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Rare Viking coins found in Belfast

History Blog - Mon, 2016-11-28 23:37

A metal detectorist has discovered two 11th century Viking silver coins near Newcastle in Co Down, Northern Ireland. Brian Morton was scanning a field last May when he found the silver pennies half an inch apart under four inches of mud. He didn’t know he’d found an extremely rare historical treasure. That was formally confirmed last week when a coroner’s inquest in Belfast declared the coins official treasure trove.

Made of 93% silver, the coins are of a rare type known as Hiberno-Manx coins. The rulers of Mann in the first half of the 11th century were Vikings from Scandinavia and from Dublin. Olaf Sigtryggsson, King of Mann in the early 1030s, was the son of Sigtrygg Silkbeard, King of Dublin, and his wife Sláine, daughter of Irish king and national hero Brian Boru. Viking Dublin had its own mint and issued coins which copied English designs. The Hiberno-Manx coins were very rough versions of the Dublin designs.

Despite the political and familial connections between Mann and Dublin and the numismatic mimicry, more than 90% of all known Hiberno-Manx coins have been found on the Isle of Man, which strongly suggests they circulated exclusively as currency on the island itself. The rest were found in Scandinavia. The two discovered by Brian Morton are the first to have been found in Ireland. (There are some in Irish private collections, but they were unearthed elsewhere or their find sites cannot be authenticated.)

How the coins made their way to the Co Down hinterland remains uncertain, but one possibility is that they were taken during a Viking raid on a nearby monastery at Maghera, the court was told. The discovery may also reflect more peaceful trading or strategic links between the Isle of Man and south-east Ulster.

Robert Heslip, a former curator of coins at the Ulster Museum, said they were probably dropped by someone passing rather than deliberately hidden.

He explained: “I would think that it is more likely to be a loss given that they were separated. Also, two is an odd number. You generally find one or a hoard of these coins.” [...]

Dr Greer Ramsey, of National Museums Northern Ireland, said: “We take coinage totally for granted but, prior to the Viking period in Ireland, there wasn’t coinage, and silver was the main form of currency. … The significance is that these coins are really the first that we can say were found in Ireland. It is a measure of contact – that people from the Isle of Man were travelling over.”

Next up for the coins is a valuation by independent experts at the British Museum. They’ll determine the fair market value which will be ponied up by whichever museum wants the coin as a finder’s fee to be split between Morton and the landowner. Local museums are given the opportunity to secure the treasure first, and given the oversized historical significance of these small pennies, I have little doubt the National Museums Northern Ireland, likely the Ulster Museum, will snap them up.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Event Report: Æthelmearc Æcademy

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-11-28 19:48

Mistress Alicia Langland, Chancellor of the Æcademy, reports on the doings at the fall session held on November 12, A.S. 51.

No matter whether you were hungry for a smorgasbord of classes or an all-day tuck-in, the recent Æthelmearc AEcademy and War College, hosted by the Shire of Nithgaard, surely had something of interest.

Some of the highlights on the menu included:

  • An all-day scribal workshop on Italian White Vine, a soup-to-nuts series that covered design, gilding, painting, and calligraphy. Some of the students had never held a paintbrush before, yet they left the class with a breathtaking piece-in-progress.

Master Kameshima teaches calligraphy at the Italian White Vine scribal class. Photo by Mistress Alicia.

  • A four-hour hands-on build-your-own-trebuchet class included a field trip outside to see a trebuchet in action.

THLady Rosalia demonstrates the handheld trebuchet. Photo by Mistress Alicia.

  • Two classes on brewing – one for beginners, one for advanced students – were followed in the afternoon by a two-hour roundtable hosted by Lady Elska á Fjárfella. A dozen brewers happily spent time tasting and discussing samples of their craft.
  • Fiber and textile arts classes were so abundant that they nearly filled two entire tracks! Classes on everything from spinning, knitting, and tablet weaving to bookmarks, silk banners, and printed textiles made it difficult to choose which to attend and which to miss.

Mistress Rhiannon teaching her bookmark class. Photo by Mistress Alicia.

  • Youth-friendly classes made learning accessible and fun for children of all ages (these classes even attracted adults unaccompanied by minors!). Young scholars made Italian desserts, played period games, created a Viking pouch, and printed designs on fabric. One of the classes – Period Games for Youth — was taught by Their Highnesses’ pre-teen sons, Douglas and Timothy the Younger.

Kids learning to make marzipan. Photo by Lady Arianna dal Vallone.

  • The large indoor gym provided space all day for small-group and one-on-one instruction in the martial arts. On one side, fencers honed their skills with the blade while on the other, heavy fighters squared off to teach and learn.

For those who craved a smattering of learning, the schedule included topics to tempt almost every taste. Accessories, Embroidery, Food, Literary Arts, Music, Soap-making and more were represented. Make-and-take classes as well as history and service-oriented classes were offered.

Mistress Alfrun teaching spinning. Photo by Mistress Alicia Langland.

Many of the classes had never been offered at Æcademy before. For some teachers, this was their first time teaching at Æcademy; for a few, this was their first-ever teaching experience.

Baron Friderich Swartzwalder’s silk banner class. Photo by Mistress Alicia.

A testament to the excellent offerings on the schedule and to the event staff’s terrific publicity, attendance was nearly double what was expected.  Kudos to the event staff – particularly the kitchen crew – for being so welcoming and accommodating.

Following the end of classes, Their Majesties capped the day with a court that had everyone in stitches. It was a wonderful end to a wonderful day.

Master Creador gifts Her Majesty with a period fishing pole at court. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.

We hope you will reserve Saturday, June 17, 2017, and plan to attend the next session of Æthelmearc Æcademy and War College, which will be held in the Shire of Angel’s Keep (central New York / Auburn NY).


Categories: SCA news sites

Ancient Mixtec skull a forgery

History Blog - Sun, 2016-11-27 22:31

An ancient turquoise-encrusted skull acquired by the National Museum of Ethnology in Leiden, the Netherlands, back in 1963 has been discovered to be a forgery. It was believed to be a very rare skull made by the Mixtec people of Postclassic Mexico (1200-1600 A.D.) who were renown for their craftsmanship in metal and precious stones. They made skulls and masks inlaid with turquoise, pyrite, gold and obsidian. Only about 20 Mixtec skulls decorated with precious stones are known to exist, but they are all of questionable origin. Their find sites and finders are unknown.

The National Museum of Ethnology bought theirs for the equivalent of about $20,000. Considered one of the greatest masterpieces of the genre, it is inlaid with small turquoise, shell and mother-of-pearl tiles all over the face, in circles around the eye sockets and larger rectangular tiles in the shape of a snake winding across the forehead. It was thought to date to around the 15th century.

Research into its origins took a new turn in 2010 when conservator Martin Berger heard from a colleague in Marseille that a private collector had recently donated a similar skull with the caveat that he suspected it might be a forgery. Between 2012 and 2016, Berger took the skull to Paris and back to Leiden where he and his colleagues subjected it to extensive testing. Radiocarbon dating and stable isotope analysis of tooth enamel samples found that the skull’s geographic origin and age indicated it was authentic Mixtec. The turquoise was authentic archaeological stone as well.

There was but one element left to test: the glue. The Mixtec made adhesives out of pine resin and orchids. Analysis of the glue used to affix the mosaic tiles to the skull discovered that it was a 20th century product commonly used in art restoration. That means someone in the 20th century took a genuine Mixtec skull and stuck genuine Mixtec mosaic tiles on it in a plausibly Mixtec style. So it’s a counterfeit made on an authentic foundation.

Conservators believe they know who might have done the job. There was a Mexican dentist working in the 1940s and 50s who was known to dabble in recreations of Mesoamerican artwork. In the mid-century period, Mexico’s archaeological sites were extensively looted and it would have been difficult to scare up a genuine skull and a bunch of genuine tiles. Apparently this dentist’s work appeared in more than one museum. He’s a suspect in this case because there is evidence that some of the teeth on the skull have been tampered with, and that was obviously in his professional wheelwell.

The National Museum of Ethnology is keeping the skull on display.

Asked whether he was disappointed by the revelation, Berger told the newspaper: “No.”

“In actual fact it’s given us a bizarre story and that’s exactly what museums want to do, to tell stories. It remains as one of our masterpieces — except, we’ve changed the information on the sign board.”

In any case, said Berger, the skull is only a “partial forgery”.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Mark Your Calendars for C3R in January

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2016-11-27 15:39

Greetings and a friendly reminder that College of 3 Ravens will be here before you know it!
This year, it will be earlier than normal: January 28th.

I am class coordinator and am looking for classes and teachers.  Please contact me to schedule your class, and include “C3R” in the subject line.
Thank you,
Adelheid Grunewalderin


Her Avian Excellency Sadira and her Barony of Thescorre are pleased to invite you to the College of Three Ravens, which will be in held on January 28th, 2017. The College will take place at the Western Presbyterian Church, located at 101 E. Main St, Palmyra, NY 14622.

The site will open at 9 a.m. and close at 9 p.m. Those present after 9 p.m. will be welcomed as volunteer clean-up crew. Classes will begin at 10 a.m. and continue until at least 4 p.m. The site is handicapped accessible and has ample parking.

We are anticipating a variety of classes. If you have a class that you would like to teach, please contact the Chancellor of Classes, Lady Adelheid Grunewalderin otfridssister at yahoo dot com – please include“C3R” in the subject line.


  • Adult Event Registration: $12
  • Adult Member Discount Event Registration: $7
  • Child, age 5 to 17 Event Registration: $4
  • Child, age 0 to 4 Event Registration: Free
  • Family Cap: $22 (for event registration only)

Event registration includes a sideboard lunch prepared by Lady Marguerite De Neufchasteau (Nancy Weed). For allergies and other food concerns, you may contact her at (315) 947-6968 (please no calls after 10pm) or nancyfuller1964 at yahoo dot com.

Baroness Katja Davidova Orlova Khazarina is planning a Tudor-era English dinner with the help of the Cauldron Bleu Cooks Guild. For allergies and other food concerns, contact Katja at katja at thescorre dot org. The fee for feast will be $9 for adults and $5 for children. Seating is limited and cannot be guaranteed unless reserved by 1/20/17. (Head cook’s note: Anyone who wishes to play in the kitchen, please feel free to contact me.)

The site is dry (no alcohol is permitted) No flames, open or enclosed, are allowed.

Pre-reservation for this event is always appreciated for planning both the sideboard & feast. Please send reservations to the reservationist/tollner Baroness Baroness Bronwyn nic Gregor (Wendy Sardella) 1728 Qualtrough Rd., Rochester, N.Y. 14625 (585) 264-1496. Please do not call after 9 p.m. Checks are to be made payable to SCA NY Inc – Barony of Thescorre. Please include modern name, SCAdian name and membership status for each person to be covered by your payment. Also, indicate if any are minors, and for whom feast reservations are desired. Inclusion of contact info will be invaluable in clarifications. As usual, the only good reservation is a paid reservation.

For further information or questions, please contact the autocrat: Lord Simon Caminante (James Fitch) jamesfitch3 at gmail dot com, (585) 802-2999 (voice or text, calls before 9 am will not be answered by a properly caffineated autocrat) 5315 W Henrietta Rd, Henrietta, NY 14467.

Directions: Take your best route to I-90 (the NYS Thruway), Exit 43 (Route 21). Turn left on Route 21 North. Follow Route 21 6.2 miles to Route 31. Cross Route 31 onto Church Street and turn right into the Church parking lot.

Categories: SCA news sites

Regional Brewers Slake Thirst for a Champion

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-11-26 19:49

Submitted by The Honorable Lord Madoc Arundel, Region 2 Representative of the Æthelmearc Brewers Guild: 

The Brewers Guild of Æthelmearc held their annual competition at Bacon and Brewing Bash III on October 22 in the Shire of Hunter’s Home. This is the third iteration of this competition and the second time it has been used to choose a regional champion. Judging was done face-to-face with each contestant, and involved two judges using the current A&S rubric for brewing and vintning (posted on the Guild website). This year, entries were limited to beer/ale, mead, wine, and hard cider. A total of five brewers entered nine beverages for consideration, although only seven of the beverages were eligible for the championship as the other two were submitted by a competitor from outside Region 2.

The overall winner of the competition was Lady Rhiannon filia Catell of the Barony of the Cleftlands with a score of 104/120 for a cinnamon melomel that one judge was heard to proclaim “tasted like Christmas.” The winner of the Region 2 Championship was Baron Rauthbjorn Lothbroke with a score of 96/120 for an aged pyment that had an extraordinarily rich flavor.

The other entries included:

  • Lord Rodrick Longshanks with a hard cider and a strawberry-jalapeno mead
  • Lady Rhiannon filia Catell with a pear-vanilla mead
  • Lady Caoilfionn of the Woods with two different hard ciders
  • Baron Rauthbjorn Lothbroke with a kvass (Russian bread-beer)
  • Lord Hrungnir of Riversedge with a raspberry melomel

Congratulations to the winners, and vivant to all the entrants. Remember – it’s not too late to start brewing for next year.

Categories: SCA news sites

3,800-year-old Canaanite “Thinker” figurine found in Israel

History Blog - Sat, 2016-11-26 12:51

An excavation in Yehud, Israel, prior to construction of new housing has unearthed a unique ancient pottery jug topped with a figurine in a reflective posture reminiscent of Rodin’s “The Thinker.” The clay vessel was discovered on the last day of the dig by a team of professional archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority and very fortunate high school students in an archaeology-themed matriculation stream. It was one of several artifacts and remains — daggers, arrowheads, an axe head, sheep bones and the bones of another animal, probably a donkey — found with the jug. Archaeologists believe at least some of these were funerary offerings for a prominent individual, and an extraordinarily rich array of grave goods at that.

The pot-bellied jug with a spigot on one side of the neck is of a shape and style common to the Middle Bronze Age period about 3,800 years ago, but the figurine attached to the neck is one of a kind. Nothing like it has been found before. The figurine appears to have been added after the basic vessel was complete. Archaeologists aren’t sure if the same potter who made the jug also created the figurine. It’s possible a second artisan created it, using the neck of the jug as the torso of the figure and then adding the arms, leg and face.

The figure sits on top of the jug, his knees bent and left arm crossing both knees. His right arm is bent, elbow behind the other arm on his knee, his hand holding his chin as if he is deep in thought. The degree of detail is exceptional and very unusual for pottery of the period.

The students who got to see this charming figure excavated are thrilled.

“Suddenly I saw many archaeologists and important people arriving who were examining and admiring something that was uncovered in the ground” recalls Ronnie Krisher, a pupil in the Land of Israel and Archaeology stream in the Roeh religious girls high school in Ramat Gan. “They immediately called all of us to look at the amazing statuette and explained to us that this is an extremely rare discovery and one that is not encountered every day. It is exciting to be part of an excavation whose artifacts will be displayed in the museum”.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Was a 14th c. queen the first to survive a caesarean?

History Blog - Fri, 2016-11-25 23:28

Caesarean sections have the reputation of being named after Julius Caesar because he was delivered surgically from his mother Aurelia. That is a myth that grew from a misunderstanding of the ancient sources in the 10th century. Pliny states in Natural History (Book VII, Chapter 7) that the dictator’s branch of the Julius family acquired the cognomen of Caesar because the first to bear the name was excised from his mother’s womb (from the Latin “caedo,” meaning “to cut”). In other words, the Caesars were named after the section, not the other way around, and Julius just inherited the moniker. Anyway Aurelia lived for many years after her son’s birth, and c-sections were only performed on dead or dying women because an abdominal incision was considered impossible to survive at that time.

It was impossible for a very long time after Caesar, as a matter of fact. Without anesthesia, the pain from abdominal surgery would cause massive traumatic shock. If that didn’t kill you on the spot, the blood loss would. If by some miracle the mother managed to survive the immediate dangers, infection would surely finish the job. It wasn’t until the second half of the 19th century that the advances in surgical procedure — Listerism to combat infection, anesthetics like ether, nitrous oxide and chloroform to keep shock at bay — made caesarean sections a consistently survivable option for emergency delivery.

There are a few reports of women managing to survive c-sections from before modern surgery. The earliest dates to 1500 and was first included as a case history almost a century later in a 1581 obstetrics monograph, L’hysterotomotokie ou enfantement césarien, by Parisian physician Francois Rousset who named the procedure after Caesar. The mother was the wife of a swine-gelder named Jacob Nufer from Turgau, Switzerland. After days of labour and with both his wife and baby in mortal danger, Nufer appealed to the town council to let him try to operate on his wife since none of the local surgeons were willing to take the risk. Assisted by a midwife and a cutter of bladder stones, Nufer cut into his wife and delivered a living child abdominally. Mrs. Nufer not only survived, but went on to have four more children. There are some records backing up the story, but there is no specific reference to the uterus being cut, so some scholars believe it was a laparotomy for sudden, acute abdominal pain rather than a caesarean.

Now obstetrician and medical historian Dr. Antonin Parizek of Charles University believes he may have found an earlier case: Beatrice of Bourbon, wife of the King of Bohemia John of Luxembourg who gave birth to their son in Prague in 1337. Beatrice was very young when she married the widowed king, just 14 years old, and it was not the happiest of matches. She had no interest in learning Czech of even German and was really only able to communicate with Blanche of Valois, the wife of her stepson (and future Holy Roman Emperor) Charles. King John spent all of two months at his court in Prague with his new bride in 1336, which was long enough to impregnate her. On February 25, 1337, Wenceslaus was born.

The only contemporary records of his birth that have survived are two letters from Beatrice announcing the birth in Latin. They do not mention a c-section. In fact, she goes out of her way to say that her son was born “salva incolumitate nostri corporis,” an unusual phrasing which directly translates to “without breaching our body.” The health of the mother is almost never mentioned in comparable announcements from 14th century from members of the Luxembourg and Bourbon dynasties. The focus is on the child. It’s odd that she even went there. Parizek believes her insistence that her body was intact was a response to rumors of surgical intervention in a difficult birth. Beatrice had to yet to be crowned Queen of Bohemia, and there was a strong association of the bodies of rulers, chosen by God, as physical manifestations of their souls and as symbols of the church. A large slice across the gut through which the king’s son had had to be fished out did not fit the mold of sacred and inviolate royal bodies.

It’s later sources that declare outright that Wenceslaus was born by c-section. The earliest is an early 15th century Flemish rhyming chronicle, Brabantsche Yeesten, by an anonymous author. There are verses in the chronicle that state that the boy was “taken from his mother’s body” and her wound healed. The author is amazed by this, because he had only ever heard of such an operation being performed on Julius Caesar. In 1549, Richard de Wassebourg, archdeacon of the Verdun Cathedral, reported the event in his book Antiquitez de la Gaule Belgique. At Wenceslaus birth, he said, “his mother Beatrice was opened up without dying.” Another reference is found in Mars Moravicus, written by Thomas Pesina of Čechorod, Vicar General and the Chapter Dean St. Vitus Cathedral in Prague, in 1677. Pesina states: “John had a son named Wenceslaus, taken from the queen Beatrice of Bourbon, or rather from the maternal womb, without endangering the mother, rarely such a lucky example of recovery [or healthy fertility].”

If Beatrice really did survive a caesarean in 1337, it was a perfect storm of very good luck for her and the future Duke of Luxembourg, her son.

Prague was a center of education, but also of the medical care of the royal family. In light of the health of John of Bohemia [-- he suffered from ophthalmia and was basically blind by the time he married Beatrice --] a number of the most educated physicians of the time were present around the king. It can be presumed that they had the skills for the procedure, that is, cutting out a fetus from a dead or dying pregnant woman. Considering what we know, it can be rejected a priori that it was a case of deliberately saving the mother. In fact, the abdominal removal of the child from an apparently dead mother could partly explain the event described.

If that is indeed what happened, then with likelihood bordering on certainty Beatrice of Bourbon was considered to be dead when the procedure occurred. One explanation could be seizures as a complication of eclampsia. The cut would have had to be made immediately after the onset of such a state. The pain from the operation may have been the reason for a change in consciousness or awakening, and the stress reaction of the mother could also hypothetically explain why she did not bleed to death.

Suturing of wounds, especially of the abdominal wall, was a completely unknown procedure at that time. And that later complications did not arise from the non-sterile environment the operation was performed in push this hypothesis to the edge of reality. On the other hand, there is written evidence that using similar methods, with no anesthesia, surgical hemostasis or antiseptic conditions, the first experiments removing children through the abdomen after labor lasting several days were performed in the 17th to 19th centuries, and almost always in a home setting. It was very rare, but some women survived these operations.

Beatrice never had another child, which is another tick in the caesarean column, but she ended up outliving her first husband, who died in a famous charge against the English at the Battle of Crécy in 1346, by almost 40 years. Blind and 50 years old but still keen to fight, John tied his horse to his knights’ and rode fearlessly against the enemy. His was the only charge to break through the English lines, and the English killed them all. Beatrice also outlived all of her stepsons and even her son Wenceslaus, albeit only by 16 days.

You can read the whole fascinating paper published in the journal Ceska Gynekologie in English here. It touches on the history of c-sections, surgery, sutures, anesthetics and antiseptics, as well as on the specific case of Beatrice of Bourbon.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Eastern Results from the September 2016 LoAR

East Kingdom Gazette - Fri, 2016-11-25 13:12

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 September 2016 Wreath and Pelican meetings.

EAST acceptances

Alric the Younger. Name.

The byname the younger is found in the Oxford English Dictionary, dated to the 15th century.

Astriðr Sægeirsdottir. Name and device. Azure, two musical notes and a spool of thread Or.

Submitted as Astriðr Sægeirrsdottir, the genitive (possessive) form of Sægeirr is Sægeirs, so we have changed the byname to Sægeirsdottir to register this name.

Beatrice della Rocca. Name.

Nice 15th century Italian name!

Bella di Sicilia. Name.

Both elements are found in “Names of Jews in Rome In the 1550’s” by Yehoshua ben Haim haYerushalmi (http://heraldry.sca.org/names/Jewish/rome_article), making this a nice 16th century name for a Jewish woman living in Rome!

Brennan MacFergus. Badge. (Fieldless) On a wolf’s pawprint sable a ducal coronet Or.

There is a step from period practice for the use of a pawprint.

Bryniarr Ísólfsson. Name.

Nice 13th century Norse name!

Conn mac Branáin. Name and device. Ermine, six acorns azure.

Nice 12th century Irish Gaelic name!

The submitter has permission to conflict with the badge of Stephan of Silverforge: Quarterly per fess indented azure and argent, six acorns azure.

Nice device!

Endewearde, Barony of. Branch name change from Endeweard, Barony of.

The Old English wearde is only found prior to 1200, but is unattested in Old English place names. Ende was documented in the Letter of Intent as an Old English word, but all of the examples provided were as a Middle English deuterotheme (second element). Examples of “End” as a prototheme (first element) include Thendmoore (1586) and Endmoore (17th century), found in Watts, s.n. Endmoor, and Endegat (1201) and Endegate (1208) found in Ekwall, s.n. Ingate. The Old English -wearde cannot be combined with the Middle English Ende- in the same name phrase.

However, we can construct the barony’s preferred spelling entirely in Middle English. A place named le Wearde is found in the 13th century (‘Inquisitions Post Mortem, Edward I, File 98’, in Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem: Volume 3, Edward I; http://www.british-history.ac.uk/inquis-post-mortem/vol3/pp489-508). The family name Ende (derived from the toponym atte Ende) is found in the late 14th century (An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk; http://www.british-history.ac.uk/topographical-hist-norfolk/vol1/pp345-359). Compound place names formed from the pattern family name + place name are found in Juliana de Luna’s “Compound Placenames in English” (http://medievalscotland.org/jes/EnglishCompoundPlacenames/). Therefore, we are able to register the barony’s preferred form.

The barony’s previous name, Barony of Endeweard, is released.

Endewearde, Barony of. Order name change to Order of the Beacon of Endewearde from Order of the Beacon of Endeweard.

The previous order name, Order of the Beacon of Endeweard, is released.

Endewearde, Barony of. Order name change to Order of the Keystone of Endewearde from Order of the Keystone of Endeweard.

The previous order name, Order of the Keystone of Endeweard, is released.

Endewearde, Barony of. Order name change to Order of the Portcullis of Endewearde from Order of the Portcullis of Endeweard.

The previous order name, Order of the Portcullis of Endeweard, is released.

Eowyn Eilonwy of Alewife Brook. Heraldic will.

Upon her demise, Eowyn grants blanket permission to conflict for any names and armory that are not identical to her own.

Erich Guter Muth. Name and device. Azure, a serpent in annulo vorant of its own tail and a chief rayonny argent.

Submitted as Erich Gutermuth, the byname was an undated header form found in Bahlow/Gentry. As commenters were unable to date this element, we have changed the byname to Guter Muth with the submitter’s permission in order to register this name.

Erich Guter Muth. Badge. (Fieldless) A goose volant to sinister gules.

Gyða Úlfsdóttir. Device. Per pale purpure and argent, a sword between two wolves combattant counterchanged.

Please advise the submitter to draw the sword wider so it is easier to identify.

Hedda Bonesetter. Device. Azure, a comet bendwise sinister inverted Or between in bend two bones fracted argent, on the head of the comet a mullet of six points gules.

Ile du Dragon Dormant, Baronnie de l’. Order name Award of Dragons Scale.

In commentary, Siren noted that escama (“scale”, as in scale mail) is used in a 15th century Spanish order name, named after its badge of a circle of scales.

Jean Michel le Vaud. Name and device. Per saltire sable and gules, a wolf rampant argent and in chief a crescent Or.

Leo MacCullan. Name and device. Sable, a lion’s head erased and on a chief argent a mullet of four points in dexter sable.

Leonora of Østgarðr. Holding name and device (see PENDS for name). Per chevron gules and Or, three lions couchant counterchanged.

Submitted under the name Leonora da Ferrara.

Mærhild æt Anestige. Name and device. Lozengy sable and argent, three fig leaves in pall stems conjoined vert, a bordure Or.

Submitted as Mærhild of Anestig, a timely correction to the Letter of Intent noted that the submitter preferred the byname æt Anestige. We are happy to make this change.

Nishi’o Kageme. Name and device. Or, three hexagons gules each charged with a daisy argent and in chief a increscent azure.

Submitted as Nishi’o Kageme, the name inadvertently appeared in the Letter of Intent as Kagame. We have restored it to the submitted form.

There is a step from period practice for the use of hexagons.

Ragnarr bláskegg. Name.

Nice Old Icelandic name!

Simon Talbot. Name and device. Azure, a chevron Or mullety azure betwen three talbots passant Or.

The submitter requested authenticity for Elizabethan England. Both elements are found in London in 1582, so this name meets the submitter’s request.

Nice cant!

Ulf Jagenteufel. Name and device. Gules, a bend per bend nebuly argent and sable between five open books Or.

Ulf is the submitter’s legal given name.

Ulfgeirr Ragnarsson. Badge. (Fieldless) Within and conjoined to the attires of a stag’s head caboshed sable a mullet of four points elongated to base argent.

There is a step from period practice for the use of a mullet elongated to base.

Violet Hughes. Device change. Purpure, a punner argent.

Nice device!


EAST pends

Leonora da Ferrara. Name.

Following the Pelican decision meeting, the question was raised whether this name presumes upon that of Eleanor of Naples, also known as Leonora of Aragon, who was the first Duchess of Ferrara. Therefore, we are pending this name to allow a discussion on this issue.

Ferrara was documented in the Letter of Intent from Florentine Renaissance Resources: Online Tratte of Office Holders 1282-1532, which normalized the place names. The submitted spelling is also found in “Some Names From Giovanni Boccaccio’s Il Decameron” by Giata Magdalena Alberti (2013 KWHSS Proceedings).

Her device is registered under the holding name Leonora of Østgarðr.

This was item 20 on the East letter of June 30, 2016.

Filed under: Heraldry Tagged: heraldric submissions, LoAR

Remains of 1,500-year-old domesticated turkeys found in Mexico

History Blog - Thu, 2016-11-24 11:18

Archaeologists have discovered some of the earliest evidence of turkey domestication during an excavation of the ancient Mitla Fortress in Oaxaca, Mexico. The Field Museum has been exploring the hilltop fort in the Valley of Oaxaca that was inhabited by the Zapotec from the Classic period (200-850 A.D.) until around 1200 A.D. In 2009, the team unearthed a clutch of intact turkey eggs buried under two of the fortress’ households.

“It was very exciting because it’s very rare to find a whole cluster of intact eggs. This was very unexpected,” says [Field Museum archaeologist Gary] Feinman.

“Heather Lapham is an archaeologist who studies animal bones, and she knew immediately that we had found five intact or unhatched eggs that were left as an offering alongside seven newly hatched baby turkeys, of which only their tiny bones survived,” says Feinman. Scanning electron microscope analysis of the eggshells confirmed that they were indeed laid by turkeys.

“The fact that we see a full clutch of unhatched turkey eggs, along with other juvenile and adult turkey bones nearby, tells us that these birds were domesticated,” says Feinman. “It helps to confirm historical information about the use of turkeys in the area.”

The Zapotec made sacrifices to the gods before constructing a new house, and a turkey hatchling was sometimes the blood sacrifice of choice. The animal would be killed, its meat eaten and the remains buried under the floor. To have such a wide range of turkeys at every stage of development — hatched and unhatched eggs, unfertilized, newly fertilized eggs, almost hatched eggs, newly hatched poults, juveniles, adults, hens, including at least one of egg-laying age, and toms — available for ritual use in their home, the Zapotec must have had a breeding operation nearby.

The eggs date to between 400 and 500 A.D., which is the earliest concrete archaeological evidence of domesticated turkeys in southern Mexico. The oldest turkey bone found in southern Mexico dates to 180 A.D., but it’s just a single bone and was found in a cave, so there is no direct evidence that it was domesticated. The oldest confirmed evidence of tamed turkeys in northern Mexico date to 500 A.D., but these are scarce. The preponderance of domesticated turkey remains begin appearing in the archaeological record in 900 A.D.

In addition to the sacrificial turkeys, the team also discovered eggshells and more than 300 bones of juvenile and adult turkeys in household trash pits. A hundred or so more turkey bones were found carved into jewelry or tools.

The research team has DNA tested to the remains to identify which subspecies of native turkey they belong to, but the results have not come in yet. Their findings have been published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Happy You-Know-What Day, all!

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Happy Thanksgiving!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-11-24 09:19

Happy Thanksgiving from the Æthelmearc Gazette! May your day be filled with good friends and family, good food, and good cheer.

Categories: SCA news sites

Church, altar of Viking saint king found in Norway

History Blog - Wed, 2016-11-23 17:43

Archaeologists with the Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research (NIKU) have discovered the foundations of the church where the Viking king Olaf II is believed to have been buried after he was canonised. King Olaf II Haraldsson, credited with introducing Christian law to Norway, was killed in nebulous circumstances in 1030. The earliest chroniclers reported that he was assassinated either by his own men or in an ambush, but later accounts give him a more glorious death at the Battle of Stiklestad on July 29th, 1030.

He was buried in Nidaros (modern-day Trondheim) and very quickly stories sprang up of miraculous occurrences at his grave site. A year after his death, Bishop Grimkell, one of several English missionary bishops reputedly brought to Norway by Olaf, exhumed his body and found it miraculously uncorrupted. Grinkell declared Olaf a saint and his body was translated to a place of honor above the high altar of St. Clement’s church, a wood stave church Olaf had built a few years before his death. The local canonisation was confirmed by Pope Alexander III in 1164 and Olaf became an official Roman Catholic saint.

Olaf’s body was moved again some decades later to Nidaros Cathedral, a larger and more glamorous site that could accommodate the increasing number of pilgrims dedicated to the cult of Saint Olaf. Over time, St. Clement’s was destroyed and its location forgotten.

Now it seems it has been rediscovered during an excavation on Søndre gate street in Trondheim. The Norwegian Institute for Cultural Heritage Research team discovered the stone foundations of a wooden stave church. Preliminary dating indicates the structure was built in the 11th century.

During its excavation, the archaeologists uncovered a small rectangular stone-built platform at the building’s east end. This is probably the foundation for an altar – probably the very same altar on which St. Olaf’s coffin was placed in 1031! In addition, a small well has been found here which may be a holy well connected with the saint.

In the words of the excavation’s director Anna Petersén:

“This is a unique site in Norwegian history in terms of religion, culture and politics. Much of the Norwegian national identity has been established on the cult of sainthood surrounding St. Olaf, and it was here it all began!”

NIKU has created a series very cool 3D models illustrating the progress of the excavation.

The Søndre gate excavation site 10/01/2016:

Utgravingsområde Søndre gate, Trondheim 1/10 by nikunorway

The Søndre gate excavation site 10/19/2016, the choir begins to take shape:

Utgravningsområde Søndre gate 19/10 by nikunorway

The Søndre gate excavation site 10/29/2016:

Utgravningsområde Søndregata Trondheim den 29/10 by nikunorway

The remains of the church:

Kirke/church at Søndregate 18/10 by nikunorway

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

An Announcement From TRH Regarding Pennsic

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2016-11-23 14:29

Greetings unto Our family of the East
We Prince Ioannes and Princess Honig Von Summerfeldt send our warm regards and our love to all of you. As winter turns, the days shorten, steel rusts, chills turn to ice, and the hearth and home call Us. Rest up my legions. Repair your armor; make strong your family. Care for your loved ones, for We shall call on you for the service and honor of war when the seasons change again.
Yet even now we have taken a few into our service and wish that you hear and know them.

The Pennsic Warlord of the mighty Eastern warriors will be Sir Culann Mac Cianain and his staff will include THL Ryouko’jin Ironskies as Executive Officer and Baron Rory McClellan as Praefectus Fabrum.

The Captain of your Unbelted Champions will be THL Ryouko’jin Ironskies. His regional lieutenants to be announced at Birka

The Rapier General will be announced with staff soon

Thank you everyone for your letters of love and hope for the future
Yours in service,
Princess Honig and Prince Ioannes

Filed under: Announcements, Pennsic Tagged: pennsic 46

On Target: “Ancient Chinese secret”….The Rocket Arrow

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-11-23 11:08

For weeks now, I’ve been studying the rocket arrow and gunpowder. First I must say that much Chinese Warfare in history was written years after the fact, so historical information is shaky. Gunpowder was the first chemical explosive invented somewhere between the early and mid 9th century. The Chinese word for gunpowder is “huo yao xuo yau.” The Chinese wasted little time developing flamethrowers, rockets, bombs, and landmines. Another culture, believed to be Italian, even developed a torpedo rocket.

Here are the rockets that I’ve personally developed:

Parental discretion is advised, keep this away from children! The rocket I made did move and would have gone further if I added more fuel. For safety reasons, I will not be telling anyone what I used for fuel, but it was not gunpowder. A demonstration was held at Archers to the Wald and with the marshals’ and sites’ permission, I’ll be doing demonstrations throughout the upcoming year. The video below was taken at Archers to the Wald by Lady Catalina Iannarella d’Colliano.

This month’s safety tip: again, please do not do this at home. I’ve been studying this and doing tests for months.

Yours in service,

THLord Deryk Archer

Categories: SCA news sites

KMoF: New Mask Inspection Policy Clarifications

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-11-22 19:05

By Master Benedict Fergus atte Mede.

I’ve heard some confusion about the new mask inspection policy, and I’d like to clear it up. First of all, what we are doing is adding a step in inspections, not changing the rules. This new inspection procedure should begin immediately. Society policies may change wording to make things more clear at some point in the future, but we have been instructed to implement this change now.

This mask would need to be modified to pass inspection.

The following comes from the Æ rapier policies:

  1. General Requirements:
  2. Prior to every combat, tournament or practice, all combatants shall insure that their equipment is safe, in good working order, and has been inspected by a warranted marshal of Æthelmearc.
  3. Armor Requirements B. Fencing Mask – The front and top of the head must be covered by rigid material to below the jaw line and behind the ears. Standard 12 kg fencing masks meet this standard. Fencing helms meeting this standard are also acceptable and shall be approved on a case-by-case basis. The face must be covered by either 12-kilogram mesh (e.g., a standard fencing mask) or perforated metal which meets the definition of rigid material and has holes no larger than 1/8 inch (3 mm) in diameter and a minimum offset of 3/16 inch (5 mm). Masks and helms must be secured to the fighter so that they cannot be easily removed or dislodged during combat. The combination of a snug fit and the spring-tongue in a conventional fencing mask is not sufficient by itself to secure the mask to the fighter.

This last point: “Masks and helms must be secured to the fighter so that they cannot be easily removed or dislodged during combat. The combination of a snug fit and the spring-tongue in a conventional fencing mask is not sufficient by itself to secure the mask to the fighter” — justifies the necessity for padding or suspension in a standard fencing mask to keep the fencer’s face protected from hard shots. Granted nothing is perfect, but this requirement has been handed down from the Society Earl Marshal, and we do have provisions in our rules to back it up.

Now, I know that this will cause some masks that lack any kind of padding or suspension to be disqualified. My own mask is now disqualified, as a matter of fact.

Here’s what you can do:

First, there are inexpensive masks made with the proper suspension available.

This mask will pass inspection.

Second, some masks may be modified to provide that same suspension or padding. Stitching in fabric, or closed cell foam padding across the upper interior, against the forehead, and along the chin should do the trick.

The point is to provide something to secure the mask on the head so that a hard shot will not dislodge it or allow (to the best of our ability) a fencer’s face to be struck by the mesh when the mask is struck.

I realize that a very hard shot might indeed do this regardless of padding, but the theory is that this procedure should reduce injuries. Again, this is a requirement from the Society Earl Marshal.

This mask also will pass inspection.

Rapier Helmets will see some new inspection procedure soon, but the requirements have not been finalized yet. If you use a helmet (not a fencing mask) you can count on a couple of changes. First of all, you will also be asked to have the interior of your helm inspected before putting it on. If there are any internal protrusions (such as bolts securing a chin strap) these must be padded so that a hard shot will not result in your head getting hit by a bolt or other protrusion.

It is likely that you will need to have a suspension system, or padding to secure the helm as well, but we do not have a final word on how much padding, or what kind of suspension will ultimately be required. This should be cleared up soon, and when it is, you guys will get the information. If you have any questions or concerns please share them.

Thank you, Fergus

Kingdom Marshal of Fence

Categories: SCA news sites

Centuries-old dentures found in Lucca family tomb

History Blog - Tue, 2016-11-22 17:33

In 2010, archaeologists from the University of Pisa excavated the tomb of the powerful Guinigi family in the San Francesco Monastery at Lucca. Scions of the wealthy family of merchants and bankers had ruled the city of Lucca from 1392 until 1430 as capitani del popolo (captains of the people, ie, dictators), and even after the family was overthrown and the Republic reinstated, the Guinigi remained one of the most prominent families in Lucca for centuries.

In 1358, the Guinigi Chapel was built near the convent of San Francesco. The bodies of family members were buried in the private chapel through the first half of the 17th century. Instead of being interred in separate areas, the remains were laid to rest in two large collective tombs. Over the years the bones were shifted around to make room, so when archaeologists excavated the chambers, the remains of more than 200 people were disarticulated and commingled making it impossible to reconstruct the skeletons of individuals.

Mixed in with the jumbled skeletal remains in the lowest stratigraphic layer of the south tomb, the team discovered a unique archaeological treasure: a centuries-old dental prosthesis. It is made of five human teeth — three central incisors and two lateral canines — joined by a gold band running through the root ends of the teeth. The teeth all came from different, let’s just say, donors. (Shoutout to Fantine from Les Miserables.) Examination under a microscope and CT scans found that the roots of the teeth were cut and abraded to relative evenness. Then the a thin cut was made across the bases of the teeth and a thin gold was inserted into the cuts. Two small holes were cut in each tooth and gold pins inserted to fix the tooth to the band. At each end of the device, the gold was bent into s-shapes and pierced with a hole. These ends were attached to the living teeth, likely with ties, as indicated in illustrations of similar dental prosthetics from the 16th and 18th centuries

Because it was found in the earliest layer, it may date to as early as the 14th century, but it would have been very easy for the dentures to fall through successive layers of bones, so stratigraphy is of no help in dating the piece. This was highly advanced dentistry in Early Modern Europe. The gold band technology was mentioned in period sources from Guy de Chauliac (ca. 1300-1368), the French physician who first recognized there were two kinds of plague, Bubonic and Pneumonic, to Pierre Fauchard (1678–1761), the father of modern dentistry.

Archaeologists were not able to match the dentures to any of the mandibles found in the tomb, but the presence of dental calculus covering the holes indicate the prosthetic was used for many years. Indeed, Fauchard’s description of such appliances emphasizes their longevity. From the 1746 edition of his treatise Le Chirurgien dentiste, ou Traité des dents:

“Teeth and artificial dentures, fastened with posts and gold wire, hold better than all others. They sometimes last 15–20 years and even more without displacement. Common thread and silk, used ordinarily to attach all kinds of teeth or artificial pieces, do not last long.”

The dentures found in the Guinigi predate Fauchard by at least a century, but they are notably more complex than the device he describes. The gold band runs inside the roots of the teeth, fastened with pins and the appliance is anchored to in situ teeth with those s-shaped ends. Fauchard just attaches a band to the lingual and buccal surface of the teeth using strings run through holes drilled into the teeth.

One member of the team, Dr Simona Minozzi, said: “Although there are descriptions of similar objects in texts from the period, there is no known archaeological evidence. The dentures found in the tomb are the first example of dentures from this historical period, and as such are a valuable addition to the history of dentistry.”

The study of the dental appliance has been published in the journal Clinical Implant Dentistry and Related Research. It is not, alas, freely available for perusal, but if you have an institutional subscription or six bucks to spare, you can enjoy some more detailed images of the holes, gold band and dental plaque.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Arts & Sciences and Bardic Championships

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-11-22 10:51

Photograph courtesy of The Honorable Lord Hugh Tauerner

Unto Our beloved populace,

As many of you are aware, this year’s Arts & Sciences and Bardic Championships will be a combined event this year. We write this day to clear up a couple of misconceptions about the combining of these two important events.

  1. We received some extremely good ideas from our Peers and members of our High Orders of Merit during the order meetings at this past year’s Pennsic. During our discussion regarding challenges with bids & the increasing number of Kingdom sponsored events, a suggestion was made to consider at times combining events that complement one another.
  2. While this is something new to Arts and Sciences and Bardic Champions it is not a new concept for the kingdom. In several past years, Equestrian, Thrown Weapons, and Archery have all shared the stage with each other. All of these events have gone smoothly and excellent champions have come out of the combined championships. In Our own Crown Principality of Tir Mara, we recently attended the principality championships which combined Heavy, A&S, and Archery championships. We were able to watch and support each of the champions as they competed and were chosen.
  3. Also please, keep in mind that the breadth of our Kingdom and our Society is growing to include many more various activities both Arts and Martial. This means that number of championships is growing in the kingdom, which We greatly enjoy and are honored to support. Unfortunately, the number of weekends on the calendar are not growing, which has greatly decreased the number of non-Kingdom level events that the King and Queen are able to attend to support the local groups.
  4. We absolutely do not feel that the Bardic nor the A&S champions are any less important than any other champion activity: being Laurels ourselves we know and understand the time, effort, and heart that each and everyone of you put into your entries.

We are working with our current champions on a plan to make this work as smoothly as possible, and we ask for your support on what we know will be a fabulous day. It’s a new idea, but we ask you all to give it a chance. We know that We will have to be flexible and We are asking you to please be ready to do the same. Change is not always a bad thing, many wonderful things have come from change. Among other things, we are excited to enable the people who would have only been able to attend one of these Championships the opportunity to see both.

We are looking forward to the Art & Sciences & Bardic Championships, and seeing and hearing all of the amazing art that you display that day.

We remain,
Yours In Service
Brion Rex Anna Regina

Filed under: Announcements, Arts and Sciences Tagged: a&s, Bardic, champions

New scan of crocodile mummies find 47 more

History Blog - Mon, 2016-11-21 23:36

After 17 months of renovations, the Dutch National Museum of Antiquities in Leiden opened their new Egyptian galleries on November 18th. As part of the remodelling project, the museum installed 3D visualisation stations so visitors can explore mummies in the kind of extreme detail that would be otherwise be impossible. The system uses high resolution CT scans to create composite models of mummies in the collection that museum visitors can virtually unwrap on a touch screen. They can peel back every layer, examine the mummies’ features and the amulets placed in the linen wrappers from every angle. It’s the same principle as the extremely cool virtual autopsy table the British Museum created for Gebelein Man.

During the renovation, the museum worked with Swedish visualization company Interspectral to scan their mummies and create the virtual models. One of the mummies scanned appeared to be that of a giant crocodile, a representation of the crocodile god Sobek that has been in the museum’s collection since 1828. A scan in 1996 had already determined that it wasn’t one huge crocodile, but rather two adolescent crocodiles, one larger, one smaller, positioned tail to snout and then wrapped as one.

Because of the earlier scan, curators weren’t expecting to discover any new information about the mummy, but the high resolution technology revealed that there weren’t just two crocodiles wrapped in linen; there were 49, 47 of them hatchlings. Each of the babies was individually wrapped in linen bandages, placed around the adolescent crocodiles and the whole lot were bound together with palm rope to create the impression of a single 10-foot crocodile mummy. Scans have found baby crocs mummified with adults before — as with this Sobek mummy at the British Museum, for instance — but only one other example of baby crocs wrapped with adults in a palm robe binding is known.

The museum’s Egyptologists suspect that the crocodiles of different ages were mummified together as a reference to the ancient Egyptian belief in rejuvenation and new life after death. Another possibility is that no large crocodiles were available at a time when they were needed as offerings to the gods. The mummy was given the shape of one large crocodile with various kinds of stuffing: bits of wood, wads of linen, plant stems, and rope.

The museum doesn’t know where the crocodile mummy came from. Faiyum is a likely candidate because it was a center for the worship of Sobek and the Nile crocodile. Because the sacred crocodiles were bred and raised specifically for mummification and dedication to the deity as votive offerings, it’s possible the hatchlings were related. Crocodiles lay around 50 eggs at a time, so this may have been a single litter.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

How to Run Successful Demos

AEthelmearc Gazette - Mon, 2016-11-21 11:47

By Lady Miklos Magdolna (Kathleen Dehring).

In the SCA, we need to stay focused not only on retention of our membership but also on recruiting new people. Sometimes in group dynamics, we think “Well, hey… we have 15 people, I have played this game with them for the last five years… why do we need anyone new?” Without new people, a group becomes stagnant and members tire of trading officer positions and autocratting duties between such a small number. This leads to people being overloaded, and suddenly you find older members fading away.

By having demonstrations (“demos”) and recruiting new members, the work can be passed around, resulting in less burned-out veteran SCAdians. As a former canton chatelaine, I will share what I have learned about doing SCA demos.

Before you schedule your first demo, look at your group. What is your SCA group’s composition? Is it mostly people working 9-to-5 and/or over three dozen people with small children? Or is it a lot of college-age people with variable schedules? The reason why you need to ask yourself this question is that you probably should not attempt scheduling a demo at 1 pm in an elementary school if 99% of your populace is at work and won’t be able to get time off.

Questions to ask your group

The best way to avoid having to cancel a demo is to ask these questions at an SCA meeting:

  • How many people can do a demo during the day or evening?
  • What is an impossible time to have a demo on a weekday?
  • Which times are best?
  • How often should we hold demos?

In this busy world where there can be an event every weekend, plus sewing circles, dance practices, heavy fighting and archery practices, people will burn out quickly if they have three or four demos a month. Some groups only wish to demo once a month; others twice or three times. It’s also best to agree on bad dates, such as Pennsic war week, the week between the holidays of Christmas and New Year’s, etc. It is also a good idea to ask how on short a notice can your group organize a demo? A week? A month? Twenty-four hours?

Should we charge for the demo?


That is a question best decided by your group. I know that in my canton, if we do a demo at a movie theater, it usually gave us free tickets. That was pretty cool, very visible, and got us media coverage. It made for a great exchange of services. We did demos for some non-profit organizations where we opted for either a greatly reduced fee or none at all. If the event is for the sole purpose of making money (such as a Renaissance fair), or a wedding coordinator or event planner wants to hire your group, then you should receive some compensation for your services. Once again, this sliding fee scale is best determined by your officers and populace.

How to get demo requests?

How do we get demos if no one requests one? Well, most likely no one knows about you. The best way to solve this problem is to find out who is the event coordinators at the local library. If you have a small library, it’s properly the librarian. Send a letter, maybe a few pictures and let them know your group is a non-profit organization dedicated teaching people about the Middle Ages and Renaissance periods. They will put the information on file and the next time they have an event such as Chaucer’s birthday party or a Shakespeare week, you may well get a call.

You will want to do the same for local theaters, colleges, and schools. Your letter has to be simple, to the point, and able to give them the basics. It’s also advisable to send informational letters to bookstores and fabric stores. Some fabric stores offer classes on how to make things, so they may want a person to come in chat about what clothing of the Middle Ages looked like, how to work with what patterns are out there, how to select fabrics. Most of the time, people will just want basic Renaissance fair stuff, but occasionally you will encounter some one who genuinely wants to learn how to make good period clothes… that person could be a potential SCA member. Remember, in sending those letters, be very careful you never sell your group as a “Renaissance-fair-in-a-box.”

What is a “Renaissance-fair-in-a-box?”

If you use this phrase, people will assume you are promising your group as entertainment. Many people think we are an extension of a Renaissance fair, with fire-eaters, jugglers, and jousting with horses. If not corrected, this misconception can lead to misunderstanding and a unsatisfactory demo for both parties. In order to avoid this, keep a pad of paper by the telephone and when you are called, ask these questions:

  1. Who are you? If they don’t identify themselves, how can they be reached later?
  2. What is the organization, the date of the desired demo, and amount of time you’re expected to be there? You might want to repeat this back to the caller to verify everything.
  3. What is the location (with cross streets or identifying markers) in order to direct people there? This is important because if the demo falls in another SCA group’s lands, you should direct the person to that group as a matter of courtesy.
  4. What do they expect? If they just want a few craftspeople and a display of fighting weapons, then don’t talk them into fencing, fighting, and dancing. A simple, well-organized demo is better than an elaborate one requiring a ton of people.
  5. Indoors or out? Don’t go into the demo blind; ask ahead of time whether it will be indoors or outside. What will the fighters be expected to fight on? If it’s July and will most likely be 90 degrees out, I suggest talking to the fighters first to see if they are willing to do a demo on asphalt. If it’s a location with a wooden floor, you may have to ask that no one falls over dramatically or goes to their knees in armor.
  6. What facilities will be available? Will we have tables for arts and sciences displays, or does our group need to bring them? Are there showers on-site that the fighter can use after battle?
  1. Use SCA terms they will not understand without also providing an explanation. Words like: garb, seneschal, gold key, chatelaine. Say, “I will need to talk to our seneschal, which is what we call our chapter president.” Or “I am called a chatelaine, it’s our term for the event coordinator or welcome wagon.”
  2. Say derogatory things about other groups, even if they are not SCA. If the person adores the Renaissance fair, reply that while those are a lot of fun, we are not entertainment performers. We recreate or demonstrate. Never let your personal bias creep in to make you sound negative. Be firm on what you can do but never slam roleplaying groups or Renaissance fairs. This person may interpret you as a snob and you may lose an opportunity to hold a demo.
  3. Never commit your group to something right off the bat. Take the information and tell the person you will get back to them.

What if what they want is not what we do?

If they ask for something outside your group’s scope, then politely tell them what your group can offer: a display of medieval arts & sciences crafts, fencing, or heavy fighters. If no one in your group dances, then don’t mention it. Also, if the demo is supposed to occur over several hours, make sure you discuss how long the fighters can fight and how often they’ll need rest breaks.


During the first contact, repeat what you have been told and make sure you understand the person correctly. Let’s say our fictional demo is a Shakespeare week kick-off party at the main library on a Saturday that doesn’t conflict with a major event. They want people in Elizabethan clothes and fencers to do a fighting display in the main entrance with 20-foot tall ceilings and a 25-foot-square roped-off area with a marble floor. Hopefully, they would like someone to talk about life in the age of Queen Elizabeth for children between the ages of eight and 12.

At this time, tell the person you need to talk to your group and you will call them back in a given time frame (week, day, whatever) to confirm. This gives you the time to get on your group’s discussion list/Facebook group/etc. or go to a business meeting to present the demo and ask whether there is interest, how many people can participate, etc. You will need a marshal, authorized fencers, and people with Elizabethan clothes. Does anyone want to do the children’s class? Hopefully, there is a show of hands, and the date is good, and you call the person back and commit.

What to do if there’s no interest

What if the group is lukewarm at best and no one wants to do the demo? To put it simply, call back the person and say you cannot do the demo.

If the demo is just too good to pass up, you might want to check with the baronial chatelaine (if you’re in a canton or shire) or with the chatelaines from nearby baronies to see if recruiting people from those groups will make it possible.

What if they are asking for nothing like what we agreed on?

This why you have your notes of your group’s decision. Refer to what was agreed upon — the time of day, what activities you’re providing. If you arrive at the demo and the person says, “But where’s the live steel demonstration?” you can reply, “I talked to Joan on July 7th and I told her at that time we use rattan in combat. We agreed to three 15-minute displays over a three-hour period.” In the years I organized demos, I rarely had a complaint because when you have your notes as reference, it tends to help people remember things more correctly.

I also suggest that when doing a demo for a Renaissance fair or an event planner, send them a copy in writing. An example would be:

October 3, 2016

Weddings ‘R’ Us

Attn: Tara Lyn Colby

123 Main Street

Anyplace, NY 13902
Ms. Colby,

Thank you for allowing the Society for Creative Anachronism, Shire of Sterlynge Vayle, to organize a demonstration at the Broome County Renaissance Fair. We will be on site by 10:00 am as agreed on February 8, 2016.

We will have two period pavilions in place. From the hours of 11:00 am to 5:00 pm, we will hold one 15-minute set of fighting either with rattan weapons or fencing. We will take an hour lunch break at 12:00 noon. We will have people wandering the fair in clothes of the Middle Ages to contribute ambiance, and we will have a tent with our crafts displayed.

We appreciate your offer of room to camp overnight and use of the gymnasium showers. We understand that there are no ground fires allowed, and we must be careful when setting up our tents to protect the sprinkler system. A groundskeeper will be on-hand to help us.

We also agreed on a fee of $50 to be delivered in a check made out to “SCA – Canton of Edgewater,” to be given to me at the end of the demo on the February 9.


Marge Smith

Event Coordinator for the SCA Shire of Sterlynge Vayle (Chatelaine)

SCA Name: Peg the Alewife

123 Bythway Road

Anyplace, NY 13902

(123) 456-7890


When it’s time for the check, there should be no misunderstanding of amount, time commitments, or just what you agreed to provide.

It’s the day of the demo – now what?

Try to get there ahead of the participants. That way, you can be a traffic manager and get people set up the way they need to go.

It’s also important to interact with whomever you’re doing the demo for and make sure you’re still on the right page. Contact them before, during, and after the demo. If they’re happy, they will tell a few people; if they’re seriously unhappy, they will tell a lot more people.

You also will want to set up a table with SCA information for interested people to take home with them. You also will want a sign-up board so you can e-mail or send information to those folks who sign up on it.

There’s a guy here from the TV or the press

You or the seneschal should talk to them to give them the basic information about the SCA and why you’re there. If people are interested in you, tell them how to contact the SCA. Remember that any time you face coverage by the media, the seneschal needs to be informed (and your media officer, if you have one).


At the end of the demo, be sure to thank all the people who helped, and stick it out to clean up if needed. Follow up with the person who requested the demo to make sure they are happy. Then go home… and hopefully you have made new contacts for your group.

Categories: SCA news sites

17th c. Danish bishop’s turd identified

History Blog - Sun, 2016-11-20 21:24

A piece of poo recovered from a latrine in Aalborg, Denmark, has been identified as the likely product of the colon of 17th century bishop Jens Bircherod. It was excavated from the latrine of the Aalborg bishop’s palace when the structure was demolished in 1937 for construction of Budolfi Square in the city center. The stool was of no interest to archaeologists at the time — poop studies have only recently come to be appreciated as the motherlode of information they are — but it was embedded in a broken bottle. The bottle and some Delft porcelain were put in a cardboard box and stored at the Moesgaard Museum. Researchers came across the historic turd while doing research on the thriving immigrant communities of Early Modern (1450-1650) Aalborg, Aarhus, Elsinore and Nya Lödöse.

Cherry pits and one hazelnut were visible with the naked eye, but detailed archaeobotanical analysis of the crap discovered the pooper’s diet was varied and high quality. It was replete with seeds, nuts, cloudberries, blackberries, peppercorns and exotic fruits like figs and grapes. The cloudberry, imported from Norway, is the earliest found in Denmark. The pepper was imported from India and was a luxury good.

The smoking gun was the presence of buckwheat. In late 17th century Denmark, buckwheat was almost exclusively grown on the island of Funen. Bishop Jens Bircherod was born in Odense, Funen’s main city and the site of another most excellent poop discovery, in 1658.

“It all fits nicely with the bishop who lived in that house from 1694 to 1708,” says Jette Linaa, from Moesgaard Museum in the Danish city of Aarhus.

The general diet for the people of Aalborg at that time was gruel, cabbage, pork and beef but buckwheat was particular to the island of Funen, some 200km (125 miles) away.

“He had a typical upper-class diet, he was part of the upper class,” she told the BBC.

Bircherod also refers in his diaries to his “opulent dinners.” As part of the team’s research into the immigrant community of Aalborg, they found a German-owned pharmacy which had the city’s largest stock of pepper and figs and held the monopoly on the sale of herbs and spices. Only the wealthiest people in Aalborg could afford to purchase its wares, the city’s nobles, political office holders and its bishop among them. Other people lived in the bishop’s mansion, of course, including his wife and children, so it’s possible the poop was contributed by someone else in the household, but the buckwheat signature points to the man himself, and the fanciness of the diet likely excludes the servants.

The research team is elated by the feces they’ve found. This one bishop’s turd lends new insight into the international lifestyle of the prosperous residents of the city in the late 1600s. Before, they only had documentary sources to go on. The poop is concrete archaeological evidence of how the products of international trade wound up on the tables of Aalborg’s elites. They plan to study the contents of two other Aalborg latrines to flesh out the picture even further.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The Cheap SCAdian: How to Look Darn Good While Still Paying Your Rent

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sun, 2016-11-20 13:13

By Lady Miklos Magdolna (Kathleen Dehring).

Unlike other historical organizations, the SCA does not have a specific defined time period, rules for historical garments, or the need to approve a participant’s tent, clothing, and accessories to allow entry to an event.

With that said, there are two major schools of thought concerning attendees and the amount of accuracy (“periodness”) any one should be. Those are:

  1. We are a historical organization and every inch of your clothing and camp should be accurate, or
  2. Whatever makes you feel good.

There is a third option which is, I think, a better one: Give people support and allow them a learning curve to explore and discover the culture and era they wish to emulate.

In that vein, this is an overview on achieving a “period” look without ordering expensive garments from a company or spending your whole paycheck on fabric.

  1. Realistically ask yourself what you can spend. Make that your budget and stick to it. What good is there in having costly duponi silk when your electricity is turned off because you didn’t  pay your bill?
  2. Be very realistic about your garment-making abilities. If you can hardly operate a sewing machine, then starting with an Elizabethan gown pattern will just be an exercise in futility and frustration. The SCA has many people who can give advice or even lessons in sewing. Better yet, the Society has many people who will sew you a garment in trade or barter. One of the most popular places to make these trades is on Facebook in the group “SCA Medieval Barter Town.”

If you can sew fairly well and have access to a sewing machine, then the most simple of garments can be made in a weekend and look wonderful. The T tunic dates from the earliest to middle parts of our time period, covering several different centuries and countries. Generally, the tunic was constructed of linen or wool fabric (sometimes silk) with embellishments such as embroidery, narrow works, or beadwork, and contrasting fabrics at the neck, wrists, and hem. Linen generally varies in cost from $10 a yard to $25, and wool likewise.

So, how can an affordable garment be made?

  1. Measure yourself accurately and honestly. The goal is to get enough fabric but not have yards left over.
  2. Pre-wash and dry your fabrics before cutting it. It is important that all shrinkage happen before the pieces are sewn together. This will also alert you if the dye color runs. If working with 100% wool DO NOT wash on hot or use a hot dryer, as a yard can shrink down to a fat quarter of fabric.
  3. When using a pattern, place the pieces on the fabric as close together as possible while allowing for seam allowances. Keep an eye on the layout so that you do not cut some fabrics on the bias or “stretchy” part of the fabric, particularly with wool.
  4. Double-check your pattern placement, especially if the fabric is patterned, so that the design lines up (if you desire it), then boldly cut.
  5. Sewing process and seam binding. (This is another article.)

Where do you get fabric?

The obvious answer is the fabric store (Jo-Anns, etc.). Fortunately, they often have coupons, doorbuster sales, and the beloved clearance section. The prices for wool tend to get better in the summer, while linen (considered a summer fabric) tends to go on sale in the winter. Other venues for purchasing fabric are online stores (such as Fabrics-store.com for linen, Fabric.com for wool, Carolinacalicoes.com for linen and linen blends, and Thaisilks.com for silk), resellers like Ebay or Etsy, or, for the truly adventurous, the thrift store can have those materials at a fraction of the cost.

Thrifting involves creativity. There can be bolts of donated fabric, or you may uncover 100% linen curtains and wool blankets. The drawback to employing this method is that there is no guarantee you will find something. Also, the materials may not be the color or amount needed for your project. In another class, bleaching, dying, and pattern stamping will be addressed so you can make more fabrics usable.

Another place to find fabrics is at some Walmarts (although not all sell fabric anymore), and the prices are generally very inexpensive. The issues with this store are the lack of accurate cutting, fabric content labels, and knowledgeable staff who can answer questions. Sometimes you can get a bargain, but more times than not it’s yards of frustration.

Tip: Always look at the fabric content marked normally on the end of the bolt. Remember that the higher the man-made fibers, the less the garment will breathe.  This can elevate body temperature and make the wearer extremely uncomfortable.

How do you identify the type of fabric when there is no fiber content label?

When you are at home, you can do a burn test. However, doing that is out of the question when you’re still in the store or thrift shop! The best you can do there is feel the fabric and determine if it feels like a natural fabric. If possible, pull one thread loose and try to break it. Unnatural/synthetic fibers tend to snap while cottons, linens, and wools tend to stretch or pull apart.

Linen (Flax)

A cellulose fiber, it takes longer to ignite. It is easily extinguished by blowing on it. Other properties are similar to hemp and jute.


A manufactured cellulose fiber. It burns without flame or melting and may flare up. Unless there is a fabric finish, it doesn’t leave any bead. After the flame is removed, it may glow a bit longer than cotton. It smells like burning paper and leaves soft, gray ash. It’s smoke is a little hazardous.


A protein fiber that burns slowly and curls away from the flame. It leaves a dark bead that can be easily crushed. It is self-extinguishing and leaves ash that is a dark, gritty, fine powder. It smells like burned hair or charred meat. It gives out little or no smoke and the fume is not hazardous.


A protein fiber that burns slowly. It sizzles and curls away from flame and may curl back into a fingernail. It leaves beads that are brittle, dark, and easily crushed. It is self-extinguishing and leaves a harsh ash from crushed bead. It emits a strong odor of burning hair or feathers, as well as dark smoke and moderate fume.

Acetate, Triacetate

Protein fibers that burn quickly and can flare even after flame is removed. The bead is hard, brittle, and can’t be crushed. It melts into a very hot bead and drips very dangerously. No ash is left by it and the smell is like hot vinegar or burning pepper. It gives out black smoke and the fume is hazardous.

Nylon, Polyamide

Manufactured fabrics made from petroleum. Due to their fabric finish, they quickly burn and shrink to flame. The beads are hard, grayish, and uncrushable. After flame, they burn slowly and melt. They are self-extinguishing but drip dangerously. Their odor is like celery and they leave no ash but the fume is very hazardous.


A polymer produced from coal, air, water, and petroleum products. It burns quickly and shrinks away from flame, but may also flare up. It leaves hard, dark, and round beads. After the flame, it burns slowly and is not always self-extinguishing. It has a slightly sweet chemical odor. It leaves no ash but the  black smoke and fume are hazardous.

Acrylic, Modacrylic, Polyacrylic

Manufactured fabrics from natural gas and petroleum, they flare up at match-touch, shrink from flame, burn rapidly with hot sputtering flame, and drip dangerously. Beads are hard, dark, and with irregular shapes. They continue melting after flame is removed and are self-extinguishing. When burning, they give out a strong acrid, fishy odor. Although no ash is left, their black smoke and fume are hazardous.

Categories: SCA news sites