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Huge mosaic floor in Jericho unveiled for one day

History Blog - Thu, 2016-10-20 20:35

For one time only, the glorious 8th century mosaic floor of Khirbat al-Mafjar, colloquially known as Hisham’s Palace, was on view in all its colorful majesty on Thursday, October 20th. The floor features 38 different scenes in 21 colors, and at 825 square meters (8,900 square feet), it is one of the largest mosaic floors in the world.

Discovered in 1873 three miles north of the West Bank city of Jericho, the first excavations of the site took place between 1934 and 1948 under the direction of Palestinian archaeologist Dimitri Baramki. The palace got its name from a marble ostracon that was discovered during the Baramki excavations that had “Hisham” scratched on it. The name on the marble fragment suggested that the lavish mansion may have been built during the reign of the 10th Umayyad caliph Hisham ibn Abd al-Malik (r. 724-743). The name stuck even though the palace may not have been built for the caliph himself. Robert Hamilton, the British colonial administrator and a colleague of Baramki’s, proposed the compound was constructed for the Hisham’s nephew and successor Walid ibn Yazid (r. 743-744) whose notorious love of the high life irritated the hell out his more temperate uncle.

Whoever it was built for, it had to have been someone in the royal family. The architecture, decorations and artifacts mark it as having been built under the Umayyad dynasty in first half of the 8th century. It’s in a category of structures known as the Umayyad desert castles, fortified palaces built near water sources in the arid regions of Jordan, Syria, Israel and the West Bank between 661 (when Damascus was made the Umayyad capital) and 750 A.D. (when the capital was moved to Baghdad).

Like the other desert castles, Hisham’s Palace includes an agricultural enclosure and a bath complex supplied with water from a nearby oasis. The spectacular mosaics covered the floor of the main bath hall, and one of the most famous stand-out pieces, a Tree of Life mosaic, decorated the floor of the bath’s bahw, or special reception room. It depicts a fruit tree with two gazelles peacefully hanging out on the left, while a gazelle on the right side is attacked by a lion. The contrasting scenes of peace vs. combat are believed to represent the power of the caliph to either bring prosperity to his people or to ruthlessly repress them.

Elaborately carved stucco panels, mainly florals and geometrics with some animal and human figures, including semi-nude men and women, were also found in the bath complex. The stuccos are now at the Rockefeller Museum in East Jerusalem. The decorative elements in the desert castles are among the earliest Islamic art, and the mosaics, sculptures, frescoes and carved stucco features at Hisham’s Palace are of particularly high quality. The dizzying array of colors and patterns in the mosaics prefigure later Islamic design, while the figural art is unique to the Umayyad period.

The palace is the biggest tourist draw in the West Bank which has a major downside from a conservation standpoint. In addition to the tens of thousands of visitors stomping the site every year, Jericho’s urban sprawl, conflict and scant funds for preservation and personnel have placed Hisham’s Palace is in dire straights. In 2010, the non-profit Global Heritage Fund put it on a list of 12 sites on the verge of irreparable damage. The only mosaic on display in the Tree of Life in the reception room. The rest have been covered by soil and canvas almost since they were first unearthed.

In September 2015, the Japan International Cooperation Agency signed a grant agreement with the Palestinian Authority to give up to 1.235 billion yen ($11,860,000) to construct a protective roof and exhibition facilities for the bath mosaics. The Palestinian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities spent a year carefully removing the sand, soil and assorted debris covering the floor. Now that the construction phase is about to begin, the complete mosaic floor of the bath complex of Hisham’s Palace was uncovered for a day. The floors go back undercover until the project is complete. If all goes well, the newly protected and restored mosaics will be open to visitors by 2018.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Court Report: Archers to the Wald

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-10-20 15:45

Here begins the report of the Court of Her Majesty Margerite, Queen of Æthelmearc, at Archers to the Wald in the Canton of Steltonwald, 8 October AS LI, accompanied by Their Excellencies Brandubh and Hilderun, Baron and Baroness of the Debatable Lands, Drotinn Jorundr hinn Rotinn, Golden Alce Herald, reporting.

Her Majesty thanked all who attended the event this day and all the staff for running this event at which She had such a wonderful time. His Majesty also sends His greetings and regrets that he was unable to attend this day.

Her Majesty gave leave to Their Excellencies of the Debatable Lands leave to conduct the business of Their Court.

Her Majesty gave leave to Lord Alrekr Bergsson to recognize some archers who had attained ranks in the Royal Round standings. Shelby Hernan, Vera Ivanova Tolstikova, and Alfonso de Santo Domingo, all achieved the rank of Archer, and he presented them with pewter medallions made by the hands of Lady Edana the Red.

Lord Alrekr had one further gentle to recognize but was unable to do so, thus he besought Her Majesty to make this recognition for him. Her Majesty summoned Devon Haugh before Her. Devon has achieved a Junior Royal Round average of 85, and was thus presented with a medallion, also by Lady Edana the Red to reflect his rank of Master Bowman. Her Majesty was further moved to recognize this remarkable achievement by inducting Devon into the Order of the Silver Alce. The scroll will be created by His Majesty at a later date.

Her Majesty next bade the children of the Kingdom to present themselves. So that they might be entertained she summoned forth the box of goodies, and the bearer of the day Alfonso de Santo Domingo that he might carry the box and run with it.

Her Majesty summoned THL Aemelia Soteria, the Kingdom Thrown Weapons Champion. This day she ran a tournament to determine her successor, and from among the finest throwers in the land, one rose above the rest. Master Juan Miguel Cezar proved himself most skilled this day and was named the Thrown Weapons Champion of Æthelmearc.

There was another champion to be determined this day, so Her Majesty summoned, Takamatsu-san Gentarou Yoshitaka, the Kingdom Archery Champion before her. The round robin style tournament had one archer rise above the rest, Ichikeiro-san Osoroshi, proved to be the best shot and so was named, Æthelmearc’s Archery Champion.

Her Majesty called for Caelfind in Eich Gil to attend Her. Their Majesties have heard much of the good works of this gentle and how she not only shoots, but also assists with setting up the range and tearing it down at the end of practice. For this it pleases Their Majesties to Award her Arms and make her a Lady of Their Court. Scroll by Brigette de
Sainte-Mene-Eglise.

Her Majesty next had words for Sanada-san Masamoto Kenshin O’no Kuma. His skill with knife, axe and spear is a wonder to behold, and his rate of improvement is an achievement that all should seek to emulate. Thus does Her Majesty induct him into the Order of the Golden Alce. Scroll illuminated by Isabel Fleuretan with calligraphy by Kameshima Zentarou Umakai.

Her Majesty next gave leave to Master Juan Miguel Cezar to do some business as a member of the Order of the Scarlet Guard. Juan Miguel had a notion to take a pair of students that he might further their interest in and service to archery, Lord Ru Cavorst and Lord Alrekr Bergsson. Juan Miguel however noticed an issue with the regalia that he had brought with him, that being the tassel of the members of the Scarlet Guard, rather than their students. He asked her Majesty if she know of a way that his error could be rectified, and so the Order of the Scarlet Guard was summoned to present themselves.

Lord Ru Cavorst was inducted into the Order of the Scarlet Guard and granted arms with a scroll by Graidhae ni Ruaidh.

Lord Alrekr Bergsson was inducted into the Order of the Scarlet Guard and granted arms, scroll forthcoming.

Her Majesty spoke of how one gentle this day inspired her with her willingness to assist the new members of the Society by taking time out of her day, while taking care of her own child to take care of the child of a family new to the Society so that the parents could get a chance to see what the event had to offer. For this Her Majesty named Lady Aisling Ngleantan Her inspiration of the day and awarded her a Golden Escarbuncle.

Her Majesty bid all the scribes who presented scrolls to this day’s Court to attend Her, and she presented them with a token in thanks of their hard work.

Her Majesty thanked everyone for being so welcoming to Her this day, and wished all a good night and a safe trip home.

Court Closed.


Categories: SCA news sites

Tiny 8th c. “horned” Odin found in Denmark

History Blog - Wed, 2016-10-19 22:02

Søren Andersen was scanning a field near Mesinge on the Danish island of Funen this summer when he discovered a figurine of bearded man with a tidily combed pageboy haircut wearing a helmet adorned with what looked like two oversized curved horns. Less than two inches high, the figurine was originally part of a ringed pin, a long pin with a ring at the head used to fasten clothes. Its style dates it to the 8th century.

The “horns” on the helmet are probably not actual horns. Viking helmets were not horned, despite their frequent appearances in literature, comics, film and Wagnerian extravaganzas. (In fact, it was a production of Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen at the first Bayreuth Festival in 1876 that launched the image of the Viking in a horned helmet. Read Roberta Frank’s fantastic paper on the subject here.) A number of similar figurines have been found in Scandinavia and Russia, and archaeologists have interpreted the horns as stylized representations of Odin’s ravens Huginn and Muninn.

I know what you’re thinking. Those don’t look anything like ravens, and you’re right. They don’t. But they’re also not complete. You can see the “horns” are different sizes and have rough edges. If you look at these two comparable figurines in the National Museum of Denmark, when intact, what look like horns now could have been a circular headdress terminating in two bird heads. The idea is to represent his information-gathering ravens as flying above the Odin’s head.

It’s also possible that the figurine doesn’t represent Odin himself, but a follower wearing an outfit associated with the deity. A cast-bronze die from the Vendel Period (550-790 A.D.) found on the Swedish island of Öland depicts a man in a bear suit next to a dancing warrior carrying a spear and wearing a helmet with circular “horns” that end in bird heads. The man dressed like a bear has been interpreted as a berserker devotee of Odin who had many shape-shifting adventures, the dancing warrior as Odin. The helmeted warrior was also thought to be a berserker at one time, his outfit an homage to Odin, but recent scans of the die found that the warrior has only one eye, an iconic attribute of the deity. The Mesinge figure appears to have two eyes.

It is currently on display at the Viking Museum at Ladby with other exceptional metal detector finds, like the gold crucifix that is believed to be the oldest figure of Christ ever discovered in Denmark. After a brief stay, it will move on to the National Museum of Denmark for further study.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Come and Have an AMAZing Time!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-10-19 17:08

Corn Maze III is nigh!

Photo by Ursus.

Corn Maze III is hosted by the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais from November 4, 2016 at 4 PM to November 6, 2016 12 PM. The event takes place at Ard’s farm (4803 Old Turnpike Rd, Lewisburg, PA. 17837).

We caught up with HRH Timothy to discover what makes Corn Maze (or A&E War, which is the official name) different from other SCA events:

“Several years ago, THL Angus McClerie and I were driving through ACG, and we drove by a corn maze. I said to Angus, “wouldn’t it be sweet to have some melees in there?” His response made my heart leap: “I went to High School with the owner”.

“The first year, he told us we could have it for a few hours after he closed it on its last day before he plowed it under/harvested it. So we arranged for some construction lights, and at 8 pm on a Sunday night, with only three weeks notice, about 50 of us tromped through the maze with every goofy scenario we could come up with. Mostly they were traditional scenarios with a maze twist thrown in.

“The site is a corn maze of about 10 acres. In the middle of the maze is a bridge that we allow spectators to stand on and watch the fighting happening all around them; they wear safety goggles, as there is combat archery in most of the scenarios.

Photo by Ursus.

“The second year, we added fencing, and only fought heavy in the maze during the evening. Again, we migrated to whatever wacky scenario I could come up with. Bearing in mind I had a year to plot, I did get very creative, and that is how we ended up where we are now. The Corn Maze war is in no way, shape or form high medievalism; it is about having a good time. We fight pretty much all day and most of the night, with fighters taking a break as they feel like it. I run one scenario after another with only a brief break for dinner.

We do resurrection battles, free-for-alls, warlord tourneys, and our grand finale, the famed “zombie battle”. This battle is run several times, but the first one is the one that is the most epic. Each fighter is given a glow stick on a lanyard that they are to tie on their person. They can distribute themselves throughout the maze as they will. After all fighters have a chance to place themselves, I announce that they are to stop moving. Each fighter then breaks open their glow stick, and sees what side they are on. I turn out the construction lights, and call lay on. As each fighter dies, they resurrect. The resurrection points are either end of the bridge, and the maze separates them. From the bridge, the spectators get to see glow stick laden arrows fly through the air and the lights of fighters bobbing along thru the maze. I added a twist last year. I selected one fighter at random, and in secret, and told them they were patient zero. When they died, they didn’t resurrect. They were to wander through the maze, and try and kill stragglers, to increase the mob of zombies. At some point, the zombies reach a critical mass, and I call humanities’ last stand, and the red and blue team joins up, under the bridge, trying to fight off the ever increasing number of zombies.”

The autocrat is HRH Timothy of Arindale. The event page can be found here.
Adult Event Registration: $18
Adult Member Discount Event Registration: $13
Children are free.
Please make checks out to SCA Inc, shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais.


Categories: SCA news sites

First possible victim of killer boomerang found

History Blog - Tue, 2016-10-18 22:44

A man found buried in Toorale National Park in New South Wales, southeastern Australia, may be the first known boomerang victim. The skeletal remains were discovered on the bank of the Darling River during a 2014 archaeological survey. Erosion had exposed the cranium but the subsequent excavation found an almost complete skeleton in an excellent state of preservation. He was buried on his right side in a tightly flexed position facing upstream to the northwest, a careful, deliberate positioning that indicates he was respectfully buried by his people. Members of the Kurnu Baakantji Aboriginal group who inhabit the area dubbed him Kaakutja, meaning “Older Brother.”

Osteological analysis found that the deceased was an adult male between 25 and 25 years old at time of death. He was about 5’5″-5’7″ tall. There is evidence of sharp-force trauma in several places on his skeleton: two ante-mortem wounds on the cranium and peri-mortem trauma on the right side of the frontal bone, the cheekbone, maxilla, mandible, upper right humerus and five left ribs. He was hacked up, basically. Nothing like this pattern of trauma has been found on archaeological skeletal remains in Australia. Usually the injuries found are depression and parrying fractures. Only one other skeleton has been found with wounds inflicted by a sharp object and they were spear wounds. These are cutting

Given the sharp-force trauma found on Kaakutja’s skeleton, archaeologists expected to find the remains dated to after the arrival of the English in the 18th century, but radiocarbon dating of the bone and one of the teeth, confirmed with optical dating of sediment inside the cranium, found that Kaakutja lived between 1220 and 1280, 500 years before James Cook set foot on the continent, and 600 years before English colonists settled New South Wales.

Since the wounds could not have been caused by a metal blade, archaeologists turned to traditional Aboriginal weapons to explain Kaakutja’s injuries. One possibility is the lil-lil, a club-like weapon with a flattened, finely edged head. Another is the wonna, or fighting boomerang. This weapon is not the hunting boomerang, a curved throwing stick hurled at high speeds to take down prey, nor the returning boomerang which is what most people think of when they hear the word but is only a few hundred years old. The fighting boomerang was described by ethnographer R.H. Mathews in 1907 as “considerably bigger and heavier” than the returning boomerang with “a more open curve. It reminds one of the blade of a sabre and its inner edge is sharp and dangerous.”

The wound going down Kaakutja’s face is probably too large to have been inflicted by a lil-lil. Boomerangs, on the other hand, could be as long as 18 inches and could certainly have caused his head wound. Archaeologists believe that was the first blow struck in the attack. Kaakutja’s was slashed with the fighting boomerang, likely taking out his eye. Then he was struck in the ribs, breaking five of them and probably bringing him to his knees. Then he was slashed across the top of the arm, carving off a circle of bone from the top of the humerus.

Kaakutja’s wounds suggest “close-range injuries—possibly hand-to-hand combat,” agrees Jo McDonald of the University of Western Australia, who was not involved with the study. Kaakutja’s forearms show no injuries from warding off blows. So Westaway and his colleagues speculate he was attacked with a boomerang designed to whip around the edge of a shield. Both shields and boomerangs were common items across the continent.

Rock art at Gundabooka National Park, 15 miles east of the burial site, records ancient intertribal wars. The two sides are depicted in two different colors — orange and white ochre — and the fighters carry shields, clubs and very recognizable boomerangs. Perhaps Kaakutja met his end in just such a conflict.

The significance of the find is hard to overstate. Kaakutja’s wounds are unique in the pre-European Australian archaeological record. They suggest that traditional Aboriginal sharpened hardwood weapons of could cut bone much like metal blades can. It will also help archaeologists going forward in identifying the kind of wounds caused by Aboriginal weaponry.

Kaakutja’s remains have been reburied in a traditional Kurnu Baakantji ceremony, but the study of this unique individual and his violent end will continue. Next on the agenda is attempting to duplicate the wounds using replica weapons. The study of Kaakutja and his injuries has been published in this month’s issue of the journal Antiquity

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Report – GGG and Rose Tourney

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-10-18 13:50

On the 8th of October, Anno Societatis LI, or 2016 in the Common Era, Their Majesties Brion III and Anna III rode to Their Barony of Carillion, there to attend Ghosts, Ghouls, and Goblins and the Ladies of the Rose Tourney.

Their Majesties Opened Court by inviting in Duchess Kiena Stewart and Duchess Caoilfhionn inghean Fhaolain, who hosted the Rose Tourney. Their Graces thanked the Barony of Carillion for hosting them, then announced the winners of the various categories. The overall winning team belonged to Duchess Etheldreda Ivelchyld.

The top team in archery was Countess Violante do Porto’s team and the top archer was Master Peter the Red.

The top armoured combat team was also Duchess Etheldreda’s, with the top chivalry combatant Master Ioannes Aurelius Serpentius and the top unbelted combatant Baron Rory McClellan.

The top rapier combat team belonged to Duchess Caoilfhionn. The top OGR fencer was Don Melchior Kriebel and the top non-OGR was Lord Titus Hostilius Nero.

Their Majesties invited the children of the East forward. When asked if the children liked the Society, one child exclaimed, “Yes! I love it!”. In keeping with Their Majesties’ philosophy that gifts such as these should come with some learning about the Society, King Brion and Queen Anna asked Duchesses Kiena and Caoilfhionn to come forward and speak to the children about courtesy before the children could claim their bounty.

The Crown then called for the event steward, Baroness Tysha z Kieva, and thanked her for her efforts putting together the event.

King Brion and Queen Anna then invited those new to the Society to come forward. Queen Anna spoke briefly to them, making them welcome, then the newcomers were offered tokens that they might remember their first steps in the SCA.

Next, Anastasia Wolf of House Carpathia was called for. Their Majesties noted that she served as a water bearer and entertained people with Middle Eastern dance. Finding her contributions worthy, Anastasia was made a Lady of the Court and Awarded Arms. She was given a scroll to commemorate this, with calligraphy by Master Jonathan Blaecstan and illumination by Baroness Ellesbeth Donofrey.

Lord Aharon Ben Ze’ev was summoned and Their Majesties spoke to him of his work in Settmour Swamp as an event steward, cook, and event staff and, in light of these good works, inducted him into the Order of the Silver Wheel. Aharon was given a scroll made by Mistress Heather Rose de Gordoun to mark the occasion.

King Brion then spoke briefly about the Orders. For the duration of the reign, when in tight quarters or with larger Courts, members of the various Orders may be asked to stand in place, rather than gather around the newest Order member. It is hoped that this small change will help speed the longer Courts.

Their Majesties then requested that Master Erhart von Stuttgart attend them. They spoke of his works crafting brass needles, hooks and eyes, and pins, and drawing of wire. They heard the words of Their Order of the Maunche and inducted Erhart into that Order. There was no scroll present, but there were words provided by Master Ryan McWhyte.

The Crown then called for Duke Gavin Kilkenny. King Brion mentioned that “back in the day”, it was not common to receive regalia when elevated to the peerage. Friends of His Grace felt this should be rectified and were called forward to present him with a hood for his induction into the Order of the Pelican these many years past.

Queen Anna spoke briefly about a day she described as “delightful” and King Brion called “excellent”. The business of the Court concluded, Their Majesties retired to their rooms.

These were the events of the Court as I recall them. My thanks to the event staff, retainers, guards, heralds, scribes, and all those others who made the event the thing it was.

Pray know I remain,

For Crown and College,

 – Master Rowen Cloteworthy


Filed under: Court, Uncategorized

Announcement from Their Majesties – Fall Crown Tournament list

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-10-18 13:46

To the Kingdom of the East, do We Brion and Anna send these words from the Tyger thrones, this 17th day of October.

We are pleased to announce the following gentles who would contest on the field of honor for the Fall Crown Tournament of the Kingdom of the East:

Master Ryan Mac Whyte fighting for Mistress Kay Leigh Mac Whyte
Duke Ronald Wilmot fighting for Duchess Bronwyn Dawntreader
Duke Randal of the Dark fighting for Duchess Katherine Stanhope
Duke Gryffith FitzWilliam fighting for Duchess Aikaterine FitzWilliam
Jarl Valgard Stonecleaver fighting for Lady Gracia Vasquez de Trillo
Sir Wilhelm von Ostenbrucke fighting for Mistress Vienna de la Mer
Sir Edward MacGyver dos Scorpus fighting for Lady Katerina LLiova Vladimirov
Sir Marcus Blackaeart fighting for Lady Solveig Bjarnardottir
Master Ávaldr Valbjarnarson fighting for Mistress Eva Woderose
Master Æthelhawk Keyfinder fighting for Mistress Siubhan Wallace
Sir Matthew des Arden fighting for Mistress Fia Kareman
Master Tiberivs Ivlivs Rvfvs Primvs fighting for m’lord Vopiscus Rufius Donatus
Sir Ivan Ivanov Syn Dimitriov Vynuk Tzardikov fighting for Baroness Matilde DeCadenet
Master Ionness Aurelius Serpentius fighting for Mistress Ro Honig von Sommerfeldt
Sir Ané du Vey fighting for Mistress Sylvia du Vey
Sir Harold Hokonson fighting for Sir Sichelgaita von Halstern
Sir Simon Gwyn fighting for Lady Tullia Tranquilla
Sir Hrafn BoneSetter fighting for Lady Sigrún Soldottír
Sir Matthias Grunwald fighting for Baroness Æsa feilinn Jossursdottir
Baron of Smoking Rocks Richard Leviathan fighting for Mistress Nest verch Tangwistle
Baron Ceawlin Alreding fighting for Baroness Molly Blythe
The Honorable Lord William RavenHair fighting for Lady Albreda Aylese
Baron Sigurthr VigurHafn fighting for Baroness Medhbh inghean Cheallaigh
Baron Duncan Kerr fighting for Mistress Eleanor fitzPatrick
Lord Richard Crowe fighting for m’lady Ameria Brown
Lord Micah of Brighton Hall fighting for Lady Thallos Alexiou of Brighton Hall
Lord Sigurdr Berserkr fighting for Mistress Mistress Eleanore MacCarthaigh
Lord Thomas de Winterwade fighting for Lady Sara of Stonley
The Honorable Lord Ulfgeirr Ragnarsson the Nice fighting for Lady Lavina Attewode
Baron Tiberius Nautius Maximus fighting for None Meave Macintosh
The Honorable Lord Duarcaín MacWard fighting for Lady Aurnia MhicWard
The Honorable Lord Gawyn O’Clery fighting for m’lady Maeve O’Clery
Baron Rory MacLellan fighting for Baroness Astridr Sigrun Ulfkelsdottir
Baron Fearghus O’Conchobhair fighting for Baroness Christina Jenevra De Carvalhal
Lady Leurona Winterborne fighting for Sir Ketilfastr Thorkilson
Lord William of Wyndhaven fighting for Lady Saruca bint Lazari
Lord Gunnar Alfson fighting for m’lady Suke Arslajin
Lord Greadden Olthurssun Veassellurd fighting for Lady Aesa Ormstung Called Jotunsbane
Lord Martin Wasser Speier fighting for Master Donovan Shinnock
Lord Perley of Malagentia fighting for Lady Mary of the High Hills
Lord Edwarde Midnight fighting for Lady Rose Copper-Steel
Lord Alexander Clarke fighting for Mistress Aneleda Falconbridge
Lord Matthew MacGyver fighting for Baroness Lillian Stanhope
Lady Vasia Von Königsburg fighting for Lady Æsa Sturludottir
Lord Corwin Blackthorn fighting for Lady Ada Wright
Lord Nicol mac Donnachaidh fighting for Lady Vivien de Valois
Lord Albrecht Østergaard fighting for m’lady Anne Forneau
Lord Leon Cristo del Camino fighting for The Honorable Lady Christiana Crane
m’lord Brian of Stonemarche fighting for m’lady Sorcha Dhorcha
m’lord Edward de Bosco fighting for m’lady Isabella de Bosco

Given the size of our list, we plan to fight a single fight, double elimination tournament. The semi final will be matched weapons with the individual from the winners bracket having to win two fights and the individual from the losers bracket having to win three fights. The finals will be best 3 out of 5 with matched weapons.

Our intent will be to use several preliminary fights to narrow the list to a field of 32. Final framework TBD based on the weather, start time of the tournament, and Our Royal pleasure.

Best of luck, and best wishes to the Noble’s who will contest to be our heirs.

We remain, in service the Great Kingdom of the East.

Brion Rex & Anna Regina

 


Filed under: Announcements, Events, Uncategorized

Unique London museum restored to its former chaotic splendour

History Blog - Mon, 2016-10-17 22:47

After a comprehensive restoration lasting seven years and costing £7million ($8,536,000), Sir John Soane’s Museum in London has returned to its founder’s original design. The Soane is a uniquely idiosyncratic museum founded by preeminent neoclassical architect Sir John Soane (1753-1837) in his home and office at No. 13 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. A self-made man, he first bought No. 12 Lincoln’s Inn Fields in 1792 after he was invited to become a member of the Architects’ Club, an important milestone marking his success and the approval of his peers. He completely remodeled the building and facade. In 1806, after his appointment as Professor of Architecture at the Royal Academy, he bought the house next door at No. 13 and completely rebuilt it too.

By then his library and collection of antiquities, plaster casts and architectural models was too large to fit in one property and he conceived the idea to dedicate both No. 12 and No. 13 to a museum that would allow architecture students and interested amateurs to study his models, paintings, drawings and sculptures. While at first he planned to organize his collection in categories, he abandoned that idea in favor of an eclectic, chaotic arrangement of interesting juxtapositions that would inspire creativity in visitors.

In 1812, he opened No. 13 to his students in the hope it would enhance their education. Magazine reviews were rapturous, referring to the Lincoln’s Inn Fields museum as “an Academy of Architecture.” Soane wanted to ensure that his homemade “Academy” would remain open to the public entirely unchanged even after his death. That took an extraordinary effort because his son George as the direct male heir by law would inherit his property and Soane had a terrible relationship with his son. The only way to disinherit him was by a literal Act of Parliament, so Soane campaigned assiduously to get a Private Act to preserve his beloved collection in the buildings on which he had put so decidedly personal a stamp.

In April of 1833, the Soane Museum Act was passed requiring that after Sir John’s death, the house and collection be managed by a Board of Trustees on behalf of the nation and that they be kept “as nearly as possible” just as they were. Soane died in 1837 and the terms of the Act went into effect. Over the years, changes were made both to the structures — additions, walls knocked down, doors and rooms closed off, the Model Room on the second floor converted into a curator’s apartment and later offices — and, as exhibition space retreated to the needs of administration, to the objects on display.

A solution presented itself in the form of No. 14 Lincoln’s Inn Fields. Soane had bought that building too in 1823, rebuilding it as he had its brethren and using the stables as a picture gallery connected to No. 13. The home itself he rented. This building was not included in the Act of Parliament. Soane left it to his family. In 2009, the museum had the chance to buy No. 14. They snapped it up and finally had much-needed office space. This gave them the freedom to embark on an extensive renovation of museum to restore it to Sir John’s original vision.

After a fundraising campaign that saw donations from many private donors and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Opening up the Soane (OUTS) project began in 2011. The last phase of the project was completed last month, and now not only are the rooms restored to their former design with the artifacts, models and art works in the spaces where Soane wanted them to be — 365 objects that have been in storage since 1837 are now back on display — but new spaces have been opened as well. The kitchens, for example, once the exclusive domain of Soane’s servants, now give visitors a rare glimpse into a Regency era kitchen. The original 1812 range in the back kitchen is believed to be the oldest surviving patented kitchen range in the world. There’s also a custom dresser designed by Soane in the front kitchen.

Bruce Boucher, Director of Sir John Soane’s Museum says; “This is a momentous day in the history of the Soane Museum. Our extensive restoration work over the past seven years has reinstated all of Soane’s spaces which were lost over the decades following his death – many of them thought to be lost forever. Now, following the completion of this third and final phase of Opening Up the Soane, visitors can experience the Museum as fully as Sir John Soane intended”.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

News Roundup - The 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings

Medievalists.net - Mon, 2016-10-17 22:26
How the anniversary celebrations and the re-enactment of the Battle of Hastings at Battle Abbey was reported in the media... [View the story "News Roundup - The 950th Anniversary of the Battle of Hastings" on Storify]
Categories: History, SCA news sites

Report on The Endewearde Hunt, 2016

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-10-17 09:16

The Gazette thanks Mistress Brita Mairi Svensdottir for sending the following report.

On a lovely fall day, the archers of Endewearde gathered to try their skill at a challenging woods walk with 10 stations, and a novelty shoot of targets representing stories from the Wild Hunt. There were ground targets, hanging targets, a window shoot, a friend and foe and a mini-clout (80 yards) with a boar in the middle.

Not to be outdone, the throwers also took aim with various thrown weapons.

There were also several classes on topics as various as Japanese leaf viewing and enameling, and a cut and thrust tournament, as well as a potables competition and a bacon judging.

The next day, in spite of the rain, Endewearde archers and throwers gathered to compete for the baronial championships. Thrown Weapons came down to a father/son battle between William of Wyndhaven and his son Seth, but William finally prevailed in the speed round. The archery tournament featured head to head competitions on such targets as ground targets, moving targets that had to be shot in order, and a swinging target tree where the object was to get all the targets to swing to your side. The finals were between Godric of Hamtun and his daughter Isabella Altoviti, and she gave him a run for his money, but Godric and his crossbow won the day.

 

 

 

 

Court saw many worthy gentles recognized, both for winning various competitions and for their contributions over time. Some highlights: Ludwig von Eisenberg won three categories in the potables, the Baron of Ruantallen offered to pay for his defeat at Great Northeastern War by giving any Malagentians who came to Ruantallen a bottle of beer, Isabella Altoviti was given a token by Baroness Sylvia for being an inspiration on the archery range, Brita took Conall an Doire as a protégé, and Alan of Wittlesie turned the captaincy of the North Tower Archery Company over to Admiranda Howard, giving her a box of archery marshal necessities, including duck tape, a stop watch, ibuprofen, and Southern Comfort.

In her closing remarks, Baroness Sylvia thanked Albrecht and Nuttus for setting up the White Shield encampment where new people could be welcomed and find their SCA niche, and spoke of the joy of seeing the two championships come down to father/child contests. Both of these things made her happy that the future of the SCA was in good hands. Thus ended what has become a traditional end of season archery/thrown weapons event in the Barony of Endewearde.

Photos courtesy of Mistress Brita Mairi Svensdottir


Filed under: Events Tagged: Endewearde

700 7th c. drug bottles found in Turkey

History Blog - Sun, 2016-10-16 22:31

Archaeologists have discovered a unique trove of ancient medicine bottles in the ancient Greek town of Bathonea, 10 miles west of Istanbul. Usually made of ceramic or glass, although there are a few high-end examples made of alabaster and silver, the small bottles known as unguentaria were used in antiquity to hold everything from perfume and cosmetics to olive oil and powdered incense. They are often found in Greek burials as grave goods, but only a few in each grave. Larger numbers of unguentaria have been unearthed in ancient household rubbish dumps, discarded over a period of time after being broken.

The ones found at Bathonea, on the other hand, were all made at the same time out of clay in the shape of miniature amphorae, and 700 unguentaria in one site is an unprecedented find. Many of them were also in fragments — archaeologists pieced hundreds of them back together in the laboratory — but they weren’t discarded or funerary/religious offerings. This was an industrial facility for the manufacture of unguentaria and likely for their contents.

Samples of material found inside the vessels were sent for analysis to the Scientific and Technological Research Council (TÜBİTAK) in Gebze district. Tests found the residues contained Methanone and Phenanthrene, plant-derived substances used in herbal medicine as anti-depressants and heart medications, among other uses.

“Some of them are still being repaired, but meanwhile we have also found pestles of various sizes, mortars, and a stove, indicating that there was a pharmaceutical production center here” [associate professor from Kocaeli University Dr. Şengül] Aydıngün said, and added that there are specific plants on the site, which make up the essence of many medicines.

They also found bone tools, spatulas and medical instruments, so this appears to have been a full-service drug and medical supply store.

This roof of this facility collapsed in a fire, keeping its production line in place even if heavily damaged. Practically all of the structures so far excavated at Bathonea have the same fire layer. Samples from it were analyzed by the Wroclaw Archeology and Ethnography Institute in Poland which found that the carbon samples date to between 620 and 640. That date range is meaningful because the nomadic Avars joined forces with the Sassanid Persians and assorted Slavs to besiege Constantinople in 626. After two months of attacks from land and sea, the Avars and Persians retreated before the victorious Byzantines, but they did a lot of damage while they were there. Archaeologists think the fire that felled the Bathonea pharmacy may be evidence of the Avar attack. No other archaeological evidence of this clash has been found before.

The site of Bathonea was first confirmed in 2009, after documentary research and geophysical surveys pointed to its location being in the basin of what is now Lake Küçükçekmece, a lake created when a sandbar cut it off the Sea of Marmara. Bathonea was a bustling port city, and in five years of excavations archaeologists have unearthed the remains of a large port, docks, a lighthouse, long, broad avenues to the sea, a palace complex, planned city squares and streets, two major waterways and a cistern built with bricks bearing the mark of the Emperor Constantine. Other artifacts discovered indicate the site has been occupied long before the construction of the Hellenistic city in the 4th century B.C., objects going back as far as the Neolithic (8,000 B.C.) have been found at Bathonea. The city was abandoned in the 11th century after a massive earthquake and never rebuilt.

Bathonea’s extensive archaeological record is or particular significance because it’s on the outskirts of Istanbul and can therefore fill the gaps in the capital city’s own chronology. For example, Istanbul’s Neolithic era is relatively well documented archaeologically, but there is nothing from the Hittite era (ca. 2,000 B.C.). The discovery of Hittite ceramics in Bathonea, therefore, was confirmation of their active presence in the area. The burn layer in the pharmaceutical facility and its neighboring structures has now added to that chronology by providing the first archaeological evidence of the major upheaval in the 7th century.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Has the victim of 322-year-old royal intrigue been found?

History Blog - Sat, 2016-10-15 22:43

A scandalous and deadly mystery may soon be solved thanks to the sciency magic of DNA. The setting: Leine Castle in Niedersachsen, Germany, the residence of the Electors of Hanover and future Hanoverian kings. The players: Sophia Dorothea, the wife of the future King George I of Great Britain, her churlish husband, then Prince George Ludwig of Hanover, Sophia Dorothea’s lover, Count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck, her father-in-law Ernest Augustus, the Elector of Hanover, and the Countess von Platen, the Elector’s mistress and a schemer of Evil Queen in Snow White dimensions.

Sophia Dorothea had been forced to marry George Ludwig through the machinations of Sophia of Hanover, George’s mother and granddaughter of King James I of England, who sabotaged her other engagements and persuaded her mother, Countess Eleanor of Wilhelmsburg, of the advantage of the match. Her future mother-in-law’s motivation was purely pecuniary. Sophia Dorothea came with a rich income of 100,000 thaler a year (one thaler was worth 25 grams of silver, 10 times more than the English pound), and while George had zero personal charms (in Hanover he was known as “pignose” and his own mother considered him stupid and brutish) he had the powerful Electorate of Hanover coming his way and was also in line for the British crown.

So in 1682, the 16-year-old Sophia Dorothea married her first cousin Prince George Ludwig of Hanover, the future King George I of Great Britain. From day one the marriage was turbulent. They fought all the time, in private and public, and George slighted her at ceremonial occasions. Despite their active contempt for each other, they managed to reproduce twice: the future George II was born in 1683, Sophia Dorothea, the future Queen of Prussia, was born in 1687.

By then relations between the two were irretrievably broken, if they had ever been whole. George took a mistress whom he flaunted so shamelessly that his own father begged him to be more discreet for appearance’s sake, if nothing else. George ignored him, and instead took more mistresses whom he impregnated regularly. When he wasn’t violent and abusive to his wife, he acted as if she didn’t exist, humiliating her by raising his mistresses above her at court. Into this maelström walked Swedish count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck. He and Sophia Dorothea had met just before her marriage and had had an innocent flirtation. When the dashing count came back into her life, their relationship blossomed into a romance which we know quite a bit about because hundreds of their love letters have survived and are now in the collection of the Lund University library. Many of them are written in code, a necessity as the gossip around them intensified.

Some of those letters were intercepted and shown to George Ludwig’s father Ernest Augustus, Elector of Hanover, who exiled Königsmarck from Hanover. George and Sophia Dorothea fought angrily over her affair and his many affairs (complete with illegitimate children). This argument turned violent, with George pulling out his wife’s hair and throttling her until she lost consciousness. Only the intervention of her attendants in the antechamber stopped the Prince from strangling his wife.

It all came to a head in 1694. Königsmarck returned from banishment and was appointed Colonel of the Guards. Sophia Dorotea, desperate after repeated entreaties to her own family had failed, hoped to flee Hanover with the count. He received a note written in pencil asking him to visit her rooms one night. When he appeared, she was surprised. The note was a forgery. Notwithstanding the glaringly obvious setup, he stayed for a while as she told him how untenable her position had become and asked him to arrange for their flight to Wolfenbüttel, about 40 miles away, where a devoted friend of her mother lived. This was a fatal error.

The forged letter was part of a plot hatched by Clara Elisabeth, Countess von Platen, Ernest Augustus’ long-time mistress and mother of two of his children. She and her coterie had spread nasty rumors about Sophia Dorothea since the marriage, poisoning the court against her and contributing significantly to George’s hatred and public slights of his wife. As soon as she found out that Königsmarck had fallen for the forged note gambit, she told the Elector that Königsmarck was scandalously visiting Sophia Dorothea at night, and persuaded him to order his arrest.

He allowed countess to command the operation. She got three trabants (yeomen of the guard) and their commanding officer to wait for him behind a chimney that was his sole escape route out of the palace (she had locked all the other exits), and promptly got them drunk so they might be less likely to recognize the colonel and more likely to do him harm which was her aim all along although Ernest Augustus was clueless about her real intentions. When Königsmarck approached the chimney, he was set upon by the guards. A sword fight ensued, and though he was an outstanding soldier who might have actually pulled off a one-against-four-drunks victory in the dark, Königsmarck’s sword snapped and he was mortally wounded.

The guards were horrified when realized who they had stuck, but the Countess von Platen deftly turned it around on them. She said they’d be in huge trouble for killing him, so it was best if they told the Elector Königsmarck had rushed them in some berserker frenzy, forcing them to kill in self-defense. Ernest Augustus was shocked and appalled. He’d given the countess an inch and she’d taken a life. He knew the news of the death of so famously brave, handsome and popular a noble adventurer would surely spread like wildfire throughout Germany, and the Elector would be cast as the villain of the piece.

The Countess had a solution to that problem too. She got Ernest Augustus to agree to dispose of the body in such a way that the crime would never be publically known. The 1845 Memoirs of Sophia Dorothea, a pro-Sophia biography compiled from archives, letters and diaries, describes the aftermath thus:

The Countess had little trouble in persuading the trabants to save their necks by doing as she desired them. All traces of the murder were soon obliterated. The dead body was unceremoniously cast into the most filthy receptacle that could be found for it, covered with quick lime, and the place walled up. So secretly and so skilfully were these measures taken, that no one in the palace was aware anything extraordinary had occurred during the night, although some persons had heard a slight disturbance of which they had taken little notice, and from that time to this, notwithstanding suspicions had been created by the mysterious disappearance of Count Königsmarck, nothing of a positive nature has been brought forward respecting his fate on which any reliance could be placed.

This account is derived from the Countess von Platen’s deathbed confession and to that of one of the trabants. Other stories circulated. Author, member of Parliament and son of the frst Prime Minister of Great Britain Horace Walpole was told by his father who was told by Queen Caroline who was told by King George II that the Königsmarck was strangled upon leaving Sophia Dorotea’s room and his body had been found under the floor of her dressing room when George II was visiting Hanover after his ascension to the British throne.

That’s a bit too much of a game of telephone to be reliable data, but the discovery of a skeleton during construction work at Leine Castle this summer might just be the hard evidence this intrigue has long lacked. Unfortunately the cause of death could not be determined by osteological analysis, but researchers were able to extract DNA from the bones. The DNA will now be compared to living relatives of Count Philip Christoph von Königsmarck.

As for poor Sophia Dorothea, with her lover dead in such a messy way, George Ludwig felt empowered to divorce her and imprison her in the Castle of Ahlden in Lüneburg for the rest of her life, that’s 33 years out of 60. It wasn’t a brutal imprisonment; more of a house arrest life sentence. She had plenty of money to live in accordance with her status, was allowed her retinue and had the run of the castle, but her children were kept from her and every reference to her was erased from George’s future courts. Oh, and he kept that 100,000 thaler annuity even after her divorced her, of course. He really was a right bastard.

On her deathbed, she wrote one last letter to her husband, who had been King of Great Britain and Ireland for 12 years by then, cursing him. He refused to allow his courts in Hanover or England to officially mourn her, and even inveighed against their daughter when he heard the Prussian court in Berlin was wearing black for their queen’s mother. No wonder George II hated his father bitterly.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Important Notice to all Group Chroniclers from the Kingdom Chronicler!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-10-15 18:11

I sent out the announcement below ten days ago as a follow up to the earlier one calling for local chroniclers to report in or have their office considered vacant on November 1. This is a problem, as Chronicler is a required office for a group to maintain Baronial status. All chroniclers in Æthelmearc need to report in. This is not optional.

This is the list of chroniclers who have responded.

Coppertree
Heronter
Rhydderich Hael
Sunderoak
Delftwood
St. Swithin’s Bog

The chroniclers from the groups listed above have reported in. Thank you
for your prompt responses.

Previous message:

I sent out an email on this announcement list about two weeks ago requiring ALL chroniclers to report in with their contact information,  various bits of info etc. and their most recent newsletter in .PDF form  so that my successor could have a current list of all active  chroniclers. Per my conversations with Their Majesties, and the Kingdom Seneschal any chronicler not reporting in before November first with the
requested information will be deemed inactive, and their replacement sought. The reason for this is simple. For my entire tenure it has been impossible to get a complete list of current and active chroniclers, and I have found that several chronicler listings I have have been out of date for 6 plus years. This is not a problem I want my successor to have to deal with starting out.

To make it easier for people to report in our wonderful Kingdom Webmistress Lady Amalie (of her own initiative) developed a web form seemingly just a few hours after my email came out for me to approve, with everything on it, and implemented the changes I asked and made it live.

You can now find the web form link here.

I have gotten several emails in response to my email with chroniclers checking in (the 6 who have always been extremely good about checking in, and I thank you folks!) I hate to ask them to re-submit through the form (if you folks don’t mind though it will help put everything in one place if you do) but all of the rest of the chroniclers who have not responded to the last email, if you do not check in and report by November first you will be considered inactive and your office vacant. For those of you representing a Barony that might be a bit of a problem for your seneschal as I believe that Chronicler is still a required officer for a Barony

In service,
Master John Michael Thorpe
Æthelmearc Kingdom Chronicler


Categories: SCA news sites

Study ancient Egypt online with the University of Pennsylania

History Blog - Fri, 2016-10-14 22:29

The Penn Museum, the University of Pennsylvania’s archaeology museum, has one of the largest collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the United States. There are more than 42,000 objects, including the largest sphinx in the Western Hemisphere and the third largest in the world. The head curator of the collection is University of Pennsylvania’s Eckley Brinton Coxe, Jr Professor of Egyptology Dr. David Silverman, one of the world’s leading experts on Egyptian history. He was a curator of the blockbuster Treasures of Tutankhamun exhibit which brought 53 artifacts from the famous tomb to the United States for the first time in the late 1970s, and was the national curator of the even grander blockbuster, Tutankhamun and the Golden Age of the Pharaohs, thirty years later. He has led multiple archaeological excavations in Egypt and is widely published on Egyptian history, epigraphy, language, art, and religion.

There was a time when being taught by an Ivy League professor preeminent in his field was a privilege reserved for very few, but it’s a brave new world out there now, and the University of Pennsylvania is offering a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) through Coursera entitled Introduction to Ancient Egypt and Its Civilization. It will be taught by Dr. Silverman who developed the course using references to the Egyptian artifacts in the Penn Museum. MOOCs on ancient Egypt have been offered before by many institutions of higher learning, but none of them had access to a collection like the Penn Museum’s to illustrate the coursework. Silver spent two years developing this course and its sequels, researching the material, writing scripts for the lectures and choosing hundreds of photographs as visual aids. A crew for the university’s School of Arts and Sciences Online Learning filmed the galleries of the Penn Museum for days, working around the museum’s hours so that students will get the kind of unobstructed view of the objects on display that is virtually impossible in crowded real life.

The class begins on October 31st with a showing of the original The Mummy with Boris Karloff. Okay no. I made that up because of the coincidental Halloween opening date, but it would be a pretty entertaining overture, especially since the faux “archaeology” in that movie is so egregiously wrong on every possible level that it even eclipses Karloff’s outstanding makeup in horror quotient. In reality, the course consists of five filmed lectures about an hour long. The lectures will be supplemented with quizzes and project assignments, and students will be able to engage in online discussions of the material.

A prolific author, speaker, and exhibition curator, Dr. Silverman developed the course with an eye to answering the many questions he has encountered over the years. “I wanted to offer a course that tapped into the deep fascination that so many people—myself included—bring with them as they explore the art and culture of the ancient Egyptians,” he noted. “My hope is that through this course many questions will be answered—and new questions will arise. Ancient Egypt’s culture and achievements are worthy of a lifetime of study and exploration.”

As the course description notes, each hour-long videotaped lecture focuses on a different subject: History and Chronology; The Pharaoh and Kingship; Gods and Goddesses; The Pyramids and the Sphinx; Mummies and Mummification. Part two of the course explores Principles of Egyptian Art; The Basics of the Language of Ancient Egypt – Hieroglyphs; Magic; Akhenaten, Tutankhamun, and the Religion of the Aten; and The Burial of Tutankhamun and the Search for his Tomb.

If you are fortunate enough to be in Philadelphia or environs on Saturday, December 10th, there will be an end of course Open House with Dr. Silverman at the Penn Museum from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM. Students will enjoy talks by museum Egyptologists, tours of the gallery, a mummification workshop, book signings and an Egyptian-inspired lunch at the museum café.

Already 20,000 people have signed up for the course. The MOOC is free of charge — there’s a fee of $49 if you want to get a certificate — and once it’s complete, all students will receive email notification of the second course in the series: Wonders of the Ancient World, which is schedule to launch in early 2017.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Delftwood’s Peace Tourney FAQs

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-10-14 14:23

Greetings fair and mighty Æthelmearc!

Questions have been coming up about Delftwood’s Peace Tourney at our Yule event on December 3, 2016. Please see this page for event information:

What is the Peace Tourney?
It’s Delftwood’s third annual Arts & Sciences competition held at Yule. Artisans, scientists, and performers of all levels are invited to participate from across the Society.

What is needed?
One to three pieces of your best work. Works in progress are allowed. You will discuss your work with the judges face to face. It is suggested that you bring notes, but written documentation is not required. Please do bring a list of your resources.

A sponsor. Anyone can enter and anyone can sponsor anyone. Your sponsor
must provide a prize of no more than $10 in materials. Prizes will be
picked in order of points received from highest to lowest.

  • A sponsor can be found for you.
  • Please offer a prize if you don’t have a person you are already sponsoring.
  • You can sponsor more than one person.
  • Please provide a prize for each person.

What else do I need to know?

  • There are no categories.
  • There are no novice or advanced divisions.
  • Scrolls will be given for the first three places.
  • You will be assigned a time to sit with your work. Sitting with your work all day is up to you.
  • All performances pieces will take place during dessert. Performance pieces are limited to five minutes.

Please contact Mistress Othindisa Bykona at aebeelady AT gmail DOT com for
more information.

We look forward to seeing your entries!

Othindisa
A&S Coordinator for Delftwood Yule


Categories: SCA news sites

Happy 950th anniversary, Battle of Hastings!

History Blog - Thu, 2016-10-13 21:59

On October 14th, 1066, a date that will live forever on 6th grade pop quizzes, the army of William the Bastard, Duke of Normandy, defeated the Anglo-Saxon army of King Harold Godwinson at the Battle of Hastings ushering in the Norman conquest of England which ultimately claimed 100,000 lives. The Norman conquest irrevocably altered the evolution of the English language and landscape. It was William who made it a point of policy to build large stone castles to consolidate his power, replacing the more earthworks and wood motte-and-bailey castles favored by the Anglo-Saxon with the intimidating fortresses preferred by powerful lords in Normandy. Stone churches and cathedrals were also a Norman contribution.

To celebrate the anniversary in grand style, this weekend English Heritage will be hosting a program of events at Battle Abbey, built on the site of Harold’s death by William by order of Pope Alexander II as penance for having killed so many, and the battlefield. There will be music, readings, lectures, a display of falconry, panel discussions, faux battles on the hour for children, something called “Have-a-go Archery” which sounds as fun as it is potentially dangerous, cavalry, Norman and Saxon encampments with living history for visitors to interact with, and in the afternoon a full-on reenactment of the Battle of Hastings with more than 1,066 volunteers participating.

Tickets for the weekend sold out quickly, so alas, unless you managed to score your own already or knows somebody who know somebody who knows an extremely nerdy scalper, I’m afraid you won’t be able to attend the festivities. You can still visit the abbey and battlefield on Friday, though, which is the actual anniversary.

Meanwhile, The Royal Mint, which was already in operation under King Harold, has issued a 50p coin commemorating the anniversary. With all due respect to the dignified profile of Queen Elizabeth II, because my love for the Bayeux Tapestry is stronger than the foundations of the earth, it’s the reverse of this coin that absolutely slays me (pun intended). It’s a coin version of the man believed to be Harold shown with an arrow in his eye and several in his shield in scene 57 of the Bayeux Tapestry. The embroidered Latin above the scene reads “Hic Harold rex interfectus est,” or “Here King Harold is killed.”

There’s also another fellow next to him being felled by a sword, though, so it’s not entirely clear which of the two is meant to be Harold. The earliest known account of the conquest, the Song of the Battle of Hastings, written in 1067 by Bishop Guy of Amiens, says that Harold was hacked to death and his dismembered body buried under a stone pile on a cliff “that you may still be guardian of the shore and sea.” Fifty years later, William of Malmesbury’s Chronicle of the Kings of England (1118) said Harold’s “brain [was] pierced with an arrow” shot “from a distance,” and that is the account that has taken root, bolstered by the epic drama of the Bayeux Tapestry. (There is, incidentally, significant debate as to whether the arrow in the eye detail is original to the tapestry or the product of a later restoration to bring the work closer in concert to what was by then the accepted story.)

Five million of these 50p pieces will be going into circulation. Collectors can purchase fancier limited edition gold proofs (£785, or $960), silver proofs (£50, or $60) and double-thick “piedfort” silver proofs (£95, or $116), plus mint condition uncirculated versions of the regular coin (£10, or $12). Only the last one comes with a booklet. I love it when things come with a booklet.





Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Intact 1,600-year-old roasting pit unearthed in Alberta

History Blog - Wed, 2016-10-12 22:54

Archaeologists have unearthed a 1,600-year-old untouched roasting pit at the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump in southwest Alberta, Canada. Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump was used by native peoples of the North American Plains to hunt, butcher and process bison for 6,000 years. It is one of the oldest and best preserved buffalo jumps, which archaeological features still surviving on the surface and under ground.

The site has four areas that were used for different purposes: the gathering basin, where the bison would graze on the lush grasses and drink fresh water well into the fall, the drive lanes, stone cairns built in lanes that hunters would chase buffalo down, the cliff kill site, the edge of the cliff which the stampeding bison would be forced off of, and the processing area where the bison were butchered, their meat roasted, the bones boiled for grease rendering, strips of meat dried in the sun and pemmican, a highly nutritious staple made of dried meat grease, marrow and berries pounded together, made to keep people alive during the long winter.

Artifacts and remains are present throughout the site. An astonishing 36 feet of deposits have accumulated below the cliff kill site alone over the course of 5,700 years, and the processing area is repeat with kitchen tools like scrapers, knives, drills, pottery and boiling stones cracked by fire.

It was in the processing area where archaeologist Robert Dawe, now Royal Alberta Museum Inventory Curator, discovered the roasting pit in 1990. He had been excavating the area for four years when he unearthed a canine paw (probably wolf rather than dog) and the articulated leg bones of a bison calf. It was the articulation of the bones that indicated this was a roasting pit, and even more intriguingly, a roasting pit whose contents had never been eaten. The stratigraphy pointed to this as a Blackfoot site about 1,600 years old. As soon as he realized that this was an incredibly rare find, Dawe covered it back up to preserve for future excavation.

The future took 26 years to happen. Dawe returned this year and dug out the entire pit encased in a soil block and wrapped tight in layers of plaster, burlap and foil.

“This thing hasn’t seen the light of day since 1,600 years ago,” Dawe said. “Nobody has seen the contents of this meal that was prepared for a delicious feast. For some reason the people never came back and opened it up.” [...]

“This is a classic example of an earth oven,” Dawe said. “This is a common thing that is found all over the world.”

Dawe compared the earth oven or roasting pit used by the Plains people thousands of years ago to the modern luau in Hawaii.

“The idea is you dig a pit, line it with rock, and build a hot fire and let it burn down to coals,” Dawe explained. “Typically they would put down a layer of vegetation like willows here, put the food on top of the willows, another layer of willows, an insulating layer of earth, and then they would build a hot fire on top.”

“They would let it cook overnight and the heat from the upper fire would bring the heat from the coals through the animal, and in the morning it would be fall-off-the-bone tender — just delicious.”

What caused the Blackfoot to abandon this delicious slow-cooked meal is a mystery. It could have been anything from a fire to a sudden storm.

Once secured and removed, the block was then craned onto a truck and transported to the Royal Alberta Museum in Edmonton, a newly built facility that has all the bells and whistles necessary to excavate, preserve and ultimately display this treasure. Dawe and his team will painstakingly excavate it “with toothpicks and a light vacuum cleaner,” a process that will take months. Everything they find will be conserved, the bones treated to keep them from deteriorating.

Piikani Nation elder Conrad Little Leaf conducted a traditional prayer in the Blackfoot language and made a ceremonial offering of tobacco blessing the excavation team. It was a bittersweet farewell, as Head-Smashed-In’s Marketing and Special Events Coordinator Quinton CrowShoe noted, because as something their ancestors left behind, the roasting pit and its contents are sacred to them so they would much rather the pit stay in place.

But while the Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump site has an excellent interpretative center, it does not have the facilities to preserve delicate archaeological materials in ideal environmental conditions, so the roasting pit is slated to go on display at the Royal Alberta Museum’s new First Peoples gallery that will open at the end of 2017. There is still hope it might return to Head-Smashed-In should an appropriate facility be built.

Watch Conrad Little Leaf’s prayer, the removal of the pit and Robert Dawe’s explanation of the find in this video:

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Teachers Sought for FFF

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-10-12 20:23

Classes are already coming in for Fiber, Fabric, Fighting, etc., etc., etc.!

Won’t you join your compatriots in sharing your knowledge? This is the fourteenth year for this wonderful event, and you too can be part of the long tradition.

If you wish to teach, please email me (Phiala):

  • Your name (SCA and modern), and preferred titles (if any)
  • Home Kingdom
  • A brief biography
  • Title of class
  • Brief description
  • Class length, limits, fees, and special needs (if any)

The full announcement is here.

Phiala O’Ceallaigh


Categories: SCA news sites

Find out if your ancestors fought at Agincourt

History Blog - Tue, 2016-10-11 22:23

The Soldier in Later Medieval England website has added the names of more than 3,500 French soldiers known to have fought in the Battle of Agincourt, the 1415 clash between the English forces of Henry V and the French under King Charles VI (in name only; Charles was suffering one of several bouts of severe mental illness at the time and was not present on the battlefield). The French fighting men are now part of a database which lists more than 250,000 names of English soldiers who fought in campaigns between 1369 and 1453, including Agincourt. All together, the database is the largest list of medieval people ever assembled.

It’s amazing the level of detail the researchers involved in this project have assembled. It’s not just lists of names, but also any additional information. For instance, of the 3,500 French soldiers in the database, researchers were able to determine that 550 died on the field of Agincourt and that another 300 were taken prisoner to be ransomed. The database also records any known geographical origins of the soldiers, their ranks, where they served and when. You can search by name, rank or year of service. There are also biographies of a number of English soldiers of particular interest to researchers and contributors.

Muster rolls were the main source of information — records keep track of the money, if nothing else — and for the English soldiers, Chancery court documents were a rich source, pace Charles Dickens and Bleak House. Soldiers had to purchase letters of protection from the Chancery to ensure they wouldn’t be subject to lawsuits when they were deployed. Very useful information if you’re looking for year of service.

Professor Anne Curry, project Director and Dean of Humanities at the University of Southampton, says: “It is fitting that this new resource has been made available following the major 600th anniversary commemorations of Agincourt in 2015, in which our university played a key role. The Medieval Soldier website has already proved an invaluable resource for genealogists and people interested in social, political and military history. This new data will help us to reach out to new users and shed fresh light on the Hundred Years War.” [...]

Professor Adrian Bell, fellow project Director and Head of the ICMA Centre, Henley Business School at the University of Reading, comments: “Our newly developed interface interrogates sources found in many different archive repositories in England and France. Without our site, searching for this information would require many visits to the National Archives of both England and France, the British Library and Bibliothèque nationale and all of the Archives Départementales in Normandy.”

Even if you don’t have an ancestor who was pincushioned by Henry V’s Welsh longbowmen or stared down the charge of the French heavy cavalry but would still like to learn more about the Battle of Agincourt, the University of Southampton is offering a free Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the subject that starts October 17th. They’ve run it before and it was very popular, so they’re doing it again to give people who missed the first iteration another chance. I haven’t taken this particular course, but I did do their Archaeology of Portus MOOC (that’s being offered again too) and it was excellent.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The Last Court of Kenric and Avelina

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-10-11 14:48

Photograph courtesy of Lord Hugh Tauerner

After six glorious months as our King and Queen, Their Majesties Kenric and Avelina held their last court on October 1, in the 51st year of the Society.  What follows is an unofficial account of the proceedings.

Fiona O’Maille, Eleanor MacCarthaigh, and Saerlaith ingen Taithlig were recognized with the Queen’s Award of Esteem.
Culann mac Cianain was gifted with the King’s Cypher and a scroll by Marieta Charay.
The King’s Cypher was bestowed upon Lottieri Malocchio and he was given a scroll made by Fiona O’Maille.
Mercedes de Calafia was presented with the King’s Cypher and a scroll by Emma Makilmone.
The Queen’s Cypher was given to Eleanor le Brun along with a scroll made by Shoshana Gryffyth.
Alesone Gray of Cranleigh received the Queen’s Cypher and a scroll made by Shoshana Gryffyth.
The work of Catalina de Valencia was recognized with the Queen’s Cypher and a scroll by Caera Fitzpatrick
A Court Barony was bestowed upon Pagan Graham who also received the King’s Cypher and a scroll by Cassandra Arques.

Photograph courtesy of Lord Hugh Tauerner

Eleanor MacCarthaigh was presented with the King’s Cypher and a scroll by Svea the Short Sighted.
Amia Turner received the Queen’s Cypher and a scroll by Aesa Lokabrenna Sturladottir.
Fiona O’Maille was recognized with the King’s Cypher and a scroll by Heather Rose de Gordoun.
The King’s Cypher was given to Edmund of Hertford along with a scroll made by Eowyn Eilonwy of Alewife Brook.
Sabina Lutrell was honored with the Queen’s Cypher and a scroll by Triona Maccasky with calligraphy by Ian Douglas
Fergus Redmead was presented with the King’s Cypher and a scroll by Lionor Luis Daguiar. Fergus was also recognized with the Queen’s Cypher and a scroll by Triona Maccasky with calligraphy by Ian Douglas.
Meadhbh inghean Cheallaigh earned the King’s Cypher and a scroll by Juliote de Castlenou D’Arry, as well as the Queen’s Cypher given with a scroll made by Brangwyne of Wentworth.
Cormac MacEamon was gifted with both the King’s Cypher and the Queen’s Cypher. The King’s Cypher scroll was made by Fiona O’Maille, and the Queen’s Cypher scroll was made by Aesa Lokabrenna Sturladottir.

Photograph Courtesy of Lord Hugh Tauerner

The King’s Cypher was presented to Donovan Shinnock in a scroll made by Eadaoin Chruitire. Donovan also received the Queen’s Cypher and a scroll made by Lada Monguligin.
Thorleifr Hvitskegg was recognized as a Tailor to the Crown and given a scroll by Saerlaith ingen Chennetig
Mirabel Bel Chere was recognized as a Weaver to the Crown and given a scroll by Onora ingheann Ui Rauirc.
Violante do Porto was recognized as a Weaver to the Crown and given a scroll by Triona Maccasky.Violante was also given the King’s Award of Esteem.
Connor Boddy was awarded the Silver Tyger and a scroll by Charis Accipiter.
Hildemar von Regnesburg was inducted into the Order of the Silver Crescent and was given a scroll by Melisande of the Gryphon Wood that included calligraphy by Jonathan Blaecstan.
Lavina Attewode was granted arms and a Court Barony.
Lottieri Malocchio received a Court Barony and a scroll by Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova Sviatoslavina vnuchka.
Clothilde von der Insel was recognized with an Augmentation of Arms and a scroll by Jonathan Blaecstan.


Filed under: Court Tagged: awards, court report, Kenric and Avelina