Lady Lilie Dubh recently shared with us that two NY groups will be trying a new event concept early next year: a two-part Schola.
The Canton of Lions End and the Barony of An Dubhaigheann were both contemplating having scholas over this coming winter. As the groups are neighbors, representatives consulted with each other and decided to collaborate.
The Lions End event, Lions in Winter, is scheduled for February 21, 2015, will be part one. Part two will be the Spring Schola in An Dubhaigheann on March 21, 2015. Some classes will start in Lions End and finish in An Dubhaigheann, and projects needing help or completion can be worked on at both events and in between.
However if you can’t attend both events, don’t be deterred from attending whichever you can. There will be single session classes which begin at the An Dubhaigheann event as well as continuations of those started at Lions End.
The autocrats of both events are eager to hear from anyone who would like to teach classes which take advantage of this longer format; their contact information can be found in the event announcements:
In addition to classes, Lions End will be holding an Arts and Sciences Competition, and An Dubhaigheann will be selecting Bardic and A&S Champions, and offering a garb sale.
Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Events Tagged: An Dubhaigeainn, classes, Lions End, schola, university
At the July 2013 Board Meeting, the Additional Peerage Exploratory Committee (“APEC”) proposed that the Board of Directors create a new Patent-bearing Peerage Order parallel to the Orders of the Chivalry, the Laurel and the Pelican. This Rapier Peerage would be for the related martial arts of rapier and all forms of cut & thrust in the SCA.
Before he become cover-of-Time-magazine famous as a muralist and leading light of the realist style inspired by local scenes known as Regionalism, Thomas Hart Benton’s first mural commission was a series of 10 murals for the boardroom of the New School for Social Research in New York City. Alvin Johnson, the school’s director and one of its co-founders, wanted its mission of unfettered inquiry and progressive thought to be reflected in the art and architecture as well. He commissioned Joseph Urban to design a new building in modernist International Style that stood out dramatically from the Greenwich Village town houses on West 12th Street. Benton collaborated with Urban to create murals that will flawlessly fit the walls of the third floor boardroom.
The new building opened on New Year’s Day 1931 with nine of the panels in place (Benton finished the tenth later) on the four walls of the 30-by-22-foot room. America Today depicts a wide view of American life in the 1920s: city and country, industry and farming, steel workers and bankers, coal miners and doctors, black and white, boxers and lovers, a hard day’s work and wild nights of dancing, north and south. Benton painted these murals, most of which are seven and a half feet high, referring to sketched studies he had made while traveling the country in the 1920s. Fun fact: his student Jackson Pollock posed for several of the figures.
Benton received no fee for this immense work, just expenses, but he got a whole lot of artistic recognition. The critical success of the cycle led directly to commissions for eight other murals, including the Indiana Murals which cemented his mainstream fame and put money in his pocket. His dynamic, fluid, colorful style was a major influence for the WPA artists that soon followed.
The murals saw some hard treatment over the years, as students leaned their chairs against them, smoked like chimneys, exhaled moisture and transmitted bacteria. Thomas Hart Benton returned to restore his murals twice, once in 1956, once in 1968. He died in 1975 and seven years later, the school decided to sell the murals to fund its endowment. The plan was not happily received in New York City. If the panels were sold to a dealer or auction, they could be scattered to the four winds. Mayor Edward I. Koch even expressed dismay at the prospect of the mural cycle being split up and/or leaving the city.
In May of 1982, the school sold the 10 murals to the Maurice Segoura Gallery. The gallery kept them for two years before selling them to the Equitable Life Assurance Society of the United States (aka AXA) for $3.1 million. AXA agreed to always display America Today to the public and proudly sported the murals in the lobby of its corporate headquarters on Seventh Avenue for years before the company and artwork moved to a new building at 1290 Avenue of the Americas. In February of 2012, a building renovation saw the murals moved into storage.
With no prospect of a proper display site coming up any time soon, AXA decided to donate the murals to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Met was more than happy to accept them. Before they could go on display, however, the museum had to create an appropriate space. As of September 30th, it has.
The keystone of the exhibition—the mural—will be installed in a reconstruction of the 30-by-22-foot boardroom as it existed at the New School in 1931, allowing viewers to experience the mural cycle as Benton conceived it. A highlight of this extraordinary opportunity to view the reconstructed mural in its nearly original setting is the incorporation of elements that were part of the architect Joseph Urban’s modernist aesthetic for the New School building, such as the black and red color scheme he used for the room. Among the mural’s most distinctive features are the aluminum-leaf wooden moldings, which not only frame the mural but also create inventive spatial breaks within each large panel. When the mural was installed at the New School, these moldings echoed the Art Deco details of Urban’s building design.
The exhibition also features Benton’s studies from this travels in the 20s and related works by other artists from the Met’s collection.
Like their modern counterparts, medieval people enjoyed entertaining guests, often with their best utensils. Naomi Speakman, curator for the British Museum's Late Medieval Collection, salutes the museum's newest acquisition, the Lacock Cup, in a feature article on the museum blog. (photos)
It is with great sadness that the Gazette reports on the passing of Lord Breuse de Taraunt. Lord Breuse passed away on the evening of November 16th, 2014, following a collision with another vehicle. He is survived by his wife, his son, Lord Jence Brunerson, and his two daughters.
Lord Breuse first found the SCA in A.S. XV when he attended Pennsic IX while living in the Midrealm. Shortly after, he joined the U.S. Navy and later returned to the SCA, most recently in the East Kingdom, residing in the Canton of Black Icorndall in the Barony of Bhakail. Lord Breuse also went by: Stone Pate, Male Bruce, and Wing Bruce, the story behind which is detailed by the Baron of Bhakail, Mael Eoin mac Echuid:
He earned his Tyger of Foreign Legions for transporting Royal gear to Estrella and Gulf Wars in a single trip, for helping clean, set up and tear down as needed and for retaining at those Wars. That trip kicked off numerous friendships, an intended annual tradition of making it out to Estrella and was where the legend of Wing Bruce was born.
It was through his travels to the Midrealm, Atenveldt, Ansteorra, the West, An Tir, Trimaris and more, that Lord Breuse became known to many, including those in the East whom he served. These are the words of our King, Edward III:
I have been blessed to have known many within the society: heroes and legends going as far back as AS 3; queens whom I would follow to the ends of the earth; sword companions; and nobles from across the Known World. In this talk of heroes… “You’ve left out one of the chief characters – Samwise the Brave. I want to hear more about Sam.”
I want to hear more about Breuse, as he was all that I have ever hoped to be.
He had a quiet grace, strength and courtesy that never failed. He delighted in the goodness of others and affirmed as much by his stalwart and true service. His humble actions spoke volumes more than these feeble words can hope to. This world was made bright for his part in it.
Lord Breuse was known to be a helpful and giving individual, whether it was through his brewing, his cooking, or his service cleaning the hall, hauling gear, or retaining for both his local Baronage or Their Majesties. Recently, Lord Breuse served as a member of the Queen’s Guard for Queen Thyra, and Her Majesty sent us words:
“I will miss his steadiness, and his quiet constant support of everyone around him. He was a member of my guard, because no one could be more trustworthy in the defense of others. He was always surprised when anyone noticed him, but it wasn’t hard to see the quality of this man. I was lucky to have known him.”
Lord Breuse will be missed by many throughout the Known World, and his liegelord and friend, Mael Eoin mac Echuid, Baron of Bhakail:
We are diminished, today, for in losing Bruce, we have not lost a shining champion from the field, but a man who did much to get others to the field. Nor did we lose a cook renowned for his courses, but a kitchener who would chop and clean all that needed to be chopped and cleaned. What we did lose is a mensch, a model of service, a father, a friend. Bruce was all of these, to many, and many will remember.
Details for a memorial service, to be held on Friday, December 5th, 2014 will be forthcoming.
Filed under: Tidings Tagged: in memoriam, obituary, remembrance
For four years, members of the Medieval and Renaissance Society (MaRS) of the University of Georgia have been honing their fighting skills at Myers Quad. Recently reporter Emily Dardaman of the Red & Black dropped by for a visit. (photos)
With the proposed changes to Corpora clearly requiring that all awards given by SCA groups be registered by the College of Heralds, some groups may find themselves having to change their existing award names in order to meet the current heraldic standards and comply with the mandate of Corpora. Special Heraldic Contributor to the Gazette, Mistress Alys Mackyntoich has put together this helpful guide to understanding the basics of how Award and Order names are constructed as a primer to help understand period and SCA practices. Individuals are encouraged to consult a herald who specializes in names with any detailed questions.What’s The Difference Between An Award And An Order?
Administratively, there isn’t one. Heralds call them Order Names for our administrative purposes and I will do the same in this Guide because typing “award or order” gets annoying. There may be a difference in a particular Kingdom’s culture, but that is not official. For example, some people think that an award can be given multiple times, but an order only once, but that is neither period practice nor written anywhere in law.How To Build An Order Name
Each order name must have two things:
[SENA NPN.1] A designator is necessary so that we can identify the item as an order name rather than as some other kind of name.
In the name “Order of the Silver Crescent,” Order is the designator and Silver Crescent is the substantive element.What Designators Can We Use?
The current (November 2014) list of approved designators is found in Appendix E of SENA and in the May 2013 Cover Letter. The approved designators are:
Whether “Fellowship” is another registerable designator is currently under review.But What About Legion?
Legion is usable as a designator for household names. Unfortunately, it is no longer available for award/order names. [March 2010 Cover Letter]Picking A Substantive Element
The substantive element of an order name has to follow period naming practices. Currently (November 2014), we can document the following patterns for naming orders:
Order of Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Maunche
Order of Heraldic Color + Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Silver CrescentOnly heraldic tinctures and the ordinary names for the heraldic tinctures can be used. So “Order of the Blue Tyger” or “Order of the Tyger Azure” is fine. “Order of the Teal Tyger” or “Order of the Sapphire Tyger” is not.
Order of Physical Descriptive + Heraldic Charge — for example, Order of the Crowned IbexThis category is very limited. It has been allowed only for adjectives describing clear visual modifications to the heraldic charge — thus, Crowned Ibex (period example) and Winged [charge] (SCA example).
Order of Two Heraldic Charges — for example, Order of the Unicorn and Maiden
Order of Abstract Quality or Virtue — for example, Order of Chivalry
Order of Saint’s Name — for example, Order of Saint Michael
Order of Saint + Place name — for example, Order of Saint George of Rougemont
Order of Saint’s Object — for example, Order of Saint Georges Shield
Order of Person’s Name — for example, Order of Bellina
Order of the Piece of Armor/Clothing — for example, Order of the Belt
Order of Place Name — for example, Order of Loreto
Order of Duke/King of Place Name – for example, l’ordre du Duc de BourgongneBut . . . This Name Doesn’t Fit Your Patterns And It Is Registered!
There are a couple of reasons why a past registration is no guarantee that a similar name can be registered now. First, our body of research and heraldic knowledge changes over time. We find that things we thought were good period practice actually weren’t. We also sometimes find that things we thought were not period can be documented after all. Second, the applicable heraldic rules change over time. Sometimes those rules changes make it easier to register certain things, sometimes they have the opposite effect. Third, a particular group may be able to take advantage of a rule that your group cannot for various reasons.Do We Have To Use Real Saints?
The current (November 2014) SCA heraldry rules allow you to make up saints as long as the root name of the person is real.
For example, “the Company of Saint Kenrics Beard” is a registerable order name, even though there was not a real Saint Kenric because: (1) Kenric is a documentable period name; and (2) a beard is a documentable period heraldic charge.
You’ll notice that there’s no apostrophe in “Kenrics Beard.” Whether or not an apostrophe + s is required to make something possessive depends on whether you are using the period form or relying on one of the rules that allows for use of modern English. Since this is intended as a “Simple Guide,” this is one of the issues on which you should consult a names herald.How To Figure Out Whether Something Is A Period Heraldic Charge
There is an SCA resource called the Pictorial Dictionary of Heraldry that can be very helpful. It includes citations and pictures of period forms of heraldic charges. Experienced heralds will also have access to period rolls of arms and armorials (collections of blazons or images).Clearing Conflicts The Easy Way
Some order names are quite popular and have already been registered by other groups. However, the current (November 2014) heraldic rules allow a very simple way of clearing the conflict: adding the group name that is giving out the award. The Order of the Beacon of Carillion (registered 11/2012 LoAR) does not conflict with the Order of the Beacon of Endeweard (registered 9/2013 LoAR). [SENA NPN.3.C]
Filed under: Heraldry
The wreck of SS Ventnor, a ship that went down in 1902 carrying the remains of 499 Chinese gold miners from New Zealand back to their homes in China’s Guangdong province, has been found. The ship was discovered 21 kilometers (13 miles) west of Hokianga Harbour under 150 meters (492 feet) of water. The general area of the sinking was known, but it has taken 112 years to find the actual wreck.
The Ventnor Project Group, funded by Definitive Productions which is making a documentary about the shipwreck, first spotted the wreck in December of 2012 using echo sounding sonar. In January of 2013, they enlisted Keith Gordon, former president of the New Zealand Underwater Heritage Group, to investigate the site further. Using a remotely operated underwater vehicle, the team was able to photograph the wreck. The last step was sending divers to record the wreck on video. They confirmed that it was indeed the Ventnor.
In April the divers returned and were able to retrieve artifacts that might aid in identification. They recovered the ship’s bell and a few other pieces (some plates, a porthole window) which have been cleaned and conserved, but nothing with a name that would clinch the deal. Authorities in China and New Zealand were notified of the discovery and the shipwreck was gazetted by New Zealand Heritage, which means no objects can be removed the site without permission. No coffins or human remains have been found yet. The Ventnor Project Group needs to raise another 400,000 New Zealand dollars to dive the wreck site more extensively. Meanwhile, the Royal New Zealand Navy is going forward with separate plans they made before the announcement of the find to search for the wreck next month.
The tragedy of the Ventnor is a window into the Chinese experience in New Zealand. The first Chinese immigrants were invited to New Zealand by the Otago Provincial Council who needed people willing to do backbreaking labour in the gold mines of Otago on the South Island. Gold had been found in Gabriel’s Gully in 1861, setting off the Otago gold rush. Five years later, the gold fields had been thoroughly picked over and the work of extracting gold, never easy, got so hard miners left for greener pastures. The population of European miners plummeted from 19,000 men in early 1864 to 6,000 in late 1865. That’s when they sent the call out to Guangdong province for miners to rework the area. Guangdong was suffering in the aftermath of the suppressed Taiping Rebellion, so thousands of men made their way to New Zealand in hope of making a decent living.
By 1869, there were more than 2,000 Chinese, most of them from the Guangzhou area, in New Zealand. By 1881, there were more than 5,000. That same year, the New Zealand government passed its version of the U.S. Exclusion Act, a poll tax that charged ever Chinese immigrant £10 to enter the country, and only allowed one Chinese immigrant for every 10 tons of cargo. In 1896 those numbers got a lot worse: the per head tax was raised to £100 and only one Chinese immigrant was allowed per 200 tons of cargo. The poll tax remained in force until 1934 when the Japanese invaded Manchuria.
Amid the simmering racial tensions and the regulatory aggression, the Chinese miners banded together to maintain their customs and support each other. In 1882, a year after the poll tax was enacted, men from Poon Yu and Fah Yuen counties of Guangdong Province founded the Cheong Sing Tong, a subscription association that allowed members to pool their resources so they could send the remains of the dead back to their hometowns in China. According to Chinese tradition, the dead must be buried in the ground of their homes so their descendants can properly tend to them to ensure a good afterlife for the deceased and good fortune for their survivors.
The leader of the Cheong Sing Tong was Choie Sew Hoy, a successful merchant who had arrived with the first wave of immigrants from Poon Yu. Just like in the American gold rushes, the most successful people were those who sold stuff to the miners rather than the guys panning in rivers. Choie Sew Hoy started off with a general store and eventually ran a dozen mining ventures of his own. He was a prominent community leader in Dunedin and well respected by Chinese and European alike.
In 1883, Hoy and the Cheong Sing Tong exhumed 230 bodies and successfully sent them back to China for reburial. In 1901, they began arrangements for a second shipment. From early 1901 to the September 1902, bodies of Chinese immigrants were exhumed from more than 40 cemeteries, most of them in the Otago area but also from elsewhere in the country. The remains were sent to Choie Sew Hoy’s farm where the bones were individually washed and each bone counted. The small bones were each wrapped in calico. The large bones placed in calico bag to which the small bones were added along with the name of the deceased. The bag was tied and put inside a coffin which was stored in a shed until all coffins were ready to be shipped.
While this process was taking place, Choie Sew Hoy died suddenly in July of 1901 at the age of 64. His son Choie Kum Poy took over the project and Choie Sew Hoy’s body was added to the others for return to China. The ship they chartered to carry this cargo was the SS Ventnor. The Glasgow-built cargo ship was only a year old in October of 1902 when the coffins were loaded and it left Wellington headed for Hong Kong. Along with the crew, there were nine or six (accounts vary) elderly Chinese men on board who were given free passage by the Cheong Sing Tong in exchange for looking after the coffins.
One day after leaving Wellington, the ship, which was apparently traveling too close to the shore, hit rocks near the coast of Taranaki. The captain decided the damage wasn’t so bad they should make for the nearby port of New Plymouth, and there was little point in turning back around to Wellington since they could go almost the same distance north to Auckland and be going in the right direction. His judgment was flawed. The Ventnor took on water and sank off the Hokianga Heads on October 28th, 1902, two days after setting sail. Four lifeboats were launched holding the crew and passengers. Three of them made it to safety. The one holding the captain, among others, did not. Thirteen people died.
The tragic fate of the Ventnor was big news at the time, spurring a magisterial inquiry into the cause of the sinking. The official finding, announced on November 21st, 1902, was that the striking of the rocks off Cape Egmont was due either to negligence or incompetence on the part of the captain. Drunkenness, while possible, could not be proven. No blame was assigned to the decision to keep going towards Auckland instead of turning back to Wellington.
The Cheong Sing Tong chartered the Auckland steamer Energy to search for the Ventnor and any of the remains, but most of the coffins, including that of Choie Sew Hoy, were lead-lined and ensconced in the hold. Some plain wooden coffins that were stored on the deck floated and washed ashore. Maori tribespeople from the Te Roroa and Te Rarawa tribes buried the remains with care. They too share the belief that the remains of their people must be buried in the soil of their home, an issue that has been at the forefront of requests for repatriation of Maori remains in anthropological collections around the world.
The disaster of the Ventnor led to the disbanding of the Cheong Sing Tong and the end of the practice of sending coffins back to China in bulk. Remains were still sent home, but on an individual basis. The ship’s manifest was lost with the ship, so we don’t even have a list of names of the 499. Only Choie Sew Hoy is known. Recovering remains from the wreck would be extremely meaningful to the descendants of the miners in New Zealand and China.
The documentary The Lost Voyage of the 499 aired on Maori TV just Monday before the news of the discovery was announced. It’s a moving look at the history of the Ventnor as seen through the eyes of Choie Sew Hoy’s living descendants who travel to the Maori burial sites and to Hoy’s home village to see the first home he built in the 1860s and to pay their respects at his proxy grave.
Islamic art does not depict the human form, but it often finds its greatest inspiration in calligraphy. A new exhibit at the Sackler Gallery in Washington D.C. is devoted to nasta’liq, Persian calligraphy developed from the 14th to 16th centuries. Nasta’liq: The Genius of Persian Calligraphy will be featured at the gallery from September 13, 2014 through March 22, 2015.
Rohesia reports that an addition has been made to the Canterbury Faire 2015 Brewing Competition: Cider.
News, videos, blog posts and tweets we came across this week...
[View the story "21 Anglo-Saxon skeletons discovered: Medieval News Roundup" on Storify]
Scaffolding around the cast iron Dome of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., has been completed so that the full restoration of the Dome can begin. The construction of the scaffolding system is an impressive project in its own right. More than 52 miles of metal piping and two miles of wood planking form 25 tiers of platforms that surround the Dome from the skirt up to the base of the Statue of Freedom. The total weight of the scaffolding materials is 1.1 million pounds. Work is expected to take about two years and will be done mainly at night so as to minimize the disruption of Congressional business.
It’s been 150 years since the Dome was constructed, and although it was refurbished once in 1960, it’s in dire need of extensive repairs. Age and weathering have caused almost 1,300 cracks and breaks, 12,800 inches worth, in the exterior skin. There are pits and voids, rusted areas, missing and loose ornaments. So far workers have collected more than 100 ornaments that had either fallen off or were just about to fall off. Water leaks in through the cracks and pinholes in the Statue of Freedom causing rust and damage to the protective paint and corrosion in the interstitial space between the Dome and the Rotunda.
These are critical condition issues that need immediate attention lest the artwork in the Rotunda, the Apotheosis of Washington in the oculus of the Dome and the Frieze of American History underneath the windows, are at great risk of damage due to water leaks. There are already noticeable water stains on the coffers at the first visitors’ gallery. Further damage could cause things to start breaking off onto visitors in the Rotunda. A white donut-shaped catenary system was installed above the Frieze to protect visitors and the floor from construction debris while leaving the Apotheosis and Frieze still viewable.
Now that the scaffolding is up, the next stage is paint abatement and removal. Workers will sand blast eight layers of paint, some of it lead paint, some of it dating to 1866 when the first paint was applied to the completed Dome. To do this safely, the paint will sucked into large tubes that will run from the scaffolding to specialized trucks parked on the lower West Front of the Capitol. During this process, workers will also remove all loose ornaments and anything else precarious. Conservators will restore whatever pieces they can and recast the ones that are too damaged to repair.
As soon as the paint is removed, a primer coat will be applied. Cast iron is subject to “flash rusting,” meaning it starts to oxidize instantly as soon as it’s exposed to oxygen. To prevent flash rusting, the Dome will have to be primed within eight hours of paint removal. After the entire Dome is primed, the cracks in the cast iron will be repaired. Welding doesn’t work with cast iron unless you disassemble the object and bake it an oven at 1000 degrees Fahrenheit, a technique that obviously doesn’t apply to a giant dome. Of the 12,800 crack inches, 8,200 of them will be repaired using a technique called “lock and stitch” in which each crack is filled by hand with metal pins (that’s the stitching part) and then the edges brought together across the width with steel locks. The rest of the cracks will be filled with the “Dutchman” technique wherein large pieces are replaced with parts of the same shape. The restored or recast ornamentation will then be readded and damaged windows replaced and repaired.
All of that work will be done from the boiler plate at the bottom of the Dome to the base of the Statue of Freedom. The next phases will be done from top to bottom so the scaffolding can be removed as work is completed. Cast iron filler will be applied to any areas in need of it, then the Dome will be repainted in three layers. The top coat will be, appropriately enough, Dome White. Next fall protection and bird deterrent systems will be installed. After that, all that will be left is the clean-up. Everything should be shiny and new for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration.
The Architect of the Capitol has made tons of fascinating photographs of the Capitol dome available on its Flickr page. The main photostream has current pictures, plus there are photo albums dedicated to subjects like the original construction of the iron dome in the 1850s and 60s, the 1960 restoration, the restoration of the Brumidi frescos inside the Capitol and a set of almost 300 images of the restoration that began this month. The there are all the pictures of various events, holidays, seasons and oh man, the Capitol artwork. It’s seriously one of the greatest Flickr accounts I’ve ever seen.
Their Majesties, Edward and Thyra, issued Their second round of Award Order Pollings on November 5, and responses are due back to Them by November 26. They rely on the advice of the Companions in making Their award decisions, and appreciate timely replies.
If you are a member of a polled Order and are not subscribed to the polling distribution or the discussion list, you may sign up here: Polling Lists Please remember that each Order has two separate e-mail lists — one list is solely for sending out messages containing the links to the polls, the other list is for two-way discussion among the Companions of an order.
If you are subscribed to a polling list but did not receive the most recent message containing the link to the poll, please contact the Clerk of the Polling Lists, (currently Duchess Katherine Stanhope). She usually sends a message even if there are NO candidates, so Companions know they have not missed a poll.
Filed under: Official Notices Tagged: awards, pollings
Danish Archaeologists, thrilled by the discovery of a Viking ring fortress on the island of Zealand, are considering the possibility that the site might have been used as a training camp to launch an invasion of England. (photo)
The new SCA membership page is now available. The East Kingdom Gazette offers an introduction.
The remains of a Viking ring fortress discovered on the Vallø Estate on the Danish island of Zealand have been radiocarbon dated and the results confirm the tested area was built in the 10th century. Two samples of charred wood from the northern gate of the structure were tested and produced identical dates: between 895 and 1017 A.D. The samples were taken from the outermost tree rings of the logs and tested at the Department of Physics and Astronomy of Aarhus University in collaboration with Accium BioSciences’ laboratories in Seattle.
The archaeologists from the Danish Castle Centre and Aarhus University who made the find were convinced they had uncovered the first Trelleborg-type fortress in more than 60 years. Only seven of these ringforts built by King Harald Bluetooth in around 980 A.D. probably as part of a defensive network against the Germans have been found in Denmark and southern Sweden. The discovery of a new one was big news, therefore, but since only excavated small sections of the gates and ramparts had actually been unearthed, some archaeologists felt they were jumping the gun in labeling the find a Viking ring fortress.
The excavation wasn’t all they had to go on. The team had done extensive research on the site, performing a detailed laser survey followed by a geomagnetic survey that revealed a structure 475 feet in diameter underneath a mound barely visible to the naked eye. Like the other Trelleborg fortresses, this structure too appeared to be perfectly circular with four gates at the cardinal points of the compass. Armed with the survey data, the team excavated two areas likely to be gates. At the north gate, the team found the large burned oak timbers that were radiocarbon dated.
The oak logs aren’t done testifying to their age. Carbon-14 dating by its nature can’t be narrowed down any further, but tree rings can dated to the individual year. Dendrochronological analysis may give us a precise date. If it’s 980 A.D. or thereabouts, that will be powerful evidence that it’s one of Harald Bluetooth’s Trelleborg fortresses.
The sheer amount of effort required to build this fort, dubbed Borgring, suggests it was meant to convey power. Archaeologists found there was a basin of fresh or brackish water next to one of the walls, an inlet between Køge Bay and the ring fortress. The builders must have had to dig out hundreds of tons of clay from the subsoil into the inlet in order to support the fort. If they had built it a little further inland, none of that extra work would have been necessary. According to Nanna Holm, curator of the Danish Castle Centre, the location was chosen deliberately to signal the power of its owner.
The excavation has also shown that the construction of the fortress is closely related to other Viking fortresses such as Fyrkat near Hobro, Aggersborg near the Limfjord and Trelleborg near Slagelse. These fortresses were undoubtedly built during the reign of Harald Bluetooth, and still more evidence suggests that Borgring, as the fortress has been named, might have belonged to the same building programme.
“There are a lot of similar details in these structures. And it’s been wonderful to see the same things coming to light at Borgring. In addition to the structure of the rampart and the gates, we have also found traces of a street with wood paving running along the inside of the rampart – just like in Fyrkat, Aggersborg and Trelleborg. The most striking thing, however, is the measurements of the fortress. The rampart of Borgring is 10.6 metres wide. That is exactly the same width as the rampart of Fyrkat. So it’s hard to avoid the sense that the same master builder was responsible,” says [Aarhus University medieval archaeology professor Søren] Sindbæk.
Here’s a 3D reconstruction of Borgring based on the excavation with some hypothetical extrapolation:
In 1628, Girard Thibault wrote Académie de l’Espée, a rapier manual based on mathematical foundations. Science historian Daniel Margocsy of Slate offers a feature article on the fencing tome. (photos)
This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence. There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period. If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.
Today’s name is Cleopatra.
In the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, a fashion developed (particularly in England and the German-speaking principalities) for naming children after figures from classical history and mythology. As a result, we have evidence of women named Cleopatra in England and in Switzerland.
If you are interested in other names from classical history and mythology for which we have evidence of use by real people in the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, I have a published article on these names. Cleopatra Ashton; Female; Marriage; 10 Feb 1647; Saint Andrew By The Wardrobe, London, London, England; Batch: M02232-1 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:NVJH-8P8)  Cleopatra Ruch; Female; Christening; 06 Feb 1530; Basel, Basel, Switzerland; Batch: C73987-0 (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/1:1:FV8V-GMP)
Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: heraldry, names
In an excerpt from his book Agincourt: My Family, The Battle And The Fight For France, in the Mail Online, English writer and adventurer Sir Ranolph Fiennes discusses his ancestors' parts in the 1415 Battle of Agincourt, the day, he writes, chivalry died.
The excavations of future construction sites for the Fehmarn Belt Link tunnel continue to strike archaeological gold. Last month it was a 3,000-year-old flint dagger with an intact bark handle. Now Museum Lolland-Falster archaeologists reveal they’ve discovered two sets of Stone Age human footprints left around an extensive system of fixed gillnets, sticks of hazel mounted on stakes to form continuous weirs that trapped fish when the tide came in, on the Danish island of Lolland.
The Stone Age footprints are estimated to date back as far as 5,000 BC to 2,000 BC, to the time when water levels in the Baltic Sea were rising due to melting glaciers in northern Europe, and prehistoric people were able to use the inlets as bountiful fishing grounds. The individuals that made the footprints constructed elaborate fishing fences to catch their prey, and researchers say that the large wooden fences which interconnected to create a single continuous trap, were likely the cause of the footprints.
“What seems to have happened was that at some point they were moving out to the [fish fence], perhaps to recover it before a storm” project manager for the Museum Lolland-Falster, Lars Ewald Jensen says. “At one of the posts, the footprints were found on each side, where someone had been trying to remove it from the sea bottom.”
At least two people were involved in this rescue operation, leaving two sets of footprints of different sizes. They walked onto the wet seabed to pull up what they could of the gillnets and left deep impressions when their feet sank into the ground. Sand and mud then flowed into their prints. Thousands of years later, those prints were still clearly visible to archaeologists, both at the original depth and in dents on the surface.
Up until land reclamation efforts in the late 19th century, the coastal area where the footprints were found was dotted with fjords and streams and subject to regular flooding from the sea. A major Baltic flood in 1872 claimed 80 lives on Lolland. As a result, a vast dyke was built along nearly 40 miles of the island’s south coast. The dyke dried out the fjords. The gillnets bear witness to the constant battle against the incursions of sea water. The wattle had to be repeatedly repaired over the lifetime of the gillnets due in part to flood damage. Museum Lolland-Falster archaeologist Terje Stafseth notes in the museum press release (pdf):
“The investigations have shown that the Stone Age population repeatedly repaired, and actually moved parts of the capture system in order to ensure that it always worked and that it was placed optimally in relation to the coast and currents. We are able to follow the footprints and sense the importance of the capture system, which would have been important for the coastal population to retain a livelihood and therefore worth maintaining.”
These are the second-oldest human footprints found outside of Africa, with the oldest being the 800,000-year-old ones discovered on the rapidly-eroding foreshore of a beach in Happisburgh, Norfolk, in May of 2013. Most Stone Age remains recovered in Denmark are midden piles, broken tools or pottery. Archaeologists have found animal footprints from the period, but these are the first Stone Age human footprints ever found in Denmark.
Footprints and fishing trips weren’t the only discoveries on this ancient beach. Archaeologists also discovered several animal skulls from domestic and wild animals that appear to have been placed there deliberately as part of a ritual offering by farmers who inhabited the area in around 4,000 B.C. Fragments of skulls from assorted animals were placed on the coastal sea floor and then surrounded by crania of cattle and sheep. Axe shafts were placed around the skull sacrifice area which turned out to be quite large at 70 square meters (83 square yards).
The excavation is ongoing but the clock is ticking. This site along with so many others is likely to be destroyed when construction of the tunnel begins in a few months. The footprints and gillnets will be covered by an above-ground facility. All that will be left of the footprints that survived thousands of years will be flat molds taken by the archaeologists.