Feed aggregator

Challenge to the Children of the East

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-11-04 09:00

Greetings Children of The East Kingdom!

We, Emma Lovell and Caleb Patrasso Tigers Cubs and Pages to The Crown would like to challenge the children of the East Kingdom!

Our Queen is beautiful and she should have beautiful favors to give out to her people. We may be children but even kids can help and every person helping makes a job easier. We will be making favors for our Queen and we are asking that you, the children of the East, make favors too. Even if you just make one, that’s great! You can see what the favor should look like at this web address.

You will probably need your parents help and that’s ok. Doing stuff as a family is a lot of fun!
You can email our Mom Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell and she can tell you where to send or drop off your favor when it’s done. If you don’t have email you should ask your parents. We hope you enjoy making pretty favors for our Queen!

In Service to The East,
Caleb Patrasso
Emma Lovell

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: brion and anna, favors

Message from the Royal Gifts Coordinator

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-11-04 07:00

To the Makers of Things in the East Kingdom:

I have recently been honored with the position of Royal Gifts Coordinator for Their Royal Majesties Brion and Anna, may they reign in health and prosperity forever.

As we are expecting many Royal visitors to the East this winter, and as Their Majesties plan to attend events outside of our kingdom, it is my honor and duty to ask those with the skills, generosity, and inclination to craft various items both beautiful and useful with which we might fill the Royal Gift Chest.

We will need both general items for the largess chests as well as items for gift exchanges with specific kingdoms’ royals at foreign wars. If you are interested in creating something personalized for the gift exchanges, please contact me directly and I will reach out to you once we know with whom we will be exchanging.

This kingdom is full of talented craftspeople. It is always with a home-team pride that our Royals give the fruits of our artists to others. Please consider making something for the Royal Gifts Chest. Their Majesties (and I) are grateful for your generosity and dedication to the East Kingdom.

In Service,
Duchess Caoilfhionn

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: brion and anna, royal gifts

120 boats carved on building near pharaoh’s tomb

History Blog - Thu, 2016-11-03 23:02

Archaeologists excavating the mortuary complex of 12th Dynasty Pharaoh Senwosret III (r. 1878-1841 B.C.) in Abydos have unearthed a building with more than 120 drawings of boats incised on the walls. The structure was first discovered in 1901-2 during the excavation of the tomb of Senwosret III by archaeologist Arthur Weigall. He was only able to excavate the part of the barrel-vaulted roof before the mudbrick vault collapsed when he attempted to clear the debris underneath it. He caught a glimpse of a few boat drawings at the top of the whitewashed walls.

The University of Pennsylvania’s Penn Museum has been excavating the complex, one of the largest royal necropoli ever built in Egypt, since 1994. In the 2014 dig season, the team finally got the building that had remained untouched since Weigall’s abortive attempt at excavation. The interior was excavated in 2014, and the front of the building from November 2015 until January 2016. Unfortunately the surviving edges of the vaulted roof were angled inwards and under pressure from exterior brickwork and limestone blocks. They could not be preserved. The team carefully removed them in order to be able to excavate the interior.

Once the remains of the barrel vault were removed, archaeologists could see a crowded tableau of nautical designs incised on all three surviving walls. The dense cluster of images cover 82 feet, carved into the gypsum plaster surface of the interior walls. Details depictions of ships, sails, masts, oars, . Making less frequent of a presence are some animal figures — – more roughly drawn than many of the ships.

The boat images range significantly in size and complexity. At the upper end of the variation are large, well-rendered boats depicted with masts, sails, rigging, deckhouses/cabins, rudders, oars, and in some cases rowers. At the lower end of the range are highly simplified boats, schematically rendered as one or two curving lines depicting a hull, surmounted by a schematized rectangular deckhouse, but devoid of other details. The size of the drawings varies. The larger boats measure nearly 1.5 m in length. Smaller examples measure only c.0.08–0.10 m. Interspersed among the boat images are occasional depictions of animals and other figural elements: cattle, gazelles and floral designs. The imagery in the tableau can be broadly subdivided as follows: 1) simple curved boat hulls of one or two lines and a rudimentary rectangular cabin; 2) boats with a rectangular cabin, and/or rudder and oars but no mast; 3) boats with a rectangular cabin, masts and rigging with the sail furled; 4) boats with a rectangular cabin, masts and rigging and sail unfurled; 5) boats with a rectangular cabin, masts, rudders and oars as well as human rowers; 6) cattle; 7) gazelles; and 8) floral/lotus motifs.

The commonalities between the carvings — they’re mostly masted ships, they have raised prows and sterns, there are cabins on the decks — indicate they were all done around the same time, albeit by different hands of differing abilities. The building is subterranean and the entrance was sealed with mortared bricks more than three feet thick, so the carvers couldn’t have come in after the boat was buried and building closed off. It’s more likely the structure was built, but the burial still not concluded when they added their decorative flavors.

Weigall thought the building was a tomb constructed significantly after Senwosret’s — not a wild conjecture given that the tombs of three 13th Dynasty pharaohs were added to the complex as were eight royal tombs from the late Second Intermediate Period — but the mudbricks of the boat building are the exact same size and material as of those used in Senwosret III tomb enclosure. The exceptional quality of construction also confirms this building dates to the period when Senwosret’s tomb complex was being built, around 1850 B.C.

They also found a very good reason for the motif. The building was not a tomb, as Weigall had thought, but a boat burial, likely one of several associated with the tomb of Senwosret III, a fleet to accompany him to the afterlife. The long hall has a central cavity with sloping sides cut into the desert floor for the full length of the building. Archaeologists believe this is a hull cavity, meaning the ship was buried intact rather than in pieces. Surviving wood planking fragments have been found, albeit in very poor condition. The usual preservative powers of the desert were powerless against the armies of white ants that gorged on the wood. What’s left needs very cautious handling and stabilization before it can be analyzed for age and wood type, but the size and dimensions match those of cedar deck planking found at the pyramid complex of Senwosret III at Dahshur.

A report on the findings has been published in the International Journal of Nautical Archaeology, and can be read in its entirety free of charge here.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Queen’s Favors Needed!

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2016-11-03 21:00

Unto the Creative and Talented Citizens of The Kingdom of the East do I send Greetings!

I am truly honored to take up the position of Favor Coordinator for Her Majesty Anna, whose beauty surpasses that of a thousand twinkling stars in the night sky.

Please help me provide our Queen with favors that are embroidered, beaded, painted, stamped, appliquéd or any decorative art that befits our time periods. Directions and dimensions for the favors can be found here.

Our Kingdom is vast and I will have help in this endeavor. These Ladies will be happy to answer your questions about the design, coordinate and accept delivery of favors.

For the Northern Region:
Lady Tola knitýr

For the Central Region:
Baroness Charitye Dale

For the Southern Region:
Lady Mýrún Leifsdóttir

Should you already be in possession of finished favors or a favor kit please contact myself or one of the Ladies listed above so that we may begin to assess the number of kits and favors being worked on. I look forward to seeing beautiful favors from our citizens being gifted by our Radiant Queen.

In Service to our Glorious Kingdom,

Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell

Filed under: Arts and Sciences Tagged: brion and anna, favors

Unofficial Court Report – Neddingham County Faire

East Kingdom Gazette - Thu, 2016-11-03 19:14

On the 17th day of September AS LI Their Royal Majesties Kenric and Avelina held court at the Neddingham Country Faire in the noble Barony of the Bridge.  The following business was set forth that day:

Item. Clotilde von der Insel was recognized as a Seamstress to the Crown

Item.  Lucinda de la Tambor was awarded the Silver Wheel and given a scroll by Fiona O’Maille

Item. Having held the business since Their Coronation, a scroll by Fiona O’Maille fomalized the induction of Vargus Ulfr into the Order of the Silver Wheel. T

Item.  Their majesties bestowed the Order of the Silver Wheel upon Amia Turner with a scroll made by Fiona O’Maille

As reported Kenric Rex and filed by Rowen Stuffer.

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

Event Report: Agincourt

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-11-03 09:31

On October 29th, A. S. LI, the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands held its annual Agincourt event on a gloriously warm and sunny day. Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the activities held there.

Morning Court

The day began with a brief court. Queen Margerite called forth THLord Kieran MacRae, who received a Writ for the Laurel at Pennsic to present himself at Agincourt. Her Majesty asked if he was ready to sit vigil, to which he responded in the affirmative. However, Queen Margerite noted that Kieran was in fealty to another and must be free before contemplating elevation to the peerage. His Laurel, Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope, was called forward to receive back his green belt and release him from his fealty, after which the Order of the Laurel escorted THLord Kieran to his vigil.

THLord Kieran returns his apprentice belt to Mistress Arianna before going on vigil for the Laurel. Photo by Lady Àine ny Allane.

Heavy Weapons Combat

Agincourt has always featured heavy fighting, with combatants choosing to portray either the French or the English as they honor the famous battle of 1415 at which Henry V of England annihilated a much larger and better armed French force.

This year, 38 fighters took the field, including eight combat archers. The fighting began with a Warlord Tourney, from which THLord Tegrinus de Rhina and THLord Rouland of Willowbrooke emerged as the winners, becoming the captains of the French and English Sides, respectively. The French took all of the day’s victory points:  Field Battle, Woods Battle, Combat Soccer, and Hold the Barricade, and as commander of the French side, THL Tegrinus was the overall Warlord Tourney Winner for the day.

The day ended with a series of intense Tavern Brawls, in which Lord Ulrich von Baden, who had previously distinguished himself with a dive-in-and-slide goal that scored the final point for his side in Combat Soccer, was named Last Man Standing.

A Tavern Brawl. Photo by Baron Torvald Torgarson.

Videos below are by Baroness Constance Glyn Dŵr.


Don Po Silvertop receives a rose from the Queen during the QRC procession. The outgoing champion, Lord Jacob Martinson, looks on in the background. Photo by Lady Àine ny Allane.

This year Agincourt was honored to host the Queen’s Rapier Champion Tournament. It began with the traditional presentation of fencers to the Queen, each one receiving a rose from Her hand. A huge list of 53 fencers competed, with the tournament fought as round robins in four lists with the top two in each list advancing to the quarter-finals. A noble gesture was made by Lord Magnus bastiano di Vigo, who ceded his spot in the quarter-finals to Countess Ariella of Thornbury that she might have the opportunity to do more fencing and increase her enjoyment of the day. In recognition of this act of kindness, Her Majesty, Queen Margerite, named Lord Magnus her inspiration of the day and bestowed upon him a Golden Escarbuncle at the evening’s court.

The final four fencers were Lord Durante de Caravaggio, Master Clewin Kupferheleblinc, Baron Eric Grenier de Labarre, and Don Po Silvertop. The finals came down to Master Clewin vs. Lord Durante, with Lord Durante winning the coveted title of Queen’s Champion, succeeding the outgoing Champion, Lord Jacob Martinson.

There was also a Free Scholars of the AEthelmearc Rapier Academy tourney run by THLord Jorundr hinn Rotinn, and an “Out of the Box” tourney run by Lord Markus Skalpr Grimsson, in which kills could only be made by shots to the head, arms, hands, legs, and feet. Both tourneys were won by Lord Ru Cavorst.

Video below of the quarter-finals through the finals of the QRC is by Brehan Lapidario.

Youth Combat

Agincourt likewise saw the Kingdom Youth Combat Champions’ tournament. Two enthusiastic young gentles fought three rounds with each of three weapons forms. In the end, Queen Margerite could not choose between them, and so she named Timothy of Arindale the Younger her Division 2 Champion, and Karl her Division 1 Champion. After the youth tourney, several adult sparring partners came forward to cross swords with the new champions, including THLord Rouland of Willowbrooke, Master Jussie Laplein, Prince Timothy of Arindale, and Lord Robert Pour Maintenant.

Karl and Timothy in the Youth Combat Champion’s Tourney. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.


Archery was, of course, at the heart of the original battle of Agincourt, and it was only right that the English did prevail in the shoot run by Master Alaric MacConall, though by a margin of only 2 points. Ronan O’Conall and Duncan MacCoulagh each made 10 point shots that gave the day to the English. Lord Takamatsu Gentarou Yoshitaka also ran a shoot by the victorious English to loot French cheeses, which was won by THLord Alrekr Bergsson with Baron Tofi Kerthjalfadsson coming in second.

Thrown Weapons

The Debatable Lands Baronial Champion tournament was the highlight of thrown weapons at Agincourt. The outgoing Baronial Champion, Master Clewin Kupferhelbelinc, ran the competition, which was hard contested. In the end, Lord Sanada Masamoto Kenshin O’no Kuma proved victorious and was named Champion, with Earl Thomas Byron of Haverford as his second.

Lord Kuma is recognized as Baronial Thrown Weapons Champion with Earl Byron as his second. Photo by Lady Àine ny Allane.

Arts and Sciences

For a second year, the event included an A&S competition run by THLady Sumayya al Ghaziya. Entries ranged from scrolls and cooking to research and ceramics. The winner of the single category entry was Lord Ian Campbell of Glen Mor for his ceramic tiles, while Lady Luceta di Cosimo won the multiple entry category for items including cookies and research into medieval burial practices. Lord Ian was inducted into the Fleur d’Æthelmearc at court later that evening. A slideshow of some of the entries is shown below

Click to view slideshow. Evening Court

After a Baronial Court where the winners of each competition were announced and rewarded, and various baronial awards were bestowed, Queen Margerite held court attended by Prince Timothy and Princess Gabrielle, as well as the Crown Prince and Princess of the Middle, William and Isolde. In addition to the accolades noted above, highlights from the evening court included the induction of Lady Cionaodh Gunn into the Order of the Millrind; the elevation of THLord Kieran MacRae to the Order of the Laurel, and Writs of Summons for the Pelican to Doña Gabrielle de Winter and Baron Robert O’Connor.

Food and Entertainment

The soteltie made by Lady Zianna. Photo by Mistress Arianna.

Of course Agincourt would not be complete without food. THLady Ottilige Rappoltsweiler and Edelvrowe Lijsbet du Keukere organized a lunch buffet of chicken, blancmanger, vegetables and fruit, while Meesteress Odriana vander Brugghe and her crew provided the evening feast. Supper began with a toast to the late Lady Adriana Ramstar, after which there were readings from the Canterbury Tales. Then dish after dish arrived including various meats, pies, rice, Brussels sprouts, and a large marzipan and cake soteltie of the Shield of Chivalry made by Lady Zianna beguy urdina de Zabaleta.

The evening was capped off with a performance by the ever-bawdy commedia troupe, i Genisii, whose show included a seasonally appropriate undead Pantalone attempting to control his daughter Octavia by means both foul and humorous.

Thanks to all of the photographers listed above, as well as Lord Markus Skalpr Grimsson, Lord Takamatsu Gentarou Yoshitaka, Master Morien MacBain, Lord Sanada Masamoto Kenshin O’no Kuma  and Baroness Aemilia Soteria for providing information about various activities for this event report.

Categories: SCA news sites

St. Anne’s Well rescued from oblivion

History Blog - Wed, 2016-11-02 23:01

A medieval holy well in the village Rainhill, in Merseyside, England, used for centuries by pilgrims for its reputed miraculous healing powers, has been recovered after decades of neglect. The location of St. Anne’s Well was known, but after decades of ploughing in the surrounding fields, it had filled up with soil and was marked only by a couple of rocks perched on a patch of half-dead grass. In danger of disappearing from the landscape all together, six years ago it was placed on the Historic England’s Heritage at Risk Register. Earlier this year, Historic England commissioned Oxford Archeology North to excavate the site and find out what was left.

Two days of digging revealed a shallow well 5’9″ square and four feet deep constructed of local ashlar sandstone blocks with a level stone floor and three steps lead down to the water basin. There is a thin layer of water at the bottom of the well even now. A stone conduit on the north side of the well which once carried overflow water from the well to a carved stone basin is no longer extant. Also missing is a medieval carved relief of a woman carrying a pitcher that was last recorded on site in the mid-19th century when the well was still in use.

While there doesn’t seem to be an explicit association of St. Anne, mother of the Virgin Mary, with water or wells in Catholic or Orthodox traditions, in England many waters believed to have healing powers were dedicated to her. Veneration of sacred springs, wells and fonts was a common in pre-Christian religions, so it seems likely the powers of earlier divinities or forces were mapped on to Anne in the late Middle Ages when her cult became increasingly popular. The wells were sometimes said to have been visited by an apparition of St. Anne who bathed in the waters rendering them miraculous; other times her image appeared in the water or structure of the well, like Jesus on a potato chip.

In the Middle Ages and Renaissance, the Rainhill St. Anne’s Well had a reputation for specializing in the treatment of skin diseases. Pilgrims seeking healing would walk down the steps and dip into the water that naturally filled the basin, seeping in from below the stone floor. The faithful who sought aid from the healing waters would leave offerings, from the simple (crutches, shirts) to the rarefied (gold coins), another practice long predating Christianity. As the holy well became a greater and greater draw, Sutton Priory, the monastery about a mile away which owned the well, had a small three-room house built over the well. Two of the priory monks lived in the house to tend to the well, the pilgrims and their gifts.

Sutton Priory was small in population, having about a dozen monks, but large in income. Besides the well, which by the 16th century was very lucrative, it owned the valuable surrounding farmland which it leased to moneyed members of the gentry. A boundary dispute between the priory and its neighbor Sir Richard Bold would transform the holy well into a cursed one.

The legend of how the holy well became the locus of a curse was recounted in the St. Helens Leader (pdf), the journal of the local YMCA, in 1877. Hugh Darcy, Bold’s steward met Prior Delwaney and traded harsh words with him. Darcy sneered that maybe the prior wouldn’t be a prior a much longer. The year was 1536, and one or two days after that tense exchange, Layton and Leigh, agents of Thomas Cromwell charged with the Dissolution of the Monasteries, notified Delwaney that Sutton Priory was to be no longer. All the monks were given a couple of pounds, a robe and packed off to another monastery (until that one too was dissolved), and the crown claimed all of the priory’s property, including the holy well.

When the prior and the crown’s agents went to the well, they found Dancy there, gloating. Delwaney became enraged at Dancy’s taunts and hissed: “The curse of the serpent be on thee, thou spoiler of the Lord’s inheritance. Thy ill-gotten gains shall not profit thee, and a year and a day shall not pass ere St. Anne thy head shall bruise.” Three hours later, Delwaney was dead. Dancy did fine at first, acquiring the farmland that included the well and demolishing the house over it. But within months his only son was dead, his lost his money in dubious investments and he took to drinking heavily. One night, after an evening of imbibing at the tavern, he failed to come home. He was found dead the next morning, head smashed against the well.

The story of the curse and the loss of the priory didn’t stop people from seeking healing in the waters of St. Anne’s Well. It was in use into the 19th century, adding to its previous reputation one for healing diseases of the eye. It was captured in a sketch by naturalist and fossil-hunter Richard Owen in 1843, and it still had its basin and the relief of the lady with the pitcher. By 1877, however, when the St. Helens Leader article was written, the stones were broken, the water dried up and weeds grew unchecked.

The well is on private property today, but Historic England has struck an agreement with the farmer to keep the well from getting clogged with dirt and disappearing again.

New wooden edging to the perimeter of the excavation will prevent soil falling in, and provide a buffer to protect the well from damage by farm machinery. It can now come off the Heritage at Risk Register.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Event Announcement: Spring Crown

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-11-02 14:43

The Shire of Sylvan Glen invites one and all to join us as we host Æthelmearc Spring Crown Tourney at the Camp Frame 4-H Camp in Hedgesville, WV (1362 Camp Frame Road, Hedgesville WV 25427) May 12 to 14, 2017. Attend and bear witness as the continuation of the Royal Line of Æthelmearc is secured!

The autocrat for the event is Dame Hrefna Ulfvarinnsdottir (Tammy Pritt), 52 Brandewine Cir., Martinsburg, WV, cell 304-886-1234 (no calls after 9 pm please), ravenstyx at yahoo dot com.

Friday evening will feature our Known World famous travelers’ repast of a light dinner and refreshments for those arriving early.

There will be an all-day sideboard provided on Saturday, which will include a breakfast bar followed by a selection of foods throughout the day prepared by Lady Arianna del Vallone. Dietary concerns should be directed to her at ariannaddv3 at gmail dot com.

On Saturday, Mistress Álfrún Ketta will be heading up the Hospitality Tent, which will feature a range of offerings for the populace including beverages (coffee, hot tea, brewed cold tea, sekanjabin, cream and sugar), fruit, nuts, and baked goods. Questions or dietary concerns can be sent to jennelfculler at yahoo dot com.

The site opens on Friday, May 12 at 5 pm and closes on Sunday, May 14 at noon, and is discretely damp. Leashed dogs are welcome, but please clean up after them. We have plenty of beds in the populace dormitory, and there is some limited room for camping. If you wish to camp, please contact the autocrat (see below) with your tent size so we can plan where to put it ahead of time. There are also many hotels and restaurants within an easy drive of the site. These lists will be posted or you can contact Dame Hrefna for a copy.

The event registration is as follows:

  • Adult Event Registration: $20
  • Adult Member Discount Event Registration: $15
  • Children 17 and under are free.

Checks should be made out to: SCA Inc. WV, Shire of Sylvan Glen.

The reservationist for the event is Lady Margarita de Siena, (Joy Woofter), Phone 304-838-3515 (no calls after 11 pm please), joy1teacher at yahoo dot com, 11 Lotus Dr., Martinsburg, WV 2540. She will also be handling day shade reservations with priority going to combatants and consorts. If you want to set up a shelter at the event, send the size of your day shade to Lady Margarita, and let her know if you are a combatant or not. Make checks payable to SCA-WV, Inc. Please include modern and Society names for every covered by your pre-registration.

There are also many hotels and restaurants within an easy drive of the site. These lists will be posted or contact Dame Hrefna for a copy.

Autocrat’s note: The shire hosted Siege of Glengary here for many years. The site has dormitory bunk bed accommodations, flush toilets, showers, a large assembly hall, and indoor fighting space if needed.

Categories: SCA news sites

A True Tale of Grave-Robbing Horror, Part III

History Blog - Tue, 2016-11-01 23:00

The investigation of the Harrison Horror quickly bore fruit. Cincinnati police detective Charles Wappenstein, Snelbaker, Pinkerton and others hit the medical schools hard, looking for Augustus Devin’s body and for information on the resurrectionists they employed. Professors at the Ohio Medical College and at its rival in Cincinnati, the Miami Medical College, admitted the bodies weren’t just dumped by unknowns who were paid the next day. They contracted for bodies with specific resurrectionists who guaranteed a minimum yearly supply. In fact, it turned out that Cincinnati was something of a hub of the corpse trade, the main city to and from which dead bodies would be shipped from smaller cities in the region.

Finally it was another janitor, this one at the Miami Medical School, who broke the case wide open. When Snelbaker, who had received a tip that the body of Augustus Devin had been at the school, showed up with a search warrant, the janitor was squirrely. He got even squirrelier when Snelbaker prepared to dig up the basement looking for Augustus Devin’s body. Finally he cracked, telling him the droid they were looking for was not there (the body of an elderly woman was buried under the cellar floor instead), but he had information about where it might be.

He confessed that a certain Gabriel had approached him in May saying he had permission from the school’s Anatomy professor Dr. Clendenin to use the cellar during the summer break to store bodies and pack them for shipment. The teachers were almost never around, the facilities spacious and private. It was during his month in the Miami Medical School basement that “Gabriel” had robbed the graves of Augustus Devin and John Scott Harrison.

Gabriel was one of many names used by Charles Morton, alias Dr. Morton, alias Dr. Christian, alias Dr. Gordon, the most infamous resurrection man of his day. A University of Michigan medical school dropout, he ran a body-snatching operation of staggering dimensions, supplying medical schools in Ohio and Michigan with hundreds of bodies stolen from graves in Ohio, Indiana and Pennsylvania. In January of 1878, he had been caught in Toledo, Ohio, sending bodies to the University of Michigan medical school in Ann Arbor and was imprisoned for the crime. While behind bars, he received a bundle of letters from Ann Arbor. He was handed them in the prison guard’s office and quickly threw them in the fire, shoving his foot through the grating to stamp them down into the flames. The guard pulled him away, and Woodlawn Cemetery trustee (and all around cool guy) William H. Scott fished the letters out before they could be destroyed.

They were a little charred, but still legible in their entirety. They were from “William J. Jones & Co.,” an apparent accomplice in Morton’s extensive resurrection business. The writer complained that one of the “stiffs” Morton had sent was too “tender,” told him not to go younger than 14 in the future because the University of Michigan had rejected the body, and contracted for another 70 bodies. There was a reference to 60 bodies Morton had recently delivered to Columbus and a warning that he should probably move on from Toledo because it was getting too hot. Enclosed was $90 cash.

A week later, Morton suddenly broke out in pustules. Prison physicians diagnosed him with small pox and sent him to the Toledo pest house. He was its only guest at the time, and was guarded by two men. On the night of January 25th, a lynch mob approached the guards, demanding that Morton be let out so they could hang him for his many outrages. Morton cleverly told the guards to say he’d be right out. The mob didn’t expect that, and outside of their drunken bluster, they weren’t actually keen to get their hands all over a smallpox victim. The crowd quickly dispersed.

Then, when his guards were having dinner the evening of January 29th, Morton escaped. He was supposedly in a locked room, but either the guard/s unlocked it or he got a duplicate key. A search of the area turned up nothing. It suddenly dawned on prison officials that they had been had. A parade of new doctors examined samples from Morton’s skin lesions and discovered he didn’t have smallpox at all. He had simply used Croton oil, a caustic irritant that when applied to skin can cause swelling, blistering and exfoliation, to mimic its symptoms. He didn’t even do all that good of a job of it. One physician who had examined him admitted there were no pustules under his hair or anywhere where his hands couldn’t reach. It was widely believed that some of the doctors had deliberately helped Morton because of his profession.

Where he went for the next few weeks is unknown, but the Harrison investigation discovered that Morton had arrived in Cincinnati in March and checked into a boarding house on Vine and Ninth (three blocks from the Ohio Medical School) with a beautiful young blonde he called his wife. He told the boarding house proprietors that he was a doctor, but that he loved night fishing, which is why he was out every night from 8:00 PM until 4:00 AM. He did not explain why he carried two people-sized canvas bags with him every time he “went fishing” and why his carriage was covered in mud when he got back. Nor did he explain why his so-called wife often accompanied him on his fishing expeditions dressed in men’s clothing.

The couple checked out of the boarding house without notice on the day John Scott Harrison’s body was discovered hanging in the cadaver chute. They were believed to be heading for Canada, but that’s what the authorities thought when he escaped from the pest house too, and they were wrong.

It was Morton’s Ann Arbor connection that the Miami Medical College janitor told Snelbaker about, providing a key clue. He said many of the bodies Morton had stolen were sent to the University of Michigan Medical College, and he was pretty sure based on the dates that Augustus Devin was one them. Morton had packed the bodies in barrels addressed to “Quimby and Co.” and shipped them to Ann Arbor via American Express. (Yes, the credit card company. It started out as an expedited shipping service, hence the name.) Colonel Snelbaker et al. immediately departed for Ann Arbor where they traced the barrels to the medical college. Armed with a warrant and accompanied by the Ann Arbor sheriff, they searched the UoM Medical College over the strenuous objections of Dr. Herdman, the Demonstrator of Anatomy, who insisted they hadn’t received bodies from Cincinnati in weeks.

He was lying like a rug. In three massive pickling vats, the investigators found 40 bodies, men, women, children, black and white, in varying states of decomposition. Snelbaker had a surly janitor pull them all out so he could attempt identification of any body that might be that of Augustus Devin. He saw one likely candidate, but didn’t feel comfortable making a conclusive identification. He returned to Cincinnati on June 13th, and was back the next day with Augustus’ 18-year-old brother Bernard Devin and George Eaton.

The pile of bodies, no longer dripping the pickling solution of salt and saltpeter, had taken on an eerie lifelike appearance. The hair had dried and, injected with red lead (lead(II,IV) oxide) for their preservation until the fall and winter terms, the corpses’ skin had a pinkish hue. Three bodies fit the general description of Augustus Devin. At first Bernard and George disagreed on which was Augustus, but ultimately Bernard, who had helped care for his brother during his long illness, convinced George that his identification was the correct one thanks to some scars on his leg, a hole in the wall of his nose and some dental work. Augustus Devin was finally found.

The Harrisons, Eatons and Devins met the train carrying Augustus’ body at the North Bend railway station on June 17th. A crowd of hundreds silently filed past the coffin in the freight room, paying their respects, and accompanied the family in a procession to Congress Green Cemetery. There the young man was reburied, four weeks to the day after his first funeral. Volunteers guarded the cemetery every night for weeks.

On June 17th, a grand jury returned an indictment against the Ohio Medical College janitor Marshall for concealing the body of John Scott Harrison, and against Charles Morton, still at large, on two counts of grave robbing, one count for the theft of Harrison’s, one for Devin’s. No indictments were returned against the college faculty. The Harrisons’ desire to see the faculty of the Ohio Medical College and the Miami Medical College face criminal justice thus thwarted, they filed civil suits against the colleges for $10,000 each. The Devin family did the same.

Snelbaker went back to Ann Arbor at the end of June in an attempt to get information from the doctors on Morton’s whereabouts. His long discussions with the University of Michigan regents went nowhere. They denied any knowledge of his current abode (even though they, like many medical schools, had a long record of correspondence with him). One Professor McLean admitted that they had incentive to keep their mouths shut whether they knew where he was or not, because if any of the faculty outed him, “it would call down upon the informer the general hatred of all body-snatchers, and might prevent the University in the future from obtaining an adequate supply of material for anatomical purposes.” The trail went cold.

The Medical College of Ohio merged with the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine in 1896. The old building with its cadaver chute is long gone, sadly. Also gone are all records of Benjamin Harrison’s civil suit against the college and the outcome of the criminal cases. They were destroyed when the Hamilton County Court House was burned to the ground in the Cincinnati Courthouse riots of 1884. If Morton was ever arrested and tried for Harrison Horror, there are no records of that either.

In direct response to the case, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan and Ohio passed Anatomy Acts that allowed medical schools to use unclaimed bodies of people who died in the care of the state (the indigent in hospitals or insane asylums, orphans, convicts) for anatomical dissection. Previous laws had prohibited dissection if anybody at all objected, acquaintance, friend of family. The enlarged pool of corpses still wasn’t enough to fill the demand as new medical schools continued to crop up, and enforcement of the new laws was less than vigorous. Resurrectionists maintained their profitable “profession” in the United States well into the 20th century.

In December of 1879 John Scott Harrison’s body would find a permanent, undisturbed home next to his parents in the William Henry Harrison Tomb State Memorial in North Bend. George and Arch Eaton are buried there as well.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

From the East Kingdom Minister of Lists

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-11-01 16:39

Greetings to the Populace of the East Kingdom,

I will be finishing my 4th and final year as the East Kingdom Minister of Lists this February 2017. Term limits dictate that I step down at that time. This makes me so sad, as I truly love serving the martial community of the East Kingdom. To me, there is nothing more exciting than running a double elimination tournament to determine the Heirs of our Kingdom.

What the office of Minister of Lists entails:

Supporting the East Kingdom Martial Community in a kind, efficient and engaging manner.

Run the scorekeeping portion of all Crown Tournaments to determine the Heirs of the Kingdom.

Run the scorekeeping portion of all King and Queen’s Rattan and Rapier Championships.

Print and have ready all score sheets and tournament brackets for any and all tournaments.

Print and have ready all authorization forms for Heavy and Rapier disciplines.

Receive all authorization forms and transfer the information to a database accessible to the marshals monthly, if not more often.

Educate and support the MOL community and marshal community in all aspects of paperwork and tournament staffing.

Be able to work closely with the current and future Royals of the East Kingdom, the Earl Marshal’s office and the Troubadour Herald’s office.

You must be able to travel to all reaches of the kingdom, or designate a deputy to do so when needed.

A computer and email access is a necessity.

There is roughly 16-20 hours a month of behind the scenes work involved in the production of authorization cards and the fighter database. Dealing with “emergency” issues is common and being flexible is helpful.

For the Kingdom MOL to be successful, they truly need to love what they are doing. They need to be happy to be there and enjoy working with the Rattan and Rapier community. Smiles and positive attitudes are contagious and will bring you far in this office.

All Candidates for the position of East Kingdom MOL should send their resumes and letter of interest to mol@eastkingdom.org, king@eastkingdom.org, and queen@eastkingdom.org by January 3rd 2017 for consideration.

Warmest Regards
Baroness Sabina Luttrell, East Kingdom Minister of Lists


Filed under: Announcements

Arts & Sciences Research Paper #14: Making a Leather Swan Helm Crest

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-11-01 16:26

Our fourteenth A&S Research Paper comes to us from Lady Angela Mori of the Barony of Bhakhail, who demonstrates and explains the process of making one of the splendid helm crests so familiar from manuscript illuminations of tournaments. (Prospective future contributors, please check out our original Call for Papers.)

Making a Leather Swan Helm Crest

A German heraldic crest for a tournament. Sold at auction by Pierre Bergé & Associés.

How to Model Crests or Helmets: “Whenever you have occasion to make a crest or helmet for a tourney, or for rulers who have to march in state, you must first get some white leather which is not dressed except with myrtle or ciefalonia, stretch it, and draw your crest the way you want it made. And draw two of them, and sew them together; but leave it open enough on one side so that you can put sand into it; and press it with a little stick until it is all quite full. When you have done this, put it in the sun for several days. When it is quite dry, take the sand out of it . Then take some of the regular size for gessoing, and size it two or three times. Then take some gesso grosso ground with size, and mix in some beaten tow, and get it stiff, like a batter; and put on this gesso, and rough it in, giving it any shape of man, or beast, or bird, which you may have to make, getting it as like as you can. This done, take some gesso grosso ground with size, liquid and flowing, on a brush, and you lay it three or four times over this crest with a brush. Then, when it is quite dry, scrape it and smooth it down, just as you do when you work on panel. Then, in the same way, as I showed you how to gesso with gesso sotile on panel, in that same way gesso this crest. When it is dry, scrape it and smooth it down; and then if it is necessary to make the eyes of glass, put them in with the gesso for modeling; do modeling if it is called for. Then, if it is to be gold or silver, lay some bole, just as on panel; and follow the same method in every detail, and the same for the painting, varnishing it in the usual way”

– From Chapter CLXIX, Il Libro dell’Arte (The Craftsman’s Handbook), Cennino D’Andrea Cennini


The Process
Terms and Definitions

The following text is the description of the helm crest shown above. This piece was sold for 8000€; interestingly enough this is a fraction of what it would have cost at the time of making it.

“A German heraldic crest for a tournament Great helm, Zimier, in 14th-15th century style. Formed as a Swan’s head, accurately constructed of gesso and coarse fibre, probably jute, over a hardened sculpted leather core, the base hollowed for fitting the crown of the helmet skull, with pairs of lace-holes at the sides, painted white and heightened in grey, the base and the beak with traces of gilding over a red base coat, and in “aged ” condition throughout. Height 37 centimeters; weight: 1095 grams.”

This paper describes the steps I took in making the Swan Helm Crest based on Cennini’s text and the picture of the extant helm crest described above. I wanted to do my best at recreating this swan while staying true to the original materials and techniques used during the time it was made.

Materials for crest construction. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

The Process

“you must first get some white leather which is not dressed except with myrtle or ciefalonia,”

The white leather is what we know of today as Vegetable Tanned Leather. Myrtle was one of the plants used to make this kind of leather. So far no one has been able to translate what “ciefalonia” is, though I’m sure it is a plant similar to myrtle. Vegetable tanned leather can be used in a process called Cuir Bouilli. This is a process in which the leather is wet with water (the water may or may not be hot), and then it is molded into a shape of sorts and then dried (sometimes with heat). It will keep its new shape quite well once dried.

“stretch it, and draw your crest the way you want it made. And draw two of them, and sew them together”

I would like to take a moment and state that in Cennini’s writings, he takes little time to really explain how to copy a shape and make it so that it will fit on a helm. Taking two pieces of material to get the shape down doesn’t work unless your piece is essentially very simple. And he does not include that the bottom really should have a shape sewn in that is similar to the shape of the helm. After making 3 helm crests I can most definitely say that a pattern would have been more complex than what he states above.

A line drawing of the design. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I made a line drawing of the original crest. I then went and cut this shape out of 2oz vegetable tanned leather. After looking at the shape I chose to modify the neck some because I was concerned that the curve I made would be too extreme and force the head to touch the chest. So I cut out some extra shapes and added them to the neck to prevent this. In hindsight I should have made a pattern first out of fabric or felt sheet to get the proper shape.

I then went ahead and used linen thread that I had spun and plied to sew the swan pieces together. I used a whip stitch to hold them together. I did this because it will have some give when shaping the leather with the wet sand. Leather stretches a good bit and would shift. A straight running stitch will not have as much give, preventing the leather from taking the shape that you are trying to give it.

“but leave it open enough on one side so that you can put sand into it; and press it with a little stick until it is all quite full. When you have done this, put it in the sun for several days. When it is quite dry, take the sand out of it.”

I wet the leather swan and packed sand into it, and let it sit in the sun. When it was dry I then removed the sand at the base of the swan.

The swan form filled with sand. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

“Then take some of the regular size for gessoing, and size it two or three times.”

I used rabbit hide glue for the sizing. To work with it, you must first soak the dried glue in water; I would say around 2 ½ parts water to the glue granules. Once the glue has softened, it must be carefully heated to liquify the glue. If it is heated to too high a temperature, it will break down and not hold together as a glue. I put hot water in a bowl and then placed another bowl containing some of the gelatin (glue) in the larger bowl. This will indirectly heat the glue to the right temperature and keep it liquid while you work. When the heat is removed the glue starts to turn back to a solid gelatin.

Left: rabbit hide glue after soaking. Right: rabbit hide glue being heated. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I applied the glue to all the pieces. This not only helps the gesso stick to the leather later on, but also helps in hardening the leather as well. The leather absorbs the glue into its fibers which helps give it strength not just on the surface, but on the inside structure as well. One must be careful when applying the glue to make sure that you only work on either the flesh or the grain side of the leather at a time —if the leather is soaked through all the way it will lose the shape that you just made and you will have to re-shape your pieces. I find that coating the grain side first works better because it absorbs less of the glue, but will give a good base structure for when the other side has glue applied to it. Make sure to let the first side completely dry before moving on to the next.

The crest completely covered in glue. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

“Then take some gesso grosso ground with size, and mix in some beaten tow, and get it stiff, like a batter; and put on this gesso, and rough it in, giving it any shape of man, or beast, or bird, which you may have to make, getting it as like as you can. This done, take some gesso grosso ground with size, liquid and flowing, on a brush, and you lay it three or four times over this crest with a brush. Then, when it is quite dry, scrape it and smooth it down, just as you do when you work on panel.”

The next step was to make the gesso grosso with size and add beaten tow.

Review note – Prior to making this helm I had made another one using a premixed “Italian Gesso” from Natural Pigments. This pre-mixed gesso consisted of calcium sulfate dihydrate and dry rabbit hide glue. When reading the directions on mixing the gesso grosso ground with size I thought this was the equivalent. When making it I had noted that it was a bit undesirable due to the inconsistency of the ratio of glue to calcium and this made it hard to get the right amount of water in the mixture without it being too soggy or too dry. I had made the decision that I would later on mix them differently. I chose to prepare the glue to its liquid state before adding the calcium.

To make the gesso mixture I heated up some of the rabbit hide glue as done before when sizing the leather. I then added calcium sulfate dihydrate and mixed it in, using my fingers to try and break down any lumps of the Calcium. I kept adding the Calcium until the consistency was like a thick cake batter. I then slowly added tow into the mixture making sure it was thoroughly coated with the liquid gesso. Once the mixture started to become a lumpy but still gooey mixture I started applying it to the leather. Sometimes I used my hands and sometimes I used a brush to apply it. The cooler it became the more thick and less flowing it would become. If I needed the mixture to be flowing I just put the bowl back into the hot water bath to warm up the glue. After it dried I then scraped the high points down some with a knife.

Left: crest after gessoing. Right: closeup of gessoed surface. Photos by Angela Mori.

Review note – At this point I had gone only by the comments made by D. Thompson jr. in his translation of ‘Il Libro del Arté’. I recently read an article “Questions about Medieval Gesso Grounds” by Beate Federspiel, where the author had gone through and done further research to show that “examination of grounds in Italian paintings by the Laboratoire de Recherches des Musees de France elaborates on the double structure of the Italian gesso grounds. This double structure was also shown in the examinations by the National Gallery’s laboratories in London.” (Federspiel, 62.) Which means that they did a chemical analysis, finding that the base layers of paintings that also had gesso grosso as the base layers consisted of calcium sulfate anihydrate mixture with calcium sulfate dihydrate. In layman’s terms, the plaster of Paris used was actually made of calcium sulfate anihydrate (which absorbs water less than the modern day plaster of Paris, calcium sulfate hemihydrate) and some dihydrate as well. The author stated that perhaps the full chemical change did not happen because the only water to be absorbed was through the gelatin of the animal hide glue. I have done testing and found that the water content in the glue had no effect on the chemical reaction of the calcium sulfate anihydrate when mixed with it. If anything it acted very much like that of adding the calcium sulfate dihydrate to the warmed glue that I had done with my work previously. I took some of the gelatin and ground it down with the calcium sulfate hemihydrate and then heated it. It reacted the same way with no heat (I have found to be indicative of water absorption and chemical reaction for plaster of Paris) like that of the dihydrate. So I must conclude that the reason for using this as a base layer must be to help in the prevention of moisture damage to the piece being made. Further testing will help me in analyzing the reason for this procedure and choice done by the artists of the Middle Ages.

“Then, in the same way, as I showed you how to gesso with gesso sotile on panel, in that same way gesso this crest. When it is dry, scrape it and smooth it down; and then if it is necessary to make the eyes of glass, put them in with the gesso for modeling; do modeling if it is called for.”

I then made a mixture of the glue and the calcium sulfate dihydrate but this time taking care to sift out any small hard pieces from the powder before adding it to the glue. I kept adding it until it became like a runny pancake batter. Then I applied it to the crest with a brush letting it pool in the recessed areas left by the first layers of gesso. When it was dry I scraped and sanded down the high points again and reapplied another coat until most of the shallows were filled. I also went ahead and added lids to the eyes. I also gessoed in a tongue that I had previously cut and gessoed. I used the gesso as a glue to set into the inside of the mouth. After everything dried I then went back over everything with my knife to scrape down any rough surfaces. I then went over the surface with a damp cloth to smooth out the gesso and take off any dust and shavings that may have been left on the surface.

Left: crest being scraped with a knife. Right: a closeup of the scraped surface. Photos by Lady Angela Mori.

“Then, if it is to be gold or silver, lay some bole, just as on panel; and follow the same method in every detail, and the same for the painting, varnishing it in the usual way”

I also went ahead and burnished down the beak, eyes and base. The beak and scalloped base were gilded on the extant swan so I went ahead to prepare the surfaces on mine for the bole.

Applying bole to the beak. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I took some dried bole and ground it down and added a little water to make it into a smooth paste. I then took some glair and mixed it with the bole. I painted on numerous layers of the bole, waiting for it to dry between coats. I burnished the bole to make sure the surface as smooth.

Bole on the beak after burnishing. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I took some glair and honey and mixed it with water to make a fixative for the gold leaf. I brushed it on where I wanted the gold leaf to be applied, only going along in small areas. Each time I would apply a piece of gold leaf to the prepared area. When this dried sufficiently, I then went ahead and burnished it. I ran out of gold leaf while working on the beak. When I got more I went over the beak again with the size and the new leaf, because it was a different in color. When it was sufficiently dry I went ahead and burnished the gold.

Painting the swan crest. Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

I worked on the base area of the crest with imitation gold leaf using the same technique as for the real gold leaf. I plan on redoing the base in real gold later on because I am not happy with the results and it strays somewhat from what I have been trying to achieve, which is a crest made as close to original medieval techniques and materials as I can achieve. With that said, I will also state that gold was a very expensive metal and there are many writings that discuss ways to make metals that are not gold, have the look of gold. So to use a imitation gold leaf is not really straying from recipes and techniques used during the Middle Ages.

The finished crest atop the helm! Photo by Lady Angela Mori.

Back to Top

Terms and Definitions

Animal Hide Glue – a size (primer) and hardening agent as well as a binder for gesso. It is made by soaking small pieces of rawhide in water and then boiling it for a long time to break down the collagen. When it is finished it is dried and crushed in to a granular form. Later it is used by taking some of the dried glue and soaking it in water. When it has absorbed the water it is then heated indirectly with a double boiler until it liquifies. At this point is it ready to be used as is or as a base for mixing other materials into it.

Bole – a fine red clay, commonly termed “Armenian bole” during the middle ages because of its origin, used as an underlay for water gilding because of its “waxy” character allowing the artist to burnish it to a smooth finish which is what was wanted for the surfaces that were to be gilded.

Cuir Bouilli – the shaping and moulding of Vegetable tanned leather. Vegetable tanned leather is leather that has been tanned with tannins used from plants. Some main plants used are Oak Gall, Myrtle and even black tea leaves. These tannins give the leather a property where the leather can be wetted and then molded into a shape and then dried with or without the aid of heat. When the leather is dry it will retain its new shape.

Flax– A plant that is harvested and used to make thread, which is woven into cloth.


  • Calcium sulfate hemihydrate, Gypsum (also known as plaster of Paris). Made by heating calcium sulfate at 128 deg celsius allowing most of the water content to evaporate.
  • Calcium sulfate anihydrate – similar to plaster of Paris, but absorbs water less readily. It is made when calcium sulfate is heated in a kiln between 163 deg. celsius and 300 deg. celsius it becomes calcium sulfate anihydrate.
  • Calcium sulfate dihydrate – made from Gypsum. If the plaster of Paris is slaked, soaked for a long time in water, instead of air drying it becomes calcium sulfate dihydrate.

Gesso grosso – calcium sulfate anihydrate (see above)

Gesso soltile – calcium sulfate dihydrate (see above)

Glair – a sizing made from egg white.

Linen – the thread and cloth made from Flax. Linen thread was used to stitch the leather together to make the helm crest.

Tow – the left over scraggly shorter bits of material that is removed from the Flax before it is spun into Linen. Tow was added to the base layer gesso to help give it strength and give it bulk.

Back to Top


Cennino D’ Andrea Cennini. The Craftsman’s Handbook: The Italian “Il Libro dell’ Arte.” Thompson, Daniel V., trans. New York: Dover Publications 1960, c1954.

Federspiel, Beate. “Questions about Medieval Gesso Grounds.” In Historical Painting Techniques, Materials, and Studio Practice: Preprints of a Symposium, University of Leiden, the Netherlands, 26–29 June 1995, edited by Arie Wallert, Erma Hermens, and Marja Peek, 58-64. Los Angeles: Getty Conservation Institute, 1995.

Waterer, J.W. Leather and the Warrior. Northampton, England: The Museum of Leathercraft, 1981.

Back to Top

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

A True Tale of Grave-Robbing Horror, Part II

History Blog - Mon, 2016-10-31 23:00

John Harrison, still in shock, recovered his wits as best he could and sent for Cincinnati undertakers Estep & Meyer to remove his father’s body and keep it in ice until reburial could be arranged. That very evening, John Scott Harrison would be temporarily reinterred at the Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati in the family vault of the Harrisons’ close friend Jacob Strader. John and George Eaton set out for North Bend to tell their family the dreadful news.

Meanwhile, relatives visiting John Scott Harrison’s grave that morning found that it had been robbed. The stones at the foot of the coffin had been shifted onto their side, the foot of the coffin drilled into, the lid pried up and its glass cover broken, the body roped around the feet and pulled through the broken glass out of the grave. Usually resurrectionists broke into the top the coffin because it was easier to pull a body out by the arms, so it seems the ghouls must have been present at the burial or learned of the additional security measures taken by the Harrisons after they discovered Augustus Devin’s body had been snatched and therefore knew that their best chance was at the foot of the coffin where the smaller stones had been placed. Benjamin Harrison later recalled having been jostled by an unknown man at the burial site who got right up to the edge of the grave and looked inside with interest.

The watchman hired to guard the grave was considered a prime suspect, as were other characters in North Bend who were suspected of association with grave robbers. The guard claimed he had not in fact watched the grave, that he was spooked by being in a cemetery at night and had stayed home instead. He did see a buggy rumbling by in the middle of the night, though, perhaps the very buggy that was later seen behind the Ohio Medical College making its gruesome delivery.

George’s brother Arch Eaton and Carter Harrison went to Cincinnati to notify their brothers of this latest outrage. When they met at the train depot, Carter told John that their father’s body had been snatched and John told Carter that he already knew because he had found it. They sent a dispatch to their brother Benjamin in Indianapolis informing him of the theft and recovery of their father’s body. Benjamin immediately telegraphed famed detective agency head Allan Pinkerton telling him to come in person or send his best detectives to Cincinnati stat, then got on the first train reaching Cincinnati at 10:00 PM.

The Harrisons already in Cincinnati wasted no time either. Carter Harrison went to a justice of the peace and swore an affidavit against the janitor for receiving and concealing the unlawfully disinterred body of their father. Based on the affidavit, an arrest warrant was issued for Mr. Marshall and he was thrown in jail. Within a week he was out on $5,000 bond paid for by faculty of the medical college.

Although the family attempted to keep the horror secret, it was front page news by the next day. William Henry Harrison was the first president from Ohio and he was revered in the state. The desecration of his son’s grave was an affront to the beloved late president as well as to the body and memory of the popular two-term Congressman himself. The Ohio Medical College was pilloried in the media. There was rampant speculation that the college had actually commissioned the resurrection of John Scott Harrison because his death was so sudden and unexplained that he would make an excellent subject for anatomical exploration.

Members of the college faculty denied that charge strenuously and expressed dismay that they had been caught with the body of so illustrious a personage instead of the typical friendless paupers who didn’t have anybody looking out for them, but they had to have cadavers for dissection or else their graduates would be barraged with malpractice lawsuits for being terrible at basic anatomy and surgery. Dr. William Wallace Seely, professor and Secretary of the Medical College, told the Cincinnati Enquirer “had we known whose body it was that was suspended on that rope, we would have returned it to its grave and said nothing about it. It is true we must have bodies to work on, but it is not politic to run such risks, and we are not in favor of such desecration as that practiced in this instance.” As for the resurrectionist responsible, Seeley claimed they had no idea who it was because they were usually paid the day after the surreptitious nighttime deliveries, and the huge outcry after the discovery of John Scott Harrison’s body must have kept the body-snatcher from claiming his price.

On Saturday, June 1st, Dr. Roberts Bartholow, Dean of the Faculty of the Medical College of Ohio, who was intimately familiar with medical malpractice (having killed a poor “feeble-minded” Irish servant named Mary Rafferty in 1874 by inserting electrodes an inch and a half through her dura mater to study involuntary responses to electrical stimulation of the brain), published a statement in the Cincinnati Times. He opened with a masterwork of passive voice non-apology: “The Faculty of the Medical College of Ohio, in common with the rest of the community, heard with deep regret that the grave of the Hon. J. Scott Harrison had been violated, and that the body of this eminent and respected citizen had been found in the Medical College building.” Lukewarm sympathies expressed, he moved on to the justifications.

“A very great misconception seems to exist as regards the part taken by the Faculty and their assistants in procuring the material for dissection. The men engaged in the business of procuring subjects are, of course, unknown to the Faculty; they bring the material to the college, receive the stipulated price, and disappear as mysteriously as they came. In the case of the body of the Hon. J. Scott Harrison, it seems to have been brought by the resurrectionist on his own responsibility, and the poor janitor, whom it is sought to punish, had no part in, or knowledge of, the transaction.”

Bartholow did not say how the body came to be hoisted up the chute and then hidden there during the search of the college, nor why it had even occurred to them to hide it if they had no idea it wasn’t harvested from an unclaimed pauper’s grave, as allowed by law (with conditions). The janitor denied hoisting the body. None of the faculty copped to it. And they all insisted that they had no idea who the resurrectionist was.

Unimpressed by an explanation in which somehow nobody at the school had anything to do with the body found hanging in its cadaver elevator shaft or the slightest notion of who sold it to them, Benjamin Harrison came in like a wrecking ball. He printed the family’s anguished and furious rebuttal in an open letter to the citizens of Cincinnati that afternoon. He started with a heartfelt expression of thanks for their support and a wish that “God keep your precious dead from the barbarous touch of the grave robber, and you from that taste of hell which comes with the discovery of a father’s grave robbed and the body hanging by the neck like that of a dog, in the pit of a medical college.”

“We have been offered through the press the sympathy of the distinguished men who constitute the faculty of the Ohio Medical College. I have no satisfactory evidence that any of them knew whose body they had, but I have the most convincing evidence that they are covering the guilty scoundrel. While they consent to occupy this position, their abhorrence is a pretense, and their sympathy is cant and hypocrisy.

Who can doubt that if the officers of that institution had desired to secure the arrest of the guilty party, it would have been accomplished before night on Thursday? The bodies brought there are purchased and paid for by an officer of the college. The body snatcher stands before him and takes from his hand the fee for his hellish work. He is not an occasional visitant. He is often there, and it is silly to say that he is an unknown. After being tumbled like dung into that chute by the thief, some one inside promptly elevates the body by a windlass to the dissecting room. Who did it, gentlemen of the faculty?

Your janitor denied that it laid upon your tables, but the clean incision into the carotid artery, the thread with which it was ligatured, the injected veins, prove him a liar. Who made that incision and injected that body, gentlemen of the faculty? The surgeons who examined his work say that he was no bungler. While he lay upon your table, the long white beard, which the hands of infant grandchildren had often stroked in love, was rudely shorn from his face. Have you so little care of your college that an unseen and an unknown man may do all this? Who took him from that table and hung him by the neck in the pit?”

As for the claim that the resurrectionist was entirely unknown to the faculty, Harrison knew that was false because he had been told by a sympathetic faculty member that despite his direct denials in the press, Dr. Seely knew the name of the likely grave-robber and was willing to relay that information to Harrison. When Benjamin Harrison and the unnamed faculty member went to see Dr. Seely, however, he refused to speak the name, afraid that he’d get in trouble since he had no conclusive proof that this person had actually committed the crime. Seely had the balls to ask Harrison for legal advice on what his rights and responsibilities were in this situation, and Benjamin, while declining to act as a legal advisor, to his credit told the doctor that if he was criminally complicit in any aspect of the case, he should not say anything about it to him, but that if he wasn’t involved, he should tell all. Seely chose silence.

This only heightened Benjamin’s suspicions of the faculty. He was sure they had gotten to Seely before he had and convinced him to be quiet or risk criminal charges. On June 3rd, Benjamin and John Harrison and Bernard Devin, Augustus’ older brother, returned to the Medical College for an even more in-depth search. This time they brought the Pinkerton detective and a reporter as well as Col. Snelbaker and multiple police officers. Again, they found no trace of Augustus Devin’s body, but they did find the clothes John Scott Harrison had been buried in jammed between the rafters of the ceiling.

Benjamin Harrison told the press: “This is an emphatic denial of the janitor’s story that the body was not taken out of the shaft by attaches of the College. It was taken out and stripped and then, when we put upon the track, it was placed in the shaft to avoid detection.”

The discovery of the clothes confirmed Benjamin’s belief that the Medical College officers were in this up to their necks. He was convinced they had specifically ordered the robbing of his father’s grave and was resolved to see the guilty parties on the faculty charged with the crime instead of just their patsy janitor. While he got his lawyer on and took it to the grand jury, other Harrisons, Devins, the Pinkerton detective and Col. Snelbaker would continue the search for Augustus Devin and for the elusive resurrectionist who had dug up the body of John Scott Harrison.


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Announcement From Laurel: Job Opening – Wreath Sovereign of Arms

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-10-31 18:18

The following is an official announcement sent out by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.

The Wreath Sovereign of Arms is an educational deputy of the Laurel Principal Sovereign of Arms, responsible for the consideration of and decisions concerning armory submitted for registration by the College of Arms.

Wreath is an unpaid position, currently requiring approximately 20 hours a week. Some knowledge of period heraldry is useful; knowledge of SCA heraldry is essential. The position requires considerable tact and patience, research and reasoning ability, a clear understanding of the Standards for Evaluation of Names and Armory and past Laurel rulings, the ability to write clearly and succinctly, the ability to work within tight deadlines and coordinate closely with Pelican, Laurel and other staff to produce a Laurel Letter of Acceptance and Return monthly, computer literacy and word processing skills, reliable e-mail and telephone access, and time and ability to travel. Given the current structure of the office, a high-speed internet connection is required.

Resumés must be sent electronically to Laurel at bids@heraldry.sca.org. Resumés must be received by Saturday, December 31, 2016, with an expected start date of February 2017, to be determined with the Laurel staff.

Filed under: Announcements, Official Notices

Artwork and Ordering Deadline for East Kingdom Calendars or Note Cards

East Kingdom Gazette - Mon, 2016-10-31 07:40

Aquarius by Mistress Kayleigh Mac Whyte

Aries by His Excellency Master Ursion de Gui

The deadline for ordering East Kingdom calendars or note cards is November 6, one week away.  We’ve posted the final scans of all the artwork so you can see the unusual and beautiful contributions of the scribes of the East to the project.  Orders will ship at the end of November, so they will be available for holiday gift giving.  You can order yours at the project’s website.

If you would like to dedicate a month to someone who inspires you or send a message to the kingdom, a few months still need sponsors.  A sponsors’  message is printed on their month’s page, and they receive a complimentary calendar and set of note cards.  For more information, contact Baroness Lucie Lovegood.

Cancer by Lady Christiane Crane

This is the third year for the project.  Sales help pay for the royalty’s travel and the cost of hosting visiting royalty from other kingdoms.  Due to the success of the project in prior years, this year’s proceeds with be split between both the seated royalty and their heirs.

Capricorn by Lady Lisabetta Medaglia (illumination) and Duchess Thyra Eiriksdotter (calligraphy)

More information about the project and the artists can be found at the website – www.eastkingdombookofdays.com.

Gemini by Boyar Aleksei Dmitriev

Leo by Mistress Elizabeth Elenore Lovell (illumination) and Mistress Eva Woodrose (calligraphy)

Pisces by Mistress Eloise of Coulter

Sagittarius by THL Katrusha Skomorokha

Scorpio by Master Nataliia Anastasiia Evgenova

Taurus by Lord Vettorio Antonello

Virgo by Mistress Rhonwen glyn Conwy

Filed under: Arts and Sciences

A True Tale of Grave-Robbing Horror, Part I

History Blog - Sun, 2016-10-30 23:00

John Scott Harrison, born October 4th, 1804, bears the unique distinction of having been both the child and father of US Presidents. His father William Henry Harrison was the ninth President and holds the record for the shortest tenure, having died of pneumonia on the 32nd day of his presidency. John Scott’s son Benjamin Harrison was the 23rd President, serving one full term from 1889 to 1893. The Honorable John Scott Harrison was a Congressman from Ohio, a gentleman farmer, a family man and a highly respected member of his community, but if he is remembered at all today, it is for what happened to him after his death, a true tale of horror that caused a nation-wide sensation.

After a peaceful death in his bed at Point Farm the night of May 25th, 1878, John Scott Harrison was buried in the family plot overlooking the Ohio River Valley in Congress Green Cemetery, North Bend, Ohio. The funeral took place on May 29th. As family and friends walked to the grave for the burial service, they were dismayed to see that the still-fresh grave of their kinsman Augustus Devin had been disturbed. John Scott’s daughter Sarah was married to Augustus’ uncle Thomas Jefferson Devin, and the families were very close. In fact, John Scott had visited Augustus two weeks before the 23-year-old died of tuberculosis, only to unexpectedly follow him to the grave just a week later. At first the funeral party thought wild hogs might be responsible for the churned-up soil at Augustus Devin’s grave, but upon closer inspection they found the young man’s body was gone, stolen by body-snatchers, the reviled resurrection men who made their living by trafficking the dead.

Horrified by this discovery and concerned that their father might suffer a similar indignity, Benjamin and his brothers John and Carter took additional measures to secure his final resting place. The grave was already brick vaulted with a thick stone bottom. They placed three large, heavy stone slabs eight inches thick on top of the metal casket — the largest at the head and the two smaller ones at the foot — and poured cement over them to create a solid block weighing nearly a ton. The grave was kept open for several hours until the cement dried. It was then filled and the family paid a watchman a dollar a night to guard the grave for 30 nights. Having seen his father safely to his eternal repose, Benjamin Harrison, a distinguished attorney and already a prominent figure in the Republican party, returned to his home in Indianapolis to prepare for a speech he was giving at the Republican State Convention on June 5th.

Benjamin’s youngest brother John Harrison went to Cincinnati with his nephew George Eaton to find and reclaim young Augustus’ body before the grieving mother had to be told it was gone. There was little question in their mind where the body had wound up. It was almost certainly sold to a local medical school, the primary receivers of stolen human flesh. While the Anatomy Act of 1832 had ended the illicit cadaver trade in the UK by supplying anatomy schools with bodies of unclaimed indigents, the federal system in the United States left that kind of legislation to individual states, and the notion of handing over the bodies of the poor for dissection offended American religious and moral sensibilities so much that few states made such provisions. This combined with the explosion of new medical schools in the mid-19th century (in 1800 there were 4 medical schools in the whole country; by 1876 there were 73; by the end of the century there were dozens more) to create a massive demand for anatomical “materiel” that the resurrection men were only too glad to fill.

An item in the Cincinnati Enquirer on the morning of May 30th gave Harrison and Eaton a valuable clue to the possible whereabouts of the missing body:

A Mystery.

About three o’clock this morning, a sensation was created on Vine street by a buggy being driven into the alley north of the Grand Opera house. It proceeded about half way through to Race street, when something white was taken out and disappeared. Several men started in to see what was going on, when the buggy drove out to Race street and left rapidly. The general impression was that a “stiff” was being smuggled into the Ohio Medical College.

This small blurb and the outrage to a well-connected family with legal clout was sufficient for John Harrison and George Eaton to secure a search warrant that very day for the Medical College of Ohio. Armed with the warrant, Harrison and Eaton, accompanied by former Cincinnati Chief of Police Colonel Thomas E. Snelbaker, Constable Lacey and Deputy Constable Tallen of the Cincinnati police, went to the college and insisted on searching the premises. They were accompanied by the very apprehensive janitor, A.Q. Marshall, who protested that the officers of the college should be present before they turned the place upside down.

The party proceeded to search every room on all five floors of the building, from cellar to garret. In the cellar they found a chute that opened onto the alley between Vine and Race Streets where the buggy had been seen dumping a suspicious white bundle at 3:00 o’clock that morning. This was how the resurrectionists surreptitiously delivered cadavers to the medical school. No need for daylight transactions that might raise awkward questions; no need for the faculty to interact with the grave-robbers in the presence of the evidence of their crimes. Another chute, this one running vertically from the cellar to the top of the building, was connected to it. The search party looked into both chutes, illuminating the darkness with their lamps, but saw nothing.

Most of the rooms upstairs were empty too, though they searched every lumber pile, box and closet. Then they came upon a dissection room. A student was using it for its intended purposes, cutting into a partial body — the head and chest of a black woman — merrily slicing away at the already putrefying flesh. Walking briskly past this macabre scene, they found a box of assorted limbs cut from cadavers and kept for later use. Mixed in with the arms and legs was the intact body of a six-month-old baby.

Disgusted and disturbed, they moved on to the top floor of the building. By this time, the police had allowed the janitor to leave, ostensibly to notify the school officers of the search, but Colonel Snelbaker was smart enough to have him followed. Instead of running off to alert the faculty, Mr. Marshall went upstairs to a room at the southeast corner of the building. He realized he was being shadowed so he turned around before entering, but it was too late. The cops now knew there was something worth hiding in that room.

John Harrison, George Eaton and the three police officers entered the suspicious room, finding boxes, a few bones, papers and assorted junk. In a corner of the room near a window was a windlass. A rope ran from it into a square hole in the floor, presumably reaching the bottom of the long chute in the cellar. This is how the bodies were moved from the cellar to the dissection rooms: they were tied to a rope and lifted by the windlass at the top of chute. Snelbaker saw that the rope was taut as if something heavy was tied to it. He turned the windlass and slowly the body of a man emerged from the hole, the rope tied around his neck and under one arm. He was naked except for a tattered shirt and a cloth covering his head.

John realized before the face was revealed that it could not be his cousin Augustus. The body was that of an old man in comparatively good health, not of a youth emaciated by the ravages of consumption. He was about to walk away when Snelbaker urged him to check, just in case. They pulled the body into the room and laid it on the floor. Blood trickled from a loosely stitched neck incision, forced out by the pressure of the rope. Slowly and somberly, Snelbaker loosened the rope around his neck so the cloth covering his face could be lifted.

Harrison had been right; it wasn’t the body of Augustus Devin. Under the cloth was the face of an elderly man, discolored and bruised from the rope and careless treatment at the hands of the resurrection men. He had short white hair and a snow-white beard cropped an inch below his chin. John Harrison staggered, suddenly weak at the knees. “It’s father,” he rasped, and collapsed to the floor. The body of the Honorable John Scott Harrison, buried in a cement-reinforced bricked vault less than 24 hours earlier, had been stolen from the grave, stripped of his clothing, shorn of his distinctive waist-length beard, and dangled from a rope in the cadaver chute of a medical school.


Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Coming attractions

History Blog - Sun, 2016-10-30 11:55

I won’t be posting a full article today because I’m working on a special Halloween treat for all you boys and girls. For the first time in The History Blog history, I am writing a multi-part story. It is a macabre tale full of chills, thrills and shocking twists that wouldn’t be out of place in a Hammer Horror movie, only it’s all true.

The first part will go live (or is it? ) at the stroke of midnight tonight.

AudioPlayer.setup("http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/plugins/simple-audio-player/player/player.swf", { width: 290 });

AudioPlayer.embed("audioplayer_8295", {soundFile: "http://www.thehistoryblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/10/vincent_price_laugh.mp3", titles: "Can you dig it?", autostart: "no", loop: "no", animation: "yes", remaining: "yes", noinfo: "no", initialvolume: "70", buffer: "5", encode: "no", checkpolicy: "no", rtl: "no", width: "100%", transparentpagebg: "no", bg: "E5E5E5", leftbg: "CCCCCC", lefticon: "333333", voltrack: "F2F2F2", volslider: "666666", rightbg: "B4B4B4", rightbghover: "999999", righticon: "333333", righticonhover: "FFFFFF", loader: "009900", track: "FFFFFF", tracker: "DDDDDD", border: "CCCCCC", skip: "666666", text: "333333"});

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Backyard Dyeing Fun!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-10-29 22:33

By Elska á Fjárfella (Susan Verberg).

Left to right: undyed, goldenrod, nettle, onion, onion (longer), iron – all unmordanted wool.

Having laid my hands on half a dozen skeins of plain white wool yarn, and having the resources of a homestead, I decided to combine the two under the guidance of my friend Angelika and try my hand at all-natural plant dyeing.

But where to start? And what to buy?

Isn’t dyeing quite an intricate and expensive challenge better left to the experienced and initiated?

In part that is true; it is quite handy learning to dye from someone who has done it before.

But it does not have to be difficult or expensive at all (it can be as intricate only as you decide to make it). If you’re looking for a specific shade and want to be able to duplicate, my way is not the way for you. But if you’re happy to get color — and even happier if it is mostly the color you intended — you can get a surprising amount of dyeing fun out of an ordinary backyard.

We both prefer natural fibers so we used a selection of linen, cotton, and wool fabrics and fibers. I quickly learned that plant-based fibers and animal-based fibers do not take color the same way. Plant-based fibers are made from cellulose, which is fairly resistant to taking dye. Animal fibers are made from protein and are relatively easy to dye. Both need a little help to create a good connection between fibers and dye; this process is called “mordanting.”

From looking over Angelika’s shoulders and listening to her explanations the past few years (she loves dyeing with natural materials), I picked up that some dyes need mordanting, some fibers need it, too, but not always or in the same amounts… but why? As it turns out, most fibers and dyes are not all that compatible because there isn’t a lot for the dye to adhere to. So to give the dye a place to stick, something is added that bridges or sticks both to the fabric and to the dye.

In the case of cellulose fibers, a tannin mordant is needed, followed by a metal mordant; in the case of protein fibers, a metal mordant is enough. It is possible to dye wool without mordants but the result won’t be as vibrant; onion and tea are high in tannin and will dye, but mordanting influences the intensity of color. Black walnut is a bit of an odd one since it does not need mordanting because it is high in natural mordants; however, the chemical structure of the pigment allows it to directly adhere to the protein fiber!

Processing sumac leaves to make a tannin mordant.

Two good sources for tannin mordants are sumac and rhubarb leaves. Since rhubarb is easily available in spring and sumac easy to find in summer and fall, these two make a good three-season source of natural tannin mordant. With both sumac and rhubarb the leaves are used, not the wood; for each pound of dry yarn use four pounds of greens.

  • Put leaves in a big pot, cover with water, bring to a boil, and boil for an hour.
  • After an hour remove the greens, add the cellulose yarn and let sit for another hour, or two.

Another source for tannins would be black tea, but as that is highly concentrated it would also act as a dye and darken the yarn significantly. Sumac does too, but not as significant and therefore does not interfere with the dyeing process as much, making it a better tannin mordant for brighter colors (and it’s free).

A good metal mordant is alum, or aluminum sulfate, which is fairly inexpensive and sold over the internet at stores specializing in dyes. Use 10% for wool or up to 20% for fine yarn like silk, cotton, or linen, of the dry weight of the yarn.

  • Add enough water to submerge the yarn, bring to a boil, turn off, add the damp yarn and let steep for an hour, or so.
  • Do not boil fibers, especially wool roving and tips, as the roiling bubble action of boiling can naturally felt it!

Mordanting the fibers in sumac ‘tea’ overnight

Mordant the evening before and let the yarn sit in the mordant overnight; that way, the yarn is cooled down enough it can easily be squeezed or wrung dry for the next step, the dye bath. Keep in mind that each mordant results in slightly different color dyes, so choose accordingly. For instance, chromium really brightens colors (but is poisonous), alum gives clear colors, tin brightens colors and can also be used as an afterbath (adding it to the dye late to darken), copper gives the best greens and iron darkens, and is often used as an afterbath. Both copper and iron can be made at home: copper can be added by dyeing in a copper pot, and an iron solution can easily be made by adding vinegar to iron scraps (like nails and pieces of cheap fencing) in a glass jar… but be careful not to screw down the lid as the exothermic reaction might respond unexpectantly!

Harvesting stinging nettles is quite a prickly business!

Using plant materials it is not all that difficult to dye yellows; pale yellow, lime yellow, greenish yellow, brownish yellow – most plants give some sort of yellow dye. Like ragweed dyes a greenish yellow, birch & poplar dyes yellow, any of the rosacea leaves dye yellow, peach & apple leaves dye yellow and bindweed dyes a light green yellow. It’s the other colors that are harder to find:

  • Onion skins can dye a bright orange.
  • Reportedly,bindweed roots dye a slight pink, as do rhubarb roots (but I’m not digging up my patch!).
  • Willow leaves and bark dye a cinnamon brown, black walnut a deep brown at first draw and a cinnamon brown at the second.
  • We also tried some odd ones like daffodil heads (yellow) and tageta flowers (also yellow) and honestly, if there is any indication of dye (it stains your fingers while weeding) get a bunch, boil it down, and see what happens!

Harvesting goldenrod flowers to make a bright yellow dye.

Except for a few dyestuffs, like goldenrod, most dye baths benefit from prolonged exposure. A good rule of thumb is to make your bath in the afternoon, add the yarn, put the colander with greens on top of it (keeps the yarn submerged and keeps steeping more dye) and let it sit overnight. You’ll benefit from the cooler evening temperatures to cool down your kitchen again and as an added bonus the yarn is nicely cooled down by the next day to easily be rinsed in cold water without starting a felting reaction. Let it dry, or set, completely – out of the sun – before washing with soap.

Goldenrod dye with unmordanted wool yarn (top left) and alum mordanted wool (top right).

In the case of goldenrod, the flowers give the bright yellow color and are a potent dye. The longer it sits, though, the deeper the color gets and at some point the green stems and small leaves, which dye brown, will add, making it even darker. So for a bright yellow 15 minutes tends to be the optimum time. Similar with onion peels; sitting overnight can darken the orange towards brown. Black walnut is also a powerful dye and needs no mordanting at all for wool fibers, making it a good beginner’s dye. It also has antifungal properties and was used for wool underclothing throughout history to help prevent skin conditions!

Onion skin dye with alum mordanted wool fiber and unmordanted wool yarn.

For my first project we used well known dye plants like black walnut leaves, goldenrod flowers, stinging nettle and onion peels. We could have weighed the greens, but as our limitation was space in the pots, not the amount of greens, we picked as much as we could fit into each stockpot. As I could fit three stockpots on my stovetop we made three dye baths at the same time, in a similar fashion as the mordant solution: cover the greens with water, bring to a boil and boil for an hour, or so. Remove the greens, turn off the heat, add the yarn – and see the color change…

We dyed plant fibers and protein fibers and got wildly different results – both between the two types of fibers and from what we expected and what actually happened. Unless every variable, including temperature, pH & weights, are carefully controlled, natural dyeing is quite the spontaneous undertaking! For instance; a linen dress I was hoping to dye a deep brown with black walnut turned into a beautiful yellow copper instead – linen really does not take dye very well. A cotton dress I was hoping to dye yellow with logwood turned blue instead! The wool was mordanted in an acidic environment (an alkaline can damage wool fibers) but not rinsed really well, acidifying the dye to a pretty yellow brown. But when we made a new batch and added the cotton dress it was naturally alkaline and dyed a deep blue!

We sure saw chemistry in action: what a difference the nature of fibers makes, how some dyes react to changes in the pH but others not at all, the color difference a bit of metal mordant makes, how some strike enthusiastically quick but others need soaking overnight… to get a taste of all the intricate variables possible while still being such a surprisingly easy and rather satisfying project… I totally see how natural dyeing quickly can become quite the passion!

See Elska’s blog here for the rest of her dyeing adventures. 

Categories: SCA news sites

Ancient cemetery unearthed in Batroun, Lebanon

History Blog - Sat, 2016-10-29 16:52

An archaeological survey in advance of new construction in the city of Batroun, about 20 miles north of Byblos on the Mediterranean coast of northern Lebanon, has unearthed an ancient burial ground. Archaeologists from Lebanon’s Directorate General of Antiquities (DGA) found 17 graves with skeletal remains at the site of a planned addition to the San Stephano Resort. Initial osteological examination found the remains of men, women and children.

Preliminary estimates date the graveyard to the 2nd or 3rd century A.D., a period when the city prospered under Roman rule. These estimates are based mainly on the type of interrals: coffin burials. The wood has not survived, but the coffin nails have. There are few grave goods — a coin, an iron ring and two modest pieces of Greek pottery from the Hellenistic period — but nothing clearly datable to the Roman period. A Roman-era necropolis was found nearby during construction of the main road, so this may be a continuation of the same burial ground.

Batroun is one of the most ancient cities in the world, although the date of its founding is ambiguous. Ancient sources appear to differ on the matter, and it’s hard to pin down because the name of the town changes. The city of “Batruna” is mentioned by Rib-Hadda, the king of Gubla (Byblos to the Greeks), in EA 79 of the Amarna letters, a collection of diplomatic correspondence to Pharaoh Akhenaten incised on clay tablets in the 14th century B.C.; some scholars believe this Batruna is Batroun. However, 2nd century B.C. Greek historian Menander of Ephesus is quoted in Flavius Josephus’s Antiquities of the Jews (Book VIII, 13, 2) saying “the city Botrys in Phoenicia” was founded by Ithobaal I of Tyre, the 9th century B.C. Phoenician king whose daughter Jezebel became infamous thanks to the Biblical account of her marriage to Ahab. The Greek name for Batroun is Botrys, Bothrys or Bostrys.

As the Rib-Hadda was appealing to Akhenaten for military aid against the nomadic Apiru or Habiru people who were in league with his enemy Abdi-Ashirta, the Amorite king of Amurru, it’s possible that Amarna-period city of Batruna was sacked and then refounded by Ithobaal in the 9th century. It was subsequently conquered by the Assyrians, Alexander the Great, the Arab Iturean tribes and the Romans. It was part of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Antioch when on July 9th, 551 A.D., it was all but destroyed by a massive earthquake that levelled many Levantine cities. It reappears in the historical record in the 12th century when Crusaders took it from the Emirate of Banu Ammar.

Whatever the exact date of its founding and gaps in occupation, Batroun is one of the most ancient cities in the world. It has notable archaeological remains from the Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman and Crusader periods, including a protective sea wall the Phoenicians built by adding masonry to a natural formation of petrified sand dunes. The wall is 740 feet long, the longest Phoenician structure still in existence, and is up to 16 feet high in parts.

Roman remains include a rock-cut theater which is on private property but is open to the public and irrigation channels, some of which have been integrated into the modern canal system. The earthquake claimed a great deal of the Roman city, so the discovery of the burial ground is highly significant. The remains will be removed to the Directorate General of Antiquities in Beirut for further analysis and study. Radiocarbon dating should confirm the date of this necropolis.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Rare Pictish cross slab found on Orkney

History Blog - Fri, 2016-10-28 21:02

The Orkney Islands at the northern tip of Scotland have a uniquely rich archaeological patrimony going back 8,500 years to the Mesolithic era. Because the coastal areas of the archipelago are highly susceptible to erosion, particularly in the winter when storms and tides batter them mercilessly, archaeologists keep a sharp eye out for any artifacts or remains that may have been exposed by erosion.

That’s what Dr. Hugo Anderson-Whymark was doing on the East Mainland coast when he discovered a stone slab jutting out of the cliff face. He saw that it wasn’t a natural stone, but had been shaped and carved with designs. Much of the carved surface was obscured by its position in the cliff. Dr. Anderson-Whymark was able to see part of the carving, a beast or dragon in an S-shape that is characteristic of Pictish design from the 3rd to the 8th centuries. Because more storms were expected within days, the stone had to be recovered as quickly as possible or risk literally falling off a cliff.

The Orkney Research Centre for Archaeology (ORCA), with the aid of Historic Environment Scotland which provided funding for the excavation and conservation of the artifact, sent a team to excavate the slab. Once it was removed, experts identified it as a Pictish cross slab from the 8th century. The stone, 2.8 feet long by 1.8 feet wide and 3.6 inches thick, is incomplete and weathered, but an intricately carved cross stood out on the front face with the dragon/beast at its side. The rear face, even more weathered than the front, featured another beast with what looks like a beak holding a staff.

Nick Card, senior projects manager at the University of the Highlands and Islands Archaeology Institute’s Orca, said: “Carved Pictish cross slabs are rare across Scotland with only two having been discovered in Orkney.

“This is therefore a significant find and allows us to examine a piece of art from a period when Orkney society was beginning to embrace Christianity. Now that the piece is recorded and removed from site, we can concentrate on conserving the delicate stone carving and perhaps re-evaluate the site itself.”

Once the stone is cleaned and conserved, ORCA hopes to put it on public display.

Dr. Hugo Anderson-Whymark scanned both sides of the cross slab as soon as it was free and clear, before it was cleaned. Here’s the 3D model created from the scan.

Pictish Cross Slab, front, by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark

Pictish Cross Slab, back, by Dr Hugo Anderson-Whymark

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History


East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-10-28 11:00

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 August 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings.

EAST acceptances

Akiyama Kintsune. Name.

The question was raised whether the use of the element Kin- in the given name is presumptuous. This element has the meaning of “public official/officer/noble/duke” in classical Chinese (see Solveig Throndardottir’s Name Construction in Medieval Japan, revised edition, p. 192). As part of an attested given name, the use of an element that may indicate rank is not an unmistakable claim of rank. Therefore, the use of this element is not presumptuous, as it is clear it is not a form of address.

The submitter requested authenticity for a Japanese name. This name is not authentic because Akiyama is most likely a buke (military class) surname. Buke names follow the pattern of a family name/surname followed by a yobina (general use name) and a nanori (official/formal given name). This name only contains a surname and a nanori.

Bardolph Karlson. Name.

The submitter originally requested authenticity for a 12th century Anglo-Saxon name, but withdrew this request. The submitter may wish to know that this name is authentic for early 17th century England.

Bess Brechin. Name and device. Gules, on a saltire argent between four maple leaves Or five gouttes palewise gules.

Nice 16th century Scottish name!

Cristina Volpina. Badge. Gules, on a bezant a sun-cross gules.

Commenters wondered whether this design was too close to the X-Men logo. It is not. The rotation clears the potential presumption by changing the orientation.

It also does not presume upon the important non-SCA arms of the Arch-Steward of the Holy Roman Empire: Gules, an orb Or. There is a DC for the addition of a tertiary charge group and, by precedent, there is at least a DC between an orb and a roundel [Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme, A-Caid, May 2010 LoAR].

Dietrich of Timis. Device. Sable, a tower conjoined to park pales extending to sinister and on a chief argent an eagle vert.

Dragonship Haven, Barony of. Guild name Worshipful Company of Artificers of Dragonship Haven.

Submitted as Worshipful Company of Artificers, precedent implies that [designator] of Artificers is too generic to be registered:

[registering Company of Artificers of Marinus] Submitted as Company of Artificers, we have with the consent of the submissions herald, added the phrase “of Marinus” to make it less generic. [Marinus, Barony of, September 1996, p. 3]

The December 2002 Cover Letter states that the addition of a branch name does not make such a non-personal name less generic:

A submission this month raised the issue of generic identifiers again. Given the confusion that exists regarding what is and is not a generic identifier, as well as how generic identifiers are used, we are providing a clarification of this issue.

Generic identifiers are descriptions that may be associated with registered items (mainly badges) to identify the use of that item. Unlike registered names (award names, order names, guild names, household names, et cetera), generic identifiers are not registered as an independent item and are not protected from conflict. This does not mean that the group may not use this identifier, but simply that we will not limit the usage of that identifier to a single group.

Names that fall into the generic identifier category are names that would reasonably be used by more than one branch for common functions of the branch. All kingdoms can have a university. All baronies can have a baronial guard. All groups can have an equestrian guild.

Adding the name of the branch to the description does not affect generic identifiers (because branch identifiers are transparent for conflict). As an example, Outlands Equestrian Guild falls into the generic category because the only thing that would differentiate it from Equestrian Guild of Calontir are the branch identifiers Outlands and of Calontir.

However, later precedent shows that Worshipful Company of X is not generic when a branch name is included:

Submitted as a badge for The Most Worshipful Company of Æthelmearc Cooks and Bakers, as that name is neither registered nor a generic identifier we are unable to make this association. Recent precedent states:

Which gets us to the main question — is Worshipful Company of X, where X is a generic descriptive element a generic identifier? The January 1993 coverletter [sic] had this to say on the subject “A better term might be “job-description”: a simple declaration of the intended use of the badge…So long as the badge is associated with a purely functional name, it’s [the name] neither checked for conflict during submission or protected from conflict afterwards.” The addition of the adjective Worshipful lifts this out of the realm of purely functional, even through the adjective is part of the designator and not part of the descriptive element. [Lochac, Kingdom of, A-Lochac, 08/2004]

[Æthelmearc, Kingdom of, October 2006, A-Æthelmearc]

Therefore, we uphold the precedents that Worshipful Company of X is not generic as long as a branch name is also included and have added of Dragonship Haven in order to register this guild name. This ruling does not mean that generic identifiers in general can be made registerable in this manner.

Fearghus mac Cailín. Device. Per fess sable and argent, a sun Or and a wolfhound courant sable and in chief two mullets of seven points argent.

Fearghus mac Griogair. Device. Argent, a squirrel’s head cabossed sable jessant-de-lys vert.

The use of jessant-de-lys with anything other than a lion’s or leopard’s head is a step from period practice.

Halldís Úlfsdóttir. Name.

Submitted as Halldís Úlfsdottir, the accent in the given name was inadvertently dropped by kingdom: Halldis Úlfsdottir. We have restored the given name to the submitted form. In addition, we have modified the byname in order to use accents consistently throughout the name: Úlfsdóttir.

Hrafn Isauga. Name.

Submitted as Hrafn Is-augu, the constructed byname Is-augu was intended to mean “ice-eyes”. In commentary, ffride wlffsdotter found examples such as hrakauga (“crack-eye”), járnauga (“iron-eye”), and krókauga “hook-eye” in Tilnavne i den islandske oldlitteratur by Finnur Jónsson (http://heimskringla.no/wiki/Tilnavne) and in Lind Personbinamn. However, all of these examples use the singular form “eye”. Therefore, we have changed the byname to the singular form Isauga (“ice-eye”) to register this name.

Kellenin de Lanwinnauch. Name change from Rys Waytheman.

Nice Welsh name for around 1200!

The submitter’s previous name, Rys Waytheman, is retained as an alternate name.

Morwenna O Hurlihie. Name and device. Vert, in fess three drop spindles argent.

Morwenna is an English saint’s name.

Regnulf of Crakehale. Name and device. Vert, a corncrake and on a chief embattled Or three acorns vert.

This is the defining instance of the corncrake in Society armory. This bird is described in “De Arte Venandi Cum Avibus of Frederick II of Hohenstaufen” and the spelling “Corne Crake” dated to 1455 in the OED.

For purpose of conflict checking, the bird is considered poultry-shaped.

Settmour Swamp, Barony of. Order name Company of Mud.

This order name follows the pattern of naming an order after a founder. In this case, Mud is a late period English surname used as a given name.

Settmour Swamp, Barony of. Order name Order of the Copper Tower.

The pattern Order of the [Metal] Tower is grandfathered to the submitter.

Syele von Heidelberg. Badge. (Fieldless) On a garb Or a scythe vert.

Þorsteinn Hroðbjartsson. Device. Per pale azure and argent, a fox rampant contourny and a seal haurient embowed counterchanged, on a chief Or five hop cones inverted vert.

Vivien de Valois. Device. Argent, a lion passant double queued and in base two crescents gules, a bordure sable.

Yamada Kiku. Name.

The submitter requested authenticity for a Japanese name, but with no specific time period.

The given name Kiku was popular in the Muromachi period (1333-1573). However, Keystone noted in commentary that it is very unusual for a monothematic feminine given name like Kiku to be used without a prefix or suffix. In this case, Kiku is attested during the Muromachi period (1333-1573). At that time, according to Solveig Throndardottir’s Name Construction in Medieval Japan (NCMJ, revised edition), “the o- prefix to women’s names became universal for the buke class. Further, their names were frequently followed by the common name of a father, a husband, or another male relative.” Therefore, the given name plus the honorific would be O-kiku, with or without the male relative’s common name.

In addition, Keystone considered the surname Yamada to be unlikely, as it is a kuge (imperial court nobility) name. NCMJ states that women retained their uji (clan names) throughout life and these ujiwere combined with their personal names by the Kamakura period.

Therefore, this name is not authentic, but it is registerable.

Filed under: Announcements, Heraldry, Official Notices