Feed aggregator

Pennsic Gate Pavilion Dag Fundraiser

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2018-01-05 16:43

Ten years ago the East Kingdom replaced the gates to the Royal Encampment at Pennsic with a completely new design featuring two round pavilions with a shade fly connecting them, creating a sheltered path for visitors to enter.  At that time a fundraiser was held to help defray the cost of the new gate, in which Baronies, Shires, Cantons, Provinces, and even some large households donated $100 to have their devices painted on one of the pavilion dags.

East Kingdom Royal Encampment Gates at Pennsic

At the time approximately 15 of the dags were left unpainted. The Pennsic Steward, Mistress Eleanor Fitzpatrick, would like to offer the opportunity to claim one of those remaining dags for your group’s arms if your group did not so previously, or is newer than the date of the original fundraiser and never had the opportunity.

The Gate is, of course, long since paid for.   The funds raised by this offering will be used for other Royal Encampment improvements.

If you are interested, please contact Mistress Eleanor at pennsic.steward@eastkingdom.org, to confirm the availability of a dag, the formats in which to submit art, and where to send payment.  Payment can be made by check to “SCA, Inc. – East Kingdom” with a notation “EK Royal Maintenance Fund” in the memo section of the check.


BMDL Fiber Guild’s Two Day Wool Demo

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2018-01-05 11:20

On December 2nd and 3rd, the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh invited the BMDL Fiber Guild back for the Wool Weekend. This was our fifth demo for the museum, and our biggest – we were there for two days and had demonstrators in the MAKESHOP as well as in the Studio art space. (MAKESHOP is a partnership between the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Mellon’s Entertainment Technology Center (ETC) and the University of Pittsburgh Center for Learning in Out-of-School Environments (UPCLOSE). It is a space dedicated to making, reusing and designing things, using everyday materials and real tools. It has regular programs and special guests.)

This time, the museum guests and staff were able to learn how to use hand cards and drop spindles, spin with a distaff and on a great wheel, knitting, inkle weaving, weaving on a warp weighted loom, and wet felting. To complement these activities, the museum had finger knitting and needle felting stations set up as well.

Display of various materials and products

Woolen items on display by the guild, including materials and clothing.

We also had a display of woolen items and different types of wool for the kids to explore. The display had woolen garments and items spanning from Anglo-Saxon England to late period German. Most of the items were made by Lady Beatrix of Anglesey, who, though she couldn’t be there herself, graciously lent us her work, and by Mistress Irene von Schmetterling. (There was also a cloak made by Mistress Rowena of Coppertree, and a lined hood with oak-leaf dags by Lady Madelaine de Mortaigne of Carolingia)

The demo a great success. By the end of the demo, dozens of kids took home the wet felted potholder squares (one 8 year old lady made several, because, she explained, potholders make great gifts for grandparents). The cloth woven by the kids was gifted to the museum, and the yarn spun on the great wheel was given to the MAKESHOP for future projects!

Mistress Mahin banu Tabrizi demonstrating weaving.

It was wonderful to be back at the Museum, and we are looking forward to more skill demos at this location. Thanks go out to the Museum staff for inviting us and sharing their MAKESHOP and Studio space and to all the demonstrators: Mistress Mahin banu Tabrizi of Sunderoak and Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope who demonstrated weaving techniques, Mistress Irene von Schmetterling who taught the wet felting and spinning, Lady Kattera Doplerin and Lady Rivka bat Daniyel taught and demonstrated felting, spinning, and knitting, and Medea who did finger knitting, and spinning.

Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope demonstrating weaving.

This demo marks a year of our partnership with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh. We feel privileged to have this amazing opportunity to introduce kids to the skills and crafts of the middle ages, show off the amazing artisans of the SCA, and to provide quality programming to our local museum, while fulfilling the educational mission of the SCA. We are looking forward to going back!

Lady Rivka bat Daniyel surrounded by a fascinated group of children.

You can see more on the Museum’s website here.

Article submitted and photographs taken by THL Lucetta di Cosimo.

Lady Kattera Doplerin at the Giant Wheel.


Categories: SCA news sites

Wellcome acquires elegant portrait of luxuriously bearded woman

History Blog - Thu, 2018-01-04 23:35

The Wellcome Collection, the free museum and library founded by pharmacist and medicalia collector Sir Henry Wellcome is surely one of the most wide-ranging, fascinating and vibrant museums in London. It has just added another gem to the millions: an oil painting of Barbara van Beck, a 17th century artist and business woman who made a splash in European and British high society thanks to her talent, grace and hairiness, largely the last of these.

Van Beck had hypertrichosis or Ambras syndrome, a genetic condition that cause thick hair growth in places where it doesn’t normally grow on humans. Barbara’s long, silky chestnut hair covered her face, from forehead to nose to chin. Combined with her fine figure and excellence on the harpsichord, her concerts and performances were a big draw, attended in theaters and drawing rooms instead of the dingy carnival sideshows “bearded women” would be relegated to in later centuries. Her condition made her stand out — people loved to see her the juxtaposition of biological oddity, fashion plate and accomplished lady — but it was her ability to perform artistically as well as socially that garnered her such appreciative and well-heeled audiences.

Diarist John Evelyn records attending one such performance in London in his entry of September 15, 1657:

I saw the hairy woman, twenty years old, whom I had before seen when a child. She was born at Augsburg, in Germany.
Her very eyebrows were combed upward, and all her forehead as thick and even as grows on any woman’s head, neatly dressed ; a very long lock of hair out of each ear; she had also a most prolix beard, and moustachios, with long locks growing on the middle of her nose, like an Iceland dog exactly, the color of a bright brown, fine as well-dressed flax. She was now married, and told me she had one child that was not hairy, nor were any of her parents, or relations. She was very well shaped, and played well on the harpsichord.

She worked consistently for decades, was a bona fide celebrity and widely depicted even long after her death. The Wellcome has five prints of van Beck already in its collection. Engraver Richard Gaywood’s 1656 portrait of her standing by a harpsichord, her hands posed delicately on the keys, was widely circulated and copied by later artists. The newly acquired oil painting predates Gaywood’s engraving by 10 years or so. It is the first painting of van Beck in the Wellcome Collection and is of very high quality.

“We don’t know who painted the portrait, or where, when or for whom, but the point of it is Barbara’s dignity,” Angela McShane, Wellcome’s research development manager, said. “This is a beautifully executed high-status painting. She is not portrayed as a freak as the Victorians would have described her – as I often say when lecturing, you can blame the Victorians for most things – but as a woman with great self-possession and presence, painted at a time when she would have been viewed, as Evelyn saw her, as wonderful, a natural wonder.”

“There is nothing titillating about her low-cut dress either, though we might now see it that way. She is dressed is in the highest fashion of the day and contemporary viewers would have recognised that.”

That is a tribute to her gifts and perseverance. Her life could have easily taken a very different path. Barbara van Beck was born Barbara Ursler in Augsburg, Bavaria, in 1629. As Evelyn alludes to, by the time she was eight years old her parents were exhibiting her in traveling shows, but either did not neglect her education or she used her wits to get one herself by whatever means were on offer. As an adult she was highly cultured, spoke several languages and had traveled extensively.

It was also fortunate timing. Given how people with such visible conditions were often treated before and after her (called demons, ostracized, made to live in squalor, put on display like zoo animals from cradle to coffin), Barbara van Beck was lucky to have been born during a window of time starting in the late 16th century when monarchs, aristocrats and high society developed a keen interest in anomalous configurations of the human body. It was part of the cabinet of curiosities ethos, collecting oddities of biology, minerology, archaeology, geology. If it was deemed exotic, some king wanted to display it. Indeed, it is eminently possible that the oil painting of van Beck was commissioned for one of those aristocratic collections, perhaps even the most famous of them all.

[The condition] was named for Ambras castle in Innsbruck, where Ferdinand II, the archduke of Austria, had created a famous cabinet of curiosities – still open to the public – which included portraits of people with unusual medical conditions such as hirsutism. The portrait of Van Beck is of such high quality that McShane wonders if it could have been in the collection at some point after Ferdinand’s death.

“We know nothing of Barbara’s life after that meeting in London. She disappears from history. There is no reason why she wouldn’t have had a normal lifespan. If you survived to 10 years old, you were highly likely to make it to 60. There must be more records of her out there somewhere, a research project waiting for somebody.”

The portrait is not yet on display. It needs some love of the cleaning and conservation type which the Wellcome Collection staff are currently giving it. The plan is for the work to go on public display early this year. It will also be a featured player at the Culture of Beauty conference at the Wellcome later in 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

“Templar Stone” found to predate Templars

History Blog - Wed, 2018-01-03 23:49

A stone long believed to be a medieval artifact associated with the Templar Knights has been revealed to be older, cooler and to bear no relation to the military order of monks. The stone is one three long burial slabs with faint carvings on the surface that now reside outside the Inchinnan Parish Church in Renfrewshire, Scotland, next to a group of 10 slabs known as the Templar Stones. Originally located in the kirkyard of the defunct All Hallows Church, a Templar church in the 12th century, the stones were believed to date from around that time and the carvings to something mysteriously Templar-related.

Templar stones (Inchinnan)
by Spectrum Heritage
on Sketchfab

The Templar Knights have long been associated with secrets and mysteries — strange rituals, intrigues and depravities, and lots and lots of money. Founded in 1119, the Knights Templar gained great renown as crusaders, but the vast majority of them never picked up a weapon. A bookkeeping ledger was more their speed and they built a banking business that counted the highest authorities secular and ecclesiastical as clients. That’s all fine and dandy when you’re winning battles, carousing unsupervised and reputedly engaging in occult and mysterious initiation rituals. Not so much when you look like God has forsaken you because you lost the Holy Land. That’s when the order became a target for a very crowned, very truculent, very determined enemies who happened to be in debt to them up to their eyeballs. The Templars had accumulated so much wealth and power in the world of high finance that in 1307, seeing an opening in the escalating rumors of weird initiation rites, King Philip IV of France arrested, tortured and executed all the Templars he could find. He also confiscated their ample stuff and prevailed upon the Pope to officially disband the order. This is how kings get their enormous debts written off.

All Hallows Church continued on after the demise of its founding order in different hands. The church was rebuilt repeatedly, the last time in the early 20th century, and the burial stones remained in place. It was only in 1965 when the last All Hallows was demolished to make room for the runway tarmac of Glasgow Airport that the Templar Stones were moved to the nearby Inchinnan Parish Church where they still abide 50+ years later.

It was this connection to All Hallows Church that inspired the discovery that at least one of the engraved stones was not what people had thought it was. Digital graphic recreation experts Spectrum Heritage, in collaboration with the Inchinnan Historical Interest Group (IHIG), have been working on a creating a digital 3D reconstruction of the last All Hallows. They sifted through archives, records, blueprints, old artworks, photographs, anything that might give them some data to create an accurate model. As part of the project, IHIG arranged for a community archaeology dig manned by volunteers from seniors to children to excavate the site of the former All Hallows.

Before it was a grassy patch underneath the flight path of jets, the site of the long-gone All Hallows Church was the location of earlier religious structures itself. The Inchinnan Old Parish Church was built there in early Middle Ages and dedicated to St. Conval, founder a monastery believed to have been established in the area around 600 A.D. and whose body said to have been buried in the church.

Inchinnan 1. Recumbent grave-slab.
by Spectrum Heritage
on Sketchfab

As a part of the ‘St Conval to All Hallows’ community archaeology project, Clara Molina Sanchez (Spectrum Heritage) has been using a technique called Reflectance Transformation Imaging (RTI) on the burial stones to bring out the worn detail which is no longer visible to the naked eye. Megan Kasten (a PhD student from the University of Glasgow) has been studying the many carved stones at Govan Old church and wanted to compare these with the stones at Inchinnan. Earlier this month she examined the 3D models from Inchinnan closely and to her surprise noticed that one stone had a cross on the top third of the stone and faint panels of interlace. […]

This discovery adds to the existing three large carved stones decorated with crosses, carved animals and interlace that are characteristic of a group of sculpture that is typically referred to as the ‘Govan School’ of carving. These stones date to the 9th to 12th century when All Hallows, along with Govan and Dumbarton Rock, were places of burial for the elite of the Kingdom of Strathclyde. […]

All the stones have decorations and/or inscriptions, which are generally not visible to the naked eye. To make these carvings visible, two different digital documentation techniques were used. Firstly, photogrammetry was used to accurately capture the shape of the stones. In this case, the colour of the biological growth makes it harder to see the details on the surface, but, by ‘deactivating’ it, the different carvings of swords, crosses and inscriptions can now be seen.

The second technique, RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) is a multi-image technique that provides very detailed information on the surface of a material. RTI files allow the user to explore the surface of the material virtually with different lighting conditions. In this case, a Virtual RTI was created from the photogrammetric models. And to do that, a digital dome made up of 93 lights was placed over the 3D models, thus creating an image for every light. These images were processed, which in turn produced an RTI file for each one of the stones. This made it possible to obtain information about the stones’ decorations that can also complement the photogrammetry itself. The combination of both techniques has been proven to be a very valuable tool to unveil details of the surface invisible otherwise to the naked eye.

Inchinnan 2. Cross-shaft fragment
by Spectrum Heritage
on Sketchfab

There is very little material in the archaeological or historical record about the Kingdom of Strathclyde. Any information we can glean from new technology to recover knowledge lost, eroded by time and the elements, will make it possible to paint a broader, more accurate historical picture of this little known period.

Inchinnan 3. Recumbent cross-slab / shrine cover
by Spectrum Heritage
on Sketchfab

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Reminder: K&Q A&S Registration Still Open!

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2018-01-03 21:44

If you’re looking to enter into this year’s A&S portion of King’s & Queen’s A&S and Bardic, there’s still time. Registration is open until January 27th.

How to Enter: Judges Wanted!

K&Q A&S is still looking for judges for this year’s events. If you’re interested in being a judge, the event staff asks that you register ASAP via the following link. You may also “shadow judge” this year by following other judges and seeing how judging works.

Best of luck to all entrants this year!

Fundraiser at Kingdom 12th Night for Fire Victims

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2018-01-03 15:21

On Monday, December 25, 2017, Don and Suzanne Ackley-Perot lost everything in a house fire as previously reported in the Æthelmearc Gazette. On January 6th, 2108, Tammy Pritt and Lynn Bubb will be sponsoring a non-SCA fundraiser for them at Kingdom 12th Night.

They are in need of all basic items so that they can return to a somewhat normal life.

Clothing sizes are as follows:

  • Women’s size 24 pants, 3x tops preferably loose fit, 10 wide shoes
  • Men’s 36×30, size large shirts, 11 shoes
  • Men’s 40/42×30, size 2× shirts, 12 wide shoes

There will be a drop off location at the event. Clothing, shoes, cash, and gift cards are all very much appreciated. Gift cards for Wegman’s, Wal-Mart, or Costco are especially appreciated.

If you have questions or would like to volunteer at the donation table, you may contact Tammy Pritt at ravenstyx@yahoo or Lynn Bubb at Oddkatlajonsdottir@gmail.com.

Kate Turnbole is also coordinating efforts for them. If you are unable to attend Kingdom Twelfth Night, but would like to donate to the fundraiser, please contact her. She can be found on Facebook under the Kate Trnbl.

Thank you for your help.

Categories: SCA news sites

Ice Dragon Merchant Reservations Open

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2018-01-03 09:59

Glad Tidings and Happy New Year, Snowy Æthelmearc!

As the Ice Dragon roosts across the Kingdom, I am pleased to announce that Merchant Registration for the 2018 Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon on April 14 is now open! We have a *NEW* registration process this year, that will hopefully expedite registration and make overall Merchant management much more stream-lined for all involved this year.

We are limited to 18 Merchant spaces this year, so the sooner you complete registration, the better!

Please find all registration information at:

Please contact Rhys Penbras ap Dafydd with any questions at rhyspenbras@gmail.com.

Categories: SCA news sites

Inadvertant looter returns Toronto’s oldest artifact to city 82 years later

History Blog - Tue, 2018-01-02 23:47

Jeanne Carter was a little girl in 1935 when the 10-year-old spotted an interesting stone object walking on the road towards Toronto’s historic Fort York, newly opened as a public park after centuries as a military installation. She picked it up, noted its neat triangular shape, mused that it might be an arrowhead of some kind, a souvenir perhaps, put it in her pocket and went about her business. She continued to go about her business for eight more decades, keeping the little object for all that time in her mother’s handsome long mahogany box of assorted treasures and knick-knacks.

That field trip to the new Fort York park turned out to be even formative that she realized. As an adult, Carter’s love of history inspired her to volunteer for the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM). In 1957 she co-founded of a volunteer committee at the museum and led tours to countries all over the world. Today at 92 years old, she is the longest-serving volunteer at ROM. On a whim, because she had no idea just how much of a treasure her little treasure was, Jeanne Carter had the arrowhead examined by a historian friend.

“I thought it was an arrowhead or something, but nothing more than a souvenir,” said Carter, now 92.

A few weeks ago she learned it is not only an arrowhead, but also between 4,000 and 6,000 years old, originating from some of the region’s first Indigenous people from the Archaic period (8,000 to 1,000 BC).

“I nearly fainted,” Carter said of when she heard the news.

Her friend passed the arrowhead along to city historian Richard Gerrard who confirmed its advanced age and some unusual qualities.

“The material it’s made out of, quartzite, is strange for this part of Ontario,” Richard Gerrard, a historian with Museum and Heritage Services and a trained archeologist. “And finding anything that old sitting on the ground is special and has a wonderful story.”

The arrowhead, with slightly rippled, sharpened edges, would have been attached to a wooden shaft and used for hunting, but because of its age, it’s impossible to know what tribe would have used it, or any other details, said Gerrard.

Ancient arrowheads are not a common find in the area, not now and not in 1935. Only four total are known to have been discovered at Fort York, and the other three were all unearthed by archaeologists in official excavations. Unlike the archaeologists, Jeanne didn’t dig an inch to find hers. Historians think her smashing find was the result of construction work at Fort York. In 1935 the site was transitioning from active military to site to public part, so it’s likely that installation of infrastructure like a water or sewer pipe happened to churn the soil where the arrowhead lived and bump it to the top of the road for a little girl to treasure for her whole life.

She has been an outstanding custodian of the artifact, keeping it excellent condition and out of the digestive tracts of a number of children and grandchildren. When she realized how important it was, she immediately gave it to the city.

“I never dreamed it was important to Toronto or Ontario,” Carter said.[…]

The arrowhead is now among the more than 1 million historical objects and archeological artifacts held by the city. The vast majority are in storage, while some are on display at the city’s 10 site museums, like Fort York.

Many of the city’s artifacts were found in archeological digs at historic sites or development projects throughout Toronto, and will be held and preserved indefinitely.

“Material recovered archeologically tells the city’s story and reflects the First Nations presence over thousands of years,” said Wayne Reeves, the chief curator of Museums and Heritage Services for the City of Toronto. “No paper record was left by those early inhabitants, so knowing their story through archeological specimens is essential.”

The arrowhead is so special it will be one of the select few objects that go on public display. It is destined for exhibition at Fort York, probably summer of 2018, where Carter plans to be the first in line to visit it.

Meanwhile, another historic fort on the opposite side of the continent is doing something too cool not to report despite its utter lack of connecting thread to the above story. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver, Washington, is offering 19th century sabre training classes to the public. The sword was used by Army mounted dragoons in the 1850s and there were Army dragoons garrisoned at the fort at that time. Historians have confirmed that the men of E Company of the 1st Regiment of Dragoons were transferred to Fort Vancouver from Southern Oregon in 1855, likely fresh from the fight in the Rogue River Indian Wars. They were stationed there for about a year before being sent to Walla Walla where they built the eponymous fort.

That means when you sign up for Basic 1 (footwork, solo and partner drills, offensive cuts and thrusts, defensive guards and parries) or, for the more advanced student of the bladed arts, Basic 2 (more and harder solo and partner drills, perfecting technique), you’ll be tracing the steps of long-gone infantrymen, learning a skill that was their bread and butter even before the Civil War.

The classes will be held on seven consecutive Sundays from January 21st through March 4th. Basic 1 classes start at 3PM; Basic 2 at 5PM. The both run an hour and a half long. The fee is $100 per course, payable to Academia Duellatoria, a Portland historical fencing school whose staff will run the classes. Payment must be made by check or PayPal before classes start. (Contact Jeff Richardson of Academia Duellatoria at 503-888-9310 or by email) to book your spot. Training sabers and protective gear will be provided.

Here’s the best part: Anybody who sees both courses through to the end can join the fort’s team of volunteer reenactors at living history events. The class isn’t just a mechanical lesson on saber rattling. The whole point is to teach students about how the weapon was used by dragoons in the 1850s at Fort Vancouver and elsewhere, all the historical background you’d need to be able to relay to visitors in a reenactment scenario.

P.S. Oh man, Zorro and Italian longsword classes! Be still my beating heart. (Strictly a metaphor. Please do not jab me in the chest with the pointy end.)

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

2nd. c. Chinese bronze mirror found in Japan in perfect condition

History Blog - Mon, 2018-01-01 21:33

Archaeologists excavating the Nakashima archaeological site in Fukuoka City, Japan, have unearthed an ancient Chinese bronze mirror in exceptional condition. Dating to about 1,000 years ago, the late Yayoi Pottery Culture period (300 B.C.-300 A.D.), the mirror was discovered in Fukuoka’s Hakata Ward. The modern-day city and its environs formed the core of the ancient state of Nakoku or Na, a small kingdom on the island of Kyushu that was governed independently of the state of Wa (the rest of modern-day Japan) from the 1st through the early 3rd century.

Nakoku had close ties to the Chinese Han dynasty and for centuries after its demise, most of what was known about Na came from reports in ancient Chinese chronicles. According to a chronicle of the Han Dynasty written by court historians during the Liu Song dynasty (5th century), in 57 A.D. the state of Na sent a high envoy to pay tribute to the Han Emperor Guangwu. In return, the emperor gave the envoy an imperial seal made of solid gold for his king, a version of the jade seals crafted for the emperors themselves. The gold block seal was discovered by farmers on Shikanoshima Island in 1784, confirming for the first time with archaeological evidence the story in the ancient histories. It was inscribed with sublime simplicity making it instantly identifiable: “From the King of] Han, presented to the King of Nakoku.” The seal is now on permanent display at the Fukuoka City Museum and the find site is an archaeological park dedicated to the discovery of the national treasure.

The bronze mirror isn’t 95.1% gold and doesn’t have an inscription from the Chinese emperor to King on it, but it is very much a rare and precious thing, thanks largely to how unprecedentedly intact and well-preserved it is. It dates to the first part of the 2nd century A.D., around the time when chroniclers record China and Na were engaged in the slave trade together (107 A.D.). Whether connected to that trade or another, a treasure for a high official bearing tribute or diplomatic gift, this mirror was a luxurious object then and is even more so now that it is an impossibly rare survivor.

The bronze mirror, manufactured in China during the Later Han Dynasty (A.D. 25-220), carries patterns that classify it as a “linked-arc mirror.” It measures 11.3 centimeters across, and its surface is inscribed with text that reads, “chang yi zisun,” which means, “to benefit future generations forever.”

The mirror was unearthed in April, together with earthenware from sometime around the middle of the late Yayoi period, from a depth of some 2 meters beneath a former village site.

While most ancient mirrors datable to similar periods are typically found broken and covered with patina, this specific one was found whole, unpatinated, and in such good condition that it still reflects the viewer’s face, albeit vaguely. It is believed a humid environment prevented it from oxidation. […]

Hidenori Okamura, a professor of Chinese archaeology with Kyoto University, said, “The find site is not a tomb, so the mirror may have been used in religious rites. The find will also serve as a material for precisely determining the shaky date of the late Yayoi period.”

The mirror is now on display to the public at the Fukuoka City Museum.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Happy New Year’s Eve!

History Blog - Sun, 2017-12-31 12:06

May Janus make his two (or four) faces to shine down upon your endeavours. May Bacchus’ leopard-drawn chariot safely convey you in whatever condition you happen to find yourself to and from your destinations. May you ring in the New Year with people you love, or at least people you don’t actively hate, and when the clock strikes midnight, raise a glass to we many, we happy many history nerds. Long may we drone on about our favorite subjects to our friends and family until they beg us to shut up for just one second or stuff their ears with dinner table napkins. Hey, it’s a gift.

We’ll meet back here tomorrow for a new post, the yearly retrospective that has become such a firmly established tradition for me now that it wouldn’t feel like the year has turned without it. Have a wonderful night!

P.S. – Aw, I can’t leave you with nothing at all to while away the time between breakfast and party. Janus, donchaknow. One looks back even as one looks forward.

This is a nifty 3D digitial reconstruction of St. Salvator’s Quad and Chapel at the University of St Andrews. The great spire of St. Salvator’s is original to the 15th century structure, but the rest of the quad today bears little resemblance to what it looked like when it opened in 1450. It was altered irrevocably starting with the great upheavals of the Reformation in Scotland, and indeed, a pivotal event in that history took place in the quad: the burning at the state of Patrick Hamilton, a 24-year-old scholar and advocate of the ideas of Martin Luther. He who was the first person condemned to die and executed for espousing Protestantism in Scotland. That was 1528.

With the 500the anniversary of the Luther’s nailing of the 95 theses to the door of Wittenberg castle, University of St Andrews researchers collaborated with Smart History to set the scene virtually so we could get an idea of what St. Salvator’s looked like in its medieval heyday.

St Salvators – St Andrews 1559 from Smart History on Vimeo.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Who wants to live forever? The First Emperor of China, that’s who

History Blog - Sat, 2017-12-30 23:45

Many kings have a thing about immortality, usually with good reason because ruling was a high-risk job. The living incarnations of the gods, Egypt’s pharaohs were mummified to extend their physical bodies into the immortal realm. Alexander the Great was said to have sought out a yogi in India so he could discover the secret to eternal life (which he would turn out to need far sooner than he realized). Mithridates of Pontus was reputed to have ingested tiny amounts of every poison known to make himself unkillable (iocane powder was not reportedly among them) after his father was assassinated by poison, and Roman emperors deified their (less reviled) predecessors and were deified themselves posthumously as a matter of rote.

Qin Shi Huang, first emperor of a united China (reined 220–210 B.C.) and founder of the Qin dynasty which barely survived him by three years, had much in common with his fellow monarchs. He’d fought bloody wars his whole life, taking the throne of the Qin kingdom when he was 13 years old and fighting his way to becoming the ultimate victor of China’s Warring States Period 25 years later. Previous dynasts used the word for “king.” Qin Shi Huang literally coined the word for “emperor” which has been used by Chinese monarchs ever since.

As unrelenting as he was in battle he was equally driven to find the secret of eternal life. He covered several bases there, creating the wonder-of-the-world greatness of the Terracotta Army for his huge mausoleum complete with rivers of mercury (believe to be a boon to preservation of tissues). That was the failsafe, as it happens. Plan A was not to die at all, and just like his counterparts out west, he had good reason for his pathological fear of the reaper. He survived at least three foiled assassination attempts and several coups during his lifetime. In a twist that would make an ancient Greek tragedian weep tears of bitter jealousy and regret, the First Emperor died in a palace in the far east of his realm where he had gone to score an elixir of life from some Taoist wizards who said they knew of one hidden on a remote island under the watchful eye of a guardian sea monster. He never did make it to the sea monster. Something else killed him first: the mercury-filled “medicinal” poison pills given him by his physicians to give him eternal life. It was 210 B.C. and he was 49 years old.

If it has a whiff of the goat song, no-escaping-destiny about it as a conclusion to the story, it’s all the more goaty now that archaeologists have confirmed that Qin Shi Huang was all over the elixir of life from the minute his ample rump hit the throne. As soon as he claimed the title, the Emperor issued an order to all regional authorities that they seek out the secret to immortality and relay it to him. The poor local guys did the best they could and the Qin Emperor got numerous replies written on wooden slips, thousands of which were discovered at the bottom of a well in Hunan province in 2002.

Archaeologists have been studying the slips since then and the Qin tombs found at the site ever since and have collected remarkable evidence of how wide-ranging the search was, a personally committed and involved the emperor was in search for the elixir.

Zhang Chunlong, a researcher at the provincial institute of archaeology, said the emperor’s decree reached frontier regions and remote villages.

According to the calligraphic script on the narrow wooden slips, a village called “Duxiang” reported that no miraculous potion had been found yet and implied that the search would continue. Another place, “Langya,” in today’s eastern Shandong Province near the sea, presented a herb collected from an auspicious local mountain.

The discovery demonstrated the emperor’s centralization of authority.

“It required a highly efficient administration and strong executive force to pass down a government decree in ancient times when transportation and communication facilities were undeveloped,” Zhang said.

It has taken a long time to examine the collection and pull them by topic. There are over 36,000 slips written using 200,000 ancient Chinese characters from 222-208 B.C covering subjects from politics to military plans to legal provisions and more. Archaeologists found 48 slips that directly reference medical questions, mostly the elixir but not solely. These document treatments that were popular then and are still part of traditional Chinese medicine today. They also revealed what a thoroughly well-developed health services system the Qin Dynasty had put together in such a short time. It was highly regulated. Doctors could only take patients under their care when told to do so by the government and all treatments had to be assiduously recorded for inspection. The patients were overwhelmingly wealthy members of the elite who could afford all theis doctorin’.

This is a remarkable collection of official archival records from a very short-lived (nyuk) dynasty that has other left very few written records behind. The slips aren’t just a fascinating combination of nostra, legends and alchemy from the period; they are also a thick slice of government administration preserved for more than 2,000 years, which is the kind of immortality I can 100% get behind. For many archaeologists and historians, this assemblage is as important as the terracotta warriors and mausoleum because every word lends new insight into how the First Emperor went about the business of governing his newly unified domain.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Word from Æthelmearc: In Memoriam: Mistress Achren of the Debatable Lands

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2017-12-30 16:22
The Æthelmearc Gazette has posted a memorial post following the passing of Mistress Achren of the Debatable Lands, formerly of the East Kingdom. It can be found by clicking here.

Missive From the Prince & Princess: State Dinner at Pennsic

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2017-12-30 15:58

Greeting unto Sylvan Æthelmearc from Sven and Siobhán, Prince and Princess.

Good people, after much deliberation with our Royal Cousins of the East and Midrealm, as well as counsel from our peers of Æthelmearc , we have made several important decisions regarding the upcoming Pennsic War.We march into Pennsic on a road paved with almost fifty years of traditions. Many of those traditions are based in the East and Mid bearing the weight of responsibility for many of the royal functions. Although there has been ongoing dialog of how to include Æthelmearc and creating a treaty to memorialize the rotation, nothing has ever been documented. When the subject was broached with the current Heirs of East and Mid, they remain strong in the standing traditions. Together, they have requested Æthelmearc allow them to once again continue the tradition of hosting the State Dinner and Queen’s Tea this Pennsic.

Though a difficult decision, we graciously consented with the understanding that dialog concerning a treaty will continue and in hopes that our good will shall foster the growth of said treaty. We also requested that our Kingdom be provided some sort of goods or services for our graciousness! Their Highnesses have all agreed.

While this may seem like bad news, we will instead look at it as an opportunity to create new traditions and hope to use this as a springboard to make Pennsic stronger and better for all.

Ad Gloriam Æthelmearc!

Prince Sven and Princess Siobhán

Categories: SCA news sites

Bronze Age toys found in Siberia

History Blog - Fri, 2017-12-29 23:01

Archaeologists excavating the Bronze Age burial ground of Itkol II in the Republic of Khakassia, southern Siberia, have unearthed two children’s toys from the Okunev culture. They’re the heads of figurines. One is a soapstone cylindrical piece about two inches long with finely carved facial features. The striking eyes and long eyelashes or brows may suggest a female face. The other is the head of an animal of undetermined type (horse? dragon? dog? seahorse?) carved out of horn or antler. No remains of the figurines’ bodies, likely made from an organic material or materials, have survived.

Each were discovered in a child’s grave. The burial itself was a simple commoner’s grave, so these were not elite grave goods. (The elite were buried in large, well-appointed tumuli, a distinctly fancier setting than these inhumations.) The lack of symbols, carvings or any other indications of a ritual or religious significance suggests the carvings weren’t talismans or charms to accompany the dead, but the beloved toys of an all too brief childhood.

The Okunev culture is seen as having links to Native Americans – and this is not the first time their toys have been found.

Indeed, the latest finds add to an intriguing collection. A figurine of a pagan god pulled out of a Siberian river by an angler was likely a child’s toy or rattle to ward off evil spirits. It has almond-shaped eyes, a large mouth with full lips, and a ferocious facial expression. On the back is ‘plaited hair with wave like lines. Below the plait there are lines looking like fish scales.’

Fisherman Nikolay Tarasov made ‘the catch of a lifetime’, said museum staff.

At the time of its discovery archaeologists were less definitive about which culture may have created the rattle or idol. The Okunev weren’t the only people in the area about 4,000 years ago. It also wasn’t certain that it actually was a toy, even though the press ran with the idea that it was a child’s rattle made to look fearsome. Many “oldest toy in the world looks like scary old fishgod!1” headlines ensued. At least these two pieces were found in undisturbed children’s graves in an extensively explored Okunev burial ground used by people of various social levels for centuries, so the speculation is a tad more grounded in archaeological context.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

In Memoriam: Mistress Achren of the Debatable Lands

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2017-12-29 19:55

Mistress Achren, with Master John the Artificer in the background. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi.

The AEthelmearc Gazette is saddened to report the passing of Mistress Achren of the Debatable Lands, also known as Achren Ancyros (Ruth Reilly) on December 18th after a long illness. She was 88.

Mistress Achren joined the SCA in the late 1970s along with her son, Lord Rolf Schwartz, and later her daughter, Monica. She served as Baronial Chirurgeon, helped autocrat events, and cooked feasts, including a memorable late period German one for which she was positively gleeful at being able to show documentation for potatoes within period. However, she was better known for her poetry and work in theater arts. She organized performances of comedies by members of the Debatable Lands at events, with a group initially dubbed “Commedia Forensica,” but later renamed the “Dismal Players” in honor of Earl Yngvar the Dismal, first King of AEthelmearc, who agreed to be their patron.

A performance by Commedia Forensica. L-R: Lord Rolf Schwartz, Mistress Achren, and her daughter Monica. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Being older than many of the other members of the Barony-Marche, Mistress Achren became an adopted mother to many Debatable Landers. She opened her home to Scadians, fed them, advised them, and helped them in many ways. Mistress Linette de Gallardon, once a student in the Debatable Lands and currently living in the Shire of Owlsherst in the East Kingdom, wrote: “Achren was so very kind to me when I joined the SCA almost thirty years ago. She hosted many a gathering in her home – all of my fond gaming memories are around her dining table. She knew I was struggling financially and always found a subtle way to sneakily give me something to eat or take home “oh, no one here will eat it, will you take it?” Conversations at her house were never boring, flitting from subject to subject with lightening speed. She was such a wonderful person.”

Scroll petitioning then-Prince Yngvar and Princess Caryl to become Commedia Forensica’s patrons. Photo courtesy of Earl Yngvar the Dismal.

Sir Maghnus de Cnoc an Iora of the Debatable Lands, who fought for the honor of Mistress Achren in a number of Crown Tournaments, recalls, “I met Achren some time before I finished my PhD, which would make it at least 35 years ago. She opened her home to me as well as to many others. I lived in a bedroom on her second floor for some months back in the day. Achren did a good deal of painting with period pigments; that is the art for which I remember her. She, along with Rolf and John, ran the CHAT guild- Chirurgeons, Thaumaturgists, Hermeticists, and Alchemists- which met on the 5th Tuesday of every month. She was brilliant, and I learned a great deal of history from her. I remember talking at length about the Bronze Age, the Antikythera Mechanism, Pompei and the volcano at Thera. This was a large part of the inspiration for the Bronze Age Events, the two events that I have ever autocratted. I will say that though her lungs were giving out, her mind was undimmed when I last saw her. We talked about politics, science, science fiction, and philosophy. She was an amazing and compassionate woman.”

Achren was known for her keen wit and brilliant mind. Dame Margaret Makafee of the Debatable Lands remembers her “brain shifting to high gear in a conversation, because Achren, with that sweet sly smile, asked the question that drove through the gaping hole in your thesis.” She continued, there was “the joy to know she was in camp and feeling well, or how she made you feel right at home — in her home, in her camp, or wherever she was.”

Mistress Achren received her AoA in 1982, was made a Court Baroness in 1988, added to the Order of the Silver Crescent (East Kingdom’s order for service) in 1994 for founding Chirurgeon’s Point at Pennsic, and eventually inducted into the Order of the Laurel in 1998. She also held numerous Comets from the Debatable Lands for arts and service.

L-R: Mistress Roxane the Tempting, Mistress Achren, and Duchess Morgen of Rye. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Maistir Brandubh o Donghaile and Mistress Hilderun Hugelmann, Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands, said, “We are greatly saddened by [Mistress Achren’s passing], and have missed her quick wit and mischievous smile. Our heartfelt condolences to those that were close to her. We welcome ideas on how to honor her memory here in our Barony.”

Mistress Achren is survived by her children, Lord Rolf (Paul Reilly), Vincent Reilly, and Monica Reilly; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren; her former apprentice, THLady Margery of Kent; and her long-time companion, Master John the Artificer. Her obituary is available here.

Categories: SCA news sites

Even more bullae found in Doliche

History Blog - Thu, 2017-12-28 23:45

The ancient site of Doliche near modern-day Dülük in southern Turkey has done it again. An international team of archaeologists led by Dr. Engelbert Winter of the University of Münster has unearthed more than 1,000 bullae or clay seal impressions from Doliche’s municipal archive.

Doliche was renown throughout the Greek and Roman world for its shrine to Jupiter. Jupiter Dolichenus was a syncretic iteration, a composite of the original Hittite sky/storm god Tesub-Hadad with the Greco-Roman god of lightning Zeus/Jupiter, but the mystery religion spread widely after the Romans conquered the city in 64 B.C. and had adherents all over the empire, including the most desirable adherents a sanctuary might want, i.e., emperors.

Dr. Winter and his team discovered evidence found more than 600 seals in the excavation of 2013. They were votive offerings made to the temple long before the Roman conquest — between the 7th and 4th centuries B.C.) which gave historians a rare chance to study the religious culture and imagery of the ancient city before the deity was absorbed into the Greco-Roman pantheon. The cache discovered this season is later in date (2nd-3rd centuries A.D.) and many pieces of it appear to be official administrative seals from the city archives. Their large size, their discovery in the city rather than the temple precinct and some inscriptions attest to their origin.

Engelbert Winter on the significance of this major distinction:

“The fact that administrative authorities sealed hundreds of documents with the images of gods shows how strongly religious beliefs shaped everyday life.”

“The cult of Jupiter Dolichenus did not only take place in the nearby central temple, but also left its mark on urban life,” he said.

“It also becomes apparent how strongly Jupiter Dolichenus, originally worshipped at this location, was connected with the entire Roman Empire in the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE: many of the images show the god shaking hands with various Roman emperors.”

The gods depicted on the seals are also rife with political and civic meaning.

“In addition to the images of the ‘city goddess’ Tyche, the depictions of Augustus and Dea Roma deserve special attention, since they point to the important role of the Roman emperor and the personified goddess of the Roman state for the town of Doliche, which lies on the eastern border of the Roman Empire,” Professor Winter said.

“However, the central motif is the most important god of the city, Jupiter Dolichenus. In the 2nd and 3rd centuries CE, his cult spread into large parts of the Mediterranean world, extending as far as Britain.”

“Therefore, it is not surprising that hundreds of documents were sealed with images showing a handshake between this deity and an emperor. It was a sign of the god’s affinity to the Roman state.”

Doliche’s deep bench produced other exceptional finds this year. Archaeologists discovered a brilliantly colored ancient mosaic floor underneath a later ancient floor in a three-aisled building complex. The mosaic is believed to around 400 A.D., and Winter thinks it is from a Christian church built there in late antiquity. Winter’s team has been excavating the church since 2015 and 150 square meters (1615 square feet) of the nave have been revealed this year.

But wait, there’s more!

The researchers also found the public center of the town of Doliche, which they had initially located by geophysical prospecting in the east of the city. “This assumption has been confirmed,” said the excavation leader. “We were able to expose parts of a very large building: it is a well-preserved mosaic baths of the Roman Empire. As there are hardly any Roman thermal springs in the region, this discovery is of great scientific importance. “The research team from Münster also brought new insights into the extent of the city area and the chronology of the city: A year on the settlement hill of the ancient city, The Keber Tepe, carried out intensive survey led to quite surprising results: “A variety of Stone Age finds indicate that Keber Tepe was evidently a very significant place from a very early age. Doliche then reached its greatest extent in the Roman and early Byzantine period.”

These kind of fantastically layered, information-rich finds are why Winter, his co-workers and sponsors have been going back to the site every year since 2001.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Webminister Letters of Intent Sought

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2017-12-28 17:15

Unto the Kingdom of AEthelmearc, does your Kingdom Webminister send warm greetings!

It is time for a call for letters of intent for anyone interested in the Office of Kingdom Webminister. This is for a two-year term, starting at Spring Crown Tournament. With that said, I am planning to seek a second term as Kingdom Webminister.

The Webminister’s Office is responsible for maintaining the Kingdom Website, forms and docs spaces, and email forwarders.

Additionally, the Webminister is to assist webministers of local groups, Kingdom guilds and Polling Orders, and Kingdom offices with any web-related issues as well as collect reports every quarter and submit quarterly reports to the Society Webminister. The Webminister oversees the Event Coordinator and works very closely with this position to keep the Kingdom Calendar up-to-date and also works very closely with the Kingdom Chronicler as well. Finally, the Webminister checks for compliance issues throughout Kingdom websites and also makes recommendations to Society level for the William Blackfox Web Awards.

The average time spent working on Kingdom Webminister duties is roughly 2 to 10 hours per week, depending on the time of month and issues that arise. Skills required for this position are a working knowledge of websites and web servers, email, cPanel, WordPress, HTML, and Spreadsheets.

I am available to discuss any questions you may have about the office via email, Facebook (Peri Nelson-Sukert) or phone (please email for phone number).

Letters of intent should be sent to the following email address. This email will forward to Their Royal Majesties, the Kingdom Seneschal, and the Kingdom Webminister. Please have all letters submitted by April 1, 2018.

In service to Æthelmearc, Amalie

Categories: SCA news sites

Visitor identifies plant decorating medieval chest

History Blog - Wed, 2017-12-27 23:51

The Billingford Hutch, a large and sturdily-built oak chest with heavy iron bands, hasps and locks, was used as a strongbox in the late Middle Ages. It’s named after Richard de Billingford, who was the 5th Master of Corpus Christi College (founded in 1352), mastering it for an impressively long stint from 1398 until 1432. In 1420, he started the college’s loan program, donating what was then the princely sum of £20 as seed money to loan to scholars chronically low on cash. They could withdraw funds up to 40 shillings (ca. £2) using their valuables (manuscripts, mainly) as collateral. The £20 was kept in a locked chest under the vigilant eye of three custodians until a withdrawal was made. The books or other valuables the debtor was using as collateral were then placed in the chest until the establish repayment deadline. If the debtor did not manage to pay back the loan on time, his stuff was sold immediately and the sum owed returned to the chest. If the items sold for more the amount owed, that went into the chest too. The debtor got none of it.

The university loan chest system was widely practiced in institutes of higher learning at that time. Billingford didn’t invent it; he was the first to implement it at Corpus Christi is all. Other colleges at Cambridge had chests of their own, but most of the chest themselves are long lost. Corpus Christi still has their iron and oak ACME safe, and even more rarely, it has retained the registers that recorded the cash and collateral flow for more than three centuries. It’s because of those registers that we know how frequently the loan chest was used and by whom. Every fellow and master at the college is listed as having borrowed from it, and while as you might expect manuscripts do dominate, what with them being academics and all, they also used precious religious objects, silver spoons and salt cellars.

The chest itself likely predates 1420, but we don’t know its exact age. Nobody knew why the locks were decorated with images of an undetermined leaf either. That changed in September of this year when the chest was moved to Parker Library and fell under the unblinking Sauron-like eye of one particular visitor. Check out this wonderfully nerdy chain of events:

Jeremy Purseglove, environmentalist and Cambridge resident, visited the Library during Open Cambridge in September 2017. “It was a wonderful chance to get a glimpse of some of the Library’s medieval manuscripts,” he said. “We were given a fascinating talk by Alexander Devine, one of the librarians. He showed us a massive chest that had recently been moved to the Library from elsewhere in the College. My eye was drawn to the leaf shapes in the metal work.”

The chest is made from oak planks and measures approximately 1.8m x 0.5m x 0.4m. It is reinforced by numerous iron bands and five iron hasps, secured in three locks, all operated by different keys. Each of the lock plates (the metal plates containing the locks, hasps and keyholes) is decorated with the outline of a plant punched into the metal.

No-one knew the significance of this decorative detail. Purseglove, who is passionate about plants, suspected the distinctive shape was likely to be that of moonwort, a fern much mentioned by 16th-century herbalists. He said: “I rushed home and looked it up. I found that it had been associated with the opening of locks and guarding of silver.”

It was such a strong association that herbalist Nicholas Culpepper wrote about it in his seminal 1653 volume The Complete Herbal. His description of the plant is as artfully rendered as the motif on the chest’s iron fittings:

It rises up usually with but one dark green, thick and flat leaf, standing upon a short foot-stalk not above two fingers breadth; but when it flowers it may be said to bear a small slender stalk about four or five inches high, having but one leaf in the middle thereof, which is much divided on both sides into sometimes five or seven parts on a side, sometimes more; each of which parts is small like the middle rib, but broad forwards, pointed and round, resembling therein a half-moon, from whence it took the name; the uppermost parts or divisions being bigger than the lowest. The stalks rise above this leaf two or three inches, bearing many branches of small long tongues, every one like the spiky head of the adder’s tongue, of a brownish colour, (which, whether I shall call them flowers, or the seed, I well know not) which, after they have continued awhile, resolve into a mealy dust.

Governed by the celestial power of our satellite, moonwort leaves were reputedly an excellent tonic against menstrual irregularities, vaginal discharge (if you’ve ever read old medical books, and I have, you’ll know that how to combat the scourge of “the whites” was a huge subject of discussion for centuries), and another other unwanted emission of body fluid. Culpepper thought it was most effective in combination with other herbs to help heal wounds. He concludes his description with a reference to its vaunted lock-picking powers:

Moonwort is an herb which (they say) will open locks, and unshoe such horses as tread upon it. This some laugh to scorn, and those no small fools neither; but country people, that I know, call it Unshoe the Horse. Besides I have heard commanders say, that on White Down in Devonshire, near Tiverton, there were found thirty horse shoes, pulled off from the feet of the Earl of Essex’s horses, being there drawn up in a body, many of them being but newly shod, and no reason known, which caused much admiration: the herb described usually grows upon heaths.

Hmmm…Seems like it would be the opposite of something you’d want guarding the locks on your cash and saleable goods. Oh well, can’t argue with results, I suppose. The Billingford Hutch kept its secrets close for 500 years, first money and valuables, then information.

[Librarian Alexander] Devine said: “The Billingford Hutch is probably the best surviving example of its kind in Europe. To have a possible answer to the puzzle of its decorative motif is fantastic. We’re immensely grateful to Jeremy for enriching our understanding of its history. His wonderful discovery is further proof that sharing your collections with the public is the key to unlocking their secrets.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Kingdom Seneschal Meeting at Dancing Fox

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-27 23:29


I will be holding a meeting of the officers and members of the Shire of Frosted Hills at Dancing Fox in the Shire of Nordenhalle on February 3, 2018, immediately following court.

If you are an officer of Frosted Hills, or if you reside within the Shire, I strongly suggest that you attend this meeting.

This meeting is also open to the seneschals of the neighboring groups.

Thank you.

Katherine Barr

East Kingdom Seneschal

Filed under: Announcements Tagged: Dancing Fox, Frosted Hills, seneschal

In Memoriam: Lady Bryn Millar

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2017-12-27 17:43

Lady Bryn Millar¹

Lady Bryn Millar of the Barony of Endewearde passed away on December 24th, 2017 following a short illness.

Lady Bryn was one of the earliest members of the then Shire of Endewearde, active in her local group for more than 25 years, and received her Award of Arms in 1994 from Gregor and Christence. She was devoted to the art of the rapier, well known in the lists and also a dedicated and active teacher, serving the rapier community as a marshal (and recently as a youth marshal) and also helped to foster a decades-long partnership with the fencing club at a local University. She held the rank of Captain in the Northguard Rapier company, and was recognized as a Captain of Fence (“gold cord”) by the League of Rapier Academies. In 2014 she was awarded the Portcullis of Endewearde in recognition of her martial skill and service. In 2015 she was inducted into the newly formed Order of the Silver Rapier by Omega V & Etheldreda IV at Great Northeastern War.


Bryn also served Endewearde and the Kingdom in many other capacities. She understood early on how to use the internet as a tool for SCA communication and recruitment, and served as her local Webminster for 18 years. She was autocrat or head cook for many local events, and she and her beloved husband, Don Jordan Harvey, opened their home for picnics and gatherings. In addition, she was a gifted needle-worker, holding a Journeyman rank with the Keepers of Athena’s Thimble. In 2003 she was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent by Andreas II and Isabella II in recognition of her long service, and in 2015 she was recognized with the Keystone of Endewearde, the Baronial service award, and also with the Queen’s Award of Esteem by Etheldreda IV for her timely work in communicating some important last minute changes to the location of an event.


East Kingdom Web Minister Maistir Mael Eoin mac Echuid posted the following message about her work for the Webministry, “There’s a handful of people who are active every day in our online chat, then there’s another handful who aren’t there daily but who are regulars and routinely interactive. Bryn was one of those.


While she wasn’t someone who does a lot related to the office outside of the office – as a hobby or day job – she always wanted to know what was going on, how and why we were doing things, and how it might relate to her and her group. She was always inquisitive, eager to know more, and stayed on  top of happenings in her office. Ahead of things, even, in being part of the daily and weekly chats.


To see how much more she did before and in addition to being a webminister? Inspiring… I am sorry I did not know her better, but I hope to follow her examples as best I can.”


Founding member of Endewearde, Mistress Brita Mairi Svensdottir, related “Bryn tirelessly wrote deserving people in for awards. Her dedication to keeping up with our many activities and posting timely changes and reminders on our web site, and her assistance with demos and teaching rapier combat are just some examples of the impact she has made in our barony. We will miss her.” Master Frasier MacLeod adds the following rememberance, “Lady Bryn Millar was part of the glue that helped hold the Barony of Endewearde together. She was one of those constants that made things go, made things happen. She was passionate about her beliefs and the things she held dear and worked tirelessly to improve them, the Barony not the least of those things. She was a longtime Baronial Rapier Marshal, and also served as Youth Marshal along with her husband, Don Jordan Harvey. Her absence will leave a hole in the Barony and the North that will be very difficult to fill.”


Lady Bryn Millar²

Sir Ané du Vey, Baron Endewearde, shared this: “Most know of Lady Bryn Millar’s long time dedication to the SCA fencing community. She has been a steady member for over 26 years.  She was a fencer, a teacher, and a marshal. Her commitment to fence, however, extended well beyond our walls. For most of the last 20 years she has served as a coach and advisor for the fencing club of her local college, and helping to start a love of fencing for many.  For this, and more, Lady Bryn Millar stands as one the premiere members of Endewearde’s Order of the Portcullis, for martial prowess.


Even more than her love for fence, Bryn cared deeply for the SCA and for Endewearde. She has always been one of key forces keeping things moving in Endewearde. She was an organizer not just of events (which she worked many) but of people. It was often Bryn that reminded people of the things that needed to be done. I can’t count the number of times she reminded me to think ahead about the schedule for local practices, or upcoming workshops. It was Bryn who has managed our web presence since its very beginning. It was Bryn who created and kept our Order of Precedence. It was Bryn who kept our calendar organized and updated, and it was Bryn who made sure this information got out to everyone as quickly as possible. Bryn not only made sure things were done… she made sure things were done right. All this doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface or the reasons why Lady Bryn Millar holds Endewearde’s order of the Keystone, for service.


More importantly than any of this… Bryn was a friend. Her loss will leave a hole in our Barony for a long time to come.”


A memorial service for Lady Bryn will be held on December 28th. Details can be found in her obituary by clicking here (Bangor Daily News).


1. Photo Courtesy of Mistress Camille des Jardins 2. Photo Courtesy of Baron Brenden Crane
Filed under: In Memoriam Tagged: Endewearde, In Memoriam