dear reference desk how does one go about officially registering their name with the sca? do you have to provide documentation no matter the name or only if it’s “uncommon”? how do you define an uncommon name?

Dear Anonymous,

Officially registering a name is super awesome, so first of all – rock on you for doing it.

To register a name, you will go through your Kingdom’s College of Heralds. You can usually find it on your kingdom’s website, or by searching “<kingdom name> heralds” in Google. There is a form you fill out with basic information, the name you want, and your documentation.

So yes. Yes you have to have documentation. Even if your name is John or Katherine.

A lot of documentation for “common” names can be found on the SCA College of Arms website.

Heraldry/name registration isn’t really a magical, lost art form that requires animal sacrifice and perfectly drawn chalk diagrams. It’s just rule-following, forms, and documentation.

Happy registering! <3

Pen and parchment : drawing in the Middle Ages / Melanie Holcomb ; with contributions by Lisa Bessette, Barbara Drake Boehm, Evelyn M. Cohen, Kathryn Gerry, Ludovico V. Geymonat, Aden Kumler, Lawrence Nees, William Noel, Wendy A. Stein, Faith Wallis, Karl Whittington, Elizabeth Williams, and Nancy Wu :: Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications

Pen and parchment : drawing in the Middle Ages / Melanie Holcomb ; with contributions by Lisa Bessette, Barbara Drake Boehm, Evelyn M. Cohen, Kathryn Gerry, Ludovico V. Geymonat, Aden Kumler, Lawrence Nees, William Noel, Wendy A. Stein, Faith Wallis, Karl Whittington, Elizabeth Williams, and Nancy Wu :: Metropolitan Museum of Art Publications

I have seen a couple of references for 15th Century triple hennins. Nothing reliable. Can you see if you can find any reliable references for this? Thank you!


Okay, so to start, these are pretty fun. They look like starfish!


A wild hennin has appeared!


I looked in Google Books for henins*, and the only references to the “triple-horned” variety seemed sketchy – meaning they didn’t have citations.  it looks like the origin of this image and concept is from a variety of ladies journals from the 1880s. Yay Victorian myths about 15th century clothing.

But just in case, I reached out to a newly-minted Laurel who is known for her hats. She didn’t know of anything, nor could she find any solid research for this type of hat.

Sorry. 🙁

It looks like we’ll have to keep looking for ideas for 15th century Staryu cosplay.

*Google Book is a great place to start research, by the by, since it searches the full text of a book, whether you can see those scanned pages or not. It helps you refine terms and points you toward possible sources. I kind of adore it.

My hat is off to you as you continue your research into fancy headgear.

Okay, so dear reference guru, how even would I start trying to research and date kumihimo braid patterns to find some that are period? I mean, the basic spiral pattern is pretty safe because I can easily do it similar on lucet, but Japan, man. Halp?

Oh goodness! <3 Flattery!

Yeah, research into East Asia is difficult because of the language barrier – and that’s just the beginning.  Japan should be a little easier than China, though.

So with my initial Google searching, I found this website with a variety of publications written in both Japanese and English, which may be helpful.

My next step would be to look at museum collections.

The Tokyo National Museum has a 14th century pouch that has braided cord: [Link].

The Portland Art Museum had (at one point) an exhibit on Samurai that featured some kumihimo. They cite a book, but also feel free to reach out to the curators for more information: [Link]

Don’t limit yourself to the search term “kumihimo.” It’s translated most often as “braided cord” so don’t be afraid of using that term, especially in western museum collections.

Lastly, connect with other SCAdians who do Japanese crafts. There is a Facebook group for SCA Japanese, so someone there might be able to help.

Happy braiding! <3

Do you have any resources on building early period Norse helms starting with a premade helm top?


I don’t have any, but I reached out to some armorer-friends, and they suggested the following:

There is an SCA Armor Facebook group [Link] which you may find helpful.

A lot depends on what you’re starting with and what tools/skills you have.

Some armorers also make kits – pre-cut pieces that you assemble and fit [Example].

Hope that helps get you started. <3





I want a high fantasy movie where everyone talks with Southern US accents instead of British ones.

The Dwarves though, they can get Minnesotan accents.

ok but picture this: elves with brooklyn accents

“Hey HEY I’m castin’ here, what’d’you – listen, my pop and I serve the Great Tree goin’ back six hundred fuckin’ years so if you got a problem with our fuckin’ magic you don’t fuckin’ come down here into our fuckin’ grove to gimme shit about it.

“Right? You don’t see me fuckin’ goin’ into your shitty man-stables and tellin’ you how to milk horses, do ya? So instead you come down here, disrespect me, disrespect my pa, and how ‘bout you stop fuckin’ disrespectin’ the Great Fuckin’ Tree that grew whens’t the world was young and carries all our fates ‘n its boughs, okay?

“I said, ‘okay?’

“Okay, now fuck off.”

“Oh, ya, my clan’s been mining these ranges for 500 years, real nice place, real friendly. We make a mean hot dish, too, don’t cha know”

“Now, see, our main export may be iron, but y’see, we’re also the home of one of the modern wonders of merchantry and architecture…. THE GREAT DWARVEN BAZAAR. Four subterranean levels, all shops, biggest in the land! Full of tourists but we’re all here for a good time and we’re all for boostin’ the local economy!”

Have at it, my Dear Silly Scadian Shenanigan-Schemers.







hear me out: all-female remake of lord of the rings

hear me out: all-female racially diverse remake of lord of the rings

Isn’t 2 humans, an Elf, 4 Hobbits, a Dwarf and a celestial being in a corporeal form already racially diverse?

Well, at least in how most high fantasy uses the word “race.”


If every fantasy race is imagined as entirely white it absolutely does not count as racial diversity. The implications of a world where every race (or every race that matters) is white are quite the opposite, in fact, and point to conscious or unconscious white supremacy.

feel free to re-imagine the characters as any race you want, but please understand that, in context, tolkien’s characters (almost) all being canonically white does not “point to conscious or unconscious white supremacy”

you see, tolkien’s mythology was intentionally written as stories for the english people. they had no mythology of their own – all of “their” stories had originated from other cultures. middle earth originated as an alternate history of europe (especially england) as it may have been told from an ancient english mythological perspective. 

as the professor himself wrote:

“I was from early days grieved by the poverty of my own beloved country: it had no stories of its own … Do not laugh! But once upon a time (my crest has long since fallen) I had a mind to make a body of more or less connected legend, ranging from the large and cosmogonic, to the level of romantic fairy-story… which I could dedicate simply to: to England; to my country.”

“I am historically minded. Middle-earth is not an imaginary world… The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary.”

people from europe, are, of course, mostly white, so it naturally follows that the people living in an alternate history of europe would be white – as well as the fantasy creatures borne out of european mythology. including a lot of non-europeans in it would make no more sense than native american mythologies featuring white people, or japanese mythologies featuring black people, and so on.

basically, middle earth = europe, southern areas = africa, and eastern areas = asia. there are poc in tolkien’s arda but most (not all) come from places outside middle earth, which makes sense when you put it in a real world context. 

diversity in fantasy is great, but please do not assume that everything that does not meet your criteria of diversity is automatically racist. thank you

When I die, they’re going to be doing the autopsy and find out that the cause of death is a bleeding stomach ulcer that, upon close inspection, actually is text that reads out the commentary directly above my own here.

“which makes sense when you put it in a real world context”

Except how about no, no it doesn’t.

 Dr. Caitlin Green has compiled some documentary and archaeological resources specifically
showing African populations in Bronze Age, Roman, and Medieval Britain.

A note on the evidence for African migrants in Britain from the Bronze Age to the medieval period

The degree to which pre-modern Britain included people of African origin within its population continues to be a topic of considerable interest and some controversy. Previous posts on this site have discussed a variety of textual, linguistic, archaeological and isotopic
evidence for people from the Mediterranean and/or Africa in the British
Isles from the Late Bronze Age through to the eleventh century AD.
However, the focus in these posts has been on individual sites, events
or periods, rather than the question of the potential proportion of
people from Africa present in pre-modern Britain per se and how
this may have varied over time. The aim of the following post is thus to
briefly ponder whether an overview of the increasingly substantial
British corpus of oxygen isotope evidence drawn from pre-modern
archaeological human teeth has anything interesting to tell us with
regard to this question.

[The De Brailes Hours: f. 1r. England (c. 1240)]

13th Century: Ipswich Man, one of nine African people buried in that particular medieval cemetery (covered by BBC in 2010)

[link to source]
[link to source]

[This image, an extract from the 60ft-long Westminster Tournament
             Roll, shows six trumpeters, one of whom is Black and is almost certainly
  John Blanke.
Westminster Tournament Roll (1511)]

Islamic gold dinars in late eleventh- and twelfth-century England

The following post offers a map and brief discussion of the Islamic gold
coins of the later eleventh and twelfth centuries that have been found
in England and their context. Whilst clearly rare finds, there are now
ten coins of this period known, all but one of which are thought to most
probably have their origins in Spain. Moreover, these coins are
considered to be the survivals of a potentially substantial body of this
material present in England at that time.

Britain, the Byzantine Empire, and the concept of an Anglo-Saxon
‘Heptarchy’: Harun ibn Yahya’s ninth-century Arabic description of

The aim of the following post is to offer a draft look at an interesting
Arabic account of early medieval Britain that appears to have its
origins in the late ninth century. Despite being rarely mentioned by
British historians concerned with this era, this account has a number of
points of interest, most especially the fact that it may contain the
earliest reference yet encountered to there having been seven kingdoms
(the ‘Heptarchy’) in pre-Viking England and the fact that its text
implies that Britain was still considered to be somehow under Byzantine
lordship at that time.

[Canterbury Cathedral Choir, north aisle, north window (Second Typological Window)The Queen of Sheba Before Solomon. England (1178-1180)]

A great host of captives? A note on Vikings in Morocco and Africans in early medieval Ireland & Britain

The following short note is based on a narrative preserved in the eleventh-century Fragmentary Annals of Ireland that
tells of a Viking raid on Morocco in the 860s. This raid is said to
have led to the taking of ‘a great host’ of North African captives by
the Vikings, who then carried them back to Ireland, where they
reportedly remained a distinct group—’the black men’—for some
considerable period of time after their arrival.

[3 possible burials of African Women in 9th-11th Century England] [Sub-Saharan African woman aged 18-24 from Fairford, Gloucestershire]
[Link to source]
[Link to source]
[Link to source]

[Link to source]
[Sir Morien, Black Knight of the Round Table]
[The Murthly Hours f. 12r: Magi, or Kings, Before Herod. Scotland/England (c. 1280s) From the National Library of Scotland]

[Link to source]
[Link to source]
[Link to source]


So, in conclusion:




Is what’s popularly referred to as an “Irish overdress” actually Irish? Where did we learn it from, and how did it become such a generic faire/SCA staple?

I reached out the the SCA Garb group on Facebook for more information about the Irish Overdress and a little bit of an SCA History lesson.

First of all, the proper name for the “Irish overdress” is a Shinrone gown, which dates from the 16th century. Reconstructing History has a pattern [link].

Some of the bits of the history lesson are quoted below. I have removed names, since the group is closed.

“’Irish Overdress’ was a RenFaire misinterpretation of some of Lucas De Heere’s prints of Irish Women which was adopted and stuck because there was so little to go on and so little research into Irish clothing. The Shinrone gown has some similarities in appearance but is of a much more complicated construction.”


One such print by Lucas De Heere.


Shinrone gown

Lady Sorcha Dhocair inghean Ui Ruairc’s packed on Irish women’s garb: [link]

A note on drawstrings and pleated sleeves as relates to the leine: [link]

The Honourable Baroness Ceara Shionnach of Burbage House’s information on Irish clothing: [link]

I feel it is important to mention that the “history lesson” part of the discussion included points that one should wear what makes one comfortable, how the SCA culture has changed in regard to authenticity, and not scary new people away. If you want to throw together some garb that can do double duty at RenFaires and SCA, or if you’re trying to stock your Gold Key with something quick and easy, then the “Irish Overdress” that’s available in commercial patterns easily found at your local craft store will work. If you want to portray a 16th century Irish woman, maybe do some more research.

Then again, I like research.

Go forth and discover! <3