As many people know, the current Crown Prince and Princess of the Middle Kingdom started their SCA careers in the Barony of St. Swithin’s Bog in Æthelmearc, and a contingent of folks from AEthelmearc are planning to attend Their Coronation.
The information below was provided by the Midrealm’s Kingdom Chronicler, Master Gunnar Sigurdsson.
Their Highnesses have asked the Gazette to share the following with the populace:
Photo by Master John Michael Thorpe.
We would like to thank everyone who came out to support His Highness and myself at Northern Oaken War Maneuvers (in Ohio). Thank you to TRM & TRH of the Middle as well as Their Excellencies Cleftlands (and their people) for the incredible hospitality. Spending the day with TRM Æthelmearc and their staff only made the day brighter.
It was great to see old friends and make new.
We hope everyone had a good day regardless of their pursuit and we are enjoying seeing pictures on Facebook of the prowess shown in Myrkfaelinn and in the Endless Hills.
Merchant’s Row near the Mid-East pavilion. Photo credit, Aoife.
Hello, readers! Here in Æthelmearc, we have been attending Pennsic so long that for Pennsic veterans, attending it is a matter of routine. After all, Pennsic was born here, on our home turf, before the Kingdom of Æthelmearc was a twinkle in the eye of Mamma East Kingdom. If someone travels from a great distance or is attending for the first time, or even is hearing about the event for the first time however, Pennsic is a huge and mysterious event fraught with pitfalls, conundrums, and unanticipated needs. If you ever listened to the CB radio chatter off I-79 during Pennsic, you’d understand just how confusing the event is for the uninitiated. Every year, about 10,000 guests from around the world visit our kingdom in search of the ultimate Pennsic War experience, be it martial activities, classes, parties, visiting friends, people watching, pageantry, or the perfect combination of all of these. From the outside, it must look mighty strange.
There is no reason to fret about this odd thing we medieval history buffs do, which we call the Great Pennsic War. Even if you simply need to explain the SCA’s largest event to your friends and family, this Links List is for you. Today’s article will deal with what it is, when it is, what to do to get ready, and what to do while there. As always, we SCAdians are so well documented that all you need for a perfect Pennsic can be found in handy links on the Internet.
Read on, enjoy, and drive safe. I will see you there!
Dame Aoife Finn
Barony of the Endless Hills, Kingdom of Æthelmearc.
Modernly known as Lisbeth Gelatt
Terrific Gypsy Vardo wagon with beautiful tromp l’oiel horses and dogs, is always a favorite of children. The arrangement is changed every day to make a story of animal life, as Pennsic unfolds. Photo credit, Aoife.
What is this Pennsic thing?
For Glory and Honor: Medieval Reenactors go to Battle (NBC News) This article that appeared on American national news neatly sums up what it is that we do at Pennsic. With terrific footage and picturesque scenes, you mint want to see if you appear in the background before you show it to your friends. You might be (almost) famous!
In It’s Own Light, a Night-Owl’s view of Pennsic War 33, a photographic essay by Rowan. This gorgeous photo essay of Pennsic was caught at the perfect intersection of wispy fog and moonlight, and is incredibly beautiful. If you happen to catch just a moment of such a night at any Pennsic you attend, you are one lucky gentleperson.
This photo appears as the wallpaper to the Facebook Pennsic page, sadly uncredited since it is a great shot. Do you recognize anyone in this picture?
Pennsic Facebook Page This is the place to go to ask general questions about Pennsic. Folks from all over the globe will happily answer. While not an official forum, it is a good resource to have when you need to know if there is a pediatrician onsite or what merchants sell the best raw material, or where to find the coffee houses.
Newcomer’s Pennsic Guide (unofficial) The title says it all. What can you expect if you’ve never been to Pennsic before? Find out here.
Atlas Obscura: Largest Medieval War of Modern Times Includes the Voice of America footage at this link. A couple of years ago, Voice of America did a world-audience piece on Pennsic. It is truly well done, and is a great place to point your mom, when she wants to know what, exactly, you will be doing on your vacation.
Pennsic, explained on Wikipedia. What did Wiki get wrong? I can spot one or two boo-boos, but it is generally a good resource for the uninitiated Pennsic-curious.
Pennsic, the unofficial popular website. Self-billed as an interactive “All things Pennsic,” this site is older than you think, but chock full of good advice, interesting commentary, and terrific photos.
Æthelmearc Royal encampment, a few years past. Photo credit, Aoife
Paying for Pennsic: The Registration Office. If you are reading this article, it is already past deadline for your registration to count towards allocation of land for your group or household. You can still attend Pennsic, but your location will be surprise until you arrive and pick out a space from the areas allocated to individual campers. However, there are other benefits to pre-registration besides knowing your neighborhood in advance. Chief amongst them is the shorter time spent checking in.
The Pennsic War Street Map. This map provides bus-stop locations, and streets are labeled. It is a good idea to print a copy before you leave, so that you can hit the ground running (or bus riding) once your tent is up.
A Pennsic Newcomer’s Packing Guide from Hartshorndale. No guide will have everything you need listed, but this packing list is a great jumping-off point. It covers all the basics.
Once You Are On Site:
Where to go for answers? Information Point! The folks at information point are there to answer questions. No question is too big or too small for their attention. Find them near the Cooper store, in the small grassy island created by the road in front of the old barn. Nearby will also be the post office, the previously mentioned store, and many, many merchants and food vendors. I like to call this area the heart of Pennsic.
First Aid onsite. There are usually trained medical folks right onsite, who can evaluate your condition and take appropriate action, be it writing a prescription, referring you to a specialist (many local doctors such as dentists agree to take emergency visits during Pennsic), or calling the med-evac helicopter unit to life-flight severe cases to the appropriate facility. There is no reason to tough it out if you have a health issue at Pennsic. Please do not expect that your normal doctor visits can be covered here, though. This is strictly a first aid station.
Classes: Pennsic University. If you want to know about historical anything, chances are that someone at Pennsic is teaching a class on the subject. A special area with its own tent classrooms is set aside specifically for these classes, and a master schedule is provided. In addition, there are special classes taught in individual encampments, and a last-minute additions and schedule changes board each day. Learn everything from culture-specific dance to historic cooking to metal smelting to fighting techniques, all neatly arranged and supported by the Pennsic University master schedule and the University Staff.
Youth Activities Schedule. If you attend Pennsic with children, this schedule is your best friend. Seriously. There is no reason for bored children at Pennsic. Your biggest trouble will be deciding what to do, and when. Trust me, a veteran Pennsic Parent whose children thrived, when I tell you to bring rain ponchos and wellies for your kids, because they will still want to go to play practice when it is raining.
Battlefield Schedule. You will need this schedule if you fight or fence, and if you do not, it will help you decide when the best combat photo opportunities will happen. It will also tell you when to witness the many other martial activities, specialty tournaments, fencing activities, and battlefield meetings, and when to get your kit inspected.
Performing Arts Schedule, and Cultural arts by type. There are hundreds of cultural arts activities to attend at Pennsic. Want to see live theatre? Hear the Known World Choir? Watch a display of foolery? A belly-dance exhibition? Find excellent suggestions here, and reap the benefits of the year-round planning and practice of the talented folks of Pennsic.
Known World A&S Display. Our medieval modern world relies on artists to function, because there is almost nothing mass-produced about the history we are trying to emulate. This display, open to everyone from any area of the world, is a showcase for artists and craftsmen of all kinds to show and tell about their works, meet like-minded artist, and to see what aspects of medieval and renaissance life others have chosen to honor. Anyone can enter, and anyone can come see what’s new in the world of re-creation. Pre-registration is strongly suggested for those wishing to show their artwork. Such show and tell activities are widely believed to be the most inspiring and encouraging aspect for hands-on craftspeople in the SCA.
The Legendary Pennsic Parties (A Schedule). While this schedule is unofficial, it is a handy guide to which group is hosting a party, and when. For some folks, Pennsic means parties, so here’s your guide to the colorful Pennsic nightlife. Please note that ID will be required for everyone attending many of these parties to prove you’re over 21, for those parties that serve alcohol.
THFool Dagonell the Juggler provided this report of the Northern Oaken War Maneuvers in the Barony of Cleftlands, Middle Kingdom, which was invaded visited by a substantial number of gentles from Æthelmearc.
As dusk fell on Friday night, activities began with a Twilight Tourney for rapier, a Torchlight Tourney for armored and a Shakespearean Puppet competition for the non-martially inclined.
The sawdust smack down was judged by THL Elizabethe Alles, Baroness Verena Entenwirth, and Lord Pietro de san Tebaldo, and saw entries from Henry V, King Lear, several sonnets, and the Taming of the Shrew. One audience member said, “I’ve never laughed so hysterically at King Lear!” The King Lear performance was, in fact the winner having been put on by Lord Walter Glatz and his (newlywed!) Lady Sarah.
After the formal competition was over, the senior puppeteers gave a few impromptu puppet tutorials, and allowed participants and audience to play with a real puppet stage. The European Ball didn’t quite come together as gentles were tired with long drives, camp set-ups, and competitions, and instead quietly talked in the main pavilion until all hours of the night.
In the morning, the Breakfast Tavern opened with a filling breakfast of oatmeal, eggs, sausage, coffee and coffeecake for only $4. All lists, ranges and fields opened for inspections, authorizations, practices, and pick-ups.
Ranges, lists, and fields opening for the day.
Sir Otto of Westphalia (Rhydderich Hael) armors up for the heavy list.
While Lord Jacob of Dunmore (Heronter) armors up for the fencing list.
In the First Heavy list there was a 6′ Spear Tourney which was won by Duke Maynard von dem Steine (Rhydderich Hael).
A Novice Tourney was held in the Second Heavy List. In the First Fencing List was the Northern Oak Rapier Championship, while the Second Fencing List ran the NOT The Northern Oak Rapier Championship!
Artisans’ Row had some truly wonderful goods, including Dominica’s Fine Fashions from Æthelmearc.
I bought some wonderful homemade mustards from THL Edward fitz Ranulf, who got his Dragon’s Heart later that evening. We learned that a small accident had occurred the night before: the proprietor of Magic Carpet Kavehane pinched his hand between a trailer hitch and trailer ball and had to be taken to the hospital for stitches and then sent home. Classes to be held at the Kavehane were cancelled, so Dominica graciously took over as Merchant Liaison for the site, and the bards took over running the NOBLE competition so his lady could attend him at the hospital.
Classes offered that day included How to Make a Mary Rose Archery Bracer; Flax Processing: From Plant to Cloth; Intro to the Forge; Intro to Cloisonné Enameling; The Life and Times of our Boy Will (Shakespeare); Tortoise Shell Brooches and Temple Rings; Fiber Arts for Youth; Your First SCA Event; Rus Clothing; Out Damned Spot (Medieval Laundry techniques); Bardic Teaching Circle; Norse Gods: Aesir and Vanir; Norse Spirits: Trolls, Giants, Elves and Dwarves; Leather Art; From Page to Performance; Share the Love: Tokens of Appreciation; Death Becomes Her; Bayeux Tapestry Stitch Basics; Norse Apron Dress Concepts; Equestrian 101: Getting Involved with Horses (there were no horses on site); The Arte of Making the Medieval Bed (taken from a 15th c servant’s manual); and Calf to Codex.
Our Boy Will by Mistress Catriona nicHugh McLae
Fiber Arts (Lady Sorcha brecc ingen Donnchada)
Leather Arts by Exile Leather company
Flax Processing (THL Brendan O’Corraidhe)
From Page to Performance by THL Brendan O’Corraidhe (Midrealm Bard Emeritus)
Intro to the Forge by Vahalla’s Anvil
How to Make a Mary Rose Archery Bracer by Lord Oliver Stillman
The battlefields were also busy with The Grand Tournament of the Salamander, Melee Practice, an Unbelted Battle, Bridge Battles, Open Field Melees, Novice Rapier, and many pickups.
Sir Steffan Ulfkelsson lead Æthelmearc’s troops as the Rattan Army Warlord. As reported previously on the Gazette, Æthelmearc fielded 60+ fighters, and with its allies won three out of five field battles, two out of three bridge battles, and the gate battle. Vivant!
The archery range was equally busy with Royal Rounds, Youth Shoot, Northern Oaken Regional Championship Archery Shoot, Thrown Weapons Tourney, Youth Thrown Weapons Tourney, and a Novelty Shoot.
Northern Oaken is also home to the Baroness’ Bocce Tourney. The winner of the tourney takes home the Official Northen Oaken Baroness’s Bocce Tournament trophy, and must return the following year to defend it.
The Baroness’ Bocce Tournament
The Baroness’ Bocce trophy
At the Bocce tournament, I met The Bookie. You could bet bling (no real money!) on nearly any event occuring at Northern Oaken. What time it will start raining, the winner of a competition, the round a specific competitor is eliminated, the number of kills a specific fighter makes, etc. The Bookie will take any wager you can think of and decide on your odds. Winners are paid in NOWM pewter coinage. I wagered a spoon ring on myself to win the Bocce tournament and got 11 to 1 odds, as there were 12 competitors. Alas, personal wealth was not to be mine. Bling bet and lost becomes Royal Largess.
The Bocce Tournament winner, Hakon Hrafnsson of Rivenvale (Also pictured: Nagasani)
At the Bocce tournament, I also met a Midrealm celebrity.
Fizzgig is a Giant Angora rabbit. It’s hard to tell from the picture, but he’s the size of a miniature poodle! Not only does his mistress brush him daily and use his fur to spin, but he is also a Registered Therapy Animal and goes to senior citizens’ homes where he sits quietly on laps and lowers blood pressures. He also has his own Facebook page, so his fans know where to meet him in person.
For refreshment during the day, The Pierogi Hut open for business with standard hot dogs, hamburgers, cold drinks and the house specialty, three potato pierogis with fried onions and sour cream for only $3. I’ve eaten more pierogi this past weekend than I have in the past six months. Excellent pierogi!
As daylight faded and people started to gather in the main pavilion for court, we were entertained by a Middle Eastern dance troupe and by several bards including a few former Royal Bards. Court was announced and Their Draconian Majesties entered followed by Their Excellencies of Cleftlands and their respective entourages. Court was brief and amusing. This weekend was National Doughnut Day, so Their Majesties, Ragnvaldr and Arabella, thoughtfully provided a tray heaped with doughnuts. Anyone who had business before court or was called into court was encouraged to take a doughnut back to their seat.
After court was the 6th Annual NOBLE (Northern Oaken Bardic Lagniappe of Excellence) Cup Bardic competition. Each barony and shire was invited to send forth their best bard to compete. This year’s entrants included Lady Jolicia att Northclyffe for the Barony of the Cleftlands, Nagasani for the Shire of Rivenvale, Aron Stark for the Barony of Red Spears, and Lord Donalbane of Blakmer for the Barony of Brendoken. Each performer gave two performances., which ranged from Shakespeare recitations to songs to instrumental performances to period stories to “No ****, There I Was” tales. The judges consisted of Lady Kateryn Draper, a Midrealm Bard; myself, as an out-of-kingdom bard; and Lady Elizabethe Alles, last year’s NOBLE winner. After long discussion, the prize was awarded to Lady Jolicia.
The Knotty Dragon Tavern opened shortly after the bardic, with a free wet bar (you need a license to charge for alcohol, so gentles tipped well so that the tavern would keep going year after year.)
THL Brendan the Bard led the crowd with song and story, both solemn and silly, clean and bawdy. Things quieted down in the wee hours, so gentles not at the tavern could sleep. Conversation continued far into night, until one by one, gentles retired to their beds.
Sunday morning was breakfast at the Breakfast Tavern, a few minor purchases from merchants staying open til the last minute, then breakdown of personal gear as well as event locations and final farewells before hitting the road. I can’t wait until next year.
If you have ever visited the archery range at Pennsic, the Honorable Lord Ambrosius filius Merlinus, called Merlin, was hard to miss. A wiry man with a graying ponytail and beard who looked decades younger than his 80+ years, he was a fixture on archery ranges throughout the SCA, but especially at the Pennsic War. Despite being wheelchair-bound, he went everywhere and did more than many Scadians half his age.
THL Merlin passed away on Sunday, January 4th, at 9:50pm at home in the care of his friends. He was a very active member of the Shire of Eastwatch, located in northeastern Ohio near the Barony of Cleftlands, serving as Deputy Seneschal and Archery Marshal for the Shire as well as Northern Oaken Regional Archery Marshal. Merlin was also a member of House Draigcalon.
Much honored by the Midrealm, he was the recipient of the Order of the Dragon’s Heart and the Purple Fret for service, the Greenwood Company and the Dragon’s Barb for skill and service in archery, and the Silver Oak for arts and sciences. He was a Dragon Archer (roughly equivalent to Grandmaster Bowman in Æthelmearc) with a Royal Round average of 107, and a marshal who spent countless hours on the range inspecting equipment and training adults and children. He also built arrows and period bows that experienced archers say are worth every penny they paid him and more. THLord Lochlainn mac Faoláin Bháin of the Shire of Gryffyn’s Keep comments, “I have the honor of owning the last bow he built. Thank you, Merlin, for getting me on my way to a period kit.”
Master Dirk Edward of Frisia of the Shire of Rivenvale (in northeastern Ohio) said, “Merlin became an important member of our archery community, a skilled artisan and mentor, dedicated and hardworking. His loss will be felt for some time by many people throughout the SCA.”
Merlin and Gandalfr at Pennsic 39, photo by Jo-Ann Sheffer
Lady Siri Toivosdottir of the Barony of Roaring Wastes (Detroit) remembers, “Merlin taught my then-11-year-old son, Gandalfr, how to shoot a bow at Pennsic 39. On Gandalfr’s second day of Pennsic Archery after lessons with Merlin, he shot a tight cluster and Merlin kicked him off the kids’ range. He went on to hit the center target in the clout (100 yards away), and the nose on the third advancing man target.”
Master Denys the Decadent recalls, “Merlin was a tireless worker at the Archery Tent at Pennsic, inspecting, instructing, and sharing his knowledge. He had a tremendous determination to shoot – he did not let his physical limitations stop him. His legacy [and] his energy promoting archery will continue. ”
Despite his age and disabilities, THLord Merlin was tremendously strong. Lord Robert MacEwin of Thornhill pulled arrows from the target for Merlin at an archery muster in the Debatable Lands last spring. “His bow was so heavy, it was like a bazooka. Those arrows were buried so deep in the target I had a really tough time getting them out.” Sir Ariella of Thornbury remembers that at that same muster, which was held at her castle in northern Debatable Lands, “He was the only person ever to lift himself up the spiral staircase with his arms alone to shoot from the parapets. We will really miss him at our Archery musters.”
In addition to his skills as an archer, Merlin was also quite a good cook. Mistress Alexandra dei Campagnella, who lived in the Midrealm before moving to Æthelmearc, says “Every Pennsic, he would stop at Midrealm Royal and drop off a cheesecake for their Majesties. They always raved about his cooking. He was all smiles when he would give them the treat and they would spend a lot of time bragging on his skill in baking as well as archery.”
There will be no funeral. A memorial service will be held at a later date.