Tuesday, 21 July 2020

PGC2019: Lady Eyja Gunnarsdottir's Games Box

Lady Eyja shares a box of period games, created as a gift of Largess.  She describes it in her own words:

"I have created a Games box featuring the game of Tablut. This is a version of the Tafl games played throughout the Norse world. On the other side of the lid is nine mens Morris, which was also known to be played in the same era.

This was created as a Largess gift, as I wanted to create something fun and useful for a Norse persona. The recipient's heraldry is yellow and red, and is reflected in the board and playing pieces. The box and playing pieces were purchased then hand painted.

I created a small linen bag for the playing pieces which has a fingerloop braided drawstring and the owners device embroidered onto it.

There is plenty of space in the box for more games to be added over time.

Something a bit different to what I usually do, but now I am keen to make my own games collection in the future."

Tuesday, 19 May 2020

PGC2019: Lady Melisande de Massard's Mittens & Socks

Lady Melisande enters a cozy pair of mittens and a snugly pair of socks in the category "With silken coats, and caps, and golden rings, with ruffs, and cuffs, and farthingales and things". 

"When camping I find it most convenient to clothe myself in Norse garb - comfortable, easy to work in and easily laundered!

Some of the members of the Heorot household were planning a household event where we would spend the weekend camping in a living history style. Originally planned for an Easter weekend I thought to myself 'this could be a little chilly - what I need are some mittens and socks!!'. 

I purchased some pre-spun, natural wool, and with a wooden needle and the kind assistance of Lady Katherine (who showed me the Coptic stitch and how to get started), I first tried my hand at a pair of mittens. The first mitten is a little mis-shapen but I was a lot happier with the second which is much more evenly shaped. I was surprised at how quickly they made up and, encouraged by how the mittens turned, out I purchased more wool and got started on a pair of socks.

Looking at images of extant finds, and reproductions (and again with help from Lady Katherine when it came to the heel!) I gave it a go. Sir Callum had given me the gift of a beautiful new needle made of antler - such a different experience using that over the wooden one! I love it! I would like to have used a contrasting coloured wool for the last few rows around the ankle (as per some of the extant finds) but not having any suitable wool at the time I shall leave that for another pair. The socks are so comfortable and the mittens lovely and warm. 

We had to postpone the camping weekend but I'll be ready to go when we set another date - I just hope it's not in mid-summer!"

Monday, 4 May 2020

PGC2019 Baronessa Isabel Maria’s Practical Hairdressing Class

When I am forgotten as I shall be and sleep in dull cold marble … Say I taught thee.  Baronessa Isabel Maria recounts a class she taught earlier this year:

"At Canterbury Faire I reprised a class on practical period hairdressing for women, that Meisterin Christian and I had previously taught at the 2016 Southron Gaard Collegium.

With a view to making period hairstyling more accessible to people, the class touches on different styles seen in period, along with the techniques and tools to recreate them.  Plausibly period techniques are explored and compared to modern methods for suitability, ease of use, and security of the hairstyle.  The class culminates with a demonstration of hair sewing, on a volunteer.

Meistern Christian and I maintain the class notes on the Hous Amberherthe webpage, in addition to a pinterest board devoted to pre-1600 hair maintenance."

Wednesday, 29 April 2020

PGC2019: Mistress katherine kerr's collection of documents

Mistress katherine kerr submits the following for the recently added category:

"Sweet are the uses of adversity", for research in or practice of an art, craft or past-time that your persona might have undertaken whilst whiling away a siege (or plague)...


...or a long sea voyage and incarceration, being a collection of documents covering the fateful Voyage of the Baskin-Kerrs in an Alternative Timeline.


Thursday, 23 April 2020

PGC2019: Lady Eyja Gunnarsdottir's Nalbound Mitts

Lady Eyja submits the first entry in the new 'Sweet are the uses of adversity' category.  She writes the following to describe her fingerless gloves:

"I decided to use my 'plague time' to learn the Nalebinding Oslo stitch. This may have been a skill my persona learnt around the fire as a young girl, and taken up again when time rich but resource poor as it only requires wool.

I have used a bone needle, 100% wool, and a youtube video - https://youtu.be/UEJywXIluhk 

Initially I found it tricky to get a nice tension without tearing the wool, but it was relatively easygoing once that was sorted. The fingerless gloves were made in the round, not following any specific pattern other than trying it on as I went.

The result is soft, warm, and stretchy with a neat pattern. The wool itself felts well at the joints but is rather fragile, so in future I would use something sturdier for a hard wearing piece such as mittens.

In service,
Eyja Gunnarsdottir."

PGC2019: THL Joana de Bairros’ Moorish Chicken

Joana de Bairros enters a delicious chicken dish in the category Do you think because you are virtuous, that there shall be no more cakes and ale?


"There is one Portuguese cookbook from period called Um tratado da cozinha portuguesa do século XV or Livro de cozinha da Infanta D. Maria de Portugal which can be found, with an English translation at http://www.medievalcookery.com/notes/tratado.html. This collection of recipes was written in the late 15th century and then taken to Italy with Maria, the grand daughter of Manuel I of Portugal, when she married Alessandro Farnese. It ended up in Naples. (See reference to this in At the First Table:Food and Social Identity in Early Modern Spain by Jodi Campbell).

I was having a friend of over for dinner so decided to cook the Moorish Chicken recipe from this book as I have tried it before and it is delicious.

Outra receita de galinha mourisca
Façam em pedaçosuma galinha bem gorda, e levem-na ao fogo brando, com duas colheres de sopa degordura, algumas fatias de toucinho, bastante coentro, um punhadinho de salsa,umas folhinhas de hortelã, sal e uma cebola bem grande. Abafem-na e deixem-na dourar, mexendo-a devez em quando. Em seguida cubram essagalinha com água, e assim que levante fervura acabem de temperá-la com sal,vinagre, cravo-da-índia, açafrão, pimenta-do-reino e gengibre. Logo que agalinha esteja cozida, derramem dentro 4 gemas batidas. Tomem uma travessa funda, forrada com fatiasde pão e derramem por cima a galinha.

Another recipe for moorish chicken - literal translation
Cut a very fat chicken into pieces, and cook it over low heat, with two soup spoons of fat, a few slices of bacon, lots of cilantro, a bit of parsley, a few mint leaves, salt and a very large onion. Cover it (abafar means smother) and let it brown, stirring once in a while. Next cover that chicken in water, and as soon as it reaches a boil finish seasoning it with salt, vinegar, cloves, saffron, black pepper and ginger. When the chicken is cooked, add 4 beaten egg yolks. Take a deep serving tray, lined with bread slices and put the chicken over top.

My redaction to feed 4   

500gm chicken breast
1T olive oil
100gm bacon
¼ cup of coriander
2T parsley
1T mint
Pinch of salt
2 cups of chicken stock
1T white wine vinegar
1 t salt
1t each of cloves, pepper and ginger
A pinch of saffron
4 egg yolks
1 loaf of bread.

  1. Cut chicken and bacon in to chunks (I used chicken breasts as I wanted it to cook quickly) '
  2. Roughly cut the herbs and dice the onion. (I didn’t add coriander the first time as my guest did not like it so included more parsley. I did up it in in a later attempt at this recipe and it added a nice flavor)
  3. Heat up the oil in a thick based casserole dish on the stove top
  4. Brown chicken and bacon
  5. Add in herbs, salt and onion
  6. Put the lid on the casserole dish and cook at medium heat for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally to stop the chicken from sticking.
  7. Add in the stock (I used stock rather than just water as I was using breast meat which doesn’t have the flavor of chicken drums)
  8. When the stock boils add in the vinegar, salt and spices. Leave to cook for 5 minutes
  9. Separate the egg yolks and whisk together
  10. Pour the egg yolks into the casserole and mix up the sauce thoroughly. If you do not the egg will cook in lumps rather than being spread through sauce.
  11. Slice a loaf of good bread up. Either serve the chicken in a deep dish with bread underneath or serve the chicken to the table in a pot with a loaf of bread so guests can assemble their own. The bread is very delicious when soaked in the sauce!"

PGC2019: THL Joana de Bairros’ Article on Names

The Honorable Lady Joana de Bairros submits an article published in From the Tower in the category "When I am forgotten, as I shall be, and sleep in dull cold marble, … Say, I taught thee."

This article can also be found on her blog: https://joanadebairros.blogspot.com/

"Creating and Registering an SCA Name

THL Elisabetta Foscari/Joana de Bairros (Tour d’Or Herald)

As you can see from the length of the name above I have recently made some changes. I decided I wanted to create an alternate 16th century Portuguese persona and then use the Persona Gubbins challenge to develop this. I first, however, needed a Portuguese name to attach to my Portuguese work. I felt that writing this article, showing my progression from thinking about a name to formally registering it with the College of Heralds, would be useful for those who are also considering their Society name.

But why Portuguese?

The first step in the creation of an SCA persona is deciding on time and place. For those of you who have known me as a serious Italophile for the past 19 years, you may be wondering what brought this Portuguese fever on? For me this is using the SCA to explore my mundane heritage as my great-great grandfather was from Portugal. Unfortunately he was very keen to Anglicise himself when he moved to New Zealand so we have very little information about him except that he changed his surname to
Thomas and came from the Azores. Your own heritage may be a factor that plays a part in your choice of culture, as may personal interest, which was why I originally chose Italy.

There are a broad range of time periods you can explore in the SCA, up to around 1600. Taking account of your areas of interest may help narrow the field. For me, the 16th century was an easy decision as there are pretty clothes, buf for you, an interest in martial pursuits or a particular type of cuisine may shape your decision as to time. Often people want a name that works across a broad period of time, which is entirely possible, but as you will see below that it is easier to get your registration paperwork done if you focus on a particular century.

Looking for a name

My go to place for name research is the Academy of St Gabriel who have a superb medieval names database organised by culture. This is where making a decision as to culture and time becomes useful. The database links to a wide variety of SCA articles where people have analysed primary source material to find name construction and usual names. I find this is a good place to start looking for a name. I even used it when looking for baby names! Another good resource is the SCA Heraldry name page which is again divided by culture.

If, however, you are looking for something more specific then there are a number of books that will help you. A good place to look for these is the College of Heralds list of books that do not require photocopied evidence for name registration found here. If you want to go back to basics then look for primary sources that include lists of names. These could be tax rolls, census data, funerary monuments, parliamentary records, court documents, parish registers or customs logs, to provide a few examples. Often the articles from St Gabriel are a compilation of evidence from these primary sources which is very helpful to those who do not have the time or access to do so themselves.

Resources for my name

I was lucky when choosing my name that there were two 16th century Portuguese name articles. One was ‘Portuguese Names from the 16th century’ by Juliana de Luna which used letters from the Court of the Portuguese King John (Joao) III. There were few female names listed in this source however, although it did make some interesting points about name construction in that there was no mention of middle names and only 15% had two parts to the surname.

The other article ‘Portuguese Names from Lisbon, 1565’ by Aryanhwy merch Catmael was the most useful article as it had an extensive list of female given names and surnames to choose from. This article is based on a 16th century tax roll. Although I am planning to focus on 1530s Portugal rather than 1560s this is as close as I can get and names that were used in 1565 would have been around in 1535.

Name structure

It is important to consider name construction when creating your name. Some cultures put surnames first, other cultures expect patronymics to be used and others use feminine or masculine word endings for names. The evidence on Portuguese names in both sources was that ‘overwhelmingly’ people had a given name and a surname. There were some examples of two part surnames but these were rare. There appear to be no recorded two part given names. I wanted to keep my name simple so I chose to go with what appears to be the standard practice of a given and a surname.

Given name

When choosing an SCA first name I think it is important to pick a name you feel is you and you are actually going to answer to. When I chose Elisabetta it was because Elizabeth is my middle name and that was an Italian version of it. It is also an idea to run it past a friend and get their opinion on it. Try it out for a while to see if it works for you by saying it and writing it down. Other important considerations are who else in the group has that name or a version of it.

The Lisbon article had a long list of female names to consider. The most popular were Isabel and Maria of which there were 139 examples of each. As I spend a large amount of time with Mistress Isabel Maria I felt that neither of these were suitable choices. Caterina was the next most popular and there are many of those in the Crescent Isles. Inez I liked but it is the Portuguese version of Agnes and I didn’t think it would be a good idea considering how much time I spend with Baroness Agnes. I emailed my short list of names to Baroness Agnes and she commented that Madalena was a bit quieter than me!

In the end I kept going back to Joana so I knew it was the right one. It has a nice correlation in sound to my mundane name of Josie so it should make it easy to recognise. Joana was the thirteenth most popular name on the tax roll with 36 instances of it.


The information from the tax roll suggests that there were three types of surnames in Lisbon in 1565. One was a patronymic (English examples of these are Robinson, Thompson) which in Portuguese are names like Diaz, Guomez, Mendez. The second is locative (a place name) such as Braga, Estremoz or Lamego which are all towns in Portugal. Many of these are preceded by a de or d’vowel. This indicates that a person is from a place i.e. de Braga is from Braga. The third type are descriptors such as Moreno which is dark skinned, Pinto which is freckled or Veloso which is wooly or shaggy.

As I was unsure what my original Portuguese family surname was, I decided to look for a name that worked with the Joana. I jokingly said to Agnes some time ago that I could document a Portguese name that loosely translated to Joanna Lopez from the Block which was Joanna Lopes de Bairros. The more I thought about this, the more I liked the sound of the de Bairros part . A bairro is a Portuguese word that means neighbourhood or quarter. There is also a town called Bairros between Oporto and Lamego in Portugal. There were 6 instances of varying spellings of de Bairros on the
tax roll, 3 of these were spelt de Bairros.

Most of all I liked the meaning behind de Bairros in terms of developing my persona. When I picked my Italian name I chose Foscari as they are all well known aristocratic Venetian family with one famous 15th century doge, Francesco Foscari, as a member. I wanted to link my Joana persona to my love of being in the kitchen. Elisabetta Foscari would be far too aristocratic to be working in a kitchen but Joana de Bairros certainly would not be. I imagine Joana to be a bit like J.Lo in the Jenny from the Block song, working her way up from a family of fairly humble origins to become the Honourable Lady Joana.

Joana de Bairros it is!

Registering a name

I found deciding on a name more difficult than the registration of it. If you are new to the SCA or would like some reassurance this would be the time I would suggest talking to a herald about how to get your name registered. All registrations do need to go through the Southron Gaard herald so you will need to talk to them about what you want at some point in the process.

The first step towards registration is to see if your name is available as you will not be allowed to register a name that is either too similar to someone else in the Society or of a famous person in period. The place to look at this is the SCA Armorial search engine. You are better to use the Name Pattern Search as this is less sensitive than the Name Search form so will give a better coverage of entries. Luckily there is only one other Joana, a Joana Alvarez registered in 2012 in Gleann Abhann. There are no de Bairros registered so hopefully I am safe.

Your herald will then need to fill in the Name Submission form which can be found in electronic copy on the Lochac herald page. This does need to include evidence of your name. If you are using certain sources you can just mention them by name or provide a page number in a book (see the list above). Name registration services are free in Lochac!

Final Thoughts

There is a sense of achievement in getting your name passed by the College of Heralds and it does make it feel much more like it is yours. Personally I most enjoyed finding a name that I am confident was appropriate to the place and period in time I wanted to be in. Name registration does not have to be frightening if you are prepared to shop around for what feels right for you and it can even be fun."

Useful links