Æthelmearc has been accused of being obsessed with Pennsic. and it’s true – for good reason. Pennsic is by far the largest SCA gathering in the world, and it’s right in our own backyard. You’ve probably been to Pennsic many times, but there still might be things you don’t know about it. Here are a few:
- It started when the Kings of the East and Middle, Murad and Franz, began negotiations in A.S. VI. Eventually, then-King Irial of the Middle sent a challenge to the East in A.S. VII in the form of an arrow, with Count Cariadoc of the Bow as his courier since he was moving to the East. The Eastern King of the time, Rakkurai, broke the arrow and declared War, but by the time arrangements were completed and the War was scheduled, Cariadoc had become King of the East. The story that Duke Cariadoc was “The King Who Declared War on Himself and Lost” is fun but fallacious. Similarly, “the loser gets Pittsburgh” is a myth; the Shire and later Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands belonged to the East until AEthelmearc became a Kingdom in A.S. XXXII, and no one suggested it should be otherwise.
- The name “Pennsic” is a portmanteau of “Punic” and “Pennsylvania.”
- Pennsic has not always been at Cooper’s Lake. Pennsics I – V were at other locations, mostly in western PA, but Pennsics IV and V were held at sites in eastern Ohio.
- Pennsic started as a weekend event like most other events, and only expanded bit by bit to include Friday, then Wednesday, then one week, then eventually two.
The Midrealm won every War from Pennsics I through IX, with the East only finally winning its first War at Pennsic X.
- What is now the Serengetti was once a corn field. Scadians could pick corn fresh off the stalk for their dinners!
- The Battlefield and everything north and west of Currie Rd. did not originally belong to the Coopers. The battlefield was initially a cornfield owned by Ed Wilver, who was also involved with running Pennsic over the years. The Coopers purchased additional land as Pennsic grew.
- Pennsic IV was called the “Pennsic Puddle” due to torrential rains that caused major flooding. Cars had to be pushed out of the parking lot mud and many people’s tents were damaged, but attendees at that Pennsic recall the camaraderie that their travails engendered with fondness.
- Many of the streets and geographical features at Pennsic are named for SCA people. Cariadoc’s Path is obvious, but there are many others. For example:
- Mt. Eislinn, which stands above the battlefield, was named for Duchess Eislinn the Patient, who was Queen of the Middle with Duke Talymar gan y Llyn at Pennsic XVI. Beloved by all, she was suffering from breast cancer that summer and subsequently succumbed to the disease. The following year, the hill was named in her honor.
- St. Lawrence Way was named for Master Lawrence Thornguard of the East, who autocratted multiple Pennsics (this was back before the autocrat was called “Mayor”).
- Wroxeter Rd. was named for Geoffrey of Wroxeter of the Middle, who did the first complete survey of the Pennsic site.
- Count Jehan’s Bounty was named for Count Jehan de la Marche, who lived in the Middle and East before settling in AEthelmearc. He was the 9th King of the East.
- Many of Pennsic’s streets are listed on Google Maps.
- Facilities at Coopers Lake have expanded significantly over time. For example. the Coopers’ store was originally only about 12’x20′ and sold snacks, a small amount of “real” food, and bits of camping gear like rope and tent stakes. The rest of that building was a big open Barn, which was used for Court, dancing, and performances. The Great Hall was built in the 2010s, with the barn being converted to the store that’s there now.
- Originally Pennsic only had one court, called “Great Court,” at which every Kingdom did business. This was fine when there were only four Kingdoms, but became unwieldy once there were over a dozen, so eventually it was abandoned in favor of separate Kingdom Courts.
- Battles have been fought all over the campground. For example, at Pennsic 7, the champions’ battles were held in the bowl below Horde Hill, where the E12-13 blocks are now located; the field battle was held in what was even then called the “Old Archery Field” near the lake in blocks E19-20; and the Woods battle was fought along the causeway in block W2, as well as the woods beyond it in blocks N19-N24, and up into the High Meadows along I-79. In subsequent years the Field battle was held on Runestone Hill before eventually moving to the current battlefield.
- At Pennsic XXXII there was fantastic a display of medieval fireworks held on the battlefield near the fort. It was crafted by an SCA member whose hobby was building medieval fireworks. Although mostly ground-based, they lofted sparks into the air which damaged some tents to the east of the battlefield (though nothing caught fire). Hence, the current ban against fireworks.
- Rumor has it that the C-130 military transport planes that often fly low over Pennsic during Peace week are doing exercises in counting tents and people as practice for real-life surveillance. After the War they compare their counts with the actual number of Pennsic attendees.
- The medics who serve at Pennsic are trained in armor extraction by Duke Christopher Rawlyns and other SCA or Tuchuk medical personnel from Æthelmearc with fighting experience, so they won’t cut straps or otherwise damage expensive armor in case of a medical emergency on the battlefield.
This article was written by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope. Corrections are welcome!
If you’re new to Pennsic, you can read the Newcomers Guide to Pennsic here.