Traceable Art Update For April

I’ve continued adding charges to the Book of Traceable Heraldic Art, drawing from both the Pennsic Traceable Art collection and from period sources, and it’s now up to over 800 pages of illustrations.

Of these, I’m particularly fond of this image of a tent from Guillim’s Display of Heraldry (1611).

There’s also a new External Resources page that lists charges which are found in the PTA or PicDic but do not have corresponding images in this collection, and a Contributing page with some preliminary notes about how to send in your own art for inclusion.

Name and Device for Alaxandair Mórda mac Matha

Alax is is my son, and wanted a name that reflected his mother’s Scottish ancestry, and a device suggestive of his primary interest in the society: youth combat.

Sable, an escutcheon within an orle Or.

Black and yellow are the colors of the martial offices, and after trying dozens of different designs he settled on these nested shield shapes.

Alaxandair is a Gaelic form of Alexander, first recorded as the name of a Scottish king born at the end of the 11th century (Alaxandair mac Mael Choluim), as well as two 13th century successors (Alaxandair mac Uilliam and Alaxandair mac Alaxandair), and then appearing more widely in records in the 13th and 14th centuries.

Pronounced “AH-lek-SAHN-dare.” Later variants include Alasdar, Alasdair, Alustar, and Alasdrann. The name comes from the Greek Ἀλέξανδρος (Aléxandros), which loosely translates to “defender of the people.”

Medieval Gaelic names could include both a descriptive and a patronymic byname. “Descriptive bynames were sometimes used in both Gaelic Scotland and Ireland. These bynames were usually adjectives describing concrete rather than fanciful characteristics… In Gaelic Scotland and Ireland, when descriptive adjective bynames were used they were often combined with simple patronymic bynames.” (Krossa)

Mórda is Gaelic for “great,” “exalted,” or “lofty.” Our original plan was to submit this as the related “Mórail,” which is modern Gaelic for “great,” “magnificent,” or “majestic,” but we were unable to document this to period, and a consulting herald at Pennsic helped us find Mórda instead.

mac is the standard Gaelic patronymic marker, meaning “son of.”

Matha is a Gaelic form of Matthew, his father’s given name. It appears in the Irish annals in 1258, and then repeatedly in the 1300s. (Mari) Pronounced “MA-tha” or perhaps “MA-ha.”

Thus, one can read Alaxandair Mórda mac Matha as “Alexander the Great, son of Matthew.” In addition to the obvious reference to Alexander the Great, the name is intended to allude to his size, as he’s exceptionally tall for his age.

Name and device submitted at Pennsic Heralds’ Point in August 2016 and accepted on the April 2017 LoAR published that June.

Device for Christophe de Frisselle

Azure, a pale checky sable and argent.

Christophe was introduced to me through the East Kingdom’s “Ask a Herald” service. He already had a design in mind that was a good match for his 12th Century Sicilian Norman Crusader persona.

However, I soon discovered that, although visually distinct, it conflicted with the populace badge of the Shire of Caer Adamant, azure, a pale vert fimbriated Or, as the College of Arms does not consider fimbriation when calculating heraldic difference.

I contacted the shire’s herald, Don Simeon ben Iuçef de Alcaçar, and through him reached their seneschal, Baron Adolphus Benner, who consulted the local populace and officers and granted Christophe the necessary “permission to conflict” that would allow his arms to be registered.

[Update, Dec 2017: This device was accepted for registration.]

The Lost Cantons of Østgarðr

The Crown Province of Østgarðr currently contains four cantons:

  • Northpass (established as Viking’s Hall 1983/12, renamed 1984/12, name registered 1985/05, full status 1985/05),
  • Lions End (established 1988/02, name registered 1988/10, full status 1989/03),
  • Whyt Whey (established 1989/08, name registered 1990/01),
  • Brokenbridge (name registered 2006/09).

But over the course of its nearly fifty-year history, it turns out there have been nine other affiliated branches, eight of them founded in a two-year period from 1979 through 1981.

These were generally short-lived, in part because of two changes in branch organization: firstly, the practice of new shires or cantons being initially granted only “incipient” status had not yet been made routine; nowadays a branch must demonstrate continued activity for a longer period of time before becoming recognized as a full branch; and secondly, most of these branches were associated with college campuses (which typically have transient populations) and the current practice of allowing a college branch to go dormant and be revived later was not as well established.

Most of the information below comes from “A Geographic History of the East Kingdom” by Lord Richard the Poor, supplemented by the records of the Laurel Archivist of the College of Arms.

  • Dark Canton (City College of New York, AS XIII-XV): formed 1979/01, name registered 1979/07, defunct in 12/1980; name released 1989/12.
  • College of King’s Heights (Columbia U, AS XIII-XV): formed 1979/01, name registered 1979/07, defunct in 12/1980; name released 1989/12.
  • Canton of the Iron Forest (Sloatsburg, NY AS XIV-XVII): formed 1979/11, name registered 1979/07; defunct in 1982/04; name released 1989/12. This region was subsequently organized as an independent branch under the name the Shire of Rusted Woodlands, name registered 1983/01.

All three of the above names were registered simultaneously and in bulk rather than via the usual process. The Laurel Archivist’s files contain only a letter from Baldwin Laurel, written in 1986, stating that “in July and October of 1979, Master Wilhelm registered the names of a considerable number of SCA branches,” and few other details are available.

  • St. Dunstan’s (New York University, AS XIV-XVI): formed 1980/03; name never registered; defunct 1981/05.
  • Canton of Blasted Heath (North Bergen, NJ, AS XIV-XVI): formed 1980/03; name never registered; separated from Ostgardr 1980/10; defunct 1981/05. Local oral history suggests that attempts to organize an independent branch here sputtered out, accounting for the fact that to this day this region remains part of the East Kingdom crown lands, not lying within the boundaries of either of its neighbors, Rusted Woodlands and Settmour Swamp.
  • Canton of Walking Dunes (Southhampton College, NY, AS XIV-XVI): formed 1980/03; name never registered; defunct 1981/05. The town of Southhampton is located within the current territory of Barony An Dubhaigeainn, which first registered its name as a shire in 1981/05.
  • Canton of Mandan (or Madnan) (Nassau County, NY, AS XV-XX): formed 1980/10; name registered 1983/01; defunct in 1985/05; name released 1989/12. (This is the territory of the current canton of Lions End, established in 1988.)
  • Canton of Black Ford (Fordham University, AS XV-XVIII): formed 1981/03; defunct in 1982/11; name registered 1983/01; name released 1989/12.

(The many names released in December 1989 were part of a wave of 37 defunct branches in the East Kingdom that had their names and armory released that month following a request by the Board to clear the backlog that had developed; see the the December LoAR for the list, and the accompanying cover letter for more details.)

One additional canton was formed subsequently to the 1979–81 wave:

  • Canton of Saint Pyr’s Well (Staten Island, NY, AS XX-XXV?): formed 1985/06; name and device registered 1985/10; formally recognized 1986/06; arms released 1991/12; name retained by Kingdom for possible future re-use.

The arms of Saint Pyr’s Well were Azure, a roofed well argent, between its posts a goblet Or, all within a laurel wreath argent.

Saint Pyr is a tragi-comic figure from Welsh history, a lax abbot who became so drunk one evening that he fell down a well and drowned.