, , ,

Merlin War Practice

photo of Merlin by Karen Mensch DeMichiei

If you have ever visited the archery range at Pennsic, the Honorable Lord Ambrosius filius Merlinus, called Merlin, was hard to miss. A wiry man with a graying ponytail and beard who looked decades younger than his 80+ years, he was a fixture on archery ranges throughout the SCA, but especially at the Pennsic War. Despite being wheelchair-bound, he went everywhere and did more than many Scadians half his age.

THL Merlin passed away on Sunday, January 4th, at 9:50pm at home in the care of his friends. He was a very active member of the Shire of Eastwatch, located in northeastern Ohio near the Barony of Cleftlands, serving as Deputy Seneschal and Archery Marshal for the Shire as well as Northern Oaken Regional Archery Marshal. Merlin was also a member of House Draigcalon.

Much honored by the Midrealm, he was the recipient of the Order of the Dragon’s Heart and the Purple Fret for service, the Greenwood Company and the Dragon’s Barb for skill and service in archery, and the Silver Oak for arts and sciences. He was a Dragon Archer (roughly equivalent to Grandmaster Bowman in Æthelmearc) with a Royal Round average of 107, and a marshal who spent countless hours on the range inspecting equipment and training adults and children. He also built arrows and period bows that experienced archers say are worth every penny they paid him and more. THLord Lochlainn mac Faoláin Bháin of the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep comments, “I have the honor of owning the last bow he built. Thank you, Merlin, for getting me on my way to a period kit.”

Master Dirk Edward of Frisia of the Shire of Rivenvale (in northeastern Ohio) said, “Merlin became an important member of our archery community, a skilled artisan and mentor, dedicated and hardworking. His loss will be felt for some time by many people throughout the SCA.”

Merlin and Gandalfr at Pennsic 39

Merlin and Gandalfr at Pennsic 39, photo by Jo-Ann Sheffer

Lady Siri Toivosdottir of the Barony of Roaring Wastes (Detroit) remembers, “Merlin taught my then-11-year-old son, Gandalfr, how to shoot a bow at Pennsic 39. On Gandalfr’s second day of Pennsic Archery after lessons with Merlin, he shot a tight cluster and Merlin kicked him off the kids’ range. He went on to hit the center target in the clout (100 yards away), and the nose on the third advancing man target.”

Master Denys the Decadent recalls, “Merlin was a tireless worker at the Archery Tent at Pennsic, inspecting, instructing, and sharing his knowledge. He had a tremendous determination to shoot – he did not let his physical limitations stop him. His legacy [and] his energy promoting archery will continue. ”

Despite his age and disabilities, THLord Merlin was tremendously strong. Lord Robert MacEwin of Thornhill pulled arrows from the target for Merlin at an archery muster in the Debatable Lands last spring. “His bow was so heavy, it was like a bazooka. Those arrows were buried so deep in the target I had a really tough time getting them out.” Sir Ariella of Thornbury remembers that at that same muster, which was held at her castle in northern Debatable Lands, “He was the only person ever to lift himself up the spiral staircase with his arms alone to shoot from the parapets. We will really miss him at our Archery musters.”

In addition to his skills as an archer, Merlin was also quite a good cook. Mistress Alexandra dei Campagnella, who lived in the Midrealm before moving to Æthelmearc, says “Every Pennsic, he would stop at Midrealm Royal and drop off a cheesecake for their Majesties. They always raved about his cooking. He was all smiles when he would give them the treat and they would spend a lot of time bragging on his skill in baking as well as archery.”

There will be no funeral. A memorial service will be held at a later date.

Submitted by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope