Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope attended the Æthelwald Proving Ground event in the Shire of Sunderoak on June 20, A.S. 50, and reports on the activities held there.
This was the Shire of Sunderoak’s second Æthelwald Proving Ground, which is focused primarily on martial activities. Despite some rain that began in the late morning and persisted for much of the afternoon, the gentles in attendance got a lot of good, fun practice in their respective areas.
Sir Alonzio of the Peacemakers ran a class on spear, and then worked the fighters through a strategy he calls “Piggly Wiggly.” Why? “I’d been working on this strategy for a few years, and people told me I had to give it a name. I thought Piggly Wiggly would be memorable, and it kind of fits since I tend to be dancing around as I demonstrate the technique,” Sir Alonzio said.
The Piggly Wiggly strategy is useful in a mixed line of spears and shields, as in a bridge or gate battle. The idea is that as the spears are fencing with each other, a shieldman who spots a weak point in the opposing line can charge through it and create a hole for his team to follow.
Heavy fighters spent the morning working on this technique using a resurrection bridge battle, and then took a break for lunch, returning to work on shield techniques and practice melees using that shieldwork. Sir Steffan Ulfkellson, the Kingdom Warlord, oversaw the heavy muster.
After some individual warmup bouts, Maestro Orlando di Bene del Vinta, Kingdom Rapier Warlord, had the fencers focus on small unit techniques, and in particular how to fend off larger numbers. There were rounds of 2-on-1 and 3-on-1 fights, as well as a line battle in which each side’s goal was to push the other backward over a line across the center of the field in order to control that line. Lord Robert MacEwin described it as “kind of like tug of war but with stabbing instead of ropes.”
After each round of fencing, Maestro Orlando had the fencers analyze and discuss what had happened and how to do better, then repeat the exercise so they could learn from the experience.
Five youth fighters, all Division 1 (ages 6-9), armored up, three of them for their first time. Lady Ceindrech verch Elidir and Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope ran the kids through the rules and showed them how to throw blows and block with shields or weapons, then held an informal bear pit with assistance from Lord Weasel, so each fighter got plenty of bouts in.
Their spirits undampened by the rain, the youth fighters then fought a series of open field melees with teams in various combinations, including a final melee which was, by the fighters’ request, girls vs. boys. Youth fighting ended with brownies for the combatants and marshals. After removing their armor, the youth fighters announced that they were all friends now, and spent the rest of the afternoon playing together in cheerful camaraderie.
THLady Meadhbh inghean ui Bhaoghill, current King’s Equestrian Champion, organized the equestrian activities, designing and running the morning competition that mirrored the planned Kingdom Equestrian Champion’s course. Mistress Shoshido Tora Gozen commented, “It was a challenge course based on the Devonshire Tapestry, which depicts various hunting scenes through the woods, hunting swans, boars, etc. It included numerous obstacles as well as the traditional tests of skills like the rings and quintain. Riders were allotted a certain amount of time to complete the course, with penalties for going over and points gained for successful completion of each test.” Mistress Gozen won the competition while Lady Tommasa Isolana won the award for the most improvement between rounds one and two.
Unfortunately, the rain caused footing to become treacherous, curtailing the planned afternoon training activities in Mounted to Ground Combat. After the equestrians broke down the course, THL Meadhbh then took Lady Tommasa as her Equerry, or equestrian student, under the Golden Lance.
The other big activities of the day were all food-related. The lady Jerngerd from Sunderoak provided a very tasty lunch consisting of mushroom pastries, honeyed chicken, beef stew, lemon cakes, ginger cake, bread, borscht, salt potatoes, various pickled veggies, and cucumbers. Anyone who went home hungry had only themselves to blame as the food was both delicious and plentiful.
In addition, Master Creador Twinedragon ran Creador’s Summer Cooking Challenge, a cooking competition to judge the best dish using summer ingredients based on a medieval recipe. There were two entrants, Rachel MacMichael and THLady Elss of Augsburg. THL Elss won with her Tart of Strawberye, found in Pleyn Delit, which did an excellent job of representing the summer theme. Elss won the prize of a day of service from Master Creador in the kitchen or otherwise. However, Master Creador was also impressed with the three Hungarian dishes of Chicken Paprikash, Nokedli, and Haluski that Rachel entered, so he decided to award her an unannounced prize of a consultation with him on an entry, menu, or research. “I look forward to working with both of them in the future,” said Master Creador.
Despite the rain, the autocrat, Sir Thorgrim Skullsplitter, was pleased with the event. “Everyone had fun, so I’m happy,” he said.
All photos not otherwise credited are by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.