Heralding, Spring Crown 2023

I think the thing to start doing here is to just chronicle all the words I use to herald in various couples to Crown Tournaments. That said, here’s the three couples I was asked to do for Æthelmearc Spring Crown 2023: Bjarki & Gabrielle de Winter, Abdul & Genevieve, and Angus the Bull & Agnes.

Bjarki and Gabrielle received my third installment of quasi/proto Skaldic verse. Honestly, I feel like these are getting worse, not better. I’ve devolved from actually attempting to hit the historical structures to just jamming in a lot of alliteration and kennings. I need to do better next time; I probably should start working on it now. Maybe I actually will. I mean, I like them and I think they’re saying what I want them to say… just not “correctly”. Yet.

Bjarki & Gabrielle de Winter, Spring 2023

All-father Raven God clears his throat
Thor’s thought and aim-gem both drawn to Midgard
Mighty men mass there, battle-shirted birches
Bjarki bruin of blood, red-weapon wielder
With well-witted Winter, brooch-bearing beauty
Best bench-mate, far-come from sunset side
Sword-storm soon coming, blind blusterer’s blizzard
Beating of blades, many death-beds soon filled.

Brow’s sky afire, the helmet land’s dwarf-ring
Rightly retained by Andreas, sylvan suzerain
Czarina Kallista, halcyon fir-tree of gold
Gracefully gives good guidance, gentling his wildness
When well-wielded wound sticks contest for their crown
Comes the feeder of wolves, the raven’s delight
Displaying his war-sun, it’s paint black and bloody
Bjarki! His blood-brand a torch for your pyres.

Abdul and Gen gave me a chance to do something super-historical. I found “Letter on the appearance of the twelfth caliph” (Risāla fī ẓuhūr al-khalīfa al-thānī ʻashar) (Arabic text editing and English translation by Mauro Nobili) online at https://journals.openedition.org/afriques/1958 and hacked it up to meet my needs. Rather than hailing the appearance of the 12th descendent of Muhammad (bpuh), it now reads as, essentially, a warning to the king and queen and all the peoples of Æthelmearc that Abdul is coming for the crown.

Abdul Ishkhan Al-Rashid & Genevieve, Spring 2023

“To the fair Kingdom of Æthelmearc, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful, the most Prosperous, the most Beneficient. May blessings and perfect peace be on our Sylvan Sultan, Andreas Morgan, his Sultana, Kallista Morganova, his household and his companions gathered here today. “You are summoned to the Abode of Peace.”

This is a warning for you, a notification, an enlightenment, a reminder, and an admonition to those remaining, to the Shaykh of the Lands of the Windmill, the Copper Tree, the Dominion of Myrkfaelin, to the Shaykh of the Lands of the Three Ravens, to the Shaykh and peoples far and hither of the Mountains of Black Stones, the Shaykh of the Ice Dragon lands and their lands along the beautiful river, to the Shaykh of the Never-ending Hills and his wards, the Gray River, the scholars in the Kuliyat Aldawla, the Home of Hunters, to the Shaykh of the Bog of Swithin Alqidiys, all the way to the Shaykh of the Steel City of the West, and to this Port Oasis in the East, and surrounding areas extending to the Mountains and Lakes and Rivers that border these lands.

After the fullest and most complete greetings of peace, the all-encompassing and perfect honor, know that a Jewel of Æthelmearc, Sayyid Abdul Ishkhan Al-Rashid, with his Western Sayyida Genevieve, is the one who stood up to revive and contest for their claim to become Amir and Amira of this Kingdom of Æthelmearc, its surrounding territories to the east, west, south and north, and in good time to be the the fifty-and-first Sultan and Sultana and renewer of the faith of this fair Kingdom.

Here ends what is necessary to report. I, Shaykh Snorri skyti Bjarnarson, urge and press all those who receive these words of mine to make a copy of them and to send them to everybody who they think did not receive what is included in them. I also urge and press the carrier of the letters to gather the People of the Barunia, the Shayir, the Kantunat, and the Al’Kuliyaat that he passes through and he thinks did not hear of it to read the letter to them or inform them orally, according to his capability.

Peace be upon you all.”

This was probably way too long. I hate going long, the focus should be on the combatant and their consort, not me. I need to time everything from now on and make sure they’re all under 30 seconds, ideally 20-25 seconds long. I won’t do something this long again.

Having done two super-serious processions, we came to Angus, who really wanted something funny to take his mind off the upcoming tournament. Say no more, fam.

Angus the Bull & Agnes, Spring 2023

Now, this is a story all about how
Æthelmearc got flipped-turned upside down
And I’d like to take a minute, since this crowd is full
To tell you all about His Lordship Angus, the Bull

In the Barony of Thescorre, born and raised
On the battlefield was where he spent most of his days
Chillin’ out, maxin’, relaxin’, all cool
And all fightin’ some pickups outside of the school
When a couple of knights who were up to no good
Started making trouble in his neighborhood
He got in one little fight and Agnes declared
She said, “You’re fightin’ for me in crown so you best get prepared!”

Full credit to Halfdan who suggested it as a joke. Little did he know, hah! I even asked the crowd for some hand claps to assist, which they did with a lot of enthusiasm, if a little less rhythmic skills. Naturally this seemed to be the best-received of all three.

My only regret here is that I wasn’t wearing a bycocket so I could turn the bill sideways.

Rus-Inspired SCA Coronet

I know, you’re here for the pictures. Here you go. There’s a link to the actual A&S documentation at the end.

This was the inspiration pic. It turns out it’s actually a painting from a Russian artist from just a hundred years ago, but this was the jumping-off point:

The actual coronet I made looks like this:

Here it is on the recipient:

This ended up tying for Populace Choice at the Queen’s Prize A&S Faire today.

Documentation here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1GjU2bNlVHW0pW53Ft0xG__RfLyXh64_G/view?usp=sharing

Introduction to SCA Period Archery

DISCLAIMER: This is a rough outline for a work-in-progress class. It’s not done, it’s going to change, etc. and so forth. No warranties, no guarantees, use at own risk, et cetera and so forth. I’ll re-publish when it’s actually done.

Introduction to SCA Period Archery

  1. What is it?
    • SCA Target Archery Marshal’s Handbook
  2. Why do it?
    • Why WOULDN’T you want to do medieval archery at medieval events?
    • You ARE at a disadvantage against Open shooters
  3. Where to do it?
    • Anytime there is archery, you can shoot Period equipment
    • Various Period Shoots
  4. Bows
    • Self-bows, bow made of one piece of wood or laminated woods
    • Horsebows / static eared recurves
    • Recurve bows – Korean bows
    • Fiberglass is always okay
    • Cut-out shelves are never okay
    • Sources
      ++ Horsebows: AliBow – http://www.alibowshop.com
      ++ Horsebows & Longbows: Flagella Dei – traditionalbowshop.com
      ++ English Longbows: Ebay – ArcheyBowman
  5. Crossbows
    • Most handmade crossbows are already period bows
    • Rising block, thumb lever, roller nut, claplock/latch
    • Sources
      ++ themodernarmbruster.com (kit bow)
      ++ http://www.alcheminc.com
      ++ swifthoundbows.com
      ++ todsworkshop.com
  6. Arrows
    • Self nocks
    • Glue on/in nocks made of natural materials
      ++ Wood
      ++ Horn
      ++ Bone
      ++ Brass
      ++ Stone
    • Sources
      ++ vikingarcherysupply.com
      ++ nofrontiersarchery.com
      ++ allwoodarrows.com
  7. Garb
    • Period Shoots typically require a higher standard of garb: “Anachronism free”
    • Garb must match your tackle
      ++ No Vikings with yumis, no Samurai with English longbows, etc.
  8. Targets
    • LOTS of period targets
      ++ Universal
      +++ Flight
      +++ Clout
      +++ Piles of dirt
      ++ Eastern
      +++ Mongolian tunken
      +++ Turkish putta
      +++ Tibetan triangle
      +++ Turkish quabak (Turkish cymbal popinjay)
      ++ Western
      +++ Luttrell Psalter
      +++ Wands
      +++ Wreaths/rings
      +++ Popinjay (English bird quabak)

Novelty Targets Made Easy

As archers, we spend a lot, I mean a LOT, of time shooting at circles at known distances. Whether they’re 24″ Royal Round 5-color bullseye targets at 20 yards, or historical green-and-gold Luttrell Psalter targets, or Vegas 3-spots, or 40cm NFAA bullseyes at 18 meters, it’s generally circles all the way down. Don’t get me wrong, circles are great targets for building skill and consistency, plus they’re readily available and cheap. But after a while, they get BOOOOORING.

So, typically, when you go to an SCA event that offers archery, the Marshals in Charge try to give you something that’s NOT circles at known distances. Enter… the “novelty target”:

These were some of the targets from the Shire of Coppertree’s 4th Annual Holiday Shoot, the theme was “Monsters Steal Christmas”

I sometimes have a member of the populace tell me that I’m an amazing artist when they see these. NOTHING could be further from the truth! All I did was trace pictures I liked, slap on some paint, then outline them with a black marker. Honestly, there’s no art to it. A little craftsmanship, maybe, but definitely not “art”. If you’re a Marshal and want to know how we make these targets, here’s how we do it!

Tools & Materials

Computer (laptop/Chromebook preferable. You can probably use a tablet or smartphone, too.)

Pencil (I use a square carpenter’s pencil for thicker lines)

Cardboard, in the sizes you want


Cheap paints and brushes

Jumbo Sharpie black paint marker

More targets from Coppertree’s Holiday Shoot. All the targets were “friend/foe” scoring – archers lost points if they hit the holiday goodies instead of the monsters!

Process & Methods

1. Get a $50 projector on Amazon. Go to Amazon, search for “projector”, filter to $50 or less, and look for one that has the connections you need (DVI/VGA/HDMI/USB C) and find one that’s 4- or 5-star rated. Some of these cheap projectors now even have Bluetooth, so even if you don’t have a laptop, that’s fine – you can hook your smartphone or tablet to them!

2. Find a picture on the internet that you want on the target.

3. Hit up your local appliance sales store and score a bunch of big, thick cardboard for free. Just ask at their front desk and they’ll let you have all you can haul. Best time is afternoon, as their delivery trucks are returning. They’re just going to throw it all into a recycling bin anyways, and pay to have it emptied when it’s full, so they’re happy to let you take as much as you want. Pro Tip: bring a utility knife with you when you go, and you can trim them to the size you want right there, and throw the trash into their dumpster/recycling skip.

4. Lean the cardboard against the wall, use the projector on a table to throw the picture onto the cardboard. Just set the laptop’s display settings to the “duplicate screen” setting, and open the picture in any kind of photo viewing app. Don’t be nervous about using a projector, they’re simple: your computer will see it as a second monitor, and typically just ask you what you want to do when it does.

5. Turn off most of the lights, grab a writing utensil, and trace the picture. Just get the general idea and outline, don’t worry about fine details like fur or hair. Sketch the major elements.

6. Turn your lights back on. Clean up your tracing a little bit.

7. Buy (or have your shire/barony buy!) the cheapest craft paint you can find. Typically this is some variety of kids tempera arts & crafts paint. Get some brushes too – you’ll want a variety of sizes: 2″, 1″, and 1/2″ chip brushes were about all we used. Just cheap chip brushes are fine; avoid foam ones though. They’ll tear, and don’t give fine detail.

8. Paint them all. Go ahead and refer to your originals for the colors. Mix as needed – we used paper plates for palettes. Stay between the lines, more or less. Don’t worry about being too neat right now, we’ll fix that in step 9. If this is absolutely not your thing, enlist your group’s scribes. Pizza and beer work as bribes.

9. Get out your Jumbo Sharpie black paint marker and go over all the lines you traced. Makes a HUGE difference, and provides nice thick lines for scoring.

10. Hang them on your favorite backstops and GO SHOOT THEM UP!

Heavily-bribed Shire member applying paint to the Owlbear.
Giant Spider target after paint, but before outlining with the jumbo paint Sharpie
When I say, “don’t worry about the details” I really mean it!
Goblin and Spider targets after outlining. What a difference!

Here are some other targets from a previous year’s Holiday Shoot, “Midwinter in History”, made using this method. Again, the black paint marker is, essentially, magic.

The Lord of Misrule, wild boar for the Christmas feast, and the Omnimalevolent Ahriman.

As a bonus, your heavy fighters can use this same method to get their heraldry onto their shields: prop the shield against the wall and use the projector to throw their heraldry onto the shield. Trace, paint, done! You can do some extremely complex designs using this method:

Using the projector to throw art onto a shield. Setting up the whole thing on a single table, as shown, seems to be the best way to do this.
Use of a projector to trace an image, and outlining it with paint markers, can result in very complex shield designs done easily!

Pitching the idea that your group’s projector can be used for archery targets, by the heavy fighters when they’re painting shields for Crown Tournaments and wars, and by your A&S folks for presentations makes it much easier to get your finance committee to sign off on the projector being a group purchase!

I hope this helps you create fun and challenging targets for your next shoot! It’s not hard to do, and only takes about $100 in materials and tools to get started, with everything being reusable (paints and markers until they run out, but projector and brushes forever) for your next shoot.

Kievan Rus-Inspired Penannular Brooch

Artisan: Baron Snorri skyti Bjarnarson m.k.a. David A. Haldenwang

Artisan’s Piece

  • Copper alloy construction
  • Rolled terminals
  • Large size, circular
  • Stamped decorations
  • Rolled attachment of pin
  • Filework decorations

Historical Pieces

  • Copper alloy construction (all)
  • Rolled terminals (#16)
  • Large sizes, circular (all)
  • Stamped decorations (#22)
  • Rolled attachment of pin (#16, 18)
  • FIlework decorations (#21)

Historical Justifications & Documentation:

Fig.1: Artist’s finished piece

In the fall of 2022, I was asked to contribute to a Royal Garb Project for TRMs Arnthor and Cierech. Among the various accessories I was tasked with creating was a “Rus Cloak Brooch”.

I wasn’t sure what that actually meant, so I reached out to one of the coordinators of the project, Lady Aurelie of the State College, Pennsylvania shire. She provided me with some reference pictures:

Fig.2: Illumination of Kievan Rus male nobility from the manuscript “Izbornik Svyatoslav” (1073). The cloak-korzno was a draped garment of the Byzantine type, which was worn only by the feudal princely elite. Note the extra-large brooches holding the korzno closed at the neck – this is what I was aiming to evoke.

Fig.3: Illustrations of Kievan Rus cloak pins from Rybakov, 1997.

Looking carefully, you can spot all the physical elements (except the gemstones, which are addressed herein later) I incorporated into my piece on this page:

1. Geometric stamping                                          

2. Rolled terminals

3. Pin end rolled around the brooch body

There was a bit of back-and-forth amongst the Garb Project participants as to whether or not I should mount gemstones on the finished product. While Scandinavian Viking jewelry is almost completely devoid of mounted stones (they almost exclusively fashioned gemstones into beads) the Kievan Rus labored under no such aesthetic restrictions. Kievan Rus jewelry exhibits mounted stones in cabochon style on many items owned by high-status individuals, largely due to the strong influence of Byzantine culture.  This “barma”, or necklace, is a representative example of such:

Fig.4: Necklace (barma) from the Ryazan treasure, 12th century. Gold, pearls, precious stones; filigree, granulation. State Historical and Cultural Museum-Reserve “Moscow Kremlin”. 

As is this tsata, a piece of religious jewelry:

Fig.5: Tsata with three pendants, Russia. Late 14th – early 15th century Gold, sapphires, emeralds, tourmalines, almandines, mother-of-pearl. State Museums of the Moscow Kremlin.

Additionally, Rybakov’s book shows several illustrations of different pieces of jewelry with gemstones:

Fig.6: Ring with cabochon-cut gemstone, Rybakov pp.284

Fig.7: Christian pendants with cabochons mounted around the edges, Rybakov pp.291

Fig.8: Additional finger rings with cabochon-cut gemstones, Rybakov pp.305

In the end, it was decided that this was a piece for a king, and as such, rated gemstones, so I added them. 

Tools & Materials:

The following materials were used in the construction of this piece:

14 gauge red brass sheet

4x commercially-made copper bezel cups

4x 10mm semi-precious gemstones: moonstone, tigerseye, carnelian, amethyst

6” section of ⅛” square red brass wire

Silver solder: medium (used for joining metal)

Liquid flux (flux is a chemical to make solder flow evenly)

The following tools were used:

  • Bench vise with 1 ¼” steel pipe section
  • Bench-mounted Beverly shear
  • Dykes (used for convenience rather than a cold chisel and mallet)
  • MAPP gas torch (I lack a forge)
  • Oxy-MAPP torch (I still lack a forge)
  • Firebricks (used as a work surface to prevent tabletop fires)
  • Ceramic soldering tile (fireproof surface to solder on)
  • 15 pound anvil
  • Assorted hammers: planishing, flat-faced, and drawing
  • Assorted mallets: rawhide, poly, and rubber
  • Jeweler’s stone setting tools
  • Polishing buffer and polishing compounds (I have no information on period polishing techniques or materials)
  • Various jeweler’s files: flat, half-round, round, and square
  • Decorative triangle-dot, Byzantine cross, and bar stamps of my own construction (stamp construction detailed on my blog)
  • Containers of water and mineral spirits (water for quenching after annealing, mineral spirits for cleanup after polishing)
  • Assorted non-marring jeweler’s pliers (would have been small blacksmith’s tongs in period)

We know that files, decorative stamps, hammers, chisels, and blacksmith’s tongs are period tools due to their inclusion in the Mastermyr find (Arwidsson et al, 1999). 

Fig. 9: The author’s own hand tools

Fig. 10: Hammers, saw, tongs, and files from the Mastermyr tools

Construction Methods:

To start, I annealed a sheet of 14 gauge red brass with a Mapp gas torch to make it more malleable, and cut off a half-inch strip using the Beverly shear. This naturally gave the piece the correct curvature to start with, which is convenient.

Fig. 11: The initial cut off the annealed sheet 

I then clamped a piece of steel pipe in my bench vice, to give me a curved working surface to form the brooch’s circular shape on. In this period, this would have been done over the horn of a large anvil; I do not have such a large anvil, so a pipe suffices. I annealed the piece again, and began forming it into a circle, using heavy blows from a rawhide mallet (using a steel hammer would mar the edges of the piece too much).

Fig. 12: Beginning to curve it more

Between each round of forming, the piece is annealed again. Copper-alloy metals quickly work-harden, and must be softened by annealing or they will crack. 

Fig. 13: Continuing to make the circle shape 

After several rounds of forming on the pipe, the circular shape is close enough to done that I’m ready to move on to the ends prior to a final true-up of the form. 

Fig. 14: Curve done for now 

Again, it’s annealed, then I draw out and flatten the ends thinner, using a convex-faced hammer clamped in my bench vice as a small anvil, and another convex-faced hammer to strike glancing blows. This gives much the same effect as a rolling mill, albeit at the expense of much more work. Then, I clamped one of my decorative stamps in the vice and used a smaller hammer to roll the ends over it, into something like the shape shown in #16, Figure 3. The sides were cleaned up with a large, aggressive file, then with smaller jeweler’s files after they were rolled.

Fig. 15: Flattened and rolled the ends

After forming the rolled ends, the large pipe was replaced in the bench vice as an anvil, and the final round form was shaped with a rawhide mallet.

Fig. 16: Finished the circular forming 

When the forming of the terminals is done, I anneal again, then mark the piece with a pencil into quadrants. I do a little decorative filework on the outer edges, similar to the shapes shown in #21-24, Figure 3.

Fig. 17: Simple decorative edge filework

Now that I’ve marked the piece into quadrants, the next step is to mount the bezel cups for the gemstones. I move them around until I’m happy with where they look.

Fig. 17: Figuring out gemstone placement

Then I solder them into place. The area to be soldered is first lightly cleaned up with an abrasive, some flux is brushed on the bottom of the bezel and the place it is going to be placed at, brass-colored medium silver solder is laid in between the bezel cup and the piece, and heat is very precisely applied to the underside of the piece (applying heat directly to the bezel cup will cause it to melt before the body reaches the temperature at which solder will flow) with an extremely fine oxygen-MAPP gas jeweler’s torch until the solder flows.

Fig. 17: Post-solder

Once the piece is quenched to cool it, I lay the stones in the bezels to test the fit and overall aesthetic – it’s possible one of the bezel cups got malformed in the heat, but everything fits well.

It is at this point that I am starting to think this might not be a total waste of time and materials; this might actually result in a usable piece that does not look terrible.

Fig. 18: Test-fit of gemstones

Because the piece was just heated for soldering, and the bezel cups are now in place, this is an ideal time to do the decorative stamping. I choose stamps from my collection that seem plausible for a Kievan Rus piece: a simple bar, the ubiquitous triangle-dot, and a small Orthodox cross stamp. I will only use the cross stamp once, at the top of the circle of the brooch.

I set the piece flat on my 15 pound anvil and strike the stamps very sharply with a 2-pound hammer. This results in good, clear, deep imprints.

Fig. 19: Decorative stamping done

With the stamping done, the next step is polishing. Polishing is accomplished by using polishing compounds with a buffer machine. Very little effort is made to give this piece a perfect mirror polish; this could not have been accomplished in this period. I feel the piece has a more authentic look with an imperfect polish.

Cleaning the insides of bezel cups that are dirty with forge scale from being soldered is a truly miserable and tedious task, but necessary for mounting translucent gemstones such as moonstone and amethyst.

Fig. 20: Polished piece

At this point I also add my maker’s mark, then do a final cleanup with mineral spirits, which remove the residue of the polishing compound.

Fig. 21: Author’s maker’s mark, a septagram with a Sowilo (S) rune inside, for Snorri

Time now to mount the stones. A small drop of super-glue is placed in the bottom of each bezel cup, then the cabochon is placed in the cup and tapped gently snug with a small rubber hammer. Special jeweler’s stone-setting tools are then used to gently press the edges of the bezel cup up and around the edges of each stone. The resulting mount is quite secure.

Finally, I cut off a section of square brass wire and anneal it. One end is flattened, then clamped in the bench vice. The wire is then twisted to give it some sparkle and visual interest, then sharpened on the end by hammering, then filing. The pin is then polished, and the flattened end wrapped around the brooch body, taking care to leave the loop large enough to clear all the gemstones.

The final product looks like this:

Fig. 22: The author’s finished piece

My methods vary from period methods solely due to my lack of skill and tools, primarily my lack of a forge, which necessitates the careful use of torches to anneal and join metal. I used vise-grips to twist the pin, as I do not own blacksmith’s tongs. Period metal polishing is thought to be quite similar to modern methods, using abrasives in a semi-fluid medium such as wax (similar to today’s jeweler’s rouge), probably applied with cloth strips and vigorously rubbed. For the sake of expediency, I used modern motorized buffers and polishers for that. Finally, I occasionally use a modern tool as a shortcut for efficiency; this accounts for my use of dykes to snip wire, rather than a cold chisel and hammer, and so forth.

However, most of the use of hand-tools is similar or identical to how they would have been used in period: the hammer-forging of the terminals, the decorative stamping, the shaping with mallets and mandrels, the polishing, filework, etc. all mimic closely period practices. The similarity to period pieces of my piece is an indicator that I am using the same tools in the same ways.

Future improvements could be:

  • Hammering the body from an ingot
  • Closer examination of period stone-setting methods and materials, so as to stop using commercial bezel cups
  • Shaping my own stones
  • Cleaner hammerwork
  • Attempting period polishing techniques
  • Acquisition of more period tools, such as swapping my 15 pound anvil for more period anvils, such as those found in the Mastermyr find
  • Acquisition of a forge to attempt hot-joining instead of soldering

Appendix A: Silver Soldering

Silver solder material is made of silver, alloyed with various other metals to affect the melting point of the silver, including copper, zinc, and tin. It is sold in four grades: hard, medium, easy (sometimes called soft), and extra-easy (sometimes called easy) (Stice, 2019).

Table 1: Silver Solder Alloys

Extra Easy56%22%17%5%

Operations that take multiple soldering jobs can then be accomplished by starting with hard solder, doing some work, then next medium solder, doing more work, and so forth. With careful application of heat, it is possible to make a lower grade solder flow without making the higher grade solder in the same location re-melt. This is a vital skill for a jeweler who, for example, wants to solder a ring shut, then solder a mount for a gemstone onto the ring.

Table 2: Silver Solder Melt & Flow Temperatures

TYPEMelt (F)Flow (F)
Extra Easy1145°1205°

Finally, care must be taken that the melting point of your raw materials is not lower than the melting point of your solder. Table 3 shows some common alloys and their melting points (EngineeringToolbox, 2005, and Smith & Glover).

Table 3: Melting Temperatures of Various Metals

Brass, Red1832°
Brass, Yellow1706°
Gold, 24k1945°
Iron, various2061° – 2899°
Pewter247° – 290°
Silver, coin (90%)1614°
Silver, pure (99.9%)1762°
Silver, sterling (92.5%)1639°
Steel, carbon2597° – 2804°
Steel, stainless2750°


Arwidsson, Greta, and Berg Gösta. The Mästermyr Find: A Viking Age Tool Chest from Gotland. Larson Pub. Co., 1999. Print. 

Britannica, T. Editors of Encyclopaedia (2023, February 2). gemstone. Encyclopedia Britannica. https://www.britannica.com/science/gemstone 

Costume of Kievan and North-Eastern Russia X-XIV centuries. (2004). Retrieved March 20, 2023, from https://www.cross-kpk.ru/ims/files/new/projekts/%D0%9C%D1%8B-%D1%81%D0%BB%D0%B0%D0%B2%D1%8F%D0%BD%D0%B5-%D0%A2%D0%9E%D0%9B%D0%AC%D0%9A%D0%9E_%D1%84%D0%BE%D1%82%D0%BE_%D0%B8_%D0%B2%D0%B8%D0%B4%D0%B5%D0%BE/slavane/biblioteka/costum/kiev.htm

Horbach, O. (1989). Izbornik of Sviatoslav (1073). Retrieved March 21, 2023, from http://www.encyclopediaofukraine.com/display.asp?linkpath=pages%5CI%5CZ%5CIzbornikofSviatoslav1073IT.htm 

Metals and alloys – melting temperatures. Engineering ToolBox. (2005). Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/melting-temperature-metals-d_860.html  

Rybakov, B. A. (1997). Early Rus Life and Culture (Vol. 16). Electronic copy available via Baron Snorri upon request.

Smith, & Glover. (n.d.). What is lead free pewter ? What is Lead Free Pewter ? Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://www.gloverandsmith.co.uk/28/about-lead-free-pewter/  

Stice, E. (2019, January 8). Types of silver solder used in jewelry. Halstead. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://www.halsteadbead.com/articles/types-of-silver-solder-in-jewelry 

Williamson, R. (2003, March 31). Non-ferrous metal working. Regia Anglorum – Anglo-Saxon and Viking Crafts – Non-ferrous Metalworking. Retrieved March 21, 2023, from https://regia.org/research/life/othermetalwork.htm  

Yavtushenko, I. G. (1982). Museums in Kiev: An overview. Museum International, 34(3), 140–149. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1468-0033.1982.tb00384.x   Electronic copy available via Baron Snorri upon request.


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Award Medallions, Viking-style

I learned a few years ago how to make acid-etched, resin-enameled medallions from Master Artemius in Delftwood. They’re awesome, but also very modern-looking. (I keep having this problem; as my knowledge of period arts and crafts increases, I get a corresponding decrease in my tolerance for non-period “stuff”, be that shoes or medallions or arrows or pouches or whatever. I try and keep a handle on it when in public.)

I wanted to see if I could use my knowledge of stamping and hammer-forging silver to make more period-looking medallions. So far, I’ve made a Keystone (Æthelmearc’s Order of Merit for Service) for Lady Vedis Aradottir (my pocket scribe):

and a Gage (Æthelmearc’s Order of High Merit for Heavy Fighting) for my buddy THL Bjarki:

I needed to do a Master Bowman medallion for Lord Godzimir the Golden, another good buddy from down in the Pittsburgh area. These are rank medallions, not strictly speaking awards, as they’re earned, not given, but those of us who are serious archers prize them pretty highly.

I ended up casting a flat round slug from about an ounce of silver, hammering it out a bit more to make it more coin-like, stamping all the details on, riveting on a bale, and finally hitting the indentations with a little liver of sulfur to blacken them. Hung it on a silver chain I had on-hand, rather than constructing one this time. Ended up looking like this:

The actual badge is supposed to be yellow and red (you can see it in the title image of my blog’s front page), but I just can’t get behind that modern-looking aesthetic for us early-period personas. We’ll have to wink and nod and pretend we know it’s there.

I think these are pretty neat, but they’re only okay for a pretty specific subset of personas. Fortunately, everyone and their uncle wants to be some kinda Viking these days in the SCA.

Tell me how you feel about these in the comments! Would you like to get one of these? Are they too rough-and-rustic?


Attempting Skaldic Verse

Saturday, I went to Crown Tournament in Æthelmearc again. This one was waaaaay down in the Barony of Blackstone Mountain in BY GAWD West Virginia. We were just there two weeks ago for Blackstone Raid – same site even! – but my friend Bjarki is on the Beat Everyone’s Ass Tour of Æthelmearc this year, so I’m going along – actually a bunch of us went down to support him and help out – to help him in his quest for a crown by heralding him into the lysts.

I’ve done a good bit of this over the last few years, and I am not known for any one particular thing (other than being loud and enunciating clearly). This is probably because I don’t like to do the same thing twice. I have bragged couples into court before the Crown in German and Pig Latin, sung in Gregorian chant and Irish traditional filk, bragged in just the consort, only mentioning the combatant as a parenthetical footnote, and a bunch of other stuff. I try and make every time special for the combatant and their consort; typically all I ask them is, “Serious or comedic?” and go from there. They have no idea what I’m going to do until I start.

This time, though, my man Bjarki is a Viking, and Vikings mean skaldic verse. This was new territory for me. I wrote some lines down and called my lifeline: Master Magnus hvalmagi, an East Kingdom Laurel for, conveniently, Norse poetry. You can read his stuff (and his brewing adventures) here: https://thedraughtsaredeep.wordpress.com/

I shot him my first attempt, and he confirmed that it was, in fact, absolute garbage. A dildo filled with syphilis. A poopy bowl of rotten chocolate custard. Just bad.

But, him being the stand-up guy he is, he attempted to assist me, and after a longer time than I’d like to admit, messing with syllable counts and beats-per-line and weird rhymes, I ended up with this. Anything that’s good here is due to him, and all mistakes are my own (and published despite his sage advice and teaching).

Lordly, comes from Coppertree
To Blackstone for Winter’s throne
Bearing honor, not belt-wearing
Lyst-vying, light-stepping, foes dying

Mighty, comes from Coppertree
Red-brand swings in skillful hand
A bear, to be Sylvan heir
Patriarch of Æthelmearc

This isn’t great, hell it’s not even correct or good, but it gets across what I wanted to say and sounds vaguely like it’s in some kind of Norse meter and structure. I guess I’d say it’s vaguely a Drottkvaett, if I had to pick something, but the rhyme scheme isn’t right. It was enjoyed and complimented at crown, so I guess that’s a win. Maybe I’d bust this out again at a drunken bardic circle.

Anyways, if you want to know more, don’t talk to me, I’m bad at this. Here’s a short document from Master Magnus about skaldic verse, read this then go ask him: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1ES_J7vdqoZcMt3sw7tFIOYE7DZSCgSyFGvJfcnbMAeI/edit?fbclid=IwAR00EjFog09RKQh46l3ogLYkr31XvvW6yT-9lBouzRjlzu8qp0Cf2TA1Nno#slide=id.g33fa24dbd_00

PS. Bjarki was dead last in the Order of March, and made the semifinals. He’ll get the next one.

Photo by Alaxandair


Six months later, I gave him this at the next Crown Tournament.

Noise of bold battle
Beats boundless green hills
Hersirs come hungry
Hawk-red banners with silver
Cierech our dróttning
Draws devotion from all
Arnthor konungr watches
Waiting to give dwarf-ring

Desired by sundry
Skilled sword cinches boon
Bjarki foe-hammer
Head held high with Winter
While blood-lettings run
Red rivers down hillsides
Hear me, Æthelmearc
Alas for your fates

Making a Mjolnir

At Gulf Wars this year, my good friend Bjarki impressed King Gareth and Queen Juliana so much at the Viking deed of arms that they gave him a silver ingot. He wasn’t sure what to do with it, so came to me. I told him we oughtta make something out of it. My first thought was a belt tip, but turns out that my research shows those were usually cast, not forged, and I’m straight garbage at casting. We didn’t really make any decisions, and he stuck the ingot into my jewelry bag for safekeeping.

We both promptly forgot about it for a couple weeks.

Then he decided he wanted to fight in Crown Tournament. His current girlfriend is lovely, but not super-interested in the SCA, so he’s been fighting for a Pelican from the other end of the kingdom – she’s great and it’s a good arrangement (bumps him up high enough on the roster for crown that he doesn’t have to challenge in). He wanted to give her a gift, and we remembered the ingot. We talked a bit, and he decided that giving her a Mjolnir was what he wanted.

I thought first that I’d see if I could cast one. Let’s see how that went first:

I carved a Thor’s Hammer into some soapstone for a mold, and heated up a bunch of scrap silver in my crucible with a MAPP gas torch.

Starting the pour. This never works for me.

Already a mess and I can tell this is a fail.


Not much to do but keep pouring at this point.


Big stupid muffinhammer.

Straight garbage. See that little ingot of silver on the anvil to my right? Gonna start over with that, because that’s actually Bjarki’s ingot. I had so little faith that this casting try would work I didn’t melt that one in with the scrap silver I had.

Anyways, yeah, total fail. I honestly just need to put more effort into learning the right way to cast silver – it’s a lot different than casting pewter, which I have a pretty good handle on. So anyways, I snatch up that little ingot of Bjarki’s and start hammerin’.

As usual, I use a hammer with one face rounded and polished clamped in my vise as an anvil, and use another hammer with a rounded and polished face to draw the ingot out, but striking glancing blows. This makes the hammers act like a rolling mill.

After each pass with the hammer, the ingot has to be annealed to soften it again. Silver work-hardens; you can only hit it once or twice before it becomes too hard and you run the risk of it cracking.

Still drawing it out. I’m pretty sure I’m not smart enough to forge the whole hammer, so I’m going to cheat a bit.
My high-tech quenching tank, with red-hot silver being dunked after annealing. It makes a fun hissing noise. Silver, unlike ferrous metals, doesn’t harden when heated and quenched.

That’s enough flattening. I sketched a long-handled Mjolnir onto it with a pencil – you can sorta see it there.

Then I got out the jeweler’s saw and started trimming. This is very tedious but very precise.

I’ve lopped off the end, now sawing up the handle. The Vikings would never have sawn silver – you’re wasting it. Everything they did was cast or hammer forged from cast ingots. I’m in a hurry though.
Still sawing my way up the long handle of the hammer.

Bunch more sawing and I end up with this. I gave it a final anneal, then a rough cleanup with a 220 grit sanding sponge.
I used some small files to round off all the edges and clean up some saw marks. I don’t feel bad about this like I do the sawing- files are period, they found some in the Mastermyr tool chest.

I sanded the faces with a 220 grit sanding sponge before I took it to the buffer for a quick initial polish.

Using handmade Viking-style stamps to decorate the face. You only get one chance to make a first impression…

Switched over to a tiny circle-dot stamp I made tonight for this project.

More cheating – I used a Whitney punch to make a hole in the end of the handle.

Had some silver wire, used a small hammer to draw the ends out a little for a more authentic look. If I was hardcore I’d have drawn this wire by hand myself. Tonight I ain’t about that life though.

Annealed the wire then wound the ends around itself. There are lots of historical finds with this kind of terminus.

Used a tiny buffing wheel to shine it up after annealing.

Finished with the hammer – but it’s got to be worn!

Once it was done, naturally I had to decide it needed more. I had a bit of fine silver rolo chain in my stash. “Rolo” chain describes a fairly archaic and simple type of chain where the links are all simple round or oval links. I cut 24″ of it, hung the Mjolnir on that, and fashioned a closure of silver wire to join the ends of the chain.
The clasp is a simple piece of silver wire that I melted one end of to get it ball-shaped, then threaded the chain onto it, then melted the other end.

No documentation because this is a gift, but it’s loosely based on this one found in Denmark:

The original archeological find from Rømersdal, Bornholm, Denmark. Dated to 790-1100 CE. Picture retrieved on 4/16/2022 from the Danish National Museum site: https://samlinger.natmus.dk/do/asset/9412

I can’t see the backside of it, so I don’t know if there’s a pierced hole or a forged curl back there. The ring goes the wrong way for it to lay flat anyways, so I like my version better.

Further reading on Viking stamped jewelry and decorations can be had here:


and here:


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