Monday, January 28, 2013

British Museum "Object Video" Collection

First a quick word of thanks to Daniel of the SCA Apprentice List at for making me aware of this amazing resource.

Current Welcome Screen for the British Museum's Video Channel

The British Museum has an online video channel where you can watch videos about Exhibitions, Events, Object Stories, or the WCEC.  I was particularly impressed by the video on the Holy Thorn Reliquary, from France, around 1410.

Normally I'm not a big fan of reliquaries because (cynic that I am) I suspect that most of the objects contained within must be frauds.  How many pieces of the cross can there actually still be?  And the idea of saving bits of human bone just seems icky to me.

Yet when I heard the curator's explanation of each part of the reliquary and its role as an object of meditation, I found myself marveling over the beauty of the piece, the intricacy of its workmanship, and its complex symbolism.  For the first time, I was really seeing a reliquary as something significant and worthy of my attention.

Don't just think about these videos in terms of your own viewing pleasure; you can also use them as teaching aids or discussion prompts in a A&S class, or as documentation for an A&S project.

Imagine what might be considered a relic in the SCA, and how we might house it.  What techniques would we incorporate, and what symbols?  Could reliquary design be adapted into a three-dimensional SCA award scroll?  And are these questions valid, or merely sacrilegious?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Medieval MS Collection at the Free Library of Philadelphia

Welcome Page from the Free Library of Philadelphia's digital manuscript collection

Sometimes I wish I lived on the East Coast, so I could visit collections like these in person.  However, even online, you will drool over this collection of medieval and Renaissance manuscripts.

Within This Site

 "Manuscript Basics" is an informative introduction to the types of medieval manuscripts, and how they were created.  The Glossary section has detailed entries for a variety of important terms.  Both of these are great for new scribes!

The "Tour of Our Collections" allows you to view individual manuscripts, page by page, and zoom in on the details.   Inspiration for drop-dead gorgeous scrolls abounds.

Also contained within this site are links to online resources and a bibliography with suggestions for further reading.  Anyone working on documentation for A&S will truly appreciate this.

The link to the "Leaves of Gold" exhibit on this site is a dead link; however, you can still access the Philadelphia Museum of Art exhibit at:

Friday, January 25, 2013

Scribal Resource: Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Images

Sample MS page from SCETI

Schoenberg Center for Electronic Text & Images

from the University of Pennsylvania Libraries

Today's link is to an amazing collection containing nearly "nearly five hundred catalogued manuscripts and early printed books" from the University of Pennsylvania Libraries online collection.  Navigating and using the site takes requires a bit of experimentation, but with a little practice you can view, zoom and print these wonderful images. 

On the home page, you'll want to choose "Quick links to the individual collection home pages," and choose one of the collections.  For example, select:
  • Option 1: "Lawrence J. Schoenberg Manuscripts, Catalog and Database";
  • then " Medieval and Early Modern Works"; and 
  • "Browse the list of online facsimiles" to view a list of 65 digitized manuscripts.
I really like being able to zoom in and print images.  You can also bookmark individual manuscripts for future reference.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Medieval Art Links from Caer Anterth Mawr

Welcome Page from the British Library

This is another wonderful set of finds from, published and maintained by the Barony of Caer Anterth Mawr in the Kingdom of Northshield.

For a scribe, this is a little bit like crack.  Really.

The Caer Anterth Mawr "Art and Clip Art Page"

Clicking on "Medieval Art Links" <> takes you to

with links to (this is an incredible list!):  Art Journals, Artists, Brasses, By Civilization, By Period, Clip Art, Early Printing, Manuscript Illumination, Murals and Frescos, Paintings, Sculpture, Stained Glass, and Tapestries.

"Turning the Pages" from the British Libary

If you can resist long enough to scroll down without clicking, you will see one of my favorite links, "Turning the Pages" from the British Library - "works available online for you to read just like you were sitting there holding them in your hands."  This includes the Lindisfarne Gospels, Lutterell Psalter, and the Sherbourne Missal.  Oh, and some "sumptuous Arabic calligraphy" as well.

If that doesn't make you break out the parchmentine and the gouache, nothing will!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Viking Embroidery Stitches & Motifs

© 1997 C. Priest-Dorma  

While I was poking about on, which is the website for The Barony of Caer Anterth Mawr in the Kingdom of Northshield, I found a link to "Viking Embroidery Stitches and Motifs" by  Þóra Sharptooth MKA Carolyn Priest-Dorma.

The images of the motifs are charming, and there's a nice discussion of Viking textiles, threads, and embroideries from tenth-century grave sites.  I especially enjoyed reading about Viking ornamentation on seams. 

The bibliography is an excellent resource for locating photographs of extant embroidery samples.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Today's offering is somewhat intellectual, but even if you just scroll through and look at the maps, you will have a much clearer picture of medieval Europe, how it was organized politically and how our current map of Europe evolved.

The second link, also on the same site, covers the history of philosophy from the Greeks on, with a considerable amount of information about medieval and Renaissance philosophical ideas and movements.  These ideas would have influenced art, literature, and music, and so are of interest to artisans as well as those of us who want to really grasp how people thought and lived in period.

Two Interesting Links from

Note:  The Proceedings of the Friesian School, Fourth Series, which produced these pages, is  a "non-peer-reviewed electronic journal and archive of philosophy" based on the ideas of Leonard Nelson.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fingerloop Braiding for the Masses from Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa (Lois Swales) & Mistress Azza al-Shirazi (Zoe Kuhn Williams)
Many of us like little things - projects that we can take with us when we travel, which we can do meetings, at SCA events or in front of the television in the evening.  We also love crafts which allow us to use up leftover bits of cloth, or which keep older children quiet and busy.

Fingerloop braiding may turn out to be that new craft for you, and is a great site to visit.  It has links, a description of period uses, braid patterns, step-by-step instructions with a video (videos make learning so much easier!), and even a bibliography organized into primary and secondary sources.  What fun!

If you want to do more research on anything textile related, here's another useful link:

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Stefan's Florilegium Archive

If there were an Encyclopedia SCA-annica, this would be it.  This site has something about almost everything.  No kidding, check it out!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Estrella War: Armor Time!

Dame Aoife's Link Pages includes a wonderful page:  SCA Armor: A How-To Manual.  Even though this was posted in 2005, most of the links still work and make for some interesting reading.

If you're not that excited about armor, check out Aoife's Links instead.  Dame Aoife has links on a variety of topics, of interest to cooks, gardeners, bards and more.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Published Articles

of SCA member Magistra Nicolaa de Bracton

Did you ever wonder why we write Xmas, or what the seven deadly sins are and how to avoid them?  Or maybe you've thought about what life was like without a cell phone or an alarm clock, and wondered how people thought about time in the Middle Ages.

Magistra Nicolaa de Bracton (MKA Susan Carroll-Clark) has written a LOT of articles, on topics ranging from research to history, to writing articles and autocrating events, to persona and period names - even how to knot your own hair net.

Better yet, if you are a Chronicler in search of articles for your local barony or shire's newsletter, you can reprint her articles (subject to her guidelines, which are available from her site).

These articles are well-written and informative, a veritable treasure trove of knowledge.  I particularly enjoyed "Going Home - Have you ever visited your persona's home town?  I have," but all of them seem worth at least a quick browse, and you will learn a great deal about medieval society and history if you take the time to read these.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Estrella War: Sign up to teach a class or perform a demonstration!

It's easy, it's online, and you can do it now!

If you've taught a class at your local barony or kingdom and you'll be at Estrella, please consider enriching the experience of others at the war.  When I taught at Estrella, I had a great time and was really encouraged.  You will be too!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Internet History Sourcebooks Project

The Internet History Sourcebook Project 

from Dr. Paul Halsall of Fordham University

Seriously, NO SCAdian should be without this link.  Why?  Because:
  • It is a respected scholarly source, acceptable for use in A&S documentation.
  • It has links to wonderful, useful, scholarly sources, acceptable for use in A&S documentation.
  • You will find information about many cultures and time periods (i.e., not just England in the 12th century).
  • If you take the time to read and explore this site, you will learn a great deal about history and the Middle Ages.

What kinds of links will you find here?

So if you are doing research for your persona, an A&S item, or a new bardic piece, this is a truly awesome site and you should visit it.

Happy hunting!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Medieval and Renaissance Costumer Webring

Okay, so it's mostly vendors but this is the portal to 23 websites dedicated to medieval and Renaissance costuming.  Go to the link, scroll down to the "Sites Associated with this WebRing" box, and start clicking!

If you have a site, you could add it to the webring and increase your traffic.

Happy web-browsing!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Estrella War: Spiffing up your campsite from Charles Oakley

I discovered this site a number of years ago, and was delighted by the variety of wood-working projects this Living History enthusiast has created.  He also includes photos of extant examples of beds, chairs, etc. which you could use in your documentation if you were making something for an A&S competition.

If you're in the mood for browsing lots of living history pages, check out Living History's Free Web Sites Index:

Some of these are empty or private, but you can scroll down, find an intriguing title, and click on links.  Who knows what treasures you might find?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Estrella War Camping Links

Google "sca camping" or "Estrella camping," and you can read for the rest of your life.  However, these four links have pretty much all the information you'll ever need:

CT's SCA Camping Page - very newcomer friendly
SCA Camping 101 - a site with good points regarding camp courtesy, and what to look while purchasing your first tent
"You forgot the what?" - a comprehensive packing list is from the wonderful and much-missed Master Yehudah of Nuremberg.  This list taught me how to prepare for Estrella War, and I've used my own version of it for every camping event since.
The Official Estrella War Links and Articles Page

My Own Two-Cents' Worth 

from Lady Tiphina of Ledbury

Packing & Camping

  • It's commonly said that we don't camp in the SCA - we relocate.  This is the truth.  Camping in the SCA is stuff-intensive.  I try to pack ahead, and keep as much of my camp gear packed year-round as possible. A check-list is critical to my sanity and my spouse's survival.
  • When you load your vehicle/trailer, consider the order in which you will need the items.  First out (i.e., items like a sledge hammer for driving in your tent stakes) should be last in.  The things you will need last (like clothes) should go in first, if possible.  Nobody likes unloading the entire truck and stumbling over tables, bins, and a camp stove while looking for the tent.
  • Plastic tubs which fit under your cot are a GREAT idea for keeping clothes clean and dry.
  • A door mat outside the tent will dramatically reduce the amount of dirt inside your tent.
  • Definitely store a set of "mundanes" in your vehicle (complete with an extra pair of dry shoes) so that, no matter what, you have something clean and dry to wear home.
  • Plan your outfits in layers.  A typical day at Estrella might start out with freezlng temperatures but be in the mid-60s by afternoon.  Sweat pants, thermal undershirts, etc. can be worn under garb and removed as needed.
  • If you have long hair, a spray bottle of leave-in conditioner will make your life considerably easier.


  • Minimize your work and maximize your fun by cooking ahead as much as possible.
  • Freeze everything you can.  "Zip-lock" freezer bags can hold browned hamburger, stew, soups, etc.  Frozen foods and frozen milk will keep the cooker cold, and extend the life of both food and ice.
  • Store your coolers in a shaded area - preferably on the north side of your tent.
  • You can reheat frozen quiche for an easy hot breakfast.  Civilized people do NOT have to cook in the morning.
  • Don't risk food poisoning.  Towards the end of the war, my typical menus are soup mix with canned veggies and chicken added, or mac & cheese made with canned or instant milk and a can of tuna thrown in for extra protein.  Or I take an unopened jar of mayo and pickle relish in case we want tuna salad.  Canned chili with melted Velveeta is another great end-of-war option.  Velveeta doesn't really qualify as food, but you don't to refrigerate it either. 
  • Ramen and applesauce are your friends.
  • Take more plastic bags than you think you need, especially if you've brought the fur-kids.
  • A thermos to keep your coffee warm can make all the difference when you come back to camp hungry and tired.
  • I tend to get busy, and forget to eat lunch, so I often tuck a bottle of water, a meat pasty or sandwich, a hard-boiled egg and a piece of fruit into my basket before I leave camp in the morning.
  • Drink plenty of NON-ALCOHOLIC fluids.  Seriously.
  • Have fun.

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Estrella War - Period Pavilion Links

 It may be too late to sew your own period pavilion this year, but it's a splendid time to dream and to plan.  Then, when you go to Estrella, you can look at real tents, talk to the owners, find out what works for them and what doesn't, and think about what you and your family really need.

Alternatively, you could race out this weekend, buy all the materials, and make it yourself like a crazy person.  After all, why not?  You are in the SCA :-)

Medieval Pavilion Resources - a HUGE library of links for tents, camping furniture and lots, lots more

Max & Mickel's Easy, No-bake Pavilion - I've never made my own pavilion, but if I were planning to, this would be a great place to start, because there are detailed diagrams and photographs of the niggling details like how to put in a grommet and how to lubricate your sewing machine needle to keep it from self-destructing.  No matter what pavilion you decide to make, you should read this site first.

Deborah and Steve's Plausibly Medieval Pavilions - these two have made lots of pavilions; they aspire to "high-end" accuracy; and there are lots of good links, including a link to images of surviving medieval tents - an invaluable resource if you are planning to use your pavilion as an A&S competition project.

Lastly, if you're as lazy - excuse me, as busy - as I am, and you simply want to purchase a durable, attractive tent to replace your nylon "earth pimple," check out these two vendors.  I bought my period tent from Tentsmiths, was completely satisfied with the product and received everything in great condition, on time; Panther Primitives is another vendor that many SCAdians swear by.

Friday, January 4, 2013

New Page: SCA War Links

SCA War Links

With links to Estrella War, Pennsic, and other inter-kingdom wars, plus a partial list of lesser wars.

If your kingdom has a war that you would like added to the list, comment below.  Thank you!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Estrella War: Essential Links & A&S Links

Estrella War Pre-Registration Links and Deadlines

February 5, 2013     Last Postmark date for Mailed Pre-registrations
February 10, 2013     Online Pre-Registration Closes

Why pre-register?  So you can save money and so there is enough room for you to camp with your local group, household, or friends.

Estrella War Front Gate Page with Link to Pre_Registration

Save even more money!  If you're not already a member of the SCA, join today!

Activities You Can Participate in at Estrella War

If you have the appropriate certification card, you may participate in hard-suit (armored heavy combat), rapier, archery, thrown weapons or other martial arts activities.  If you are not certified, you are welcome to come watch!

In addition to martial arts, there is an almost endless list of activities you can participate in at the War.  Education opportunities include classes (a "collegium" with dozens or free or low-cost classes), artisan's competitions and showcases, musical performances, Renaissance (English Country) dance, and more.  A stroll down Merchant's Row is always fun, too.  Youth activities and martial arts opportunities also abound.

Images and Videos about Estrella War

Google "Estrella War images" or "Estrella War video" for the most up-to-date list.  There are literally hundreds of photos and videos for your online perusal.

A Few More Estrella War Arts & Sciences Links

Atenveldt College of Bards Estrella Coursework
Estrella War Grand Ball Yahoo Group - For musicians, dance masters, and others interested in the Grand Ball at Estrella War, held annually in the Kingdom of Atenveldt.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

War is Upon Us! (Well, it's coming soon, anyway)

What do you think of when you hear the word war?  

You may be imagining Afghanistan, Iraq, Viet Nam, WWII or even the trenches of WWI.  Quotations like "War is hell" may spring to mind.  Or perhaps the memories are personal, and involve physical trauma or the loss of a loved one.

For re-enactors and recreationists, war is more heaven then hell.  In the SCA, a war is a fun event, involving hundreds or even thousands of people.  These are "largest events in the SCA, with participants attending from many different locations" ( For a truly major war such as Pennsic or Estrella, people may travel from Europe or even Asia to the United States for a week or more of "living in the Current Middle Ages."

Those who fight may have spent months training for the event, developing strength, agility and skill at weekly fighter practices or rapier practices and traveling many miles to refine strategy and team skills at kingdom war practices.  Equestrians have trained their horses for the difficult sport of jousting.  Archers have shot thousands of arrows to prepare for the competition; artisans have completed amazing works for competition or display; musicians have spent hundreds of hours practicing.  Dancers are preparing for formal balls, or perfecting their belly-dancing moves for an evening of revelry by the fire.

What's at stake here is honor and glory.  There will be two alliances of SCA kingdoms, two sides competing for the all-important war points, and at the end of the war, winners and losers.  Is it worth it?  You bet!

The greater the difficulty, the greater the glory.

“Courage. Kindness. Friendship. Character. 
These are the qualities that define us as human beings,
and propel us, on occasion, to greatness.”

Major Wars in the SCA

For a list with approximate dates, click here.

The next major war:  Estrella War

February 26, 2013 through March 4, 2013 
at Schnepfs Farm in Queen Creek AZ
"Medieval Glory, Honor & Chivalry in the Warm Desert Sun"

 Visit the official Estrella War website