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Arts & Sciences Research Paper #8: Matthew Paris and the Volcano

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-01 11:40

Our eighth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Sir Michael of York of the Barony of Carolingia. He examines a catastrophic climatological event with both modern and historical records, and in the telling introduces us to a very interesting chronicler. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Matthew Paris and the Volcano

Self-Portrait by Matthew Paris (c.1200-1259).
Photograph by the British Library. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

In the middle of the 13th century, a massive volcanic eruption occurred in Indonesia. The effects of this eruption changed the weather around the world for years. Modern climate research combined with recent archeological evidence and the medieval chronicles of Matthew Paris paint a haunting picture of a world-wide disaster that has no parallel for the previous several thousand years.

The Famous 1258 Volcano
Modern Understanding
Matthew of Paris Chronicles The Volcano’s Effect

The Famous 1258 Volcano

In the fall of 2013 (A.S. XLVIII) the scientific world was all aflutter—a new science paper announced that the location of “the famous 1258 volcano” had been determined. First identified in the 1980’s via ice-core and tree-ring data—the location of the 1258 volcanic eruption had been a decades-long puzzle for geologists. This new research showed location of the eruption (Lombok, Indonesia) and documented that it had been one of the largest of its kind, ejecting huge amounts of volcanic dust and gases high into the stratosphere.

My SCA persona is 13th century English, and when I heard this announcement my first question was “what famous 1258 volcanic eruption”?  I’d heard of Krakatoa (1883) and Mount Vesuvius (A.D. 79), but I’d never heard of any other large volcanic eruptions. As a child, I had walked across a volcano in Hawaii and had read about and seen television reports of more modern dramatic eruptions (Mount St Helens 1980, Mount Pinatubo 1991, and Eyjafjallajökull 2010), but apparently, this “famous 1258 volcanic eruption” was something much different.

At the time, for other reasons, I happened to be reading excerpts from a 13th century chronicler’s works. The Illustrated Chronicles of Matthew Paris: Observations of Thirteenth-Century Life had been loaned to me by a friend. In perusing it, I had learned that Matthew Paris was a garrulous monk with lots of opinions, observations and commentary about both the natural world and about every aspect of religious and royal politics. I’d noticed his descriptions of weather, strange events in the sea, eclipses and weird cloud formations alongside all of his various observations about political events, and rants on church and state policies. His Chronicles cover the time from 1235 until his death in 1259.

After hearing about this new volcano—I ran to see what Matthew had to say. I was disappointed to find that this specific book only covered his writings to the year 1250. It took a while to get his complete works—but in the process, I found lots of other news about that specific volcanic eruption: climate data analysis, cemetery burial data, descriptions of how much it changed the global environment et cetera.  Within days, I had the whole tale. It’s an amazing story.
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Modern Understanding

The volcano itself (named “Mount Samalas” by the research team that identified it) is located on the island of Lombok in the Indonesian chain of islands. This island is 770 miles (1240KM) and a couple of islands east of Krakatoa.  Today all that is left is a caldera lake with a small cinder cone in the center—the entire mountain having been blasted away by the eruption.

Volcanic Eruption Types. The left-most image is a Plinian Eruption. Illustration, from Encyclopædia Britannica Online, accessed March 29, 2016, http://www.britannica.com/science/Plinian-eruption/images-videos/The-major-types-of-volcanic-eruptions/3256

Like Mount Vesuvius and some other violent eruptions, this eruption was a “Plinian” eruption. The name comes from a description written by the Younger Pliny in A.D. 79. He compared the plume of ash and gasses from Mount Vesuvius to the shape of a “stone pine tree“—a narrow rising trunk with an umbrella-top splaying out immediately. This is the most explosive of the volcanic eruption types and can be responsible for global weather effects. The column of ash from these kinds of eruptions can rise all the way to the stratosphere—over 40 KM above the earth’s surface and then be spread around the globe.  This NASA article highlights the effects of the much smaller Mount Pinatubo eruption (1991) as documented by the SAGE II satellite (even though the article is actually about the SAGE III new effort). According to this report,  “The aerosols in the tropics increased by almost a factor of 100 immediately following the eruption. … had spread into the Earth’s mid-latitudes three months later. … slowly decreased in the atmosphere over several years.”

The effects were immediate and lasted years – and this was for a small eruption. The Mt Samalas eruption was much larger—with much more rock-turned-ash vaulted into the stratosphere.

The Mt Samalas eruption was first detected by examination of ice-cores and tree-ring data during the 1980’s. In various samples, the effects of the eruption were very clearly visible. Ice cores capture dust and ash that falls and is buried by subsequent snowfall. Trees that have a low-growth year have narrow rings in the core of the tree for those years.

The team that determined the location of this volcanic eruption (Dr. Lavigne et al) was able to compare the chemicals in the ice-core deposits to the ash deposits found on Lombok. The samples matched both in composition and date. Their report states that the eruption occurred in the summer of 1257 and that it ejected the most ash and sulfates into the atmosphere of any other volcano in the last 7000 years. Some parts of the island of Lombok are covered by 35 meters of ash—showing that the eruption was huge. Pictures included in their report are astonishing—the ash-fall is clearly visible at the coast where the ocean has eroded the shore.

Their report also mentions that there is evidence (from Indonesian records) of an entire Kingdom buried under all of that ash (like Pompeii). What is most interesting is that they can deduce the time of year of the eruption due to the way the ash from the eruption is spread on the island itself and surrounding areas: the trade winds blow from the east to the west in the summer, and the deposits of ash are much greater to the west of the volcano itself.

Tree ring temperature estimation. Image courtesy of Michael E. Mann, Jose D. Fuentes & Scott Rutherford, Nature Geoscience.

It is well understood that the ice-core data provides atmospheric composition changes, and that tree-ring data shows environment changes that affect plant growth. Modern evidence from modern volcanic eruptions (e.g., Mt. Saint Helens, Mt. Pinatubo) demonstrates that lower world-wide temperatures occur when such Plinian eruptions occur. The blocking of sunlight caused by the ash and chemicals inserted into the atmosphere reduces the strength of the sun’s warming radiation. By comparing the ice-core data and the tree-ring data from modern (well recorded events), scientists can extrapolate and estimate the world-wide temperature of the Earth for historic events. The data shows that 1258 and the period just afterwards were substantially colder than usual on a global scale.  Both sets of data (tree-ring, ice-core) show that the world-wide temperature was reduced between 0.75 and 2.5 degrees Celsius depending on how you read the data and which prediction model you use. (For those of you that are in America, this is 1.0 to 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit.)

What is most interesting is that further study shows localized weather effects that are contrary to global averages. For instance, this study shows that Plinian eruptions, when they occur in the tropics, make Northern Europe warmer in winter and cooler only in the summer. Another study shows that when this happens, the weather in Northern Europe is wetter and the Southern European climate is drier. This is due to changes in the heating of the Atlantic Ocean and the resulting effects on weather patterns caused by the atmospheric pollution. Look up the term “North-Atlantic Oscillation (NAO)” for more information.

What this means is that different parts of the world get vastly different effects from the injected ash and sulfates from the eruption. Northern Europe gets hammered with weird weather – wetter warmer winters, colder wetter summers. Southern Europe gets drier than average weather with general cooling overall. You can imagine what this does to the farming industry which depends on specific “wet periods” and “dry periods” and specific temperatures.

In my searches for information about this volcano, I ran across stories about an archeological site that was linked with the “famous 1258 volcano”. The links pointed to burial data from a 1991-2007 archeological dig done in London by the London Museum of Archeology at the site of the SpitalFields Market. Their research demonstrates that in the middle of the 13th century, decades before the Black Death (1340’s) there was a period of mass-burial sites in one cemetery in London belonging to St Mary Spital, an Augustine Priory and hospital just north of the Tower of London. According to the report, the priory was in active use from the 1100’s through 1539 AD.  Although the data is not precisely datable, it is clear that in the late 1250’s and early 1260’s there was a period where some burial pits had as many as 20 sets of remains—a very unusual pattern, as normally, burials were singular or perhaps two remains in one site. In addition, the research shows that the likely cause of the deaths was not violence. This suggests that famine or diseases are the major causes of death in this era. The images that are available are haunting.

Excavations at St. Mary Spital. Image courtesy of the Museum of London Archaeology.

One data point from the burial site suggests that as many as 4000 bodies were recovered from this short period (late 1250’s, early 1260’s) for this one hospital – mostly in mass burial graves. There were other priory hospitals in other parts of England at the time, and several in London alone. If the burial data for any of those other active 13th century hospitals shows the same pattern, we can deduce that something was very wrong.

So—today we know that there were immediate world-wide effects of the volcanic eruption that occurred during the summer of 1257, and that the effects changed the weather, blocked the sunlight and covered the globe with a volcanic haze in the atmosphere. We see burial data suggesting massive deaths, as well as plant evidence (tree-rings) showing reduced growing seasons and cooling.
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Matthew of Paris Chronicles The Volcano’s Effects

What can we learn about what happened in the Middle Ages? How did all of this effect their lives and events in their times? What happened and what can we see?

Matthew of Paris only lives till 1259, but his words describe this event very clearly from what happens to his world. He doesn’t have the slightest idea that there’s this volcano half-a-world away. He just writes what he can see – and with this new view from scientific research, we can understand what he says all too well.

What follows here is a brief set of quotes from his Chronica Majora that illustrate what he saw at the time. Matthew of Paris’ writings are sometimes confusing because he apparently had a practice of taking notes and then entering them into his chronicles at some later time. There are some sections where events that happen months apart are put together in one sentence or two simultaneous sentences. This makes finely-detailed chronology hard to understand from his writings. Sometimes dates appear incorrect—and it appears that he exaggerates—although, now that I have read the science literature, I believe that he was not exaggerating when he wrote these entries.

One other note concerning chronology! Matthew’s “year” runs from the end of October through to the end of October because he uses Royal Year dates—Henry III was first crowned King on October 28th in 1216.  But oddly, Matthew uses the following year—so the year 1257 starts in October of 1256. There is a confusing aspect to the seasons as well since the calendar is 10 days off from our calendar (they were using the Julian Calendar, not the newer 18th-century Gregorian Calendar). Matthew also appears to use the planting cycle for his seasons. “Winter” is the end of September through Christmas. “Spring” is January through March.

Read on to see it in his own words. I’ve added personal notes in italics to illuminate essential points. The text is that of the Reverend James Giles’ 1883 translation.

1253 – This year throughout was abundant in corn and fruit; so much so that the price of a measure of corn fell to thirty pence.

Things are going well.

1254 – This year throughout was abundantly productive in fruit and corn, so that the price of a measure of corn fell to two shillings; and like proportion oats, and all other kinds of corn and pulse fell in price to the benefit of the poor plebeians.

Lots of good produce.

1255 – [This year] was throughout so productive in corn and fruit, that a measure of wheat fell in price to two shillings and the same quantity of oats to twelvepence.

Note the prices—two shillings for a measure of wheat and 12 pence for a measure of oats.

1256 … (on 10 Aug), an extraordinary storm, or succession of storms of wind and rain, accompanied by hail, thunder, and lightning, alarmed men’s heads, and caused irreparable damage. One might see the wheels of mills torn from their axles and carried by the violence of the wind to great distances, destroying in their course the neighbouring houses; and what the water did to the water-mills, the wind did not fail to do to the wind-mills. Piles of bridges, stacks of hay, the huts of fisherman with their nets and poles, and even children in their cradles, were suddenly carried away, so that the deluge of Deucalion seemed to be renewed. Not to mention other places, Bedford, which is watered by the Ouse, suffered incomputable damages, as it had done a few years before. Indeed, in one place, six houses immediately adjoining each other were carried away by the rapidity of the torrents, their inhabitants having much difficulty in saving themselves; and other places contiguous to that river were exposed to similar perils.

This is a major event—he described it using a reference to “Deucalion”, the son of Prometheus, who survived a flood brought by Zeus by building a chest with his father and staying afloat till the storm passed.

1256 – Then closed this year, which had been tolerably productive of fruit and corn. … It was beyond measure stormy and rainy, so that, indeed, the times of Deucalion seemed to be renewed. From the day of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Aug 15) to the anniversary of her Purification (Feb 2), the rain ceased not to fall daily in deluges, which rendered the roads impassable and the fields barren. Hence at the end of autumn, the corn was rotted in the ear.

Note that there was good produce, but the summer corn crop was lost to the rain. Note also that the dates here are confusing.  If the rain starts in August 1256, then it has to continue till February 1257.  This demonstrates that his entries are made long after the fact.

1257 – Of the extraordinary fall of rain, and the thunder during the winter. On the Innocents’ Day in this year such a quantity of rain fell that it covered the surface of the ground, and the times of Deucalion seemed to be renewed. The furrows looked like caves or rivers, and the rivers covered the meadows and all the neighbouring country, so that it presented the appearance of a sea. That from one case other similar ones may be understood, I may mention, that one river alone in the northern parts of England carried away seven large bridges of wood and stone, the mills, too, and the neighbouring houses, were carried away by the violence of the torrent-swollen streams and destroyed.

There are two possible interpretations of “Innocents Day”. One is the end of December – where the “Innocents” are the children. It is also the case that July 28 is “St. Innocent’s Day” (St Innocent was a Pope). This latter choice matches the likely eruption date for the volcano (summer).

On the aforesaid day, too, a fierce whirlwind, accompanied by a violent hail-storm, disturbed the atmosphere and obscured the sky with darkness like that of night. The clouds collected together, and from them the lightning darted forth with fearful vividness, followed by claps of thunder. This thunder was clearly a bad omen, for it was mid-winter, and the cold was equal to that generally felt in February. This weather was followed by sickly unseasonable weather, which lasted about three months.

This is a sudden onslaught of cold weather and fierce storms. The word “midwinter” suggests that this was in the late October or early November time frame. (“Winter” is late September through the end of December). The date very confusing because he just said 28-Dec (Innocent’s Day) which is at the end of “winter” but in an earlier note he says the rain started in mid August. My conclusion is that it rained pretty much all the time with lots of stormy weather. If the volcano erupted in the summer – it would take a month or three for the volcanic emissions to get to the northern latitudes, so this fits with the scientific evidence we have.

1257—The Summary of the Year—This year was throughout barren and meagre; for whatever had been sown in winter had budded in spring, and grown ripe in summer, was stifled and destroyed by the autumnal inundations. The scarcity of money, brought on by the spoilation practiced by the king and the pope in England brought unusual poverty. The land lay uncultivated, and great numbers of people died from starvation. About Christmas, the price of a measure of wheat rose to ten shillings. Apples were scarce, pears more so, figs, beechnuts, cherries, plums—in short, all fruits which are preserved in jars were completely spoiled.

Note the price of wheat—ten shillings. Note that fruit and other crops were destroyed by the autumnal rains—this is two years in a row (1256 and 1257) where there was rain that damages the crops in the fall.

…This pestiferous year, moreover, gave rise to mortal fevers, which raged to such an extent that, not to mention other cases, at St Edmund’s alone, more than two thousand dead bodies were placed in the large cemetery during the summer, the largest portion of them during the dog-days. There were old men, who had formerly seen a measure of wheat sold for a mark, and even twenty shillings without the people being starved to death. … This year too generated chronic complaints, which scarcely allowed free power of breathing to anyone labouring under them. Not a single fine or frosty day occurred, nor was the surface of the lakes at all hardened by the frost as was usual; neither did icicles hang from the ledges of houses; but uninterrupted heavy falls of rain and mist obscured the sky until the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

This reference to mortal fevers clearly indicates disease (e.g., dysentery, influenza). He mentions a large numbers of deaths. The chronic complaints about breathing suggest air pollution from the volcanic ash, or perhaps mold from the damp weather. The weather is off—The Feast of the Purification is in early February, so this winter is warm.

1258 – Of the arrival in England of some ships laden with wheat. At this same time, too, whilst an extraordinary famine was prevailing to such a degree that numbers pined away in themselves and died, a measure of corn being sold at London for nine shillings or more, about fifty large ships arrived there from the continent, having been sent by Richard, king of Germany, laden with corn, wheat, and bread. … It was stated as positive fact, that any three counties of England united had not produced so much corn as was brought by these vessels.

Richard, the King of Germany is Henry III’s son. Notice the price of corn. Notice the complete loss of crops.

1258—Of the remarkable nature of the season. In this same year, the calm temperature of autumn lasted to the end of January, so that the surface of the water was not frozen in any place during that time. But from about that time, that is to say, from the Purification of the Blessed Virgin till the end of March, the north wind blew without intermission, a continued frost prevailed, accompanied by snow and such unendurable cold, that it bound up the face of the earth, sorely afflicted the poor, suspended all cultivation, and killed the young of the cattle to such an extent that it seemed as if a general plague was raging amongst the sheep and lambs.

The winter started mild and then turned bitter cold in the spring.

1258—Of the great famine which prevailed throughout the whole of England. About the feast of the Trinity (May 19) in this year, an awful and intolerable pestilence attacked the people, especially those of the lower orders, and spread death among them in a most lamentable degree. In the city of London, fifteen thousand of the poor had already perished. … In fact famine prevailed in England to such great extent, that many thousand human beings died of hunger; for the crops only arrived at maturity so late in the autumn, in consequence of the heavy rains, that the harvest was only got in by All Saints’ day in several parts of the kingdom, and a measure of corn was sold for sixteen shillings.

There are no crops and this causes disease and death. Notice that 15,000 die in London which at the time had a population of about 45,000 to 50,000. Notice the price of corn.

1258—Of the mortality caused by the famine amongst the people. About the same time, such great famine and mortality prevailed in the country, that a measure of wheat rose in price to fifteen shillings and more, … and numberless dead bodies were lying about the streets. … Unless corn had been brought for sale from the continent, the rich would scarcely have been able to escape death. … the dead lay about, swollen up and there was scarcely any one to bury them; nor did the citizens dare or choose to receive the dead into their houses, for fear of contagion. … if corn could have been sold for a small price per measure, scarcely any one could have been found with the means of buying it.

Notice the price of wheat. The bodies accumulate too fast for normal burial—hence mass burials are likely.

… At this time, too, that is, at the end of July and beginning of August, … such misery, want and famine prevailed, that those who usually aided others were now amongst the unfortunates who perished from want. What alarmed the lower orders more than the nobles, was the continued heavy falls of rain, which threatened destruction to the rich crops which God had given hopes of previously. To sum up briefly, England would have failed in herself, had she not been restored to life by the arrival of some vessels, belonging to traders on the continent, which were laden with corn and bread for sale, brought from Germany and Holland; still many who spent all their money, died of hunger and want.

Even the people who help others are now perishing. Without food imports, there was no chance. Notice it is still raining.

At the feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin (Aug 15), when generally the barns are filled with the yearly crops of corn, scarcely even a shingle sheaf was ripe; and as the rain increased daily, the hired labourers and their cattle caused a great expense daily, without being able to leave their houses or to do any good in the fields. In consequence, a circumstance hitherto unknown, at the feast of All Saints, the corn was standing about the country ready to be cut down, but useless and spoiled almost. In some places, indeed, although late and the crop of little use, it was cut and carried, whilst in many others it was left altogether in the fields to be used as manure to enrich the soil. It should be known also, that in that year the land produced such an abundant crop, that, had it all been saved, it would have been sufficient for nearly two years’ consumption.

The rain ruins the crops despite wonderful promise (lots of crops—just all spoiled).

1258—Of the general disposition of events during the whole year. This year throughout was very dissimilar to all previous ones, bringing disease and death, and heavy storms of wind and rain. Although in the summer-time a fair promise of abundant crops of corn and fruit was given, yet in the autumn the continual heavy rains spoiled the corn, fruit and all kinds of pulse; and at the Advent of our Lord, in some parts of England, as above stated, the barns remained empty, and the crops remained ready to be cut, but entirely spoiled: for as the corn shot up, the ear and the straw rotted together, and as men died from the want of corn, so the cattle died from the want of fodder; and though England was drained of money on many pretexts, yet the people were obliged, at the instigation of hunger, to pay sixteen shillings for a measure of corn, whilst still moist and shooting; and consequently the poor pined away with hunger, and died.

The yearly summary includes a political stab at the King (England being drained by him of money on many pretexts). The poor don’t have warehouses filled with grain and can’t buy grain—so they perish.

…The dying staggered away into different by-places to yield their last wretched breath; and of these there was such a great number, that the gravediggers were overcome with weariness and threw several bodies into one grave. The people of the middle class, seeing their food failing them, sold their flocks, diminished the number of their household, and left their land uncultivated, whereby all hope of rising from this abyss, which hope generally consoles those despairing, was entirely extinguished. Had not corn been brought for sale from the continent, there is no doubt but England would have perished in herself.

Proof that mass-burials became necessary. A repetition of the import of food from the mainland shows how much worse the UK was affected by this weather.

In the same [year], when the sun was in Cancer (late June thru July), an unexpected pestilence and mortality fell upon mankind; and to say nothing of the great numbers that died in other places, in Paris alone, more than a thousand human beings were consigned to the tomb. Oil, wine, and corn also were spoiled. As the two-handed sword of death, which spares no-one, strikes sometimes one and sometimes another, and hurries from the world the rich and the poor alike, so Fulk, bishop of London, died during that deadly pestilence…

This looks like a repetition of the previous entries except for the mention of Paris. Oil and wine don’t keep long—so what reserves would be spoiled due to age. Bishop Fulk was very-well regarded.
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Matthew Paris died in 1259, probably from old-age – he was nearly 60. It’s also possible that the depredations of the time made survival harder and that he was one of the fatalities from the agricultural and environmental changes wrought by the volcanic eruption. So far, I’ve found no other written records on the mainland or other parts of England that are as detailed as Matthew’s work.

The astute reader will notice that the nasty weather starts almost exactly one year before the volcano erupts and the descriptions sound just like the global cooling effects of the weather one expects from the volcanic eruption. Combined with Matthew’s repeated phrases (e.g., references to the Deucalion and specific dates) one wonders whether there are errors in Matthew’s chronicle (he was getting old) – or translation errors or perhaps errors in the scientific literature.

However, if you read Matthew’s Chronicles, you will find lots of repeated stock phrases and milestone dates. (For instance, he seems to favor dates associated with the Blessed Virgin Mary).  In addition, as noted above, Matthew is noted for poor chronology because he makes notes which are put into the Chronicle long after the events occurred.  I’ve been able to validate some of his dates from other sources so I’m fairly sure that many are accurate.  Given what we know now, the only real conclusion one can draw is that England got a double-whammy of an uncharacteristically bad year followed by the volcanic winter. This makes the events described here all the more tragic.

If you want to know more about the amazing stories of Matthew of Paris, you can find copies of his work in Latin (Henry Richard Luard made the canonical transliteration), or in English (Reverend James Allen Giles made the canonical English translation), or look up the works of Professor Richard Vaughan, a modern historian who wrote several works about Matthew. Look also for Susan Lewis’ work on Matthew’s art.

Matthew’s work is an inspiration for me. His writings contain countless little snippets that become stories for the campfire or other venues. His opinions enlighten our understanding of how that world worked and provide a rare insight into that period. His tales of plots, political shenanigans and the movements of the major actors in that period show us a vital, dynamic, widely aware population of smart people.  Almost every page of his Chronica can be used as a starting point for yet another story or search for understanding.
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If you want another story like this one, look for a book published in 2014 by Gillen D’Arcy Wood (see citations below). The author chronicles an equivalent world-wide volcanic disaster that takes place in 1815 on the Indonesian island of Sumbawa right next to Lombok. The volcano (named Tambora) produced an eruption that was about half the size of the Mt. Samalas eruption. According to the author’s research, that eruption is responsible for many well-known social memories (“the year without a summer”, Frankenstein, Dracula). As I was discovering Matthew of Paris and his story about Mt. Samalas, this story about Tambora was published. The descriptions of events in this book are as chilling as Matthew’s story. It reinforced my belief that indeed, what Matthew reports is very accurate.

Sir Michael can be contacted via email at michaelofyork@gmail.com.
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Connell, B., A. G. Jones, R. Redfern & D. Walker (2012), A bioarchaeological study of medieval burials on the site of St Mary Spital: excavations at Spitalfields Market, London E1, 1991–2007, MOLA 2012. ISBN 978-1-907586-11-8

D’Arcy, Gillen, (2015), Tambora: The Eruption That Changed the World, Princeton University Press , Princeton, NJ.

Fischer, E. M., J. Luterbacher, E. Zorita, S. F. B. Tett, C. Casty, and H. Wanner (2007), European climate response to tropical volcanic eruptions over the last half millennium, Geophysical Research Letters, 34, L05707, doi:10.1029/2006GL027992.

Giles, J.A. (trans.), Matthew Paris’s English History from the year 1235 to 1273. H.G. Bohn, London, 1853, Three Volumes (multiple editions available from various publishers).

Lavigne, F., J. Degeai, J. Komorowski, S. Guillet, V. Robert, P. Lahitte, C. Oppenheimer. M. Stoffel, C. M. Vidal, Surono, I. Pratomo, P. Wassmer, Irka Hajdas, D. S. Hadmoko & E. de Belizal (2013) Source of the great A.D. 1257 mystery eruption unveiled, Samalas volcano, Rinjani Volcanic Complex, Indonesia, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 110: 16742–16747, doi: 10.1073/pnas.1307520110 .

Mann, M., J. D. Fuentes, S. Rutherford, Underestimation of volcanic cooling in tree-ring-based reconstructions of hemispheric temperatures (2012), Nature Geoscience 5, 202–205 (2012), 2012. doi: 10.1038/ngeo1394  (See image: http://www.nature.com/ngeo/journal/v5/n3/fig_tab/ngeo1394_F1.html)

NASA Sage III, Verified March 2016 http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/Features/SAGEIII/SAGEIII_2.php

Oppenheimer, C. (2003), Ice core and palaeoclimatic evidence for the timing and nature of the great mid-13th century volcanic eruption. International Journal of Climatology, 23: 417–426. doi: 10.1002/joc.891

Pauling, A., J. Luterbacher, C. Casty & H. Wanner (2006), Five hundred years of gridded high-resolution precipitation reconstructions over Europe and the connection to large-scale circulation, Climate Dynamics 26: 387–405, doi: 10.1007/s00382-005-0090-8

Timmreck, C., S. J. Lorenz, T. J. Crowley, S. Kinne, T. J. Raddatz, M. A. Thomas, and J. H. Jungclaus (2009), Limited temperature response to the very large AD 1258 volcanic eruption, Geophysical Research Letters, 36, L21708, doi:10.1029/2009GL040083.

Vaughan, Richard, (trans.), (1993), The Illustrated Chronicles of Matthew Paris: Observations of Thirteenth-Century Life, Alan Sutton Publishing, Gloucestershire, UK.

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Filed under: A&S Research Papers, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences

What Your Heraldry Says About You, Take 2!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-04-01 08:47

An SCA device can be viewed as a Rohrschach test to learn more about the Scadian who registered it. Let’s see what these devices tell us about their owners, shall we?

Last year this was one of our most popular articles. Who knew? So since we are all about shamelessly racking up the views, we’re doing it again!

These are some actual registered devices of people in Æthelmearc. Please note that this is all intended in good fun, and since these belong to people we call friends, we hope it’s taken that way!

Stop by later to learn who these arms belong to!

  1. If you’re driving down the road in Calontir and see these things hovering on the horizon, turn around. Fast.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

2. It looks like Dracula was hungry for bat tonight.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

3. Algae problem in your pool? No worries, our unicorn service will take care of it!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

4. Yes, those are bunnies. Playing bagpipes. Wielding swords. Your argument is invalid.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

5. You get a butterfly, and you, and you, and you. Butterflies for everyone!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

6. Someone has it out for the Geiko gecko.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

7. Why did the heron cross the river? You’ll have to ask these guys…

Click to see who these arms belong to.

8. Is it the plague?

Click to see who these arms belong to.

9. If only I could get my cat to help out in the garden like that.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

10. Not taking any chances on our luck, are we?

Click to see who these arms belong to.

11. Why yes, those are her monkeys and her circus.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

12. Owls’ eyes? Glasses? We’re not sure.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

13. Ramming speed!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

14. Kill it! Kill it! Dead, dead, dead! Whew, that was a close one.

Click to see who these arms belong to.

15. Look! Deer swimming toward us! It’s venison for dinner tonight!

Click to see who these arms belong to.

16. When just one Thor isn’t enough….

Click to see who these arms belong to.

17. Levitating wyverns!

Click to see who these arms belong to.


Bonus points if you can identify the owners of these arms!

Happy April Fool’s Day!

It’s all Arianna’s fault.

All images taken from the Æthelmearc Kingdom Roll of Arms, which is maintained by Mistress Alheydis von Körckhingen.

Categories: SCA news sites

Roman mosaic bonanza at the Getty

History Blog - Thu, 2016-03-31 23:09

The Getty Museum in Los Angeles has an exceptional collection of Roman floor mosaics from the Imperial era. Some of them have been on display consistently, but others will be seen by the public for the first time in Roman Mosaics Across the Empire, a new exhibition that opened on Wednesday at the Getty Villa. It features mosaics from provinces of the Roman Empire all over the Mediterranean — Italy, France, North Africa, Syria — done in different styles with different themes.

There’s bear hunt from Baiae, outside of Naples, a head of Medusa surrounded by a glorious optical illusion-inducing geometrical design from Rome, an Orpheus surrounded by animals from Saint-Romain-en-Gal, France, a hare and two birds with geometric border panels from Antioch, Syria, a dramatic lion attacking an onager from Hadrumentum, modern-day Sousse, Tunisia. These are top quality artworks which adorned the homes of the very wealthy, public baths, even early Christian churches.

The show also features a close look at the Getty Conservation Institute’s work conserving the mosaics from the Imperial Roman heyday of Bulla Regia in Tunisia, North Africa. Known for its unique villas with subterranean floors — smart design in the heat of Tunisia — Bulla Regia had the greatest numbers of senators in Roman North Africa. It was an important city and its exquisite art and architecture testify to that importance. The GCI is working with the Institut National du Patrimoine of Tunisia and the World Monuments Fund to fully conserve one of the most important private residences in the city, the House of the Hunt, and to devise a plan for the long-term conservation and maintenance of the 400 mosaics that have already been unearthed at Bulla Regia over the past hundred years. Some of the works will be restored for display; others will be reburied. The idea is to make Bulla Regia a template for in situ conservation that can be applied to mosaics elsewhere in North Africa, the Middle East and elsewhere in the Mediterranean.

Highlights of the site’s breathtaking beauty can be seen in this video about the project:

The focus on best practices of situ conservation is in marked contrast to the Getty’s past see-no-evil acquisition policy evinced in more than one of the mosaics on display in this exhibition. The Getty bought 23 panels of the Bear Hunt in 1972 from a Switzerland-based antiques dealer (surprise!) who told them only that it had been in an Italian collection. It was almost certainly illegally exported, but the museum looked the other way as it so often did. Recently Getty researchers attempted to trace the ownership history and there’s a big gap between 1929 and 1972. The last known owner in 1929 was refused an export license because there were doubts as to whether he actually had legal title to the mosaic. Somewhere in those four decades, probably closer to 1972 than 1929, the mosaic was trafficked to Zurich and thence to the Getty. Four other panels from the original mosaic were eventually found by the Italian police and are now in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale in Naples.

The Getty is offering a number of lectures related to the exhibition. The Handling Session looks particularly compelling.

How were mosaics created from pieces of stone and glass? Learn how these intricate architectural decorations were made in this multisensory handling session. Touch tools and materials similar to those used by ancient mosaicists, including tesserae, slaked lime, marble dust, and nippers.

Lucky Angelenos can take an early lunch and handle tesserae every Thursday and Friday from 11:00 AM-12:00 PM through September 9th. The exhibition runs until September 12th, 2016. For those of us who won’t be able to see the mosaics live, the Getty has made a companion catalogue to the exhibition available free online: Roman Mosaics in the J. Paul Getty Museum.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Court Report: Gulf Wars

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-03-31 18:39

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Magnus Tindal and Etain II, basileos kai basilissa Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Court at Gulf Wars, 13-20 March Anno Societatis L, in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann, accompanied by Their Highnesses Byron and Ariella, Prince and Princess of Æthelmearc. As recorded by Countess Caryl Olesdattir and Baron Robert O’Connor, Sycamore Herald, with the assistance of Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta.

17 March, following the Champions Tournament:

The Imperatori presented the Sigil of Æthelmearc to the following gentles for their assistance in Royal camp and to the Imperatori during Gulf Wars: Countess Elena d’Artois le Tailleur, Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne, THL Marek Viacheldrago and Lady Verica ingean Domnaill.

Sigils given at Gulf Wars. Photo by Lady Silence de Cherbourg.

The Imperatori established the Award of the Golden Escarbuncle, a non-armigerous award given at the whim of the Crown for any particularly impressive achievement regardless of discipline, and which may be given multiple times to the same recipient if they so earn the recognition, and awarded the first Golden Escarbuncle to THL Beatrix Krieger for her prowess during the Champions tournament, in which her victory over a Knight from An Tir was so impressive that Duke Cuan of Atlantia was moved to gift her with his sword.

THLady Beatrix Krieger fighting in the Diamond Tourney. Photo by Lady Silence.

The Imperatori thanked all present for making the long trip to Gulf Wars to represent Æthelmearc.

18 March, in the Kingdom encampment:

THL Marek Viacheldrago was summoned before the Imperatori, who spoke of his martial prowess and his many chivalric qualities. They then convened their Council of Chivalry, and presented Marek with a Writ of Summons that he might return to Them at a time and place of his choosing and answer whether he would accept elevation to the Peerage and induction into that Council.

THL Marek receives a Writ for the Chivalry. Photo by Lady Silence.

Don Annanias Fenne was then called before Them, for not only had his prowess upon the fencing field won him great renown, but he was also well known and respected for his teaching of others, and the Empress spoke particularly of the many times that his conduct upon the list had inspired Her. They then convened their Council of Defense, and presented Annanias with a Writ of Summons, that he also might return to Them at a time and place of his choosing and answer whether he would accept elevation to the Peerage and induction into that Council.

Don Anias receives a Writ for the Order of Defense. Photo by Lady Elaine Fairchild.

The Imperatori then called for Baron Robert O’Connor and spoke of the service they had seen him display at Gulf Wars this year and of his effort during the bad weather that had plagued the event. For this service they awarded him a Golden Escarbuncle.

Baron Robert “Bob the Herald” receiving a Golden Escarbuncle. Photo by Lady Silence.

The Imperatori once again thanked all who had traveled to Gulf Wars this year for all of the support They had received, and wished everyone safe travels on their way home.

There being no further business, the Imperial Court was closed.

Following Court, THL Marek and Don Annanias both informed the Imperatori that they would answer their Writs of Summons at the Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon, 2 April in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael.

In Honor and Service,

Kameshima Zentarō Umakai 高貴国境の王国の治部卿 Silver Buccle Principal Herald, Kingdom of Æthelmearc
Categories: SCA news sites

Court Report: The Donnan Party

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-03-31 09:29

Documented from the Scrolls of the Reign of Magnus Tindal and Etain II, basileos kai basilissa Æthelmearc: the Business of Their Court at Donnan Party, 26 March Anno Societatis L, in the Shire of Ballachlagan, accompanied by Her Highness Ariella, Princess of Æthelmearc. As recorded by Their Silver Buccle Herald, Kameshima-kyō Zentarō Umakai, with the assistance of Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres.

In the morning:

Lady Juliana Ravenshaw presented a history of the Donnan Party, being originally a birthday celebration held in honor of Master Donnan.Today, however, was not Donnan’s birthday, but it was Her Highness’s birthday, and so she presented Her Highness with a celebratory cake baked by the Shire. Her Highness was then serenaded by all assembled.

Princess Ariella celebrated her birthday at the Donnan Party. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a bas Tseepora Levi.

Master Bastiano di Jacopo. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

Maestro Bastiano de Iacopo was invited before the Imperatori and confirmed that it was still his wish to hold the field in contemplation of elevation to the Imperial Council of Defense. The said Council was then convened and voiced their assent. Maestro Bastiano was given into their care to convey him to the field that had been prepared for him.




In the evening:

Sienna Ravenshaw was created a Companion of the Silver Buccle for her service in setup and teardown of events, watching children, and assisting with arts and sciences efforts in the shire. Scroll forthcoming.

Sienna de Ravenshaw receives a Silver Buccle. Photo by Mistress Arianna.

The children of the Kingdom were called forth and, with the assent of their parents, given into the care of Sienna Ravenshaw to keep them amused during Court.

THL Aelric Ravenshaw, the autocrat of the day, was invited forth and gave thanks to the event staff. He also announced that Lord Markus Skalpr Grimsson was the victor in the fencing tournament sponsored by the Æthelmearc Academy of Defense. Markus was presented with a scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Lord Markus is named the Fencing Tournament winner. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Susannah DeHart was Awarded Arms for her dedication to many arts and sciences, including brewing, crafts, stained glass, cooking and herbs, and for bringing her apothecary knowledge to the aid of her camp at Pennsic. Scroll by Lady Vivienne of Yardley.

Susannah DeHart is awarded Arms. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Kaylee of Ballachlagan was Awarded Arms for her service as deputy exchequer and tollner, and her skill in dance and the scribal arts. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Kaylee of Ballachlagan is awarded Arms. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Wilhelm Isenhart was Awarded Arms for his prowess with fencing blades, his skill in woodworking, and his service to his shire in the kitchens, and in the setup and teardown of events. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Wilhelm Isenhart is awarded Arms. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Lord Oliver Sutton was created a Companion of the Keystone for serving as the Knight Marshal for Ballachlagan, teaching new fighters, assisting with the setup and teardown of events, and being part of the burgeoning Ballachlagan scribal guild. Scroll by Lord Tegrinus de Rhina.

Lord Oliver Sutton recieves a Keystone. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Lady Dominique von Weissenthurn was inducted into the Order of the Sycamore for her research into period headwear and buttons, her skill in sewing, and her enthusiasm in teaching that knowledge to others. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Lady Dominique von Weissenthurn receives a Sycamore. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Lady Iaroslava Ivanovna was given Their Majesties’ Award of Excellence for her many years of service to the Kingdom.  She was then further admitted into the Order of the Sycamore for her diligent research into the arts of Pysanky eggs, ceramics and dance. Scroll by THL Aelric Ravenshaw.

Lady Iaroslava receives the Award of Excellence and a Sycamore. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

Beatrix of Anglesey was presented with the Sigil of Æthelmearc for her service to the Crown.

Beatrix of Anglesey receives a Sigil. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

THL Fiora d’Artusio was elevated to the Order of the White Scarf of Æthelmearc for her research into and skill in the art of fencing and those arts associated with it: teaching, garbmaking, the works of the fencing masters, and supporting the fencing community. Scroll illuminated by Meestress Odriana vander Brugghe and calligraphed by THL Kieran MacRae.

Doña Fiora with her White Scarf scroll and the scarf presented by her husband, Master Will Parris. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

The Imperata presented Mistress Katla ulfheðinn with her token of inspiration, for though many had given of their time and effort to make the day comfortable for Her Majesty, Mistress Katla had, in Her opinion, gone above and beyond the call of duty.

Mistress Katla receives the Augusta’s token of inspiration. Photo by Mistress Ts’vee’a.

The Imperatori thanked all scribes and medallion wrights who had contributed their talents and largesse to enhance the Court’s proceedings.

There being no further business, the Imperial Court was closed.

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


Categories: SCA news sites

Export bar placed on Robert the Bruce seal matrix

History Blog - Wed, 2016-03-30 23:05

A unique double seal matrix commissioned by Robert the Bruce that is one of very few surviving objects linked directly to King Robert I has been sold to an overseas buyer and is in danger of leaving the UK. The seal sold at auction on December 4th, 2015, for £151,250 ($217,450), well above the pre-sale estimate of £80,000-120,000 ($115,140-172,710). The buyer is American and applied to the Culture Ministry for an export license. The Art Council’s Reviewing Committee on the Export of Works of Art and Objects of Cultural Interest (RCEWA) recommended that Culture Minister Ed Vaizey block export to give UK museums or collectors the opportunity to raise the purchase price and keep the artifact in the country.

In 1315, Robert the Bruce granted the Abbey, with which he had a longstanding relationship and where he would be buried after his death, a royal charter.

“Robert, by the grace of God King of Scots, to all upright men in his whole land, greeting: Know ye that, for the safety of our own soul and that of our predecessors and successors, Kings of Scotland, we have given, granted, and by this our present Charter, have confirmed to God, the Blessed Mary the Virgin, the Church of the Holy Trinity, and St. Margaret, Queen of Dunfermlyn, and to the monks serving and to serve God for ever in the same, the right of patronage of the vicar Church of Inverkeithing, with the pertinents, as freely and quietly, fully, peacefully, and honourably as the predecessors formerly of Roger de Moubray, knight, who had forfeited it to us, have held and possessed the said right of patronage most freely, quietly, and honourably in all things, by rendering to us nothing therefore by only the suffrages of their prayers: Besides, we give and grant, and, by this our present charter, confirm to the foresaid monks, the whole of our new great Customs from all their lands within our kingdom, viz., the land of the burghs of Dunfermlyne, Kirkcaldy, Musselburgh, and Queensferry, and from all their other lands whatsoever; To also let the said monks have and use their own Koketa, according to the liberties of their regality, and our present concession in all their foresaid lands; and let this Koketa be acknowledged and admitted by all burgesses and our people, and foreign merchants throughout our whole kingdom, without obstruction from our chamberlains, or other servants of ours whatsoever for the time being, without petition from any other allocation of liberation, by finding for this our donation and concession of the said Customs for us and our successors, in honour of God and the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the aforesaid Blessed Margaret in the Choir in front of her shrine, one wax candle solemnly lighted, continually and forever. In testimony whereof we have caused our seal to be attached to our present Charter, these fathers being witnesses. William, and William, Bishops of St. Andrews and Dunkeld; Bernard, our Chancellor, the Abbot of Aberborthick; Duncan and Thomas Randolph, of Fife”

This charter granted the Abbey some lands and conferred the right to collect revenues from customs duties and taxes. The two-part bronze seal, known as a Cokete Seal, was commissioned by the Bruce for the Abbey to use on customs documents. We know the exact date it was made because there’s a record of it in the archives of Dunfermline Abbey: “The Cocquet Seal of the Regality Court of Dunfermline was engraven this year by sanction of King Robert the Bruce, by Chapter, dated at Scone, 10th July, 1322, along with letters patent to all who paid customs at Bruges, in Flanders, or elsewhere, notifying that wherever this Seal was in due form produced, it was to be recognised as the authority for collecting the customs granted to the Abbey by the King, &c.”

The two parts were pressed together over a large blob of wax to form a seal. The wax seal would then be attached to an official document with a piece of parchment (for a brilliant example of attached seals acting as signatures, see the letter to Pope Clement VII from the peers of England asking for Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon to be annulled). The obverse seal matrix features an image of Saint Margaret, Queen consort of King Malcolm III of Scotland, founder and patron of Dunfermline Abbey, and is bordered with the Lombardic Latin legend “+ S’COKETE REGALITATIS.DE. DVNFERMELYNN,” (Cokete Seal of the regality of Dunfermline). The reverse features the royal arms of Scotland bordered with the legend “+ROBERTVS DEI GRACIA REX SCOTORVM” (Robert, by the Grace of God, King of the Scots).

The RCEWA made their recommendation on the grounds that it was of great value for the study of medieval goldsmith work and sigillography and the re-establishment of Scottish institutions under Robert the Bruce.

RCEWA Member Leslie Webster said:

“This remarkable and handsome seal-die is of national importance on several counts; it is closely linked to the charismatic figure of Robert the Bruce, and to the history and institutions of Scotland at a crucial time in its evolution as a nation; its association with the royal abbey of Dunfermline sheds light on how the king acted out his authority, delegating the powers of the crown; and its outstanding quality may suggest the influence of French craftsmen.”

The Scottish government has declared itself in support of all efforts that would keep the seal matrix in the UK, ideally in a Scottish museum, but there’s no official campaign that I could find. Here’s an Indiegogo campaign that’s been set up by a concerned individual who would use the funds to acquire the seal and donate it to the National Museum for Scotland. It’s less than 1% funded at this point, and I suspect the money is more likely to be raised by the institution itself tapping its private donors and launching a public campaign like the Victoria & Albert Museum did with Wolsey’s Angels. The National Museum already has an impression of the obverse in its collection. I imagine they’d be keen to have the original matrix pair.

Time’s awaistin’. The temporary bar expires on June 21st. If there’s a good faith effort to raise the money and it looks like they have a chance of reaching the goal, the deadline may be extended until September 21st.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Queen’s Rapier Championship, Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, May 28, 2016

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-03-30 16:01
Queen’s Rapier Championship 
Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, May 28, 2016

Oyez! Oyez! Calling all those of the rapier persuasion; please heed my cry. Our next Queen’s Rapier Championship is approaching fast.


Please join us at the Pennsdale Civic Center in the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais, 261 Village Rd Muncy Pa, 17756

Event Fees and Reservations

Adult Event Registration: $17
Adult Member Discount: $12
ages 5-17: $5
babes in arm: free
$30 family cap

Those with proof of current society membership will receive the member discount.

Make checks payable to “SCA PA, Inc. Shire of ACG”.

Please include the following information with your payment:

  • SCA name
  • modern name
  • email address (so we can confirm receipt of your reservation)

Reservations should be sent to:
Conrad Kienast
c/o Bob English
124 North Second St.
Sunbury Pa, 17801
conradkienast AT yahoo DOT com


The Autocrat for the event is Antoinette deLorraine (Ashley Green), antoinettedelorraine AT gmail DOT com, 1103 Ave G. Danville Pa, 17821, cell: (570)-317-4575 please call or text with any questions. A sideboard lunch will be provided by the ACG Cook’s Guild. Contact the autocrat if you have any dietary concerns. The Reservations Clerk is Conrad Kienast c/o Bob English: conradkienast AT yahoo DOT com. Dona Fiora d’Artusio, our current Champion, will be announcing the tournament set up at a later date. Please check back for more details

Directions: -from I-80 take exit 212B onto I-180W toward Muncy/Williamsport -take exit 15 for US 220N towards Pennsdale/Halls -turn right onto US 220N at the bottom of the ramp -slight left onto village rd -site is on the left Click here for the Kingdom Event Info Page
Categories: SCA news sites

SCA 50th Year Merchant Listings Available

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2016-03-30 12:39

The Midrealm Gazette has posted an article with a listing of the merchants that will be at the SCA 50th Year Celebration in June.

A number of regular Pennsic merchants will be there, as will many merchants those from the East who haven’t traveled to western wars and events may not have seen before, so take a moment to check out the list:

Midrealm Gazette – 50th Year Celebration Merchants

Filed under: Announcements, Events, Tidings Tagged: merchants, SCA 50 Year

Inscribed Etruscan stele found in Tuscany

History Blog - Tue, 2016-03-29 23:17

Archaeologists and students with the Mugello Valley Archaeological Project excavating the ancient Etruscan settlement of Poggio Colla about twenty miles northeast of Florence have discovered an ancient stele with a long inscription in Etruscan. Just days before the end of the dig, the team found an oddly shaped sandstone slab embedded in the foundations of a temple wall. When they first unearthed a section of the stone, they weren’t sure what it was. An unfinished column base or a recycled podium stand were suggested as possibilities, but when more of the slab was revealed, they saw the faint traces of an inscription and realized it was stele. It took the team several days of cautious excavation to find the inscription was an unusually long one, with multiple characters engraved along the edges of the stele.

The slab weighs about 500 pounds and is almost four feet high and more than two feet wide. It dates to around the 6th century B.C. Archaeologists believe the stele was part of a sacred display in the first temple built on the site, an oval structure made of wood that bucchero pottery fragments date to after the early 7th century B.C. It was demolished around 2,500 years ago and new, larger temple was built with a stone podium and stone Tuscan Doric column bases. The old stele was reused as a foundation stone in the new temple.

The news of the find quickly spread through the archaeological community of Tuscany. Two days after the stone was excavated, visiting Etruscan scholars watched as professional art and artifact movers recommended by the Tuscan Archaeological Superintendency lifted the stele from the site, strapped it to a sled and slowly lowered it down the wooded hillside to a waiting pickup truck. It was then transported to the laboratories of the Superintendency in Florence for conservation.

Conservators are photographing and laser scanning the stele to reveal the full details of the inscription. The sandstone has been worn and chipped away and one side has been reddened, probably by fire. It will have to be cleaned before experts have a chance of deciphering the inscription, but they have counted more than 75 characters (letters and punctuation marks), an unusually long text for an Etruscan stele.

Etruscan is often described as a “lost” language, and while it’s true that there are no known living languages related to it, it’s not an untranslatable mystery. In fact, scholars know a fair amount about it from the approximately 13,000 inscriptions in the language that have been discovered. The known vocabulary is limited because most of those inscriptions are very short funerary texts found in tombs or “property of” lines on bronze mirrors.

(I have to briefly digress to mention my favorite Etruscan inscription: the Liver of Piacenza, a bronze sculpture of a life-sized sheep’s liver that is divided into sections labeled with the name of the deity believed to inhabit that piece of the liver. It’s a sort of guide for the haruspex, a diviner who read omens and made predictions from the entrails of sacrificed animals.)

The stele is not a funerary text. It’s a religious dedication from an early phase of the site. Its location adds to its rarity since most Etruscan inscriptions have been in what was once southern Etruria. Poggio Colla is in the northern Etruscan territory.

“We know how Etruscan grammar works, what’s a verb, what’s an object, some of the words,” Warden said. “But we hope this will reveal the name of the god or goddess that is worshiped at this site.” The text will be studied and published by a noted expert on the Etruscan language, Rex Wallace, Professor of Classics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.[...]

It would be a rare discovery to identify the Etruscan god or goddess to which the sanctuary was dedicated.

“Apart from the famous seaside shrine at Pyrgi, with its inscribed gold plaques, very few Etruscan sanctuaries can be so conclusively identified,” [University of Pennsylvania Museum Etruscan scholar Jean MacIntosh] Turfa said. “A study of the names of the dedicants will yield rich data on a powerful society where the nobility, commoners and even freed slaves could offer public vows and gifts.”

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Unofficial Court Report for Gulf Wars

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-03-29 14:50

On a soggy Thursday afternoon, Caoilfhionn Banri opened her court at the Gulf Wars in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann.  She called before her Millicent Rowan and Gregor Mac Eoain and inducted each into the Order of the Silver Rapier. She further awarded Gregor Mac Eoain Arms and made him a Lord of the Eastern Court.  Court was then suspended.

That night, the winds did howl, the rain poured down, and the East gathered in the Royal cabins to wait out the severe weather. When it was calm again, the populace poured out to survey the damage. The mighty Eastern force, helped right blown over tents, clear storm damage, offered hot food and beverage to those who no longer had any.

On a damp and gray Friday morning, Caoilfhionn reopened her court. She spoke of pride in her forces both on and off the battlefield. She spoke of bravery and comportment on the list shown by the fighters who fought at her side and in her name.

She called before her Sorcha Dhocair and inducted her into Order of Valor of the East.

She then began to speak of the generosity of her Eastern Force. She saw people come together to help friends, neighbors and strangers pick up the pieces left by the severe storm. She remarked upon how food and beverage magically showed up into the royal cabin to feed everyone who had taken up refuge there. She spoke with pride on how a little wind could not stop the East. And with that, she inducted the Eastern force into the Company of the Pennon of the East.

  • Aethelhafoc Caegfindan
    Aiden McShane
    Alesone Gray of Cranlegh
    Antonio Patrasso
    Asa in Svarta
    Avelina Keys
    Caitrina Gordon
    Collin Monro of Tadcaster
    Cristoff Gocherhan von Loch
    Edward Gray
    Elglin of House Eagle
    Elizabeth Elenore Lovell
    Gregor Mac Eoain
    James O’Gallehger
    Jan Janowicz Bogdanski
    Jon Blaecstan
    Juliana von Altenfeld
    Llewellyn Walsh
    Lupold Hass
    Martin Wasser Speier
    Medhbh inghean Ui Cheallaigh
    Melchior Kriebel
    Melisande of the Gryffon Wood
    Millicent Rowan
    Nuno Cabral do Mar
    Ommadan an Luch
    Raziya Bint Rusa
    Saikhan Saran
    Simon Gwyn
    Siubhan Wallace
    Sorcha Dhocair
    Thomas of Effingham
    Urrāka al-Tha’labiyy
    Violante du Porto

And thus closed the Court of Caoilfhionn Banri at Gulf Wars in the Kingdom of Gleann Abhann.

I swear these words to be right and true. I respectfully submit these into record by my hand.
Baroness Alesone Gray of Cranlegh, OL.

Filed under: Court, Events, Tidings, Uncategorized Tagged: court report, events

Queen’s Favors, Scroll Cases & Pent Reminders

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-03-29 14:43

Greetings All!

Photo by Master Alaxandair o Conchobhair.

The designs for the Queen’s Favors for the upcoming reign are due by April 2 at Ice Dragon. We will have a table set aside for this in the Pent Room – you may bring them anytime during the day until 2 pm. For more information, see the previous Gazette article.

Do not forget to bring back all your scroll cases! We will also be collecting these either in the Pent Room (drop them off at the registration table) or at the backlog scroll display.

And lastly, if you are entering the Pent, please take the time to go to the Pent website and become familiar with the registration requirements, especially if you are cross-entering items. You must have photos of the item to place on the tables for the extra categories, and an extra set of documentation for each cross-entry. You can find all the details here – the photo requirement is applicable whether you are entering it in five categories or just one extra one. Save time and download the entry forms here.

Looking forward to seeing all the wonderful items!

Tiercelin & Julianna
Pent Coordinators

Categories: SCA news sites

Eastern Results on the January 2016 LoAR

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-03-29 14:42

Eastern Results on the January 2016 LoAR

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

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

The following results are from the January 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings; these items were submitted to the East Kingdom at Pennsic 2015.


Aildreda de Tamworthe. Badge. (Fieldless) An estoile azure.

Nice badge!

Andrea Caitlin MacIntire. Device. Per chevron azure and gules, a chevron rompu between two quatrefoils pierced and a fireball argent.

Ástríðr Elfvensdottir. Badge. (Fieldless) A hedgehog rampant Or maintaining a needle sable.

Aveline d’Amiens. Name and device. Per fess embattled argent and azure, in chief three rats rampant sable.

Both elements are found in Paris in 1292, making this an excellent late 13th century French name!

Conall Ó Suibhne. Device change. Or, a wolfhound statant between three trefoils vert.

The submitter’s old device, Per bend embattled argent and vert, two talbots passant contourny counterchanged, is released.

Eckhart Wurm. Name (see RETURNS for device).

Both elements are found in Nürnberg in 1497, making this an excellent late 15th century German name!

This name does not conflict with the registered name Eckehard Thurn. The byname is substantially different in sound and appearance under PN3C3 of SENA.

Edwarde Midnight. Name and device. Per bend sinister gules and argent, a tower Or and a four-leaved clover slipped vert.

Eirný Bergsdóttir. Name and device. Per bend purpure and argent, a beorc rune and a mountain counterchanged.

Elaine Howys of Morningthorpe. Name reconsideration from Eliane Howys of Morningthorpe and device. Or, a chevron sable platy between three jerkins gules, a chief sable platy.

The submitter requested authenticity for an unspecified place and time. This name is authentic for 16th century England.

Elaine Howys of Morningthorpe. Badge. (Fieldless) A jerkin per pale gules and Or.

Elizabeth Vynehorn. Badge. Argent, a quatrefoil per bend gules and azure.

Nice badge!

Eva von Kölln. Name (see RETURNS for device).

Submitted as Eva von Köln, the submitter requested authenticity for a 15th century German name. Eva is documented in multiple German cities in a 1495 tax roll, and Köln is found in an unmarked locative byname in Germany dated to 1636. The form von Kölln (possibly von Kolln) is found in a charter dated to 1470 (http://monasterium.net/mom/ArdCan/1470_VI_07/charter?q=%22von%20K%C3%B6lln%22). We have changed the byname to von Kölln to meet the submitter’s request for a 15th century name.

Francesco Gaetano Greco d’Edessa. Badge. Per fess gules and vert, a cross and in canton a pearled coronet Or.

The submitter is a court baron and thus entitled to the display of a coronet.

This is the submitter’s sixth piece of registered armory.

Gerhard Stormeclocke. Badge. (Fieldless) On a tower sable, a lightning bolt palewise Or.

There is a step from period practice for the use of a lightning bolt not as part of a thunderbolt.

Giana di Nicholò da Firenze. Name and device. Vert, on a pile indented argent an owl’s head cabossed sable.

Please advise the submitter to draw the pile with more indentations and to add internal details on the owl’s head to improve its identifiability.

Gunnarr askasmiðr Óláfsson. Name and device. Sable, in saltire a rapier inverted argent and a guitar Or, in chief a death’s head argent.

Hans Ferdinand Engel. Name and device. Quarterly gules and azure, a sword inverted winged at the blade argent transfixing a harp Or.

Hasanah bint al-Khalil ibn Habib. Name and device. Erminois, an elephant’s head cabossed gules, a chief sable.

Jadwiga Piwowarka Miodunka. Name and device. Gyronny argent and gules, in pale a demi-weasel sable issuant from a mug purpure.

Piwowarka is the feminine form of the occupational byname meaning “beer brewer”. Miodunka/Miodanka is a common noun meaning “lungwort” (the herb).

Commenters questioned the pattern of two descriptive bynames. However, the submitter’s previous submission also used this pattern, and the need to document the pattern was not mentioned in the return. Therefore, we will not penalize the submitter for using the same pattern. We note that one example of this pattern, Matheus przasnek piekut (1640-1), was found in Abramovicz et al., Slownik Historycznych Nazw Osobowych Bialostocczyzny, vol. 2, s.n. Pi(e)kut.

Janna von Guggenberg. Name and device. Gules, on a bend Or two domestic cats courant sable.

Submitted as Janna von Guggisberg, the Letter of Intent documented the place name Guggisberg as a modern form. Ælfwynn Leoflæde dohtor documented the following forms: Gugenberch (1282) and Guckhenberger (1590), found in Brechenmacher, s.n. Guggenberg(er); andGugansperk (1291) and gukansperg (1287), found in Socin. In addition, the spelling Guggenbergk is found in 16th century Switzerland in the FamilySearch Historical Records.

As the submitter requested “a late period form of that name that is relatively similar to the modern form if it can be identified.” We have changed the name to Guggenberg, which has been interpolated from the above forms. If the submitter prefers one of the attested spellings, or if she wants to change to the lingua Anglica form of Guggisberg, she can submit a request for reconsideration.

Janna is the submitter’s legal given name. It is also found as a given name from Prussia, dated to the early 1600s, in the FamilySearch Historical Records. Therefore, the submitter need not rely on the legal name allowance.

Jaspar van Doorne. Device. Per pale azure and argent, a chevron cotised between three mullets of eight points counterchanged.

Kenric æt Essexe. Device change. Per pale and chevronelly Or and sable.

This conflicts with the device of Gustaf Rikardsson: Per pale Or and sable, three chevronels counterchanged and in canton a hand issuant from a wing fesswise maintaining a sword reversed fesswise sable. However, the submitter has permission from Gustaf to conflict with his device.

The submitter’s old device, Per chevron argent and gules, three increscents counterchanged, is retained as a badge.

Nice device!

Roland de la Mar. Name change from Roland de Endeweard and device. Per chevron inverted argent and azure, a phoenix counterchanged.

The given name Roland is grandfathered to the submitter. It is also found in Amsterdam dated to 1592 in the FamilySearch Historical Records. Therefore the submitter need not rely upon the grandfather clause.

The submitter may wish to know that the byname de la Mar is also found in Amsterdam, dated to 1630.

The submitter’s previous name, Roland de Endeweard, is released.

Rosa Linda degli Uccelli. Name and device. Gules, on an owl affronty maintaining in its talons a rose slipped and leaved argent, a heart gules and in chief a cross bottony and a fleur-de-lys Or.

This name combines an Italian given name, a Swiss German given name, and an Italian byname. The combination of Italian and German is an acceptable lingual mix under Appendix C of SENA.

This device does not violate SENA A3D2a, “slot machine” armory, which means a design having more than two types of charge in a single group. Maintained charges are their own secondary group and thus the rose here is not in the same group as the cross and the fleur.

Rose Steel. Name and device. Per bend sinister gules and argent, a rose slipped and leaved argent and a domestic cat rampant sable, a bordure sable semy of acorns argent.

Nice 14th century English name!

Roseia Posey. Device. Argent, a lighthouse gules between three fountains.

This device does not conflict with the device of Máel Brigte ingenue Aimirgin: Argent, a brazier gules. There is a DC for the difference between a lighthouse and a brazier and another DC for adding the secondary fountains.

Sarah Gerlyn Easthope. Name and device. Per bend sinister azure and gules, two domestic cats sejant contourny Or each maintaining a heart argent, a bordure Or.

Please advise the submitter to draw the hearts larger so they are more easily identifiable.

Sarra atte Brouk. Badge. (Fieldless) A stick shuttle fesswise sable.

Simon Caspar Joder. Name change from Simon Caspar Joder von Steffisburg.

All elements in this name are grandfathered to the submitter.

The submitter’s previous name, Simon Caspar Joder von Steffisburg, is released.

Therion Sean Storie. Household name House of the Lemming (see RETURNS for badge).

Lemming is a lingua Anglica form of the Early Modern English Lemmar or Lemmus.

Ulrich Reinhart. Device. Argent, on a bend sinister between two ships azure three plates.

Una inghean Chonain. Device. Quarterly azure and gules, a lily of the valley slipped and leaved argent.

William of Wyndhaven. Name.

In commentary, Metron Ariston documented place names using the prototheme Wynd-, including Wyndriche/WyndrisheWynderusheWyndesore ParkNova Wyndsore, and Wyndeham, all found in Watts, s.nn. Windrush, Windsor Great Park, Old Windsor, and Wineham.


Eckhart Wurm. Device. Per pale embattled Or and gules, a wingless dunghill cock and a dragon respectant, a chief counterchanged.

This device is returned for violating SENA A2C1 which states that “Elements must be drawn in their period forms”. The issue here is the posture of the cock. While having one leg raised is considered a variant of close, all of the medieval images show the leg lower than horizontal. We are unaware of period depictions with a leg raised anywhere near as high as the one in this submission, with the elevated leg at a 45 degree angle above the horizontal.

Eva von Kölln. Device. Argent, surmounting a cross sable between in chief two oak leaves and in base two otters combattant vert, a heart gules.

This device is returned for redraw, for violating SENA A2C2 which states “Elements must be drawn to be identifiable.” Commenters had trouble identifying the otters, which were generally perceived as lizards.

Therion Sean Storie. Badge. Azure, on a saltire argent a lemming salient contourny sable, a bordure Or.

This device is returned for redraw, for violating SENA A2C2 which states “Elements must be drawn to be identifiable.” Commenters had trouble identifying the lemming and it was generally confused with a bear. It might be easier to recognize with a rounder body, a rounder face and shorter legs.

Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: heraldry, LoAR

New Regional Herald for Pennsylvania and Delaware Groups

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-03-29 14:29

Greetings from Ryan Brigantia Principal Herald

The evolution of the Herald’s Office continues! With the Southern Region being so large we have added a new deputy to assist Baroness Treannah as the Southern deputy. Lord Joscelin le Esqurel will be joining the staff as the new Southwestern deputy. We will be determining a proper title for him and for now his email will be Herald.SouthWest@eastkingdom.org. Lord Joscelin will be responsible for reports and administration of all the Pennsylvanian and Delawarean groups.

-Ryan Brigantia Herald of the Kingdom of the East.

Filed under: Heraldry, Local Groups, Official Notices Tagged: heraldry, officers, Reporting

Another Battle of Thermopylae found in palimpsest

History Blog - Mon, 2016-03-28 23:00

The leaves of books in the Middle Ages were made of parchment and vellum, created from animal skins in an expensive and time-consuming craft. It was so costly that scribes often recycled pages from earlier books, removing the ink to create a blank sheet. In the early Middle Ages, the ink was washed off and over time the shadow of former writing reappeared like a pentimento in a painting. In the later Middle Ages, they used pumice powder to scrape the ink away for good.

Volumes with the ghostly memories of previous texts still impressed in the pages are called palimpsests and researchers have been trying to read the vanished writing for centuries, either by careful sight-reading of whatever could be discerned or, starting in the 18th century, by the use of chemicals like tincture of gall which is high in tannic acid and badly damages the manuscript. Nowadays we have new options courtesy of spectral imaging technology.

Researchers Gunther Martin of the University of Bern and Jana Grusková of Comenius University in Bratislava enlisted the aid of Los Angeles-based organization the Early Manuscripts Electronic Library (EMEL) to examine a palimpsest in the Austrian National Library in Vienna using brand new multi-spectral technology. The text in question is the Codex Vindobonensis historicus gr. 73. The bound collection of 10th century ecclesiastical ordinances was acquired in the 16th century by Ogier de Busbecq, Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I’s envoy to Constantinople, an avid manuscript collector who would bequeath his collection to the imperial library in Vienna. The parchment pages of the codex came from two different 11th century manuscripts, with 11 pages of monastic rules and prayers added in the 13th century.

The presence of hidden text in the Codex Vindobonensis was discovered decades ago, but even under UV light the text was too faint to be read accurately. A few years ago the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) funded Martin and Grusková’s research into palimpsests, allowing them to look behind the visible script of the codex with EMEL’s multi-spectral technology. The pages were irradiated with lights of different wavelengths. Each type of light is absorbed into the parchment and ink to different degrees. Photographs capture the degrees of absorption and then computer software stitches the pictures together to create a detailed image of the hidden text.

With this system, Martin and Grusková were able to read pieces of the ancient Greek text underwriting the medieval and discovered a precious treasure: significant sections of a history of Rome’s 3rd century Gothic wars written by 3rd century Athenian historian P. Herennius Dexippus. His history, the Scythica (Dexippus called the Goths Scythians), was only known from very fragmentary quotes in much later books. These hefty passages shed a whole new light on the wars of the mid-3rd century.

Martin and Grusková published several of the passages into German in 2014. Now Oxford University’s Christopher Mallan and the University of Queensland’s Caillan Davenport have translated one of the fragments into English. It’s a splendid description of a battle at Thermopylae, probably the most famous battle site of the ancient world where in 480 B.C. King Leonidas’ 300 Spartan warriors and other Greek forces took their brave last stand against the far larger army of Persian King Xerxes.

I find it a tremendous bummer when news stories about this kind of discovery do not include the full text, even when it’s a bit dry or appeals only to the nerdiest history nerds, and in this case the lack of the complete quote in the press accounts is unforgivable because it’s pure awesome. All killer, no filler.

[The Goths invaded Thra]ce and Macedonia, and plundered the entire countryside therein. And then, making an assault upon the city of the Thessalonians, they tried to capture it as a close-packed band. But since those on the walls defended themselves valiantly, warding off the battle columns with the assistance of many hands, and as none of the Scythians’ hopes came to pass, they abandoned the siege. The prevailing opinion of the host was to make for Athens and Achaia, envisioning the gold and silver votive offerings and the many processional goods in the Greek sanctuaries: for they learned that the region was exceedingly wealthy in this respect. When the approach of the Scythians was reported to the Greeks, they gathered at Thermopylae, and set about blocking them from the narrow passes there. Some carried small spears, other axes, others wooden pikes overlaid with bronze and with iron tips, or whatever each man could arm himself with. And when they came together, they completely fortified the perimeter wall and devoted themselves to its protection with haste. And it seemed that the area was otherwise very secure, since the road which led to Greece beyond the Gates was narrow and impracticable on account of the harsh terrain. For the Euboean Sea, at its greatest extent, stretches up to the flat lands near the mountains and makes them most difficult to access on account of the mud, and adjacent to these extends Mt Oeta [, which...] on account of the closeness of the rocks, makes the place almost impassable for both infantry and cavalry. The generals elected for the entire war were proclaimed by the Greeks: first Marianus, who had been chosen previously by the emperor to govern Greece inside the Gates; in addition to him, Philostratus the Athenian, a man mighty in speech and thought; and also Dexippus, who was holding the chief office among the Boeotians for the fifth time. It seemed that the most prudent course was to encourage the men with a speech, and to recall the memory of their ancestors’ valour, so that they would undertake the entire war with greater heart and not give up either during an extended period of watch, or during an attempt on the wall, if such an attempt were to take place at some point in time. When the men had gathered together, Marianus, who had been given the responsibility of addressing them on account of his status, spoke as follows: ‘O Greeks, the occasion of our preservation for which you are assembled and the land in which you have been deployed are both truly fitting to evoke the memory of virtuous deeds. For your ancestors, fighting in this place in former times, did not let Greece down and deprive it of its free state, for they fought bravely in the Persian wars and in the conflict called the Lamian war, and when they put to flight Antiochos, the despot from Asia, at which time they were already working in partnership with the Romans who were then in command. So perhaps it may be good fortune, in accordance with the daimonion, that it has been allotted to the Greeks to do battle against the barbarians in this region (indeed your own principles of fighting the wars have turned out to be valid in the past). But you may take confidence in both your preparation for these events and the strength of the region — as a result of which, in previous attacks you seemed terrifying to the enemies. On account of these things future events do not appear to me not without hope, as to better…

It’s the content and style of the writing that identifies is as the work of Dexippus. The Scythica was known to include several siege narratives and long speeches (likely fictionalized) by military leaders. The details about the engagement at Thermopylae — the geography of the site, the weapons of the militia, the names and origins of the generals — indicate this passage was part of a far larger narrative history of the period. No other history written in Greek during the 3rd century goes into such detail about events in the reign of the emperor Gallienus. Only Scythica fits the bill.

There are other characteristics that mark it as Dexippus’ history. The author uses no Roman terms, titles or Latinisms. The focus is on regional figures — Dexippus the Boeotian and Philostratus the Athenian — working in tandem with Roman authorities — Marianus — and on the valor and achievements of Greeks. Even the Roman general makes a point of admiring the history of Greeks’ fight for freedom.

On these points Mallan and Davenport agree with Martin and Grusková, but there are significant areas of disagreement as well. For example, Martin and Grusková believe this battle happened during the Herulian invasions (267/8 A.D.), when the barbarian invaders defeated the Greeks at Thermopylae, but Mallan and Davenport make a strong case, in my opinion, for the battle taking place during an earlier Gothic invasion in around 262 A.D. The Herulian invasions were predominantly seaborne, but there’s no mention of naval engagements in any of the newly discovered fragments, nor do any other sources on the Herulian invasions mention a battle at Thermopylae, which, given its iconic status, is an unlikely oversight. Also Thessaloniki was successfully besieged by the Heruli. This passage very describes the Thessalonians defenders as victorious.

Another area of disagreement is the identity of the Roman general Marianus. Martin and Grusková identify him as dux Aurelius Marcianus, one of Gallienus’ generals who fought against the Goths in the late 260s and conspired to kill the emperor in 268. Mallan and Davenport posit that he is a previously unknown general named Marianus, a senator and proconsul of the Roman province of Achaia. (In keeping with his rejection of Latinisms, Dexippus’ reference to Achaia is a geographical region of Greece, not the Roman province. The Greeks called the Roman province “Greece inside the Gates.”) Since proconsuls had limited garrisons at their immediate disposal, he would have had to turn to local militias to help defend the pass.

The reference to the generals being “elected” suggests the defensive forces were assembled by a Greek political body, probably the Panhellenion which was the only body in the 3rd century that covered the regions of Greece represented by the three generals: Boeotia (Dexippus), Athens (Philostratus) and Marianus (Achaia). No other sources mention the Panhellenion appointing military leaders, but the invasion was an extraordinary circumstance which required a speedy military response.

Mallan and Davenport therefore propose a new reconstruction of the Gothic invasion of the early 260s. In late 261 or early 262, the Goths invaded Greece and laid waste to the provinces of Thrace and Macedonia. They besieged Thessaloniki, but it was ably defended by the residents so they moved on to the Roman province of Achaia. The Greeks, likely through the Panhellenion, quickly organized a defense of the province under three generals with Marianus, Roman proconsul of Achaia, at the lead. The Goths invaded Achaia by late 262, early 263, but were turned back by Marianus and Greek militia at the pass of Thermopylae. They didn’t leave empty-handed. On their way out they sacked the rich temples and sanctuaries of Greece before moving on to the Roman Asia province at the end of 263. The threat to Greece was over (for a few years).

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Event Report: Gulf Wars XXV

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-03-28 18:33

Lady Silence de Cherbourg, Sir Maghnus de Cnoc an Iora, Master Urho Waltterinen, Maistir Brandubh O Donnghaille, and other attendees provided this information on the happenings at Gulf Wars XXV.

Packing the truck to head out to Gulf Wars. Photo by Lady Elaine Fairchild.


Many people from Æthelmearc sent their armor and camping gear with Master Alastar Scott McCrummin in his bakery truck, as has been the case for several years. Master Alastar and Maistir Brandubh drove the truck to Mississippi, with Maistres Myfanwy ferch Rhiannon following along behind by car. The trip began with what might be seen as a bad omen when the truck broke down near Cincinnati, delaying their arrival on site by most of a day. Fortunately the rental company was able to get them a replacement truck, and after unpacking and repacking, they were able to continue on their way. There had been a great deal of rain at the site in the week before Gulf Wars, and there was some concern that people would be setting up in the rain, but the skies had cleared by the time people began arriving on Sunday.


Most non-merchants from Æthelmearc arrived on Sunday and began setting up camp, including the kitchen. Æthelmearc’s Kingdom camp at Gulf Wars is located in an area at the bottom of a hill that  is sheltered from the wind. Later this proved a good thing… Many in the camp were looking forward to the week’s meals as Mistress Illadore had prepared period dinners for each evening, sourcing from a single lesser-used cookbook (when possible) and providing a theme every night. Approximately 40 people from Æthelmearc ultimately attended Gulf Wars, though not all camped with the kingdom – some were merchants who camped at their booths, and a few people camped with friends from other Kingdoms.

Dinner menu by Mistress Illadore de Bedegrayne. Photo by Lady Silence de Cherbourg.


On Monday their Royal Highnesses, Byron and Ariella, arrived in camp to much rejoicing. Much shopping was done by Gulf War attendees trying to get a jump on “the good stuff.” The ballista was assembled by a crew including Bryheres Gwendolyn the Graceful, Lady Elaine Fairchilde, and Sir Magariki Katsuichi no Koredono. Monday’s dinner, led by Mistress Illadore and prepared by many hands, was a Roman feast, based on the Apicius cookbook. Kitchen helpers worked for 3 hours to produce grilled chicken, a nut and custard pie, made-on-site flatbread, sauced peaches, grilled asparagus, and various period dips and spreads. Their Majesties, Tindal and Etain, who stayed in royalty cabin, joined the camp for the impressive spread.


The heavy weapons Town Battle was held on Tuesday, and consisted of two 45 min resurrection  battles. One side held the fort while the other attacked, and then they switched sides for the second battle. There was a “river” that only the Chivalry could walk through; the rest of the fighters had to go over one of the bridges. During the battle many of the Chivalry in the “river” were fencing with spear against people on shore. The weather was “ridiculously hot;” Sir Maghnus reports that after only 15 minutes of fighting, fighters had to take a break for water.

Opening ceremonies saw our full set of Royals looking magnificent on their horses. Æthelmearc declared its allegiance with Trimaris, against Ansteorra. Throughout the War, sides were mostly even, and when they looked likely to become unbalanced, some groups changed sides to make the fighting more fun.

Their Majesties and Their Highnesses process into Opening Ceremonies to declare for Trimaris. Photo by Master Urho Waltterinen.

The plushie red ballista at home. Photo by Brehyres Gwendolyn the Graceful.

At last year’s Gulf Wars, it was noted that Sir Maghnus loves his ballista so much, he would sleep with it if he could. In recognition of this, THLady Pippi Ulfsdottir decided to aid this desire by creating a (functional) plushie ballista for Sir Maghnus to sleep with. Mistress Illadore and Lady Beatrix Krieger fought as a team in the Diamond Tourney, which pairs a heavy and a rapier fighter. Lady Beatrix in particular fought well and with great courtesy. Tuesday evening’s feast was 14th c Dutch with grilled sausages, split pea soup, rice with almond milk, apples in port, and berry pie as the daily pie.



Dona Illadore competing in the Diamond Tourney. Photo by Lady Silence.

THLady Beatrix Krieger (left) fighting in the Diamond Tourney. Photo by Lady Silence.


The Rapier Field Battle was held on Wednesday. The Trimarian side, which included Æthelmearc fought well, but was victorious in only one of the three battles. Prince Byron and Princess Ariella were part of the Æthelmearc rapier unit, in their first rapier battle since authorizing.

Æthelmearc’s rapier unit, including Prince Byron and Princess Ariella. Photo by Lady Silence.

That day’s heavy War Point was the Ravine Battle, also known as the “Everyone gets shot by Archers” battle. It was a timed resurrection battle with three flags, ownership of the flags being checked at intervals. It included combat archery but not siege and is famed for its sea of arrows. The Trimarian side won this battle by a small margin. There was a total 90 minutes with points determined by flag control, and Trimaris won by only a minute and a half of possession time.

Don Anais Fenne (right) competing in a tournament at Gulf Wars. Photo by Lady Silence.

Mistress Illadore ran a Ladies’ rapier tournament and received many words of appreciation from the entrants for her work. Don Anias and THL Marek fought in the Meridian Rose Tourney for Countess Elena D’Artois and Countess Anna Leigh, respectively.

THLady Pippi Ulfsdottir on the archery range with son Anders in his backpack. Photo by Lady Silence.

Master Urho, Master Tofi Kerthjalfadsson, and THLady Pippi Ulfsdottir all represented Æthelmearc on the archery range for the populace War Point shoot, with THL Pippi amusing some people by shooting with her 7-month-old son Anders in a pack on her back. Master Urho noted that there was more space than in past years, with a clout shoot that was almost 100 yards vs. 75-80 yards at previous Gulf Wars. The grand invitational archery competition was canceled due to the weather.

Dinner that night was described as Portuguese sloppy joes, from MS I.E. 33 – Livro de Cozinha da Infant’a D. Maria, a 16th century Portuguese cookbook likely written for the Portuguese Infanta Maria of Guimarães (granddaughter of King Manuel I of Portugal) who traveled to Italy when she married the Duke of Parma in November 1565. The nightly pie was pear with whipped cream. Midnight Madness was not as crowded as expected, despite the weather holding up.


Thursday morning the Allied Champions tournaments were held. Don Anias and Lady Ciara Eilis were Æthelmearc’s champions for rapier, while THLady Beatrix Krieger was our champion for heavy weapons. There was also a champion’s tournament called the “Pokemon” Tourney. Each Kingdom designated a set of champions, and then each side send out one or more champions, to which the other side responded with their own champions. This tournament ended up running over into the time frame for the field battles, of which five were planned. The ballista came out for the first field battle and did pretty well. At one point it was almost overrun by the other side but Sir Maghnus grabbed his spear and helped fight the attackers off.

Sir Maghnus waiting for the field battle to begin. Photo by Lady Elaine.

The second field battle did not include siege engines. By the third field battle, the marshals were concerned about the weather so it started quickly. Trimaris won and then it began to rain heavily, resulting in cancellation of the remaining field battles. The rapier woods battle was also cancelled at that point.

Æthelmearc fighters in Thursday’s rain. Photo by Duchess Siobhán inghean uí Liatháin.

That evening’s dinner was going to be steak, potatoes, and of course another pie, but the weather had other plans. As Don Anias grilled steaks and THL Marek stirred potatoes, the storm hit with its full force. Marek soldiered on with his cooking duty while holding the kitchen fly poles. The entire camp banded together to hold onto tent poles to successfully keep the main pavilion and personal tents upright as the rain quickly doused the grill fire, leaving only a few of the steaks cooked properly. All of the flies went down in the wind, many of them suffering damage. Fortunately, every personal tent weathered the storm, though several had water inside. Several people, including Baron Robert O’Connor, trenched around the camp to keep as much water out as possible. The Kingdom camp’s location downhill from the main areas of the site worked both for it (by reducing the wind) and against it (by increasing the flow of water through the camp). Some folks evacuated site for safety, with the 7-month-old infant and his mother being the first out, while others stayed behind to keep an eye on the camp.

Pies by Mistress Illadore. Photos by Lady Silence.

Those who stayed were rewarded with the pieces of steak that had been prepared prior to the downpour, along with apple pies that were dubbed “Tornado Pie” and declared legendary. The pie had finished cooking and had been kept safe in the oven, even after the kitchen tent was brought down by the winds. Other Kingdoms were not so fortunate; in particular, Meridies and Trimaris’ camps, which were in the most open sections of the site, were flattened by the wind and driving rain. Many gentles took shelter in the main hall or the Green Dragon Tavern. There are differing accounts as to whether there was an actual tornado on site, but either way, much devastation ensued. As we always do, Scadians banded together to provide assistance to those in need. There were few serious injuries; one possible concussion and a broken collarbone, but no worse has been reported. Master Alastar’s bakery operated throughout the event, though their four-ft deep sump filled up in only 20 minutes. Maistir Brandubh says the bakery tent held up well despite having some of its 3′ stakes pulled up during the wind, and ended up giving shelter to other merchants whose tents went down.

The rain and wind died down late Thursday night.


 Although Friday dawned bright and sunny, all official activities were canceled as many camps were in ruins after the Thursday night’s storm. Even those whose tents came through the storm ok still had a lot of wet gear.

Clothing drying on tent poles after the “Gulfnado.” Photo by Lady Silence.

Many in the Æthelmearc camp had started packing up to go when Their Majesties came down to conduct their final court of the war. THL Marek was first given a Writ to contemplate elevation to the Order of Chivalry, to give his reply at Ice Dragon. Next, Don Anias was summoned and given a Writ to join the Masters of Defense. He shall also play the prize and be elevated at Ice Dragon. In addition, Baron Robert O’Connor (aka Bob the Herald) was given one of the new awards intended to recognize specific acts of service, a Golden Escarbuncle, for his service during Gulf Wars, transporting people and equipment and providing assistance to all during a very trying event.

Baron Robert “Bob the Herald” receiving a Golden Escarbuncle. Photo by Lady Silence.

Gulf War ended too early and left many with a feeling of loss, being denied those last couple of days of the event, particularly after the amount of travel our Kingdom denizens must undertake to get there. Alas, Mother Nature offers no do-overs, but we hope that next year’s Gulf Wars will be better. In the mean time, here are more photos from the “Gulfnado,” which will no doubt be the source of stories for many years to come.

Click to view slideshow.

Thank you to Lady Silence de Cherbourg, Master Urho Waltterinen, Lady Elaine Fairchild, Mistress Elashava bas Riva, and Duchess Siobhán inghean uí Liatháin for their wonderful photos.

Categories: SCA news sites

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