Badge for Lady Beatrice della Rocca

Lady Beatrice selected her badge in consultation with Erich Gutermuth, the deputy herald for Whyt Whey, and I was pleased to be able to assist them with the registration process.


A roundel counter-vair.

This design raised an interesting corner case where two of the SCA’s heraldic rules intersect:

Firstly, longstanding precedent holds that you can’t register a fieldless badge consisting of a shape which is a standard form for heraldic display, such as an escutcheon, billet, or roundel. The reason for this rule is that allowing such registrations would create the possibility for confusion; for example, when viewing a black and white square, one might wonder “is this a delf per pale sable and argent, or is it simple per pale sable and argent displayed on a rectangular object?”

Secondly, SENA A.3.E.3. states that you can’t register an undivided field such as simply “counter-vair” as that would be too simple; all registrations need to contain at least a charge or a field division.

Conveniently in this case those two rules work together in Beatrice’s favor: because you could not register an undivided, uncharged field of counter-vair, there is no potential for confusion: the image above can only legitimately be interpreted as a roundel counter-vair.

This ruling was described in the April 2002 LoAR:

We do not register fieldless badges which appear to be independent forms of armorial display. Charges such as lozenges, billets, and roundels are all both standard heraldic charges and “shield shapes” for armorial display. The SCA has never protected armory consisting of plain tinctures… If we do not protect, and have never protected, the arms Or, we should not be concerned about the possible appearance of a display of Or by using a single lozenge Or as a fieldless badge. … Therefore, a “shield shape” which is also a standard heraldic charge will be acceptable as as a fieldless badge in a plain tincture…

As all of the vairs are considered a single tincture, this badge should be registrable.

A Geographic History Of The East Kingdom

In AS XXIV (early 1990), Lord Richard the Poor assembled a collection of maps setting forth the growth and evolution of the SCA branches that make up the East Kingdom. Covering two decades, the maps provide a visual reference for the kingdom’s growth from a few isolated groups in New York and Boston to dozens of baronies, cantons, and shires covering the region.

Originally hand-drawn and typeset in the days of dot-matrix printers, the book had fallen out of circulation with only a single copy available online, on the Æthelmark history web site. With Lord Richard’s permission, I am making the original work available for download here (45 MB PDF) and have converted it to a more web-accessible form.

Heraldic Registrations of the Canton of Brokenbridge

Brokenbridge is Østgarđr’s youngest canton, corresponding to Brooklyn, or King’s County.


Canton of Brokenbridge

The canton’s name was submitted in March 2006, and accepted in September.

The name is believed to reference one of the canton’s most iconic landmarks, the Brooklyn Bridge.

The documentation provides Old English sources for the two name elements:

Broken – from OE brocen “broken, broken up, uneven” (A.H. Smith, English Place-Name Elements A-IW) p. 52. Ex. Brokenborough (Brochenborge 1086), from Ekwall p. 68.

Bridge – from OE brycg “a bridge.” (see A.H. Smith above, p. 54). Ex. – Tonbridge (Tonebridge, 1086), Stalbridge (Staplebrig, 1086) from Ekwall, pp. 477 & 436.

(A similar branch name, the Bailiwick of Broken Bridges, was registered in August 1984 with the note that “Brokenbridge would be a more period form,” but was then released in December 1989 along with many other defunct branch names of the East.)


Vert semy of bees Or marked sable, on a pale argent in pale a coney rampant and a laurel wreath vert.

The canton’s arms were submitted in April 2006, and forwarded to the Society level in May, but then pended in September and not accepted until April of 2007. The pend was due to a confusion about the color of the bees’ wings: the submission form sent to Laurel blazoned them as “bees proper” but displayed bees with wings Or. (In the Society, bees proper have wings argent, body Or, with the abdomen marked with sable stripes.)

Curiously, the image that was uploaded to OSCAR didn’t match the version sent to Laurel — they both started from the same outline image, but the version on OSCAR had been colored differently, showing argent wings and four sable stripes rather than three. Because the image in OSCAR did depict bees proper, the issue was not flagged in commentary prior to reaching Laurel, at which point the September 2006 pend letter pointed out that the picture on the submission form they had received did not match the proposed blazon. The April 2007 LoAR modified the blazon to match the original submission image, “bees Or marked sable,” and accepted it for registration.


The arms are said to contain a rebus for another of the canton’s landmarks: the pale containing the coney can be read as “Coney Aisle,” or Coney Island. (I’ve also heard that the pairing of bees and rabbit provide a reference to “Bugs Bunny,” although I don’t know what connection that has to the canton.)

Heraldic Registrations of the Canton of Lions End

Lions End is Østgarđr’s easternmost branch, covering Nassau County.


Canton of Lions End

The canton’s name was submitted in July 1988, and accepted in October.

The note clarifies that the name does not contain an apostrophe:

Please note: Lions End is a place where lions go to meet. It is not what they sit upon when they sit down to eat. (I.e. it’s Lions plural not Lion’s possessive.) Lions was chosen during a naming binge to try to connect ourselves to our mundane geographic area, and is vaguely derived from Long Island (and various anagrams). The choice of the word End comes from our neighbors to the east An Dubhaigeainn (which translates to Abyss) and so we figured that before you get to the abyss you have to come to an end, and so “Lions End.”

Some additional commentary was added at the kingdom level to support this name, which received a mixed review in the LoAR when approving it for registration:

Although the analogue with Land’s End made on the letter of intent is not really accurate, the name is acceptable.

The distinction is routinely overlooked. For example, when the canton registered its arms in 1990 the acceptance was listed under the name “Lion’s End,” and only corrected sixteen years later. (Indeed as of this writing, the canton’s web site uses the apostrophe in the site’s title and home page, although elsewhere it uses the registered version.)


Azure, a bicorporate lion within a laurel wreath Or. (Returned)

The canton’s initial selection of arms featured a bi-corporate lion, an unusual charge featuring a lion’s head with two bodies attached to it.

It was returned in May 1989 with the note:

Conflict with the arms of John of Northampton, Mayor of London in 1381–­83 (“Azure, a bicorporate lion guardant crowned Or.”). As Crescent has noted, this is a frequently depicted piece of armoury. Indeed, it is almost the “defining instance” for the bicorporate lion in most handbooks.

Although the rules have changed since, at the time the Society’s rules for armory conflict included checking against the arms issued by other jurisdictions, including medieval England.


Sable, a bicorporate lion and on a chief Or, three laurel wreaths sable. 

A revised version of the device was submitted a few months later, and approved in May of 1990 without comment.

An attractive depiction of the arms is provided by canton’s heraldic banner.

The lion is an allusion to the mundane county of Nassau, which has as its armsazure, a lion rampant between seven billets Or,” which is derived from the arms of the European house of Nassau, “azure billetty, a lion rampant Or armed and langued gules.”


Sable, a bicorporate lion and on a chief Or, three laurel wreaths vert. (Error)

Due to a scribal transcription error around that time, the arms listed in the Society’s armorial database differ from the registration in the tincture of the laurel wreaths, which were listed as vert instead of sable. [Edited May 23: the correction was rolled out in today’s database update and it is now listed correctly as three laurel wreaths sable.]

As a result, a number of illustrations of the branch’s arms which were taken from that blazon have been drawn incorrectly, including the version that’s currently shown on the canton’s home page, as well as the East Kingdom wiki and other places.

Following the discovery of this error, the O&A is currently being adjusted to match the original registration.

[Edited June 17: Local oral history holds that the wreaths were changed to green because of a ruling at the time that all laurel wreaths must be vert. However, the lack of commentary in the LoAR which accepted the arms with sable wreaths, and the contemporaneous registration of numerous wreaths of other tinctures, suggests that this is post-facto mythologizing — this really was due to a simple scribal error during data entry.]


A bicorporate lion atop a billet fesswise Or.

The canton submitted a populace badge in mid-2013, which was registered that November.

It features the same bicorporate lion as in the branch arms, standing on a billet (the heraldic term for a rectangle).

According to Yehuda ben Moshe, canton herald at the time, the initial intention was to register just a fieldless bicorporate lion Or, which members of the populace had already begun using as an informal populace badge. However, this was found to be too similar to another registration, the holder of which declined to grant permission to conflict, and so they looked for something simple that could be added to existing badges and settled on a billet, which is another design element present in the aforementioned arms of Nassau County.


For the curious, the territory of Lions End was previously home to the Canton of Mandan, sometimes spelled Madnan, which was formed in October 1980, had its name registered in January 1983, went defunct in May 1985, and had its name released in a December 1989 purge of defunct East Kingdom branches, according to Lord Richard the Poor’s “A Geographic History of the East Kingdom” and the Society’s armorial records. The name may have been an allusion to “Madnan’s Neck,” a seventeenth-century name for the Great Neck region, derived from “Menhaden-Ock,” its native Mattinecock name, itself a reference to the small Menhaden fish then plentiful in the region.

Court Report, Picnic in the Ruins

On the 29th of April, their excellencies Østgarðr held court at the Crown Province’s Picnic in the Ruins, under the colonnaded peristyle in the parklands of the Canton of Brokenbridge.

Suder Il Khan and Lada Il Khatun called for those who were attending their first, second, or third event to come forward, and presented them each with a gift of candles in the province’s livery colors, reminding those assembled that these gentles represent the future of our society, and the newcomers were heartily cheered by the populace.

A foreign visitor was welcomed into court, Lady Heloise from the Barony of Southron Gaard in the far-off Kingdom of Lochac. She presented a letter from her Baron and Baroness sending greetings to their excellencies, and requesting safe passage and hospitality for Lady Heloise as she traveled through our lands, promising to do likewise for any of Østgarðr that might journey unto their region. Il Khan bade her welcome and offered the assistance of the province in ensuring her stay here would be pleasant.

Their excellencies expressed their satisfaction with the day’s gathering and thanked those who had made it possible.

There being no other business before their excellencies, court was adjourned.