vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)

Today is a day to be crowned! It’s the anniversary of at least five coronations.

detail of miniature of Charles V of France being crowned

From Wikipedia:

  • 1066 – Harold Godwinson (or Harold II) is crowned King of England.
  • 1205 – Philip of Swabia becomes King of the Romans.
  • 1322 – Stephen Uroš III is crowned King of Serbia.
  • 1355 – Charles I of Bohemia is crowned with the Iron Crown of Lombardy as King of Italy in Milan.
  • 1449 – Constantine XI is crowned Byzantine Emperor at Mystras.

It says Philip of Swabia becomes King of the Romans (as the King of Germany was called), but according to other wikipedia pages, that happened in 1198. Today in 1205 was his second crowning for the same kingdom. Another king, Otto, was also elected in 1198, a few months after Philip. In 1204, Philip did quite well in the civil war, and some of Otto’s supporters switched sides. So they crowned Philip again. Otto continued to be a competing king, and became sole king in 1208 when Philip was assassinated. It didn’t end well for Otto though. Just a few years later, in 1212, Frederick II was also crowned. He had been elected before both Philip and Otto, but was only a babby. Otto was disposed in 1215, and Frederick became sole ruler.

The image above is none of these rulers. I just liked it. It’s Charles V of France being crowned by the Archbishop of Reims, a detail from folio 59r of the Coronation Book of Charles V, also known as Cotton MS Tiberius B VIII. I cropped the image from

Charles V’s own coronation was the 19th of May 1364. He commissioned this book in 1365 to be a record of it. You can find more information in this British Library medieval manuscripts blog post.

vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)

Three “SCA things you might not know about me” (number from Sela de la Rosa)

1. When I originally considered personas, I was thinking about a late period Italian alchemist. I switched to norse for a number of reasons, including easier garb, childhood interest in vikings, and an existing desire to try things like tablet weaving and “viking wire knitting”.

2. SCA has both narrowed and broadened my crafting. I now mostly want to do medieval or renaissance things, but I’m also discovering so many more crafts I want to do. Eg, I had previously convinced myself not to take up spinning. I’ve lost interest in paper quilling, but I want to do wood carving. Etc.

3. When looking at extant pottery, I keep finding myself drawn to Byzantine stuff. Possible future persona? Or am I only interested in the pottery?

Ask me for a number.


baby dish with sgrafitto dancer

my tiny unfinished version of a 13th century bowl from Cyprus

Or maybe it’s Cypriot pottery I’m drawn to, not Byzantine. Here’s my baby (unglazed) version of a 13th century bowl. The page with the original is about Byzantine pottery, but says this is from 13th century Cyprus, and it doesn’t look like Cyprus was part of the Byzantine Empire then.

To the googlecopter!

See the original on Pinterest.

vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
Viking Knits and Ancient Ornaments: Interlace Patterns from Around the World in Modern Knitwear, cover

I bought this book at the Knitting and Stitching show in the RDS. Obviously it doesn't have real Viking knits, as they didn't knit, but the patterns seem to based on real archaeological finds. From around the world, not just Northern Europe. Rome, Peru, Ethiopia, and many more.

I've only had a quick flick through it so far, but the author appears to break down interlaced patterns into subpatterns and types, which will probably be useful for looking at interlaced patterns in future. It's so easy just to think "knotwork", and not pay much more attention to it than notice if there's zoomorphic or spiral elements to it.

Knitting-wise, it's primarily about cables, though she does use i-cords to great effect to get out of a tricky corner in one pattern, where cables were converging from four directions. Admittedly, I hadn't studied the photo before reading that the centre used i-cords, but I certainly hadn't noticed the change in technique till then.

I don't know if I'll knit anything in the book. I'm a slow knitter, and haven't attempted jumpers yet. I primarily bought it for the photos and drawings of knotwork finds, and secondarily for the simpler cablework designs.
vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
From Archaeology of Food: An Encyclopedia
Edited by Karen Bescherer Metheny, Mary C. Beaudry

“In the Roman world, vegetables were part of the everyday meal, served as side dishes with meat and cheese, or included in single-course dishes, but also as appetizers in banquets. In contrast, medieval Islamic recipes rarely employ vegetables on their own. Here a great variety of vegetables were used, but these were usually incorporated in stews.”


“Vegetables tend not to preserve well in the archaeological record. Most plants found on excavations are preserved through charring (carbonization), but vegetables have a lower chance of contact with fire than, for example, grain crops. Moreover, their leafy plant parts rarely survive such contact, in contrast to grains, seeds, and nutshells.” (Ibid)


Merino sheep are a breed from the middle ages, developed in Spain or Portugal, possibly from sheep introduced by Berbers. I’m delighted to learn that, as it’s my favourite wool. For a start, I’m not allergic to it, and can even felt it without getting itchy eyes.


In general, masculine nouns in Latin became masculine nouns in Spanish, and likewise for feminine. Neuter nouns mostly became masculine, unless they looked feminine, eg ending in the letter a.

But some, like mar (sea), never completely settled on one. Today, it is generally masculine, but feminine in certain situations, and according to A Brief History of the Spanish Language by David A. Pharies, has always vacillated between genders.


“To kill two birds with one stone” has a predecessor: “to stop two gaps with one bushe” is a proverb from the 16th century, with the first known mention in a collection of proverbs by John Heywood.

“To stop a gap” was itself used figuratively before 1600, eg Shakespeare used it in King John (1597)
vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
​Sprang is an ancient textile method that produces really stretchy fabric.
More info:

I started learning how to do sprang the weekend just gone, at Smouldering Arrow (an archery training event that had some fibre geek attendees). It seemed easy enough at first, and I thought I was getting it, but I kept ending up with twisted pairs instead of fabric, and the wrong number of threads at the end of a row. Sometimes due to starting with the wrong number, sometimes because I'd skipped a thread mid row.

I was beginning to find that stressful, so I quit before I got too frustrated. But I bought a loom, so I hope I'll be doing more!

Now to start a sprang pinterest board...

vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
Oilen Buitiler inghen iarla Urmumhan .i.Piarus Ruadh, mac Semais, mic Emainn, mic Risdeird ben an dara h-iarla do h-oirdneadh ar Thuadhmumhain .i. Donnchadh, mac Concobair mic Toirrdhealbhaigh Uí Briain

That's a name I found while looking for examples with Ruadh (red haired). Here's my attempt at translating it to English.

Helen Butler, daughter of the Earl of Ormond, Earl Red Pierce, son of James son of Edmund son of Richard, wife of the second inaugurated Earl of Thomond, Earl Donough, son of Connor son of Turlough O'Brien

I worked out a lot of it by looking up the individuals on wikipedia.

Some things I learnt or guesses I had confirmed:

Oilen = Ellen = Helen
iarla = earl
Urmumhan = Ormond
Piarus = Pierce/Piers
Ruadh/Ruad = rua (= red haired)
Emainn = Eamon = Edmund
ben = bean (= woman/wife)
oirdneadh = ordained = inaugurated
Tuadhmumhain = Thomond = North Munster
Iarla = Iarlaithe = Jarlath
Why there were so many Jarlaths in a Tuam friend's school (St Jarlath was a 5th/6th century saint who founded Tuam in Co Galway)

Some things I'm not sure of:
Why ben (Old (and Middle?) Irish) instead of bean in the 16th century. Seems to be common in the annals, from a brief skim of
How exact my translation of "an dara h-iarla do h-oirdneadh ar Thuadhmumhain" is.
Why sometimes mac and sometimes mic. My guess is mic is the genetive, used because of the mac.
Why I think learning some Old or Middle Irish would be interesting when my Modern Irish is crap.
If I can get over my fear of declensions by learning German.
vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
Joe Hogan is one of the foremost basketmakers in Ireland. I borrowed his book from the library and took some notes.

There are four main species of willow for basketmaking. Salix viminalis (common osier, the fastest grower - up to 3m per year), Salix purpurea (purple osier - sounds like my kind of osier!), Salix triandra (almond leaf willow) and Salix alba (white willow).

There are some useful crosses. The most common in Ireland is Salix rubra, a cross between S. vimalis and S. purpurea.

S. vimalis is not native, but has been in Ireland for thousands of years. It's more brittle than some varieties.

S. purpurea is tougher and woodier. Rods are thinner than most species. Very pliable. Popular varieties in Ireland: Irish Black, Swallow Tail, Slender Tip, Packing Twine.

S. triandra is more sensitive about growing conditions, gives a good quality rod. Not common in SCA period, if here at all - it's only been widely grown in Ireland in the past 100 years or so.

Willow cultivation was probably established for hundreds of years along the Shannon, the Suir and the Blackwater.
vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
Knife throwing is fun!

At a recent household day, Aodh and Nessa brought throwing knives and anyone who wanted had a go. Then Michéal and I had another go at an event. He liked the knives we were using there, so we put in an order for 12 via Pól. We got them this weekend, and Michéal has set up a temporary target with planks of wood.

I'm still at the stage where I'm delighted to get a knife sticking. The standard in Lough Devnaree as a whole isn't great, as we're new to it. Michéal won the knife throwing competition at the most recent event by being the only one to get a knife to stick at all!

I'm experimenting with holding the knife or the handle, and moving slightly forward or back, but I don't know how to fix my misses. I used the blade yesterday and part of today, and got some hits, then switched to the handle and got 4/12, but only 1 in the next set of 12. I can't really see what the knife is doing - does it need an extra half turn? Would moving help? Or is it consistency?

Throwing a spear would be easier from that point of view. No spin. But I've yet to buy a haft for mine. And there's no spear throwing going on in Lough Devnaree at the moment. Though at least we still have a straw bale for when I do make it up.
vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
Second time at mundane archery yesterday.

There were more people than the previous time, so it was a bit crowded, and I didn't get any advice. I tried to keep in mind what I'd been told last time, and my shots were more consistent. Some groupings I was happy with: they were fairly close together.

My shots were closer to the target centre on the whole. That's partly from last fortnight's advice, and partly because I believe I had a bow with a cut away arrow shelf - the arrow starts more centred in the bow. I was able to aim for the bullseye and not have the arrows land consistenly to the left. Last session, I had ended up aiming to the right. They did tend to land low fairly often. As the target is pretty close, I'm taking it to mean I need to improve in some way. If the target was further, I'd blame gravity.

I made a very rough finger tab before going, out of some scraps of leather I had. I wasn't sure if texture would make any difference, so just in case, I used smooth leather. Unfortunatly, it's also very thin, so wouldn't protect my fingers all that much. I had a smaller scrap of thick suede, so cut out a bit of that to layer with the smooth leather. I didn't make it entirely from the suede in case texture is bad. I'll need to check if I'm right or wrong about that. I used a normal fabric scissors for cutting both, and found it tough enough to cut the suede—the leather was no problem. I had planned on sewing the two pieces together, but there was little chance of getting a needle through the suede, and I don't think we have an awl, so I left an extra bit on that I could tuck between my fingers to hold in place.

For the leather part, I traced roughly around my fingers, held together; cut; and cut a hole to put my first and second fingers through. I didn't cut a nock gap betweem my forefinger and the rest. I'm shooting barebow—no sights—so keep all my fingers under the arrow, and pull back to my cheekbone, all of which help in getting the arrow closer to my eye, so aiming easier. I've just thought... that might be what's making my shots low. Or one factor, more likely. Another is probably confirmation bias :-) I did have plenty of high shots too. If I was using the sight, I'd have one finger above the arrow on the string, and pull back to my chin. But sights aren't allowed in the SCA, so I think I'm better off doing without in the mundane archery too.

Speaking of not allowed, the cut away arrow shelf isn't allowed in the SCA either. I presume it's a recent inovation. Recent in historical terms—bows have been around for a very long time!
vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
Yesterday, someone wanted to know how to say "rainbow", meaning "of many colours", in Old Irish. Someone else suggested "dathannach", meaning colourful.

My Irish is terrible, and I know no Old Irish, but given the name "the Many Coloured Land", I felt there had to be something more colourful than "colourful".

A couple of searches later (very important to exclude Julian May if you don't want the results filled with her book!), I had the word "ildathach" as another name for Tir na nÓg. Another quick search confirmed it meant multicoloured in Modern Irish, as well as variegated and iridescent. The Many Coloured *Land* is presumably *Tír* Ildathach.

But was "ildathach" used in Old Irish? Luckily, there's increasing numbers of old documents online. I quickly found a transciption of Togail Bruidne Da Derga, an Old Irish text, from around 600 to 900CE. It has the line "At- chíu a brat n-derg n-ildathach nóthech siric srethchise." I don't know what that means*, except for ildathach, but it shows the word was used, and I judge it very unlikely to have a different meaning.

During my searches, I coincidentally came across a children's book translated into Modern Irish. In English, it's called The Rainbow Fish. In Irish, An T-Iasc Ildathach. Evidence that ildathach is the appropriate choice for the asker's use of "rainbow".

Hmm... while going back to the transcription to write this post, I noticed "illdathaig" a few lines below "ildathach". "scáthderc sceo deilb illdathaig." I suppose that's an alternative spelling. *does NOT add "understanding Old Irish texts" to to-do list*

*I can guess that "brat" is the clothing. And derg might be red, but red multicoloured? A brat of many shades of red, perhaps? *thinks madder thoughts*

vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
I had a go of contemporary archery last night. I think I'll take it up. I've only done a tiny bit of SCA archery, so I'm not sure of the differences. I hope I'll be able to use the same bow and style for both. I *think* what I used last night would be allowed for general archery in the SCA, but not for period divisions of competitions. It's a recurve that can be taken apart (take down bow?).

There was a sight on the bow, but I didn't use it. This meant a bit of conflicting advice, with one person saying to draw back to the cheek, which makes the arrow closer to eye level, and another saying to draw to under the chin, which makes for a more consistent draw.

One of the most helpful bits of advice was to think about the elbow and forget about the fingers. Pull it back, not allowing it to go out to the side, then pull back further, and the string will automatically release. I had started off happy enough with my shots, but they started getting worse, jumping as I released. This got me back on track, and I felt so much better about the shots, even though they initially didn't get any closer to the centre. They just felt more "right".

Someone else adjusted my grip, which made this a lot easier. Holding the bow with the string drawn became simple, rather than a challenge that had a lot of strain on my hand and arm and some shaking. This is a big difference between the way I've been shown in the SCA and the contemporary Olympic way. At events, the advice has been to have your hand at an angle, leaving a gap between your arm and the bow. The string shouldn't hit your arm, and a bracer is only to hold your sleeves out of the way. In Olympic, your arm is straight and the pressure on the bow is directly opposite the pull on the string, making it much easier to hold. An arm guard is for protecting your arm from the string. My shots got more consistent, as well as much easier to do, once I adjusted my grip.

On reason I've only done a little bit of archery at events is that I find it hard to hold the bow the way I've been shown there (I don't know if it's a standard SCA way, a local SCA way, or just Baron Pól's advice) and, with no arm guard, I'm afraid of hitting my arm, even if I do hold it Pól's way. So my preference would be to wear an arm guard—under my clothes, or hidden under/disguised as a bracer—and hold the bow the contemporary way.

If/when I buy a bow, I'd be looking at using it for both mundane and SCA archery. It would be ok for me to bring a medieval one to the club, but as a beginner, I'd want to learn from other people, and I don't know how much difference a more medieval bow would make to technique. And the contemporary archery is every week and the SCA events every month or two, so it's in the club that I'd be doing most of my learning.

There is weekly SCA archery meet in Dublin (Dun In Mara) and I think in the midlands (Epelheimer), but they're quite a distance from me, so I wouldn't be a regular. Dun in Mara practices are on Friday evenings:

And I have a small A&S project lined up: a finger tab of sufficiently thick leather. The one I used initially was a bit thin, and my fingers started hurting despite it. Though not as quickly as they would have done without one! I was able to switch to a stiffer one towards the end, but it looks like most of the loaner ones are thinnish. Should be an easy project - just cutting, no sewing. I just need to get the shape right. I think I'll make it for drawing with all fingers under the nock point, not a split one for one finger above the nock.

A bit of contemporary renaissance music:

vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
What's that Þ thing?

It's a capital thorn, of course :-)

Despite appearances, it's not a P or a Greek letter. It's called thorn, and it's a letter that used to be used in English, and still is in Iceland. Nowadays, we use Th instead. The small letter is þ.

I'm not sure if the Latin alphabet was used where my persona comes from, or if it was just runes. I think probably both. The rune system used at the time was Younger Futhark. Þ/þ in Younger Futhark is ᚦ.

I've just found out I made a rather wrong assuption about the origin of runes. Wikipedia says they were derived from Old Italic alphabets. When I read that before, I took that to mean Italic hands of the Latin alphabet. Nooo... much older and more unfamiliar looking: I'd also managed to forget that Italic hands came along much later. Oops!

Another letter that got replaced by Th in English is Eth: Ð/ð. Well, it was dropped in favour of þ, before that was replaced by th. Eth is also still in use in Iceland. Its Younger Futhark rune is the same as þ: ᚦ
vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
It's not essential, but it's helpful to have a persona name in the SCA. And my real name isn't very Viking. So I decided to pick a Norse name.

Norse surnames were patronyms, and still are in Iceland. This means that, rather than having a surname passed down from parent to child, a child family name is based on the father's (or, rarely then, increasingly now, the mother's) name. I'd be my father's daughter, so one of the first decisions was that my name would be something somethingdóttir.

I looked through various lists of Norse names, including lists of bynames—basically nicknames. On seeing Greylock as a byname, I knew I had to have it—I've had white streaks in my hair since my early twenties. Unfortunately, I've only seen it in the one list, which doesn't have its source, and haven't been able to find it elsewhere, so I'll have difficulty with documentation when I come to register the name. But I think it's a reasonable Norse byname, so I hope I'll get away with it. If not, I suppose I can register without a byname, and go by it anyway.

Thora, or Þóra, I chose by scanning through lists of female names, and picking out a few that I liked. Sigrid was the front runner for a while. But I decided that I wanted a name that could be easily converted if I shifted my interest to another time or place. If I was going for Christian era, that would have been easy enough - there's so many variations on Mary and saints' names. But I wanted a pagan, or a pagan/Christian synthesis persona, not someone who would have a Christian name. I couldn't find any names I liked that had cognates in other places. But I've come up with a "fake cognate" that I'm happy with. Thora is short for female names beginning with Thor/Þór. I chose Þórdís as the name I would have been given at birth. Thor is a god. Dís means goddess. My fake cognate is Dorothea and its cognates, my reasoning being that Thor isn't too far off Doro in sound, and thea means goddess, like dís does. I also get to keep ...morphemes(?)... starting with Th and D, albeit swapped around. Dorothea itself has a bunch of variants; Theodora, Dorothy, Dorotea, and perhaps, at a stretch, Isidore, giving me lots of freedom. From Byzantium to England, and Spain to Scandinavia. I haven't found a suitable Irish fake cognate, but give me time :-)

I haven't yet chose a patronym, so I'm currently Þórdís Somethingdóttir, known as Thora Greylock.

Frontrunner for patronym is Røriksdottir (spelling to be checked). I like the sound and it has cognates (not fake ones!) in other languages, even Spanish, where it's Rodríguez. I can fake cognate it to Irish too, via Roderick, an Anglicisation of the unrelated (as far as I know) Rørik and Ruaidhrí. One reason for holding off on making a decision is that I'm not sure where exactly my persona is from. Just Scandinavia. Rørik is Old East Norse, spoken mostly in what is now Denmark and Sweden. If I want to be from Norway, it'd be Hrœrekr, which looks a bit scary to pronounce and spell. People from both Denmark and Norway settled in Ireland, so my persona biography justifies either very easily, and who's to say that people from Sweden didn't settle too, just in smaller numbers? Or perhaps even Iceland.

So, that's the state of the name.

By the way, if you're semi interested in the SCA, but all this thinking about a name is putting you off, don't worry about it. You do not have to put this much thought into it. I could have been [real given name] of Dun In Mara if I wanted. Or picked a time and place and a name that fits them. That time and place doesn't have to be same as the one you dress up as, which you can change at any time. Eg I could have picked Alessandra Giraldi (both names from renaissance Florence) and still been a Viking. And then worn Byzantine clothes.
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As you may have guessed by now, I'm terrible at blogging. Reading apologies for not blogging is pretty boring, so take this post to apply to all future blogless periods.

My plan is to jump in and blog about anything, without worrying about having things in a sensible order, timely, or even completely covered; all things that encourage my procrastination.

My attention to things jumps about, so expect randomness.

To make this post vaguely medieval, if not viking age, have a song to celebrate the sunny day we're having where I live:

vikinginireland: a lucet and yellow cord I'm making with it (Default)
I blame my friend, Debbie, for getting me interested in SCA. We had lots of online chat while she was making this gorgeous outfit. I found myself repeatedly wondering what sort of persona I'd have or garb I'd make if I was to get involved. I find sewing quite intimidating, and there is no way I'd be able to attempt anything like those Renaissance dresses.

Generally, the earlier in history something is, the simpler it is, so it made sense to think about early medieval. Vikings appealed, because, let's face it, why wouldn't they? They're Vikings! Better than pirates and ninjas put together! Better than a pirate ninja robot.

And I liked that there's a Viking connection to Ireland. I'm from Dublin, which was founded by Vikings. I'm now living in the south east, which has Viking remains too, especially near Waterford. I haven't decided where my persona settled, or what part of Norse lands she's from. In my head, she's a farmer, but there's no evidence of Vikings farming around Dublin, nor around Waterford either, I don't think. I haven't heard of any for anywhere else in Ireland either, but I haven't looked into other places as much.

As I continued to think about it, I remembered that there's some Viking crafts that I've tried, such as tablet weaving and cord making with a lucet, and others I want to try, like wire weaving and naalbinding. So from a craft perspective, Viking suits me too. I don't intend sticking to purely Viking crafts; eg, I also want to do calligraphy.

So, somehow I went from thinking about "if I were to take part" to joining a household and attending an event, and Viking solidified as who I want to be. For now anyway :-)


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Þóra Greylock

January 2016

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