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Ukraine returns five paintings stolen from Dutch museum

History Blog - Mon, 2016-09-19 18:36

Five of the 24 paintings stolen from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, northwestern Netherlands, on January 10th, 2005, have been returned to the Netherlands by the Ukrainian authorities. How they ended up in Ukraine is unclear. Museum officials searched constantly for their purloined works — 17th and 18th century oil paintings by Dutch masters and 70 pieces of silverware — for years before finally spotting a picture of one of the paintings on a Ukrainian website in 2014.

In July of 2015, two members of the ultra-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) militia contacted the Dutch embassy in Kiev claiming that their battalion had all 24 of the stolen paintings and all the silverware. They claimed to have found the loot in the villa of one of their political enemies, a crony of the former president, and were willing to sell it back for an astronomical sum based on their groundless assumption that the art and silver were worth 50 million euros, a figure more than 50 times greater than the realistic assessment of expert appraisers.

The museum got the Ukrainian police involved, then the Foreign Ministry, then diplomatic talks ensued. No progress was made. When in December of last year they heard that the militia were looking for other potential buyers, museum officials notified the media and the whole crazy story made international news.

Since then, all kinds of under-the-radar things have been happening. Seemingly out of nowhere and with little explanation of the turn of events, in April of this year four of the 24 paintings were recovered by the Ukrainian secret service (SBU). They announced at a press conference that the recovery was the result of a special operation conducted in 10 regions of Ukraine over the course of four months, but no details were forthcoming about who had them or any legal repercussions for the thieves. All they said is they were found “in the possession of criminal groups,” which yeah, duh.

The four recovered works were The Peasant Wedding by Hendrick Boogaert, Kitchen Piece, by Floris van Schooten, The Return of Jephta and Woman World, both by Jacob Waben. These were the most prized of the stolen paintings and the museum was excited to get them back, especially since curators were concerned about their condition. Two of the paintings were still rolled up after having been cut out of their frames in the heist. Two others had been reframed.

Despite all the publicity about this caper and the artworks, the Ukrainian government dragged its heels about returning the paintings to the Westfries Museum. Officials decided they had to launch their own investigation of the pieces and who the legitimate owner was. The museum had supplied the authorities with ample documentation of their legal claim, which was doubted by nobody, not even the militia members themselves who had reached out to them directly, after all.

Then, in May, a fifth painting emerged, New Street in Hoorn by Izaak Ouwater. This one was handed in to the Dutch embassy in Kiev by an unknown buyer who apparently did not realize it was stolen when he purchased it. Again, no details were forthcoming.

Finally whatever kinks needed working out were worked out and on September 16th, all five of the paintings were formally returned to the Netherlands in a ceremony at the Dutch embassy in Kiev. Museum experts examined the works to authenticate them and assess their condition. The news for some of the works is grim.

[Museum director] Ad Geerdink: “Naturally I am very pleased about the return. But I am very sad about the condition of the paintings A Kitchen Scene by Floris van Schooten and A Peasants Wedding, by Hendrick Boogaert. For years, the paintings have been moved all over the place and they were folded or rolled up. They really suffered a lot. When unrolling them, a piece came loose. Luckily they can still be restored, but it will be a time-consuming effort. The costs will be significant, at least 100,000 Euros. As a museum, we are not able to bear these costs ourselves. We therefore hope that people will help us with the restoration by joining the crowd funding campaign. We will start the crowd funding when the paintings return to Hoorn. In the spring of 2017, we want to let the paintings shine again in full glory in the Westfries Museum.’

The paintings will be back on Dutch soil on October 7th and the museum is planning to welcome them with much happy fanfare. The five works will be briefly on display starting on October 8th and admission will be free for a week so the people of Hoorn can welcome back their long-lost prodigals.

I will post an update when the crowdfunding campaign is launched.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Arts & Sciences Salon to be Held on Saturday

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2016-09-18 21:52

On Saturday September 24, the Barony of Concordia of the Snows will be holding the second Arts & Sciences Salon, at the Scotia United Methodist Church. This event is different than a schola. It is all about relaxing and getting to enjoy your favorite art or science with no pressure to move on to another activity. There is plenty of time to speak casually with the ambassadors, and others who are passionate about their arts. At the same time, newcomers really enjoyed themselves last year, because they had the opportunity to investigate many of the things the SCA has to offer. They could move from room to room at their own pace, sampling many activities.

While some of the most popular arts and sciences from last year (calligraphy & illumination, fiber arts, metal working) will be represented again, we have made room for several new topics. These include glove making – an essential accessory for everyone in the Middle Ages; pewter casting – from carving the mold to casting your piece; brewing; and medieval plants. More than a dozen topics will be represented. This year we are offering some informal classes and demos in several of the classrooms. This is not meant to keep people from wandering in at any time, but rather as an aid to organizing your day.

Last year our persona development area focused on English and Indian personas. This year we are also focusing on Japanese culture and personas. Of course, whatever culture you are interested in, our ambassadors will be able to give you help and advice on honing your persona.

Ambassadors and other attendees will be bringing along some of their favorite research materials to share during the day. The reference library will include books and computer files on topics that are not otherwise being covered during the day. This is an opportunity for access to hard-to-find information.

Since this is a day about learning, the A&S display has a theme this year – “Show us your mistakes!” Making mistakes is an integral part of mastering any art or science. We have all made many mistakes along the way. We are asking people to show us their mistakes and what they learned from them. The populace will vote on their favorite mistakes, and a prize will be awarded at the end of the day.

For more information, see the event announcement: http://www.eastkingdom.org/EventDetails.php?eid=3046


Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Events Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences, events

Oldest known indigo dyed textile found in Peru

History Blog - Sun, 2016-09-18 18:47

In 2009, archaeologists found textile fragments at the Preceramic settlement of Huaca Prieta in the Chicama Valley on the northern coast of Peru. The desert climate preserves organic materials and a great many early textiles made from wild cotton indigenous to the area have been unearthed there. What makes these fragments so significant is the dyed blue threads which are the oldest known indigo dyed textiles in the world, 1,800 years older than the Egyptian Fifth Dynasty textiles previously believed to be the oldest indigo dye.

Occupied between 14,500 and 4000, Huaca Prieta’s large ceremonial mound was first excavated in 1946 by archaeologist Junius Bird, curator of South American Archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History. There he unearthed the oldest known cotton textiles with recognizable figures — humans, birds, snakes — in the Americas. Those textiles are now in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Bird’s trenches are still being excavated today and a number textile fragments are visible peering through the soil. It was in of those trenches, stratum 44 of trench HP-3, that archaeologists discovered two textiles with blue dye about 6200 to 6000 years old. The fragments are weft twining with warp stripes in different colors: the natural tan of the cotton, yarn woven with a white fiber from a local vine in the milkweed family and the blue. Chromatographic analysis of the textile confirmed the presence of an indigoid dye.

Different plants can be used to make indigoid dyes. What they all have in common is indigotin, the main component in blue dye, and indirubin, an isomer of indigotin. There is no currently available test that can distinguish between the different genera of plants that are sources of indigo dye. Researchers believe the Huaca Prieta dye was derived from plants in the Indigofera genus which are native to South America and still used as dye plants today.

Early examples of the use of blue yarns that were most likely colored with indigo are known, but dye analysis had heretofore been unavailable. The composition of the indigoid dyes identified in the fabrics presented here reflects that of earlier findings in Latin American and Asian contexts, in that proportions of indirubin relative to indigotin are significantly higher as compared to European productions. To date, there is no firm evidence to explain these differences, but plant species, harvesting, dye preparation, and actual dyeing, as well as differential conservation processes of essential dye components, may have, alone or in combination, contributed to this observation. One interesting hypothesis, requiring further confirmation, is that ancient vat dyeing technologies favored the formation and uptake by the yarn of indirubin. This would have resulted in a more purplish hue produced by a reddish indirubin and a bluish indigotin.

The textile fragments are now in the Cao Museum in Trujillo, Peru.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

3,000-year-old pot contains burned cheese residue

History Blog - Sat, 2016-09-17 21:55

A clay pot discovered during an archaeological excavation near Silkeborg in central Jutland, Denmark, in 2012 has the residue of 3,000-year-old burned cheese coating the interior. The pot was found upside down in a garbage pit. Museum Silkeborg archaeologists were excited by the find because the pot was intact and in near mint condition, a rare find for a Bronze Age vessel made between 777 B.C. and 588 B.C. They didn’t realize until they cleaned the soil off of it that the crusty remains of some whitish yellow food substance were stuck to the inside walls.

The color and texture were not something the archaeologists had seen before. Charred grains and seeds are a more common sight in ancient cookware — the ever-tricky porridge has been getting burned to the bottom of pots for thousands of years — but the yellowish film was a mystery. Samples of the crusty substance were subjected to macrofossil analysis at the Moesgaard Museum in the hope it might identify any plants, meat or fish. The results were inconclusive. The test found the substance was a foamy, vitrified material, possible the residue of oil or sugar.

Museum curators sent samples to the Danish National Museum next, where chemist Mads Chr. Christensen used mass spectrometry to identify the substance. He was able to narrow it down to a product made with the fat of a ruminant, likely bovine. With no similar sample to compare the mass spectrometry results, he wasn’t able to get more specific than that.

“The fat could be a part of the last traces of curds used during the original production of traditional hard cheese. The whey is boiled down, and it contains a lot of sugars, which in this way can be preserved and stored for the winter,” says [Museum Silkeborg curator Kaj F.] Rasmussen.

“It is the same method used to make brown, Norwegian whey cheese, where you boil down the whey, and what’s left is a caramel-like mass that is turned into the brown cheese that we know today from the supermarket chiller cabinet,” he says.

When things don’t go according to plan and the cheese burns to the pot, the smell is pungent, to put it charitably, and attempts to scrape the foul crust off the clay pot doomed to failure. It’s easy to picture a Bronze Age cheesemaker dumping the whole mess into the trash.

I’m not familiar with brown Norwegian whey cheese. It sounds … interesting. Has anybody tried this delicacy?

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Learn Sign Language Day by Day

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-09-17 18:37

By THL Gytha Oggsdottir, Kingdom Silent Herald.

Why in the world is that person standing up in court flailing around?

If it’s a Silent Herald, what she or he is doing is translating what is happening in court into American Sign Language (ASL). How much he or she  translates depends on the amount of sign that herald knows.  Why she or he translates is for many reasons:

  1. Our society is getting older. More and more of us are losing some to all of our hearing.
  2. Acoustics in many halls are terrible. How often are you in the back of the hall and can’t hear what is being said in court?
  3. We want our dream to be accessible to all.

But what if you are hard of hearing or sitting in the back of court and you do not know sign language?

Luckily, ASL is a very expressive language and many signs are similar to gestures you would use to explain something. Even not knowing sign, many people can gain a better concept of what is happening in court by watching a Silent Herald.  I am often approached by people who say they do not know sign, yet my presence as a Silent Herald made court more understandable.

I cannot count how many times people have told me that they wish they knew sign language. I am also approached by people who do know some sign but do not feel like they know enough to become a Silent Herald themselves.  This made me start thinking about how I could help spread the knowledge to others. I started teaching at scholas and academies, but that was clearly not filling the need.

I then came up with the idea of a sign-a-day Facebook group and created it.  (Æthelmearc Sign A Day)  The concept behind it was that it was a place where I would post a link to a video each day showing a sign. I would start with signs that the Society created for ourselves, then move to signs specific to Æthelmearc, and finally move to signs that are used often in court. In this manner people could get exposure to the signs that are used by Silent Heralds.

My hope is through this Facebook group that more people will learn ASL. That more people will understand what Silent Heralds are signing. And perhaps that one or two will be willing through the knowledge gained to stand in the front and sign themselves.

Categories: SCA news sites

Unique figurine of woman found at Çatalhöyük

History Blog - Fri, 2016-09-16 13:53

Archaeologists excavating the Neolithic urban settlement of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey have unearthed the figurine of a voluptuous woman in excellent condition. More than 2,000 figurines have been found at Çatalhöyük, but very few of them intact like this one. Several of them were also Mother figures; this is the first one to be found intact and with finely crafted details. It is also unusual in that it was discovered under a platform next to a piece of obsidian where it appears to have been deliberately placed likely for ritual purposes rather than discarded in garbage pits where archaeologists have found many broken statuettes, mostly made of clay. The beautiful Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük, for example, who is herself a zaftig female archetype seated on a throne and captured in the very act of giving birth, was found missing her head and the right hand rest in the shape of a leopard or panther head.

The figurine is 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) long, 11 centimeters (4.3 inches) wide and weighs one kilo (2.2 pounds), a large, heavy piece for Çatalhöyük. (The Seated Woman is 12 centimeters high.) Her hands and feet are small, markedly out of proportion to her large breasts, belly and buttocks, and her hands are placed under the breasts. She would not have been able to stand vertically on those small feet. The figurine is made of marble, another rarity, and was shaped by extensive polishing of the stone. Details — slanted eyes, a Modigliani-like flat nose, mouth, navel, etc. — were then incised on the figure.

It dates Neolithic occupation of the site, between 7100 and 6000 B.C., so the figurine is at least 8,000 years old. The exaggerated female features — breasts, hips, thighs — of such figures, carved by people for more 40,000 years, have often been interpreted as mother or fertility goddesses, but recent scholarship suggests some of them may represent venerable high status older ladies of the community.

Çatalhöyük is a fascinating site, founded in a period of transition between highly mobile hunter-gatherers and settled farming communities. No identifiable public buildings have been found thus far, just domestic structures built so close together than people had to use roofs and ladders to move between them. Residents grew a few different kinds of plants and kept cattle — not domesticated yet, mind you — for milk and meat. Large cattle horns were popular decorative features incorporated into the homes. The dead were buried under the houses; there was no dedicated cemetery or burial ground.

The Çatalhöyük Research Project has been excavating the settlement since 1993, combining excavation with in situ conservation and curation of artifacts to ensure the long-term preservation of this extraordinarily signficant site. Full details about the newly discovered figurine will be published in the team’s 2016 Archive Report later this year.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Agincourt Feast Will Be A Canterbury Tales Experience

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-09-16 12:18

By Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe, Head Cook.

The Agincourt feast this year is based on the Canterbury Tales. I have taken a few liberties with the menu to ensure proper balance and variety of dishes. We will be doing a few things differently this time around and hope that you will enjoy the experience.

When you enter the hall, you will see that the tables have been arranged in a “U” formation. The Royalty will be seated at a table located at the bottom of the U. This is an approximation of what may be seen in medieval illuminations.

The tables will be covered in white linen and a small pitcher, bowl, and a linen towel will be placed every few feet. This is for handwashing prior to dinner.

In accordance with period practice, seating will be done by precedence. When you sign up for dinner, we are requesting that you provide your title to facilitate creating the final seating chart.

This is not something that we do often and there may be some concerns because it’s new to most people. When we organize the seating, we will be keeping families together so that small children are not seated separately from their parents. Seating by precedence gives you the opportunity to spend time with old friends and acquaintances as well as meeting new people and sharing a meal with them.

Because of the available seating in the hall, we will be seating people both on the inside and outside of the tables. It will look something like this:

A herald will announce the diners, including High Table. As each person is announced, she or he will then be lead to their seats by a server. Once everyone is seated, diners are encouraged to take advantage of the water, pitcher, and towel to wash their hands before dining. Handwashing before a meal was done before feasts during our period of study in order to assure their fellow diners that their hands were clean (diners were expected to come to the table with hands and nails clean). Handwashing would often be done at a separate basin or the pitcher and basin would be brought to each guest in turn based on his or her rank.

The handwashing water is the handwashing water described in Le Ménagier de Paris using the recipe created by Christianne Muusers.

Pour faire eaue a laver mains sur table mectez boulir de la sauge, puis coulez l’eaue et faictes reffroidier jusques a plus que tiedes. Ou vous mectez comme dessus camomille et marjolaine, ou vous mectez du rommarin, et cuire avec l’escorche d’orenge. Et aussi feuilles de lorier y sont bonnes.

To make water for washing hands at the table. Boil sage, strain the water and let cool to a little more than tepid. Or take camomille and marjoram in stead [of sage], or rosemary, and boil with orange peel. Bay leaves are also good.

Once handwashing is complete, the feast will commence.

The Readings & Menu

Before each course, there will be a reading from the Canterbury Tales. The reading will be from the introductory poem for the character whose tale the course is based upon. This is entirely done for time considerations.

Here Begynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury

(read by Master Morien MacBain)

When April with his showers sweet with fruit

The drought of March has pierced unto the root

And bathed each vein with liquor that has power

To generate therein and sire the flower;

When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,

Quickened again, in every holt and heath,

The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun

Into the Ram one half his course has run,

And many little birds make melody

That sleep through all the night with open eye

(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-

Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,

And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,

To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.

And specially from every shire’s end

Of England they to Canterbury wend,

The holy blessed martyr there to seek

Who helped them when they lay so ill and weal

Befell that, in that season, on a day

In Southwark, at the Tabard, as I lay

Ready to start upon my pilgrimage

To Canterbury, full of devout homage,

There came at nightfall to that hostelry

Some nine and twenty in a company

Of sundry persons who had chanced to fall

In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all

That toward Canterbury town would ride.

The rooms and stables spacious were and wide,

And well we there were eased, and of the best.

And briefly, when the sun had gone to rest,

So had I spoken with them, every one,

That I was of their fellowship anon,

And made agreement that we’d early rise

To take the road, as you I will apprise.

But none the less, whilst I have time and space,

Before yet farther in this tale I pace,

It seems to me accordant with reason

To inform you of the state of every one

Of all of these, as it appeared to me,

And who they were, and what was their degree,

And even how arrayed there at the inn

And with a knight thus will I first begin.

The First Course

The Franklin’s Portrait

(Read by Count Thomas Byron of Havorford)

There was a franklin in his company;

White was his beard as is the white daisy.

Of sanguine temperament by every sign,

He loved right well his morning sop in wine.

Delightful living was the goal he’d won,

For he was Epicurus’ very son,

That held opinion that a full delight

Was true felicity, perfect and right.

A householder, and that a great, was he;

Saint Julian he was in his own country.

His bread and ale were always right well done;

A man with better cellars there was none.

Baked meat was never wanting in his house,

Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous

It seemed to snow therein both food and drink

Of every dainty that a man could think.

According to the season of the year

He changed his diet and his means of cheer.

Full many a fattened partridge did he mew,

And many a bream and pike in fish-pond too.

Woe to his cook, except the sauces were

Poignant and sharp, and ready all his gear.

His table, waiting in his hall alway,

Stood ready covered through the livelong day.

At county sessions was he lord and sire,

And often acted as a knight of shire.

A dagger and a trinket-bag of silk

Hung from his girdle, white as morning milk.

He had been sheriff and been auditor;

And nowhere was a worthier vavasor.

The Cook’s Portrait 

(read by Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe)

A cook they had with them, just for the nonce,

To boil the chickens with the marrow-bones,

And flavour tartly and with galingale.

Well could he tell a draught of London ale.

And he could roast and seethe and broil and fry,

And make a good thick soup, and bake a pie.

But very ill it was, it seemed to me,

That on his shin a deadly sore had he;

For sweet blanc-mange, he made it with the best.

First Course Menu

Barley Water: Since we can’t provide ale and no alcohol is allowed on site

Bread: Locally made white bread. A gluten-free bread will be available.

Sowpys dory: Minced onions fried in oil with rice milk ladled over trenchers.

Hennys in bruet: Chicken and pork with salt, pepper, and cumin colored with saffron.

Tarlett: A pork tart with saffron, eggs, currants, powder douce, salt


The Summoner

“A buckler he had made him of a cake”

Second Course

The Manciple

(read by Baron Brandubh O’Donnghaile)

There was a manciple from an inn of court,

To whom all buyers might quite well resort

To learn the art of buying food and drink;

For whether he paid cash or not, I think

That he so knew the markets, when to buy,

He never found himself left high and dry.

Now is it not of God a full fair grace

That such a vulgar man has wit to pace

The wisdom of a crowd of learned men?

Of masters had he more than three times ten,

Who were in law expert and curious;

Whereof there were a dozen in that house

Fit to be stewards of both rent and land

Of any lord in England who would stand

Upon his own and live in manner good,

In honour, debtless (save his head were wood),

Or live as frugally as he might desire;

These men were able to have helped a shire

In any case that ever might befall;

And yet this manciple outguessed them all.

Second Course Menu

Berandyles: Chicken simmered in beef broth flavored with ginger, sugar, pomegranate seeds, and cloves.

Sawce madame: A sauce with a chicken broth base flavored with quince, pears, garlic, grapes, galingale, and poudre douce.

Perrey of pesown: White beans with vegetable broth, onions, oil, sugar, salt, and saffron.

Blomanger: Rice, cow’s milk , chicken, and saffron.

Tart de Bry: A tart of eggs, cheese, sugar, saffron, salt, and ginger. A gluten-free version of this dish will be available.

Final Course

The Miller’s Portrait

(read by Maister Liam Mac an tSoir)

The miller was a stout churl, be it known,

Hardy and big of brawn and big of bone;

Which was well proved, for when he went on lam

At wrestling, never failed he of the ram.

He was a chunky fellow, broad of build;

He’d heave a door from hinges if he willed,

Or break it through, by running, with his head.

His beard, as any sow or fox, was red,

And broad it was as if it were a spade.

Upon the coping of his nose he had

A wart, and thereon stood a tuft of hairs,

Red as the bristles in an old sow’s ears;

His nostrils they were black and very wide.

A sword and buckler bore he by his side.

His mouth was like a furnace door for size.

He was a jester and could poetize,

But mostly all of sin and ribaldries.

He could steal corn and full thrice charge his fees;

And yet he had a thumb of gold, begad.

A white coat and blue hood he wore, this lad.

A bagpipe he could blow well, be it known,

And with that same he brought us out of town.

Final Course Menu

‘Spiced Ale’: Because of the alcohol-free site, we will be serving spiced apple cider.

Wafers: Thin cookies made in an iron. A gluten-free option will be available.

Honeycomb: Squares of honeycomb.

Honey: Local honey.

Cheese: A fresh-made ricotta-like cheese.

The Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands will host Agincourt Friday, October 28 to Sunday, October 30. See the Barony’s website for the event announcement.

See Odriana’s original blog posting here.

Are you preparing or did you recently cook a period feast? Contact The Æthelmearc Gazette to share your recipe booklet, website musings, or blog posting.

Categories: SCA news sites

Court Report: Siege of Glengary

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-09-15 16:50

Court Reports of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc

Thomas Byron and Ariella

September 3, AS 51 (2016)

Siege of Glengary

Shire of Sylvan Glen

Documented from the Rolls and Files of the Coram Regibus of Thomas Byron et Ariella, Rex et Regina Æthelmearc: Being a True Record of the Business of Their Majesties’ Royal Court at the Siege of Glengary, September 3, AS LI, in the Shire of Sylvan Glen.  As recorded by Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta, with the assistance of THL Alianora Bronhulle and Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres, Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald.

Their Majesties invited Their cousins from the Kingdom of Atlantia, Fergus and Glynis, Baron and Baroness of the Barony of Highland Foorde, to join Them in Their court.

Next, Their Majesties called for the children of Æthelmearc where They, and Princess Leah, bestowed upon them gifts and trinkets of amusement.

Having seen that the children were properly cared for, Their Majesties then summoned into Their Court the autocrat, Lady Laurentia of Caledonia, where upon They bid her share the reports of day’s events and activities. Lady Laurentia reported that the day’s thrown weapons tourney was won by Lord Kuma, the Arts and Sciences competition was won by Lady Samin, Maestro Orlando won the morning rapier tournament, and Lord Dromund won the rapier longsword tournament. THLord Tegrinus was the winner of the rattan tournament. The autocrat then thanked her staff, Their Majesties, and all who attended the event this day.

Next, Their Majesties gave leave to Fergus and Glynis to conduct business of their Court.

Lord Bertrand Martel’s AoA

Their Majesties summoned Bertrand Martel and THL Ursula of Rouen presented herself on his behalf. Their Majesties and spoke of his skill in armored combat and thrown weapons, his efforts in creation of his own armor, and his assistance with demos. Being pleased with Their subject They did award him arms and raise him to the ranks of the nobility. Scroll by The Honorable Lady Rachel Dalicieux.



Maddoc MacRoyri was awarded arms in absentia. Scroll by Mistress Maria Cristina de Cordoba.

Lord Maddoc MacRoyri’s AoA.

Lady Safia bint Da’ud Al’Zarqa’s AoA.

Their Majesties then called for Safia bint Da’ud Al’Zarqa. On her behalf, her husband Lord Dromund presented himself before The Throne. Speaking proudly of Safia’s labors as the arts & sciences officer and seneschal for the College of Silva Vulcani, Their Majesties did award her arms and name her Lady Safia. Scroll calligraphed by Baroness Ekaterina Volkova and illuminated by Anna Ianka Lisitsina.

Lord Thomas Niring’s AoA.

Next, Their Majesties wished to speak with Thomas Niring. Being not present, a member of the populace came forward on his behalf.

Their Majesties spoke of his virtuous deeds and of his craftsmanship in creating a full steel fighting harness.

Satisfied by the industriousness of Their subject saw fit to name him Lord by awarding him arms.

Scroll unsigned.



Lord Hunter’s Silver Sycamore.

Their Majesties then, having heard of the passions of Hunter of Sylvan Glen did call him forward. He also being not present, his father presented himself before Their Majesties. Their Majesties shared knowledge of Hunter’s efforts in chainmail and the creation of an avantale that he entered into and arts & sciences competition. They spoke of his growing talent in the art of calligraphy. Being pleased with this youthful subject of Their kingdom did induct him into the Order of the Silver Sycamore. Calligraphy by Eilionora inghean an Bhaird and illumination by Eilionora inghean an Bhaird and THL Rachel Dalicieux.


Lord Dromund’s Golden Alce.

Looking out over the populace gathered, Their Majesties spied Lord Dromund Geirhjalmson and once again bade him come forward. They hailed his prowess with rapier to Their Court. They spoke of his knowledge of the steel arts and talked of the longsword tournament this very day in which he emerged victorious over all other combatants. Well pleased with his prowess and skill did They name him a Companion of Golden Alce. Pyrography scroll by Maighstir Liam MacantSaoir.

Lord Leonardis’ Golden Alce.

Lord Leonardis Hebenstreit was inducted into the Order of the Golden Alce in absentia. Scroll by The Honorable Lady Eleanore Godwin.

Lord Leo Dietrich’s Golden Alce.

Leo Dietrich was created a Companion of the Golden Alce and Awarded Arms in absentia.  Scroll by Lord Angellino the Bookmaker.

Lord Otto Boese’s Sycamore.

Lord Otto Boese was then called before Their Majesties and a member of the populace came forward of his behalf. They told Their Court of Lord Otto’s craftsmanship in leather, of his making of arming sword sheathes and period archery items. They also spoke of his win in the novice category at Ice Dragon for these same items. Their Majesties then inducted him into the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll by Mistress Antoinette de la Croix with text by The Honorable Lord Gunther Grunbaum.

Her Majesty then sought to be attended by Master Robert of Sugar Grove. She told of how She was pleased by his giving of himself that day; to spend four hours teaching a class and to work with the youth. She praised him for his selflessness and how his efforts lead to the enrichment of the kingdom. Thus, in the tradition of Queens before Her, She did name him Her inspiration and presented him with Her token.

Their Majesties recognized all those who contributed scrolls, medallions, and regalia for those recognized in Court this day. They thanked those who worked to make the event successful and those who had attended, and They thanked the Shire of Sylvan Glen for their generosity and hospitality.

There being no further business, the Coram Regibus was closed.

Faithfully submitted,

Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta

All photos by Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta

Categories: SCA news sites

World’s oldest snowshoe found in Italian Dolomites

History Blog - Thu, 2016-09-15 13:41

On August 5th, 2003, Simone Bartolini, cartographer and head of the State Borders division of Italy’s Military Geographical Institute, was in the Pfossental Valley in the Italian Dolomites doing a topographical survey of the border with Austria when he came across an old snowshoe made by hand out of birch and twine. A birch stick about 1.5 meters (five feet) long had been shaped into a rough oval closed with twine, and then more twine stretched taughtly across the middle to support the foot. One of the twine supports was broken in the middle, but otherwise it was in excellent condition.

Bartolini thought it was maybe a hundred years old, the rudimentary work of a local farmer perhaps, and hung it on the wall of his office in Florence as a charming curiosity. That’s where it remained for 12 years until 2015 when Bartolini attended an exhibition of artifacts found in the glaciers at the Archaeological Museum of Bolzano. After a conversation with museum director Angelika Fleckinger, it dawned on him that his snowshoe might be a lot older than he had realized, so he gave it to the Office of Archaeological Heritage of Bolzano for further study.

Researchers had it radiocarbon dated by two independent laboratories and their results were the same: the snowshoe was made in the late Neolithic, between 3800 and 3700 B.C. That makes it 5,800 years old, by far the oldest known snowshoe.

“The shoe is evidence that people in the Neolithic period were living in the Alps area and had equipped themselves accordingly,” said Dr Catrin Marzoli, the director of the province’s cultural heritage department.

It was unclear why people were travelling through such an inhospitable region, she said. They may have been hunting animals, fleeing enemies from a rival tribe, or visiting pagan sites of worship.

If you live in an environmentally challenging region, you adapt. People gotta move sometimes for any number of reasons. The snowshoe was found at an altitude of 3,134 meters (10,280 feet) in the Gurgler Eisjoch pass which has been used by mountain travelers for thousands of years. Ötzi the Iceman, whose naturally mummified body was found just a few miles west of the snowshoe in 1991, was treading that well-worn trail between what are now Italy and Austria when he was killed, and microscopic evidence in his bones and digestive system indicate he had trod that path many times in his life. Ötzi died 500 years after that snowshoe was made.

The snowshoe will now join the Iceman on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The Art of Pre-Registering for Events, Demystified

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-09-14 19:45

Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Event Announcements

With the the busy fall event season kicking into high gear, reservations clerks, head cooks, gate keepers, and autocrats across the Kingdom are waiting with bated breath for friendly little envelopes full of your money. How can you bring joyous smiles to these hard-working peoples’ faces, with minimal effort on your part?

The Æthelmearc Gazette is here to help! We’ll answer all your burning questions, including:

  • Why Pre-Register at all?
  • How do I know what to pay, especially with this new wording?
  • Sometimes I’m confused about how much to pay. What do I do?
  • Who do I make the check out to?
  • What do I include with my check?
  • How do I know they got my check?
  • When can I expect the check to be cashed?
  • Can I pay any other way besides a check?
  • How else can I make the process go smoothly?
  • Advanced class: Why did the wording change in the money section of event announcements?
  • Advanced class: So, what happened to the NMS (non-member surcharge) then? They said it was important, are they not collecting it?

Been around for 40 years and think you know all these answers? Well, they may surprise you! Read on!

Why Pre-Register at all?
On your end, it makes check-in super fast and easy. Sometimes there’s even a separate line for those who have pre-registered. Skip to the head of the class! Sometimes space is limited for feast, lunch, or the nice camping facilities… if you don’t pre-reg, you could (and for some events, will) miss out on fabulous food, or a warm, dry bed for the weekend.

On the event staff end, it is so, so, soooo much easier to plan if they know how many people are coming! Really. Planning ahead can mean the difference between losing money and making money for the local group (which they need for supplies and so forth). Help them out!

Planning is particularly important for the food. Ever been to an event that has a lunch that runs out of food, or there seems to be way too much? It’s because they didn’t know how many people to plan for. Be part of the solution! Sometimes, the feast cook will adjust how many people he or she is cooking for, based on the number of pre-regs. If you pre-reg, more people can eat! It will warm the cockles of our cooks’ hearts.

How do I know what to pay, especially with this new wording?
It’s right in the event announcement! Handy! Skim down to the money bit of the announcement. If you’ve been around a while you will notice that it looks different now than it did a few months ago. The Corporate Office asked the local groups to change the way we word the money bits. (More on that below). But don’t worry, read it carefully, and it will make sense. Here’s the important part:

If you are a member of the SCA, you qualify for the member discount! Yay! So send that amount (“Adult Member Discount Registration” usually), not what we are referring to as the “Adult Registration” amount. That is for non-members.

Also, pay attention to what the registration pays for… don’t stop at the number. Most event announcements will say. It’s common for the registration amount to pay for entry and maybe lunch, but it won’t include feast. That’s usually a separate line, and you have to keep reading to get to it. Same for camping or cabin fees, if there are any.

For example: The event announcement says, “Adult Event Registration, $15. Adult Member Discount Registration, $10. Registration includes lunch. Feast is an additional $10”. What do you send?

  • If you are a member of the SCA over 18, and you want to eat feast, you send a check for $20.
  • If you are a member over 18 and don’t want feast, you send a check for $10.
  • If you are not a member, are over 18, and you want to eat feast, you send a check for $25.
  • If you not a member, are over 18, and you don’t want feast, you send $15.

Sometimes I’m confused about how much to pay. What do I do?
Don’t guess! Just send a quick email or message to the reservations clerk or autocrat and ask. Or call. That’s just a few minutes of your and their time. Easy and fast.

Guessing and getting it wrong, or being incautious with the math and getting it wrong, can cause a headache for the reservations clerk, gatekeeper, possibly the exchequer, and you when you arrive at the event. Confusion and time wasted! It will make the gate folks sad. No one likes sad trolls! If you’re not sure, ask before you send the reservation.

Who do I make the check out to?
That’s in the event announcement, too! Take a quick look at it. Scan for the money section – it’s usually before or after that. You’ll see the phrase “Make checks payable to: SCA [state] Inc, – [Name of local group].” Never make a check out to the name of the autocrat or reservations clerk. It’ll always be to a group. A couple examples: SCA NY, Inc – Shire of Coppertree; SCA PA, Inc – Debatable Lands; SCA WV, Inc – Shire of Sylvan Glen.

While you’re writing the check, don’t forget to sign and date it! And it can be helpful to write your phone number on it, too (if you’re so inclined), in case the reservations clerk has questions. It will make his or her eyes sparkle with joy.

What should I include with my check?
You should include a note saying who you are and what you’re paying for. Don’t laugh! People don’t! Please do send a note. It should include the full mundane names of everyone you’re paying for, their SCA names if they got ’em, exactly what you think you’re paying for, and the amounts (this helps with your math, too!). If you’re paying for kids, it’s also helpful to include their ages. Also, your contact info – phone number and email address.

Here’s a bad example (don’t do this!):
Hey, looking forward to it, bringing the kids and mom, see you then! Love, Mary [includes a check for $89]

Here’s a good example:
Enclosed is a check for $89 for the Feast of Awesome on Oct 1:
Lady Mariah du Jardin (Mary Contrary-Smythe): $12 + $ 8 feast ($20)
Lord Hugo Oaksplitter (Jack Contrary): $12 + $8 feast ($20)
(no SCA name) (Evelyn Smythe): $17 (non member) + $8 feast ($25)
Bucky Oaksplitter (Bucky Contrary, age 9), $6 + $8 feast ($14)
Mimi Oaksplitter (Mimi Contrary, age 3), $0 + $0 feast, will need a feast seat, please
Also, 5 beds in a cabin for one night (Saturday), 5 x $2 ($10)
Any questions, please call (412) 555-5555 or email mary.contrary@gmail.com. We’ll show our membership cards at the door. Thanks!

Send something like that, and you may get a smiley face and a star next to your name. The gatekeeper might even wink at you in appreciation.

How do I know if they got my check?
You won’t necessarily. But if you include a polite note with your check (for example, “Can you please email or FB message me when you get this? mary.contrary@gmail.com”), most reservations clerks are happy to take a moment and drop you a note.

When can I expect the check to be cashed?
Within a week of when it is received. That’s what’s supposed to happen. In reality, sometimes it can take longer. Feel free to contact the autocrat, exchequer, or seneschal of the group holding the event, if something seems to have gone awry.

Is there any other way to pay besides a check?
If you’re mailing it, you’ll have to write a check. Or you could send a money order. Sending cash through the mail isn’t a good idea. If the person taking pre-regs is local to you, they may be willing to take cash in person.

We know, we know… you can pay online for, like, everything these days, why not events? Short answer: it’s against SCA policy for local groups to set up that sort of thing, so we don’t. There’s a PayPal experiment going on in other Kingdoms right now. If it works out, we may implement here, but it’s still in a testing phase right now.

An alternative to physically writing check is to ask your bank if you can do online requests for physical checks to be sent. Basically, you enter the info on their website, and the reservations clerk will get a physical check in the mail. This service does exist, and some banks do it. You need to enter the “payable to” and physical address correctly! And please do request it in enough time, since it sends a check through the mail… Not as fast as PayPal, but hey, it’s online!

What else can I do to make the process work smoothly?
The best thing you can do is send your pre-registration in early enough. Feast (or cabin) spaces can sell out pretty fast, and event staff really hates to disappoint people. In fact, the number of feast spaces available may be dependent on how many pre-regs there are! And if you’ve asked if there’s space and they say “yes”, don’t dawdle! There may be space that day, but if you wait a week to send your check, it may be sold out by then. Ensure a cheerful check-in and send in early!

Advanced class: Why did the wording change in the money section of event announcements?
The short answer: so that the SCA isn’t taxed by states inappropriately.

There was a state that wanted to tax SCA event fees, since the wording of the event announcement made it sound like we do entertainment stuff, like Ren Faires. Entertainment stuff can be taxed. As you all know, we are not entertainment; we are a participatory organization. Such things are not taxed. The change was needed in order to make it super clear that our events are participatory in nature, not entertainment or some other taxable thing. SCA Corporate rolled it out to all the Kingdoms because, as we learned from creating subsidiaries, such things (like new ways to levy taxes) tend to spread from state to state, and they wanted to head it off at the pass.

Bonus is that the new wording is friendlier to new folks, and more inclusive than “non-member surcharge”. That’s been a Corporate-level discussion for years. It was a good time to make the change.

Advanced class: So, what happened to the NMS (non-member surcharge) then? They said it was important, are they not collecting it?
Remember how the NMS was $5? Well, you may notice that the “adult event registration” prices and the “adult member discount registration” prices are exactly $5 different! This is not a coincidence!

That difference of $5 per non-member is still collected and sent to Corporate, just like the NMS was. On the back end (that the exchequers, autocrats, and seneschals worry about), it gets reported and sent the same way it always has. They’re renaming it to NMR (non-member registration). It’s just a front end nomenclature change, and it doesn’t change the way we’re collecting and reporting anything. It’ll take some getting used to, but we’ll get there!

This article was written by Baroness Hilda Hugelmann, so any mistakes are hers. Thanks to Master Bataar Sogdo, Deputy Kingdom Exchequer, for contributing information used in writing the advanced class information, and to Duchess Dorinda Courtenay for ideas and FAQs.

Categories: SCA news sites

HMS Terror may have been found

History Blog - Wed, 2016-09-14 16:40

Not basking in the success of its search for HMS Erebus, the flagship of Sir John Franklin during his last doomed voyage to find the Northwest Passage, Parks Canada continued its research on the Franklin expedition this season, studying the Erebus with sonar and seeking out any remains of the second ship, the HMS Terror. One of its partners in the endeavour is the Arctic Research Foundation whose vessel Martin Bergmann carries Parks Canada underwater archaeologists, side-scan sonar equipment and a remotely operated vehicle.

On September 3rd, the crew of the Martin Bergmann found a large three-masted shipwreck at the bottom of, believe it or not, Terror Bay. The sonar data was confirmed by video from the ROV which allowed the team to compare the wreck to the plans of the HMS Terror. They found the ship’s bell, but couldn’t see the name of the vessel on it. One key feature that indicates this is the Terror is the exhaust pipe which is in the same location as the smokestack on the ship’s plans. It was added to HMS Terror to vent exhaust from the locomotive engine installed in the ship’s hull so it could cut through sea ice.

The Terror was long believed to have been crushed by the hard, cold embrace of sea ice, but if this is the ship itself, it appears to be in excellent condition. Its three masts are broken, but it sits level on the sea floor about 80 feet below the surface, indicating that it sank gently. A long rope, still threaded through a hole in the deck, may have been used as an anchor line. The metal sheeting on the hull is intact. It seems the crew battened down the hatches, so to speak, as the ship was closed up tight. Of the four glass windows in the stern cabin, only one is broken. That bodes very well for the preservation of the contents.

On Sunday, a team from the charitable Arctic Research Foundation manoeuvred a small, remotely operated vehicle through an open hatch and into the ship to capture stunning images that give insight into life aboard the vessel close to 170 years ago.

“We have successfully entered the mess hall, worked our way into a few cabins and found the food storage room with plates and one can on the shelves,” Adrian Schimnowski, the foundation’s operations director, told the Guardian by email from the research vessel Martin Bergmann.

“We spotted two wine bottles, tables and empty shelving. Found a desk with open drawers with something in the back corner of the drawer.”

As with the discovery of Erebus, here too Inuit knowledge of the area played a pivotal role. The Martin Bergmann was headed to the north end of Victoria Strait to join the other ships on the Parks Canada mission when one of the crew members, Sammy Kogvik, told a story about how on a fishing trip six years ago he saw a large vertical piece of wood poking through the ice covering Terror Bay. He took some pictures of himself hugging the mast-like timber but lost the camera on the way home.

Taking the loss of the camera to be a bad omen — the Inuit have thought King William Island to be plagued with bad spirits since the death of everyone on the Franklin expedition — Kogvik told nobody of his find until he told Adrian Schimnowski on board the Martin Bergmann. Breaking from the lost history of explorers discounting Inuit evidence, the crew decided to take a detour from their destination and check out Terror Bay.

So it seems the Inuit are two for two on the Franklin expedition ships. Nice stats for people Lady Jane Franklin contemptuously dismissed as “savages” and their information, now proven to be accurate on pretty much every point, as “gossip” that should never have been repeated because it included reports of survival cannibalism among the crew.

The identification is not a sure thing yet. This ship was found a full 60 miles south of where the Terror was thought to have been destroyed based on the only known official records of the expedition ever found: an Admiralty form in a cairn at Victory Point on King William Island that noted the coordinates of where the two ships had been abandoned to the sea ice. But then again, Erebus was found much further south than expected too. Jim Balsillie, co-founder of the company that created the Blackberry and founder of the Arctic Research Foundation, has an idea of why this might be.

“Given the location of the find [in Terror Bay] and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate.”

Sounds reasonable. Parks Canada is circumspect about the find. They’re excited about it and recognize the significance of the find particularly in highlighting the inestimable value of the Inuit contribution, but they aren’t ready to call the Terror found until they’ve examined the details and confirmed it’s the real deal.

This CBC News story includes video of the shipwreck taken by the remotely operated vehicle.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Angels Keep Fall Schola Cancelled

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-09-14 13:07

Greetings to All from Lady Fenris McGill fer Bleddyn, Seneschal of Angels Keep!

It is with deep regret that we need to cancel our Fall Schola on November 5, 2016.  It seems we’re up against too many large Kingdom events, both before, during and after.

We had many long discussions between ourselves before we decided to cancel the Schola, and it was an agonizing decision that we made.

We’re very concerned that we’re not going to be pulling enough teachers and attendants to be able to give everyone a quality educational event, as well as pay for the site.

We look forward to serving the SCA community a future time, as well as with our signature event, Pen vs Sword.

Categories: SCA news sites

Call for Letters for Silver Buccle Herald

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-09-14 08:33

Unto the Kingdom, greetings from Kameshima Silver Buccle!

It has been nearly 3½ years since Their Majesties Maynard III and Liadain II graced me with the opportunity to serve the Kingdom as Silver Buccle Principal Herald. However, time marches ever on, and it is nearing time for me to pass this responsibility to another. Thus, Their Highnesses — once they are determined at Crown Tournament — and I are accepting letters of intent for the position of Principal Herald. This office holds a 2-year term, commencing at Spring Crown 2017, serving through Spring Crown 2019.

The position requires:
* Valid SCA membership;
* An extensive knowledge of the workings of the Æthelmearc College of Heralds as well as the SCA College of Arms;
* Strength and skill in vocal heraldry;
* Sufficient knowledge of the heraldic submission process to communicate with submitters as well as oversee the workings of the submission office, including how to use the online Ordinary and Armorial;
* Knowledge of the awards of Æthelmearc, the structure of award precedence, and how to use the online Order of Precedence;
* Reliable access to, and proficient usage of, e-mail (approximately 8-10 hours a week);
* The ability to manage the Æthelmearc College of Heralds in all of its various duties;
* The communication and diplomatic skills to appropriately serve as Æthelmearc’s liaison to the College of Arms as well as foreign royalty, heralds and ambassadors.

As per Æthelmearc Financial Policy, the Principal Herald holds one vote on the Kingdom Financial Committee. For more details of the responsibilities of the office of Principal Herald, see The Corpora of the SCA and The Administrative Handbook of the SCA College of Arms.

The deadline for applications is *2017 Kingdom 12th Night* (currently unscheduled as of the writing of this announcement) or *January 15, 2017*, *whichever
comes first*. Applications should be sent to Their Majesties, Their Highnesses and myself at resume.herald@aethelmearc.org.

If you have any questions about the duties of this office, please contact me privately at ae.herald@aethelmearc.org.

In Honor and Service,
Kameshima Zentarō Umakai
Silver Buccle Principal Herald, Kingdom of Æthelmearc

Categories: SCA news sites

Studies of Brazilian fauna by 17th c. Dutch artist found

History Blog - Tue, 2016-09-13 11:25

In 1636, Johan Maurits, Count of Nassau-Siegen, (if the name rings a bell it’s because his house in The Hague is now the magnificent Mauritshuis museum) was appointed the Dutch West India Company (DWIC) governor of what was then the Dutch colony of Brazil. His mission was to stabilized the new colony, wrested from Portugal after nine years of war, expand its territories and increase the number of sugar plantations putting money in the DWIC’s coffers. He landed in Recife in January of 1637 with a large retinue including scientists and artists to document the people, environments, plants and animals they came across.

One of those artists was Frans Post. Born in Haarlem in 1612, he was the son of a noted glass painter and brother of one of the premier architects of the age both of whom taught him to draw and paint when he was a youth. His brother helped him secure a post at court where he spotted by Maurits who invited him to join him in Brazil. Post traveled throughout Dutch Brazil until 1644, sketching and painting landscapes, flora and fauna. He was the first European artist (professional anyway) to paint New World landscapes.

He only completed six paintings (later gifted by Maurits to Louis XIV of France) while still in Brazil, but he continued to paint Brazilian landscapes after his return to the Netherlands for another 25 years. They were very popular and sold briskly, eventually entering the collections of several museums. Art historians suspected that Post must have used studies done during his time in Brazil to create the paintings made in the Netherlands, but not a single sketch or drawing of Brazilian flora or fauna by Post was known to exist.

That changed in 2010 when Alexander de Bruin, curator of the image collection of the Noord-Hollands Archief in Haarlem discovered 34 previously unknown drawings by Frans Post. He found them in a 17th century album of bird drawings by Pieter Holsteijn the Elder and the Younger that he was looking through for a digitization project. The album had been donated in 1888, but nobody noticed the pencil sketches and gouaches of capybaras, jaguars, tapirs, sloths, caymans and other South American animals until de Bruin.

Because the discovery was unprecedented, experts from the Noord-Hollands Archief, the journal Master Drawings, and the Rijksmuseum put their heads together to confirm that the really were the long-suspected Frans Post Brazilian studies. They compared the subjects — individual animals captures in 24 watercolor and gouache drawings and 10 graphite ones — to animals in finished paintings and found that they were indeed studies used in his landscapes. One of the paintings he did in Brazil, for example, now in the Louvre, prominently features a capybara who appears in both a graphite sketch and a gouache. The graphite sketches are captioned in Post’s own hand; the gouaches in an unknown 17th century hand which assures us that armadillo tastes like chicken.

Alexander de Bruin on the find:

“These drawings with their inscriptions have a immediacy about them that makes you feel as if you were looking over Frans Post’s shoulder, as he recorded the fascinating fauna of the New World. The animal studies provide the missing link between Post’s seven-year Brazilian adventure and the paintings he produced on his return to Haarlem.”

The drawings will go on display for the first time in the upcoming Rijksmuseum exhibition Frans Post. Animals in Brazil. Six of his paintings and all of the studies will be exhibited alongside taxidermied specimens from the Naturalis Biodiversity Center in Leiden of the animals Post drew. The exhibition opens October 7th and runs through January 8th, 2017.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

How to Write a Recommendation Letter

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-09-12 17:46

This article was written by Duchess Dorinda Courtenay, and updated by Baroness Hilda Hugelmann:

One of the greatest joys of the Crown is the opportunity to give awards to the deserving populace, but it is not always easy to determine who is deserving in any given reign. No two people can know everyone in a Kingdom, and this is why the Royalty needs the help of the people to advise them on the good work of their subjects. The best way to do this is via a letter of recommendation.

Without your input, the Royalty will be unable to recognize those individuals who have given of themselves for the good of the Society. They look forward to hearing from you!

Who Should Write?

Everyone! There are often misconceptions that only Peers can write letters of recommendation, or that a person should not write a recommendation for an award that they do not have. Neither of these is true. While it may be true that those with higher level awards may have special insight into the criteria and requirements for an award, the knowledge and insight of even the newest member of the Society is welcomed by the Royalty. Anyone who feels strongly that they know someone who is worthy of recognition should write. And write often!

If you live in a Barony, don’t forget to write to your Baron and/or Baroness for Baronial awards, too!

When Should We Write?

The sooner the better! One of the biggest mistakes that people make is to write the Royalty the week before their local event and try to get awards for local folks. This is a disservice to everyone involved. The Royalty does not have proper time to determine if They wish to give the award. If They make a rush decision to give the award, the poor scribe has only days to get a scroll prepared. There may not be time to get a medallion or other items ready. If the Royalty decide to give the award at a later event, those people close to the recipient may not be present to see the award. If the Royalty decide not to give the award at all, then the person who recommended the potential recipient will be angry, and the potential recipient may not get the recognition they deserve.

A good letter of recommendation for AOAs and Orders of Merit (the Sycamore, Keystone and Golden Alce, etc) will be delivered to the Royalty no later than eight weeks before the date of the event where the award is to be given. Six weeks is sometimes acceptable. Letters of recommendation for Peerages and orders of High Merit (the Fleur, Millrind, White Scarf, Gage, Scarlet Guard, White Horn, Golden Lance, and Scarlet Battery) should be delivered almost as soon as the Heirs are victorious in Crown Tourney. This is necessary because the Royalty need to consult these Orders before making a final decision to give an award. This may require several weeks as they wait for the Orders to meet and discuss the candidate that was recommended.

To Whom Should We Write?

When in doubt, write to everyone! Our Kingdom has an Award Recommendation Form online that delivers to all the appropriate parties, so it should be nice and easy for you!

If you prefer to send a direct email (or snail mail letter), here’s a good guideline: early in a reign, letters may be sent to King and Queen. After Crown Tournament, the Heirs should also receive a copy of all letters (At some point in a reign, the King and Queen may request that all further letters be sent to Their Heirs). In addition to the Royalty, it does not hurt to send a copy of the recommendation for a Peerage or Order of High Merit to the Principal and the Clerk of the applicable Order. This way, the Order can get a head start on discussing the candidate. All the emails you need can be found on the Kingdom Website.

If you’re writing folks in for a local Baronial award, just write to the Baron and/or Baroness.

How exactly do I write a letter and what should it include?

Recommendations should not be verbal! Use the Award Recommendation Form online, send an email (copying all the people mentioned above), or you can use good ol’ US Post Office Mail, if you like. Addresses are in the AEstel. All the email addresses you need can be found on the Kingdom Website.

If you decide to write a free form email or letter, it should include:

  • SCA name of the potential recipient
  • Modern name of the potential recipient
  • Home group of the potential recipient
  • Award for which you are recommending
  • Detailed explanation of why they deserve the award — may include past awards, offices held, competitions won, work done and more
  • A list of events you believe they will be attending
  • Other information about the potential recipient, such as their persona, how long they’ve been in the SCA, any Peer/associate relationships, etc.
  • Your SCA and mundane names, your contact information, and any relevant awards and offices/positions you hold.

How do I know what to write them in for? 


A list of our Kingdom’s Awards and Honors can be found on the College of Heralds’ website. A few years ago, there was a series of articles in the AEstel with more details. Things have changed a bit since then, with more awards now available (including a new Peerage!), but copies of the articles are available here. If you’re still not sure, you can ask your local officers (like your local Baron and/or Baroness, Seneschal, Herald, etc), Peers, or anyone who’s been around a while.

It’s also a good idea to check and see if they already have the award! The College of Heralds keeps a list of everyone who’s gotten awards, called the Order of Precedence. Just look the potential recipient up there. Go to the alphabetical list, and scroll or Ctrl+F will work fine.

Why Was the Award Not Given?

Sometimes, despite all your best efforts, a person will not receive the award you recommended. Why is that? There can be several reasons.

Some Royalty requires that more than one letter is received. It can’t hurt to encourage your friends to join in a letter writing campaign to get someone an award. Individual letters are better than petitions, but a petition is better than no letter.

Your letter may have arrived too late for Their reign or not at all. (It’s a good idea to keep copies of your sent emails, or a screen shot or copy of what you wrote on the online form).

Your friend may just not be ready for the award yet. This is a tough one to accept, because we see all the work that our loved ones have done and we want them recognized. However, there are many criteria for receiving an award and they must all be met.

What are some examples of letters, poor and good?

Poor Example

To Byron and Ariella, King and Queen of AEthelmearc,

I  would  like  to  recommend  my  brother  Charles  Norris for a fighting award.  He is an excellent fighter and should be recognized.

Thank you, Mary


  • We don’t know whom this letter is from. What is her full name? How can we contact her with questions? Does she have any credentials?
  • The letter should contain the potential recipients SCA and modern names. Which is this?
  • The letter does not clearly state which award level is appropriate for the recipient.
  • There are no details around why the person should receive an award. Is the fact that he is her brother the only reason for the letter?
  • At this point, it is a bit late to write the King and Queen – Their decisions are almost certainly already made.

Golden Alce

Better Example

To  Byron and  Ariella,  King  and Queen of AEthelmearc, Marcus and Margerite, Heir and Heiress, and Sir Koredono, Clerk of the Order of  the Gage, does Lady Mary of London, Knight Marshal for your Shire of Endless Valleys send fond greetings.

I would like to recommend my brother, Lord Charles the Bloodthirsty  (m.k.a.  Charles Norris) for induction into the Order of the Gage. Charles has been an active heavy weapons fighter for the last six years, and his skills have increased significantly during that time.  He is currently squired to Sir Robin of the Hood.  He recently made it the quarterfinals of your Crown Tourney, and he won two local  tournaments  – one here in Endless Valleys and one in your Barony of Ashland – this past month.  I feel his fighting skill is on par with those who have been previously inducted into the Gage, and I ask that you consider him.

Charles is also our local Minister of Arts and Sciences, and a fine brewer and embroiderer.  He is active in our local group, and he never fails to work at a local event.  Last, but definitely not least, he is courteous and kind, and he brings honor to everything he touches.

Charles will almost certainly be attending all of the upcoming War Practices, the Turnip event in Endless Valleys and the annual Anvil Festival in the Canton of Worpshire. 

If  you are  in need of any additional info, please feel free to contact me at (176) 555-5555, email: mary@gmail.com, or by Facebook or G+, screen name Mary Norris Smyth.

Categories: SCA news sites

Otter’s Welcome – Volunteers and Newcomers Sought!

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-09-12 16:55

On October 15th, Carolingia is hosting an event focused on newcomers in honor of the memory of Mistress Rose Otter.  Countess Svava conceptualized the event as a tribute to what she described as Rose’s “unfailing welcoming spirit.”  This is a donation only event and will be held at Camp Massapoag, 234 Hall Street, Dunstable MA.  The event runs from 10am to 5pm.

“Our society thrives best when we have new people to join us and learn about what we do as it enhances our joy of the SCA to see our society anew through their eyes,” Svava wrote to describe her vision for Otter’s Welcome. “This event will be geared toward showing newcomers how to get involved in what we do and to encourage as many new members as possible.  Come show off your skill, love, and passion.   Please invite all of your friends that you think would love to come to an event but you just haven’t made the time.   If you would like to participate in making this a welcoming space for newcomers please let me know.”

Many activities are planned and experienced SCA participants are asked to come share their knowledge and enthusiasm. A&S activities include calligraphy, period games, European and Middle Eastern dancing, woodworking, music and cooking.  An A&S demonstration area will be set up for people to show their activity informally, and classes will be scheduled also.  Martial arts represented will be rapier, armored combat, archery and thrown weapons. To volunteer for an activity or to help the staff, please contact Countess Svava or Lord Alaric von Drackenclaue, the co-autocrats.

Mistress Eleanor Catlyng is organizing a “treasure hunt” and is looking for people who plan to attend the event to be part of the treasure hunt.  For example, a question on the treasure hunt might be “find someone who is or has been a landed baron(ess).  While participants may be able to find several people who could sign off this item, there needs to be at least one designated attendee who can sign off and has agreed to do so.  Participants will wear an armband to make them more identifiable for shyer newcomers.  Anyone willing to be a treasure hunt item should send Mistress Eleanor their SCA name and 3-5 interesting SCA facts about themselves.  She is also looking for a few ambassadors to make introductions between newcomers and participants.

Filed under: Events Tagged: Carolingia

Eastern Results from the June 2016 LoAR

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-09-12 13:31

The Society College of Heralds runs on monthly cycles and letters. Each month, the College processes name and armory submissions from all of the Kingdoms. Final decisions on submissions are made at the monthly meetings of the Pelican Queen of Arms (names) and the Wreath Queen of Arms (armory). Pelican and Wreath then write up their decisions in a Letter of Acceptances and Return (LoAR). After review and proofreading, LoARs generally are released two months after the meeting where the decisions are made.

An “acceptance” indicates that the item(s) listed are now registered with the Society. A “return” indicates that the item is returned to the submitter for additional work. Most items are registered without comments. Sometimes, the LoAR will address specific issues about the name or armory or will praise the submitter/herald on putting together a very nice historically accurate item.

The following results are from the June 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings.  Release of the June letter was slightly delayed by the convergence of 50 Year Celebration and Pennsic.

EAST acceptances

Agnés de la Court. Name and device. Purpure, a chevron embattled between two fleurs-de-lys argent and a raccoon statant gardant argent marked purpure.

Agnés is an attested but unexpected form, more commonly found as Agnes in our period.

There is a step from period practice for the use of a New World raccoon.

Please advise the client to draw the chevron thicker, as befits a primary charge.

Cáemgen Ua Donnchada. Name and device. Vert, in fess two crosses fleury Or, a chief argent.

Cáemgen is the name of an Irish saint.

Please advise the submitter to draw the crosses as wide as they are tall.

Daniel au Loup Rouge. Name and device. Or semy of gunstones, a wolf passant gules and a chief vert.

Eleanor Catlyng. Name change from Eleanor Catlyn.

Both elements are found in Lincoln or Lincolnshire, England, dated to 1566-1567 in the FamilySearch Historical Records, making this an excellent 16th century English name!

The submitter’s previous name, Eleanor Catlyn, is released.

Jeanne Robin. Acceptance of transfer of badge from Christopher Devereux. Argent, two dances gules.

Lorencio Matteo Espinosa. Name.

Nice 16th century Spanish name!

Mael Eoin mac Echuid. Household name La Tavernehous de Mayne Ospitalis.

Mayne Ospitalis (“mayne held by the Knights Hospitaller”) is an attested place name found in Watts s.n. Broadmayne dated to 1244-1332.

La Tavernehous, documented from the 1311 house name la Tavernehous, is somewhat less likely as a designator than either Taverne or HousMayne Ospitalis Inne would also be an authentic form. However, the submitted form is registerable.

Mael Eoin mac Echuid. Device change. Per fess gules and argent, a lion rampant gardant counter-ermine.

The submitter has permission to conflict with the badge of Cosma Drago: (Fieldless) A domestic cat sejant erect counter-ermine.

The submitter’s old device, Gyronny argent and sable, a Maltese cross within an orle gules, is retained as a badge.

Mael Eoin mac Echuid. Badge. (Fieldless) A boot sable.

Nice boot!

Maximillian Elgin. Badge (see RETURNS for household name). Or, in fess a cup gules sustained between two sheep combattant sable.

Millicent Rowan. Name.

Muirenn ingen Dúnadaig. Badge. (Fieldless) A coney courant ermine.

Sorcha Dhorcha. Name.

Nice 15th-16th century Irish Gaelic name!

Viviana Silvani. Name.

Ynys y Gwaun, Canton of. Branch name and device. Per fess argent and Or, a tree eradicated proper between three laurel wreaths vert.

In the case of this name, the mutated form Ynys y Waun is more likely, but the submitted form is registerable.

EAST returns

Corcrán mac Diarmata. Device change. Per chevron argent and sable, two ravens volant to sinister chief and a Thor’s hammer counterchanged.

This device is returned for violating SENA A3D2c, Unity of Posture and Orientation, which states “The charges within a charge group should be in either identical postures/orientations or an arrangement that includes posture/orientation” The charges here are not in a unified arrangement, as the birds are bendwise sinister and the Thor’s hammer in its default orientation.

On redesign, please advise the submitter to draw the per chevron line of division slightly lower.

Maximillian Elgin. Household name Black Sheep House.

This household name is returned for conflict with the registered heraldic title Blak Shepe Pursuivant. The substantive elements are identical in sound.

Olivia Baker. Device. Per chevron inverted Or and gules, seven fleurs-de-lys in chevron inverted, alternately erect and inverted, between a rose and two stalks of wheat counterchanged.

Blazoned on the Letter of Intent as per chevron inverted fleury-counterfleury, what we have here is a group of fleurs-de-lys lying across the per chevron inverted line, with alternating upright and inverted fleurs. This creates identifiability issues as well as an arrangement that is not listed in SENA Appendix J, and so may not be registered without documentation that this is a period arrangement of charge groups. A proper fleury-counterfleury field division (as opposed to an ordinary) would have only demi fleurs-de-lys, issuant from the line of division, alternating upright and inverted.

Ysane la Fileresse. Device. Argent, a mascle azure within a mascle vert, all interlaced with a crampon bendwise purpure.

This device is returned for violating SENA A3E1, Arrangement of Charge Groups. This arrangement, of a long charge extending over and interlaced with two concentric voided charges, is not listed in SENA Appendix J, and so may not be registered without documentation that this is a period arrangement of charge groups. On resubmission, the submitter should address whether the mascle within a mascle arrangement violates the sword and dagger rule.


Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: LoAR

22 ancient inscribed gold plates found in Java

History Blog - Mon, 2016-09-12 00:10

Construction workers in the Indonesian province of Central Java have unearthed 22 inscribed gold plates from the 8th century. The crew was digging for an aquifer project in the village of Ringinlarik when they came across a stone box in a rock pile. A small container at 14 centimeters (5.5 inches) long, 13.5 centimeters (5.3 inches) wide, and six centimeters (2.4 inches) high, the box was intact with its lid still on — one of the workers thought it looked like a jewelry box — and its contents apparently undisturbed.

Gutomo, an official with the Central Java Heritage Conservation Agency (BPCB) confirmed the gold found was 18 carats. Each plate has an inscription in ancient Javanese letters. The inscriptions are names of cardinal and ordinal directions of Dewa Lokapala’s wind Gods.

The inscriptions are names of cardinal and ordinal directions of Dewa Lokapala’s wind Gods.

“We recorded eight names of wind Gods. We have also declared the location as a heritage site,” Gutomo said.

Dewas, also known as devatas or dewatas, are minor Hindu deities that govern specific areas of nature and humanity. The Devata Lokapala are the Guardians of the Directions, overseers of the four cardinal points — Indra (east), Yama (south), Varuṇa (west) and Kubera (north) — and four ordinal points — Agni (southeast), Nirṛti (southwest), Vayu (northwest) and Īśāna (northeast). Javanese Hinduism includes a ninth member of the party, representing the center point, and calls them the Dewata Nawa Sanga, or Nine Guardian Gods.

The Guardians are often found painted or carved on the walls and ceilings in Hindu temples, but Java has an even stronger historical connection to these deities because they appear on the Surya Majapahit, a symbol associated with the great Majapahit Empire which ruled over what is now Indonesia from 1293 to 1500. (Old time readers might recall the wonderful Majapahit piggy banks made centuries before pigs became a popular home savings motif in the West.) The Surya Majapahit has been found carved on many Majapahit structures, enough that archaeologists believe it was an emblem of the empire. It’s an eight-pointed star representing the rays of the sun with the major Hindu deities in the circular center and the Guardians on the outer perimeter next to the rays that point in the cardinal or ordinal direction they guard. The plates predate the Majapahit Empire by at least five centuries so they’re not related, but they do attest to the regional significance of the deities.

It’s not clear on what grounds the gold plates have been provisionally dated to the 8th century, but one big clue is a discovery made at the same work site earlier this year: the remains of a candi, the Indonesian word for a stupa, a Hindu or Buddhist temple. The use of volcanic rock and the structure of the temple indicated to archaeologist that it was younger than the Candi Prambanan, a 9th century Hindu temple about 40 miles southwest of Ringinlarik. Metal plates inscribed with incantations and prayers were placed in containers and buried under the foundation of temples along with other offerings to bless the temple, so it’s highly probable these 22 plates were in place when construction on the candi began.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Court Report for the Feast of John Barleycorn

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2016-09-11 19:09

On a hot and humid morning, Their Majesties, Kenric and Avelina opened their court at the Feast of John Barleycorn in the Crown Province of Ostgardr, Canton of Northpass.

They called forth their Viceroy and Vicereigne, Guy avec Cheval and Johanne aff Visby and, after thanking them for their long years of service, allowed them to step down from their posts.  They then summoned forth Sudder Saran and Lada Monguligin and invested them as the new Viceroy and Vicereigne of the Crown Province of Ostgardr and presented them with scrolls by Kayleigh MacWhyte.

They then called forth Barbeta Kirkland and bid her sit vigil in contemplation of being elevated to the Order of the Laurel.  Court was then suspended.

That afternoon court was reopened.  Guy aven Cheval and Johanne aff Visby were again summoned forth and thanked for their service.  Sir Guy was made a Baron of the Eastern Court and gifted by His Majesty with the gift of six pearls that might be affixed to his coronet and a scroll by Elizabeth Greenleaf.  Baroness Johanne was then thanked with a scroll by Alys Mackyntoich and Elizabeth Elenore Lovell which granted to a pension appropriate to her station from the duties, fees, and other revenues from the lands of Brokenbridge.

Their Majesties then called forth the children of the East to receive gifts from the royal toybox.  Whereas in the past the children chased the toybox bearer like a pack of wild wolves, on this day their actions were described by His Majesty as a swarm, as they descended upon Baron Dansk from all directions swiftly bearing him to the ground before he could take a single step.

Cailleach Dhé ingen Chiaráin was then called into court and was Awarded Arms for her service and presented with a scroll by Aaradyn Ghyoot.

Newcomers to the Society were then summoned forth and received diverse tokens from their Majesties.

The Guild of Athena’s Thimble was then invited into court where they made Her Majesty a gift of a wool Hedeby shoulder bag.  The bag was hand spun, woven, and dyed as were the threads used for the embroidery.  The wooden stretchers were hand made out of Curly maple with strawberry leaf accents in the center. The strap was made from grey silk with wool embroidery of three keys from Her Majesty’s personal heraldry. The side of the bag was decorated with twin eagles based on a Swedish find and chosen due to Her Majesty’s love of the birds.

Their Majesties then called forth Stephan O’Raghaillaigh and inducted him into the Order of the Apollo’s Arrow for his skill with a bow and service as a marshal.  He was presented with a scroll by Svea the Short-sighted.

Ceinwen ferch Llewellyn ab Owain was then summoned, and her skill at embroidery remarked upon by Their Majesties.  She was then made a Companion of the Order of the Silver Brooch and presented with a scroll by Marieta Charay.

One Gunnar Alfson was summoned into court and his prowess as an armored fighter was much praised.  He was then inducted into the Order of the Silver Tyger.

Jenna Childerslay was then summoned into court but could not be located as she was laboring in the distant kitchens.

Their Majesties then summoned forth Brochmail of Anglespur and made him a Companion of the Order of the Silver Crescet for his service to the Shire of Midland Vale and the Kingdom as a whole.  He was presented with a shiny scroll by AEsa Lkabrenna Sturladottir with words by Aislinn Chiabach.

Barbeta Kirkland was summoned back into court to answer the question put before her that morning.  Members of each peerage spoke of her skill as a lacemaker, her contributions to the Guild of Arachne’s Web, and her enthusiasm and passion for her art.  Upon hearing these words, Their Majesties asked her if she would join the Order and she assented.  The Order of the Laurel was summoned, and Barbeta was awarded the regalia of a medallion, coif, and apron to show her new station and she then swore fealty to the Crown of the East.  These events were memorialized in a scroll by Alexei Dmitriev and Sarah Davies and a painting by Eleanore MacCarthaigh.

At that time, Jenna Childerslay having been located, she was called into court.  Despite her protestations of innocence, Their Majesties spoke of her great service to newcomers to the society and inducted her into the Order of the Silver Crescent and presented her with a scroll by Palotzi Marti.

His Majesty then addressed the populace of Ostgardr, speaking of the warmth of their welcome and the enjoyment of the day, and court was then closed.

To the above I, Baron Yehuda ben Moshe, bear withness as the Herald of record.  These events were witnessed by Master Ryan Mac Whyte and Baroness Maria Erika von Ossenheim

Filed under: Court Tagged: court report

From the Tyger Clerk of the Signet

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2016-09-11 13:23

Greetings to all,

I am nearing the end of my first term as Tyger Clerk of the Signet. Since I do not plan on requesting a second term, I am now accepting applications for the position. The applications are due by November 30th. At that time the King and Queen will chose my successor after consulting with the Kingdom Seneschal and me. My term ends at Kingdom 12th Night, and at that time if a successor is chosen they will step into the role.

According to Kingdom law the Tyger Clerk of the Signet:

  • Coordinates the production of scrolls requested by The Crown.
  • Promotes the development of calligraphers and illuminators in the East Kingdom and warrants said scribes to perform Signet Office work.
  • Maintains accurate records of scroll assignments.

Therefore you will need to interact with a large number of scribes of differing backgrounds and skill levels. After receiving recommendations, usually from a scheduler appointed by the King and queen, you will write out an assignment and find an appropriate scribe to do the work. Currently the East Kingdom has 103 active scribes. Therefore interpersonal skills are a must.

The Signet also keeps accurate records of all assignments and backlogs. Multiple databases are used to keep the records straight and the ability to use excel, google drive, sheets and docs is needed. You will be expected to keep dockets for the reign, each individual event, backlogs, and past assignments.

Finally, the Signet should promote learning and enjoyment of the scribal arts with the Scribal Tea at Pennsic, Scholas, Competitions, class tracks and displays among other events.

Please send applications to signet@eastkingdom.org by November 30. Thank you for your attention.

Nest verch Tangwistel

Tyger clerk of the Signet

Filed under: Official Notices Tagged: job opening, Tyger Clerk