A New Interpretation of Norse Runes


By Master Robert of Ferness

Lady Maedbh standing at runestone

Fig. 1: Runestone, with Lady Maedbh ni Clerigh for scale (photo by Robert of Ferness).

After reading about runestones found in Norway recently, I realized that individual runes can be transcribed and simplified into smaller units of information. As you can see in the examples in Fig. 1, runes consist of long straight lines, long curved lines, short angled lines, and dots.

Once the individual letters are broken down into these elements, they can be perceived as paaaah, paaah, pah, and pa, respectively: in other words, the length of each rune segment, can be transformed into a rhythmic series of sounds in order to convey information.

Note that I am not suggesting that runes were not used as letters and not used as part of an alphabet, but that the shapes of the runes were formed so that they could also be understood in other contexts.

After thinking on this insight for some time, it seems clear that the Vikings – at least the infamous Norsemen – might have used these shortened rune letter-segments as a way to communicate between ships while on the open ocean.

Much like putting an ear to the ground or railroad track in order to sense vibrations of horses or trains, it might have been the case that sailors could put an ear to the hull of their ship in order to hear sounds transmitted via the water from another vessel.

Viking age ship hull

Fig. 2: The preserved substantial hull of a Viking Age ship (photo by Robert of Ferness).

It is well known that water carries sound better than air, and more than four times faster, so it should be feasible that a sailor using a heavy metal or wood implement, such as an oar or sword pommel, could tap out a message on the hull of one ship and have it perceived on all nearby ships. It would be a perfect method for organizing a raid or an open-water attack, or even just to keep ships organized as they traveled together.

The length of each tap (paaaah, paaah, pah, and pa) would specify the part of the rune being sent and the receiver would compose the message in his head as it arrived, putting together the lengths of the taps to form the final runes and then, ultimately, the entire message.

Anyone who has enjoyed a ride in a replica Viking ship knows that there is plenty of noise above the water: wind blowing, oars splashing, people talking or singing, seabirds crying, etc. All of those interferences would be bypassed via percussive message transmission using a code tapped out on the hull of a ship.

It is my intent to replicate this possible communications platform as soon as feasible once COVID restrictions are lifted. After I have worked out enough proper sequences for carrying messages, I intend to publish more about this method, to be called Norse Code.

Fig. 3: Replica of a small Viking Age vessel in use. One of the crew would be ready to tap out or listen for a message with little effort (Photo by Robert of Ferness).

Known World Colegio de Iberia June 4-6, 2021


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The Known World Colegio de Iberia sponsored by the West Kingdom will be held over the first weekend of June 2021.

This is a weekend of virtual classes on the lives and times of the people who dwelt in the lands which we now call Spain and Portugal. The symposium covers the period from the Muslim Umayyad Conquest, and includes the great Muslim city-states and the four Christian kingdoms (Kingdom of Castile y Leon, Kingdom of Aragon, Kingdom of Navarre and Kingdom of Portugal), ending with death of the Habsburg king Philip II. We also explore some of the worlds who experienced colonisation by these kingdoms.

Come join us!
There is no need to pre register.


We have a website which will contain information about classes and our teachers, as well as the schedule. This is getting updated all the time so visit regularly! It is located here: https://scaiberia.com/known-world-colegio-de-iberia-2021/

YouTube Channel

Classes will be recorded where possible and will be uploaded to our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC2RmLGx_KiNzoFiM6GAu5Hg

SCA Iberia Facebook Group

There is a Facebook group that focuses on the culture of the Iberian peninsular called SCA Iberia (Spain and Portugal). Please come and join the community!


Facebook Event

We will be posting more updates about the event here as the event comes closer. Join us here: https://fb.me/e/28evEmlVo

The Zoom room details and password will be made available closer to the date and advertised on the Facebook event and the website. We will be having a range of breakout rooms depending on the number class tracks required.

We are looking for teachers!

If you are interested in teaching or know someone interested in teaching, please get them to fill out this form: https://forms.gle/UfvttUBQmCQd5xev9

We are looking for event support!

There are a range of different roles that we will need to make this event as easy and as fun as possible to run. If you would like to assist us in anyway please fill in this form: https://forms.gle/fHSy4DA7SkB37Y837

Please share among your networks.

Thank you for your kind attention.

“That thing you are making has captured my heart.”


With Ice Dragon looming and Arts & Sciences on our collective minds, the following poem seems to beautifully capture what many of us have gone through, are going through, and will go through, in our never-ending quest to make the thing. Enjoy!

Weaving your dreams

for Maestra Elisif Gydasdottir

The first time you saw it,
You knew from the start
That thing they were making
It captured your heart
Igniting your dreams, you had found your key
“One day -I just know it- the maker will be me!”

Weaving your dreams with threads spun of gold,
Until those dreams blossom, and a wreath then unfolds
So heart all afire
You set on your path,
Materials were needed
But God, what was what?You tried all the wrong things and some right ones too
But all of a sudden, it was a thing you could do

Sewing your dreams, with fabric by the bolt
Until those dreams blossom and a wreath then unfolds

Not perfect, not pretty
That very first try
But proud as a mother
Until time passes by
Then all of a sudden, flaws were all you could see
And you started thinking, it may NOT be for me.
Singing your dreams, with verses so old until those dreams blossom and a wreath then unfolds

But then someone saw you
and all that you tried
A hand on your shoulder
always there when you cried
They traveled along you, they shared their own art
They gave you their time and a piece of their heart.
Beading your dreams with glass bright and bold
Until those dreams blossom and a wreath then unfolds

And all of a sudden
Or after long years
Your skills started flying
More joy now than tears
Some projects you bled on, or cursed, sometimes both
But people were talking, they noticed your growth

Giving voice to your dreams with stories you told
Until those dreams blossom and a wreath then unfolds

The project of doom
Cost you nights without rest
doubts, tears, and yet trust now
Because it would be your best
You knew the way forward, right from the start
Because that thing you were making
had captured your heart.

Weaving your dreams with threads spun of gold,
Until those dreams blossom, and a wreath then unfolds

Your name is well known now
your guidance they seek
From student to teacher
for the bold and the meek
Who say as they sit and and they look at your art
“That thing you are making has captured my heart.”

The poem was written by Baroness Machteld Cleine in 2020, for her friend Ellisif Gydasdottir who was given her writ to sit vigil at Gulf Wars to contemplate joining the order of the Laurel. Her friend had mentioned that while there were many songs in one way or another of the journey from squire to knighthood, there were none that came to mind about an apprentice’s journey to the becoming a master or mistress of their craft.

Baroness Machteld said “As a friend.. I had to try and fix that.” She wrote this poem, which has the wonderful potential to be put to music, to make the event special for her. It was intended to be performed on site, but due to the Plague has been shared on paper, for now. Baroness Machteld wants it to be also available for others, as well as honoring her mentor Mistress Marion Leoncina di Susa and all the other people who ‘guide’ along the road.

An Announcement from the Mayor of Pennsic 49


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G’day Everyone,

This is just a quick update to keep you informed of our progress tp Pennsic 49.

Over the last month the Pennsic 49 senior executive has met with the Crowns and Seneschals of the East, Midrealm, and Æthelmearc. We have discussed specific issue regarding the planning and running of Pennsic 49 and are discussing options and figuring out ways to run it safely, albeit maybe a little differently. Those plans are still under consideration, discussion, and planning, but we are still moving forward to our well-published final decision date of May 30.

I am aware that the Known World Seneschals have met with the SCA Inc. Executive Board over a range of issues prior to the full SCA Inc. Board meeting, I think some time in April. I am not aware, nor do I need to know the specifics of that meeting, however we were asked and did supply representation at the meeting to field any Pennsic War-specific questions.

We are continuing to plan for Pennsic 49 in 2021 until either 30 May 2021 or our hand is forced to make a decision sooner.

The good news is the the COVID-19 overlay is getting better in the USA, UK, and parts of Europe week by week. I pray it keeps going that way with the vaccines roll out.

I know this is not the news many need right now, but I’m letting you all know so that you can plan accordingly and be as aware as we are. Sorry I can’t say more.

In service to you all….


Photo by Master Augusto Giuseppe da San Donato.

IceDragon preview: An Icelandic Saddle for my Icelandic Horse


Work in Progress Report: a preview of my virtual IceDragon entry.
Interested in entering yourself? Visit the IceDragon website for more information or contact the Pent coordinator at (idpentguy@wnysca.org).

Elska and Greni

As all I did last summer was work the weekends and entertain the kid during the week, I had to come up with ways to keep us all entertained. We gardened (sooo many tomatoes and marigolds…), we fermented (home-made soda rocks!), we played with clay (baked crusty bread, fired mugs to drink our soda…). Normally, we’d be kept busy going to events. But not so in the Year of the Plague. Instead, I decided to focus on something I never had, or made, time for that would entertain us all, and introduced mounted equestrian games. Whacking dummy heads with foam swords and catching rings with a converted pool-table lance sure did interest the kid, and had the ponies thinking too. At the end of summer we were all adapting to virtual get-togethers, and both my kid and I participated in a video-submission-only Equestrian Games challenge.

Which made me realize, we humans had great outfits, but our ponies were sorely lacking in appropriate attire. My persona is Viking, a time when heraldry and colorful horse barding were not yet quite a thing (like, at all). I could somewhat envision a style of bridle I could make for him to give him a more historic look, but making a saddle? For the sake of both of us I decided not to meddle with that (saddles do have to fit, hence the mundane existence of the job of saddle fitter). Then my interest in felt and my Icelandic Horse’s heritage joined. Low and behold, the old Icelanders had a padded-seat riding contraption with stirrups which was completely made from felt – no saddle fitting required. And even better, for ‘carpet’-like felted sheets like this pad the wool did not even need to be roving!

Traditional Icelandic felt saddles; possible for Viking era, plausible for SCA period, proven for 17th century and in active use until the 19th century.

I’ve always been fascinated with felting fabric, like the thick sheet felt used in shoes. A good friend of mine makes beautiful leather turn shoes and has poked me a few times already to make some sheet felt to use as insoles. But I did not feel confident in being able to do a good job. And I especially could not quite wrap my head around the amount of roving needed.

Finding enough affordable roving proved challenging. Then I realized I did not have to use roving, as long as the wool was clean and fluffy it worked fine. Luckily, I had watched fellow Dominionite Eadgytha clean wool many times over the years, and last summer I attempted my first suinting experiments. And guided by a several videos showcasing Mongolian felting techniques used to make felt carpets and felt yurt walls, my son and I set out to experiment with the different suggestions. I will share with you the highlights of what worked, what did not, and what I intend to try differently next time.

What did we do:

Collecting the wool.
With a project like this in mind I had collected not-so-good quality fleeces over a couple of years. I started with about 5 fleeces of various colors, making one large tub of variegated fluffed wool, but worried this would not be enough for this specific project. Luckily, Eadgytha has a Stash and she gave me two more large garbage bags of fleeces to play with!

Simon hard at work whacking the wool. According to him, this needs to happen several times, at least!

Processing the wool.
The Mongolian videos instructed to use fluffed wool for the outsides, with the nicest first to create the face of the fabric. The raw fleece is fluffed by laying it out on a tarp and beating it with sticks. This opens the fibers as well as helping it release dirt and hay etc. It was surprising how effective this beating method is, and how much dirt was beaten out of the wool! We were also picking up bits of hay and fluffs of wool for days afterwards.

The wetted pre-felt, ready to be rolled up.

Traditionally, Mongolian felt is made on top of an already made ‘mother’ felt, which is then rolled up as a whole. Since I was doing this indoors, I chose to use plastic shower curtains. The fluffed wool was grabbed by the handful in one hand, pushed in place and pulled out of the handful to create a somewhat scale-like overlapping collection of wool tufts. The center of the felt ‘sandwich’ could be clean but untreated raw wool, fluffed, topped with another layer of fluffed wool. The better the tufts are interlaced top to bottom, the better the layers of wool will be felted together. The wool would be wetted with hot water while the different layers were constructed, enough to make it damp but not so much it was dropping wet.

Felt shrinks. I was going for a felted pad of about 30 inches wide by 80 inches long and eyeballed a starting dimension of 40 inches by 115 inches, as the Mongolian videos seemed to suggest more shrinkage lengthwise than in width. This seems to be plausible for their method, but not when using a machine, we learned later.

Agitating the wool.
Historically, the baby sheet felt is tightly rolled up with its mother felt around a large wooden post. The outside is protected with hides, duck cloth or tarp, and tightly wound with rope. Two collars are slid around the wooden beam ends, attached to another long rope, and hitched to horses or camels to be dragged around over the grasslands for about two hours, often at high speed!

This obviously was not going to happen with us, as there was still a foot of snow on the ground, and a lack of camels, so we used our own feet. While watching TV, the kid and I would move the felt-roll back and forth and at one point figured out we could use the binding rope to pull it back after rolling it away. We kicked it, kneaded it, sat on it, walked all over it, anything to simulate rolling over the plains at speed while being dragged by galloping ponies. Although this might still happen in the future 🙂

What we parents have to come up with to keep the kids entertained…

Repack, and agitate.
Each time the wrapping loosened, we’d repack. Followed by more rolling, lots of YouTube, another re-pack, and even more rolling. We rolled it on and off for about 3-4 hours over I think 4 days: my legs felt as if we’d hiked a mountain! We added hot soapy water as needed: the soap is not essential, but the alkaline environment will speed up the felting process. As we worked in our living room, in front of the stove, the felt was nice and toasty much of the time, and the wet wool felted as well as suinted.

Agitation and rinsing.
Because the wool had suinted, indicated by earthy beige liquid leaking out, it could be rinsed indoors without dumping too much oil into our septic. In the process of suinting, minerals from sheep sweat and the oily lanolin in the wool dissolve in the hot water and bacterially ferment to make a crude soap, which then suspends remainder oils and dirt without leaving an oily residue. At this point I moved the felt roll into our bathtub, removed the shower curtains, sprayed it with hot water and with my bare feet walked all over it. When flattened sufficiently, I’d reposition the roll. When the roll became warm through and through, I changed the water to cold, trampled it, etcetera. I did this until the rinse water was mostly clear (and my feet very, very clean).

I squished as much liquid out as I could and move it in front of the hot stove. Evaporation while lying flat was not going very fast, even in front of the stove, so I draped the felt over a chair for gravity to offer a helping hand. At the end of the day, the felt was mostly damp, not wet.

And then I second-guessed myself…
I felt (pun intended) the sheet felt (left) could use a bit more tightening after trimming off the thinned edges, so I ran it through the dryer on hot (see right). While this is generally very effective, and part of my dryer balls felting process, in this case it was too much. I need to remember, when using the dryer on a new project, to check every 10 minutes or so to make sure the effect is what is wanted. While before, the sheet felt mostly shrank in length and not so much in width (as expected from scrutinizing the Mongolian videos), in the dryer the felt shrank mostly in width, and quite significantly too. It made an amazing fuzzy, springy pillow-type felt which while awesome to sit on, but as a saddle I worried might be a bit tight for my knees.

Turning the felt into a felt-saddle
I sewed leather patches to the felt, two at each corner, so it can be folded and securely tied into the pad-saddle shape (see the illustrations in the beginning: the sheet is folded twice, unlike a modern Western saddle pad). Unlike most saddles, the pad-saddle girth is a one-piece which wraps around the ponies belly like a belt and includes attachments for stirrups.

Greni making faces for cookies, while showing off his new felt-saddle.

I’ve ridden on the felt-saddle a handful of times by now and found it to feel quite different from my modern felted pad. The barepack pad rides close-contact and I should not need stirrups to balance. The quite comfortable but thicker felt-saddle is not close-contact at all and actually feels a bit perilous to balance on: here, stirrups are not at all a luxury!

What is next?
I commissioned the rectangular ring and the stirrups from fellow Dominionite John Michael Thorpe to recreate my recreation of the combination girth & stirrup “belt.” For now, I’ve used a modern girth to try out the seat of this pillow-y pad-saddle. And I have to admit, it sure feels comfortable!

Simon and Elska á Fjárfelli, of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn

Sources for the felted pad-saddle:

  • Reiðtygi á Íslandi í aldaraðir (2002) by Þórður Tómasson í Skógum, [Reykjavík] Mál og Mynd.
  • Gömul reiðver website

Sources for the felting process:

Change to Kingdom Zoom Password Policy


As Zoom has become much better in the past year with security and reporting options, we are changing our no posting rule for Zoom passwords.

You will be allowed to post passwords for Zoom on public social media and website one (1) week before an online activity, provided that the activity’s zoomerator(s) & host(s) actively watch for inappropriate/harmful activity from (unknown/unfamiliar) participants and report as necessary.

We hope that this will be a most helpful step going forward!

Also, for all to know, the Kingdom has reupped Zoom for another year. Please submit your requests for online activities using the Kingdom Zoom at http://aethelmearc.org/zoom-room-availability-sign-ups/.

On behalf of the Zoom-team,
Baroness Amalie

Medieval Foods for Modern Allergies


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An exiting new endeavor by Meadbh ni Clerigh of the Dominion of Myrkfaelinn is the launching of a collaborative website intended for cooks who would like both to cook medieval recipes as well as cater to modern food allergies and sensitivities.

She explains: “I’m interested in authentic medieval recipes that accommodate modern food allergies and intolerances. After some research I found that there’s not a site currently there that categories medieval recipes with this in mind, so I built one.”

Her primary goal is to have a repository of medieval recipes that any feast cook can go to when a guest says “I can’t eat X and Y.” There already are a lot of recipes out there that are perfectly good as originally written (or with a negligible substitution), and the website aims to help connect cook with recipe.

Meadbh adopted a medieval English persona who really enjoys spangled gowns. She has been interested in medieval cuisine as a culinary flavor for some time and tries to adhere to the original recipes as closely as possible. Her primary goal is to create food that a modern diner will enjoy, including diners who have food allergies and intolerances. She only has a dozen recipes on the website at the moment but intends to keep adding to the collection.

She would really like to see contributions by other people with different recipes, alternative redactions, and varied culinary interests. A recipe doesn’t need to be completely allergen free (there are a couple there, and she is looking for more.) As she mentioned: “you don’t need to have made it recently. You don’t even need fantastic pictures. I want this to feel attainable by anyone. Feel free to browse, and to contribute!”

Visit Medieval Food for Modern Allergies here!

Virtual Ice Dragon Pentathlon + Bardic Circle

Greetings populace of Aethelmearc!!

Just a reminder of the upcoming deadline for registration for entries in the Virtual Pentathlon is April 1st, 2021.

For those who are interested in entering please visit the website here

Any questions regarding the Pentathlon please contact the Pent coordinator at email


Additionally, The Ice Dragon Bardic Circle is set to happen on Saturday, April 3rd, 2021 from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The format will be a pick / pass / play free form format.

Hope to see many people there to join in the fun!!

For additional details and zoom information, please visit the Virtual Ice Dragon Facebook event page here.

For questions or concerns regarding the Virtual Ice Dragon event, please contact the Autocrat, Lady Thalia Papillon, at email  or Vanessa Hayes on on Facebook here.


Call for Letters of Intent: Sylvan Signet Office


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Greeting unto the Sylvan Kingdom of Æthelmearc:

It is time to call for Letters of Intent from the Sylvan Signet’s office. This position requires a highly organized individual with excellent communication skills both in writing and in person, interpersonal skills, and flexibility.  It also requires familiarity with platforms such as Google Docs, both in Google Sheets and Excel spreadsheets, as well as being available via email and other preferred platforms on a regular basis. This position needs an average of 10 to 20 hours a week depending on the reign (summer vs. winter).

To this end, we wish to offer an outline of some of the work that is done by the Signet’s office:

  • Coordinate the assigning of scrolls: including, but not limited to coordinating illuminators, wordsmiths, and calligraphers, and the transition of the scroll to its final destination.
  • Keep detailed records of assignments, both current and backlogs.
  • Providing physical and digital copies of the docket to Their Majesties, their Jewel Herald, substitute Heralds, and the Silver Buccle Herald.
  • Assign, coordinate, and monitor assignments provided to deputies. Deputy roles can include: drop-dead, education, backlogs, regional, website, special projects, the scribal retreat, and fundraising.
  • Promote and foster the scribal community
  • Curia reports
  • Ordering vellum for each reign and assigning the County and Ducal scrolls

The specific policies of the Signet’s Office can be found here, which includes many of the above mentioned items, as well as a few other guidelines for those that are interested.

If you have any questions about the position, please don’t hesitate to contact us at Signet _at_aethelmearc.org or through IM. If you would like to be considered for the position, please submit your resume and a letter of interest to king_at_aethelmearc.org, queen_at_aethelmearc.org and seneschal_at_aethelmearc.org.

Deadline for letters is June 31, 2021.

Thank you,
Mistress Antoinette de la Croix OL OP
THL Shirin of Susa