The Crown Province’s Shibbøleðr

Newcomers and neighbors of the Crown Province inevitably run into a tricky question: how do you pronounce Østgarðr?

There are (at least) three potential pitfalls packed into this one word, and even many long-time residents habitually get one or two of them wrong.

Caveat: Please note that I am not an linguist, nor an expert in Old Norse; the below is merely my amateur understanding of the subject — feel free to comment below if I’ve badly mangled any of this.

The Letter Ø

The stroked O (Ø/ø) is is the trickiest part of the word, as the corresponding sound isn’t common in American English. Phoneticists describe this as a “close-mid front rounded vowel,” meaning that your mouth is positioned as if you were making the sound “eh” but your lips are pursed  or puckered.

If you shape your lips like you were going to make the vowel sound in “two,” but then actually voice the vowel sound in “egg,” you’re in the right ballpark. If you’ve learned French, this is the vowel sound at the end of “bleu;” in German it’s written as ö in words like “schön.”

The Letter Ð

The letter Eth (Ð/ð) was used in northwest Europe during the medieval period for one of the sounds that we now write as “th,” which phoneticists call a “voiced dental fricative.”

If you can resist the temptation to read this as a letter D, it’s easy to pronounce because it’s reasonably common in English: think of the sound at the end of “smooth” or “breathe.”

(By contrast, the word “math” or the name “Garth” both end with the softer “voiceless dental fricative,” which medieval folks wrote as Þ rather than ð; if you gently rest your fingertips on your throat you can feel your vocal cords remain still when you say “math” but vibrate when you say the final sound in “smooth” — you want those vibrations when you make the sound at the end of Østgarðr.)

The Trailing R

Trailing Rs are a common feature of many Old Norse words because it is the nominative suffix for masculine nouns.

English doesn’t have nominative suffixes, but you can think of them as parallel to the way we use the genitive suffix ’s to show possession — in English, we would write “Ty drinks” (nominative unmarked) and “Ty’s cup” (genitive ’s marker) while in Old Norse we’d write “Tyr drekka” (nominative -r marker) and “Tys skál” (genitive -s marker).

The precise sound used for this purpose changed over the centuries and across the thousand-mile expanse of Old Norse speakers. Earlier speakers might have pronounced it as a “zh” sound (ʒ, a “voiced palato-alveolar fricative“), which transitioned into a soft “r” sound. In normal speech, for a word like Miklagarðr (the Old Norse name for Constantinople), the trailing r would likly have been softened into a nearly-imperceptible sound or dropped altogether. In the centuries after the Viking Era, as Old Norse evolved into modern languages (and loan words were incorporated into other languages such as English) the sound they each used diverged, becoming variously silent, or a schwa (“soft grunt”), or a harder “ur” sound.

Because we’re typically saying or writing the Province’s name in English, a good argument could be made that we should lean towards making the trailing r silent because it doesn’t play a meaningful role in English grammar.

Putting It Together

So, given all that, how should we pronounce Østgarðr?

The good news is that there are no language police, and nobody is going to throw you out of a Society event because you say the name differently than they do.

But if you want to make the extra effort to pronounce the name in a way that might be more medievally authentic, you can be on the lookout for pitfalls around the three trouble spots referenced above:

  • The Ø is not a “oo” sound — “Øst-” sounds closer to “best” or “bust” rather than “boost.”
  • The ð is a “th” sound —”-garð-” is somewhere between “garth” and “guard.”
  • The final r is silent, or very nearly so — “-garðr” might sound like “garth,” or maybe a little like “gartha,” but definitely not “garth-ur.”

In all honesty, I’m terrible at making unfamiliar sounds, and my Old Norse accent is horrible, but for what it’s worth, here’s the way I typically say the province’s name:

(Update: Thanks to Þorfinn Hróðgeirsson for pointing out an error in my description of the Norse eth. And thanks to Zahra de Andaluzia for helping with examples of the Ø and trailing r.)

A Winter’s Worth of Traceable Art

The seasons are starting to turn here and I figured that was as good reason as any to review the changes that’ve been made to the Traceable Heraldic Art collection over the last three months, including over two hundred and sixty new entries.

Eighty of those new images are drawn from Joakim Spuller’s WappenWiki collection, for which he has my continuing thanks. My appreciation also goes out to returning artists Volusia Zoe, Aurora Faw, and Lily Morgaine, as well as first-time contributor Tancorix inigena Bivaidonas — welcome to the team!

Other images in this update were drawn from period manuscripts, including for the first time Jean Faucket’s Commonplace Book of Heraldry, Des Kaiserlichen Kammergerichts zu Speier Kammerrichter, Wapenboek van Gent, and Queens College MS 72. My thanks to Iago ab Adam for continuing to bring new sources such as these to the attention of our community.

Additions since the last announcement are listed below, with parenthetical labels for new entries or multiple related illustrations.

  • Fields: Kürsch (2); Masculy; Vair Counter-vair
  • Divisions: Chapé; Chapé Ployé; Checky of 4; Gyronny of 14; Lozengy; Masculy (3); Paly Bendy; Paly Bendy Sinister; Per Bend Raguly; Per Chevron Throughout; Per Chevron Throughout Ployé (new); Per Fess Embattled; Per Fess Embattled Ghibelline (new); Per Pale Per Bend and Per Bend (new)
  • Ordinaries: Bars Dancetty; Bars Enarched (new, 2); Bars Gemel; Base and Pale Conjoined (new); Bend; Bend Compony; Bend Dancetty; Bend Embattled; Bend Fusilly; Bendlets; Bendlets Cotised (new, 2); Bendlets Fimbriated (2); Bend Masculy (new); Bordure Compony (2); Chevronels, Chevronels Gemel (new, 2); Chapé Ployé And A Chief (new); Cross Engrailed; Cross Formy Throughout (new, 2); Cross Raguly; Cross Interlaced with an Annulet (new); Fess Counter-compony; Fess Doubly Cotised (new); Fess Raguly (2); Pall; Pall Voided (new); Piles Inverted Palewise; Saltire Compony; Saltire Engrailed
  • Shapes & Symbols: Cross Couped and Pierced (new); Cross Crosslet (2); Cross Énchancré (new, 2); Cross Formy; Cross Formy Fitchy at All Ends (new); Cross Formy Voided (new); Cross Of Santiago; Cross Swallowtailed; Cross Swallowtailed Voided (new); Cross of Four Lozenges; Ermine Spot (2); Heart Voided (new); Mandorla (new); Masculyn; Octagon Voided (new); Patriarchal Cross; Saltorel Engrailed (new); Tau Cross; Three Vires; Triangle Inverted Voided Bottony (new)
  • The World & Heavens: Demi-Sun Issuant from Dexter Chief (new); Rock Face; Rock Issuant from Base (new)
  • Plants: Acorns Issuant from a Trimount (new); Angemme (new, 2); Ash Keys; Chaplet of Roses; Cinquefoil (2); Firewood (new); Fleur de Lys Fracted Palewise (new); Garb of Wheat; Ginkgo Leaves Conjoined in Pall (new); Hurst of Trees Couped; Linden Leaf Issuant from a Ragged Staff (new); Linden Tree Eradicated; Maple Leaf; Nopal Cactus (new); Oak Leaf; Oak Tree Fructed and Eradicated; Per Chevron Two Linden Leaves Issuant from the Line (new); Pine Tree; Quatrefoil Slipped (new); Sprig; Sprig of Maple Leaves (new); Stemless Trefoil (new); Trillium
  • Fishes: Chabot; Eel; Fish Skeleton Haurient (new); Nautilus (new, 2)
  • Reptiles: Basilisk; Caldera Gringolada; Crocodile Statant; Dragon; Frog; Serpent Erect
  • Birds: Bird’s Jambe Conjoined to a Wing (new, 2); Crane with Wings Addorsed (2); Eagle; Wing (2)
  • Beasts: Badger Passant (new); Bear Statant Erect (2); Bear’s Head Couped; Beaver Statant; Bison Statant (new); Boreyne Passant (new); Bull Statant Head Lowered (new); Bull’s Horn (new); Caretyne Passant (new); Chatloup Rampant (new); Dog Courant (2); Fox Rampant; Lion; Lion Collared and Chained (new); Lion Passant Guardant (2); Lion with Paw Upturned (new); Lion’s Head Erased (2); Ram Couchant (new); Stag’s Attire (3); Stag’s Head Cabossed; Stag’s Head Erased Affronty; Stag’s Massacre; Wolf Passant; Wolf Passant Ravishing a Lamb (new); Wolf Rampant; Wolf Sejant Affronty (new); Wolf’s Head Cabossed; Wolf’s Head Erased Affronty
  • People: Harpy Displayed (new); Manticore Rampant (new)
  • Food: Amphora; Bread Basket (new); Cheese Grater (new, 2); Covered Cup; Drinking Horn; Footed Pot; Gridiron; Knife; Pie (new); Pretzel (new)
  • Clothes: Buckle (2); Comb; Glove; Imperial Crown; Jester’s Cap; Jew’s Hat; Maunch (2); Mitre; Scarf Tied in Annulo; Slovene Hat (new); Sugar-loaf Hat (new)
  • Tools: Anvil; Axe; Carpenter’s Square; Ladder; Punner; Staple
  • Buildings: Castle (2); Fireplace (new); Park Pales; Pavilion; Tower (2); Tower Battlements (new); Writing Table (new)
  • Arts and Sciences: Backgammon Board; Crozier; Harp; Mouth Harp (new); Pair of Stilts (2)
  • Farming: Barnacles (2); Collar and Chain (new); Covered Wagon (new); Fer-a-loup; Harrow; Hay House; Pruning Knife; Rake Head; Scythe; Scythe Blade; Turning Cratch; Wagon; Winnowing Basket; Yoke
  • Ships & Fishing: Anchor; Drakkar; Hulk (new); Lymphad with Oars Shipped (2); Rowboat; Trident
  • Military: Arrow; Bow; Breastplate; Caltrop; Cannon Barrel (new); Catapult (new, 2); Fauchard (new, 2); Gauntlet Aversed; Lance; Mortar (new); Pistol (new); Spearhead; War-Scythe (new, 2)
  • Assorted Objects: Candlestick; Money Box (new, 2); Orle Of Chain; Pair of Felloes; Rimless Wheel; Wheel (2)
  • Achievement Elements: Banner and Lance; Grassy Compartment (2)
  • Escutcheon Outlines: Embowed Heater; English Scrollwork (new); Heart Field; Kite Outline; Nguni Shield (new)
  • Diapering: Dot and Cross Diapering (new, 2)

Armorial of the Viceregents of the Crown Province

Back in 2018 I created an image for the fiftieth anniversary of Østgarðr (and by extension, of the East Kingdom) that shows the arms of the viceroys and vicereines, the unique title held by the landed representatives of the Crown here in the only Crown Province of the Known World.

When I drew this five years ago, Suuder and Lada still wore the chains of state which serve the viceregents as the civil equivalent of the coronets one finds in the 185 baronies which follow us in the Armorial of Precedence. Tonight I’ve updated the chart to reflect the investiture last autumn of Angelica and Sofya, joint Viceréinas of Østgarðr. Long may they serve!

Mapping the Changing Cantons

Back in 2017 I drew a map of the Crown Province and its neighbors, which I updated a few years later to reflect subsequent changes.

Unsurprisingly, with the passage of time, that version too is on the edge of becoming obsolete, and so I have refreshed it one more time to show the anticipated name change of the Canton of Whyt Whey to the Canton of Appleholm, and the reinstatement of the Canton of Northpass, both of which are expected to occur in the coming months.

It will be interesting to revisit this in a few years and see what else has changed!

The Season of #HeraldicLove

Every year at this time we celebrate the season of Heraldic Love, encouraging the populace to display their armory or allegiance on a heart-shaped shield to show their love for the historical recreation community.

Heralds — this is a great opportunity to get your local members excited about armorial display; if your branch has a populace badge, help them trim it to size and encourage folks to show it off for the next week.

Search the web for #HeraldicLove to find more examples (and historical examplars!), then join in by updating your own profile image. You can make your own image with pens, paints, or any materials you’re comfortable with (a template is attached), or use the kingdom, provincial, canton, or Society populace badges to show everyone where your heart is.

For folks who construct their images digitally, you can find a heart-shaped field and a set of corresponding heart-shaped field divisions and ordinaries in the Traceable Heraldic Art collection.


Seeking Proofreaders for Old LoARs

Folks — I’d love some help with a round of proof-reading for some old LoARs which I’ve transcribed for addition to the Laurel website.

There are a handful of letters from the 1970s which were scanned decades ago, but never got transformed into webpages. I’ve created new pages for them, but before they go live they could really benefit from a fresh set of eyes to spot any errors that may have crept in during transcription. The new pages were created via a mix of OCR and hand-typing, with manually-applied web markup, and almost certainly contain some errors.

Specifically, it is the Jan 1971, Apr 30 1973, Jul 1974, May 1975, Oct 29 1976, and Nov 1978 letters shown on this page, which are in need of this round of proof-reading. (The Dec 1970, July 1986, and Nov 1988 letters were already reviewed during a previous round of work, back in 2021 and have been successfully uploaded to the SCA Heraldry site.)

The Apr 30 1973 and Oct 29 1976 letters are both cases where Laurel issued two letters in the same calendar month — the first of which is already available on the SCA Heraldry site. Only the new second letter in each of those months requires review.

If you click on any of those, you’ll find paired links to the HTML version and a PDF file of the old scans.

It would be super helpful if each of those letters could be reviewed by one or two people, with the new page open in one window and the scans in another (or printed onto paper), and if you could send me any errors you find.

I’m interested in both large-scale errors and tiny details. Please pay special attention to the spelling of names, including the accent marks that are hand-written onto some of the old typewritten letters.

In a later round we’ll be comparing these letters to the O&A database, so I’d like these letters to match the original paper letters as closely as possible so we don’t introduce any new problems during reconciliation.


[Update, Jan 14:] I’ve updated the letters for 1971, ’73, ’74, ’75, and ’78 based on a first round of review; a second pass would be welcome (especially for 1974), although I’m hoping we’re pretty close at this point. The 1976 letter is untouched and still needs a close read.

[Update, Jan 16:] All letters have been proofed at least once — thanks to everyone who jumped in to help!

Who Owns the Copyright to the LoARs?

A couple of days ago, I was working on getting some old LoARs ready for publication online when I stopped to consider who held the copyrights to them.

[As with all of the legal commentary on this site, the below should be read with the knowledge that I am not a lawyer, and none of this should be taken as legal guidance — I’m just attempting to describe a somewhat-obscure issue as best I understand it.]

Because the letters were created by volunteers rather than employees, they are not “work for hire,” and I don’t think any past Sovereigns have been asked to sign agreements on the subject.

That would suggest that the copyrights to the LoARs remained with their original creators — the Sovereigns and their staff.

Breaking up is hard to do, and the split at the heart of this case was no exception. … Mr. Losieniecki agreed to serve … and participated in that event as an “official volunteer.” This, they argue, means the photographs are “works made for hire” under the Copyright Act… On that issue, the answer is clear… the Court finds that Mr. Losieniecki owns the photographs at issue […] “work made for hire” […] applies only to works produced by employees or, if a written contract exists, independent contractors. An unpaid volunteer for a nonprofit organization is neither.

— Judge Ranjan in Hubay v. Mendez, 2020

However, at least since 1997 or so, when the Sovereigns have caused the LoAR to be published online every month, it has appeared with a statement and link at the bottom of the page along the lines of “Copyright © 1997 Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.”

It seems credible that if a volunteer publishes something they wrote and causes it to include a statement that the organization is the copyright holder, that in and of itself might be sufficient to transfer the copyright.

The writing does not require any “magic words . . . Rather, the parties’ intent as evidenced by the writing must demonstrate a transfer of the copyright.” …. “Section 204(a), by its terms, imposes only the requirement that a copyright transfer be in writing and signed by the parties from whom the copyright is transferred…”

— Judge Huff, Johnson v. Storix, 2017

On these grounds, the existence of the letters, signed and authored by the Sovereigns, and posted with a statement of copyright by the SCA, seems evidence of the intention to grant copyright to the Society.

(This argument is weakened by the fact that the copyright statements were applied by the Morsulus Herald or post-meeting clerk at the time that the files were uploaded to the web, rather than written by the Laurels themselves, but given that Morsulus and Silver  Staple are working under the direction of Laurel, and that each Laurel sees these copyright statements many times and none of them have ever said “oh, no, wait, that’s a mistake, I didn’t intend to transfer the copyright to the letters I wrote,” this still seems like a clear indication of their intent.)

As to the letters created before 1996 or so, it’s quite possible that nobody ever considered their copyright status — I certainly haven’t been able to find any written mentions of it.

To my understanding, this likely means that the copyright to those early letters remains with the original authors, but that everyone involved understands that they have granted the SCA permission to use those letters in all of the ways that the Society typically does, including publishing, excerpting, citing, summarizing, and transforming them.

Thankfully, the people who sign up to be Sovereigns are pretty committed to the heraldic community, such that even if there was an acrimonious feud, it seems unlikely that any would try to revoke that permission. (And even if they did, some use would likely still be allowed under the “fair use” doctrine of U.S. law.)

Extraordinary Recognition

During the Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium this weekend, I learned from Master Yehuda ben Moshe that, as one of his final actions as Brigantia, I had been elevated to the rank of Herald Extraordinary, a recognition for which I am deeply grateful.

Unlike nearly all of the awards and honors of the Society, this rank can not be bestowed by royalty or their representatives in the baronage; instead it stems from the authority of the Sovereigns of the College of Arms and the Principal Heralds of each kingdom.

The term “extraordinary” is used here not in the sense of “unusual,” but rather to mean “outside the typical order” — a recognition of work being done sui generis, rather than in a fixed role within the Colleges’ normal organization.

“Such a rank shall have no fixed duties, unless such shall be agreed upon by the holder and the Kingdom Principal Herald, but instead the holder of the rank shall be a senior member of the College who shall lend heraldic expertise as s/he sees fit.”
— Wilhelm Laurel, July 1981 LoAR

The rank was established over forty years ago, and is closely held; the record suggests that only a dozen Extraordinaries have been named here in the East over the last two decades, and even fewer in the two decades before that.

This recognition is especially meaningful to me in coming from Master Yehuda, because it was during his elevation to Herald Extraordinary at KWHSS in 2018 that I first came to see this title as one to which I could aspire, and the members of this rank as a group of which I could hope to one day be considered a peer.

So, my thanks to Yehuda for the recognition, and to the Heralds of the Colleges for their companionship and conviviality over the last seven years — I will endeavor to continue to be worthy of this honor in the years ahead.

Descriptions for Field Division Directions

Following the 2021 rules change, SENA A5F1b now says that that changing the direction of partition lines is considered a Substantial Change, as is the difference between divided and undivided fields.

As a result, when using the Complex Search form to do conflict checking for fielded armory, we can add a second line for the field that matches anything with a similar direction.

For example, when looking for conflicts for armory blazoned “Per fess argent and vert, [anything]”, we would typically start a complex search with a criteria line for “PFESS:pl:argent:~and vert”. I believe that in this case we can safely add a second criteria line for “PFESS|FIELD DIV.-BARRY|NO”, which will still match per-fess items with other colors, or barry items, or fieldless items, but will exclude items which have solid fields, or per-pale fields, or bendy, etc.

That search should give us:

  • the maximum score for an identical per-fess field with the same line type and tinctures;
  • one less than the maximum for any per-fess or barry field;
  • one less than the maximum for any fieldless item;
  • two less than the maximum (and thus safely ignored) for any other type of field.

I’ve only been experimenting with this technique for a few weeks, and I’m not yet confident that I’ve figured out all of the potential hitches in it, but in my tests, this seems to cut down the number of items which have to be checked by hand (at times significantly), without ever excluding from consideration any items that might actually conflict.

If you want to give it a try, here’s a list of headings you can add as a second line for the field in a complex search when conflict-checking:

  • Per Bend Sinister or Bendy Sinister: PBS|FIELD DIV.-BENDY*3|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Per Chevron Inverted or Chevronelly Inverted: PCI|FIELD DIV.-CHEVRONELLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Quarterly: QLY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Lozengy or Other Grid-like Tilings: FIELD DIV.-LOZENGY OR FUSILY|FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO
  • Party of Six, Orly, Others Not Mentioned Above: FIELD DIV.9OTHER|NO

I’ve included the catch-all FIELD DIV.9OTHER type for all of these because items with that heading might also need hand-checking; for example, “party of six” is coded as FIELD DIV.9OTHER, and it’s not clear how much difference we would find between that and “checky.”

Sadly there isn’t a compact way to search for undivided fields, so if you want to add a line for those you need to mash a whole bunch of tinctures and treatments together; I think this might cover most of the relevant options, but I worry that I’ve missed a couple of salient choices:


If you give this a try, I’d love to know how it works out for you. I’m particularly interested in hearing of any potential traps, in which using this technique might exclude a legitimate conflict from consideration.