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Cutting edge leather shoe found at Vindolanda

History Blog - Thu, 2016-09-22 14:31

You’d think the Roman fort of Vindolanda just south of Hadrian’s Wall was a footwear manufacturing concern rather than a military outpost with an attached a civilian settlement considering how many shoes have been found there. Literally thousands of shoes, their leather preserved in excellent condition by the waterlogged soil, have been unearthed at the fort and settlement over the decades. This season the excavation team has added another 350 shoes to the tally since digging began in April. One of them is making headlines for its stylish resemblance to the Adidas Predator soccer cleats favored by some of the biggest names in the game like David Beckham and Zinedine Zidane.

The shoe was found in the Severan ditch, ground zero for what appears to have been a frenzied bout of closet cleaning in 212 A.D. which resulted 420 shoes being tossed into the ditch. Most of them show signs of extensive wear or were cannibalized for parts to repair shoes that survived the great purge of 212.

This leather sandal is in good condition with only a tear along the seam of the hell. The shoelaces are gone, but there’s a slot where they would have tied together. Vindolanda spokesperson Sonya Galloway:

“The boot is the modern day equivalent of around a size one, and would have been worn by a child between the ages of eight and ten.

“It is a good quality shoe. “[J]ust like the children of today, Roman children would have been very fashion conscious. The discovery of shoe, which is very well made, shows the affluence of the Romans.

“It is the kind of shoe which would have been worn by a wealthy Roman child.”

Archaeologists think they have at least one shoe for every individual who lived at Vindolanda during the 300+ years it was inhabited. The differences in quality, design and wear attest to the diversity of economic status in the fort and settlement. They provide an extremely rare glimpse into the way people from all walks of life (pun intended) lived at Vindolanda during the Roman occupation.

The handsome shoe will now join its leathern brethren on display at the Vindolanda Museum.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Dragonship Lands in Delftwood!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-09-22 07:31

Enjoy this account of a Viking ship that visited  our lands, submitted by Lord Snaebjorn inn Danski, of the Barony of Delftwood:

In the final weekend of August, the shores of our fair Barony of Delftwood were subject to a surprising sight, one of the fierce dragonships of Viking raiders at our shore! Though we are used to seeing Viking warriors and tradesmen amongst us, never before has such a mighty vessel as the Draken Harald Harfagre been seen in our waters.

Sunday, August 28th, found many of the citizens of Delftwood heading to the pier in Oswego, NY, to look upon and take a tour of this long traveled craft. Joined there by friends from Thescorre, Coppertree and other groups throughout the northern lands of our fair kingdom. Many, if not most, even turned out in garb for the occasion and there are rumors of a betrothal as the ship was exited as well.

An impressive sight it was, as the magnificent craft was 114 feet in length from her fierce dragon headed prow to the very stern of the ship, and 26 feet wide at her widest point. Round shields adorned her rails, and the top of her mast stood nearly 80 feet. Built in the same manner as those ancient ships which once sailed the seas, she was even finished with a mixture of linseed oil and pine tar. Christian, the ship’s engineer and one of its longest serving crew members, told how the ship had been built as faithfully to the originals as possible with the exception of using saws to cut the planks instead of axes, and the careful hiding of a few modern additions such as an engine below deck for emergency use or, as would later become necessary during its trip through the New York canal system, when the sails could not be used.

The Draken Harald Harfagre (Har-fog-ra for those who may have trouble pronouncing such names) was built and launched 4 years ago by a private owner who wished to test the seaworthiness of the famed Viking longships. For two years it sailed along the Norwegian coasts before following the Viking raiding and trade routes to Ireland. It was then decided to recreate the famed voyage of Leif Ericsson from Greenland to North America.

Launched on April 26th from its homeport in Norway, the Harfagre followed the traditional routes westward to Greenland and from there followed what is believed to be the same route Leif Ericsson would have taken. On June 1st the ship reached Saint Anthony, Newfoundland, and proceeded up to land in L’Anse aux Meadows, just as Leif Ericcson had over one thousand years ago.

Since then it has traveled down into the Great Lakes and competed in a series of races and port visits as part of the Tall Ships Challenge. She then headed down through the canal system to Albany, where she once more had her mast set and her sails opened to sail down the Hudson to Kingston and New York City. She is now heading to her winter berth in the lands of our Eastern cousins within the Barony Beyond the Mountain (Mystic, CT).

It was during this trip down the canals though that the Draken Harald Harfagre met another ship on its own journey to test the capabilities of its ancestors. On the shores of Coppertree’s Sylvan Beach, the fierce dragonship docked side by side with the Hokule’a, a replica catamaran built in the style of those ships used to settle the Pacific islands such as Samoa or Hawaii. The Hokule’a, is a much smaller craft and contains no engine at all, but is nearing completion of an even more impressive journey.

Launched in May of 2014, the Hokule’a has been circumnavigating the globe for over 2 years. Sailing west from Hawaii it has made stops in Tahiti, Samoa, New Zealand, Bali, Mozambique, South Africa, Brazil, and the Virgin Islands. It has sailed the entire eastern seaboard and is now heading up through the canals to the Great Lakes and St Lawrence Seaway before it turned around and headed back down through the canals and began the final leg of its journey down through the Gulf Coast and Panama Canal to get back home.

For further information about either of these ships, their routes, or their missions you can visit their websites; www.drakenexpeditionamerica.com and www.hokulea.com

Lady Ghita Rinaldi de Amici and Bella de Amici, of Delftwood

Photos courtesy of Lord Snaebjorn

Categories: SCA news sites

Curious About Curia?

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-09-21 19:07

As you may have seen, the First Curia of Marcus and Margerite will be held this Sunday, the 25th, at Their Coronation site in the main hall at 10am. Some of you may be wondering, what the heck is “Curia” anyway? As always, the Gazette is here to answer your questions!

What is Curia?
The term “Curia” is used as shorthand for the Curia Regis. Basically, it’s the Royal Council – a gathering of people, led by the King and Queen, held to conduct the Kingdom’s business. It’s a business meeting for the Kingdom, in other words. It’s held at least once per reign. Depending on the business that needs to happen, Their Majesties may choose to hold more than one during Their Reign.

Who is on this council?
The King and Queen lead it. Their Heirs have seats, of course. All of the Officers of the Kingdom have seats, as well as the landed Barons and Baronesses, the Peers of the Realm, and all the local Seneschals.

What does it mean to “have a seat” on the Curia Regis?
It means that those who are members, or have a seat, have a voice in whatever decisions are being made, or topics that come up.

So the people on the Curia Regis vote on things?
Nope. The King and Queen make all the decisions. The folks on the Curia Regis are there to advise them. Rarely, the Royalty may take a quick poll to gauge public opinion, but it’s not a vote.

What do they actually do during the meeting?
Either the sitting Royalty or the Kingdom Seneschal preside over the meeting, depending on the wishes of Their Majesties. Minutes are normally taken. When discussion happens, it’s directed by whomever the King and Queen wish to direct it, usually Themselves or the Kingdom Seneschal. They may decide to limit discussions on some topics, for time considerations.

The actual goings-on really depend on what the King and Queen want to do, but there are a few things that must be brought before the Curia Regis. The Kingdom Officers report. By Law, each Kingdom Officer must submit a written report to the Crown on the state of the Office at or just before Curia. Curia is also where law changes happen, if needed. Any changes to Law must be brought before the Curia Regis (the Kingdom Seneschal must be present), as wells as any changes to Kingdom financial policy. The approved yearly budget is submitted to the Curia Regis, as are any large budget changes that come up during the year. Finally, if the Royalty want to create any new awards or honors for the Kingdom, They must consult with the Curia Regis first.

How do I know when the Curia meets?
It will always be published in our Kingdom newsletter at least in the issue in the month it is to be held. This is usually announced by the Crown or the Kingdom Seneschal, and often both. You’ll see it via various electronic communication methods, too.

If I don’t have a seat on the Curia Regis, can I still go?
Absolutely! Curia is always open to the public. However, if you don’t have a seat, you shouldn’t expect to participate in discussion. But the Royalty may choose to permit members of the populace (that’s you) to speak, if They wish.

It’s great when people are interested in the running of things! And it’s good to know what’s going on in the Kingdom.

If you want to come to Curia this Sunday, but can’t come to the event, the Event Steward says you can come on Sunday free of charge. You’ll need to sign in, so that means show proof of membership or sign a waiver. See you there!


Categories: SCA news sites

Six paintings by Hercules Segers found in private collections

History Blog - Wed, 2016-09-21 17:03

Hercules Segers (ca. 1589 – ca. 1638) is not widely known today, but he had an enormous influence on far more famous artists of the Dutch Golden Age and the rediscovery of his works in the 19th century played a major role in the development of the modern graphic arts. Very little is known about his life. He lived and worked in comparative obscurity, experimenting with print media in a way that had never been done before and wouldn’t be done again for 400 years.

After his death, apparently from falling down the stairs while drunk, his innovative work became highly sought after, particularly by fellow artists. It was his innovative approach to printmaking that made his name. Even to contemporary eyes, his prints are incredibly fresh: moody imaginary landscapes, each print unique thanks to his constant experimentation with colored inks, tints, colored paper, cloth, textures and cropping.

There are only 183 Segers prints made from 54 plates known to survive, each of them unique. A print by Rembrandt van Rijn is actually by Hercules Segers too. Rembrandt was an avid fan and collector of Segers’ art, and reworked one of Segers’ copper plates, Tobias and the Angel, into his Flight into Egypt, keeping the landscape unchanged but altering the human figures. Rembrandt also collected Segers’ paintings, owning at least eight of them. Considering that only 12 Segers paintings were known to have survived into our time, that’s an impressive proportion.

Now that number has been expanded by 50% because researchers at the Rijksmuseum have authenticated another six paintings by Hercules Segers, all of them held in private collections. A team of specialists spent two years studying about 100 disputed or possible Segers paintings and prints for an upcoming exhibition, discovering works never before displayed to the public and confirming the authenticity of works that have been deemed doubtful at best for decades. They enlisted the latest and greatest technology in their pursuit, including infrared reflectography, X-ray fluorescence, ultraviolet photography and dendrochronological analysis on the wood panel paintings.

The three paintings, Woodland Path, Panoramic Landscape with a Town on a River and Panoramic Landscape with Two Towers, all owned privately, have never been seen before. The Mountain Landscape from Hovingham Hall in England was last shown almost fifty years ago. Alongside the four works by Segers, there are two other paintings from private collections that have long been considered doubtful but may now also be definitively added to Segers’ oeuvre. They are the River Landscape with Figures and River Landscape with a Mill. Two new prints by the artist have also been found.

The team’s extensive art historical and technical research also revealed new information about Segers’ work and materials. For instance, they found that Segers used painter’s materials in his etchings, using oil paints to make the prints. He used different paper, textiles and paints for every impression, which is why they’re all so different from each other. Hercules Segers was, researchers discovered, the first European artist to use paper from east Asia, beating Rembrandt to the punch by 20 years.

The Rijksmuseum’s research will bear fruit in an unprecedented retrospective bringing together almost all of Hercules Segers’ works. All 18 of his extant paintings and 110 of his prints will be on display at the museum from October 7th, 2016, until January 8th, 2017. At the same time, the Rembrandt House Museum will put on an exhibition, Under the Spell of Hercules Segers, about the influence of Hercules Segers on Rembrandt and other Golden Age Dutch artists, as well as his influence on graphic artists in the 20th century. After it closes at the Rijksmuseum, the Hercules Segers exhibition will then travel to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City where it will open on February 13th as The Mysterious Landscapes of Hercules Segers.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Q&A: Outgoing and Incoming EK Brewers Guild Masters

East Kingdom Gazette - Wed, 2016-09-21 11:40

Photo courtesy of Pan Kythe Szubielka

Last weekend, the Guild Master of the East Kingdom Brewers Guild passed from Mistress Sylvia du Vey to Master Magnus Hvalmagi.  To mark the occasion and educate the populace about their brewing opportunities, the Gazette posed questions to the outgoing and incoming Guild Heads.

Please give us a brief overview of the guild and the role of the Guild Head.

Mistress Sylvia: The guild head has a duel responsibility to both be a cheerleader and an effective administrator.  It is important to encourage brewers of all experience levels to participate and stretch for that next level of excellence.  It is pretty critical to make sure that the guild is as welcoming and accessible as possible.  That job belongs to all of us, but most especially the Guild Master.

The administrative piece involves a lot of record keeping and communication.  We have quarterly reports to file with the MOAS as well as records on every brewer who has paneled anything in the past three and a half years.  Those records are updated and sent to the brewer each time they panel a new item, along with notes about their next steps.  Good records are essential in helping us move forward as a group, especially one that spans such a large geographic area.

Master Magnus: The East Kingdom Brewers Guild is a kingdom-wide organization whose aim is to support and expand historical brewing arts in the East. We have members all over the place and lots of expertise to help brewers develop and hone their craft – and also, we have lots of good things to drink.

Happy Æthelmearc Day!

AEthelmearc Gazette - Tue, 2016-09-20 16:34

On this day in A.S. XXXII (1997), the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was born. Happy Æthelmearc Day!

“So it was in the presence of the Crowns of the East, Hanse and Moruadh, and the Crowns of Atlantia, CuÆn III and Bera, Susan of Fox Meadow witnessed as Sir Yngvar the Dismal, 2nd and 14th Viscount of Æthelmearc, prevailed over a field of 41 entrants to win the Crown for his soon-to-be-bride, Caryl Olesdottir, 14th Viscountess of Æthelmearc. Finally, on September 20, A.S. XXXII (1997), Hanse and Moruadh, King and Queen of the East held Their final court in the Principality of Æthelmearc. They released the landed Barons & Baronesses, peers, and officers of Æthelmearc from their oaths of fealty; They awarded Arms to Bethoc of Ravenswood; and created Susan of Fox Meadow as the last Viscountess and last Lady of the Garnet. With this business being taken care of, Hanse and Moruadh then closed the Principality.”

From An Introduction to the History of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, by THL Hfrena Ulfvarrinsdottir.

In addition (though a matter of the Principality but still our history) the following was just presented to The Barony of the Rhydderich Hael by Sir Dedawyr of Avaricum at Summers End. It is a Principality Poll by Sir Hak (1988).

(Images provided by Land of the Golden Dragon)


















































Categories: SCA news sites

Polling Award Recommendations Due Oct 7

East Kingdom Gazette - Tue, 2016-09-20 16:23

Photo by Lady Lavina Attewode

Their Royal Highnesses Brion and Anna wish to make it known that they will consider recommendations for inclusion on Their third polling through October 7, 2016.

Please remember that you need not be a member of any order to recommend someone you consider deserving. If you know someone you feel strongly about, there is an easy online form you can fill out to submit them for consideration.

Need more information about the East Kingdom awards polling process? This article gives a good overview. Need to find out whether or not someone has the award you are considering? Look them up in the Order of Precedence.

Filed under: Official Notices Tagged: awards, pollings

Human skeleton found at Antikythera shipwreck

History Blog - Tue, 2016-09-20 15:30

Archaeologists diving the site of the Antikythera shipwreck in the Aegean Sea have discovered human skeletal remains. The Return to Antikythera team, which has been exploring the site since 2012, found the bones under a foot and a half of pottery fragments and sand on August 31st. They recovered the cranium, a partial jawbone with three teeth, ribs, the long bones of the arms and legs and some other pieces. The rest of the skeletal remains are still embedded in the sea floor.

This isn’t the first time human remains have been found at the Antikythera wreck site. Famed marine explorer Jacques Cousteau found a smattering of bones during his two-day survey of the site in 1976. Osteoarchaeological analysis concluded that those bones were the remains of at least four people, although only three individuals could be identified: a young man, an adult woman and a teenager of undetermined sex. Having been treated for conservation purposes and exposed to a variety of temperature and environmental conditions, those bones can no longer be tested for DNA, not that they were ever prime candidates for recovery of ancient DNA.

That was a long time ago, aeons in terms of scientific technology, and this latest find isn’t just a bone here or there scattered by currents and marine life. This is the undisturbed skeleton of one person whose remains appear to have been protected by a thick debris layer, and it is the first ancient skeleton to be recovered from a shipwreck since the dawn of DNA analysis. Researchers are excited at the prospect of being able to extract a testable DNA sample from the bones, something that has never been attempted on an ancient shipwreck victim, to find out more about a crew member or passenger of the ancient merchant vessel laden with luxury objects that sank in around 65 B.C.

Within days of the find, [Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution archaeologist and co-director of the excavations team Brendan] Foley invited [Hannes] Schroeder, an expert in ancient-DNA analysis from the Natural History Museum of Denmark in Copenhagen, to assess whether genetic material might be extracted from the bones. On his way to Antikythera, Schroeder was doubtful. But as he removes the bones from their bags he is pleasantly surprised. The material is a little chalky, but overall looks well preserved. “It doesn’t look like bone that’s 2,000 years old,” he says. Then, sifting through several large pieces of skull, he finds both petrous bones — dense nuggets behind the ear that preserve DNA better than other parts of the skeleton or the teeth. “It’s amazing you guys found that,” Schroeder says. “If there’s any DNA, then from what we know, it’ll be there.”

Schroeder agrees to go ahead with DNA extraction when permission is granted by the Greek authorities. It would take about a week to find out whether the sample contains any DNA, he says: then perhaps a couple of months to sequence it and analyse the results.[...]

Schroeder guesses from the skeleton’s fairly robust femur and unworn teeth that the individual was a young man. As well as confirming the person’s gender, DNA from the Antikythera bones could provide information about characteristics from hair and eye colour to ancestry and geographic origin.

The video captures the moment of discovery and the divers’ unbridled joy.

The Return to Antikythera team 3D scan every artifact they discover so that scholars all over the world can examine their finds. Here is a 3D model of the bones in situ.

Here are the femurs recovered from the sea floor and in the laboratory.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Ukraine returns five paintings stolen from Dutch museum

History Blog - Mon, 2016-09-19 17:36

Five of the 24 paintings stolen from the Westfries Museum in Hoorn, northwestern Netherlands, on January 10th, 2005, have been returned to the Netherlands by the Ukrainian authorities. How they ended up in Ukraine is unclear. Museum officials searched constantly for their purloined works — 17th and 18th century oil paintings by Dutch masters and 70 pieces of silverware — for years before finally spotting a picture of one of the paintings on a Ukrainian website in 2014.

In July of 2015, two members of the ultra-right Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN) militia contacted the Dutch embassy in Kiev claiming that their battalion had all 24 of the stolen paintings and all the silverware. They claimed to have found the loot in the villa of one of their political enemies, a crony of the former president, and were willing to sell it back for an astronomical sum based on their groundless assumption that the art and silver were worth 50 million euros, a figure more than 50 times greater than the realistic assessment of expert appraisers.

The museum got the Ukrainian police involved, then the Foreign Ministry, then diplomatic talks ensued. No progress was made. When in December of last year they heard that the militia were looking for other potential buyers, museum officials notified the media and the whole crazy story made international news.

Since then, all kinds of under-the-radar things have been happening. Seemingly out of nowhere and with little explanation of the turn of events, in April of this year four of the 24 paintings were recovered by the Ukrainian secret service (SBU). They announced at a press conference that the recovery was the result of a special operation conducted in 10 regions of Ukraine over the course of four months, but no details were forthcoming about who had them or any legal repercussions for the thieves. All they said is they were found “in the possession of criminal groups,” which yeah, duh.

The four recovered works were The Peasant Wedding by Hendrick Boogaert, Kitchen Piece, by Floris van Schooten, The Return of Jephta and Woman World, both by Jacob Waben. These were the most prized of the stolen paintings and the museum was excited to get them back, especially since curators were concerned about their condition. Two of the paintings were still rolled up after having been cut out of their frames in the heist. Two others had been reframed.

Despite all the publicity about this caper and the artworks, the Ukrainian government dragged its heels about returning the paintings to the Westfries Museum. Officials decided they had to launch their own investigation of the pieces and who the legitimate owner was. The museum had supplied the authorities with ample documentation of their legal claim, which was doubted by nobody, not even the militia members themselves who had reached out to them directly, after all.

Then, in May, a fifth painting emerged, New Street in Hoorn by Izaak Ouwater. This one was handed in to the Dutch embassy in Kiev by an unknown buyer who apparently did not realize it was stolen when he purchased it. Again, no details were forthcoming.

Finally whatever kinks needed working out were worked out and on September 16th, all five of the paintings were formally returned to the Netherlands in a ceremony at the Dutch embassy in Kiev. Museum experts examined the works to authenticate them and assess their condition. The news for some of the works is grim.

[Museum director] Ad Geerdink: “Naturally I am very pleased about the return. But I am very sad about the condition of the paintings A Kitchen Scene by Floris van Schooten and A Peasants Wedding, by Hendrick Boogaert. For years, the paintings have been moved all over the place and they were folded or rolled up. They really suffered a lot. When unrolling them, a piece came loose. Luckily they can still be restored, but it will be a time-consuming effort. The costs will be significant, at least 100,000 Euros. As a museum, we are not able to bear these costs ourselves. We therefore hope that people will help us with the restoration by joining the crowd funding campaign. We will start the crowd funding when the paintings return to Hoorn. In the spring of 2017, we want to let the paintings shine again in full glory in the Westfries Museum.’

The paintings will be back on Dutch soil on October 7th and the museum is planning to welcome them with much happy fanfare. The five works will be briefly on display starting on October 8th and admission will be free for a week so the people of Hoorn can welcome back their long-lost prodigals.

I will post an update when the crowdfunding campaign is launched.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Arts & Sciences Salon to be Held on Saturday

East Kingdom Gazette - Sun, 2016-09-18 20:52

On Saturday September 24, the Barony of Concordia of the Snows will be holding the second Arts & Sciences Salon, at the Scotia United Methodist Church. This event is different than a schola. It is all about relaxing and getting to enjoy your favorite art or science with no pressure to move on to another activity. There is plenty of time to speak casually with the ambassadors, and others who are passionate about their arts. At the same time, newcomers really enjoyed themselves last year, because they had the opportunity to investigate many of the things the SCA has to offer. They could move from room to room at their own pace, sampling many activities.

While some of the most popular arts and sciences from last year (calligraphy & illumination, fiber arts, metal working) will be represented again, we have made room for several new topics. These include glove making – an essential accessory for everyone in the Middle Ages; pewter casting – from carving the mold to casting your piece; brewing; and medieval plants. More than a dozen topics will be represented. This year we are offering some informal classes and demos in several of the classrooms. This is not meant to keep people from wandering in at any time, but rather as an aid to organizing your day.

Last year our persona development area focused on English and Indian personas. This year we are also focusing on Japanese culture and personas. Of course, whatever culture you are interested in, our ambassadors will be able to give you help and advice on honing your persona.

Ambassadors and other attendees will be bringing along some of their favorite research materials to share during the day. The reference library will include books and computer files on topics that are not otherwise being covered during the day. This is an opportunity for access to hard-to-find information.

Since this is a day about learning, the A&S display has a theme this year – “Show us your mistakes!” Making mistakes is an integral part of mastering any art or science. We have all made many mistakes along the way. We are asking people to show us their mistakes and what they learned from them. The populace will vote on their favorite mistakes, and a prize will be awarded at the end of the day.

For more information, see the event announcement: http://www.eastkingdom.org/EventDetails.php?eid=3046


Filed under: Arts and Sciences, Events Tagged: a&s, Arts and Sciences, events

Oldest known indigo dyed textile found in Peru

History Blog - Sun, 2016-09-18 17:47

In 2009, archaeologists found textile fragments at the Preceramic settlement of Huaca Prieta in the Chicama Valley on the northern coast of Peru. The desert climate preserves organic materials and a great many early textiles made from wild cotton indigenous to the area have been unearthed there. What makes these fragments so significant is the dyed blue threads which are the oldest known indigo dyed textiles in the world, 1,800 years older than the Egyptian Fifth Dynasty textiles previously believed to be the oldest indigo dye.

Occupied between 14,500 and 4000, Huaca Prieta’s large ceremonial mound was first excavated in 1946 by archaeologist Junius Bird, curator of South American Archaeology at the American Museum of Natural History. There he unearthed the oldest known cotton textiles with recognizable figures — humans, birds, snakes — in the Americas. Those textiles are now in the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Bird’s trenches are still being excavated today and a number textile fragments are visible peering through the soil. It was in of those trenches, stratum 44 of trench HP-3, that archaeologists discovered two textiles with blue dye about 6200 to 6000 years old. The fragments are weft twining with warp stripes in different colors: the natural tan of the cotton, yarn woven with a white fiber from a local vine in the milkweed family and the blue. Chromatographic analysis of the textile confirmed the presence of an indigoid dye.

Different plants can be used to make indigoid dyes. What they all have in common is indigotin, the main component in blue dye, and indirubin, an isomer of indigotin. There is no currently available test that can distinguish between the different genera of plants that are sources of indigo dye. Researchers believe the Huaca Prieta dye was derived from plants in the Indigofera genus which are native to South America and still used as dye plants today.

Early examples of the use of blue yarns that were most likely colored with indigo are known, but dye analysis had heretofore been unavailable. The composition of the indigoid dyes identified in the fabrics presented here reflects that of earlier findings in Latin American and Asian contexts, in that proportions of indirubin relative to indigotin are significantly higher as compared to European productions. To date, there is no firm evidence to explain these differences, but plant species, harvesting, dye preparation, and actual dyeing, as well as differential conservation processes of essential dye components, may have, alone or in combination, contributed to this observation. One interesting hypothesis, requiring further confirmation, is that ancient vat dyeing technologies favored the formation and uptake by the yarn of indirubin. This would have resulted in a more purplish hue produced by a reddish indirubin and a bluish indigotin.

The textile fragments are now in the Cao Museum in Trujillo, Peru.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

3,000-year-old pot contains burned cheese residue

History Blog - Sat, 2016-09-17 20:55

A clay pot discovered during an archaeological excavation near Silkeborg in central Jutland, Denmark, in 2012 has the residue of 3,000-year-old burned cheese coating the interior. The pot was found upside down in a garbage pit. Museum Silkeborg archaeologists were excited by the find because the pot was intact and in near mint condition, a rare find for a Bronze Age vessel made between 777 B.C. and 588 B.C. They didn’t realize until they cleaned the soil off of it that the crusty remains of some whitish yellow food substance were stuck to the inside walls.

The color and texture were not something the archaeologists had seen before. Charred grains and seeds are a more common sight in ancient cookware — the ever-tricky porridge has been getting burned to the bottom of pots for thousands of years — but the yellowish film was a mystery. Samples of the crusty substance were subjected to macrofossil analysis at the Moesgaard Museum in the hope it might identify any plants, meat or fish. The results were inconclusive. The test found the substance was a foamy, vitrified material, possible the residue of oil or sugar.

Museum curators sent samples to the Danish National Museum next, where chemist Mads Chr. Christensen used mass spectrometry to identify the substance. He was able to narrow it down to a product made with the fat of a ruminant, likely bovine. With no similar sample to compare the mass spectrometry results, he wasn’t able to get more specific than that.

“The fat could be a part of the last traces of curds used during the original production of traditional hard cheese. The whey is boiled down, and it contains a lot of sugars, which in this way can be preserved and stored for the winter,” says [Museum Silkeborg curator Kaj F.] Rasmussen.

“It is the same method used to make brown, Norwegian whey cheese, where you boil down the whey, and what’s left is a caramel-like mass that is turned into the brown cheese that we know today from the supermarket chiller cabinet,” he says.

When things don’t go according to plan and the cheese burns to the pot, the smell is pungent, to put it charitably, and attempts to scrape the foul crust off the clay pot doomed to failure. It’s easy to picture a Bronze Age cheesemaker dumping the whole mess into the trash.

I’m not familiar with brown Norwegian whey cheese. It sounds … interesting. Has anybody tried this delicacy?

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Learn Sign Language Day by Day

AEthelmearc Gazette - Sat, 2016-09-17 17:37

By THL Gytha Oggsdottir, Kingdom Silent Herald.

Why in the world is that person standing up in court flailing around?

If it’s a Silent Herald, what she or he is doing is translating what is happening in court into American Sign Language (ASL). How much he or she  translates depends on the amount of sign that herald knows.  Why she or he translates is for many reasons:

  1. Our society is getting older. More and more of us are losing some to all of our hearing.
  2. Acoustics in many halls are terrible. How often are you in the back of the hall and can’t hear what is being said in court?
  3. We want our dream to be accessible to all.

But what if you are hard of hearing or sitting in the back of court and you do not know sign language?

Luckily, ASL is a very expressive language and many signs are similar to gestures you would use to explain something. Even not knowing sign, many people can gain a better concept of what is happening in court by watching a Silent Herald.  I am often approached by people who say they do not know sign, yet my presence as a Silent Herald made court more understandable.

I cannot count how many times people have told me that they wish they knew sign language. I am also approached by people who do know some sign but do not feel like they know enough to become a Silent Herald themselves.  This made me start thinking about how I could help spread the knowledge to others. I started teaching at scholas and academies, but that was clearly not filling the need.

I then came up with the idea of a sign-a-day Facebook group and created it.  (Æthelmearc Sign A Day)  The concept behind it was that it was a place where I would post a link to a video each day showing a sign. I would start with signs that the Society created for ourselves, then move to signs specific to Æthelmearc, and finally move to signs that are used often in court. In this manner people could get exposure to the signs that are used by Silent Heralds.

My hope is through this Facebook group that more people will learn ASL. That more people will understand what Silent Heralds are signing. And perhaps that one or two will be willing through the knowledge gained to stand in the front and sign themselves.

Categories: SCA news sites

Unique figurine of woman found at Çatalhöyük

History Blog - Fri, 2016-09-16 12:53

Archaeologists excavating the Neolithic urban settlement of Çatalhöyük in central Turkey have unearthed the figurine of a voluptuous woman in excellent condition. More than 2,000 figurines have been found at Çatalhöyük, but very few of them intact like this one. Several of them were also Mother figures; this is the first one to be found intact and with finely crafted details. It is also unusual in that it was discovered under a platform next to a piece of obsidian where it appears to have been deliberately placed likely for ritual purposes rather than discarded in garbage pits where archaeologists have found many broken statuettes, mostly made of clay. The beautiful Seated Woman of Çatalhöyük, for example, who is herself a zaftig female archetype seated on a throne and captured in the very act of giving birth, was found missing her head and the right hand rest in the shape of a leopard or panther head.

The figurine is 17 centimeters (6.7 inches) long, 11 centimeters (4.3 inches) wide and weighs one kilo (2.2 pounds), a large, heavy piece for Çatalhöyük. (The Seated Woman is 12 centimeters high.) Her hands and feet are small, markedly out of proportion to her large breasts, belly and buttocks, and her hands are placed under the breasts. She would not have been able to stand vertically on those small feet. The figurine is made of marble, another rarity, and was shaped by extensive polishing of the stone. Details — slanted eyes, a Modigliani-like flat nose, mouth, navel, etc. — were then incised on the figure.

It dates Neolithic occupation of the site, between 7100 and 6000 B.C., so the figurine is at least 8,000 years old. The exaggerated female features — breasts, hips, thighs — of such figures, carved by people for more 40,000 years, have often been interpreted as mother or fertility goddesses, but recent scholarship suggests some of them may represent venerable high status older ladies of the community.

Çatalhöyük is a fascinating site, founded in a period of transition between highly mobile hunter-gatherers and settled farming communities. No identifiable public buildings have been found thus far, just domestic structures built so close together than people had to use roofs and ladders to move between them. Residents grew a few different kinds of plants and kept cattle — not domesticated yet, mind you — for milk and meat. Large cattle horns were popular decorative features incorporated into the homes. The dead were buried under the houses; there was no dedicated cemetery or burial ground.

The Çatalhöyük Research Project has been excavating the settlement since 1993, combining excavation with in situ conservation and curation of artifacts to ensure the long-term preservation of this extraordinarily signficant site. Full details about the newly discovered figurine will be published in the team’s 2016 Archive Report later this year.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Agincourt Feast Will Be A Canterbury Tales Experience

AEthelmearc Gazette - Fri, 2016-09-16 11:18

By Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe, Head Cook.

The Agincourt feast this year is based on the Canterbury Tales. I have taken a few liberties with the menu to ensure proper balance and variety of dishes. We will be doing a few things differently this time around and hope that you will enjoy the experience.

When you enter the hall, you will see that the tables have been arranged in a “U” formation. The Royalty will be seated at a table located at the bottom of the U. This is an approximation of what may be seen in medieval illuminations.

The tables will be covered in white linen and a small pitcher, bowl, and a linen towel will be placed every few feet. This is for handwashing prior to dinner.

In accordance with period practice, seating will be done by precedence. When you sign up for dinner, we are requesting that you provide your title to facilitate creating the final seating chart.

This is not something that we do often and there may be some concerns because it’s new to most people. When we organize the seating, we will be keeping families together so that small children are not seated separately from their parents. Seating by precedence gives you the opportunity to spend time with old friends and acquaintances as well as meeting new people and sharing a meal with them.

Because of the available seating in the hall, we will be seating people both on the inside and outside of the tables. It will look something like this:

A herald will announce the diners, including High Table. As each person is announced, she or he will then be lead to their seats by a server. Once everyone is seated, diners are encouraged to take advantage of the water, pitcher, and towel to wash their hands before dining. Handwashing before a meal was done before feasts during our period of study in order to assure their fellow diners that their hands were clean (diners were expected to come to the table with hands and nails clean). Handwashing would often be done at a separate basin or the pitcher and basin would be brought to each guest in turn based on his or her rank.

The handwashing water is the handwashing water described in Le Ménagier de Paris using the recipe created by Christianne Muusers.

Pour faire eaue a laver mains sur table mectez boulir de la sauge, puis coulez l’eaue et faictes reffroidier jusques a plus que tiedes. Ou vous mectez comme dessus camomille et marjolaine, ou vous mectez du rommarin, et cuire avec l’escorche d’orenge. Et aussi feuilles de lorier y sont bonnes.

To make water for washing hands at the table. Boil sage, strain the water and let cool to a little more than tepid. Or take camomille and marjoram in stead [of sage], or rosemary, and boil with orange peel. Bay leaves are also good.

Once handwashing is complete, the feast will commence.

The Readings & Menu

Before each course, there will be a reading from the Canterbury Tales. The reading will be from the introductory poem for the character whose tale the course is based upon. This is entirely done for time considerations.

Here Begynneth the Book of the tales of Caunterbury

(read by Master Morien MacBain)

When April with his showers sweet with fruit

The drought of March has pierced unto the root

And bathed each vein with liquor that has power

To generate therein and sire the flower;

When Zephyr also has, with his sweet breath,

Quickened again, in every holt and heath,

The tender shoots and buds, and the young sun

Into the Ram one half his course has run,

And many little birds make melody

That sleep through all the night with open eye

(So Nature pricks them on to ramp and rage)-

Then do folk long to go on pilgrimage,

And palmers to go seeking out strange strands,

To distant shrines well known in sundry lands.

And specially from every shire’s end

Of England they to Canterbury wend,

The holy blessed martyr there to seek

Who helped them when they lay so ill and weal

Befell that, in that season, on a day

In Southwark, at the Tabard, as I lay

Ready to start upon my pilgrimage

To Canterbury, full of devout homage,

There came at nightfall to that hostelry

Some nine and twenty in a company

Of sundry persons who had chanced to fall

In fellowship, and pilgrims were they all

That toward Canterbury town would ride.

The rooms and stables spacious were and wide,

And well we there were eased, and of the best.

And briefly, when the sun had gone to rest,

So had I spoken with them, every one,

That I was of their fellowship anon,

And made agreement that we’d early rise

To take the road, as you I will apprise.

But none the less, whilst I have time and space,

Before yet farther in this tale I pace,

It seems to me accordant with reason

To inform you of the state of every one

Of all of these, as it appeared to me,

And who they were, and what was their degree,

And even how arrayed there at the inn

And with a knight thus will I first begin.

The First Course

The Franklin’s Portrait

(Read by Count Thomas Byron of Havorford)

There was a franklin in his company;

White was his beard as is the white daisy.

Of sanguine temperament by every sign,

He loved right well his morning sop in wine.

Delightful living was the goal he’d won,

For he was Epicurus’ very son,

That held opinion that a full delight

Was true felicity, perfect and right.

A householder, and that a great, was he;

Saint Julian he was in his own country.

His bread and ale were always right well done;

A man with better cellars there was none.

Baked meat was never wanting in his house,

Of fish and flesh, and that so plenteous

It seemed to snow therein both food and drink

Of every dainty that a man could think.

According to the season of the year

He changed his diet and his means of cheer.

Full many a fattened partridge did he mew,

And many a bream and pike in fish-pond too.

Woe to his cook, except the sauces were

Poignant and sharp, and ready all his gear.

His table, waiting in his hall alway,

Stood ready covered through the livelong day.

At county sessions was he lord and sire,

And often acted as a knight of shire.

A dagger and a trinket-bag of silk

Hung from his girdle, white as morning milk.

He had been sheriff and been auditor;

And nowhere was a worthier vavasor.

The Cook’s Portrait 

(read by Meesteres Odriana vander Brugghe)

A cook they had with them, just for the nonce,

To boil the chickens with the marrow-bones,

And flavour tartly and with galingale.

Well could he tell a draught of London ale.

And he could roast and seethe and broil and fry,

And make a good thick soup, and bake a pie.

But very ill it was, it seemed to me,

That on his shin a deadly sore had he;

For sweet blanc-mange, he made it with the best.

First Course Menu

Barley Water: Since we can’t provide ale and no alcohol is allowed on site

Bread: Locally made white bread. A gluten-free bread will be available.

Sowpys dory: Minced onions fried in oil with rice milk ladled over trenchers.

Hennys in bruet: Chicken and pork with salt, pepper, and cumin colored with saffron.

Tarlett: A pork tart with saffron, eggs, currants, powder douce, salt


The Summoner

“A buckler he had made him of a cake”

Second Course

The Manciple

(read by Baron Brandubh O’Donnghaile)

There was a manciple from an inn of court,

To whom all buyers might quite well resort

To learn the art of buying food and drink;

For whether he paid cash or not, I think

That he so knew the markets, when to buy,

He never found himself left high and dry.

Now is it not of God a full fair grace

That such a vulgar man has wit to pace

The wisdom of a crowd of learned men?

Of masters had he more than three times ten,

Who were in law expert and curious;

Whereof there were a dozen in that house

Fit to be stewards of both rent and land

Of any lord in England who would stand

Upon his own and live in manner good,

In honour, debtless (save his head were wood),

Or live as frugally as he might desire;

These men were able to have helped a shire

In any case that ever might befall;

And yet this manciple outguessed them all.

Second Course Menu

Berandyles: Chicken simmered in beef broth flavored with ginger, sugar, pomegranate seeds, and cloves.

Sawce madame: A sauce with a chicken broth base flavored with quince, pears, garlic, grapes, galingale, and poudre douce.

Perrey of pesown: White beans with vegetable broth, onions, oil, sugar, salt, and saffron.

Blomanger: Rice, cow’s milk , chicken, and saffron.

Tart de Bry: A tart of eggs, cheese, sugar, saffron, salt, and ginger. A gluten-free version of this dish will be available.

Final Course

The Miller’s Portrait

(read by Maister Liam Mac an tSoir)

The miller was a stout churl, be it known,

Hardy and big of brawn and big of bone;

Which was well proved, for when he went on lam

At wrestling, never failed he of the ram.

He was a chunky fellow, broad of build;

He’d heave a door from hinges if he willed,

Or break it through, by running, with his head.

His beard, as any sow or fox, was red,

And broad it was as if it were a spade.

Upon the coping of his nose he had

A wart, and thereon stood a tuft of hairs,

Red as the bristles in an old sow’s ears;

His nostrils they were black and very wide.

A sword and buckler bore he by his side.

His mouth was like a furnace door for size.

He was a jester and could poetize,

But mostly all of sin and ribaldries.

He could steal corn and full thrice charge his fees;

And yet he had a thumb of gold, begad.

A white coat and blue hood he wore, this lad.

A bagpipe he could blow well, be it known,

And with that same he brought us out of town.

Final Course Menu

‘Spiced Ale’: Because of the alcohol-free site, we will be serving spiced apple cider.

Wafers: Thin cookies made in an iron. A gluten-free option will be available.

Honeycomb: Squares of honeycomb.

Honey: Local honey.

Cheese: A fresh-made ricotta-like cheese.

The Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands will host Agincourt Friday, October 28 to Sunday, October 30. See the Barony’s website for the event announcement.

See Odriana’s original blog posting here.

Are you preparing or did you recently cook a period feast? Contact The Æthelmearc Gazette to share your recipe booklet, website musings, or blog posting.

Categories: SCA news sites

Court Report: Siege of Glengary

AEthelmearc Gazette - Thu, 2016-09-15 15:50

Court Reports of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc

Thomas Byron and Ariella

September 3, AS 51 (2016)

Siege of Glengary

Shire of Sylvan Glen

Documented from the Rolls and Files of the Coram Regibus of Thomas Byron et Ariella, Rex et Regina Æthelmearc: Being a True Record of the Business of Their Majesties’ Royal Court at the Siege of Glengary, September 3, AS LI, in the Shire of Sylvan Glen.  As recorded by Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta, with the assistance of THL Alianora Bronhulle and Gwendolyn the Graceful, Brehyres, Jewel of Æthelmearc Herald.

Their Majesties invited Their cousins from the Kingdom of Atlantia, Fergus and Glynis, Baron and Baroness of the Barony of Highland Foorde, to join Them in Their court.

Next, Their Majesties called for the children of Æthelmearc where They, and Princess Leah, bestowed upon them gifts and trinkets of amusement.

Having seen that the children were properly cared for, Their Majesties then summoned into Their Court the autocrat, Lady Laurentia of Caledonia, where upon They bid her share the reports of day’s events and activities. Lady Laurentia reported that the day’s thrown weapons tourney was won by Lord Kuma, the Arts and Sciences competition was won by Lady Samin, Maestro Orlando won the morning rapier tournament, and Lord Dromund won the rapier longsword tournament. THLord Tegrinus was the winner of the rattan tournament. The autocrat then thanked her staff, Their Majesties, and all who attended the event this day.

Next, Their Majesties gave leave to Fergus and Glynis to conduct business of their Court.

Lord Bertrand Martel’s AoA

Their Majesties summoned Bertrand Martel and THL Ursula of Rouen presented herself on his behalf. Their Majesties and spoke of his skill in armored combat and thrown weapons, his efforts in creation of his own armor, and his assistance with demos. Being pleased with Their subject They did award him arms and raise him to the ranks of the nobility. Scroll by The Honorable Lady Rachel Dalicieux.



Maddoc MacRoyri was awarded arms in absentia. Scroll by Mistress Maria Cristina de Cordoba.

Lord Maddoc MacRoyri’s AoA.

Lady Safia bint Da’ud Al’Zarqa’s AoA.

Their Majesties then called for Safia bint Da’ud Al’Zarqa. On her behalf, her husband Lord Dromund presented himself before The Throne. Speaking proudly of Safia’s labors as the arts & sciences officer and seneschal for the College of Silva Vulcani, Their Majesties did award her arms and name her Lady Safia. Scroll calligraphed by Baroness Ekaterina Volkova and illuminated by Anna Ianka Lisitsina.

Lord Thomas Niring’s AoA.

Next, Their Majesties wished to speak with Thomas Niring. Being not present, a member of the populace came forward on his behalf.

Their Majesties spoke of his virtuous deeds and of his craftsmanship in creating a full steel fighting harness.

Satisfied by the industriousness of Their subject saw fit to name him Lord by awarding him arms.

Scroll unsigned.



Lord Hunter’s Silver Sycamore.

Their Majesties then, having heard of the passions of Hunter of Sylvan Glen did call him forward. He also being not present, his father presented himself before Their Majesties. Their Majesties shared knowledge of Hunter’s efforts in chainmail and the creation of an avantale that he entered into and arts & sciences competition. They spoke of his growing talent in the art of calligraphy. Being pleased with this youthful subject of Their kingdom did induct him into the Order of the Silver Sycamore. Calligraphy by Eilionora inghean an Bhaird and illumination by Eilionora inghean an Bhaird and THL Rachel Dalicieux.


Lord Dromund’s Golden Alce.

Looking out over the populace gathered, Their Majesties spied Lord Dromund Geirhjalmson and once again bade him come forward. They hailed his prowess with rapier to Their Court. They spoke of his knowledge of the steel arts and talked of the longsword tournament this very day in which he emerged victorious over all other combatants. Well pleased with his prowess and skill did They name him a Companion of Golden Alce. Pyrography scroll by Maighstir Liam MacantSaoir.

Lord Leonardis’ Golden Alce.

Lord Leonardis Hebenstreit was inducted into the Order of the Golden Alce in absentia. Scroll by The Honorable Lady Eleanore Godwin.

Lord Leo Dietrich’s Golden Alce.

Leo Dietrich was created a Companion of the Golden Alce and Awarded Arms in absentia.  Scroll by Lord Angellino the Bookmaker.

Lord Otto Boese’s Sycamore.

Lord Otto Boese was then called before Their Majesties and a member of the populace came forward of his behalf. They told Their Court of Lord Otto’s craftsmanship in leather, of his making of arming sword sheathes and period archery items. They also spoke of his win in the novice category at Ice Dragon for these same items. Their Majesties then inducted him into the Order of the Sycamore. Scroll by Mistress Antoinette de la Croix with text by The Honorable Lord Gunther Grunbaum.

Her Majesty then sought to be attended by Master Robert of Sugar Grove. She told of how She was pleased by his giving of himself that day; to spend four hours teaching a class and to work with the youth. She praised him for his selflessness and how his efforts lead to the enrichment of the kingdom. Thus, in the tradition of Queens before Her, She did name him Her inspiration and presented him with Her token.

Their Majesties recognized all those who contributed scrolls, medallions, and regalia for those recognized in Court this day. They thanked those who worked to make the event successful and those who had attended, and They thanked the Shire of Sylvan Glen for their generosity and hospitality.

There being no further business, the Coram Regibus was closed.

Faithfully submitted,

Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta

All photos by Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta

Categories: SCA news sites

World’s oldest snowshoe found in Italian Dolomites

History Blog - Thu, 2016-09-15 12:41

On August 5th, 2003, Simone Bartolini, cartographer and head of the State Borders division of Italy’s Military Geographical Institute, was in the Pfossental Valley in the Italian Dolomites doing a topographical survey of the border with Austria when he came across an old snowshoe made by hand out of birch and twine. A birch stick about 1.5 meters (five feet) long had been shaped into a rough oval closed with twine, and then more twine stretched taughtly across the middle to support the foot. One of the twine supports was broken in the middle, but otherwise it was in excellent condition.

Bartolini thought it was maybe a hundred years old, the rudimentary work of a local farmer perhaps, and hung it on the wall of his office in Florence as a charming curiosity. That’s where it remained for 12 years until 2015 when Bartolini attended an exhibition of artifacts found in the glaciers at the Archaeological Museum of Bolzano. After a conversation with museum director Angelika Fleckinger, it dawned on him that his snowshoe might be a lot older than he had realized, so he gave it to the Office of Archaeological Heritage of Bolzano for further study.

Researchers had it radiocarbon dated by two independent laboratories and their results were the same: the snowshoe was made in the late Neolithic, between 3800 and 3700 B.C. That makes it 5,800 years old, by far the oldest known snowshoe.

“The shoe is evidence that people in the Neolithic period were living in the Alps area and had equipped themselves accordingly,” said Dr Catrin Marzoli, the director of the province’s cultural heritage department.

It was unclear why people were travelling through such an inhospitable region, she said. They may have been hunting animals, fleeing enemies from a rival tribe, or visiting pagan sites of worship.

If you live in an environmentally challenging region, you adapt. People gotta move sometimes for any number of reasons. The snowshoe was found at an altitude of 3,134 meters (10,280 feet) in the Gurgler Eisjoch pass which has been used by mountain travelers for thousands of years. Ötzi the Iceman, whose naturally mummified body was found just a few miles west of the snowshoe in 1991, was treading that well-worn trail between what are now Italy and Austria when he was killed, and microscopic evidence in his bones and digestive system indicate he had trod that path many times in his life. Ötzi died 500 years after that snowshoe was made.

The snowshoe will now join the Iceman on display at the South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology in Bolzano.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

The Art of Pre-Registering for Events, Demystified

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-09-14 18:45

Or, How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Event Announcements

With the the busy fall event season kicking into high gear, reservations clerks, head cooks, gate keepers, and autocrats across the Kingdom are waiting with bated breath for friendly little envelopes full of your money. How can you bring joyous smiles to these hard-working peoples’ faces, with minimal effort on your part?

The Æthelmearc Gazette is here to help! We’ll answer all your burning questions, including:

  • Why Pre-Register at all?
  • How do I know what to pay, especially with this new wording?
  • Sometimes I’m confused about how much to pay. What do I do?
  • Who do I make the check out to?
  • What do I include with my check?
  • How do I know they got my check?
  • When can I expect the check to be cashed?
  • Can I pay any other way besides a check?
  • How else can I make the process go smoothly?
  • Advanced class: Why did the wording change in the money section of event announcements?
  • Advanced class: So, what happened to the NMS (non-member surcharge) then? They said it was important, are they not collecting it?

Been around for 40 years and think you know all these answers? Well, they may surprise you! Read on!

Why Pre-Register at all?
On your end, it makes check-in super fast and easy. Sometimes there’s even a separate line for those who have pre-registered. Skip to the head of the class! Sometimes space is limited for feast, lunch, or the nice camping facilities… if you don’t pre-reg, you could (and for some events, will) miss out on fabulous food, or a warm, dry bed for the weekend.

On the event staff end, it is so, so, soooo much easier to plan if they know how many people are coming! Really. Planning ahead can mean the difference between losing money and making money for the local group (which they need for supplies and so forth). Help them out!

Planning is particularly important for the food. Ever been to an event that has a lunch that runs out of food, or there seems to be way too much? It’s because they didn’t know how many people to plan for. Be part of the solution! Sometimes, the feast cook will adjust how many people he or she is cooking for, based on the number of pre-regs. If you pre-reg, more people can eat! It will warm the cockles of our cooks’ hearts.

How do I know what to pay, especially with this new wording?
It’s right in the event announcement! Handy! Skim down to the money bit of the announcement. If you’ve been around a while you will notice that it looks different now than it did a few months ago. The Corporate Office asked the local groups to change the way we word the money bits. (More on that below). But don’t worry, read it carefully, and it will make sense. Here’s the important part:

If you are a member of the SCA, you qualify for the member discount! Yay! So send that amount (“Adult Member Discount Registration” usually), not what we are referring to as the “Adult Registration” amount. That is for non-members.

Also, pay attention to what the registration pays for… don’t stop at the number. Most event announcements will say. It’s common for the registration amount to pay for entry and maybe lunch, but it won’t include feast. That’s usually a separate line, and you have to keep reading to get to it. Same for camping or cabin fees, if there are any.

For example: The event announcement says, “Adult Event Registration, $15. Adult Member Discount Registration, $10. Registration includes lunch. Feast is an additional $10”. What do you send?

  • If you are a member of the SCA over 18, and you want to eat feast, you send a check for $20.
  • If you are a member over 18 and don’t want feast, you send a check for $10.
  • If you are not a member, are over 18, and you want to eat feast, you send a check for $25.
  • If you not a member, are over 18, and you don’t want feast, you send $15.

Sometimes I’m confused about how much to pay. What do I do?
Don’t guess! Just send a quick email or message to the reservations clerk or autocrat and ask. Or call. That’s just a few minutes of your and their time. Easy and fast.

Guessing and getting it wrong, or being incautious with the math and getting it wrong, can cause a headache for the reservations clerk, gatekeeper, possibly the exchequer, and you when you arrive at the event. Confusion and time wasted! It will make the gate folks sad. No one likes sad trolls! If you’re not sure, ask before you send the reservation.

Who do I make the check out to?
That’s in the event announcement, too! Take a quick look at it. Scan for the money section – it’s usually before or after that. You’ll see the phrase “Make checks payable to: SCA [state] Inc, – [Name of local group].” Never make a check out to the name of the autocrat or reservations clerk. It’ll always be to a group. A couple examples: SCA NY, Inc – Shire of Coppertree; SCA PA, Inc – Debatable Lands; SCA WV, Inc – Shire of Sylvan Glen.

While you’re writing the check, don’t forget to sign and date it! And it can be helpful to write your phone number on it, too (if you’re so inclined), in case the reservations clerk has questions. It will make his or her eyes sparkle with joy.

What should I include with my check?
You should include a note saying who you are and what you’re paying for. Don’t laugh! People don’t! Please do send a note. It should include the full mundane names of everyone you’re paying for, their SCA names if they got ’em, exactly what you think you’re paying for, and the amounts (this helps with your math, too!). If you’re paying for kids, it’s also helpful to include their ages. Also, your contact info – phone number and email address.

Here’s a bad example (don’t do this!):
Hey, looking forward to it, bringing the kids and mom, see you then! Love, Mary [includes a check for $89]

Here’s a good example:
Enclosed is a check for $89 for the Feast of Awesome on Oct 1:
Lady Mariah du Jardin (Mary Contrary-Smythe): $12 + $ 8 feast ($20)
Lord Hugo Oaksplitter (Jack Contrary): $12 + $8 feast ($20)
(no SCA name) (Evelyn Smythe): $17 (non member) + $8 feast ($25)
Bucky Oaksplitter (Bucky Contrary, age 9), $6 + $8 feast ($14)
Mimi Oaksplitter (Mimi Contrary, age 3), $0 + $0 feast, will need a feast seat, please
Also, 5 beds in a cabin for one night (Saturday), 5 x $2 ($10)
Any questions, please call (412) 555-5555 or email mary.contrary@gmail.com. We’ll show our membership cards at the door. Thanks!

Send something like that, and you may get a smiley face and a star next to your name. The gatekeeper might even wink at you in appreciation.

How do I know if they got my check?
You won’t necessarily. But if you include a polite note with your check (for example, “Can you please email or FB message me when you get this? mary.contrary@gmail.com”), most reservations clerks are happy to take a moment and drop you a note.

When can I expect the check to be cashed?
Within a week of when it is received. That’s what’s supposed to happen. In reality, sometimes it can take longer. Feel free to contact the autocrat, exchequer, or seneschal of the group holding the event, if something seems to have gone awry.

Is there any other way to pay besides a check?
If you’re mailing it, you’ll have to write a check. Or you could send a money order. Sending cash through the mail isn’t a good idea. If the person taking pre-regs is local to you, they may be willing to take cash in person.

We know, we know… you can pay online for, like, everything these days, why not events? Short answer: it’s against SCA policy for local groups to set up that sort of thing, so we don’t. There’s a PayPal experiment going on in other Kingdoms right now. If it works out, we may implement here, but it’s still in a testing phase right now.

An alternative to physically writing check is to ask your bank if you can do online requests for physical checks to be sent. Basically, you enter the info on their website, and the reservations clerk will get a physical check in the mail. This service does exist, and some banks do it. You need to enter the “payable to” and physical address correctly! And please do request it in enough time, since it sends a check through the mail… Not as fast as PayPal, but hey, it’s online!

What else can I do to make the process work smoothly?
The best thing you can do is send your pre-registration in early enough. Feast (or cabin) spaces can sell out pretty fast, and event staff really hates to disappoint people. In fact, the number of feast spaces available may be dependent on how many pre-regs there are! And if you’ve asked if there’s space and they say “yes”, don’t dawdle! There may be space that day, but if you wait a week to send your check, it may be sold out by then. Ensure a cheerful check-in and send in early!

Advanced class: Why did the wording change in the money section of event announcements?
The short answer: so that the SCA isn’t taxed by states inappropriately.

There was a state that wanted to tax SCA event fees, since the wording of the event announcement made it sound like we do entertainment stuff, like Ren Faires. Entertainment stuff can be taxed. As you all know, we are not entertainment; we are a participatory organization. Such things are not taxed. The change was needed in order to make it super clear that our events are participatory in nature, not entertainment or some other taxable thing. SCA Corporate rolled it out to all the Kingdoms because, as we learned from creating subsidiaries, such things (like new ways to levy taxes) tend to spread from state to state, and they wanted to head it off at the pass.

Bonus is that the new wording is friendlier to new folks, and more inclusive than “non-member surcharge”. That’s been a Corporate-level discussion for years. It was a good time to make the change.

Advanced class: So, what happened to the NMS (non-member surcharge) then? They said it was important, are they not collecting it?
Remember how the NMS was $5? Well, you may notice that the “adult event registration” prices and the “adult member discount registration” prices are exactly $5 different! This is not a coincidence!

That difference of $5 per non-member is still collected and sent to Corporate, just like the NMS was. On the back end (that the exchequers, autocrats, and seneschals worry about), it gets reported and sent the same way it always has. They’re renaming it to NMR (non-member registration). It’s just a front end nomenclature change, and it doesn’t change the way we’re collecting and reporting anything. It’ll take some getting used to, but we’ll get there!

This article was written by Baroness Hilda Hugelmann, so any mistakes are hers. Thanks to Master Bataar Sogdo, Deputy Kingdom Exchequer, for contributing information used in writing the advanced class information, and to Duchess Dorinda Courtenay for ideas and FAQs.

Categories: SCA news sites

HMS Terror may have been found

History Blog - Wed, 2016-09-14 15:40

Not basking in the success of its search for HMS Erebus, the flagship of Sir John Franklin during his last doomed voyage to find the Northwest Passage, Parks Canada continued its research on the Franklin expedition this season, studying the Erebus with sonar and seeking out any remains of the second ship, the HMS Terror. One of its partners in the endeavour is the Arctic Research Foundation whose vessel Martin Bergmann carries Parks Canada underwater archaeologists, side-scan sonar equipment and a remotely operated vehicle.

On September 3rd, the crew of the Martin Bergmann found a large three-masted shipwreck at the bottom of, believe it or not, Terror Bay. The sonar data was confirmed by video from the ROV which allowed the team to compare the wreck to the plans of the HMS Terror. They found the ship’s bell, but couldn’t see the name of the vessel on it. One key feature that indicates this is the Terror is the exhaust pipe which is in the same location as the smokestack on the ship’s plans. It was added to HMS Terror to vent exhaust from the locomotive engine installed in the ship’s hull so it could cut through sea ice.

The Terror was long believed to have been crushed by the hard, cold embrace of sea ice, but if this is the ship itself, it appears to be in excellent condition. Its three masts are broken, but it sits level on the sea floor about 80 feet below the surface, indicating that it sank gently. A long rope, still threaded through a hole in the deck, may have been used as an anchor line. The metal sheeting on the hull is intact. It seems the crew battened down the hatches, so to speak, as the ship was closed up tight. Of the four glass windows in the stern cabin, only one is broken. That bodes very well for the preservation of the contents.

On Sunday, a team from the charitable Arctic Research Foundation manoeuvred a small, remotely operated vehicle through an open hatch and into the ship to capture stunning images that give insight into life aboard the vessel close to 170 years ago.

“We have successfully entered the mess hall, worked our way into a few cabins and found the food storage room with plates and one can on the shelves,” Adrian Schimnowski, the foundation’s operations director, told the Guardian by email from the research vessel Martin Bergmann.

“We spotted two wine bottles, tables and empty shelving. Found a desk with open drawers with something in the back corner of the drawer.”

As with the discovery of Erebus, here too Inuit knowledge of the area played a pivotal role. The Martin Bergmann was headed to the north end of Victoria Strait to join the other ships on the Parks Canada mission when one of the crew members, Sammy Kogvik, told a story about how on a fishing trip six years ago he saw a large vertical piece of wood poking through the ice covering Terror Bay. He took some pictures of himself hugging the mast-like timber but lost the camera on the way home.

Taking the loss of the camera to be a bad omen — the Inuit have thought King William Island to be plagued with bad spirits since the death of everyone on the Franklin expedition — Kogvik told nobody of his find until he told Adrian Schimnowski on board the Martin Bergmann. Breaking from the lost history of explorers discounting Inuit evidence, the crew decided to take a detour from their destination and check out Terror Bay.

So it seems the Inuit are two for two on the Franklin expedition ships. Nice stats for people Lady Jane Franklin contemptuously dismissed as “savages” and their information, now proven to be accurate on pretty much every point, as “gossip” that should never have been repeated because it included reports of survival cannibalism among the crew.

The identification is not a sure thing yet. This ship was found a full 60 miles south of where the Terror was thought to have been destroyed based on the only known official records of the expedition ever found: an Admiralty form in a cairn at Victory Point on King William Island that noted the coordinates of where the two ships had been abandoned to the sea ice. But then again, Erebus was found much further south than expected too. Jim Balsillie, co-founder of the company that created the Blackberry and founder of the Arctic Research Foundation, has an idea of why this might be.

“Given the location of the find [in Terror Bay] and the state of the wreck, it’s almost certain that HMS Terror was operationally closed down by the remaining crew who then re-boarded HMS Erebus and sailed south where they met their ultimate tragic fate.”

Sounds reasonable. Parks Canada is circumspect about the find. They’re excited about it and recognize the significance of the find particularly in highlighting the inestimable value of the Inuit contribution, but they aren’t ready to call the Terror found until they’ve examined the details and confirmed it’s the real deal.

This CBC News story includes video of the shipwreck taken by the remotely operated vehicle.

Categories: Arts and Sciences, History

Angels Keep Fall Schola Cancelled

AEthelmearc Gazette - Wed, 2016-09-14 12:07

Greetings to All from Lady Fenris McGill fer Bleddyn, Seneschal of Angels Keep!

It is with deep regret that we need to cancel our Fall Schola on November 5, 2016.  It seems we’re up against too many large Kingdom events, both before, during and after.

We had many long discussions between ourselves before we decided to cancel the Schola, and it was an agonizing decision that we made.

We’re very concerned that we’re not going to be pulling enough teachers and attendants to be able to give everyone a quality educational event, as well as pay for the site.

We look forward to serving the SCA community a future time, as well as with our signature event, Pen vs Sword.

Categories: SCA news sites