Memories of Hal Ravn, Former Morsulus Herald

[I recently got in touch with Hal Ravn, who first transferred the Ordinary of the Society into electronic format, and asked him about that experience. Following a few rounds of correspondence, he granted permission for me to post an excerpted version of his recollections here, for which I am extremely grateful. I have attempted to place the narrative into chronological order below, eliding mundane names and non-heraldic elements. Points where I’ve stitched material together out of the order in which it was written are marked with […] and editorial interjections are marked with square brackets. — Mathghamhain]


Continue reading “Memories of Hal Ravn, Former Morsulus Herald”

Memories of Iathus of Scara, Former Morsulus Herald

[This autumn, I contacted Iathus of Scara, who served as the Morsulus Herald of the SCA from 1989 through 1992, and asked him some questions about that experience. He graciously wrote up two lengthy documents narrating that history, which I have integrated below in what I believe is chronological order. The spots where I’ve stitched material from those two documents together are marked with “[…]”. I’ve also added a few missing words or bits of context in square brackets, redacted a few mundane names, and tweaked the punctuation and formatting for ease of reading. I am so grateful to Iathus for writing up this history and giving me permission to share it here. — Mathghamhain] Continue reading “Memories of Iathus of Scara, Former Morsulus Herald”

The Lineage of Morsulus Heralds

The Morsulus Herald is a deputy to the Laurel Sovereign of Arms of the SCA, responsible for maintaining the Society’s record of heraldic registrations, as embodied in various forms of the Ordinary and Armorial.

The title of Morsulus was created by Karina of the Far West as her last official act before stepping down as third Laurel Sovereign, taking her inspiration from Latin: “Morsulus, a small byte.” [Cover Letter, Jun 1979] Continue reading “The Lineage of Morsulus Heralds”

An SCA Ordinary from AS XXXIV

Following my recent conversation with Iulstan Sigwealding, he poked around through his archived files and dug up a copy of the Society’s Ordinary produced in early 2000, covering all armory registrations through the end of 1999.

Although this is obviously out of date and no longer of use as working reference, I thought a few folks might enjoy seeing this snapshot from history. Continue reading “An SCA Ordinary from AS XXXIV”

Memories of Iulstan Sigwealding, Former Morsulus Herald

[Recently, I reached out to Iulstan Sigwealding, who served as the Morsulus Herald of the SCA from 1992 through the end of 1999, and asked him some questions about that experience. His answers provided a glimpse into a different era of the Society’s development, and afterwards he was kind enough to volunteer to rewrite the transcript of our conversation to produce a recollection which he has allowed me to publish here. — Mathghamhain] Continue reading “Memories of Iulstan Sigwealding, Former Morsulus Herald”

Building the O-and-A Search from Source

In a recent post, I described how to install the software that drives the College of Arms’ Ordinary and Armorial on your own web site, but if you’re interested in modifying that software, you’ll need to be able to build it from source.

The O&A web search software is bundled into an open-source package named Morsulus-tools, along with the utilities that are used to manage and update the database. Continue reading “Building the O-and-A Search from Source”

Unusual Weights for the O&A Complex Search

When using the complex search form in the SCA’s online ordinary & armorial, each line of the search is typically coded with a weight of 1, and most people never change this value, but setting these weights to other values do allow for some interesting search techniques.

A while ago, I asked on SCA Heraldry Unofficial Chat about how how different folks used these weight fields, and have summarized that discussion below.

Weight values are limited to non-negative integers, and may optionally be prefixed with a “+” or “&” character. Continue reading “Unusual Weights for the O&A Complex Search”

A History Of The Digital O&A From LoAR Cover Letters

I recently spent some time searching the archive of Laurel letters for early mentions of the Society’s digitized ordinary and armorial, and will share my notes here in case they are of interest to anyone else.

The first efforts to organize a coordinated armorial seem to have begun in 1971. Continue reading “A History Of The Digital O&A From LoAR Cover Letters”

Updating the O-and-A Database

On July 25, 2020, Master Herveus d’Ormonde led a few interested heralds through an online session in which we were able to observe core portions of his workflow as Morsulus Herald, watching as he applied the changes from a recent LoAR to the O&A master database and published the changes to the public O&A web site.

I am attaching my notes from this session below in hopes that they might be of interest to other members of the community, although this is admittedly a fairly-obscure topic with a limited audience. Continue reading “Updating the O-and-A Database”

Installing the O-and-A Search on Your Web Site

The Ordinary and Armorial of the SCA is a web-based searchable database of the names and armory registered by the SCA College of Arms over the last five decades.

At its core, the O&A consists of a 125,000-line pipe-delimited text file named “oanda.db” which typically contains a line for each registered item. (Although note that in some cases a name and associated armory are bundled together into a single line, and other times updates result in there being a couple of lines that document a single registration.)

Generally speaking, nearly everyone interacts with this data via the O&A web site, maintained by the SCA’s Morsulus Herald, but in theory you could just read through that text file to find relevant records, or utilize one of the small number of third-party applications which transform the oanda.db file into an e-book or import it into a third-party database engine.

The software that powers the O&A web site is open-source, and packaged in a way that makes it easy to install, as long as you have a machine that meets these requirements: Continue reading “Installing the O-and-A Search on Your Web Site”