Costuming · SCA

Dress in Anglo-Saxon England

Had trouble sleeping last night so I picked up Dress in Anglo-Saxon England by Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Manchester University Press 1986.

The book is a bit light, and dated, but still yielded some useful points to my Merovingian research.Β  First a citation about the Saxons being neighbors to the Franks on the continent,Β  since they and other Germanic peoples invaded England there was definitely a cultural link there.
Bonus: Apparently some 5th or 6th century female graves in Kent were supplied with very Merovingian jewelry; paired bow-headed broaches at the waist, paired bird-shaped broaches and the crystal ball we’ve seen before. Apparently Aethelbhert, late 6th century King and convert to Christianity according to the Venerable Bede had a Frankish wife.

Of note the Kentish burials did not have buckles on their garters (if they had garters); the author presumes this points to longer hemlines, much like other authors assume fancy garters mean short hemlines, still an assumption. People wear lots of fancy stuff that’s out of sight, though in general when we have jewelry we want to flaunt it.Β  They also did not have any earrings save one burial that had them on her necklace. The author postulates that the Kentish ladies had close fitting headdresses so earrings would not show… I’m more inclined to think that Anglo-Saxons did not wear earrings and the ladies were not so wed to the Frankish fashions as to poke holes in their ears when no one around them was doing so.

So, if I can find some more recent information on Kentish burials of the time, I may have some more clues to Merovingian fashions. πŸ™‚ See? it was good I took this book out.

It’s been a staple of SCA and other reenactors for years and really was ahead of its time, though scant on concrete textile information. It’s written in a very accessible prose, which, alas, makes it a little hard to parse technical information. I’d much rather charts and graphs, you know.


Costuming · SCA

Merovingian Update

We’re still in hard research land. I read the article on shoes posted in yesterday’s blog, and went and pulled out “Stepping Through Time” and got most of the way through the scant references to Merovingian shoes in there; the author of Stepping Through Time postulates that the Merovingian innovation was that their flat shoe patterns had a distinct sole, though the sole was still a part of the whole and not a separate piece of leather. Interesting that the Shoe Museum article has a small, tear-drop shaped separate ‘sole’ on Aregunde’s shoes. Looking at the extant fragments… one wonders if this is a nod to a small bit of a different leather on the bottom of her foot… could it be a patch? Or indeed a separate sole as they envision. *ponder* (The cross-gartering is awesomesauce, btw.)

Also did a search through the University Library and on my break today picked up four new books to delve into:

Dress in Anglo-Saxon England by Gale R. Owen-Crocker, Manchester University Press 1986 (I figure as a related culture it’ll give some clues for construction.)

Caring for Body and Soul: Burial and the Afterlife in the Merovingian World by Bonnie Effros, Pennsylvania University Press, 2002

Merovingian Mortuary Archaeology and the Making of the Early Middle Ages also by Bonnie Effros, University of California PRess, 2003


From Attila to Charlemagne: Arts of the Early Medieval Period in the Metropolitan Museum of ArtΒ  edited by Katharine Reynolds Brown, Dafydd Kidd and Charles T. Little. Yale University Press, 2000.

Can’t wait to see what juicy tid-bits these give me πŸ™‚ Yay research!


SCA · Uncategorized

Weekend Update – North Oaken A&S

Oof! What a week with the trip to Connecticut to evaluate the Moog Simdont Dental Simulators (very cool technology, looking forward to where it’s going to go in the future!) and then on Thursday and Friday I had training on our new web Content Management System, so hardly a moment to stop and think. Needless to say I was lacking energy when Saturday came around.

North Oaken Arts and Sciences Faire was in nearby Oberlin OH, so we had the luxury of sleeping in a little, but it wasn’t enough for me! heh. I was tired and cranky when we got on site, I picked my clothes based on comfort and ease and my first words in the door were “Where is the coffee”. Alas! There was no coffee!

We got checked in, and friends were there and arriving, I whined to Ursula about no coffee, she whined back about how she was also deficient in coffee and checked her phone; lo! there was a coffee shop 1.3 miles away! We got Derian to drive us (as we had taken the Mini Cooper and mean husband does not let me drive his mini. hmf.) and it was a LOVELY coffee shop. We made it back in plenty of time for the judges meeting. Una asked me to help handing out cards and I couldn’t help but voice up a bit myself in the meeting, I have my soap boxes. πŸ™‚

I got three entries to judge and judging went well, though I was tired and probably not as good as normal. I also got to help some shadow judges and first time judges which was great.

Husband had brought his drone, hoping to do a test flight; when we all finished judging we went out to the field and… flip, crash. Better than last time but still no dice, alas!

The event site, by the way, was very nice. Well suited to the event.

Had some great conversations and then we were waiting for the results… a lot of people skipped out early. We were hungry, thankfully debate over restaurants lasted long enough to take us to the presentation, heh. Zuriel won the Pent, and Angelique was one of the top five scores. Was odd not to have the results read out, but it did make it faster.

We went to a local pub for dinner, Le Feve, very good burgers, excellent conversation. πŸ™‚ I don’t know how I missed that Ursula is a Merovingian πŸ˜‰ hee. Was fun comparing notes and such.Β  Can’t wait to have time to sit down with my notes!

We got home fairly early, and spent the evening cuddling on the couch and watching the Curling gold medal match. (I love watching the Olympics on our Roku, by the way, so nice to just pick the event you want.) Very glad I caught one of the American team’s early Curling games (Mostly picked it so that I’d have one with commentary so I knew what was going on, heh.) They were terrible, got the floor mopped with them by Norway; then I caught one of their mid games and… it was a totally different team. I noticed right away in the early game there was a lot of “What do you think?” back and forth in the player’s chatter, lack of decisiveness, lack of the Skip leading… I turned on the Olympics when I was in Connecticut and it happened to be Curling and the US team playing again, this time they were in control and working as a team and they had some impressive plays. Still, when I heard they needed to win the next three in a row to advance I was skeptical of their chances… so when I tuned in to the gold medal game I was surprised to see the Americans in it! And Sweden was a well oiled curling machine, I did not think that the Americans were going to win.. I saw that game they had earlier… but it was close, they were playing very well, they were holding the Swedes back, then it got to End 8 and there was that spectacular play! What a Cinderella story… and also what a lesson on the importance of leadership and having your head in the game. They had that skill the whole time, just they got in their own way the first few games.

Sunday I was a zombie, we slept in, grocery shopped, ran errands and husband baked a cake; family came over at 4 for cake for my birthday (Mary-Beth and Tim aren’t available on Wednesday so we did it early, I don’t mind.) it was a nice, laid back evening. After they left we went for a long walk, got some food and ended watching old Bob Ross episodes on Roku. ❀ I also got some knitting in, I’m making another doily. Husband reminded me of my sewing oblications I should be doing instead, oops. But… doilies are so fun!



Weekend Update

This weekend was Masque of Courtly Love, I had a bit of ‘don’t wanna’ running through my veins, but I’d promised to run dancing at the event so I got my stuff together (after some small hunting… it’s been a loooooooong time since I ran a dance class!) and the hubby and I headed down for the event. Being close enough we got to sleep in a little, which was needed. I did not sleep well Friday night, boo.

We arrived in plenty of time, I found out where my classroom was and the boom box was handy and lo, my CD even worked. *whew!* (I know, I’m such a dinosaur, no one uses CDs and boom boxes anymore!)
When it was time for the class I had… one student. Alas! Well, I thought, what’s a dance I can do with just two people? Rosti Bolli! I started teaching him, and myself because rusty! and by the time I got through teaching, 7 more people had appeared πŸ™‚ We did several more dances, and got quite a bit done in that one hour. Yay!

Then I had to find the husband, who was in the lunch hall, to get car keys to put the dance stuff in the car and get my rapier gear out of it. And I had some lunch and chatting too… which was bad because by the time I got my gear and got to the list… I’d missed entering the round robin tourney. Boo! So I waited for the tourney to be over so I could fight pick ups. There was a very entertaining Barrier fight on the armoured list that was fun to watch so I didn’t mind too much. Alas, not a lot of people were still standing after the round robin. I did get a few bouts in though so I got sweaty and that’s a good thing, eh?

I armed down and got into my pretty stuff again. Proud of me for remembering essentials like a clean set of under-things and deodorant, heh.Β  Must remember a plastic bag to put wet washcloth in after washing up. As a new fighter, there is much to learn in logistics. πŸ™‚ Had some fun conversations with folks. Had a heart-to-heart with Pietro about The Path and how great he’d look with a green belt on πŸ˜‰ So I’m calling the day a marked success.

Hubby got to play his ukelele with Her Majesty and did a lot of schmoozing of his own. Court was good, very glad to see Hugh the Silent receive a court Baronetcy. It’s nice to see quiet, long service people recognized. πŸ™‚

We hit the road and got dinner with Pietro and Aurellia, which was fabulous. Good burgers, great conversation.

Sunday was mostly errands and such. My new book arrived on archeological textiles, can’t wait to dive through it! and ran into a snag on the doily I’m knitting, row 27 makes NO SENSE whatsoever. Grr. Row 32 is the last row, I’m so close! and yet, so far. hmf.

Costuming · SCA

What to do with Diamond Twill?

So a while back I bought some Diamond Twill fabric, it was a good price and I got it in blue (because Blue) and thought I’d probably make a Norse Viking-era Apron Dress from it (as many archeological sources point to apron dresses being diamond twill and blue), but my friend Maggie said “You don’t *have* to do Viking” and that got me thinking… where and when was this fabric used?

Google Scholar found me an excellent article:

“Early medieval textile remains from settlements in the Netherlands. An evaluation of textile production” by Chrystel R. Brandenburgh in the Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries May 2010, pp 41-78

Which was a great read, I recommend it for anyone interested in textile manufacturing and early period textiles. (by the way, over half the textiles found were diamond twills and there were 6 hats found, probably men’s in diamond twill with red silk braid embroidery on the seams. Kinda dorky looking, kinda want to make one.)Β  Anyway, in the article she mentioned that the area of the Low Countries surveyed was boardered by the Merovingian’s to the south. Ah ha, I’ve heard of Merovingians, and I like the way the word sounds so I put in a new search on Merovingian.Β  Because France!

Several articles later (ah Queen Aregonde/Arnegundis, how lovely your grave is!) I have a full blown research project going. πŸ™‚ I’ll keep you posted.

Discoveries thus far:

Paired small broaches – this is an area for questions. One broach at the neck is easy to figure out where it goes, but a pair? Could be worn in necktie formation; one on top of the other, or bowtie formation, left and right. They are near the neck/upper chest region. I’ve come up with several possibilities and will be looking for evidence to support or deny them.

  • two broaches at keyhole neckline, one on top of the other
  • One broach on the under-tunic neckline, another on the over-tunic (lower, having them right on top of each other would be uncomfortable and also no one would see the pretty brooch!)
  • Brooches on either side of the neckline opening, connected by a tie? pinned to a piece of fabric to hold the opening closed?
  • Brooches on either side of the neckline decoratively, not serving any function (I don’t think this is likely, but have to consider it a possibility, many ladies wear brooches now a days that serve no function other than decoratively after all.)
  • Keyhole neckline pulled open and ‘lapels’ fastened open by brooches (fun, but not much precedence for that idea.)
  • Brooches used to hold veil to dress on either side of the neckline
  • Brooches used to fasten a cape or wrap

Paired bow brooches – in the Roman period these were worn at the shoulders, probably to fasten a peplos-like garment (read: bog dress). In the Merovingian period, however, they move lower on the body, still in pairs. By the end of the period They are near the thighs and have amulets a set distance from them at the knees (perhaps suspended from a belt?) of note Aregonde did not have them. She did, however, have a super awesome belt buckle which re-enforces my early assumption that the bow broaches have become associated with belt furniture in the Merovingian period. Just an assumption now, we’ll see if I can get any evidence behind that.

One of the graves near Aregonde’s had a dark blue pleated wool tunic. Exciting πŸ™‚

Lovely silks and gold thread embroidery (need to check my Gold Thread research files because I’m pretty sure I’ve got something about Aregonde’s embroidery in there too.)

Read an article on glass beads in the Merovingian era; “Indo-Pacific glass beads from the Indian subcontinent in Early Merovingian graves (5th-6th century AD)” by Constantin Pion and Bernard Gratuze in Archaeological Research in Asia (2016) pp 51-64. According to their findings not only were glass beads from Africa and India found amongst more locally produced or Mediterranean beads, 93% of them were green. (There are some large polychrome beads found, mostly single beads with lots of smaller single colored beads that are mostly green.) and lots of tiny beads in headdresses or positions that may indicate they were sewn onto clothing or veils. It looks like beads were very popular in the early Merovingian and then fell out of fashion toward the end of the era (Of note our friend Aregonde did not have beads.)

Given the very scant material available on Merovingian costume, I’m also looking at Norse, Anglo-Saxon, Alamannic and Thuringian finds and some finds and art from Byzantium and Italy (as those were cultures admired and perhaps copied.) Fun!



Rapier update

My confidence as a rapier combatant has increased. Vlad has been very encouraging; I did well at Standard Bearer’s last year, apparently, and I suspect a lot of it had to do with being rushed and not having time to think and psych myself out! Anyway, it won me Vlad’s good natured nagging which has been a great boon to getting out there and fencing.Β  Lately I’ve noticed that I can beat newcommers handily… it surprises me that there are fencers less experienced than I, heh.

On Tuesday we were chatting with Gwynedd and Muldonny and my husband mentioned that the local rapier community lacks a strong leader… in the discussion I quipped that I have leadership skills, maybe once I become a better fencer I could try to lead. And Muldonny said I’m already a good fencer. ❀ What a compliment! ❀

So on Wednesday at practice Gwynedd was there and looking for training and.. I did it! I trained her. It was fun and I think I did not suck at it. I feel like I’ve leveled up. πŸ™‚

Hubby also says that training others is good training for yourself so I’m hoping we can keep this up. I have some ideas for drills. People will show me a move and then “let’s use it” and bam, that’s it. Repetition is key for retention so I want to try drilling some parries and specific moves with Gwynedd. I’m also hoping we can get Eve out on the floor and increase the estrogen in our weekly practice πŸ˜‰

Feeling… hopeful.


Weekend Update – A Regular Event in Cleftlands

Saturday was the annual ‘Regular’ event. This year the theme was our Barony’s 40th year anniversary so I decided to wear my Cleft-a-Londe houpelande to mark the occasion. (It was our Investiture garb so part history display too, eh?)Β  I was worried about the Laurel meeting, fencing and getting changed timing…

We were good kids and packed up the car Friday night. Saturday morning came all too early for us, hubby was scheduled to teach at 10am and the Laurel show-and-tell started at 10:30 so… off we had to go. I was still getting ready when the husband came back in the house to tell me grumpily that we would be taking HIS car. Mine had a flat tire. Ugh. And our cat Glory, for some reason, was hiding in the basement and afraid to come out, which put the husband into an even worse mood! I told him she’s probably just spooked, a broom handle could’ve fallen or something and she’ll probably be fine later. (She was thankfully! but it was a rough start to the morning. That man loves his cat!)

Still, we got to the event in plenty of time. Sorcha was kind enough to let us dump stuff in the back corner of the scribe’s room. I got my scroll turned in, hubby found his class and started teaching and I had enough time to run across the street and get a cup of coffee at the Dunkin’ Doughnuts before the Laurel meeting, yay!

One thing struck me in the meeting was how Cleftlands-dominant it was. Wow, to think just 8 years ago we only had 2 Laurels in the Barony and now here we are!Β  Kinda proud of that.

The meeting ended on time, so I had plenty of time to get into rapier gear and fight pick ups. They set up the list in a very nice way; there were three lists going so one list was always pick ups. I didn’t want to do the 3pm tourney as I needed time to change before court and I wanted to make Aurellia’s apprenticing at 4pm. I got plenty of fencing in though and was downright exhausted, in a good way. Had some good one-on-one time with some experienced fencers who gave me some pointed instruction that was just great. Keep dagger up higher, same with buckler… out of sight is out of mind. If you see it, you’ll remember to use it. Smaller movements, buckler foot forward when you are using the buckler. There was more… hard to recall. Groupy also gave me a great demo of transferring a sword block to your off hand weapon or buckler.

I went to the Ladies room and cleaned myself up as well as I could in the sink. Very glad I remembered to pack soap, washcloth and towel! And got dressed. I went downstairs to find Edyth to help me with my hair… and drat, I was moments too late for the apprenticing. Ah well. Edyth and Sarai helped me get my hair done, they did a great job and I am very grateful. πŸ™‚ I was now mostly encumbered and so didn’t leave the main hall much, heh. I did join in on the fashion show that was pre-court entertainment. Court happened… I found a seat in the back near D and Ursula and got some knitting in.

There was some cool stuff in court, and then I got called up, much to my surprise! After all, Sorcha had sat down with me, with the court list in her hand to give me my assignment, she let me in and out of the scribe’s room all day, I *knew* I wasn’t on the list! ha ha ha. Dragon’s Barb. (Archery award) I was a bit stunned, and glad I dressed up πŸ™‚ Had a little trouble getting off of the dias int hat dress, heh. Was very happy that Vselvode and Pietro got their Cavandish Knots as well (Fencing award), well over-due on both accounts! And Branwen liked the Purple Fret I made for her, yay!

After court we headed up to the feast hall, Runa had arranged a processional for the past Royalty and past Barons and Baronesses of the Barony… the Barons, by the way, were all there and in line right away. πŸ˜‰ A Certain Duke had to be rounded up and dragged forward, much to the annoyance of his wife who was organizing the whole shebang! hee. So there was the processional, and then a great history presentation about the first (failed) Cleftlands feast and the founding of the Cook’s Guild, followed by an absolutely amazing feast. Angharad out did herself, as always and OMG, so much food! So delicious! There were hero portions too, given out by the high table. Duke Valharic had one and he chose to give a slice of his pie to Edward, which made him cry. He said some kind words too about how impressed he was by Edward’s comportment and stuff. It was lovely. I wish I’d had a camera at the moment ❀

The evening was over all too quickly and we got our stuff together and bundled off to the car and home. I’d left my large umbrella at the gate table for people to use and I’m glad to hear people did use it! Folks don’t plan for rain in January much.

Sunday we unpacked the car and my husband went on a wild round of housecleaning and I was a zombie. πŸ™‚ We did get brunch with Aiden, Hely, Amanda and Sally though which was a lot of fun. ❀