 20 years or so ago. He has restored many of the structures on the property, and is now restoring the castle itself with the goal of keeping the walls from crumbling and making the castle inhabitable as a residence for humans again. Because of its relative remoteness and the long centuries of occupation, Mingary Castle is the best preserved 13th century castle in Scotland. It’s therefore of great historical significance to the country.
Mr. Houston has founded the Mingary Preservation Trust, a charitable organization that is raising the £2 million ($3,300,000) needed to restore the castle. (If you’d like to contribute, click here to donate or, if you’d prefer to get a piece of the castle itself, you can adopt your very own stone.)
Part of the restoration project was the reopening of the north wall chambers and lancet windows. On Thursday, January 16th, workmen broke through the incredibly hard infill that blocked off the left top window, gingerly removed the stones and opened it to expose a beautiful view last seen by human eyeballs 500 years ago.
Jon Haylett, a local historian who has been overseeing the excavation said: “There was a real sense of excitement that we could, for the first time in 500 years, look out at a view which was last seen when members of Clan MacIain held Mingary Castle.
“Looking out of the window was an eerie experience, realising that the last person to see that view was probably a stonemason, some half a millennium ago.
“Next to me, doing the clearing, were two modern stonemasons from Ashley-Thomson, the building restoration firm, and I think they were equally moved.”
They were hoping to find organic material or some artifacts embedded in the fill that would help narrow down when the windows were sealed, but so far all the attending archaeologist has found are some tiny bone fragments, probably the detritus of a meal left behind by the masons who last worked there half a millennium ago. They did find an interesting architectural element: a groove around the inside of the window, probably used to hold a shutter or wooden board to close the window when necessary.
Now the restoration team is digging across to the double lancet windows on the right. You can read all about their progress and enjoy the exceptional photographic documentation of the restoration on the marvelous Mingary Castle blog authored by Jon Haylett.
Archaeologists working in Kamień Pomorski (West Pomerania), Poland have discovered the remains of a 13th century Dominican church, part of a larger monastery complex. The church was destroyed in the 16th century.
Traditionally it is believed that King Harald was killed on the spot where Battle Abbey now stands, but new evidence, promoted by Channel 4's Time Team, place his death in the Battle of Hastings at a mini roundabout on the A2100.
I’m excited to report that two members of the team who excavated and analyzed the remains of King Richard III in September of 2012 will be coming to the US in February for public lectures. This is the first chance we norms in the US have had to hear from the horses’ mouths about the extraordinary discovery that riveted the world.
The first stop will be Washington, D.C. where they will be giving a talk on the discovery on February 5th, 2014. The lecture is being offered by the Folger Shakespeare Theatre as part of a program devoted to the Bard’s tragedy Richard III. A new staging of the play will be accompanied by Q&As with the performers, talks by the literary director and local poets. The University of Leicester’s Greyfriars Project will be represented by geneticist Dr. Turi King and fieldwork director Matthew Morris, two of the co-authors of the first paper published on the excavation.
Their lecture, entitled Finding Richard, will cover the archaeological excavation (Matthew Morris’ bailiwick) and the DNA analysis (Dr. King’s expertise) that established a genetic link between Michael Ibsen, direct descendant down the female line of Richard’s sister Anne of York, an unnamed second female-line descendant and the skeleton found under the Leicester council parking lot.
The lecture will be held at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation 212 East Capitol Street on Wednesday, February 5th at 7:30pm. Tickets cost $25 for regular people and $20 for members of the Folger Shakespeare Theatre. You can book over the phone at (202) 544-7077 or online here.
After that, Turi King and Matthew Morris will join professors in history, humanities, forensic pathology and English at St. Louis University for a full day colloquium on Saturday, February 8th. The discussion will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the university’s Il Monastero on 3050 Olive Street. It is open to the general public and free of charge.
Jealous of the fine folks of St. Louis who, as if having a kickass arch on the west bank of the Mississippi River weren’t enough, now get to enjoy a day of Richard III nerdery with two pivotal figures from the Greyfriars team? Well don’t be, because the whole thing will be streamed live over the internet!
Bookmark this website, mark your calendar, set your alarm clock to wake you up before 10:00 AM Central Time (11:00 AM EST), get breakfast, lunch, beverages and possibly some sort of vessel to hold your waste, then settle down in front of your computer for a luxurious six hours of nothing but Richard III.
Gisele de Bier reports that volunteers are needed for the upcoming Gulf Wars XXIII.
Central Scotland's Antonine Wall has never enjoyed the reputation as a tourist destination that its southern cousin, Hadrian’s Wall, has had, but a new 5-year plan proposed by Historic Scotland may change that fact. The development plan provides a "framework" for conservation and promotion.
Syracuse University Spanish professor Alejandro García-Reidy has discovered a copy of a lost play by Spanish Golden Age playwright and poet Félix Lope de Vega y Carpio. Lope de Vega is like Spain’s Shakespeare, only he was far, far more prolific. By his own tally, Lope de Vega wrote about 1,800 plays (although he is generally thought to have been exaggerating with the real number closer to 1,500), plus 3,000 sonnets, three novels, four novellas and nine epic poems, an oeuvre so impressive that it inspired his contemporary Miguel de Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, to dub him a “Monster of Nature.”
Only approximately 300 of his plays have survived, a small fraction of the total. The rediscovery of one of the works that hasn’t been seen in centuries, therefore, is a find of great significance to the literary and cultural history of Spain and modern theater. The newly found play is called Mujeres y criados (Women and Servants), a comedy written in 1614. We knew it existed because Lope de Vega included it on a list of his plays published in the 1618 edition of El peregrino en su patria (The Pilgrim in his Own Country), but it was never published in any of the collections of his works. It was therefore believed to be lost and has not been included in modern catalogs of his works.
This particular version of the play wasn’t published either. It’s a manuscript copied in 1631 by Pedro de Valdés, director of a theatrical company that staged Lope de Vega’s plays. Later the 56-sheet quarto was bound and acquired by the Library of Osuna, a town in the province of Seville, southern Spain. The Biblioteca Nacional de España (BNE) bought the Osuna Library in 1886 and absorbed its book collection. García-Reidy found the volume at the BNE in 2010 while researching Spanish theater of the 16th and 17th centuries. He spent the next three years analyzing the manuscript and ensuring the attribution to Lope de Vega was accurate.
Stylistic analysis and documentary evidence support the attribution. A document from 1614 notes that a theatrical troupe purchased a comedy by Lope de Vega called Women and Servants. When García-Reidy checked the catalogs of the playwright’s work, there was no title by that name. However, he noticed the National Library had an unattributed manuscript entitled Women and Servants, so he checked it out. He found that the play matched the meter characteristic of the author’s work from the period of 1613-1614 and the subject matter covered themes, like the subversion of social hierarchies and conventions, that are common in his plays.
Women and Servants is an urban comedy of considerable quality, according to García-Reidy. That’s meaningful because Lope de Vega was known to have sacrificed quality to achieve his insane output. His work in this period is considered his best. He was at the peak of his abilities and popularity when he wrote this play.
The story takes place in Madrid and stars two sisters, Violante and Luciana, and their lovers, Claridán and Teodoro, one a waiter and the other the secretary of Count Próspero. These two couples, whose love for each other remains secret, find their relationships put to a test with the appearance of two new suitors: Count Próspero himself, who chases after Luciana, and the rich Don Pedro, who courts Violante with the approval of her father. This initial scene leads to a game of hide-and-seek and confused identities in which Luciana must intervene to stay close to her lover. These entanglements give way to several very comical scenes, and the house in which they occur becomes a place where all actors are at the mercy of the tricks played by the two women and their lovers.
García-Reidy thinks this play will work for audiences today because it combines vaudeville-like comedy, sharp wit, dominant female characters and the satire of societal convention. His assessment will be put to the test soon since the Fundación Siglo de Oro theater company has agreed to put on the play this fall. The company specializes in updating historical theater for modern audiences and they have collaborated with researchers to stage Lope de Vega works before.
The play will be presented officially with a public reading by Fundación Siglo de Oro actors within the next few months, but the entire manuscript has been digitized and can be downloaded in pdf form on the BNE website.
The sixteenth annual Dancing Fox will include a Tudor Banquet by Lady Ailionora inghaean Ronain. You may have read her two recent articles on the Tudor Banquet in Ars Scientia Orientalis. Now you can eat her words!
Additionally the event will feature music from the Bhakaili Branslers and dance instruction from Lady Lorita and others, a Roman feast researched and executed by Lord Tiberius Nautius Maximus. A Dessert Challenge by Mistress Brigitte, Dressing the Fox, The Ultimate Proposal Game and a Quilt raffle.
For details on all the day’s activities, including menus, contact
Filed under: Events Tagged: Dance, feast
The following article was written by Master Ulric von der Insel and is published here as part of the Gazette’s ongoing “How to…” series.
There’s a handy tool that the current military uses regularly to scope out the lay of the land called Google Earth. It’s an easy download that gives a layered look at the globe. Those of us using it have enjoyed the pictures that people upload of the places across the Earth as they appear in uploaded photos. So how can we use this to help us out with our medieval selves? The two biggest ways are by seeing the shape of the land and by seeing the sights in the places.
I should make a big caveat right now, that with the change of sea levels and the silting of rivers and all, that the lay of the land isn’t exactly what it used to be. That’s okay – we’re not using Google Earth as documentation, just as a starting point for further persona story research (rather like Wikipedia, eh? Use cautiously!)
Maybe an example would be appropriate at this moment. We fly to the Tyrolean Alps south of Munich and there we are. Type the place name “Innsbruck, Austria” into the search box in the upper left. Modern-day, it’s a cosmopolitan center with autobahns zipping by. But look at the lay of the land: mountains around a sheltered valley and the Inn River. Follow the road south, and you get to see the Brenner Pass to Milan and Venice. Follow the road northeast and you get to Munich. This was a major European artery of traffic since the Neolithic Age! Zoom right into the mountains to appreciate what it would take to travel this route with a wagon or a caravan of wagons laden with goodies for the market. This gives you a feel for scale that you can’t get from text alone.
What else can we use? Ah! Pictures are neat – let’s look at them. Now it’s time for another caveat, though. Since Victorian times, lots of places have been dressed up for the tourist market, so the perishable items like wooden houses aren’t useful for documentation. Here’s an example of that: Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany. It is south-southeast of Frankfurt, west of Nuremburg and north of Munich. When you type the name into the search box, the pin appears just east of the Old Town, or Alt Stadt. Zoom right in there, to an altitude of 750 meters. Boy, are we close in, now!
This is probably the loveliest town Clothilde and I ever visited, but the modern is very visible. Alright, you see the parking lot just west of your location? That’s for tourist buses. There’s a blue picture icon just west of that labeled “Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Deutchland” to click on. There you’re looking at the curtain wall around the town. Looks great and medieval and junk, doesn’t it? Well, as it turns out, that bit of wall was destroyed in World War II and rebuilt by donations. Still, it certainly wasn’t fancied up – just rebuilt. There’s a road there going west-southwest into the heart of the old town. Follow it a quarter mile to an open plaza (using the Tool called Ruler, if you’re really into it), until your cursor is over the coordinates (see the bottom center of the screen for coordinates) 49 degrees, 22’ 37.5’’N and 10 degrees 10’ 44.5’’E. That’s the big marketplace. The pictures here will show you lovely buildings. The stone ones have definite construction dates that you can look up. The wooden ones have an age, too, but remember that they’ve been remade and repainted, and there’s a lot of wood! Still, it gives you an idea of what a cobbled market can look like when it’s full of people. Use the images to think about how you go about your day in a medieval town, buying and interacting in the streets. Now try the same thing with Florence or Venice, Italy or Seville, Spain. Use Google Earth along with the usual internet sites as a visual companion. Tourists have uploaded pictures from all angles of each building, bridge or castle!
Finally, there’s that Ruler tool I mentioned. You can use it to estimate road and river distances. Rather than use just the straight “Line”, though, use the “Path” to mark winding roads to figure out just how far you really have to walk or ride to get from Vienna to Venice! You’ll see that where there’s a village, it was probably a good place to spend a night when you’re on campaign or pilgrimage going over or around obstacles.
Google Earth is a handy, fun tool, but it does have its limitations. Its greatest use is to allow us to visually appreciate the lay of the land around where we claim to be from. Still don’t believe me? Go south of Salzburg, Austria, and type in “Werfen” to find Hohenwerfen Castle. Now zoom in on the Alps around it. Whoa! Vertigo! It really gives you an appreciation of the heights one must scale to bring the herds up to their summer pastures!
Play with it a bit. Snoop out some locales. Have fun!
Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s
Foodies have been challenged to come up with proper February fare, and they have been responding! Of the twelve categories of food one may enter (The Choice of the People, February Fruits, Check Out that Pickle! Meat Me in the Wintertime, Lenten Lunchtime, Roots for the Home Team, Vegetable from Yestermonth, Blessed Cheesemakers, Drinks that Are not Just Melted Snow, Superb Soups and Stews, You Are So Sweet! and None of the Above.) it appears that the “Check Out that Pickle!” and “Drinks that Are not Just Melted Snow” categories may be the most hotly contested. “Meat Me in Wintertime” and “Superb Soups and Stews” may be a close contest, by all reports. There still haven’t been too many “You Are So Sweet” entries to satisfy my own sweet tooth – we shall see what appears that would be appropriate for a February – it’s up to the imagination of the entrants.
The Feast is on February 22 at the Barony of the Bridge and is, indeed, quite the pot-luck. The full announcement can be found at: http://www.eastkingdom.org/EventDetails.html?eid=2546
Filed under: Events Tagged: a&s, feast
At A Market Day at Birka, Their Majesties Kenric II and Avelina II will be holding a Morning Court at 10:15am in the ballroom before the tourney begins. Their Majesties will be on a very tight schedule and They ask for prompt attendance of those who wish to view that Court.
(edited to note the change of venue from armory to ballroom)
Filed under: Court Tagged: royal court
On the Lochac list, Katherine Kerr reported that the University of Warwick and the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust will be offering a free, 10-week, online course entitled Shakespeare and his World.
Duchess Siobhan reports that at the Coronation of Their Heirs Cecilia and Prothall, Their Majesties Sven and Siobhan of the Kingdom of Drachenwald, offered elevation to the Order of Chivalry to Lord Atli från Viterheim.
Last summer, the Philadelphia Museum of Art announced a major restoration project to clean, conserve and regild the statue of Diana by Augustus Saint-Gaudens that graces the top of the museum’s Great Stair Hall. The 13-foot statue of the Huntress drawing her bow was made in 1893 to top the tower of architect Stanford White’s Madison Square Garden. Standing on one foot on a spherical base, Diana was originally a weather vane, turning with the wind atop her tower; only later was she riveted to her base for her own safety. She was the tallest point in the city in her day, and shone so brightly that she could be seen from New Jersey.
Sadly, her fate was tied to that of the building which was demolished in 1925 to make way for the New York Life Insurance Building. New York Life put her in storage hoping she would find a new home in the city, but every attempt to keep her in New York failed and in 1932 she was adopted by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.
(New York did come to regret its callous rejection of its once-iconic golden lady. In 1967, with the city in the process of building the fourth and last iteration of Madison Square Garden over the graveyard of yet another demolished Beaux Arts masterpiece, the original Penn Station, New York mayor John Lindsay asked Philadelphia mayor James Tate if they could have Diana back to put her inside the new Garden. Tate declined, pointing out that “when no one wanted this poor little orphan girl, Philadelphia took her in, gave her a palatial home and created a beautiful image for her with a worldwide reputation.”)
After three decades exposed to the elements and seven years in storage, Diana needed some work when she got to Philadelphia. She was in decent condition overall, but her surface was darkened by corrosion and everything but a few traces of the original gilding was gone. In the midst of the Great Depression, the museum had neither the means nor the inclination to regild her. Decades later, in the mid-1980s, the museum did consider regilding Diana, but the time and funding wasn’t there. There was no immediate conservation need since the statue was structurally sound.
Thanks to the financial support of Bank of America’s Global Art Conservation Project, in 2013 Diana finally got a full makeover. The focus of the project was first and foremost to analyze and document the statue’s surface and structure. The armature, including the weather vane mechanism which still exists inside the spherical base, was examined for condition and to learn more about how Diana was built. Traces of gilding were examined by a scanning electron microscope to determine the exact composition and color of the original gold. The whole statue was X-rayed and subjected to ultrasonic thickness testing to assess the condition of the molded copper sheets Saint-Gaudens soldered and riveted together.
One the initial observations and tests were complete, conservators cleaned the corrosion, revealing the lovely copper color and the joins. The statue was then primed with a corrosion inhibiting paint containing zinc chromate which left the surface an alarming canary yellow. Thankfully that phase didn’t last long. The statue was then painstakingly covered with 180 square feet of 23.4-karat red gold leaf. Because Saint-Gaudens disliked the use of very bright gold at eye level, the gilding was toned down to match his original intent.
The process took five months. In November, the scaffolding came down and Diana was revealed in her freshly gilded splendor. Behold the shiny:
Visitors to the museum during the restoration got to observe it happening in real time, and the whole process was filmed and shown on screens in the museum. The Philadelphia Museum of Art’s conservation page has two videos illustrating the restoration process. I hope many more will follow because those two are straight awesome.
In this one you see conservators sampling traces of the original gilding, doing cleaning tests before removing the corrosion over the whole statue, doing a boroscopic (self-lit remote camera) examination of interior, opening the ball and removing the bow and arrow.
This video features the steam cleaning done after the acidic cleanser removed the corrosion, the X-ray imaging and ultrasonic thickness testing, and the scanning electron microscope analysis of the gold traces.
In 2012, Reg Mead and Richard Miles discovered a hoard of 70,000 Celtic coins in a field on the island of Jersey. Now a grant of UK£738,000 will allow the UK£10m treasure to remain on the island.
Kameshima Zentarou Umakai, Silver Buccle Principal Herald, reports that at Their Court at Queen's Rapier Champion, Their Majesties Timothy and Gabrielle of the Kingdom of AEthelmearc placed Don Bastiano di Iacopo on vigil to contemplate elevation to the Order of the Pelican.
On February 22 at the Reading Archery Club in Mohnton, PA, the Incipient Shire of Archers Ford will be holding St. Aegir, an event for brewers to teach, learn, or simply socialize while discussing this well-beloved topic. There will be a number of classes for brewers of all skill levels. Additionally, the East Kingdom Brewers Guild will be providing a small paneling of brews so as to help further the education of others. A class schedule has been posted here. There will be no dayboard, though the Club does run a cash kitchen. Event site with directions is here.
Filed under: Events
Police officer in Whitehall, New York - and member of the SCA - Randy Bevins is going to Mars, or at least he hopes so. Bevins was one of the 1,058 candidates chosen by Mars One, a Dutch non-profit, which plans to land a four-man crew on the planet in 2025. Bill Toscano of the Post Star has the story.