Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The Skraeling Althing Armorial History

The Skraeling Althing Armorial History

[From Enid Aurelia of the Tin Isles, OL, OP, first Baroness Skraeling Althing to Xristina Viaceslavivna, second Baroness Skraeling Althing]

[With some additions (italicized) by TSivia Bas Tamara v'Amberview, OL, founder of Skraeling Althing]

Your Excellency,

Some time ago, I received a request from Lord Evan Little about the Skraeling awards. This week I received another query from the current herald about the awards, and I realized that information and memories have gone astray.

Basking in my retirement, my memories of ancient days are of course "perfect" (the joys of senescence) and since the origins of these things predate most of us having personal computers, there is of course no central record, other than the SCA armorial (which I think you find a useful source of information for dates and registration).

In case of cracks in my perfect memory, I am copying a number of people. A few were there at the beginning and can add or amend. The historians and chroniclers may use this file, in whole or in part, as they see fit.

The one thing I ask, is that this information not be lost again, and I trust to the group of you to preserve it.

Dame Tsivia founded Skraeling Althing as a canton of Septentria in 1977 when she came to OttawaWe were registered as an incipient canton of the incipient Barony of Septentria. (Neither were "real" yet...) We were the only group (then) in Septentria which was NEVER a stand-alone shire. In those days it was really important to get name and arms registered fast, for recognition. So the proto-group designed arms that included an Iroquois coup-stick proper, with a gold maple leaf and a silver fleur-de-lis, and the background must have been red. The (thank GOODNESS!) lost arms had the same white and red inverted pile which currently stands on Skraeling's arms. Midrealm was very good at losing submissions in those days, so nothing came of the arms. In 78 the group's character changed a lot. TSivia had to go back to Toronto and look after pressing family needs.

She left as seneschal Thomas of Linlithgow (no relation to Henry), an Atlantean from the shire of Windmaster's Hill. (Thomas was here doing a one-year stint for his MA on the Canadian Navy!) Lucky for me she found Thomas first, because all I ever wanted to be was MoA. I have been MoA in the Shire of Mynydd Seren for a year, then spent a year overseas intermittently researching and pining for the Society.

The current arms were designed on a weekend by Lady Jorunn (our then herald) and myself, based on a legacy of Thomas', which was of course, the bunny frou-frou joke.
Now, note, I say "based on". The animal on the Skraeling banner is NOT a bunny, or a goon, but a hare. This was a deliberate heraldic choice. It is true that the emblazon then looked a lot like a rabbit. But as you heralds know, it is the blazon that counts, not the emblazon. The hare is salient to the sinister because that's the way it was easiest for Jorunn to draw.

We choose white and red as the two principal colours from the previous arms, and as being very suitable for an Ontario group.

I think Aelflaeda must have the herald that followed those arms through the system. They would have been registered some time before April 81, but check the armorial.

We became a Barony in 82, when Lady Thora (Anne Grey) was seneschal, Aedan and Kaffa were baron and baroness Septentria, Ithriliel was Kingdom seneshal, and Moonwulf and Takaya sat on the Thrones of the Midrealm.

It took 15 full members to be a barony then (under grandfather rules). I think we got 18 or 20, and some number of associates. A LOT in the days when membership was $25 US and most of our members were students.

Thora and Enid did the bulk of the paperwork, with substantial input from Lord Durnhardt. We couriered a bunch of copies to Starleaf Gate where a Curia meeting was being held. The final package was fast-tracked: our barony was passed at Board meeting in March, being held the same day as Clancy Day. Duchess Ithriliel phoned her husband, Duke Laurelin, who was in attendance at Clancy Day. When we were back at the hotel changing for dinner, Laurelin came to find me, with a note on hotel stationary in his hand "Skrealing (sic) Althing approved as Barony". (I carried that note around in my wallet until it fell apart.) This was a surprise. We had expected to have to wait until Coronation.
So Moonwulf and Takaya declared us Barony. I was coronetted with my own circlet (Baron Aedan had offered his Coronet but it didnn't fit my, um...large head.)

We had two events shortly after. A local "first baronial" event in May, and an official one June 6. One of the reasons for doing a local event was that we wanted an environment where we could do our own pomp and ceremony without being overshadowed. (We were so FAR from the nearest noblility/royalty in those days.) Another was that Thora would miss the June event, and she had put so much work into the submission it did not seem fair.

It was for this event, in consultation with the officers, that I created two baronial orders, the Order of the Hare Salient (for service by members of the BArony) and the Order of the Friends of the Hare (for service by non-members). Both orders carry equal precedence.

The badge for friends of the Hare was registered while Mistress Grania was Kingdom Herald and Gwilym was Baronial herald. It is Per pale argent and gules, two hares combattant, conjoined at the forepaws, counterchanged.

[Ed: According to the On-line Ordinary and Armorial for the SCA (dated: 991108 by Morsulus), although the Badge for the Friends of the Hare was registered in February 1990, the Order itself was never registered.]

The resubmit (which Grania told me would pass) of the Hare Salient was lost. It is the hare salient to the sinister on the red background of our arms , surrounded by a white clover wreath. There should be copies of this in the files.

[Ed: According to the On-line Ordinary and Armorial for the SCA (dated: 991108 by Morsulus), although the Order of the Hare Salient was registered in March 1989, it has no registered badge as yet.]

The Hare Salient was conceived of as a sort of group-level purple fret. I'm not sure it was ever given to a non-armiger. The first three recipients were Thora, Aelflaeda and Jorunn. The next three were Mordain, Ivy and Yusef. Mordain became baronial champion at our first event (by fiat, not contest of arms, which was unnecessary).

Dame Tsivia received the first Friends of the Hare (she was not a member of the Barony then), followed by Ragni, Torbin and Finnvarr, for hospitality (June event). [TSivia]was named "premier" of the Friends of the Hare, but as she moved BACK to Skraeling about a year after this period, Her Excellency asked her if she would resign her Premiership of that Order and instead, accept a co-premiership of the Hare Salient (now that she lived in-Barony again). It seemed a bit odd to her at that time, but she accepted. So it is her understanding that she doesn't hold a Friends of the Hare, but rather that she is co-premier of the Hare Salient with the above-named ladies. (She doesn't know what that makes the DATE of receiving the award).

At the May event, I also gave the first outside of group bunny tails to Dame Ellen, Searu and Stepan, who had stayed up all night the day before sewing a seneschal and a herald's tabard!

The bunny tails were an invention of Jorunn and Thomas of Linthgow. They were first presented as a good-bye present at the cry-in (Jorunn and Linlithgow were both leaving). Jorunn afterwards stuff the remaining fur into my hands saying "Here, you do it" and the rest is history...

It was an obvious way of saying "You're a valued member of the group", without jumping the gun on an AoA, which were not that easily come by (one wound up going down to the US to collect them), and we felt, signified a more distinct and longer contribution.

Tails were originally conceived of being given after 6-12 months of activity. As the barony grew, this interval, regretfully, sometimes lengthened. I remember at least one member (the then captain of my guard!) receiving his after his AoA!

I don't remember when I started the baronial guard (about a year later?). It was a way of recognizing martial contributions from people like Lord Yusef. Lady Kasia was instrumental and getting the guard open to scouts and archers. Mid was being odd about heraldic submissions again, so the badge of the baronial guard is registered to me. It is gold camp walls around the hare salient to the sinister. The brilliant heraldic insite of Duke Finnvarr and his regional team including Henry came up with a proper blazon for the badge. The camp walls are something like, or, a cross voided and fracted in delft.

The last third baronial order was the Black Hare, for entertainment. This badge is also registered and is a gold lyre supported by two black hares, fieldless.

I believe the first recipients were Lord Galen and Lady Katajan. And TSivia. (It was difficult [to keep track], as no one got scrolls back in those days...) Both the Skraeling (as it was then) and the Greyfells choir hold group black hares. This gives ANY member, when they are performing, the right to wear the black hare badge. (Only individual recipients can wear them all the time.) Baron Henry's players are an example of individuals who all hold individual black hares. Lord Phaeromond is probably one of the only people who holds a black hare neither for singing or dancing!

While I was baroness, I sometimes gave carrots of excellence. They were for cool stuff involving an interface to the non-SCA world, like Romek and Eric's CMS group ice sculpture.

At Pennsic we sometimes gave a "good camping token".


I had good promissories made up for the Hare Salient and Friends of the Hare by Lady Searu, which I used for years. This little Hare Salient and Black Hare [TSivia] never got a scroll for either award..but that's no surprise. She believes she has *THE* oldest promissory for an AoA in all of the Midrealm, too. And she might be the only person to hold supporters to her "achievement of arms", given to her by Her Excellency many Christmases ago: a black hare and a white hare, as supporters to her arms, complete with stationary designed by Lady Searu.Then Mistress Sarra made promissories for the three Orders, in the name of both Henry and I. Finally, as a gift to the incoming barons, Eric and Xristina, we commissioned from Lady Ellen o'Dynbych, a set of three promissories. These were given to them with the other gifts from us when we stepped down.

By my hand,
Enid Aurelia of the Tin Isles, OL, OP
Skraeling Althing
January 18, 2000

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