So You Think You Can’t Do Any Research?


Over the years I have heard from many SCAdians that they just do not have the skills or patience to sit down and write a research paper and, by extension, write documentation for an A&S project. There appears to be an unfounded fear that documentation, or a research paper, has to be 100 pages long and ready to be published in a peer-reviewed journal. This is not the case. No one in the SCA expects every person in the SCA to spend a year or more writing a paper. But this fear does keep many people from even trying their hand at doing some research and some writing. Huge research papers are nice, but they are not for everyone. Also, large papers are too long to be published in local newsletters, and newsletters are always looking for articles for publication.

My recommendation? Micro-research. Small papers about limited topics.

Writing about the entirety of the Battle of Agincourt would be a monumental task. Writing a half a page describing the pay scales Henry used for his army would be a far more manageable task for a novice writer, and would be a nice glimpse into a very complicated subject. Foot soldiers were paid 3 pennies a day but archers were paid 6 pennies a day. What were the requirements of getting archer pay? Henry had a legal contract describing how ransom would be split; one could certainly write a half a page describing that.

There are a whole host of topics for micro-research; everything from your experience in cooking a single recipe, to the different weights and measures used in the SCA time period, to a bird’s eye view of a battle, to an introduction to a person from history. Researching a limited topic, and writing a page or two about it, should be within the reach of most people. All information is useful and, again, every newsletter would welcome content for publication.

There are some things to keep in mind.

1) Write your paper in your words, even if you are getting your information from a single source. If you are making a thing from a recipe from Medieval Cookery, which provides translations and redactions, write how you made it: what steps you took and why you made any changes. This is your project, please write your thoughts in your own words.

2) While half a page describing Henry VIII’s bowling alley doesn’t require the research standards of a PhD thesis, it should be well-written and include your sources. Please feel free to pester a friendly Fleur or a lovable Laurel for editing and proofreading.

3) You do not have to be the first SCAdian to write about your topic. Do not think that just because Mistress So-and-So wrote a paper on medieval gift wrapping 30 years ago that you can’t add something new. Make sure that you give credit where credit is due.

4) Above all else, the SCA is an educational organization. The fighting, fencing, archery, courts, awards, and pageantry are the showy side of the SCA, but all of it is hollow without the arts and sciences that have been part of the Dream since the beginning. We need to do research and share what we find with others, even if it is just your interpretation of a 1,000 year old joke.

Another thing to consider: micro-research can inspire you, or others, to do a deeper dive into the subject. You might write a page describing Leonardo da Vinci’s sketch of a water-powered automatic saw. This might inspire you to do more research, which might lead you to discover that Leonardo most likely copied the design from the sketchbook of Villard de Honnecourt, who drew it about a century before Leonardo was born. Then you might want to build a scale model of his hydraulic saw. Or, you might be drawn into the exciting world of how artists shared their sketchbooks with one another. Or it might lead you to other water-powered machinery. Writing about small subjects can send you down so many rabbit holes as you do your research.

You might take some pictures of pilgrim badges you found in a museum and then write up a brief paper on what you saw. This might lead you to a longer paper on a wider variety of pilgrim badges. And that might lead you down the rabbit hole towards lead casting and sandstone molds. Anything is possible.

One more consideration: micro-research can be used in larger papers. I wrote a small paper, 4 paragraphs – sort of a “fact of the month” article, on the varieties of sugar available in the middle ages. I can incorporate those 4 paragraphs into any paper I write that involves sugar. I already did the research, the writing, and the bibliography; no sense in re-inventing the wheel anytime I want to explain why I’m using a particular variety of sugar in a recipe. Research that you do for one paper, can be reused in other papers. I wrote documentation for some red wine that I made. In my research I found some very nice references that described how England imported a ton of red wine from France, particularly from Bordeaux. Years later, I was making mustard from an English recipe, which called for wine. But, what kind of wine would a 14th century English-type person use? How about some of that red Bordeaux wine that I already had the research for? Those two or three paragraphs can also be published on their own in my local newsletter.

You can also go through old newsletters looking for A&S articles that inspire you to revisit the topic. Is there more information available today? Thanks to the Internet, reference material is available to us through Project Gutenberg, Google Books, Academia, JSTOR, and other sites. Can you make an improvement to a recipe with a better redaction or more appropriate ingredients? Long ago, when I was the Chronicler of the Hael, I published an A&S issue of our newsletter. I published a recipe for a meat pie that called for pre-packaged bread dough and margarine. I know why the cook used the two (for cost and convenience for the former and dietary restriction for the later), however, if you wanted to make a more period meat pie based on that particular recipe, tell me how you would make it. Again, always give credit to everyone, and their work, that inspires you.

Image 1 - Tournaments Illuminated #124 Autumn 1997 - Society for Creative AnachronismI have in front of me issue #124 of Tournaments Illuminated (Autumn 1997). On pages 24 and 25 is a nice article by Diane Harper (Siglinde Harfinerstochter) titled “Drinking Vessels (Mostly Glass) of the Middle Ages.” It is a nice article and it does inspire me to use Siglinde’s overview on glass cups to do some of my own research. The article includes some crude drawings of drinking vessels with notes that some of them can be found at the Corning Museum of Glass, which is about a two hour drive from my house. I can certainly drive out to Corning and see these vessels for myself and write about them. Siglinde also has a small bibliography to lead me to additional resources to help me with my future research. I don’t know if Siglinde ever thought that anyone would be reading her article 25 years later, but here we are.

In the same issue of the TI, there is a redaction of a 14th Century German recipe by Debra A Hense (Kateryn de Develyn, page 15). The recipe is for marinated veggies that call for balsamic vinegar. Would a 14th Century German use a 17th Century Italian vinegar? I’m not saying that it wouldn’t taste nice, but I don’t think balsamic vinegar would be the best choice to use. I would use cider vinegar. It is perfectly acceptable to springboard off of someone else’s work because you disagree with their conclusion or methods. (Yes, documents describing the vinegar from the Balsamic region of Italy date back to around 1000AD, but I believe that the balsamic style vinegar that we can buy today only dates back to the 17th century. Don’t agree with me, do some research and prove me wrong. I look forward to your article.)

There are a lot of surviving broadsheet ballads from the end of the SCA time period. Find a high resolution image of a broadsheet and transcribe it into modern English (or other languages if you wish). At the very least, convert it into modern spelling. You can also take the time to make footnotes explaining any unusual words or phrases. You might be the first person to transcribe it. I transcribed two broadsheets into modern English, the Case For and Against Coffee. It was a fun project.

Micro-research doesn’t have to be 100% written for a newsletter. Remember, the Æthelmearc Gazette would happily welcome any short articles (ed. note: Yes, please!). Especially if there are nice pictures. There are several late-period manuscripts that explain how men and women should bow and/or curtsy. If you have nice garb and a partner to hold the camera, make a photo spread of the steps necessary to show that one was properly trained to behave in court. Re-create the woodcuts with pictures from multiple angles.

With YouTube, you can make video research “papers”. Do you know how to wrap “viking” leg wraps? Or how to properly roll chausses so that they don’t fall down? Make a video and upload it.

And I highly recommend that you create an A&S blog so that you can keep track of what you work on. WordPress and Blogger are two of the most popular. If you keep your research online, you will be able to, at an event, tell someone, “I know the answer to that. Just go to my blog at www. and search for medieval pop tarts.”

Here are some ideas that might inspire you; either for a small paper, or for a deeper dive for a broader research paper:

  • Describe the White Ship.
  • Who was Black Agnes?
  • The wheelbarrow was invented in China and Europe at the same time: how were they different? Same with the stern-mounted rudder.
  • Describe a medieval fire arrow.
  • Did Shakespeare invent the Knock-knock joke?
  • Where do “crocodile tears” come from?
  • Who were the Green Children of Woolpit?
  • How would you make a given recipe “kosher” for lent?
  • How were coiners paid?
  • Describe England’s archery law.
  • How expensive were spices? Or pigments?
  • Tell me about Mahometta.
  • Explain a medieval idiom or phrase. (Were door nails really dead?)
  • What is the difference between a friar and a monk?
  • How did Mansa Musa cause an economic disaster in the 14th Century?
  • What was a mappa mundi?
  • How much profit could one get by buying sheep and then selling the fleece?
  • Who was Mayor Nicholas Brembre?
  • In “Romeo and Juliet”, why did one Italian tell a second Italian that a third Italian fights in an Italian style all the while standing in an Italian city?

I hope that I have inspired you, my readers, to take your first steps on the road of research, and I look forward to reading what you have discovered.

Baron Caleb Reynolds

AEdult Swim 2022 Cancelled


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It is with a heavy heart, that I am cancelling Ædult Swim 2022.

It is my deepest wish that this will be the last necessary cancellation and we, of the great family of the SCA, may again pick up friendships and empassioned activities, safely, within the near future.

THL Deirdre Kildare, Seneschal of ACG

Populace in Focus – Lady Isolda de Leycestre

SCA Name & title: Lady Isolda de Leycestre

Years in the SCA: About 5 years total, separated by 2 Kingdoms with a 2O year hiatus in-between.  I came back into the SCA in Æthelmearc in the spring of 2019.

How did you find out about the SCA? 20 years ago, my Ex-husband introduced me to the SCA.

Where did you start, what was your first event? I got my first start in the SCA in 2000, the Kingdom of Atlantia at an event called Garb Wars.

What is your persona? My persona is based as a 14th Century Lady and wealthy wool merchant because it’s my love of spinning wool that got me back into the SCA.

Why did you pick this persona? Mostly the garb out of 14th century illuminations fascinates me!

Do you have any group or household affiliations? I belong to The Dutchy of Arindale and I have recently been apprenticed to Master Hrólfr Á Fjárfelli.

Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA: Outside of the SCA, I run a small fresh cut Dahlia Farm during the growing season, I love making people smile when they get one of my bouquets.  I also have a monarch butterfly sanctuary with a large walk-in caterpillar raising cage.  My peak monarch hatching season is mid-July and all of August.  The thrill of raising and releasing monarchs every year never gets old!

What SCA activities do you or have you participated in? I’ve mostly been doing A&S activities, that seems to me my niche.

Tell us a little bit about your SCA experience (jobs, offices, duties, etc.) I think my experiences have been great and allow me growth within the SCA.  I’m in a fantastic Household that’s very supportive of what I do and the path I’m on to better myself. I’ve also met a lot of great people in Æthelmearc that make the experience of events that much more joyful and meaningful.

When you started in the SCA what goals did you have? I honestly did not have any goals other than to attend events and have fun!  That’s what it’s all about at the end of the day.

What are your goals now? My goal now is to work towards my Laurel and I hope that I can bring as many people with me as I can.

What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA? 

Not doing something good enough or being period correct enough for some people’s liking. That can have a very negative impact on people, especially if new to the SCA.  But I have been fortunate enough to be in a great circle of friends to make those negatives turned into positives.

After the unexpected shutdown ends, what is one thing you would like to accomplish in the SCA?

My first event I attended after the shutdown I had brought a bucket of flowers for the Queen at the time, and photographer snapped a picture of me with the Queen while I was still dressed in a not so nice looking tunic I wear for pavilion set up. That photo made it into the Æthelmearc news and I was mortified at how I looked!  I know it’s me and a personal thing, but it really bothered me knowing that I could have done better before seeing the Queen.  So, since then I started on a path to make my 14th Century kit of a Lady period correct!  I’ve spent this past summer working on that with sewing and acquiring items that my persona would have had.  The interesting thing about me wanting to be a better person and about my garb being period correct, it has also sparked that into life with other people around me, that’s kinda cool!  I would love to see that continue to spread and people take more interest into period correct garb for their persona. I’ve been helping quite a few folks with making garb to make their kits better. I also started a blog and Facebook page about my garb making adventures called Isolda’s Medieval Wardrobe for people to follow along.  So yeah, I’d like to see that joy and pride spread within the Kingdom.

What advice would you give to a new person in the SCA, or if new yourself what question would you ask and who would you ask it of? My advice to someone new in the SCA would be to make sure you are having fun! Find out what your passion is within the SCA and go for it! And don’t be afraid to ask questions!  There are so many great people in the Kingdom that are always willing to help steer you in the right direction.

If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be? Illuminations!! I cannot draw a stick figure to save my soul! I really admire the work and artistry and the craftsmanship that goes into making the scrolls for awards!  That’s some serious talent!

If you had to join the SCA in another “era” (1970, 1980, etc.), what “era” would you pick and why? Gosh, I don’t know if I have an era I would want to join the SCA in. I was too young for the 70′ and 80’s.  Maybe the 90’s when I was in my 20’s and had more energy to do archery and fencing.

Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why? My Laurel. I want to know if I truly got what it takes to go through all the ups and downs, the good times and the hell.  My husband will be the first one to tell you that I do not aggravate well, lol!  I know a lot of what I will need to learn on this path is patience!

If you could pick one thing you would like to see more of in the SCA, what would it be? Dancing! I have not seen any of that since I started in 2019.  It’s also something I would like to learn.

Interested in participating in Populace in Focus? Find out how below:

Participate now – find out how!

Æthelmearc Events Cancelled Through January

Greetings Æthelmearc,

After looking at the current amount of Covid-19 spread in the community, Duke Christopher and I assess we cannot hold large events safely indoors at the time. Therefore, with consultation with Their Majesties, we are canceling events in Æthelmearc through the end of January. This means both the Challenge of Sable Bear and Queens Rapier Championship are canceled at this time.  Smaller gatherings and practices can still occur provided folks follow the SCA’s COVIDSafe policies and Æthelmearc’s masking rules (ie, masks inside for everyone, all the time.)

We are hoping we will be in a much better place by the end of the month and we will re-evaluate then.

Until then, please stay safe, drink warm drinks, and be kind to one another.

Much love,
Illadore de Bedegrayne
Kingdom Seneschal

What is the Pent in the Ice Dragon A&S Pentathlon?


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The Ice Dragon Arts & Sciences Pentathlon, often shortened to the Pent, is an arts and sciences competition dating back to the second Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon, held in 1978. But what exactly is this Pent? We’ve all seen arts & sciences displays at events, perhaps even entered a competition or two ourselves, but apparently the Pent different? While it has had many forms over the years, the most recognizable and often used is the current format of multiple categories anyone can enter and win individually. But what is unusual is that the Pent also has an overall competition among those who have chosen to enter a minimum of five different categories. And true to its name – a pentathlon is a sport that includes five different athletics events – entering the arts & sciences Pent can be quite the endeavor!

A wealth of judges and Her Majesty Margerite Eisenwald admiring a Scribal entry, at the 2017 Ice Dragon Pent.

The challenge here is more one of creative time management than of pure skill. Most artisans can’t plan a whole year, or more, to work on five separate high-level entries. What makes the Pent fun is to find those one, two or three entries that are complex enough on their own that their research and creation can be spread around several categories. The real challenge is to figure out how! Researched a unique beverage? Enter a Research Paper as well as a drinkable brew. Created a garment from scratch? Enter your garment in Fabric Construction, but enter the process of making the yarn, with nicely presented samples, in Fiber Arts. If you are especially nifty, you could even take a swing at an Applied Research Paper by documenting the dye used to color the yarn!

The pinch is that only entries from completely separate categories count towards the Pent (see the website for a list of the official categories). Anyone can enter up to five entries in any category, but only your highest scoring entry in that category will score towards your overall Pent score. Thankfully, entrants are allowed to cross enter one entry into one additional category, phew! Made a bag with wood handles? Enter the bag as a whole in Fabric Construction (formerly Accessories) and cross-enter the handles in Woodworking – voila, two entries!

Applied Research “Vinegaroon” entry by Lord Snorri skyti Bjarnarson at the 2018 Ice Dragon Pent

A category close to my heart, and quite useful in teasing out five separate Pent categories I find, is Applied Research. Extremely well researched items too simple or modest to compete fairly in a more traditional category fall under this. A fun category – experimental archaeology on a small scale – it is also one that does not seem to be utilized very often and why I wanted to spotlight it here. Some of the examples that come to mind are my entry of six simple soap ball recipes, accompanied by a veritable compendium of medieval soap research and recipes, as well as the unique Vinegaroon experiment, accompanied by ‘please try it!’ samples for the judges and general populace.

Be aware that due to the anticipated length of research papers (nothing to do with the soap compendium, I am sure), the paper/research portion of the Applied Research entry must be submitted in advance (received electronically or postmarked by February 15, 2022).

From a small local arts & sciences competition, the Pent outgrew its locale quickly to become a competition with Kingdom impact. Although, initially, not the kingdom you might think. Back then, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, our Sylvan Kingdom was only in the early planning stages and Ice Dragon was the premiere A&S event of the East Kingdom. It drew people from up and down the East Coast and could get in excess of 200 entries (so many judges…)!

Some of the more memorable entries, according to Pent autocrat Cori: the tiny dead people by (now Mistress) Luceta and the real poison (by THL Rue). And then there was the time John the Artificer entered his ferrets (I wonder if the populace could pet them?) and the agricultural entry that was a miniature of a rabbit warren (did the ferrets have anything to do with that?!). And then there was (now Mistress) Alizaunde de Bregeuf from the East who entered her upper torso covered with real woad… probably did not have trouble finding judges for that one. And what do you think (now Master) Clewin and (now Mistress) Fredeburg entered, “made with all authentic materials and processes”? They entered their newborn baby! With documentation. I can not confirm first hand how detailed, though, that you’d have to ask them.

Table of beautiful Fabric Construction entries at the 2019 Ice Dragon Pent.

Ice Dragon Pentathlon is for young (very young…) and old, for the beginner and the accomplished; even for the competing as well as the artisan more interested in display. The Pent organizers always arrange for a dedicated Display area. They also gladly make room for the infamous Misfit Table, brain child of Master Thorpe, for those projects that didn’t quite do what they were supposed to do. Now, if only we could enter a Misfit Experiment as a 5th Pent project… wouldn’t that make for an intriguing entry!


College of Three Ravens: Remote and Reimagined


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Join the Industrious Barony of Thescorre as we partake in our annual wintertime  schola, this time with a new twist!

Our Theme

Rediscovering the Dream: It’s the Journey, Not the Destination.
For more information, see the event page.


Class Registration is live and we are now accepting classes for this fabulous event. We cannot run our beloved schola without the work of the amazing teachers throughout the SCA and we’re delighted to offer themed tracks this year that fit our theme of Its the Journey, not the Destination. We’re honoring that spirit of the newcomer (to the SCA) and the novice to our crafts!

Follow this link to register to teach.
  • Track 1: SCA Newcomers. These are classes geared toward people who have just joined the SCA. These can be about SCA-specific terminology, or clothing that signifies a station/order. What even are the awards? What are the officers and what do they do? Think back to when you joined and teach about something you would have loved to know back then.
  • Track 2: Novice. For people new to an art/science/activity. These are fondly referred to as “Beginner Classes”. What can you teach the very beginning of? Basic footwork? Simple stitching? Maybe making rice? Whatever you can think of to get someone started on their own journey.
  • Track 3: Tips and Tricks. These will be classes taught by veterans of an art/science/activity, that offer hacks and helpful hints on how to accomplish that task easier/quicker/better. Maybe it’s a class on how not to burn out, or how to organize a kitchen so that you serve on time. Maybe you have tricks for how to herald a court or how to make a specific award medallion for easy largess. Anything you have done that makes life in the SCA easier and more fun, pass it on!
  • Track 4: Peer Challenge. We issue a challenge (all in fun, of course) to the Peers of the Kingdom! We want you to try something NEW! Have you been doing service since you joined, but never had time to try out calligraphy? Now is your chance! Have you spent every event in the kitchen, but never had the opportunity to try out fencing? This pause in our SCA lives has allowed us a beautiful moment. We have the chance to think about what we really WANT. We have the grace of this moment to consider WHY we spend our precious little time on THIS hobby. Use this time to explore something new and then share that experience with us. You can do this as a question and answer, a show and tell, even amusing anecdotes about your times trying out your “new thing”. Step off your personal path for just a moment and try a different journey, even just for a short time. We hope it brings you joy and that you find renewed interest in our Dream.
  • Track 5: Other. Of course, there will be an “Other” category for those who have classes that they would like to share that don’t fit the above categories. We would just ask that you give us a short blurb about how it might fit the theme of “Reimagining the Dream – A New Journey”. You can get creative. It’s kinda what we do.

A&S Challenge

We, the autocrats of College of Three Ravens (Virtual!) wish to issue forth these Arts and Sciences challenges unto you all!

We know our Kingdom, as well as all other kingdoms who might hear of our missive, is full of skilled artisans! Masters of their crafts! We know this and celebrate you all for it!

And now we ask you to challenge yourself and try your hand at a NEW arts and sciences track, and show us your results! For this year’s College of Three Ravens, we have three A&S tracks that we seek entries to, all within our theme of Reimagining the Dream!

Our categories of competition are:
  • 1st Attempts – anything you have never done before, but always wanted to try out. Share your new found excitement with us!
  • The Journey – Show us your project, from the earliest learning of the art to as complete as you want to consider it. You don’t need to have a “complete” project for this one, just show your work! 🙂
  • Beauty in Failure – Share your attempts that didn’t succeed. We learn from our mistakes, so this is your chance to help us all learn!

**For all of the categories, be prepared to share your favorite part of the experience, even if it was laughing at yourself when it didn’t work. Help us experience your art through your joy.**

A&S Registration form here.

Come, try your hand at something new and be celebrated for it!

In service to the Dream,
Lady Gwen Cooke and Lord Torbjorn Sigurdson, C3R (virtual) Autocrats

Populace in Focus! Participants needed

Greetings!! Lady Thalia Papillon here, Gazette editor and proud inhabitant of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc, continuing with the tradition of populace in focus. Our Kingdom is a vast and wonderful place filled with many great people, but how many of these people do you see event after event and have never met, or maybe wondered more about?

This is open to the entire Kingdom and is not limited by rank, position, or time in the SCA. There is no deadline, when I have articles I will post articles. I am also interested in interviewing couples, households, fighting units, or any other element that makes up the Kingdom. Even if you don’t live in the Kingdom any more, but still call Aethelmearc home in your heart? We would love to hear from you too.

If you are interested in being interviewed please contact me (information below) and I will send you a series of questions to answer. When completed return the answers to me. Please include at least three to four photos to use in the article. One should be a good profile picture. Answers with no photos will not be published.

I hope to hear from as many of you as possible and look forward to learning more about everyone

Read previous Populace in Focus articles here

Lady Thalia: email

Facebook: Vanessa Hayes

Dutch Oliebollen, a deep-fried new years’ delicacy

The one bake both famous, and infamously, associated with the end of the year in English speaking culture is the fruitcake. The rich in dried fruit dense cake is known for its heavy load of calories as well as its unusual shelf life – especially when copiously drenched in booze. Although the booze is tempting, this story is about another year end tradition… other cultures have their own tasty traditions, and the one celebrated by the Dutch won’t ever be rather launched by trebuchet into fruitcake oblivion as there won’t be any leftovers! [1]

The last two balls of the fourth batch, a few minutes before Simon came in from the school bus.

A particularly yummy end of the year tradition, [2] Dutch oliebollen (literally, oily balls) are essentially a sweet and fruity deep fried dough. Probably all cultures, at some point or another, invented fried dough, in some way or shape, but I dare to bet the Dutch version is the only one consumed solely at years end. What the two do have in common is that both the English fruitcake and the Dutch oliebollen are a high caloric food, perfect for adding some extra padding in anticipation of meager, winter times.

It is not quite clear when the oliebol first appeared in Dutch baking. Perhaps the Batavi and Friesian cultures offered fried dough to their goddess Perchta, hoping excess grease would help deflect her sword from cutting? More mainstream, fifteenth century sources mention the consumption of linseed oil cakes at the court of the count of Holland. Or perhaps oliebollen are derived from a Jewish sweet fried dough, part of the traditional Jewish celebration Hannukah and introduced to the Netherlands in the sixteenth century by Sephardic Jews emigrating from Spain and Portugal.

What we do know for sure is that cakes fried in oil were already a thing in the middle ages. At the time, Christmas indicated the end of a fasting period which started November 11th, Saint Martins Day. The end of this fasting was celebrated with oily cakes, not only great tasting but also loaded with calories and fats. Quite useful, right before the cold and dark and nutritiously poor season. At the time these cakes were not just for the winter season. They could be eaten the whole year through, cheap and nourishing, especially for the poor or during sieges. Fresh food would be eaten or spoil quickly, but oily cakes could keep a house, keep or castle going. [3]

“Meid met oliebollen” (Maid with fried dough balls) by Aelbert Cuyp (1652)

As oil was expensive, deep frying was not a thing quite yet. Olykoeken or oily cakes would be pan-fried and thus flat, not bulbous as they are now. With better economic circumstances and increased trade [4] in the seventeenth century deep frying became a mainstream option. The 1668 cookbook ‘De Verstandige Kock of Sorghvuldige HuysHoudster‘ (The smart cook or careful housekeeper) lists a recipe for oily cakes that uses just about a liter and half of oil, and this extra space would allow the cakes to swell and become rounder. Similar can be seen in the painting “Meid met oliebollen” (Maid with fried dough balls) by Aelbert Cuyp (1652) which shows oily balls looking pretty close to our modern oliebollen. By the eighteenth century the cakes really turned into balls as shown by the recipe book De Volmaakte Hollandsche Keukenmeid (The perfect Dutch kitchenmaid) from 1746. Not only do the oliebollen float around freely in a deep kettle filled with copious oil, the dough is added by forming it between two tin spoons – just like I do every year.

A typical seasonal Oliebollenkraam, with lights, and a long, long line of expectant customers…

The oliebol as a specific new years tradition did not really start until the nineteenth century. And with the invention of cooking stoves – and modernly, electric deep fryers – the baking of these treats became much saver for the general public. Although, growing up, I remember many would purchase their dozen of oliebollen from seasonal street vendors instead of frying from scratch. And as a kid, it sure felt magical, peering up into these beautifully lit and mirrored palaces of deep fried dough and getting handed a steaming hot oliebol, copiously covered in powdered sugar, which in turn would copiously cover us kids too – magical memories, indeed… [5]

But… that is not where the story of the oliebol ends. Like much that is Dutch, the oliebol also emigrated to the american continent; New Amsterdam to be specific, and then went about to reinvent itself, again. But instead of becoming the big, round and fluffy dough balls we know today, over here the oily cakes lost their marbles! [6] Specifically, a circular hole was cut right through the center. I had heard it was to cut down on the possibility of an under cooked center but of course there are other, often much more colorful, explanations… Was it to stint on ingredients? Did the hole make the whole easier to digest? Did Captain Gregory, whose mum is credited with rebranding the oily cakes, use the hole to stick it to his ships wheel during rough weather?

The Willy wonka-like automaton use to make cider donuts by our local Littletree Orchards

Whatever the reason, from then on Dutch oily cakes became forever known as the American doughnut (courtesy of Captain Gregory’s mum – she’d put walnuts in the middle to help it bake throughout; a dough-nut). production was automated in the 1920’s by a Willy Wonka-like machine, [7] doughnuts became poster boy in the 1934 World’s Fair in Chicago as a prime example of “food to hit the Century of Progress.” And a 1937 popular song suggests you can live on coffee and doughnuts if you’re in love… I won’t comment on the latter, but I do know from experience coffee and donuts make for a great survival combination: many a day at Market I’ve had apple cider donuts for ‘lunch’! [8] Simon thinks it fantastic, me moving next door to the ‘donut people’ as they give away any leftover at market end, [9] especially to the vendor with the hungry teenager… but personally? I’d take a Dutch oliebol anytime! [10]

Happy new year!

Would you like to make your own oliebollen?
I uploaded a short youtube video with (dairy free) recipe of the last batch I made this past weekend. Enjoy!

Want to see how the donuts machine works? Click here; my market neighbors Littletree Orchard brings it out for special events.


[1] This would be in Manitou Springs, Colorado, which holds an annual fruitcake toss where unwanted loaves are bid adieu by medieval means—namely, catapults.
[2] I might be prejudiced as I am a Dutch native. Or perhaps not…
[3] Until their stores of flour and oil ran out, of course.
[4] Think Dutch Golden Age.
[5] Perhaps not for the mothers, having to deal with sugar covered kids (going by the memory of my mom’s disapproving face).
[6] You know, a donut hole, looks just like edible marbles.
[7] Very clever, and certainly attracted loads of intrigued customers.
[8] Perfect COVID lunch, quick to eat and mask back on!
[9] Which does not happen nearly as often as Simon had hoped.
[10] Well… anytime that is years’ end, of course!

Bring the kids to Ice Dragon for free; a new Kingdom initiative


Children 17 and under are now FREE to go to the Festival of the Passing of the Ice Dragon as a part of new initiative within the Kingdom!


Celebrate the turning of the seasons and the return of warmer winds with the whole family at Ice Dragon, in the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael on Saturday, March 26th, 2022.

Ice Dragon is also still accepting merchant applications!
Spots are filling up so please don’t delay.


Ice Dragon is a great opportunity to show your wares to a large crowd of shoppers. If you are interested in applying to merchant all the information you need can be found here.  Please contact Merchant Liaison, Magnus de Lyons (Lance Kazmark) with questions or concerns via email or the Book of Faces.


The doors will open at 8:30 am to all attendees and will close at the conclusion of Evening court. All attendees must be off site by 8:00 pm. Activities for the day will include the traditional Arts & Sciences Pentathlon, a hall of Merchants with a wide selection of items. Martial tournaments and activities for adults and youths. There will be a Quiet Room available for any attendees that need a break from the activities of the day. A children’s activity area will be available for unstructured play time and crafts, and a host of Bardic and other performing arts performances.




Adult Event Registration: $20

Adult Member Discount Registration: $15

17 and Under: FREE

Please visit the Ice Dragon website to register for event.

There is also a Facebook event page found here where additional event details can be found.

On the day of the event, please be sure to bring your proof of vaccination, State ID card, proof of membership, payment, and exact change.

Directions: Genesee Community College in Batavia, NY (1 College Rd, Batavia, NY 14020). Event will be in multiple buildings on campus including the main building and the Tech building. Additional locations on campus will be added potentially. General directions are to take I-90 East to Exit 48 Batavia continue NY 98 South / Oak Street to College in Batavia.

**PLEASE Remember that Event will be following current SCA policies regarding COVID protocol. Further information will be provided as the event gets closer and will be updated with any SCA policies related to Covid protocol**

Contact the Autocrat, Lady Thalia Papillon (email; snail mail: Vanessa Hayes, 268 Adam Street, Tonawanda, NY. 14150, phone: 540-649-4337)

New Society Chronicler


The Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of Krystal Smith (Mistress Cecilia Blythe, OP) as Chronicler for the Society for Creative Anachronism.

Krystal Smith is an official court reporter in Circuit Court for the State of South Carolina and lives in Florence, South Carolina.

Mistress Cecilia Blythe lives in the Kingdom of Atlantia in the Barony of Hidden Mountain, where she has enjoyed playing in the SCA for over 20 years. She can be always found holding one or more offices at a time from the canton to kingdom level and previously served as a landed Baroness. She is very organized and enjoys paperwork and kumihimo.

The Society Chronicler is primarily responsible for overseeing the production of kingdom newsletters, local branch newsletters, and any other publications the Board may designate. In addition, they establish overall policies for publishing Society-sponsored events and branch-related papers at all levels. The Society Chronicler provides a source of publishing expertise and advice for the benefit of the Society. The appointment is a three-year term.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas, CA 95036

You may also email

This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.