I decided to do this project after Sir Ulrich sent me an image of the brass effigy of Count William Clito and several pictures of similar helms to ask if I could make him one.
It looked like a fun project. Count William was born in Rouen in 1102 and died in July 1128. From the brass effigy and looking at other Norman/crusades era helms from the period I decided on a spangen style construction with supports in the center of each section. The helm looks as if it was made to wear over a coif with the ocular protecting cheeks and nose to the the upper lip.
This helm is a duplicate of the one I just finished for Sir Ulrich.
1. Measuring the head: I began by measuring Ulrich’s head. It was 23.5 inches. I needed a helm that could contain, at a minimum, ½ inch of padding. So I did the math (23.5 x .314) /2 + 23.5 = 27.18. I rounded up to 28 inches (with a extra inch to overlap in the back and rivet closed) for the length of the brow band. I cut the front to back strap at 15 inches and the side to side strap at 14 to produce a slightly oval helmet top. The reinforcing strips are 1 inch by 7 inches and cut to a point.
2. After cutting the brow band, transverse band, inverse bands and reinforcing straps, I marked them for rivet placement, curved them, and dished them, then riveted together the frame. I used solid steel rivets and peened them with my shaping hammer.
3. I cut the quarter plates for the helm. They are a roughly triangle shaped piece made to fit in the frame. I dished them until they fit the frame and trimmed them to fit cleanly.
4. I then riveted in the quarters while adjusting the reinforcing strip to line up correctly on them. I then riveted the reinforcing strip in place.
5. I cut 8 crosses from a brass sheet and riveted them into the 8 sections of the top.
6. I attached an ocular or mask similar to the one on the effigy. I made mine of Chromoly steel trimmed in brass.
7. I then polished the whole piece for display.
The Norman Half Helm based on Brass Effigy of Count William Clito, as seen in the Kingdom 12th Night Arts & Sciences display.
I plan to add things to this helm later to make it legal for SCA heavy fighting.
They will be as follows:
8. Cheek plates and back slats will be added to make it SCA legal. They will be hidden under a chain drape to more closely match the look of a helm over coif appearance.
9. I will drill all the holes for strapping and attaching the drape before hardening the steel. It would be much more difficult after the hardening process.
10. The steel I used is an alloy called 4130 Chromoly steel. It is similar in strength and work ability to the high carbon steels that the better armor in the period was made from. It can be hardened and spring tempered. I chose it because it can be made strong enough for SCA combat at thicknesses similar to period helms (whereas most mild steel and stainless helms are far thicker for SCA than their period counterparts). I will heat it to 1500 degrees for 5 minutes then do a cold water quench. This will harden the steel to a brittle state. I will then heat it to 450 degrees for 30 minutes and let it cool. This tempers the steel so that it is no longer brittle but very strong and springlike.
11. After it has cooled, I will soak it overnight in vinegar to remove the scale from hardening and tempering then polish with a cloth and polishing compound.
Most armoring techniques we use today are guesses extrapolating backwards from looking at surviving pieces, using modern techniques that do similar things. The making of armor was a trade secret passed from master to apprentice; rarely was anything written down.
The finished Norman Half Helm, ready for action.
1) Warriors and Warlords, the Art of Angus Mcbride, Osprey Publishing Ltd., England 2002.
2) Warlords: Ancient Celt and Medieval, Tim Newark, Sterling Publishing, England 1996.
3) Techniques of Medieval Armor Reproduction, Brian R. Price, Paladin Press, United States 2000.
9) The Art of Blacksmithing, Alex W. Bealer, Castle Books, New Jersey 1995.
10) From Viking to Crusader: Scandinavia and Europe 800-1200, Else Roesdahl and David Wilson, Rizzoli 1992.
Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope reports on the Pennsic Arts & Sciences War Point.
This Pennsic included a War Point for Arts and Sciences for only the second time in the history of the War. The first time an Arts & Sciences competition was a Pennsic War Point was 20 years ago, in the first reign of Timothy and Gabrielle as King and Queen of the East. Their Majesties and the entrants all hope we won’t have to wait so long for it to happen again after the success of this year’s competition.
Each side chose 14 champions (plus alternates) to represent them, with none being Laurels. The entrants displayed their items on Wednesday of War Week in Æthelmearc’s Royal Encampment. All items had to be anonymous as to both creator and kingdom. Gentles from all the Kingdoms of the Known World were invited to view the entries, and those with Arts and Sciences awards from their Kingdom were given three beads to bestow on the entries they liked best, either all to one entry or distributed among multiple entries. Judging took place from 9am to 3pm, and then the artisans were encouraged to return to stand by their entries and answer any questions that visitors might pose from 3 to 5 pm.
We proudly present an overview of the entries created by Æthelmearc’s Arts and Sciences Champions.
Lady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne of the Barony of Thescorre entered a calligraphed and illuminated page of music for the motet “Deus in Aujitorium” based on a folio from the Montpellier Code, a significant source of 13th and 14th century French polyphonic musical manuscripts. In her documentation, she discussed how she prepared the goatskin parchment, made quill pens, bought inks and paints made using medieval recipes, and gilded the piece with 24K loose leaf gold. You can read more about her entry here under the link “Preparing a Late Period Medieval Music Manuscript: Deus in Aujitorium.”
Scroll by Lady Máirghréad Stíobhard inghean uí Choinne. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Closeup of Lady Máirghréad’s scroll. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
THLady Álfrún ketta of the Shire of Sylvan Glen, who received the Fleur d’Æthelmearc at Kingdom Court the night before the competition, had an extensive collection of weaving samples based on finds from a variety of archaeological sites in Scandinavia. In a binder, she displayed numerous pages of photos of the period cloth on the left, with explanations about how each piece was made, along with a sample woven to match the original artifact on the right side. She also displayed larger samples of her weaving along with information about wool production (and the evolution of the Northern European sheep) as well as how wool was processed and used in period. You can read more about her entry on her website.
Viking weaving by THLady Álfrún ketta. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
THLady Renata la rouge of the Shire of Hartstone (formerly of Heronter) embroidered a 16th century sword hanger with a Pelican motif in metallic threads. It was originally inspired by a Swedish sword hanger from the reign of Gustavus Adolphus, 1594-1632, which is housed in the Collections of the Royal Armouries, Sweden, but the design is loosely based on a goldwork book cover from Cambridge, 1629, which includes a Pelican. The embroidery is of a raised nature, but the stitches are satin stitch and surface couching. You can read more about THL Renata’s entry here.
Metallic embroidered sword hanger by THLady Renata la rouge. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Lady Abigail Kelhoge of the Shire of Hartstone created a breeching gown, which was worn by both girls and boys during their toddler years throughout the High Middle Ages and Renaissance. It allowed them to walk and made diaper changing easier. The hand-sewn outfit included a biggin (white linen cap), a blackwork linen shirt with ruffles on the cuffs and collar, a long coat or petticoat with buttons down the front, and a long gown with hanging sleeves, fur-lined for warmth. More information about her entry is available on her website.
A child’s breeching gown by Lady Abigail Kelhoge. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Baron Artemius Andreas Magnus of the Barony of Delftwood created a stained glass panel based on a German piece at the Cloisters in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC that dates to 1260-1270. Measuring 9-1/16″ square, it’s an image of the Prophet King from a Tree of Jesse window. His Excellency spoke to a curator at the museum about the piece, in the process helping him to correct some errors in the information posted about it online. He made most of the lead cames by hand until his mold broke, then also made the stain for the details on the king’s face as well as the solder for the project, both using period recipes and techniques. You can read His Excellency’s documentation for the project here and here.
Stained glass by Baron Artemius Andreas Magnus. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Closeup of Baron Artemius’ stained glass. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Duke Christopher Rawlins of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands, who was elevated to the Laurel the day after the competition, entered a 14th century arming jacket based on the one worn by Edward, the Black Prince, of England. His Grace visited the site of the Prince’s tomb in Canterbury and did extensive research into how the arming jacket was constructed. Then, through wearing multiple reproductions of it while fighting, Duke Christopher determined that it had to have been worn over the fighter’s arm harness rather than under it as is common among SCA fighters.
14th c. Arming Jacket by Duke Chrisopher Rawlins. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Lord Silvester Burchardt of the Shire of Abhainn Ciach Ghlais created a tablet woven brocaded band. According to Lord Silvester’s documentation, “Brocading is a technique that uses one or more secondary weft threads to create patterns on the surface of woven fabric. These additional weft threads are not a structural element of the fabric. Because the brocade threads bridge across the surface of the fabric, they need to be “tied down” to the fabric at various locations; these “tie down” points become an integral part of the design.” Rather than basing his design on a single exemplar, he chose to use a range of period pieces from central Europe in the 9th through 13th centuries as models, but designed the band to show his own animals (including chickens, ducks, a dog, and even a parakeet) as they actually appear in life. You can read more about his entry here.
Brocade tablet weaving by Lord Silvester Burchardt. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
Lord Enzo de Pazi of the Barony of the Rhydderich Hael created an ornate bascinet for Duchess Eanor of Ealdormere, complete with ducal coronet and motto, chainmail aventail, and an elaborate faceplate. The helm is made of 4130 spring steel, commonly called “chromoly” in industrial terms. The motto was acid etched into the coronet, which was made of brass with cast bronze strawberry leaves.
Ducal Helmet by Lord Enzo de Pazi. Photo by Mistress Arianna of Wynthrope.
THLady Jacqueline deMolieres of the Shire of Abhain Ciach Ghlais created a red velvet pouch with pearls sewn in the shape of a rose. Her Ladyship says in her documenation, “If you were a lady in the late Medieval period, a red velvet pouch embellished with pearls would… communicate to the world that this is a lady of wealth and importance. This pouch is not a replica of a particular item, but rather is made up of elements of various items; i.e., drawstring, beads, pearl appliqué, gold couched outline, tassel, etc. The time frame is 1450 to 1600. The area would be anywhere in Europe, most likely England, France or Germany.” You can read more about her entry here.
Pearled pouch by THLady Jacqueline de Molieres. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Donnchaidh.
THLord Ian O’Kennavain of the Shire of Heronter’s sugar soteltie was easily the largest entry in the competition. His Lordship noted, “I wanted to exhibit a few different ways to create sculpture from sugar, so the display is comprised of three main elements: a fountain of sugar paste, a 20 lb. turtle cast in “grained” sugar and a pear tree made from free-formed sugar paste over an armature of wire, printed sugar paste leaves and cast sugar plate pears.” The fountain’s design is based on one in Perugia, Italy called the Fontana Maggiore that was constructed between 1277 and 1278 by the sculptors Nicola Pisano and Giovanni Pisano. “Using this for inspiration, I crafted two octagonal basins depicting the arms of the 20 SCA Kingdoms and the 4 peerages topped with a column supported bowl shaped basin.” You can learn more about his entry here.
Sugar soteltie by THLord Ian O’Kennavain. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Closeup of THLord Ian’s rosewater fountain soteltie. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
THLord Kieran MacRae of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands designed an ornate calligraphed page based on folio 67 of the 16th century Mira Calligraphiae Monumenta. The capitals are created to function as an H, N, and R. There was no illumination as the entry focused on the calligraphy of the original artist, Georg Bocskay, imperial secretary to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand I. The scroll was a tiny 6.5″ x 4.75″ in size. To learn more, click here.
Calligraphy by THLord Kieran MacRae. Photo by Lord Kieran.
Closeup of THL Kieran’s scroll. Photo by THL Kieran.
Baroness Betha Symonds of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands created wire wrapped hooks. These are based on items from archeological finds ranging from Viking age to Tudor English. These hooks could have been used for a variety of purposes; one set was found near the legs in a Viking burial, leading scholars to believe they might have been used to fasten wrapped leggings. You can read Her Excellency’s documentation here.
Viking wire weaving clasps by Baroness Betha Symonds. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Viscountess Rosalinde Ashworthe created a piece of tablet-woven trim based on a band found among the relics of Chelles Abbey. Chelles Abbey was founded in 658 by Queen Bathilde, wife of Clovis II, on the ruins of an old chapel belonging to Queen Clothtilde, wife of Clovis I in 511. Her Excellency says in her documentation, “I wanted something in a warp float technique (also known as Snartemo style) for its high level of complexity, and because I enjoy weaving this technique.” Viscountess Rosalinde is an Æthelmearc treaty subject who has lived in Nithgaard and Thescorre, and soon will be moving to the Debatable Lands. More information about her entry is available here.
Tablet weaving by Viscountess Rosalinde Ashworth. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Lady Sumayya al Ghaziyah of the Barony-Marche of the Debatable Lands was an alternate champion. She crafted 16th c. Ottoman Turkish leather slippers with inlaid designs, along with wood and leather nalin, which were used by women in bathhouses to keep the wearer above the soap and water of the bathhouse floor. You can read more about her entry here.
Leather slippers and wood and leather nalins by Lady Sumayya al Ghaziyah. Photo by Mistress Rowena ni Dhonnchaidh.
Of course, these are just the Æthelmearc Champions. The East and Middle had their own champions, and they did win the War Point. But we’ll let their Kingdoms tell their stories.