In order to protect its precious frescoes, the Vatican has announced that it will restrict visitors to the Sistine Chapel to 6 million each year. Experts say that dust, sweat and carbon dioxide from up to 20,000 tourists a day pose a major threat to Michelangelo’s masterpiece. (photos)
Unto the noble populace of the mighty Kingdom of Æthelmearc,
Greetings to you all. For those who do not know me, I am THLady Beatrix “Bea” Krieger, Squire to Earl Yngvar the Dismal, and First Lieutenant to the Regional Commander of Myrkfaels, THLord Thorsol Solinagua. I am writing to you today to announce a change in the schedule to the regular heavy weapons practice in the Shire of Hartstone, and cordially invite every fighter in Aethelmearc to please take part.
The point of this change is to help improve fighters throughout the region and build up good melee combatants, good single fighters, and competence in various forms, good tournament warriors, and good barrier fighters.
Every practice will begin at around 6-6:30pm on Friday evenings (at one of our local places, currently at the Elks Lodge in Hornell, New York) with about an hour to an hour and a half long session of warm ups and pickups. At about 7-7:30pm, we will do one of the following:
First Friday of the month-Melee practice.
Second Friday of the month-Barrier fighting.
Third Friday of the month-the Hartstone Round Robin Tournament.
Fourth Friday of the month-Funny weapons or odd weapons or different forms practice (if there is a form you never use, want to learn, or just want to try, this is the time to bring all your toys and try them out).
If there is a fifth Friday practice in that month (as there is in January), we will do whatever floats your boat type practice (barriers, melee, open practice, etc.) and just see what people feel like doing.
Each practice will have about an hour to an hour and a half of this format fighting, and then a session of teaching, pickups, and discussion, followed by a drink at the Elks Lodge around 9:15, and dinner at Paddy’s Pub at about 9:45pm (if you want food, we must be in Paddy’s before 10pm).
Newbies are very much encouraged on attending, and private lessons with fighters will be happening as well as the other main portions of the formatted practice. If we can, I’d like to get marshals present to do authorizations if need be.
This format for these practices will begin on January 2nd, 2015, the first practice of the new year, at the Hornell Elks Lodge, 60 Broadway Mall, Hornell New York 14843. Please use the back door to enter (be prepared to climb stairs to get in).
I hope this format will entice fighters to attend practices beyond their borders, and fight new people. I plan on traveling within my region and (if I am able) beyond, and learning all I can in the coming new year. I hope to see many of you in the next few months at practice.
In your service,
THLady Beatrix Krieger
Unto the Citizens of Æthelmearc do their Highnesses, Timothy and Gabrielle send greetings,
As always, we serve,
As some of you may know, Her Highness and I are very good friends with Their Highnesses Ragnvaldr and Arabella of the Midrealm. We have been getting along so famously that we have decided it is about time we were actually neighbors. To this end, we will be taking over Aethelmearc. The lands gained will of course be divided equally between the parties involved.
Filed under: Pennsic
I love it when a museum wins an auction bidding war. The institution in question is the Rijksmuseum which has just bought Bacchic Figure Supporting the Globe, a bronze statue by Adriaen de Vries, for $27,885,000 including buyer’s premium at The Exceptional Sale in Christie’s New York saleroom. Three phone bidders engaged in a four-minute battle for the Mannerist masterpiece and the Rijksmuseum came out victorious thanks to generous funding from private and public donors.
The price sets a new record for de Vries, eclipsing the previous record that was set in 1989 when The Dancing Fawn sold for £6.8 million ($10,687,560). That was the last time a major work by the artist went up for auction, so if the Rijksmuseum hadn’t committed to this purchase, who knows when the next opportunity would present itself to acquire a work by one of the greatest Dutch sculptors for the Netherlands Collection. The museum owns a small bronze relief Bacchus Finding Ariadne on Naxos (c. 1611) by de Vries, and it has a larger sculpture, Triton Blowing a Conch Shell (c. 1615 – c. 1618), on loan from the National Museum in Stockholm. Bacchic Figure Supporting the Globe, which the museum is calling simply Atlas, is the first major piece by de Vries in a public Dutch collection.
It’s a particularly fine specimen as well.
Dated 1626 and probably the last autograph work by De Vries the bronze represents the mythological figure of Atlas, a nude man supporting the globe. It displays the virtuoso and highly individual modelling style for which the sculptor was celebrated during his lifetime. This exceptionally sketchy, free and tactile style reached its apogee in the final years of his life and shows him as a true artistic innovator, centuries ahead of his time.
De Vries was born in The Hague around 1555 where he trained as a goldsmith before moving to Florence and working in the studio of Mannerist sculptor Giambologna, the Medici court sculptor, in 1581. In 1589, de Vries went to Prague by request of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II, the greatest patron of the arts on the continent. In this first period of work for the emperor, he made two large bronze statues, Mercury Abducting Psyche, now in the Louvre, and Psyche Borne by Cupids, now in the Nationalmuseum Stockholm.
He then traveled back to Italy to study antiquities in Rome and on his way back made two monumental multi-figure fountains in Augsburg, Germany. In 1601 he was back in Prague where he worked for Rudolf II until the emperor’s death in 1612. Although he was still technically employed at court, Rudolf’s successor, his brother Matthias, does not appear to have commissioned any work from de Vries. The artist found other royal patrons in Germany, Austria and Denmark and continued to produce work until his death in 1626.
De Vries’ innovative approach to bronze casting, modelling and the use of patina to convey differences in color as well as texture made him hugely famous in his time. He created Atlas using the direct lost wax method which models a central wax core with the features of the final sculpture before wrapping it in a fire-resistant casing and heating it so the wax melts. Bronze is then poured into the casing and once it cools, the casing is broken off to reveal the sculpture. Naturally the process results in areas that need additional work — extra blobs of bronze to file off, holes filled, details enhanced — but Atlas appears to have been barely touched. Even the details in the vines on the base and the figure’s head are as de Vries designed them on the wax.
His talents earned Adriaen de Vries the sobriquet the Dutch Michelangelo, but the upheaval of the Thirty Years’ War and subsequent conflicts saw his works widely plundered and the memory of him in his homeland faded. The largest single collection of de Vries’ sculptures is in the Museum De Vries at Drottningholm Palace outside of Stockholm. They were all pillaged, most of them from Rudolf II’s collection by Swedish troops in the second Sack of Prague, the last battle of the Thirty Years’ War in 1648, others from the Frederiksborg Palace in Denmark in 1659 during the Dano-Swedish War.
Atlas is one of few works by de Vries to have stayed put for 300 years or so, unpublished and unknown. Since it was one of the last sculptures he ever made, experts believe it was sold by his heirs after his death. The first time it appears in the record is in an engraving from around 1700 of the gardens of the Saint Martin Castle in Graz, Austria. Its path from Prague to Austria is unknown, but the sellers have among their illustrious line an ancestor named Margarethe Leopoldine, Countess Colonna von Fels, who married into the family. Her great-grandfather was Leonhard, Freiherr Colonna von Fels, a prominent Bohemian noble who had actually been present and involved in the famous 1618 Defenestration of Prague when two pro-Catholic Regents and a secretary were tossed out of a window by Bohemian Protestant nobles who justifiably feared the concessions granted them by HRE Matthias would be revoked. Margarethe was born many years later and married in 1693. By then statue would have been a family heirloom of several generations that she brought with her to Austria, perhaps as part of her dowry. She installed it in the courtyard of the family castle where it remained perched on a column until 2010.
For a long time Adriaen de Vries was one of the secrets of art-history, a highly original genius, only know by a handful of insiders. The successful international exhibition devoted to the sculptor that the Rijksmuseum organised together with the Nationalmuseum in Stockholm and the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles in 1998-2000, has led to a wider appreciation of his bronzes and a revaluation of his reputation; nowadays he is considered as one of the most important sculptors of the early Baroque.
Unto the Kingdom of the East do I, Don Frasier MacLeod send greetings. I am pleased to announce that the new Southern Regional Rapier Deputy will be Baroness Engracia de Madrigal. Again, I would like to thank Don Griffith Davion for his service in this position. Please join me in welcoming Baroness Engracia to her new position, and I encourage all of you to help make her transition a smooth one. In Service, Don Frasier MacLeod, KRM, East
Filed under: Fencing, Official Notices Tagged: fencing
Researchers from around the world may benefit from a study of the molars of 22 individuals unearthed during excavation of Periplatz cemetery in Berlin. The remains, dating from between 1200 to c.1600 CE, were analyzed using "3D printing technology to complement strontium isotope analysis in order to better understand the ancient residents of Berlin."
Both aspiring and experienced scribes can learn a lot from looking at actual period manuscripts. Every day more and more medieval books are digitized and made available online, and many websites offer the ability to zoom in and see fine detail close up. Here are some wonderful sites for seeing a wide array of medieval and renaissance manuscripts that can provide scribal inspiration for years to come.
The British Library site offers not only complete manuscripts, but also detailed information on the time, place, artistic style, and provenance of each manuscript, along with a very robust search function that lets you narrow your results with great precision. Want to find Arabic medical manuscripts from 1000-1100, or Italian Books of Hours dating to the early 15th century? This is your site.
DMMapp is the granddaddy of manuscript sites. It offers a map of the world with links to specific libraries’ or museums’ collections. Click a link to browse the selected location’s offerings. Bonus: it’s also the home of the “Sexy Codicology” Blog, with a link to their Facebook page. Its weakness is that each site is distinct and separate, so there’s no way to search all of them by keyword from DMMapp. The quality and ease of navigation of the sites is also highly variable.
The Getty Museum recently made many of its books available as free PDF downloads, including several about its collection of medieval manuscripts. Examples include Elizabeth C. Teviotdale’s “The Stammheim Missal” and “Flemish Manuscript Painting in Context: Recent Research,” edited by Elizabeth Morrison and Thomas Kren.
Medieval Writing has a huge amount of information about medieval paleography (the study of writing) including snippets of calligraphy from many different manuscripts. Use its Index of Scripts to take a guided tour of styles ranging from 4th century Roman to 16th century Humanistic. One of its best features is the ability to mouse over samples from period manuscripts and see the words printed in modern text as shown below, which is tremendously helpful in figuring out unusual or hard-to-read letter forms.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, like the Getty, offers some of its books on medieval art as free downloads. Use the search categories on the left to narrow the list of options. Examples include “The Art of Illumination: The Limbourg Brothers and the Belles Heures of Jean de France, Duc de Berry” by Timothy Bates Husband, and “The Art of Medieval Spain, A.D. 500–1200” by the Museum.
The National Library of Wales has a small collection, but it’s one of the few places to find Welsh manuscripts like the Book of Llandaff, the Laws of Hywel Dda, and the Black Book of Carmarthen, which is one of the earliest manuscripts written in Welsh.
Trinity College of Dublin has a number of period manuscripts, but none more famous than the magnificent Book of Kells; a portion of folio 2r is shown below zoomed in close. Use the “By Dates” search feature to find manuscripts at Trinity College dating to SCA period.
The Vatican Library recently announced that they will be vastly expanding their collection of digital manuscripts over the next few years, so this is a space to watch! Use its Advanced Search feature to search by elements like Beginning and Ending dates, though navigation is a little clunky and sometimes frustrating. When you find a manuscript, click the book icon next to its name to see the actual pages. Clicking the manuscript’s name displays a very brief description of the manuscript including its date, size, and name.
Is there a site for scribal inspiration that you love which isn’t on our list? Post a link in the comments!
- Submitted by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope
An analysis of blue glass beads found in Bronze Age burials in Denmark has revealed they were made in Egypt and Mesopotamia. It was the color of the beads that first caught the eye of Moesgaard Museum archaeologist Jeanette Varberg. She was looking through stores of ancient artifacts to see if there were any objects that would suit an upcoming exhibition when in a cardboard box she came across three beads: one large turquoise colored bead, two smaller dark blue ones. Museum records noted that the beads had been found in a burial mound urn by a farmer named Christoffersen in 1892. Then she found another box with two more blue beads, these found in a Bronze Age tomb in 1962.
The blueness of them was puzzling. The Bronze Age Danish did not have the technology to make blue glass. This was a tribal, agricultural society of small settlements with no written language. When she asked her colleagues about the beads, they suggested they may have originated in Switzerland or the Mediterranean, but it was pure conjecture. The published literature (such that there was; there was no dedicated study of the blue beads), claimed that the beads were made of clay that had been colored blue using oxidized copper. Varberg knew that didn’t apply to her beads because they were translucent.
To solve the mystery, she contacted Bernard Gratuze, director of the Institut de Recherche sur les Archéomatériaux (IRAMAT) in Orléans, France, and an expert in glass. His first inclination was that the beads had been inaccurately dated, that they were simply younger than anyone thought. That could be the case for artifacts ploughed up by farmers without any archaeological context, but there were beads with firmer histories, like the ones discovered in Voerladegård, East Jutland, by the neck of a woman buried 2,200 years ago. Varberg took a small sample from one of the broken Voerladegård beads and sent it to Gratuze for analysis. The test found that the glass originated in Mesopotamia.
In cooperation with curator Flemming Kaul from the National Museum — National Museum was in possession of numerous blue glass beads which up to this point had been thought to be Italian — Varberg and Gratuze set about testing a significant sample of blue beads found at Bronze Age sites in Denmark. A review found a total of 293 blue glass beads found over 51 digs in Denmark and Schleswig-Holstein. The study analyzed 23 of those beads and found that two of them came from Egypt, the rest from Mesopotamia. (The first blue bead to catch Varberg’s eye turned out to be a fake. It was made in Venice in the 1800s. Sneaky farmer Christoffersen probably threw it in the mix to get a better price from the museum. He got 26 kroner for the lot.)
The analytic technology is incredibly precise. A laser pointed at the bead melts a microscopic hole in the surface and creates an air bubble. Plasma-spectrometry is used to analyze the chemical makeup of the air bubble. The results are then run through a database of bead findings all over southern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East to see if there are any comparable ones. The chemical fingerprint of an artifact is so precise it can be traced to a specific ancient workshop. The Mesopotamian beads were made from melted quartz sand and ash from Tigris river grass. One of the oldest came from Nippur, an ancient Sumerian city in what is today Iraq, The two Egyptian beads were made from desert cobalt in Amarna, the same workshop where Tutankhamun’s famous death mask was made around the same time (ca 1,330 B.C.) as the burial in Denmark.
It’s the first Egyptian cobalt glass found outside of the Mediterranean, and given the dates, that little bead traveled far north in a relatively short time. That suggests active trade between Bronze Age Denmark and New Kingdom Eygpt. Most of the burials where the blue glass beads were found also included amber beads. It seems likely that the rich trade in Nordic amber, well established even in the Bronze Age, is connected to the presence of Egyptian and Mesopotamian beads in Nordic graves. Amber was making its way down south while blue glass made its way up north.
It seems almost obvious when you think about it, but the blue glass beads have been long neglected as a subject of study and got caught up in some issues of archaeological nationalism. Varberg found that Sophus Müller, director of the National Museum, had proposed in 1882 that the blue beads were from Egypt, but nobody followed up. By the 1970s, some historians were keen to insist that Nordic Bronze Age culture developed independent of Mediterranean influence. One of them, Thea-Elisabeth Haevernick, concluded that the Bronze Age grave beads were colored clay, and her faulty assumption was then repeated in the literature by researchers citing her. That became the conventional wisdom even among people who had access to the beads themselves like museum curators, so the blue glass beads were labeled as local ceramic or Italian and stashed away in storage.
In 1960, a rare, 12th century Byzantine manuscript was stolen from the Dionysiou Monastery in Mount Athos. The Getty Museum in California purchased the codex in 1983 and will now restore it to its rightful place in Greece. (photo)
In an announcement from the SCA Board of Directors, it was reported that Membership and Marketplace portals are now open.
Mark your calendars. Re-enactors will return to Battle Abbey on 14 October 2016 for the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings.
When the SS City of Rio de Janeiro struck the shoals of Fort Point in San Francisco Bay early morning on February 22, 1901, 128 of the 210 souls aboard perished. It was 5:00 AM and the Bay was wrapped in one of those blinding fogs that are its trademark. Visibility was literally zero. Captain William Ward tried to steer the 345-foot steamer through the Golden Gate but with no visible landmarks, he veered slightly too far south and the ship ground onto the jagged rocks. The underside of the vessel was torn open almost from stem to stern, and when the ebb tide pushed the ship off the shoals, the cargo holds and engine room flooded. Built in 1878 before the era of watertight bulkheads, City of Rio was under the waves in 10 minutes.
Passengers, many of them Chinese and Japanese immigrants, crowded the deck, fighting for life jackets and seats on the lifeboats. The ship had 11 lifeboats, enough to save everyone aboard, but in the chaos of the sinking, only three of them were lowered and passengers overloaded two of them so they sank too. It all happened so quickly that the Fort Point Lifesaving Station had no idea there was a ship going down yards away from them. They only realized they’d missed a shipwreck when the one surviving lifeboat was spotted emerging from a fog bank two hours later. Italian fishermen who were heading out of the Bay for the day’s work when City of Rio went down and rescue ships eventually sent from Fort Point collected a few survivors clinging to wreckage in the water. Captain Ward was not among them. His body was found more than a year later on July 12, 1902, when the wooden pilothouse detached from the wreckage and floated to Fort Baker. Ward’s remains were identified by the serial number on his watch and its unusual fob made from a Chinese silver coin.
The comparatively large loss of life and circumstances of the disaster inspired some historians to dub City of Rio the Bay Area’s Titanic. News accounts at the time reported gossip that the steamer went down carrying a fortune in “Chinese silver” (the bill of lading lists the cargo as 923 rolls of matting, but why let facts get in the way?) so treasure hunters have long sought the wreck site. In 1987 one group thought they had found it, but their remotely operated submersible was carried away in the currents and the coordinates they shared didn’t match any wrecks.
Last month, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) set out to find the City of Rio as part of a study of the shipwrecks in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Equipped with a powerful remotely operated vehicle, a 3D sonar and experts to run them, the team was able to identify the City of Rio 287 feet under the surface just outside the Golden Gate inside the main ship channel.
The 3-D model generated by the Coda Octopus “Echoscope” sonar also gave researchers an entirely new perspective on the condition of the wreck site. What they found was a crumpled, scarcely recognizable iron hulk encased in more than a century worth of mud and sediment, lending support to the narrative that the ship sank quickly before many of its passengers could escape.
While they were in the area, the research team also used the 3D sonar to remap the wreck of the City of Chester that was found in 2013. The Echoscope found that the City of Chester is in far better condition, with the ship’s frame and propulsion machinery still well preserved. It went down in a collision with another ship and unlike the City of Rio, its engine room didn’t explode after it sank.
The NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Maritime Heritage Program will continue the map the wrecks in the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and the Golden Gate National Recreation Area. So far they’ve documented nine of them. Almost 200 ships have gone down in San Francisco Bay, so there are plenty more to be found. None of them will be interfered with beyond the mapping of them as they are maritime graves.
Museum conservationists never know what they might discovered under layers of paint and grime. What lies beneath the surface is the subject of a new display at London's National Portrait Gallery which reveals, for the first time, some of the conservationists' findings.
The Avian and Industrious Barony of Thescorre is pleased to again announce that the College of Three Ravens will be in held on February 21st, 2015. The College will take place at the Western Presbyterian Church, located at 101 E. Main St, Palmyra, NY 14622. The site will open at 9:00am and close at 9:00pm. Those present after 9:00 pm may be pressed into clean-up duties! Classes will begin at 10:00am and continue until at least 4:00pm. The site is handicapped accessible and has ample parking.
With your paid reservation, please include “C3R” in the subject line.
A sideboard lunch will be prepared by Baroness Mistress Sadira bint Saleem-(315-524-9823) email@example.com. A Tour Across Europe feast will be prepared by Baroness Nuzah bint Saleem-(585 615 0398 firstname.lastname@example.org) with assistance from Lady Elzbieta and Lord Andrew. Please contact Baroness Nuzah by 1/31/15 with dietary restrictions. Adult feast is $9 (children under eighteen – $5, children under 5 – free). Feast seating is limited to 85. Feast reservation cannot be guaranteed unless reserved by 2/15/15.
Pre-reservation for this event is always appreciated for planning both the sideboard & feast. Please send reservations to the reservationist/tollner THL Otelia d’Alsace ( Esther Heller, 1355 Walworth-Penfield Rd, Walworth NY 14568 email@example.com). Checks are to be made payable to SCA NY Inc – Barony of Thescorre. Please do include modern name, SCAdian name & membership number (where appropriate) for each person to be covered by your payment. Also, indicate if any are minors, and for whom feast reservations are desired. Inclusion of contact info will be invaluable in clarifications. Please remember that the only good reservation is a paid reservation.
For further information or questions, please contact the autocrat: Lady Mairghread Stiobhard Inghean uí Choinn (Margaret Wilcox) at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585-414-3748 before 8:30 pm.
Call for Classes
Unto the Good Gentles of Aethelmearc does Lady Kaðlin Sigvaldakona send Greetings!
As Chancellor of Classes for the upcoming College of Three Ravens event in the Industrious Barony of Thescorre, I am humbly requesting for gentles to share their knowledge and skills by signing up to teach a class (or two)! This day of teaching and learning will be on February 21, 2015 at the Western Presbyterian Church, located at 101 E. Main St, Palmyra, NY 14622.
Please use the following format when supplying information:
SCA Name: (as you wish it to appear in the class listings)
Class Format: (lecture, round-table, hands-on, etc)
Handouts provided: (yes/no)
Participant Fees: (if any)
Class Limits/Restrictions: (# of participants, no children, children with supervision, etc.)
Preferred teaching time: (am, pm, either)
Please send emails to email@example.com with ‘C3R’ in the subject line.
Yours in service,
Lady Kaðlin Sigvaldakona
Chancellor of Classes
College of Three Ravens, 2015
Registration for the TMS Bladesmithing Competition will close December 15, 2014. The TMS 2015 Annual Meeting and Exhibition will take place March 15-19 at Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
Delftwood Regional Fight Practice
Location: Rockefeller United Methodist Church
Join the Barony of Delftwood and members of the Order of the Chivalry for the Delftwood Regional Fight Practice as they host the Æthelmearc Army. There will be plenty of fighting for participants as well as the opportunity to get pointers from the deep end of the pool.
Syr Stefan Ulfkelsson, Æthelmearc’s Warlord, will also be leading a series of melees. Come bring your A game and leave your excuses at home. This is one practice you don’t want to miss!
Dueña Mercedes Vera de Calafia, East Kingdom Seneschal, is looking for someone to head up the East Kingdom Display at the 50th Year Anniversary celebration. This should be someone who has an interest in the pageantry and history of the East, as well as the ability to work with a multi-kingdom group to make the 50th Year celebration shine. The following letter is from the coordinator of the display chairs, and details what is expected from the chair and the Kingdom display. Please contact Dueña Mercedes with questions or to express your interest in the position.
To the Great Kingdom of the East does Eleanor, Baroness of the Flame, in the esteemed Kingdom of the Middle send greetings!
The 50th Anniversary of the Society for Creative Anachronism is upon us! “50 Year” will be celebrated in the Middle Kingdom in the State of Indiana, at the Hendricks County 4-H Fairgrounds & Conference Complex from June 16th to June 27th, 2016.
I have the pleasure of working as the Archivist for the event, alongside THL Elizabethe Alles, who is the Chair of Historic Displays, to ensure that all Kingdoms are represented at this most noble function!
We are asking that each Kingdom designate a Chair who will head your particular Kingdom’s display. This person will work directly with me in coordinating their displays, including the acquisition and collection of items if needed. If a representative cannot be on site for the event, any and all items can be sent to me and volunteers will set up the display. While these are static displays, having members of the Kingdoms on-hand to answer questions and tell stories is highly encouraged.
Each Kingdom will be allotted a 20-24’ (length) x 8’ (Depth) space located in the Hendricks Power Exposition Hall.
We are asking that all displays include the following:
Recommended but not required:
Though the event is a year and a half away we want to ensure each Kingdom is represented in the best way possible. Display Chairs should be chosen by February 28th 2015 in order to facilitate communication and provide time to plan and gather the materials needed for this project. A common information sharing webpage will be created when all Chairs have been identified.
I look forward to working with the Kingdom Display Chairs for all Kingdoms, and will assist in any way I can to make sure that all displays are successful.
Filed under: Tidings Tagged: SCA 50 Year, volunteers
Looking forward to showing off your latest court garb at Æ Twelfth Night, but not to once again standing in line for an hour at lunch?
We think Kingdom Twelfth Night should be the high point in the feasting year. We want this one to be extra special.
If you’ve read the event announcement for the kingdom celebration on January 10th in the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, you may have noticed that the group has several different plans in mind for the day’s food—plans that it hopes will address these common concerns and make the dining experience far more relaxed and enjoyable.
(See announcement at http://www.eg.bucknell.edu/~acg/Events/TwelfthNight2015.shtm.)
The autocrat (Mistress Alicia Langland) and head cook (Baroness Bronwyn MacFhionghuin) graciously agreed to chat about these plans with The Gazette: [Editorial clarifications are in brackets]
Q: The dinner plan for Kingdom Twelfth Night is different from the standard feast service at most Æthelmearc events (a two- or three-course meal served at night). Please explain your plan and what inspired it?
A: Bronwyn: We’re offering two feast options, which is one or three meals. The first meal [at lunchtime] is provided to all those attending and is included in the site fee. The second and third meals [mid-afternoon and early evening] have an additional fee and will be served approximately two to two-and-a-half hours apart.
Alicia: ACG’s cooks often provide so much food that our feast guests complain they’ve run out of room (in their stomachs) before they run out of dishes! To combat this, we decided to borrow an idea from a Thescorre Twelfth Night feast many years ago — to serve the feast throughout the day, with time to socialize, participate in activities, and digest between each course. Because not every SCAdian wants to — or is able to — stay for all three courses, I decided to offer two pricing options. The first course would be included in the site fee and thus provided to all, and the second and third courses would be available for an additional fee for those who wish.
Bronwyn: The original idea came from Master Gille. Also, from my point of view doing tablesetting research, big elaborate meals did not take place in the evening by candlelight. When you look at the lists of items needed for a historical feast in various account books, there was a heck of a lot of food prepared. Now, did they eat it all at one sitting? It takes time to prepare, make, and serve all that.
So…why not create a day for the kingdom for everyone to go out & have a grand day dressed in their finery, socializing, eating, being festive, happy & relaxed. That’s how we created an event where one of the big showcases is the feast.
Alicia: One big benefit of serving the three courses separately will be evident at the end of the day. Typically, feasts are served late afternoon/early evening and can last up to two hours, depending on the number of courses served. By this point, folks are generally anxious to get on the road and don’t care to linger for dancing. By serving two of our three courses earlier in the day, we’ll have only one course remaining to serve later, which means there will be plenty of time for dancing. Or, if folks don’t wish to remain, they’ll be able to get started on their homeward journey sooner.
Q: In addition to earlier, spaced-out dinner timing, you’re also planning to serve lunch “family style” (a table’s worth of food served to each table, as is common at dinner) rather than offer the standard stand-in-line sideboard. Why did you decide to serve lunch that way?
A: Bronwyn: Two things—
Alicia: One of the things we enjoy most about events is socializing with friends. At lunch, this can be hard to do, either because there is no set time for lunch and thus everyone eats catch-as-catch-can or because there’s not enough space at tables for larger groups to be seated together.
In the SCA, lunches tend to be served in a modern style.
When we hosted Timothy and Gabrielle’s Coronation, it took almost an hour for all of our guests to be served lunch (buffet-style). (I think we had over 300 attendees.) That’s just too much time waiting. And with all the activities we have planned for Twelfth Night, we’d rather our guests spent their time having fun than waiting on line.
Q: You’re also preparing a feast specifically for children. How is that different from the adult meal?
A: Bronwyn: That is my protégé’s idea, Lady Macaah Sitt al Galb. She tried this out at our Shire birthday event and it was a great success. Her own children are picky eaters, so she looks for children-friendly medieval recipes (using her children as taste testers) and creates a menu that also becomes an instructional coloring book.
The food is milder in flavor and subtly differs from food they would normally eat. The meal is very interactive; the menu doesn’t overwhelm the children’s appetites and it gives them the chance to play with subtle teaching. It is definitely geared to the younger child or the smaller appetite. We actually have a few pre-teen/teen girls here in ACG who are not adventurous eaters. Last time, they assisted Macaah with the younger children, as well as eating with them. (Also, prior to the feast, there will be a butter making class where the children will make the butter for their meal.)
Alicia: One thing I love about the children’s feast is that it introduces children to period food… which they will enjoy eating! (How many times have we heard adults say they don’t like period food? If we win them over when they’re young, these young diners might be more open to eating at feasts when they’re adults.)
Another plus is that since children participating in the children’s feast will be seated at a special table, this frees up those spaces for other guests at the other tables. It also means we’re not serving adult-size portions to someone who’s unlikely to eat it all. This is more economical and efficient.
I would like to note that the children’s feast is limited to 12 children, aged five to 12. [Children who are not signed up for the special children’s feast table can be signed up for the regular feast, sitting with their parents and eating the normal feast with them.]
Q: You’re also offering pre-seating registration for dinner. Please explain how that will work?
A: Alicia: As an autocrat, one of my biggest headaches has been the feast seating chart. I’ve had guests come to me in tears because they couldn’t sit with their friends at feast because someone forgot to sign them up on the seating chart and all the seats at the table were filled.
Most feast-goers don’t understand what goes into table portioning in the kitchen. Tables often end up not being filled or being over-filled, which means folks are either served too much or too little food.
In addition, people might mistakenly be signed up a two different tables. People who pay to eat on-board sometimes don’t sign up on the feast chart, making it difficult to determine how many on-board spots are available for waiting-list folks to fill. Sometimes, people sign up, but their names are illegible, making it hard to tell if everyone who’s on-board actually has a seat. Large groups might wait so long to sign up that there aren’t enough spaces at any one table for them to sit together …. The list of problems goes on and on.
I wanted to find a way to avoid some of these issues. Pre-seating is one part of the overall plan. This fall, in a post to the Æthelmearc listserve, Her Grace Dorinda mentioned that Stormsport wanted to try pre-seating at its event. Afterward the event, I wrote to her and asked how it went. Based on her comments, I decided it was worth trying at Twelfth Night.
Here’s how pre-seating will work at Twelfth Night (I hope!):
When they send their reservation, guests should include names of and payment for everyone in the group (up to 12). Prior to the event, the reservations clerk will print the pre-seated names on the seating chart. When pre-registered guests troll in, they will be given a sticker to place on the chart. (This will help event staff identify which seats are “unclaimed” prior to serving the first course.) Guests must place their sticker on the chart prior to the start of the first course in order to keep their seat.
Q: Has your group tried any of these meal ideas before at your events and, if so, how did they work out?
A: Bronwyn: We did the children’s feast before. It was very well received by the children as well as their parents.
Alicia: At Timothy and Gabrielle’s Coronation feast, we had a server — wearing a spiffy shire tabard — assigned to each table. Having assigned servers worked out really well, and I thought was much more classy than the typical all-call for someone from each table. At a pre-arranged signal, the servers came back to the serving table, received instructions about what to say when they served the dishes, and then took the dishes to their assigned table. At that point, the servers were free to sit with their friends and enjoy the meal. (They were responsible for periodically checking with their assigned table to refill beverage pitchers and returning emptied dishes to the kitchen for washing.)
Q: For cooks in other groups who may want to try out these ideas, what kind of scheduling or planning concerns have you had to address to accomplish these?
A: Bronwyn: So far we have had to work the schedule to give enough time to eat as well as have the other activities throughout the day. We also need more servers than usual, since the feast will take place in two rooms and have two shifts of servers at lunch. Plus, we also need to provide washing stations twice for the three meals. In addition, there will be two sign-up boards for seating, as well as two different site tokens.
Alicia: Logistically, a LOT of planning went into this event! Starting with the projected attendance (between 200 to 250), I needed to make sure there would be enough seats for everyone to be served at the same time. I used a scale drawing to experiment with various layouts to find what would work best. (It is much easier to move rectangles in a computer screen than to lug tables about!)
As for the head cook’s job at this event, serving three separate courses — with a different cook heading up each course — has added additional levels of complexity. To manage this, Dame Bronwyn is tasked with the job of ensuring continuity among the three cooks and their courses. Unlike head cooks for most feasts, she will not plan a menu, shop for ingredients, or prepare dishes. What she will do is manage the kitchen, to make sure it runs efficiently and that the cooks have what they need.
Q: One potential issue I foresee is that, for a normal sideboard, the lunch cook only needs one or two table’s worth of serving equipment. However, since you’re serving eight portions to each table, you’ll need enough serving equipment for each table, just as you will hours later for dinner.
A: Bronwyn: Correct, plus the first meal serves the largest amount of diners. So, we will be washing dishes, pots, etc. three times. That means we’ll need more serving-ware than we normally would for a first course. But we will have a longer time to accomplish the washing-up. And the second and third courses will be served to a limited number of guests, so there will be fewer dishes to wash after these courses. Also, the recipes we chose are not too elaborate in prep or execution, so that will keep the kitchen moving. Finally, we will bus the great hall tables between courses to keep them tidy.
Q: You’re planning to serve the feast in two rooms at the same time? What inspired that decision and how do you envision that will work out?
A: Bronwyn: The front room will be the Æthelmearc Winter Market. We are designing the room to look like an outdoor medieval winter market complete with merchants, a tavern, and a dining area (think: beer garden). We hope the choice of decor will give that feeling.
Traveling through the market, you will see the entrance to the great hall. This is where the diners partaking of the three meals will be. Royalty will be here as well as the children’s feast. We hope the decor in this room will provide the ambiance of a great hall adorned for the winter holiday.
Alicia: We are fortunate to have a site with two large banquet rooms. Based on my layout experiments, I determined that, to accommodate everyone comfortably, we needed to seat people in both rooms.
From this came the idea for the “Great Hall” and the “Marketplace.” Those diners who pay the additional fee for the second and third Courses will be served in the “Great Hall” and will receive a hand-cast pewter feast token. Those who pay only the site fee will be served in the “Marketplace”; their site token will be more rustic.
Seating in two different rooms is not common in the SCA and will involve extra planning as well as lots of pre-event publicity so folks aren’t so baffled when they arrive.
When they troll in, guests will be given a color-coded sticker with their name on it to place on the seating chart. The stickers for those eating only the first course will be a different color from those who pay to enjoy the second and third courses. They will then place their stickers on the seating chart that is color-coded to match their sticker.
To emphasize the differences between the two rooms, the decoration and layout will be very different. The Great Hall will be more open and formal, with High Table and the Great Throne at one end. The Marketplace will be bustling with activity throughout the day, with merchants lining two sides of the room and a Tasters’ Tavern, with potables supplied by the Æthelmearc Brewers’ Guild, at one end. We hope musicians, jugglers, and bards will add to the lively atmosphere in this room. In the center of it all will be the tables for our guests. A masked ball with live music will round out the day’s festivities.
In addition to the activities going on in the marketplace, court and bardic activities will be take place in the auditorium on the second floor. A vigil, children’s activities, and dancing instruction for the masked ball will be held in the basement. Trying to schedule all of these activities plus three separate sit-down services has been quite a challenge!
All of this is made possible by the hard work of a number of people and a LOT of communication. I am extremely grateful to the event staff, who have worked so hard to make this event happen.
Q: Anything else you’d like to add about the event?
A: Alicia: We think Kingdom Twelfth Night should be the high point in the feasting year. We want this one to be extra special.
Although ACG is centrally located in the Kingdom (four hours from almost everywhere) and conveniently located at the nexus of two major interstates, many folks think it’s too far to travel to.
Hopefully, with the promise of a delicious feast, the Tasters’ Tavern, merchants, an amazing auditorium for bardic activities, and a masked ball, folks will find something to entice them to come!
I feel very lucky that our cooks (and shire members) are willing to try something new. I just hope it works the way I’ve planned it in my head!
—submitted by Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina
War is once again behind us, and though the fertile mantle of the East Kingdom will soon be covered in snow, it’s the perfect time for its fencers, soldiers, and duelists to bare polished steel and mind their deadly art. Another war is always around the bend, and preparation is paramount to victory!
To keep the East Kingdom rapier army’s skills sharp and improve unit cohesion, the Barony of Carolingia will be hosting an EK Regional Fencing Practice on Sunday, January 4th. At the practice, fencers will get a chance to work on their melee skills both with their household/local fencing unit, and with the kingdom army at large. There’ll also be time for single bouting, and a tournament taking place is also a strong possibility.
There will also be a class or two for fencers to learn from. Parties interested in teaching a fencing class (be it for single or melee), should contact Lord Remy Delemontagne de Gascogne, Captain of the Carolingian Caliver Company with their class title and agenda.
When: Sunday, January 4th from 12-5pm
Can’t make it to the EK Regional Rapier Practice? Have no fear! Carolingia hosts a monthly melee practice at the War Memorial, open to all who want to work on their melee techniques. Here are the upcoming melee practice dates (more dates added monthly).
December: Sunday the 14th from 2pm-5pm
Any questions, thoughts, or concerns should be directed to Lord Remy.
Filed under: Fencing Tagged: fencing, regional practice