For the first time in many years, Ӕthelmearc has a Crown Prince and Princess who have never sat the thrones before.
Prince Arnthor inn Sterki and Princess Ceirech na Hinnsi live in the Shire of Hunter’s Home, in Lawrence County, PA, not far from Coopers’ Lake where the Pennsic War is held.
His Highness is a Knight and a member of the Orders of the Gage and Golden Alce, as well as a Companion of the Scarlet Battery for his work with siege weapons. He also has a Keystone and a Sycamore.
Her Highness received her AoA for tablet weaving and service in archery, and a Golden Alce for her work with siege weapons.
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope interviewed our new Crown Prince and Princess to learn more about them.
When and how did you find the SCA? What most attracted you to the Society?
Arnthor: I found it on the internet and knew it was for me. I was hooked on fighting heavy from our first event, Sunderoak’s summer picnic in 2003.
Ceirech: When I first began my Scadian adventure in 2003, it was for my husband, but after meeting people and discovering some of the opportunities that it offered, I grew an appreciation for it. I remember an early Pennsic experience of waking up to bagpipes in the distance and going to sleep that night to rhythmic drum beats. It was beautiful and it was those kinds of experiences, the ones that make you feel like you’ve traveled back in time, that got me really excited about the SCA.
Please tell me a little about your personas and how you chose them.
Arnthor: I am a Danish warrior who ended up in Rus. My (real-life) grandmother, who passed before I was born, was full-blooded Danish. I always thought that was interesting. I wanted to know as much about her home country as I could.
Ceirech: I chose a 5th century Irish name, but I had no specific persona when I chose it. I tend to decide what clothing style I will wear based on the season. I prefer layered Viking garb during the winter months and cooler Roman garb during the summer, but I’ve also worn Italian Ren and I’m currently looking at Rus. When it comes to garb, there are just too many beautiful and interesting things to wear for me not to learn about and indulge in as many styles as possible.
I hear that you are both members of a new fighting group. How did that get started?
Ceirech: Yes, we are very excited! Four of us friends formed our fighting group Bogatyr with a lot of thought and care. Arnthor has always dreamed of a fighting group where everyone is treated as an equal and accomplished fighters can invest in lifting up others who share the same or similar goals as him. I like that we are all individuals that can wear our own colors, but come together under a shared banner on the field as people who fight together and help each other realize our potential. I also like that people take turns being in leadership roles on the field, so if someone wants to try leading they will get that opportunity. We think this will help fighters who otherwise wouldn’t get the experience and they can receive feedback from the group that will help them grow.
Arnthor: We are not a household, we are the wandering chivalry of Ӕthelmearc. My squires (Winnardus, Patrokles, Raziel, and Brillo) are free to join or stay in any household they wish; they just need to fight with me. Other members can come from any household or no household at all to fight with us.
In addition, to stay active over the last year, I started holding fighter practices at my house with a group my wife called the “Vacc Pack” because everyone had to be vaccinated against Covid to participate. This became successful enough that others from the Vacc Pack group began hosting their own fight practices, and one of them even had twenty people.
Has either of you been an associate (squire, apprentice, protégé, etc.) to another peer?
Arnthor: Yes, I was squired to Sir Tarl MacLave. He was a friend and had been knighted in the fall of 2014. We already had a mentor type of relationship so I asked him to take me as his squire the following spring, because I wanted to be part of that lineage Tarl’s knight was Sir Reinhardt von Berchtesgaden, whose had been squired to Master Wulfgar of the Wood. Two weeks later I was knighted, at War Practice in 2015.
Ceirech: I’ve only begun my personal journey in the SCA in recent years, and there are so many things I enjoy, from operating a ballista to inkle weaving, that I have not focused on anything in particular yet. It has been my goal to experience as many things as I can for right now.
Arnthor or Arnþorr? Do you have a preferred spelling? And for Her Highness, can you explain how your name should be pronounced?
Arnthor: It’s Arnthor.
Ceirech: “Ceir” rhymes with “here” and “ech” rhymes with “deck.”
You’ve both been involved in siege weapons. Can you discuss how that came about and what your part in it has been?
Arnthor: I was the spearhead and main builder of five ballistae. We gave one to the Kingdom and one was broken, but the other three were still in service at Pennsic 48. Her Highness and I are responsible for many of the Kingdom siege engineers becoming authorized.
Ceirech: For years I wanted to fight heavy, but I knew it wasn’t realistic for me due to my heart problems. My husband wanted to build a ballista, so it seemed the perfect fit to get me out there on the field. He built his first ballista for me, and then he built a few more with some assistance. I wasn’t able to work the ballista every Pennsic due to my health, so to stay involved, I became the Siege Commander for a couple of years, worked as a Siege Marshal, and helped with weapons inspections as well. I also enjoyed authorizing people, because seeing their faces when they got to shoot for the first time was very exciting for me.
I’ve read that Arnthor has done bone carving and Ceirech has done tablet weaving. Can you discuss some of the items you’ve made? What other arts are you both interested in?
Arnthor: I do enjoy antler carving (bone stinks too much for me). I have made many things, such as Thor’s hammers, combs, needle holders, and jewelry with amber stones mounted on them.
Ceirech: I love the arts. I’ve spent many hours over the years at tablet, stick, and inkle weaving. I’ve also made scrolls, done embroidery, learned sprang, and played around with repoussé and chasing.
I believe you have an adult daughter and son. Are they still involved in the SCA?
Ceirech: Our son and daughter started in the SCA about 19 years ago. I believe they were 8 and 6 years old. Our daughter, Freya, has always enjoyed the SCA and is becoming more active again as an adult. She has made lifelong friends in the Society, so we know the SCA has a permanent place in her life. Our son, Magnus, enjoyed some things about the SCA, but has other interests that take priority, so he has not been active for many years. He told me recently, though, that he may come back for a visit.
What goals do you have for your reign? What do you think is the most important aspect of sitting the thrones?
Arnthor: We want to see people get rewarded for their hard work and effort.
Ceirech: When my husband and I sat in court with the King and Queen for the first time at Crown Tourney, that new perspective allowed us to see the faces of the people receiving their awards and their happiness was very moving. I love that part of it and we are looking forward to seeing the happy smiles and happy tears throughout our reign.
I also think it’s my duty to help be a voice for those with disabilities. My reign may end up looking different than those before me, and I think that should be OK. I may not be able to do everything expected of me in the way people are used to seeing it done. I think it’s important for people to see those differences and to understand that someone’s health can change from day to day, even moment to moment, depending on the person’s specific issue or issues. I would like to see a society that is more knowledgeable about and mindful of people with disabilities. I believe awareness, especially concerning invisible illnesses, can and will improve the experience for everyone.
Have you had a chance to assemble a staff yet?
Ceirech and Arnthor: Yes, we knew from the start who we wanted to run our reign (Lady Vika Vyborgskaia) and be our Head Retainer (Baroness Aine ny Allane). The rest have been falling into place.
Given that Covid-19 doesn’t seem likely to go away any time soon, a winter reign is likely to be challenging. King Gareth and Queen Juliana had to deal with many canceled and rescheduled events because of Omicron, and of course almost all of King Maynard and Queen Liadain’s very long reign was virtual. Have you thought about ways to handle those issues during your time on the thrones if Covid does remain an issue?
Arnthor: Both couples you mentioned provided an excellent road map on how to navigate the pandemic. Her Highness’s health makes her very vulnerable to the worst effects of Covid. So it is of the utmost importance to us that we do the best we can to ensure everyone is safe.
Princess Ceirech, you have mentioned your health issues and the need to use a walker or wheelchair sometimes. Can you tell us more about this?
Ceirech: I have a progressive, incurable, genetic heart disease that wasn’t diagnosed until I was 46 years old. The main heart problem I have is Apical Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. It’s usually pretty benign, but in my case, it is the very opposite, and I have a lot of severe symptoms like congestive heart failure and life-threatening arrhythmias. Due to scar tissue building up inside my heart, the signal to tell my heart to beat can no longer travel throughout my heart, so I have a pacemaker to make the bottom chambers of my heart beat and a defibrillator to help protect me from going into cardiac arrest from the arrhythmias I experience.
My heart is actually strong with a good solid beat, but due to my type of heart disease, the wall around my left ventricle is severely thickened and does not like to relax to allow blood to fill that chamber before it’s constricting again. I take medication to slow my heart rate down and give that chamber more time to fill, to get more oxygen into my body. With a heart that stays at a slower beat no matter what I’m trying to do, I run out of physical and mental energy quickly, get dizzy a lot, and struggle to catch my breath. Breathing is also complicated by the fluid I retain from my congestive heart failure.
When I’m feeling my best, I can walk with no assistance in short bouts fairly well, but most often I use a walker to allow myself to sit down if I become breathless. The walker also gives me some help with balance. On my worst days, or when I know I will be traveling around a lot, I use a wheelchair. Pennsic, and any medium to large event sites are where a wheelchair is most needed, so I have freedom to get around. That gives me some semblance of normalcy.
I think it’s imperative that the populace know that, when I’m experiencing a heart arrhythmia, I get dizzy and breathless very quickly. I will drop to my knees immediately. Getting close to the ground is for safety, not necessarily because I’m passing out, although it does feel like that to me. The majority of the time, after giving myself a minute or two, my heart will return to its normal rhythm and I’m able to get back to whatever I was doing, though with a little less spunk.
I also have 2 rods and 6 screws in my lower back, and my back gets stiff and tired. Having the walker keeps that from happening as quickly.
What do you do mundanely?
Arnthor: I do background checks for the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency (DCSA).
Ceirech: My education is to be a Secondary History teacher, and when pursuing my Masters I acquired my certification in Special Education. However, due to my health, my dream of being a teacher in the classroom never came to fruition, so drawing upon my creative side, I turned to arts and crafts. The pandemic halted plans I had with a friend to do some vending at craft shows, so with my love of home decorating and photography, I’ve laid the foundation to do ads for home-goods companies. Last year I was approached to start selling my art as prints, even my simple watercolor art I did for Christmas cards and tags, so that is another venue I’ve been pursuing.
Finally, what are you most looking forward to about your time as Heirs and eventually Sovereigns of Ӕthelmearc?
Arnthor and Ceirech: Seeing areas of the SCA that we never would have seen and experienced otherwise, and meeting the people who make them up. We also look forward to recognizing people’s efforts and making any improvements we can, no matter how small, because the most important thing is that Æthelmearc is running smoothly and the populace is content and happy.