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Curia Reminder – April 2nd

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-03-28 09:21

Just a quick reminder that the 2nd Curia of Their Majesties Tindal and Etain will take place Saturday, April 2, 2016, at Ice Dragon. Curia will follow immediately after morning Court and the specific location of Curia within the site itself will be announced at the end of Court.

If you have any questions regarding Curia, please feel free to contact the Kingdom Seneschal, Duke Christopher, at ae.seneschal@aethelmearc.org.

Categories: SCA news sites

Concretions removed to reveal iron body of Hunley

History Blog - Sun, 2016-03-27 23:12

The iron body of the Confederate submarine H. L. Hunley has been revealed after 137 years in the salt water of Charleston Harbor, 13 years in a tank of cold fresh water and two years off and on in a sodium hydroxide solution. Conservators at Clemson University’s Warren Lasch Conservation Center have been working to preserve the delicate vessel since it was raised in 2000. The long water bath was necessary to slowly stabilize the iron which would have cracked and corroded if exposed to oxygen after so many years underwater. The weak sodium hydroxide solution (99% water, 1% NaOH) helped leech salt out of the iron and soften the concretion layer.

A combination of rust, sand, rock and assorted ocean debris, concretions are hard as concrete. The concretion layer that coated the entire submarine, inside and out, was so thick, the original iron has been obscured since the Hunley was first raised from the harbor floor. Some areas of concretion were harder than the iron underneath them. In order for the sodium hydroxide treatment to leech the corrosive salt out of the iron skin effectively, the concretion had to be removed first. In May of 2014, the submarine was immersed in sodium hydroxide for the first time. That initial three-month soak was intended to loosen the concretions.

When the tank was drained of the solution after three months, conservators had three days to chip away at the concretion before the tank was filled again. In a cramped workspace that was a hazardous caustic environment requiring the use of face masks, goggles and specialized protective suits, conservators used small drills, chisels and hammers to remove the rock-like incrustation. It was painstaking, dangerous work. One false move with a hand tool and the iron skin of the submarine could be irreparably damaged.

After three days of assiduous labor, the tank was refilled with the sodium hydroxide solution for another three months, then drained for chipping and on and on like that for more than a year. At the end of the process, conservators removed 1,200 pounds of concretion, about the weight of a grand piano, just from the exterior of the submarine. The Hunley‘s iron skin was seen by human eyes for the first time since the Civil War.

Conservators had hoped that removing the concretion would reveal damage that might explain what happened to the H. L. Hunley on the night of February 17th, 1864. We know that its mission to sink the USS Housatonic was successful. The submarine drove a spar-mounted torpedo into the starboard stern of the Union warship and its payload of 135 pounds of gunpowder exploded, blowing a large hole in the side of the enemy vessel. While the hand-cranked submarine with its crew of eight men was very close to the explosion — the spar was only 16 feet long — the Hunley and its crew survived. They signalled the success of the mission with a blue magnesium light, as previously arranged, and then were never heard from or seen again.

They did find some clues on the skin of the submarine. Archaeologists found damage to the bolts and clamps of the boom that held the spar in place. They also discovered a crack in the bow where the spar was mounted. The impact from the explosion or the ramming appears to have torn out a clamp and cracked the Hunley‘s bow cap.

That’s not a smoking gun, however. Archaeologists were looking for evidence of bullet damage. Records indicate the submarine was seen before the attack and the Union ship fired on it. Bullet holes would have confirmed this report and would have explained why the vessel was too damaged to return to safety. One large hole was found, but it was the result of years of scouring by sand and salt before the submarine was covered by the sand on the ocean floor and kept relatively intact.

Conservators have now moved their attentions to the interior of the submarine. It too is covered in concretions, and this workspace is even more cramped. The crew compartment is less than four feet in diameter. It’s unlikely they’ll find one key piece of evidence that explains the fate of the Hunley in the interior. This part of the project is focused on what happened in the claustrophobic nightmare of that tiny iron cigar in the last moments of the crewmen’s lives. Conservators hope to find artifacts — personal effects, uniform buttons, tools — that will help them piece together what happened to the Hunley.

Anytime an artifact is found, the scientists will have to stop scraping to map its location on a 3-D grid.

Scafuri said that all these clues are probably all scientists will have to piece together the final moments of the first attack sub. Every piece of evidence suggests one thing and eventually that research will point to an answer for the biggest lingering question: why didn’t the Hunley return after sinking the Housatonic.

Between work on the interior, conservators are busy restoring pieces of the sub that were removed — rubber gaskets and glass deadlights, for instance. All those pieces will be replaced when the caustics treatment ends and the sub is ready for dry display.

It’s going to be a few years before the submarine is ready for permanent display in the open air. The sodium hydroxide soaks will continue for at least five years and possibly as many as seven more years. The solution must be replaced every three to four months even when all the concretion has been removed because it will get too salty to be effective.

There are some excellent shots in this video by the Friends of the Hunley of the Hunley before and after the concretions were removed. It looks amazing.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Gods and mortals from ancient Dion in New York

History Blog - Sat, 2016-03-26 23:46

Nestled in the northern foothills of Mount Olympus, the ancient town of Dion was perfectly situated for sacrifices to the gods. It was a lot easier to carry animals to the base of the mountain than to climb its nearly 10,000-foot heights. The first known altar to Zeus Olympios was built in Dion in the 10th century B.C.

The small town grew into a prominent city under the Macedonians who revered it as the center of their religion. In the late 5th century B.C., Macedonian King Archelaus I founded the Olympian Games there, a yearly festival of the arts and athletic contents in honor of Olympian Zeus and his daughters the Muses. Top athletes and artists flocked to the festival from all over Greece. The kings of Macedon made sacrifices at the altar to ring in every new year (the end of September in the Macedonian calendar), celebrated their military victories and invoked the protection and support of Olympian Zeus before setting out on new adventures. Philip II of Macedon celebrated his successful siege and destruction of Olynthos in 348 B.C. at Dion. His son Alexander the Great sacrificed to the gods there before taking his conquering armies East. He also imported the worship of Isis from Egypt to Dion.

The strong association with Alexander the Great served Dion well under the Roman emperors. Octavian founded a colony there in 31 B.C., and later emperors in the 2nd and 3rd centuries lent it their support. In the waning days of the empire, Dion was still prominent as the seat of a bishopric. Bishops of Dion took part in important church synods (Serdike in 343 A.D. and Ephesos in 431 A.D.), but at the end of the 5th century the city fell to the armies of Ostrogoth King Theodoric the Great and it never recovered. It gradually lost importance and population due to a series of earthquakes and floods from the river Vaphyras. By the 10th century it was an abandoned ruin.

The ruins of Dion were identified as the ancient sacred city of the Macedonians in 1806, but organized excavations didn’t begin until 1928. There was a 30-year lapse in archaeological exploration between 1931 and 1960. Since 1973, Dr. Dimitrios Pandermalis has led excavations at the site, returning every summer with a team of archaeologists, students and volunteers from the modern village to brave the oppressive heat and humidity. They have expanded the excavation area considerably to include the ancient sanctuaries, graveyards, tumulus burials and the town center. Spared development, reconstruction and the potentially destructive fumbling of early archaeologists, Dion has proved an archaeological treasure trove. Thanks to its wetlands environment at the base of the mountain between two rivers, Dion’s remains have been well preserved by water and mud layers.

All that mud and water is no picnic for the archaeological team to have to dig through, but it’s been worth it. Excavators have unearthed the remains of sanctuaries dedicated to Olympian Zeus, Zeus Hypsistos, Demeter, Isis and Asclepius. There’s a Hellenistic theater, a Great Baths complex, a partially preserved 2nd century A.D. Roman theater, a Greek and Roman wall, a 5th century Christian basilica and several Roman-era villas, most notably the Villa of Dionysus discovered in 1987.

The Villa of Dionysus was built in the second half of the 2nd century as a complex with an elegant home, a shrine to Dionysus, a bathhouse, a library and storefronts. Archaeologists discovered a great many ancient artworks: sculptures, decorative elements from expensive furniture, and mosaics of exceptional quality. Among the most prized sculptures is a group of four seated men representing Epicurean philosophers, three students and one teacher identifiable by his bearded adulthood and the open scroll he holds. The heads of the students were recarved in the 3rd century AD to give them portrait features, possibly to make them look like members of the family who lived in the house at the time. Other artworks found in the house include a hauntingly beautiful portrait of Agrippina the Elder, mother of Nero, and a glorious 100 square meter floor mosaic in the banquet hall depicting the Epiphany of Dionysus.

The mosaic is one of the finest of its kind and is believed to be a copy of a lost Hellenistic painting. The villa being in ruins, there has been great concern about preserving the mosaic. The authorities built a custom addition to the museum to house the mosaic in ideal conservation conditions, but money was hard to come by. That changed last year when the Onassis Foundation funded the removal of the mosaic from the villa to the new building. Here’s a behind the scenes view of the detachment, transportation and conservation of the Epiphany of Dionysus mosaic:

Now Dion is paying the Onassis Foundation back in the most wonderful way: by loaning the Onassis Cultural Center in New York City more than 90 artifacts — mosaics, sculptures, jewelry, medical implements, terracotta vessels, glassware — dating from the 10th century B.C. to the 4th century A.D. Many of these pieces are in the US for the first time, and they are absolutely stunning. There’s the central panel of the Dionysus mosaic and several of the masques around it, the sculptures of the four philosophers, that beautiful portrait of Agrippina, an Iron Age spiral brooch with textile fragments still attached to it, statues and stele of the gods. There are utilitarian artifacts as well, including a copper oil lamp decorated with the head of a panther and a 1st century B.C. copper speculum, which looks remarkably similar to the modern version.

The Gods and Mortals at Olympus exhibition opened March 24th and runs through June 18th. They’ve really gone all out to put together a spectacular and content-rich show with cross-generational appeal. You can amble through the artifacts of Dion conversing with philosopher Simon Critchley, or lure your museum-resistant friends to the Museum Hacks series “for people who don’t like museums.” There’s even a videogame where children (and grown-ups!) can become the archaeologist excavating Dion. Entrance to the exhibition is free.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Save Time on Pent Registration!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-03-26 10:19

Want to save time at the Pent registration table?

Download the registration forms, fill them out and bring them with you. It’s easy this year!

Individual Entry Form

Group Entry Form

Make sure to check out all the sections of the Pent website, including the schedule.

We are looking forward to seeing all the wonderful entries!

~Tiercelin & Julianna

Categories: SCA news sites

NY fort’s cannons came from 1744 shipwreck

History Blog - Fri, 2016-03-25 23:43

There are 49 replicas and 19 original historic cannons at the Fort William Henry Museum in the Adirondack town of Lake George, New York. The fort is itself a replica, built on the site of the original Fort William Henry, a British outpost from the Seven Years’ War. It was besieged by the French and their Indian allies in 1757 and was compelled to surrender when reinforcements were not forthcoming. Some of the surrendering prisoners were killed by Indian warriors disgruntled by the French prohibition that kept them from looting the defeated fort. It was widely publicized as a massacre at the time and figures as high as 1,500 slaughtered were bandied about in the immediate aftermath. The real number, modern historians believe, is more like 200 killed and wounded, about 7.5% of the prisoners. The siege of Fort William Henry played a central role in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans.

Because of the popularity of the book, the famous massacre, the short but bloody history of the fort and its ideal location on a lake in the Adirondacks, the site of Fort William Henry became a tourist mecca. To take advantage of the historical tourism market, the replica was constructed in 1954 as full-scale copy of the original. To lend it authenticity, the owners of the attraction wanted some genuine Colonial artillery. Among the 19 antiques were nine cannons which had been salvaged a few years earlier in the Florida Keys.

Newspapers at the time of the sale noted the pieces were bought from treasure hunter Art McKee who had raised them from a wreck off the coast of Looe Key, a key named after the British warship HMS Looe which hit a reef in the area and sank in 1744. Named after the town of Looe, Cornwall, the ship only saw two years of service before its demise. The Looe was dispatched to protect the south Atlantic coast of America from Spanish incursions and interfere with Spanish shipping during a conflict that would later be blessed with one of the greatest names of all time: the War of Jenkins’ Ear. On February 5th, 1744, the Looe struck a reef and was grounded. The captured Spanish merchant ship following her suffered the same fate. The crews were evacuated, all food stores that could be salvaged were salvaged and then both ships were burned.

In 1951, the Smithsonian Institution sent an expedition to Looe Key to explore a reported shipwreck from which a few coins had been retrieved. At the time, not even the precise date of the ship was known and certainly not the name. The fact that the key was named after a British warship that had gone down off its coast had been lost in the mists of time. Metal, glass and porcelain artifacts had survived the conflagration. The team recovered large numbers of artifacts — among them iron ballast, shot, bolts, nails, rum bottles, Chinese porcelain fragments, earthenware, pipes, animal bones from the pickled meat stores, the eyepiece of a navigation instrument and one 2,000-pound cannon barrel.

They didn’t find a smoking gun, so to speak, that would immediately identify the ship, but they did find some clues. One of the 6-pound shots had an arrow on it, a mark indicating it was the property of the British royal family. The barrel was marked with a crowned rose, the insignia of Tudor and Stuart monarchs which was no longer used after Queen Anne’s death 1714. The lifespan of an iron cannon on a ship was no more than 40 years, which gave researchers an outside date for the ship of 1754. Inside the barrel the team found the remains of a wooden tompion which indicated the ship had not gone down in battle but rather by accident or misadventure.

Armed with those few clues, Smithsonian curator of naval history and team leader Mendel L. Peterson hit the archives. Looking through the ship casualty lists for a British warship that sank between 1720 and 1750, was armed with both six and 12-pound cannons and was lost by accident, Peterson found an entry in Clowes The Royal Navy for “1743 Looe 44 guns, Capt. Ashby Utting, Lost in America.” He then confirmed that among those 44 guns were six and 12-pounders. Suddenly the name of the key made a new kind of sense, and it helped confirm that Peterson had identified the wreck.

Looe Key is now part of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary so treasure hunters couldn’t make a meal of its underwater historic sites today, but back then it was unprotected. Art McKee followed in the Smithsonian’s footsteps. Once they were gone, he pulled up the heavy artillery they had left behind and sold it to the Fort William Henry Museum. At the time they were still marked with the crowned rose, a fact noted in articles about the acquisition. Exposure to more than 60 Adirondack winters has claimed the insignia, unfortunately, and in 1967 the fort’s records were destroyed in an arson fire so the cannons’ origins were lost.

In 2014, researchers began to measure all of the fort’s artillery, replica and original. Discovering the source of the nine cannons bought in 1954 was part of the project, and now the research has paid off.

The fort’s researchers discovered the caliber of the nine cannons matched that of the armament known to have been aboard HMS Looe when it sank. That fact, and McKee’s role in the guns’ salvage, leads researchers to believe the Looe was the source, [maritime archaeologist Joseph W.] Zarzynski said.

“If Art McKee sold them, then they are most certainly from HMS Looe,” said Charles Lawson, an archaeologist for Biscayne National Park who has studied 18th-century wreck sites in Florida’s waters.

The fort wants to restore those historic cannons which are heavily weathered and rusted now, but it’s going to take a major fundraising push. Restoring just one of them may cost as much as $30,000.

Here’s a cool 20-minute documentary about the investigation into the origins of the nine cannons.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Chinese oracle bones: from rubbings to 3D scans

History Blog - Thu, 2016-03-24 23:26

Oracle bones are inscribed ox shoulder blades or the flat underside of turtle shells that were used for divination in Shang dynasty China (ca. 1600-1046 B.C.). The Shang was China’s second dynasty and the oracle bones are the oldest surviving texts in the Chinese language. They are the main source historians have about Shang China and Bronze Age China in general, but were only recognized as the immense cultural patrimony they are in 1899. Antiquarian Wang Yirong found some oracle bones being sold in Peking as “dragon bones” which were ground into powder and used in traditional medicine to staunch a bleeding wound. He recognized they were engraved with ancient script. The oracle bones were dated to the Shang dynasty when the origin of the ones floating around in markets was discovered near the village of Xiaotun in Henan Province, the Shang capital.

The late 19th, early 20th century was a turbulent time in China. Cultural patrimony issues were not governmental priorities and foreign scholars and collectors stepped into the void. One of them was Lionel Charles Hopkins, brother and biographer of the famous poet Gerard Manley Hopkins, a diplomat who went to China in 1874 and remained there until his retirement in 1908. He collected almost 900 oracle bones which he studied over the four decades of his retirement. He died in 1952 at the age of 98. Hopkins left his oracle bone collection to Cambridge University.

Hopkins broke a lot of ground in the study of oracle bones, but he too was fooled by fakes. There were so many of them that for a couple of decades after their discovery, the authenticity of all of them were in question. It was only when excavations began in the late 1920s at Xiaotun that large numbers of oracle bones were confirmed to be part of the Shang royal archive. About 200,000 thousand bone fragments are known today, a quarter of which are inscribed.

Diviners used the oracle bones to invoke the ancestors of the Shang dynasty royal family who were believed to know the future. They were also thought to have influence on future events. When a Shang royal wanted to know the outcome of a war, the success of a harvest, an impending natural disaster or anything else, they turned to diviners and their oracle bones. On the reverse of the bones diviners carved out divots known as divination pits. The pits were exposed to fire, creating vertical cracks with a short perpendicular crack halfway down on the obverse of the bone. The cracks were interpreted as answers to the diviners’ questions and those questions were engraved next to the crack. The divination served double duty: predicting the future and securing the benign intervention of the ancestors. The inscriptions are invaluable records of Shang society, and can be of international import. One of the oracle bones in the Hopkins Collection is the oldest dated record of a lunar eclipse known in the world.

The texture of the bones and writing is important to historians, as are the divination pits and cracks. Within a couple of years of Wang Yirong’s discovery, rubbings of the inscriptions were published in books and suddenly collectors were clamouring to buy oracle bones. As usually happens when there’s an overwhelming demand for a finite material, unscrupulous dealers quickly produced as many forgeries as possible. Many oracle bones have both original engravings, pits and cracks, and forged text added to make a simple bone look fancier. The more text, the more expensive the artifact. Sorting out the genuine from the fraud requires careful examination of the bones, their inscriptions and cracks.

Since the earliest discoveries, the surface of oracle bones were captured with rubbings. In 1982, oracle bone expert Mme. Qi Wenxin visited the UK to make rubbings of all the bones in public and private collections. Cambridge’s Hopkins Collection was one of her stops. These rubbings are not the kind you made on gravestones in 5th grade art class with a crayon and tracing paper. Mme. Qi’s tools were a brush made of fine human hair, the finest quality Chinese black ink, very thin tissue-like paper, a piece of silk wrapped around natural cotton and a water infused with the herb baiji (Bletilla Rhizome). Baiji is used in traditional Chinese medicine to stop bleeding and reduce swelling, but infused in the rubbing water, it helps the paper adhere to the bone. If plain water was used, the paper would come off during rubbing.

The side of the bone not being rubbed was fixed to the table with putty. Then the paper was placed on top and brushed with the baiji solution. Mme. Qi tapped the wet paper into the engraving by lightly hitting it with the human hair brush until every letter of the inscription showed through the paper. When the paper was dry, the silk-wrapped cotton was dabbed into the sticky ink and stippled on with care not to cake it on too thickly. Once the ink layer dried, another was applied. The process was repeated until the inscription becomes clear, a white negative against the inky black background. You can see Mme. Qi at work in this video.

Now the Cambridge University Library has taken the first step in establishing a new kind of archive. It has scanned the first of the 614 oracle bones in its collection in high resolution 3D. As far as we know, it’s the first oracle bone in the world to be 3D scanned.

The image brings into sharp focus not only the finely incised questions on the obverse of the bone, but also the divination pits engraved on the reverse and the scorch marks caused by the application of heat to create the cracks (which were interpreted as the answers from the spirit world). These can be seen more clearly than by looking at the actual object itself, and without the risk of damage by handling the original bone.

Once scanned, a precise replica of the bone was 3D printed so it can handled and examined by students and researchers who would otherwise not be allowed access to the originals for conservation purposes. If the 3D scanning trend catches on, there’s another exciting possibility: that more of the hundreds of thousands of fragments may be pieced back together thanks to computer matching.

Cambridge UL Oracle Bone CUL.52 Hi Res
by Professor Dominic Powlesland
on Sketchfab

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Viking hoard in Carolingian pot revealed

History Blog - Wed, 2016-03-23 23:14

Historic Environment Scotland has released the first images of the objects found inside the Carolingian pot that was part of a Viking hoard discovered in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, in September of 2014. Archaeologists took the unusual step of CT scanning the rare silver alloy vessel shortly after it was unearthed because they were concerned it was too fragile to just take the lid off and see what it contained. The scan identified at least one Anglo-Saxon openwork brooch, four other silver brooches, some gold ingots and ivory beads coated in gold, each wrapped in an organic material.

Armed with a CT roadmap of the vessel’s contents, conservators painstakingly excavated the interior, taking care to preserve every fragment of organic material they could to prevent it from crumbling into dust when exposed to the air. In addition to the ingot and silver-encased ivory beads detected on the scan, they found a total of six Anglo-Saxon silver brooches, one penannular brooch likely made in Ireland, a richly decorated gold pendant which may have held holy relics, several mysterious gold and crystal objects and, breaking the precious metals trend, two large seeds of nuts. The nuts have yet to be identified, but obviously they came from a very special plant that probably wasn’t indigenous to the area.

The hoard was found in two layers: a top one 24 inches under the surface with silver armbands, ingots, a gold bird pin and a silver and enamel cross wrapped in a silver chain, and underneath it the pot. It’s the largest Carolingian pot ever discovered and there are only six known. Scholars believe it may have had been used for important Christian ceremonies and was raided during a Viking incursion on a monastery or church in Germany or France. By the time it was buried, it could well have been a family heirloom.

The levels appear to have been arranged according to the their importance. The pieces on top were valuable, but most of them were the kind of thing that was cut up for currency, ie, hacksilver before the hacking. The pot, on the other hand, and its contents, must have been deemed of greater significance to their owner. Each object was wrapped in a textile and placed inside the vessel which was topped with its lid and then it too was wrapped with cloth or leather. Textile experts studied the fragments from inside the pot and identified several of them as silk samite, a super deluxe fabric woven in Byzantium, North Africa, or southern Spain. This fabric was exclusively the province of monarchs, the highest ecclesiastical officials and the remains of venerated saints buried in churches.

The style of the artifacts in the hoard date them to the 9th and 10th centuries, which means the hoard was likely buried in the 10th century, a period when the Vikings in the British Isles had suffered setbacks after more than a century of successful raids starting in the 790s. In the 9th century there was extensive Norse settlement of Scotland and the their military victories continued even as the country unified under Kenneth MacAlpin, King of the Picts and first King of Scotland (Alba). Several of his successors — Constantine I, Indulf — died fighting the Norse. Then there were the English to deal with. In 937 King of Scotland Constantine II allied with his once and future enemy Olaf Guthfrithson, the Viking king of Dublin, to defeat the invading army of Æthelstan, King of England. They lost. It was a one-battle alliance anyway, and the conflict between the Scots and Norse continued throughout the century.

Galloway itself had a strong Viking presence from the 9th until the 11th century. It’s in southwest Scotland, with Norse-heavy Cumbria just to the south and the Norse-dominated Irish Sea to the west. The people who lived there in the 10th century were mostly Vikings in language and culture. The person who buried the hoard was likely trying to protect his savings rather than burying it as a religious offering. That’s why he was so very careful about how the valuables were buried. He planned to recover them but never did.

The ultimate fate of the hoard has yet to be determined. Its market value will be assessed by Scotland’s Treasure Trove Unit and the hoard will be offered to Scottish museums. Whichever museum wants it will have to raise the value of the hoard as a reward which will be split between the metal detectorist who discovered it, Derek McLennan, and the landowner, the Church of Scotland. The value is sure to be very high. No other Viking hoard has been found with such a wide variety of objects — gold, silver, glass, enamel, textiles — from such a wide geographic area. Preliminary estimates put it at between £500,000 and £1 million, closer to the latter than the former.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Explore Richard III’s grave in 3D

History Blog - Tue, 2016-03-22 23:08

It’s been a year since the mortal remains of King Richard III were reinterred in Leicester Cathedral. Archaeologists from the University of Leicester are ushering in the anniversary with a 3D reconstruction of Richard III’s grave as it was when it was first fully excavated in September of 2012.

Photographs from the excavation were run through Agisoft PhotoScan software which processes images photogrammetrically to generate a 3D digital model. The software looks for shared elements in overlapping photographs which are then plotted onto a 3D point cloud. The cloud is converted into a polygon mesh and the photos applied to it so the topographic layout has a photorealistic surface.

Mathew Morris, Site Supervisor for University of Leicester Archaeological Services was the man who first discovered the remains of King Richard III on the first day of the dig under the Leicester car park. He said: “Photographs and drawings of the grave, whilst dramatic, are only two-dimensional and do not always best show nuances in spatial relationships that a three-dimensional model can.

“Photogrammetry provides a fantastic analytical tool that allows us to examine the grave from angles that would have been physically difficult or impossible to achieve during the excavation, and gives us the ability to continue to examine the king’s grave long after the excavation has finished.”

It also artfully conveys how shoddy a grave it was. It’s too short for one, which is particularly half-assed when you consider that Richard’s spinal curvature made him shorter than average. (Without the scoliosis, he would have been 5’8″ tall, about average height for the time. The S-curve in his spine knocked a couple of inches off his height.) The sides of the grave were not dug straight, but with sloping sides. The bottom of the grave was uneven. You can see on the 3D model just how restricted the space was, how the body leans towards one side like when you’re way too old to have to sleep in a twin bed and the head is propped up uncomfortably.

The interactive model has been uploaded to the 3D sharing platform Sketchfab. There are five points of note marked out — his skull with its war wounds, his curved spine, his missing feet, lost when a pit intersecting with the unknown grave was dug centuries later, the titled head indicating the grave was too short for the body and the sloped sides emphasizing how carelessly the grave was dug. There’s very little content, but when you click on one of the numbers, the view shifts in a neat way. It’s fascinating to see the grave from every possible angle, as if you were lying underneath it, above it, inside it or next to it.

King Richard III's grave
by Archaeological Services (ULAS)
on Sketchfab

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

An Interview with Prince Byron and Princess Ariella

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-03-22 12:24

Photo by Master Alaxandair o Conchobhair.

The Coronation of Byron and Ariella is less than three weeks away! Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed the Prince and Princess to help you learn more about them and their plans for their upcoming reign.

Your Highnesses, please tell us something about your SCA careers and your personas.

We joined the SCA in 1996, shortly after moving to Pittsburgh to pursue our careers. We both started immediately into fighting, but Byron also had an interest in period board games (for which he received his AoA), and Ariella tried multiple arts like candle-making, furniture-making, and clothing. We took a step back from the SCA for 6 years when our children were born, but we never stopped going to events. During that time, we also began plans for our dream house, in which we now live. When our youngest child was 2 years old, we began to participate more heavily, and in 2007, we were elected as the 6th Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands. We held that position for 5 Pennsic Wars, after which we both began to focus more on our heavy weapon skills. Byron was knighted in 2012, and two years later, Ariella became the second female knight of Æthelmearc. We have 3 children: Joshua (age 17), Leah (15), and Ian (13). While they do not share their parents’ passion for medieval recreation, we enjoy having them with us at events.

Throughout our time in the SCA, we have been focused on the high middle ages in Western Europe. Specifically, we live along the Southern coast of England in the midst of the Hundred Years War. After successful tours in France, we returned home with the spoils and asked young King Richard for permission to crenellate our castle to defend against French pirates. It is now 1385, our castle is complete, and we remain at home telling our children tales of our exploits in the Aquitaine.

Their Highnesses’ castle. Photo by Prince Byron.

We’ve heard that you’re having a special Coronation ceremony written. How is it going to differ from the usual Æthelmearc Coronation?

Our coronation ceremony is based on the Liber Regalis, which details the ceremony for coronations in high medieval England. With the help of Master Steffan ap Kennydd of the East Kingdom, we are specifically trying to re-create the coronation of Richard II (1377). There are several important ways that SCA coronations must differ from medieval coronations. The most obvious is the religious expression; medieval coronations are extensively religious, but that needs to be avoided in the SCA. We have tried to substitute SCA icons and personnel for religious icons and personnel as best we can. The second major difference is the length of ceremony. The original service lasted about a week – we are trying to keep Morning Court under 2 hours. The third, and perhaps most interesting difference is the focus on humility. Medieval kings had known their entire lives that they were likely to ascend the throne, and they had great potential for abuse of power. Medieval ceremony focuses strongly on the virtue of humility, to remind kings that They need to focus on the needs of Their populace. In the SCA, we tend to focus on creating a ceremony that will imbue the new royalty with an aura of Majesty. In this aspect, we are attempting to recreate the medieval feel as closely as possible. We hope that our ceremony will be memorable for everyone who attends. The event (autocratted by THLord Thomas LeStrange and the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep) will include heavy fighting, fencing, thrown weapons, an arts and science display, and a delicious feast, so we hope that every gentle in the Kingdom will find something to enjoy that day.

Who are the members of your staff, and what do they do?

We are blessed with many able staff members who are making the reign so much easier for us. Our staff is led by Countess Genevieve du vent Argent. Our head retainer position is shared by THL Elss of Augsburg and Master Alaric MacConnal. The Queen’s Guard is led by Doña Fredeburg von Katzenellenbogen. Brehyres Gwendolyn the Graceful will be our Royal Herald. Mistress Chrestienne de Waterdene is coordinating our wardrobe. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope is coordinating the Queen’s favors, and Countess Alexandra of Clan Donald is coordinating our gift baskets. We welcome any gentle who would volunteer their services to our reign, especially those who do not know us well, as we would like to meet as many members of Our populace as possible. More information is available on Their Highnesses’ website.

You’re going to the SCA 50 Year event in June – do you have any special plans for that event?

Our reign is special in that it includes such a noble and auspicious event as the 50th-Year celebration. Our overarching goal for that event is for Æthelmearc to be seen among the Kingdoms of the Known World as a place of martial prowess and artistic pride. We want our Kingdom’s unique history and customs to be seen by all the peoples of the Known World. We also want our commitment to service to shine throughout the event, so we are sponsoring tournaments in heavy armored combat, fencing, thrown weapons, archery, equestrian, bardic, and period games. Every day of the weeklong celebration, there will be Æthelmearc events to participate in or volunteer to support.

How are negotiations for this Pennsic shaping up? Anything you’d like to share with the populace in the way of new activities or War Points?

There is a lot of pressure on Pennsic monarchs, because we want to ensure that everyone at the event, be they citizens of Æthelmearc or of a visiting Kingdom, has a fun and exciting time. We began negotiations with the Princes and Princesses of the East, the Middle, Atlantia, and Ealdormere back in November, and they are continuing now. A few areas of personal interest to Us are the new Thrown Weapons populace War Point, and the relatively-new A&S War Point, which will include Laurels this year.

For the first time ever, Æthelmearc will have the honor of sponsoring the Queen’s Tea. We want our first entry into this rotation to be fondly remembered for years to come. We hope that members of the populace who enjoy medieval gardening will contribute to the Garden theme in Æthelmearc Royal encampment. There is a Facebook page for those who wish to offer their time and effort. Throughout our reign, you may see red teapots at Troll at various events. This is a donation basket to support the Queen’s Tea, which will not be funded from Kingdom monies since it is an event for Royalty only. We hope that the food and drink served will represent many different regions and talents within Æthelmearc.

What would you most like from your populace in the way of help during your reign?

We want the populace of Æthelmearc to continue in whatever they love about the Society, and whatever inspires them in medieval recreation. For those in the arts and sciences, if that interest includes items that could be used for a gift basket to visiting Royalty, or could be used to make Queen’s favors, or medallions for Court, we would be most grateful. Anyone who is oriented toward service for the Society might contact our Head Retainers or Guard Captain to volunteer time (and get to know us better). Those gentles who are inclined to martial endeavors should find a time to marshal a tournament or battle, especially at inter-kingdom events like Pennsic or the 50-Year Celebration.

We would also make one specific request of all our populace: if there is someone who is in their first year in the Society, we want to meet them personally and welcome them to our hobby. Please point them out to us so that they can say that they have met the King and Queen of Æthelmearc.

Their Highnesses at Gulf Wars Opening Ceremonies. Photo by Lord Ursus.

Categories: SCA news sites

“Joan of Arc” ring unveiled at French theme park

History Blog - Mon, 2016-03-21 23:59

The ring purported to have belonged to Joan of Arc that was sold at auction last month for $412,845 is back in France. Its new home is the Puy du Fou theme park in the Vendée region of western France where the ring was unveiled with great pomp on Sunday by the park founder Philippe de Villiers before a crowd of 5,000.

The theme of Puy du Fou is French history through the centuries. Visitors can enjoy gladiatorial combat and real live quadriga races at the Gallo-Roman stadium, the traditional crafts in the medieval city, the adventures of the Knights of the Round Table complete with dragon slaying and enchanted lake, a Viking longship attack on a wooden keep, a working mill and musicians in the 18th century village, the bird of prey show in a ruined castle, a joust and tricks from horseback knights, the vicissitudes of a French naval officer fresh from the Revolutionary War in America to the French Revolution, a swashbuckling 17th century adventure of the dastardly Richelieu versus the King’s Musketeers, a Belle Epoque city ca. 1900, a fire fountain show on the lake at night and much more.

This party-time version of the past is a fitting setting for the ring because there are widespread doubts as to its authenticity. An Oxford University laboratory dated the ring to the 15th century based on its style, wear and engraving, but that’s as close as it gets to any actual facts linking this jewelry to the Maid of Orléans. They share a century. That’s all we know for sure. The long track record of ownership history included with the ring is entirely speculative. It’s based solely on the fact that Lady Ottoline Morrell’s ancestry can be traced back to Cardinal Henry Beaufort, Bishop of Winchester, who was present at the trial and execution of Joan of Arc. There are no references in archives or histories that mention the ring being owned by anyone in the family at any time between 1431 and when it first appears on the historical record in 1914.

On the advice of experts, neither the town of Orléans nor the Joan of Arc Historical Exhibition in Rouen bid for the ring. There are many fake Joan of Arc relics out there, and the association of this particular piece with Joan only dates to the early 20th century when there was a revival of Joanmania. Philippe de Villiers is no museum curator, however, and he insists despite the lack of evidence that the ring is unquestionably authentic. As a politician, leader of the conservative Movement for France party, he is keen to claim Joan and there’s a hefty portion of nationalism underpinning this acquisition. At Sunday’s unveiling he said “It’s a little bit of France that has returned. The ring has come back to France and will stay here,” then launched into a stirring rendition of La Marseillaise.

He was putting Britain on notice there. Appropriately enough, the export of the ring has sparked a war, of words this time, between the British and French. When the auctioneers gave the ring to park lawyers, they informed them that an export license would have to be secured before the ring could leave the country. Any antiquity worth more than £39,219 that has been in the UK for more than 50 years requires a special export license issued by the Culture Minister. The license is only issued after the Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) gives the Minister its recommendation, and in the case of this ring, it’s highly unlikely that they would have let it walk away without temporarily blocking export to give British institutions the chance to raise the purchase price and keep it in the country.

Philippe de Villiers has no intention of returning the ring, illegally exported or no, a position he made very clear at Sunday’s ceremony.

“The British government has sent our lawyer an unprecedented demand: the return of the ring to London,” Mr de Villers told the shocked throng. [...] “Is the ring part of England’s national heritage?,” he asked the crowd, which booed loudly. Cheers erupted, however, when he asked whether it was part of France’s heritage.

Mr De Villiers claimed that he had checked the rules and found they only apply if the object is taken out of the European Union. In a mocking nod to Britain’s upcoming referendum over whether to remain or leave the EU, he told the crowd: “It is not at all our intention to have a Puy de Fou exit.”

In a final flourish, he laid down the gauntlet by stating: “Ladies and gentlemen from Britain, if you want to see the ring, then come to the Puy de Fou. For the rest it’s too late.” “The ring has returned to France and here it will stay…even if the European Commission orders it back.”

So much ado about a very questionable artifact. I have to admit, though, as theme parks go, even with its inherently inaccurate, sanitized, kid-friendly, way too clean version of history, it’s pretty cool. I am all over that quadriga race.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Artifacts of Life III

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-03-21 18:49
The Barony Beyond the Mountain invites the populace of the East to join us in September 2017 for Artifacts of a Life III — an arts and sciences competition with a focus on persona development.

Have you ever looked at your modern family heirlooms and wondered what your SCA persona would leave in your will, or the objects you would have valued during your life? Have you ever wanted to create your own set of grave goods? Of course you have!

Artifacts I and II showcased inspiring displays of work from the populace of the East Kingdom. We’re looking forward to seeing the fruits of your research and hard work at Artifacts III.

How It Works
Entrants may choose to enter the Typical, Elite or Team category. In the Typical category, entries must consist of 3-5 items from a single culture and time. The Elite category requires entries consisting of 6-9 entries from a single time and place. If you’d like to participate as part of a team, the Village category allows you to work with a group of folks to create 6-9 items. Again, they must all be from a single time and place.

Additional Information and Questions
The actual date and event site are TBD. More and updated information to follow as we know it!

Information about the competition rules, judging criteria, and entry registration from Artifacts II may be found at the event website.

If you’ve participated in past Artifacts as an entrant or judge and have any thoughts on how we can improve the event, or if you have any questions, please contact the event stewards: Mistress Elizabeth Vynehorn orBaron Jehan du Lac.

Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences, Events Tagged: Arts and Sciences, events

New Rapier Policies

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-03-21 17:08

From the Kingdom Rapier Marshal, Master Benedict Fergus atte Mede:

The new rapier policies have been published in the Æstel and are available on the Æthelmearc Rapier page. These rules are in effect as of now. Marshals are implored to read these rules as soon as possible.

I’m asking that all authorizations of new forms please include these new rules.

That means, yes, you have to read through the new rules before you can get authorized in a new form. This is especially important with the new two-handed rapier authorization.

Please be patient with those of the community who have not yet had a chance to read through these new policies.

I want to thank my deputies and regional deputies for their efforts in making this possible. If you have any questions, please see your regional marshals or myself. New authorization forms will be forthcoming.



Master Fergus was kind enough to answer some questions from the Gazette for some more in-depth information on the new Rapier Policies:

What has changed in the rules?

There are a few noticeable changes from previous sets of rapier policies.

There is a new authorization for two-handed rapier. This is any consistent use of two hands on a weapon, regardless of design. So this is needed if you want to use two hands on a katana or a European longsword, or simply want to hold your rapier in two hands, if that is your gig.

We have officially prohibited rapier spears. This is a decision I know some people disagree with, but we tried two experiments with these things, we discussed them in group sessions, and the overwhelming opinion at the time was a solid “no.”

We have a new weight restriction for weapons in Æthelmearc rapier: four pounds.

Also, we have aligned our age limits for youths fighting as adults with the Society policy. So, with parental observation and consent, plus the proper paperwork, someone as young as 14 now may join the adult rapier program.

How will the changes affect people who are already authorized vs. new secondary auths?

I think there will be an adjustment period for some rapier fighters with these new policies. For one thing, we have a decent number of people who have been using two-handed swords as their primary form. They will need to get the new authorization now. We’re trying to make that possible as soon as we can.

Additional information from Master Fergus for Rapier Marshals on two-handed sword authorizations:

I’m having a lot of people ask about authorizations for two handed sword. This is good. Here’s the gist of what I want covered in the new authorization: First of all, one of the new rules states that at least one of the authorizing marshals must possess the authorization being tested. I have a group from various parts of the Kingdom who will be or already are grandfathered into the new authorization. These are my regional marshals and deputies (unless they have asked me not to include them), and experienced marshals who use the form safely already. Each has shown that they have some skill in the form, as well as judgement enough to compensate for any specific lack of experience. After a few months, this will not be an issue, but right now anyone interested in the new authorization will have to get one of these folks to be part of the authorization.

For marshals; treat this fundamentally like a first time single rapier authorization. Cover the basics first. Has the student read the updated rules? You do not need to redo the testing on armor requirements, but you will want the student to know about how long, and how heavy a sword can be: “Swords of any kind will not exceed 4 lbs. in total weight, 60 inches in total length, and may have a hilt (including pommel) of no longer than 18 inches.” (KRM Policies. P.4). In addition, they must know what percentage of the overall length a hilt can be (1/3rd of the blade). This cannot be a back door authorization to something that amounts to a spear. Be aware that many commercial two handed swords exceed this measurement, especially in weight.

Once the fighting starts, make sure they are not delivering percussive blows. Make sure they know that two hands on a weapon amounts to increased force. Make the student show multiple attacks, cuts as well as thrusts. Make sure they can do multiple attacks. The one handed thrust is legal, and the student may continue to use both hands after letting go with one hand. That being said, if that is the only attack that a student can make, that student is not skilled enough to pass the authorization. Do test a student’s ability to use the sword in one hand. While the authorization allows any legal sword to be used in two hands, many people will have a special sword for two-handed use. Make sure they are safe with it in one hand as well as in two.

Make sure the student can defend in more than one way. Movement is part of this; parries, avoiding attacks, and binds are good as well. The student does not have to be a Lichtenauer scholar in order to pass, but they have to be able to stop a shot safely. They may use the off hand to block a shot, but they do take damage the same way they normally would with single rapier. You want to close on the student and make sure they can evade, cut, or safely die without striking you with the quillions. Halfswording should be covered, but it should not be a make or break with the new authorization unless the student makes it a major part of their repertoire.

I am going to try to be at the Donnan Party on March 26 in Ballachlagan to do two-hander authorizations and to answer more questions if I can. Thank you for helping with this transition.

YIS Fergus.

Thank you, Master Fergus, for the extra information!

Categories: SCA news sites

Update: St Eric’s wounds consistent with legend

History Blog - Sun, 2016-03-20 23:12

On April 23rd, 2014, researchers from Uppsala University opened a reliquary casket in Uppsala Cathedral to study the bones of King Eric IX of Sweden, the patron saint of Stockholm. The primary goal was to compare medieval remains to modern ones looking for changes in bone density for an interdisciplinary osteoporosis study, but while they were in the neighborhood, the research team examined the skeletal remains in the hopes of answering some questions about his national origins, health, diet and violent death.

The University has now released the first results of the study of Eric’s bones, and so far the osteological evidence is remarkably congruent with the stories told about him at least a century after his death. Since no contemporary writings about him have survived and the later histories are hagiographies that frame him as a saint in life, a martyr in death and a miracle-worker after death, it’s hard to know what’s fact and what’s legend. The study attempted DNA extraction and analysis, performed stable isotope analysis of his teeth, did a forensic examination of the bones looking for ante-mortem and perimortem wounds, radiocarbon dated the bones and enlisted orthopaedists and radiologists to determine his vital statistics and state of health.

There are 24 bones in the casket, 23 of them from the same person, plus one random shinbone. The group of 23 are the bones of a man about 35-40 years old who was 171 centimeters tall (5’7″). CT scans found no medical conditions evident on the bones. He did not have osteoporosis or suffer any kind of bone loss. On the contrary, his bone density was 25% greater than the average young man today. Eric was strong and very physically fit. Radiocarbon dating results are consistent with his having died in 1160.

Stable isotope analysis found one reason for his excellent health: he ate a great deal of freshwater fish. Kings had access to a great quantity and variety of animal protein, thanks to plentiful game and freshwater fish available on great estates. Eric ate both land animal protein and fish but emphasized the latter.This conforms to accounts of him in the hagiographies which describe him as fasting often out of religious devotion. Fasting in the Middle Ages didn’t require abstention from all food. It was usually meat that was excised from the diet, sometimes extended to animals products — butter, milk, cheese, eggs — during penitential seasons like Lent. The more extreme strictures were primarily observed by monks or individual ascetics. For lay Christians over most of the liturgical calendar, there were three fast days: Wednesday (the day Judas took 30 pieces of silver to betray Christ), Friday (the day Christ was crucified) and Saturday (the day dedicated to the Virgin Mary). Game birds like swan and peacock that only the aristocracy had access to were exempt from the no-meat rule.

Wounds on his bones also seem to fit the stories about Eric. His cranium had one or two healed wounds, possibly inflicted by sharp weapons. He fought a war, some call it a crusade, against pagan Finland, which would have afforded him plenty of opportunities for this kind of injury. The unhealed wounds inflicted at the time of his death match his story even better.

The saint’s legend says that in the king’s final battle, the enemy swarmed him, and when he fell to the ground they gave him wound after wound until he lay half dead. They then taunted him and finally cut off his head. The remaining bones have at least nine cuts inflicted in connection with death, seven of them on the legs. No wounds have been found on the ribs or the remaining arm bone, which probably means that the king wore a hauberk but had less protected legs. Both shin bones have cuts inflicted from the direction of the feet, indicating that the victim lay on his front.

A neck vertebra has been cut through, which could not have been done without removing the hauberk, i.e. not during battle. This confirms that there was an interlude, as described by the taunting in the legend, between battle and decapitation. At no point do the documented wounds gainsay the account of the fight given by the much later legend.

One thing that contradicts the hagiographies was an isotope analysis finding that suggests he spent the last decade of his life not in Uppsala, but in the southern province of Västergötland. This is only a preliminary finding, however, since stable isotopes have to be compared to previously recorded values in order to determine geographic locations and there’s still a lot of comparing to be done.

DNA analysis is still pending as well. Researchers were able to extract DNA samples successfully, which is a major hurdle to leap when dealing with 900-year-old bones. The DNA analysis is expected to take another year. They have DNA from King Magnus III of Sweden (reigned 1275-1290) who was descended from Eric IX through his mother Ingeborg. They will be compared to confirm the bones are indeed Eric’s.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

NMS No More: Corporate Releases New Required Fee-Structure Wording for Event Announcements

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2016-03-20 20:19

Greetings unto the Populace of Æthelmearc from Duke Christopher, Kingdom Seneschal.

Starting very soon, you will see new language in event announcements regarding how we refer to money paid to attend events.

This language comes to us from the Society Seneschal. It has already been passed down to the Regional and Local Seneschals, but I wanted to pass this announcement along to the entire Kingdom.

SCA Corporate has changed the terminology we must now use regarding our fee structure to reflect that we are a participant-based organization.

Going forward, please use these or similar terms in event announcements:
membership event registration” or “event registration

Do NOT use these or similar terms in event announcements: “event fees,”
“site fees,” “non-member surcharge,” or “NMS.

For example:
Adult Event Fee” will now be “Adult Event Registration.
Adult Non Member Surcharge Fee” will now be “Adult Member Discount Event Registration.

For example, here is an event announcement fee schedule using the
past terminology:

Site fees for the event are $10.00 for adults, $5.00 for children ages
5-12, and children under 5 are free. Students with a valid ID are $5.00.
This includes a sideboard lunch. An additional $5.00 non-member surcharge will be collected at the door.

Here is the same fee structure using the new terminology:

Adult Event Registration is $15. Adult Member Discount Event Registration is $10. Adult students with a valid ID are $10. Adult students who are SCA members are $5. All youth registration (Ages 5-12) is $5.00, and all children under 5 are free. This includes a sideboard lunch. Please show proof of membership at the door.

Any event announcement submitted after the publication of this notification will be expected to conform to the new wording standards.

I thank all of you for your cooperation in this matter.

If you have any questions, please contact your local seneschals.

If they are unable to provide an answer, please do not hesitate to contact me at ae.seneschal@aethelmearc.org.

Duke Christopher


How does this affect how we charge for youth (Child Registrations), in view of the fact we are no longer making reference to the NMS?

(From Corporate) Yes, we are now using the term “Member Discount”; however, it is not intended that the cost of Child Registrations should go up in view of the “Membership Discount.” The structure of costs for children, where we previously did not charge NMS, should be at least $5 less than the “Adult Event Registration.” We are not assessing $5 for children. If under the old fee structure the site fee was $15 for adults with $5 NMS and $5 for children under 16, then the NEW nomenclature would be as follows:

Adult Event Registration; $20, Adult Member Discount Event Registration $15, Children (specify the age range) Registration (less at least $5 or more than the member price), Youth (specify the age and under) free.

The ranges that constitute adult vs. child will vary from Kingdom and local group as well as by event.

Do I have to change existing or already published event announcements?

No, but please use the new nomenclature going forward.

How do we word it if we’re charging different fees for feast (onboard)?

For events with a feast, there are a couple ways to make this distinction.

One popular way is to add “Feast is an additional $X per person” or similar.

The new nomenclature is different from what we used to do, but it is flexible as well. Feel free to discuss with your local seneschal.

Is the Non-Member Surcharge (NMS) going away?

No, just the terminology is changing. Per event, groups are still required to submit $5 for every paid adult event registrant who doesn’t have proof of membership. As before, this must be paid by individuals to the group for the event (and the group exchequer then forwards to Kingdom); SCA/group funds can’t be used to subsidize. The term “NMS” may still be used internally, as long as it isn’t used in event announcements or at the gate.

What about family caps?  Should we base that on the adult registration, or member discount?

The new terminology is flexible, and you should use what works for your event. The most clear way may be to list two family caps, one family cap registration, and one discounted one.

For example, for an event with a $17 adult registration/$12 adult member registration, kids half price: “Family cap is $46. For families where the adults are members, Family cap is $36.” This is assuming your group normally family caps only families of two adults and minor children. A different way of wording may work better for your group, depending on how you run your family caps.

Do we have to use exactly the terms in your examples?

No, the wording is flexible.

But please refrain from using “site fee,” “NMS,” “non-member surcharge,” or “event fee.” Use instead variations on “event registration.”

Sometimes people have to pay the NMS at the door. How will that work now? Or what if they accidentally send too much money in a pre-reg?

First, to clarify some rumors, there was never a prohibition at the Kingdom or Society level, that said people couldn’t send the extra $5 NMS in with a pre-registration. Some groups at the local level chose to have people pay it at the gate only. It will be difficult to require that people *only* pay the adult registration at the door, while you are taking adult member discount pre-registrations by mail. We don’t recommend this course of action.

For folks that can’t produce proof of membership at the door, but have pre-registered with the discount amount, you would require them to pay $5 at the door. If someone accidentally sends you too much money (they show proof of membership at the door), you would handle the refund exactly as you would have before in this case. (*NEVER give refunds from the cash box!!*). Have them leave their name and address and send them a check.

We know this change may cause confusion for a while, as most changes do. It will take a bit of getting used to. Just be sure that your reservations clerk and gatekeeper are keeping very good records, and any problems can be worked through.

Why is the Society changing the nomenclature?

It’s changed to reflect that we are a participant-based organization, not an organization that charges an entry fee for spectators. There are different tax implications for the different types of groups.


Who do I contact with questions?

Please contact your local seneschal with questions.

If they are unable to provide an answer, you can contact our Kingdom Seneschal, Duke Christopher, at ae.seneschal@aethelmearc.org.

Categories: SCA news sites

Event Report: Regional Fight Practice in Sterlynge Vayle

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2016-03-20 12:40

Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina reports on the recent regional martial practice. All photos by Katja.

Strike, stab, shoot, simmer, and stitch!  Gentles attending the regional fight practice in the Shire of Sterlynge Vayle on Sunday, March 6 enjoyed rattan fighting and rapier, some combat archery, and a cozy A&S display.

The Imperator participates in the melees.

Fifty-one gentles from the shire, Myrkfaelinn, Endless Hills, Thescorre, Heronter, and elsewhere in the kingdom enjoyed the practice at the Greater Binghamton Health Center, according to Barwnes Nest ferch Rys, the shire’s chatelaine and thrown weapons marshal, who served as tollner for the practice. (“Barwnes”  is Welsh for “Baroness.”)

Of the attendees, she said, 28 gentles signed up for the heavy fighting and 10 for the fencing, although a few combatants switched from rapier to rattan later in the day. There were also about a dozen gentles who served as marshals or spectators, plus two artisans.

Fighting and Combat Archery

Heavy pickups.

Baroness Mariana Maria Pietrosanti, the shire’s knight marshal and archery marshal, acted as autocrat of the practice and also taught a combat archery class in the gymnasium where the heavy fighters began with some personal pickups, then enjoyed several hours of multiple field and bridge melees.

Two combat archers joined in some of the melees, plus Her Excellency began instructing two new marshals-in-training in combat archery, deemed another CA MIT to have completed training, and welcomed five new CA fighters. There were also several heavy and fencing authorizations as well.

“The turnout for this was equal or greater than our traditional schola, actually!” Baroness Nest said with a smile, speaking for her and Baroness Mariana. “ I think I can safely say we were both pleasantly surprised at the high turnout. We really look forward to doing this again — and having even more people come out to play!”

She added that she was thrilled at the number of gentles who came to the practice so soon after they authorized, including one from Heronter.

Although it was a practice and, therefore, free from any site fee charge, Baroness Nest checked membership cards (plus authorization cards) and kept careful tollner/MOL records because the day was listed as an official event on the Æthelmearc webpage.

Why? The Imperatori had scheduled a second Curia to be held at that practice to allow for further discussion, if needed, after Their reign’s first Curia. Since They did not end up having any business that required a second Curia, Imperator Tindal later explained, They canceled the one planned for the regional practice.

I was very happy with the practice overall,” The Imperator noted. “I think everyone displayed a dedication to the continued growth and improvement of the Æthelmearc army and are determined to put a fierce and effect host on the field this summer.

The purpose of the practice was to promote fighting and fencing in the shire, Baroness Mariana  said, “it was good of the fighters and fencers to gear up for Pennsic and work together.” She added that the group hoped to continue holding large regional practices at the Center four times a year.

The shire was inspired by Imperator Tindal’s request for such practices in each region quarterly, she said. The Imperator later replied that he didn’t remember specifically encouraging each region to hold regional practices each quarter, but he definitely liked the idea. “More opportunities to train, travel and improve would be a benefit to the Kingdom martial forces,” he agreed.


Lord Hrolfr Fjarfell spars with Don Po before the bearpit.

Baron Eric faces Tiffany.

Baroness Mariana also thanked Baron Gunnar of the Endless Hills, not only for serving as fencing marshal in charge for the day but also for traveling to the shire weekly from his home group to run its fencing practice; the shire, she explained, doesn’t have its own fencing marshal.

The fencers warmed up with a bearpit tourney in the auditorium, in which Baron Eric Grenier de Labarre narrowly beat Don Po Silvertop to win, then they went outside to play Capture the Flag on the back lawn.  Although the day was remarkably sunny and nonwindy for a late-winter day, it was a little too chilly for extended outside combat, so the fencers soon returned indoors to spend the rest of the afternoon chatting and enjoying pickups.

“We wanted to knock off the winter rust and prepare for spring melee season leading into War,” His Excellency Gunnar shared.

Arts & Sciences Display

THL Christine

Her Ladyship Christine inghean Grioghair and Lady Elska Fjarfell, both from Myrkfaelinn, displayed some of their recent projects in the hallway near a table of snacks and drinks offered by the Shire.

THL Christine displayed a lovely beaded blackwork embroidered square with gold work, and chatted about embroidery while leafing through a book of stitch designs for ideas for a new sweet bag she wants to make.

Lady Elska holds a salt-hardened piece of her homemade soap. She used her own drip lye rather than purchased lye.

The soap in the ladies bathroom.


Lady Elska showed gentles some hardened tallow/drip lye/salt soap she’d recently made while sporadically stirring the contents of a slow cooker, where soft olive oil/drip lye soap bubbled away.

Visitors to the ladies bathroom found a delightful surprise: a bowl of Lady Elska’s soft tallow soap on a shelf above the sinks, with a note encouraging them to try the silky, pleasant-smelling creation. (It made one’s hands very clean and soft!)

Categories: SCA news sites

Buckle from British Isles found in Danish Viking grave

History Blog - Sat, 2016-03-19 23:00

A buckle of Scottish or Irish origin has been discovered in the grave of a Viking woman in Enghøj on central Denmark’s Jutland peninsula. The gilt bronze disc is a small piece of six centimeters (2.4 inches) with a Greek key-like geometric pattern that was made in the 9th century. The woman who took it with her to the grave died in the 10th century, so it was already decades, maybe even a century, old when it was buried in Denmark. She used it to keep her petticoat together.

Archaeologist Ernst Stidsing from the Museum East Jutland realized right away that it was a very unusual piece. He’d never seen anything like it before, so he sent pictures to Emerita Professor Else Roesdahl of Aarhus University. She had never seen anything like it either. Stidsing shared the pictures with English and German colleagues and they agreed that it was made in the British Isles. Having only the ornamentation to go on, the experts disagreed on whether it was of Irish manufacture or from southern Scotland.

They were certain that it didn’t start out as a buckle or brooch. It was a fitting from a shrine of some kind, stripped off a wooden box used to hold sacred objects. It’s therefore not a trade piece. Monasteries and churches weren’t in the practice of prying the decoration off their reliquaries and selling them to Vikings. This was acquired in a raid.

Viking loot from Britain and Ireland is very rare in Denmark, all the more so in a grave. It’s more common, albeit still a rarity, in Norway, where several examples have been discovered. A reliquary and fragment of an English 8th or 9th century crozier were found in the grave of a Viking woman in Romsdal, Norway, in 1961. A direct parallel, a Celtic disc, also originated in Scotland or Ireland as decoration on a shrine or reliquary. The Vikings converted into a brooch and it was buried the grave of a high-status woman in Lilleberge, Norway, in the 9th-10th century. It was unearthed in 1886 but kept in a soil block and only fully excavated and identified a few years ago.

Ernst Stidsing thinks there may have been a Norwegian connection for the Enghøj buckle.

“It could have been [brought by] a Norwegian woman who came to Denmark with her jewellery, and lived and died there,” says Stidsing.

He now hopes that strontium isotope analysis of the woman’s teeth could clear up where she came from.

“I’m pretty excited about the outcome of the analysis,” says Stidsing. “Especially as the Norwegian Vikings were often on expeditions to the north of England. It’s exciting that a woman may have come from Norway and have lived part of her life in Jutland [west Denmark].”

“It will confirm the picture that we were already [living] in a globalised world back then,” he says.

That picture was solidly confirmed most recently when Egtved Girl, the Bronze Age young woman whose exceptionally preserved burial complete with hollowed out tree trunk coffin, clothing, grave goods, textiles and accessories has become a Danish icon since its discovery in 1921, was actually from Southern Germany. Egtved Girl was a very important person even though she was only 16-18 years old when she died, a priestess or a dynastic bride, and it’s known that there were marriages between Danish kings and Slavic princesses starting in the 10th century. The woman who was buried with the buckle had status and wealth, but she wasn’t a princess. If isotope analysis finds that she was from Norway or somewhere else other than Denmark, it will give new insight into how mobile Vikings were at various social levels.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Pennsic Fencing Melee Champions Team Forming

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2016-03-19 19:41

Greetings fencers,

Pennsic is going to be fast approaching and it’s time to start assembling the East’s finest blades for the Champ’s teams. I’ll be coordinating and captaining the Melee Champ Team once again this year, and I’m looking for fencers with the skill, comportment and character to represent our kingdom.

If you are interested in being on the Melee Champ’s team this year, please fire me an email at Justin.Aucoin@gmail.com so I can add you to my list of candidates.

Important: I want to make it clear that I want to hear from anyone who’s interested in the melee champs team. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Master of Defense, just got your AoA, or just got authorized two minutes ago. What I care about is that you have the passion and will to represent your kingdom. Once I hear from folks I’ll compile the long list of candidates and will get in touch with them on when/where we’ll work together to get ready for the war point. Barring some sort of catastrophe, the Pennsic Melee Champs team will be chosen from this list, so if you want to represent the East, let me know. Also of note: You can throw your hat in the ring for the melee team and also try to fight your way in for the Pennsic single’s champ team. I have zero issue with that and encourage it. Please forward this notice to your local fencing practices. I don’t want anyone who might be interested on making the team miss out. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me. YiS, –Don Remy Delamontagne de Gascogne Captain, EK Rapier Melee Champs
EK Rapier Army Executive Officer Captain, King’s Company of Calivers
Filed under: Rapier, Uncategorized Tagged: Pennsic, Rapier

Unofficial Court Report from Black Rose Ball and Baronial Investiture

East Kingdom Gazette - Sat, 2016-03-19 15:51

Their Majesties Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri, Barony of the Bridge on 12 March AS L, to attend the occasion of the Black Rose Ball and the Investiture of new Baronial Heads.

King Brennan and Queen Caoilfhionn invited Eloi Abelard, Baron of the Bridge into Their court where he relinquished his Baronial seat and was made a Court Baron.  Baron Eloi swore fealty to Their Majesties in his new estate.

Next did Their Majesties invite into their court Ulric Von Der Insel and Clothilde Von Der Insel  who were invested as Baron and Baroness of the Bridge respectively.  Baron Ulric’s scroll was illuminated by Elizabeth Eleanor Lovell.  Baroness Clothilde’s scroll was illuminated by Shadiya Al-Zahra.  Both scrolls bore calligraphy by Nest verch Tangwistel and words by Alys Mackyntoich

Next did Their Majesties call into their court Aethelthryth Kenricing, and presented her with the garter of the Order of Gawain, and a scroll by Solskinn of Smoking Rocks with words by Nest verch Tangwistel.

The order was not complete, however.  Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri called into their court Ulf the Dragon Slayer who was likewise presented with a garter and a scroll inducting him into the Order of Gawain.  His scroll was also made by Solskinn of Smoking Rocks with words by Nest verch Tangwistel.

Her Majesty called forward all those children who had participated in Her Service Initiative.  They received tokens for their service.

All of the children present were invited before the court.  The toybox was run, and as per usual there was much laughter at the joy of the children.

Their Majesties next called into their court Mahisti of Woodhaven Manor.  They made her a Lady of the Court.  She was Awarded Arms, and received a scroll by Fiona O’Maille ó Chaun Coille.

Their Majesties then called into their court Yamoto Koreyoshi.  They made him a Lord of the Court.  He was Awarded Arms, and received a scroll by Fiona O’Maille ó Chaun Coille with words by Caelia Blackwold that were translated by Yayoi Rosenkrantz

Their Majesties invited into court all those attending their first, second or third event.  They were thanked for attending, and presented tokens to remember the day by.

Their Majesties invited Fortune St Keyne into their court.  They spoke of her artistic skill, presenting her with a medallion, and a scroll illuminated by Melisande of the Gryphon Wood with calligraphy by Jonathan Blaecstan, and thus inducted her into the Order of the Silver Brooch.

The Order not yet complete, Their Majesties called into court Faelin MacLochlainn.  His art widely regarded, he was presented with a medallion, and scroll by Nest verch Tangwistel, and thereby inducted into the Order of the Silver Brooch.

Their Majesties invited before them Sorcha Dhocair inghean Uí Ruairc.  For her exclellent artistic skill she was made a companion of the Order of the Maunche, presented with a medallion, and a scroll by Michel Almond de Champagne.

Their Majesties then invited the artists and organizers of the Beasts of the East calendar fundraising project.

  • Lucie Lovegood of Ramsgate
  • Analeda Falconbridge
  • Aldreda de Tamworthe
  • Catrin o’r Rhyd Fôr
  • Camille des Jardins
  • Aleksei Dmitriev
  • Rhonwen glyn Conwy
  • Cassandra Boell von Bayer
  • Sunniva Ormstung
  • Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova
  • Vettorio Antonello
  • Harold von Auerbach
  • Thyra Eiriksdottir
  • Lada Monguligin
  • Daryl Of Avalon
  • Christiana Crane
  • Alexandre Saint Pierre
  • Eleanor Catlyng
  • Stephen Calvert deGrey

Each was presented with a token of thanks.

Their Majesties called into court the companions of the Order of the Silver Wheel.  Next was Simona bat Leone called before Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri.  For her service she was inducted into the Order of the Silver Wheel, receiving a medallion and a scroll by Magdalena von Kirschberg.

Next did Their Majesties invite into their court Caelia Blackwolf.  Her exemplary service was recognized as she was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent.  She was presented with a medallion, and a scroll, and further presented with a scroll by Vettorio Antonello.

Brennan Ri and Caoilfhionn Banri next called into their court Vibeka Steensdatter aff Broen.  She answered in the affirmative that she would join the Order, and so the Order of the Laurel was called forth.  Vibeka was elevated to the order, receiving a medallion, along with other appropriate regalia and a scroll by Fiona O’Maille ó Chaun Coille with Danish text by Thomas Frovin.

There being no further business, the court of Their Majesties was closed.  Long live the King and Queen!  Long live the Prince and Princess!  Long live the Kingdom of the East!

Compiled by Gazette Staff from the Court Report of Malcolm Bowman, Eastern Crown Herald with much gratitude to the Heralds for the court Lady Simona bat Leone, Lady Katherine O’Brien, Madame Perronnelle de Croy

Filed under: Court Tagged: Bridge, court report, royal court

Æthelmearc Cooks Guild Rises Again at Ice Dragon

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-03-19 11:37

The Æthelmearc Gazette staff received this missive from Lady Arianna dal Vallone and decided to dig a little deeper into her noble cause to resurrect an inactive kingdom guild.

One of the courses at a feast Lady Arianna prepared at Siege of Glengary last year.

Good and Noble Fellow Citizens of Æthelmearc,

I am in the process of starting up a new and refurbished kingdom cooks guild.

Are you interested in period cooking? Do you want to learn more, share our knowledge and help others do the same? Want to do so in a period way with an actual guild structure to help each other?

Then come join us and help us get this off the ground together. An initial organization and ideas meeting will be held at the Annual Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon on Saturday, April 2 from 1 to 2 p.m. (specific room location to be announced later). If you are unable to attend, please feel free to contact me or to join the Æthelmearc Cooks Facebook group for further information.

Thank you,
Lady Arianna dal Vallone


Lady Arianna dal Vallone. Photo by Master Orlando.

How long have you been in the Society and what got you interested in cooking for the society?

I’ve been the SCA about eight years. Cooking actually came in as sort of a secondary thing. I did it mundanely for years and actually went to a votech high school for culinary arts. It was just easy to get into something I already knew. Cooking is a fun thing for me. Doing it in period was a new challenge.
What do you hope to accomplish at this meeting?
My initial ideas for what I hope we can achieve to be discussed at Ice Dragon are:
  • promotion of cooking and the consumable arts in Æthelmearc;
  • sharing knowledge among cooking and period cooking researchers;
  • helping those new to the art in finding resources, learning how to get started etc.;
  • having a group to go to for help both for educational issues or feast staff-related issues if you do not already have a staff;
  • being able to prepare refreshments or feasts as a kingdom group, not individuals or smaller groupings;
  • sharing the workload of the Kingdom Party at Pennsic; and
  • creating a standard for cooking art or consumable art to be judged in competitions.

Basically, we have a lot of people who cook in this kingdom and I think we could accomplish more together and organized than we do now.

Who do you hope will be able to attend the meeting? Join the guild?

Anyone who loves to cook, wants to learn how to cook in period, already cooks in the SCA, or wants to cook in the SCA. I want people of any and all levels regardless of if you just googled “medieval cooking” today or if you have a laurel for cooking in 14th century Norwegian style. This is supposed to be a supportive and inclusive community for those who enjoy and want to grow in consumable and food arts in Æthelemearc.

If those who are interested can’t make it to the meeting, how can they join in the fun?

Join the Æthelmearc Cooks Guild Facebook group or email me. I plan on posting to the Facebook group a summary of the meeting itself afterward as well.

Categories: SCA news sites

Two Writs Given at Gulf Wars

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-03-19 08:25

On Friday, March 19 at Gulf Wars, the Imperatori, Magnus Tindal and Etain, called forth two gentles and gave each of them Writs for elevation to peerage.

Don Anias Fenne received a Writ for the Order of Defense.

THLord Marek Viacheldrago was given a Writ for the Order of Chivalry.

Both of these worthy gentlemen will reportedly sit vigil at the Festival of the Ice Dragon on April 2 in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael, to consider elevation at Court that evening.

Her Majesty presents Don Anias with a Writ for the Order of Defense. Photo by Lady Elaine Fairchild.

THLord Marek is called to consider elevation to the Chivalry. Photo by THLady Phelippe (Pippi) Ulfsdottir.

Categories: SCA news sites