Real Name (optional): Rolf Verberg
SCA Name & title: Master Hrólfr á Fjárfelli
Years in the SCA: Just over 6 years
How did you find out about the SCA?
Elska was looking for a local place to do archery. She doesn’t quite remember how she got hooked up with our local SCA group, the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn, but she did (eventually) go to a meeting to check it out. I didn’t join her the first few meetings. I had a role-playing thing in my head and I’m not a role-playing game fan. She was a bit intimidated though and convinced me that I may like to try out fencing. I went to my first meeting and I guess we never looked back.
Where did you start, what was your first event?
We started and are still living in the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn, our first event was Æthermearc Æcademy in the Fall of 2014, hosted by the Dominion itself. It was the absolute best way to go to our first event. Our first class was SCA 101 🙂 We met new people, learned more of the enormous scope of the SCA, and were or part of the event organizing effort, which gave us a place to belong and a purpose right away as opposed to maybe feeling kinda lost on our first event.
What is your persona?
Late 10th century Viking. Quite broadly defined, I haven’t narrowed it down to a very specific time frame or location.
Why did you pick this persona?
We used to go to Renaissance Fairs and at one point (pre SCA) we traded Viking garb for airplane tickets for Elska’s sister to visit us here in the US (all of our direct family still lives in The Netherlands). Elska’s sister makes garb that she sells at Viking/Medieval/Renaissance Fairs. She made a full outfit in a Rus Viking style for each of us. We liked it right away and felt “right” wearing it and when we joined Myrkfaelinn and learned about the history of the group it seemed a good choice. Later our interest gravitated more heavily to that culture and period and now we’re pretty firmly set.
Do you have any group or household affiliations?
Elska and I are honorary members of the Hael Hounds and the Rhydderich Hael archery group. We also have household affiliations through my apprenticeship with Master Fridrikr Tomasson and Elska’s apprenticeship with Master Bedwyr Danwyn, but we never engaged much in either.
Tell us a little bit about your life outside the SCA.
I met Elska in 1992, both of us born, raised and living in The Netherlands. After completing my Ph.D in 1998, we got married and moved to the US for my first postdoctoral fellowship. I switched from an experimental and theoretical background in Neutron Scattering research to the computational physics field and quickly discovered that I really like programming and writing code to simulate or model interesting physics or engineering problems. We lived in Gainesville, FL for three years (which was quite long enough…) and then moved for another two-year postdoc to Ithaca, NY. We really liked Ithaca and after a three-year stint at Pitt in Pittsburgh, PA, I accepted a job at a tiny research company near Ithaca. We were very happy to move back to the house that we bought here while I worked at Cornell. Two years later, Simon was born and we decided it was time to settle, having never lived in the same apartment/house for more than two years since I went to college. After about 13 years, just before Covid hit, the company I worked for ran out of money, my boss decided it was a good time to retire and I didn’t feel like doing his job. I like research and programming, I don’t like paperwork, hunting for money and the politics and bureaucracy that goes with it. It wasn’t good timing to look for another local job, but I did find a nice position at a company in Rome, NY. The location isn’t ideal, I don’t feel like moving yet, but I do really like the job. It’s not commutable on a daily bases, so in the near future I will continue to live part-time there and part-time in Ithaca.
What SCA activities do you or have you participated in?
I started out with fencing and came spring I added target archery. Later in my first year I started dabbling a little in A&S. Initially in some general research and a bit of woodworking (which is a long-term mundane passion of me). Many of you know this story by now, but it started with me making a warp-weighted loom for Elska. She was already heavily involved in a variety of A&S areas and at one point decided she wanted to try weaving and build herself a warp weighted loom. She already was active in a bunch of fields, am me enjoying woodworking myself, joked that she already did enough and that she should leave something for me and that I would build her one as an A&S project. I did a bit of research, went into the woods to cut down a bunch of suitable trees and build a loom to enter in the Ice Dragon Pent. I got a lot of positive feedback and one person particularly, Mistress Rhiannon y Bwa, a fellow Myrkie, convinced me that I should at least try weaving something on it. The rest is history. I have since then completed several weaving projects, started tablet weaving, and have done a lot of research on the history of weaving with a focus on the warp weighted looms. I also built several extra parts and a complete additional loom, because Elska kept complaining that she never got to use “her” loom 🙂
Tell us a little bit about your SCA experience (jobs, offices, duties, etc.)
I am the current Kingdom Minister of Arts & Sciences, the region 5 Chatelaine (since AS 53), as well as the local Myrkfaelinn Exchequer (since AS 51), Chatelaine (since AS 52) and group target archery Marshall (since AS 51). Elska and I were garb coordinators for Their Graces Sven Gunnarsson and Siobhán inghean uí Liatháin (AS 52-53). I had the honor to serve as Kingdom A&S Co-Champion under Their Graces Gareth Kincaid and Juliana Delamere (AS 52), lieutenant of the Guard to Her Grace Gabrielle van Nijenrode (AS 51-52), and Kingdom Archery Champion under Their Graces Magnus Tindal and Etain ingen Dalaig (AS 50). With Myrkfaelinn being a small group where every active member pretty much always pitches in and takes turns to run events, I have tried pretty much everything in our local group. Locally and at other events, I have run dayboards, helped in the kitchen, autocrated events, sat troll, served as Æcademy class coordinator, Marshalled and designed/made archery ranges, served as guard and retained to Their Majesties, served as guard and at hospitality at Royal Camp at Pennsic and taught classes at Æthelmearc events and Pennsic.
When you started in the SCA what goals did you have?
To have fun and enjoy the many aspects of my soon to be main hobby.
What are your goals now?
To keep enjoying my SCAdian live, to keep connected and motivated and help other to stay motivated in these dark Covid times, and to serve my duties to the best of my ability, with my primary current focus on KMoAS. I more or less stopped fencing after a severe bout of tendonitis and with much of my focus shifted to A&S and archery, I haven’t really gotten back much to fencing. I hope to change that and enjoy more time fencing again at events once we can get together again. Finally, I am still planning to write a CA on the history of and weaving on the warp weighted loom.
What was the most intimidating thing you encountered in the SCA?
Probably being called forward in Court at Coronation (Harvest Raid, AS 50) as the new Kingdom Archery Champion. I was still so new to the SCA and didn’t know many people yet. Walking up with all those people watching me and wondering who I was, was scary for someone who is really very uncomfortable in the spotlight in front of people. I owe a huge thank you to Their Graces Magnus Tindal and Etain ingen Dalaig and Their staff for Their support, for making me feel welcome and at home and involving me in Their reign and particularly for introducing me to many people outside my local group. It opened so many doors and formed the basis of many friendships ever since.
After the unexpected shutdown ends, what is one thing you would like to accomplish in the SCA?
I guess that kinda coincides with my goals above, but particularly in Covid context, I am looking forward to reconnect personally with my SCAdian family and especially reach out to new members who faced a very tough time to get started in our hobby.
What advice would you give to a new person in the SCA?
To try as many things out as you are able to, physically and financially. To help out at your local events, it really helps to get to know people and for people to get to know you. Try helping out in the kitchen, it really is lots of fun! Reach out to people and ask, you will be amazed how virtually everybody will try to help you or find someone else to help you better. Help with guarding and retaining, you will quickly become a part of a nice bunch of people that can help you feel at home. Finally, don’t be afraid to bring younger kids. It can be hard at events, but I think there are many events now where a real effort is made to reach out and create activities to keep the younger ones entertained. Being part of the SCA with a younger child has been an incredibly positive experience for me and I am utterly convinced for Simon as well.
If you magically woke up with an SCA talent you do not already have, what would it be?
Scribal, every aspect of it. I am immensely impressed and grateful to our scribal community and their skill in making all those beautiful scrolls time and time again.
If you had to join the SCA in another “era” (1970, 1980, etc.), what “era” would you pick and why?
Probably the late 80s, early 90s. Early enough to be more a part of the earlier history that I hear so much about, young (and fit) enough to enjoy the martial aspect more than I can now and not too busy to make time for it. That being said I think we joined at a very opportune time, we had time, were well settled locally and Simon was old enough to join us and enjoy himself instead of needing babysitting all day.
Don’t be modest, what award or honor would you like to receive above all else and why?
You ask a Dutch guy to not be modest…? I am still recovering from everything that happened at such a quick pace over the past years, that I’m really not thinking much about anything else other than to make sure that I honor and deserve what was awarded to me, that I return the favor and pay it forward. However, what drives me within the society most and what will keep me coming back again and again and involved is the personal relationships built with so many members of my new found family. I love archery for the sake of archery. The skill, the focus, the relaxation that it gives me. I love A&S for the sake of A&S. I love making stuff and doing research. But what really motivates me and stimulates me to keep growing is the sharing of what I do with others. To stand at the line, either as an archer or as a Marshall and enjoy the camaraderie. To sit around the table at an event and chat about our shared passion. To help run events with a bunch of people that are helping out so that others can enjoy a nice day off with friends. To teach others what I love and to learn from other about things I don’t know anything about yet. To see others succeed in what they look for within the SCA. Helping out to make things happen and motivating and stimulating others by doing what I’m doing, is what I enjoy much more than personal accomplishments.
If you could pick one thing you would like to see more of in the SCA, what would it be?
Families with children. Even in my short SCA career, I have seen a positive growth in activities for children and a more welcome and open attitude to children. Myrkfaelinn and other groups already started with waiving troll for children. Lots of things are happening that help making it easier to bring younger children and I hope that that keeps getting better and better.
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