Blog

Articles and news from Brighthelm

New site is live

posted 12 Feb 2009, 02:31 by Toby Atkin-Wright

The new Brighthelm web site is now live. I've also added HTTP forwarding so that brighthelm.org will do a Permanent Redirect (301) to www.brighthelm.org.

New calendar

posted 21 Jan 2009, 01:52 by Toby Atkin-Wright

I've added a calendar page to the site. It has an embedded Google Calendar; if you have a Brighthelm login you can add or edit events at http://calendar.brighthelm.org/ 

New Brighthelm site

posted 20 Jan 2009, 08:05 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 08:09 ]

Work is under way on the new Brighthelm site, using Google Sites to allow all Brighthelm members to contribute to the site content. This page will be used for any articles or news stories. I’ve imported the articles from the old site to this page.

The Principle of Erection, With Regards to Pavilions

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:17 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 15 Feb 2009, 08:22 ]

by Antonio di Rienzo & Freyya Thorfinnsdottir

Upon revealing your pavilion, it is helpful to ensure that the surroundings are draft-free and not too moist, otherwise the process may require a great deal of time and effort, and may result in the erection being less successful than desired.

Firstly display your pavilion out upon the ground. Ensure that it is well positioned and pointed in the correct direction. It is most distressing to complete an erection to find oneself inappropriately located.

Construct the shafts and thrust them into the pavilion until their tips can be seen through the eyes atop it. Slide the horseshoes onto the shafts, moving them up and down appropriately until the nails can be plunged into the shafts with ease. This will ensure that the horseshoes are also correctly orientated.

(There are two lifting lines; we recommend that there be four main bracing lines and will endeavour to splice these before Warbands.)

Slip the lifting lines over the points of the shafts (now protruding from the eyes of the pavilion) and impale the dollies upon the points. Using these, haul the pavilion upright and make fast these lines upon large pegs in order to support the erection. It may also help to have other gentles on hand to hold the newly-erected shafts.

Now that the basic erection has been achieved, it is necessary to attach the spreaders to each shaft to support the ends of the pavilion. Each horseshoe is numbered with a 1, two 2s, two 3s and four 4s. First insert the spreader into hole 1, threading the attached guy line through the end eye of the pavilionàs collar and make fast to a large peg in such a way as to make a straight line with the two shafts and opposing guy line.

Repeat this process with further spreaders in the horseshoe holes marked 2. These guy ropes should be brought forth from the collar at an angle of 30 degrees from the line of the canvas.

Again, repeat this process, now using the horseshoe holes marked 3, and again with those marked with a 4. The guy ropes from the spreaders next to those marked with a 2 should be caught upon the same large pegs as those marked with a 2. This ensures that the body of the pavilion is stretched taut between the shafts. The main task of the erection is now complete. It only remains to support the base of the pavilion in order to ensure that the wind does not whistle around the base of the shafts. The small pegs are used to tie down the feet of the pavilion with the attached loops of rope.

The erection is now complete, and those gentles involved in its course may lie back, relax, and enjoy the warmth of that which they have created.

Daffodil Tournament, 16 March 2002

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:17 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 03:17 ]

by Andrea Nichol

The day dawned grey and gloomy. The Daffodil Tournament was to take place today in the Barony of Seagirt in the Northern Principality (formerly part of the Kingdom of An Tir) (Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) amidst reports from some that snow was expected.

As I rode in my sister, Morel's, dragon with Lord Jamie the Impaler and Chrissy, the snow did indeed begin to fall and we were all glad that we had all brought heavy cloaks, as the tournament itself was to happen in a great barn on the site of the Saanichton Fair Grounds, with the feast in a heated building.

Many gathered that day, the numbers up to at least 300-400, `to watch the tournament that would determine the Champions of Seagirt. There would be rapier fighting, and heavy fighting and the two victors would have the honor to defend Seagirt and our Baron and Baroness.

Throughout the day there were activities for the children and many contests: Daffodil in any medium, and a costuming contest. There were merchants selling clothing and feast gear and other miscellaneous items. There were booths set up for the Heralds, who would spend time sketching your device for you and give advice on whether or not it would be accepted. My sister, Morel, affectionately referred to by me as Shroom, spent many hours there talking to people who wanted to register their devices. Her new gown was also to be judged in the costuming contest (and may I say she looked ravishing in it).

Lord Jamie the Impaler, another friend of mine from the Shire of Cragmere, spent the day assisting with merchanting and socializing. The fights were dramatic and well battled. It was my honor to have a very dear friend of mine, Lord Rory Wolfe of Kildaire fight with my favour on his belt. His wife was not able to be there and he is always kind about fighting for me when his beloved Sabine cannot attend. He acquitted himself with his usual honorable attitude and completed several rounds. In the end, His Lordship Ethelred won the heavy tournament and Lord Prospere won the rapier. It is a testimony to my absent-mindedness that I cannot remember their full names. So, now Seagirt has two worthy defenders.

I spent the day myself with several new people, explaining things and helping out. I was in charge for much of the day of taking care of my other sister, Judith's, new puppy, a lovely, cuddly 11 week old black lab with white feet aptly named Boots. Boots snuggled in and kept me warm most of the day. It was a pleasure to renew old acquaintances. But I must say it was a little bit like event of the ex-boyfriends. Nothing unpleasant happened however.

After the tournament, many worthies were presented with awards of service. Their Excellencies also presented the new defenders with their regalia. But, because all of our courts tend to be hopelessly long, I left without seeing all of it. Not short and sweet like Drachenwald.

In the evening, there was a grand feast, so I changed into my lovely tartan finery and had a simple dinner in the tavern. I know my priorities. The feast sounded lovely - Middle Eastern influenced. As usual we had several middle eastern dancers, including my sister, Halima, who is an amazing dancer. (Note: yes, I have several sisters. These are all different people. I have approximately 10 sisters and 3 brothers. One sister and one brother are with you - Emma and Wulfgar (Young Gary). The rest are scattered throughout the Northern Region or the Kingdom of An Tir. My medieval Mom is in Seattle, Washington.)

Notable events of the evening. Shroom went into the men's room by mistake, and SHE WASN'T EVEN DRINKING! I flirted with one or two very nice young gentlemen from afar. And the beer tasted darn good. There were several games of Tablero going on, but I thought it best I didn't start playing. In the end we got into our dragon and were home and in bed by 1:00am. It was a very long, enjoyable and tiring day.

Dance Moot, February 2002

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:16 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 03:16 ]

by Dr Nik Whitehead

The Dance Moot, held at St. John's in Edinburgh on the evening of February 16th was a quiet and decorous affair. Or at least all those dances in which your humble scribe - being a stately galleon in motion - took part were decorous. Certain others displayed a jollity that fair made the floorboards creak.

Passing melodic music was made by Mistress Caitlin and Masters Wolfgang and Otto of Harpelstane upon many and diverse instruments - the harp, the hurdy-gurdy, the sackbutt and the drum, amongst others. The dancing was led by Sabyn de Lisieux, who most dilligently demonstrated the dances to all before the music began, and who delicately refrained from laughing heartily at the choruses of 'left two three four right two three four lef- shit' that followed as we beginners stumbled our merry ways through the steps.

As well as the dancing there were diverse other pastimes going on - gentles indulged in a little wine, mead, beer or other liquids (as their taste took them), and many were lured to the gaming table by Acherin of the Cardinal's Guard and his lady as he introduced them to the mysteries of Tablero de Gucci. Many were the toasts to Her Majesty that rang out over the hall, and much was the beer and cider that was drunken.

Also there were many puddings to be eaten, most of them made from traditional recipes (such as the cinnamon biscuits made by the Lady Gytha). These were fell upon with a will by those gentles present, as all know that dancing is a most exhausting pastime, and one must always take care to keep one's strength up.

Coronation, A Personal View, January 2002

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:16 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 03:16 ]

by Mary Frost

The Saturday of coronation 2002 dawned, and we were greeted by the sight of Caerphilly Castle looking broodingly atmospheric surrounded by traces of mist under a dark and cloudy sky. The castle itself is right in the town centre, surrounded by water and largely intact. From the Tourist Information Centre it dominates the skyline and looks extremely impressive.

By 10am, many people, all in costume, were busy hurrying through the entranceway and up through the outer parts of the castle to the Great Hall, not at all deterred by the drizzly rain and the sight of the ducks standing on sheet ice in the moat!

The Great hall itself was an ideal setting for Coronation - stone walls, immensely high ceiling, large windows with handy alcoves for sitting and storing stuff, and most importantly of all, in January, an efficient heating system!

After several attempts to erect a pavilion over the throne area, this was abandoned in favour of just sitting the thrones at the end of the hall, draped in red cloth. Benches were set up for the masses, with chairs behind, filling the bulk of the main hall.

The Stepping Down court commenced slightly later than scheduled. Queen Signy was dressed in a beautiful red and grey "slash and puff" style gown. Initial presentations of gifts for the outgoing King and Queen were made by several groups, including the hosting incipient shire of Mynydd Gwyn. The popular gift appeared to be cushions! The King and Queen were very gracious in receiving these gifts.

Robert of Canturbury made a presentation regarding his mission to the electors of the Holy Roman Emperor. He indicated that they would not consider someone already holding office (i.e. a current king) for that position, but should Elffin no longer be king... Elffin's possible favourable position in this regard was again raised in the stepping up court.

The Harplestane Herald presented the poem to Queen Signy which he was tasked with writing at the Samhain feast, in both French and English. This was followed by a poem praising the Kingdom of Drachenwald, again in both French and English.

Several people were presented with an Award of Arms (Angus McFionn and Robert of Canterbury) during the court. Also Umberto and Rhieinwen of the shire of Mynydd Gwyn were given a court barony, much to their amazement. They both seemed quite overcome and most surprised. This made a happy end to their stay in the UK, since they returned to the USA the following week.

The court ended with the crowning of the new King and Queen, Gerhardt and Aurelia, who made their appearance dressed magnificently in matching cream and gold outfits.

The Stepping Down court was interesting, since this is the first time I have attended any large SCA events, but did suffer from the lack of public speaking experience of the participants - it was impossible to hear most of the presentations and speeches unless you were seated in the front 4 rows, which, I would imagine, made it very boring for the majority of the audience.

Following the court, lunch of onion soup, bread, cheese and bacon savoury and welsh cheeses was served. This was excellent and just the way to fortify everyone for the afternoon tourney!

The weather, which had worsened to a downpour during the course of the morning, brightened a little after lunch, and most people ventured outside the hall to either watch the fighting or to participate. The very wet grass underfoot made the fighting somewhat difficult, and more than one fighter managed to slip on the treacherous footing. I only watched the fighting very briefly - just the fencing match in which Antonio fought, so perhaps someone else can fill in the details here.

Whilst the fighting was going on outside, a few merchants had set up stalls inside selling mainly braids, fabrics and jewellery. These seemed quite popular, and certainly persuaded myself and Kevin to part with our hard-earned cash! The main floor area of the hall was also used for dance practice, ready for the dancing later in the evening.

The stepping up court started after the tourney, with various presentations and awards. Antonio was made Queen's champion, in the main due to his chivalrous gesture of presenting his lady with a red rose at the start of the tourney - a gesture which impressed Queen Aurelia.

Following the stepping up court, the hall was re-set for the feast in the evening. In order to fit in the 80 participants, two long tables and many round tables were set up, each with a pine twig centrepiece. With all the tables set, and candles lit, the hall looked fantastic, although, unfortunately, the table candles did not illuminate such a large area well enough for the servers to see, so the electric lights had to remain on.

The feast was very impressive, with 3 removes, and subtleties presented at the start of each remove. The subtleties included an apple pie in the shape of a scroll, a boars head and a castle. The castle caused quite a stir, as it came complete with burning ammunition to fire from miniature trebuchets. Their majesties took great delight in attempting to shoot these pellets into the castle and ignite the alcohol which had been poured in. Despite a slight accident where the King managed to burn his hand everyone enjoyed this subtlety and it caused great hilarity! I can't remember all of the food (something to do with the wine and port and mead...) but the things I do remember were:

  • Cheese & spinach pie
  • Honeyed poached pears
  • Greek rice
  • Chicken cooked two ways
  • Roast beef with three different sauces (mustard, anise and ?)
  • Winter vegetable soup
  • Cherry pudding

During the feast, their majesties held court, to receive those wishing to swear fealty or speak to their majesties, but had not been able to do so during the court. There was also an excellent and highly amusing one-man play presented, giving the history of the death of Elffin the First.

Following the feast, the dancing commenced - a good way the wear off some of the calories! The dancing finished just before midnight, and everyone gradually dispersed into the night, leaving the clean-up volunteers to set the hall back to its normal state.

All in all it was a good event and everyone was very friendly. My lasting impressions are of all the various costumes, and by halfway through I was itching to get home and start work on something new ready for the next event. I also found the depth of peoples knowledge about historical matters interesting - although I really don't know how people manage to find the time to do the research!

Warbands Feast, June 2001

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:15 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 03:15 ]

by Toby Atkin & Andrew Patterson

Several members of the Brighthelm household were involved in the preparation and cooking of the feast at the Warbands event, held at Edzell Castle from 15-17 June, 2001. The feast was held in Inglis Hall in Edzell on the evening of Saturday 16 June. Around 86 people attended the feast.

The event was organised by the Shire of Harpelstane. In particular, Caitlin, Otto, Wolfgang and Lady Anne were heavily involved on the day with event in the castle and administration, meaning that the feast staff didn't have to worry about reservations and monies.

Andrew, Gytha and Claire were involved in menu planning. Gytha devised the vegetarian dishes, and cooked them and the fish. Claire persuaded her local butcher to make sausages to our special recipe, and did some of the preparatory cooking. Andrew did the costing, the shopping and the rest of the preparatory cooking.

Jenny helped Andrew to find a friendly local baker who could make trenchers to our specifications: Goodfellow & Stevens in Montrose. We ordered 50 speciality breads, each of which was sliced down the middle, so we had 100 trenchers. We also ordered 30 loaves and 80 scones from the same baker.

On the day itself, we gained access to the hall at 10am. Jenny collected the bread, and after some repacking, fitted it all in her car! Claire, Gytha and Andrew were cooking throughout the day, with help from Di and Valeria. Andrew was in charge of the kitchen. A pleasant discovery of the morning was that the feast hall had an industrial-grade automatic dish-washer.

The days events occured at Edzell Castle, about 2 miles away. At about 5pm, the Court of King Peregrine and Crown-Princess Signy Halfdansdottir was held. This was due to have occured at the Castle, but was held in the feasting hall due to the showery weather.

The feast began at around 7.30pm.

Menu

There were four removes, each corresponding to a season. After each remove, a subtlety was presented to High Table.

Winter
Frumenty
Porcellum Aenocotum & White Sausages (veg. Mushroom Pate)
Scotch Pudding
Spring
Malih Bi Khall Wa-Khardel (veg. Nimb Lise)
Fricassey Chicken in Aromatic Sauce (veg. Green Pease Soup)
Crudités with preserved Fruit and Nuts
Summer
Fruit Soup
Salade & Cheeses
Stewed Apple with an Oat Crust
Autumn
Onion Tart
Scones and Preserves
Gastris

Out of the 86 attendees, four were vegetarian, one required kosher food, one couldn't eat red meat and barley, one couldn't eat wheat and one couldn't eat cheese.

Vegetarian dishes are listed as above. For a kosher diet, the first remove was dairy, the second meat, and the final two dairy (the feast was treated as four distinct meals). No barley was used in the feast. Oat bread and oat pastry were provided for the wheat-free diet, and a lemon polenta cake replaced the scones (not period, but very nice!).

Post-mortem

  • Remember cloven oranges! In a last-minute panic, we bought every orange in Edzell... and still had to drive to Brechin to get some cloves.
  • You can never have enough bin bags.

Beltaine Feast, May 2001

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:14 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 03:14 ]

by Toby Atkin & Andrew Patterson

Several members of the Brighthelm household were involved in the preparation and cooking of the feast for Beltaine in St Andrews.

The Beltaine Fayre ran through the day at St Andrews Castle, with fighting, traders, and arts & sciences exhibition and a tavern on site. The event was organised by the incipient Shire of Caer Caledon, which is run as a student society of the University of St Andrews.

The feast was held nearby, in a local hall called the Cosmo Centre.

Andrew and Phil were involved in the menu planning, pre-feast cooking, and cooking on the day itself.

The kitchen in the hall is quite small, but has a sizeable 'staging' area between it and the hall. This area was used for food preparation, and to house two microwave ovens that we took with us.

The evening's events started with the Court of King Peregrine and Queen Alessandra Melusine II. The feast followed.

Household Founding, Summer 2000

posted 20 Jan 2009, 03:14 by Toby Atkin-Wright   [ updated 20 Jan 2009, 03:14 ]

This being a chapter of the Chronicles of the House Brighthelm.

The twenty second day of the month of July in the first year of Brighthelm Reborn.
This being An Account of the Celebrations Accompanying The Reformation of the House.

Those of the House present:

  • Lady Genevive, the Head of the House
  • Gytha Haideesdottir, Chatelaine of the House
  • Richard the Rampant, AntiHerald of the House
  • Freyya Thorfinnsdottir, Chronicler of the House
  • Antonio di Rienzo, Light Weapons Champion of the House
  • Wolfgang Adolphus Jager, Heavy Weapons Champion of the House
  • Robert de Falais
  • Timothy Broadribb
  • Athelstane
  • Thorvi Thorgilsdottir

Guests of the House:

  • Francis Tarring,
  • Eadwulf MacRuthven
  • Thorkill More
  • Roderick Thorkillsson
  • Otto Von Graz

It was a bright day when the lords and ladies of the House Brighthelm gathered together to celebrate the reformation of the House, and to select, by trial of combat, those who would champion the House against all other. A lack of wind provided perfect archery conditions, and many of the household took advantage of Thorkill More and Roderick Thorkilsson's bow, and amused themselves firstly with the raising of the butt and thereafter with a little target archery.

Lunch of bread and cheese was supplied by the Lady Chatelaine, and was much appreciated by the Household and their guests. While the digestions of those present set to work on this meal, the Chatelaine herself gave a discourse upon the art and science of dyes. Once all were present, the Mead Horn was passed around, as is the tradition of the House.

The position of Light Weapons Champion of the House was fought for by Richard the Rampant and Antonio di Rienzo and, after much sweat was shed on the part of both lords, Antonio diRienza won the duel and was duly appointed Light Weapons Champion of the House Brighthelm. Next was the combat for the position of Heavy Weapons Champion, between the much-fancied Wolfgang Adolphus Jager, bearing his greatsword, and the young but bold Roderick Thorkilsson, bearing sword and shield. It was decided that the combat would be over seven rounds, all seven to be fought, and the champion to be he who won the majority of the rounds.

In the first bout Wolfgang's verbal challenge goaded Roderick into headlong charge, for which Wolfgang rewarded him with a blow to the head. Wolfgang also landed a passing good blow through the eyeslot of Roderick's helm, this leading by two rounds to none. {Antonio diRienzo was heard to comment 'I can die fluently in both disciplines.' Another head shot gained Wolfgang the third round, but there was much agreement by those present that Roderick's dying was improving greatly.

The crowd's roar of approval spurred on the young Roderick, who advanced to claim first a leg hit and then a head hit upon Wolfgang. At this point Wolfgang got gravel in his knee, so there was a short pause while he dislodged the offending rock. Buoyed on by the cheering crowd and his recent victory Roderick charged once more and again made a successful attack upon Wolfgang's leg. Wolfgang managed then to disarm Roderick, but lost an arm so doing, thus making Roderick's final strike to the head all the easier. Three rounds to Wolfgang and two to Roderick, Wolfgang made a speedy and bloody advance to secure his fourth victory and hence the Championship.

Nevertheless, the seventh bout led to both parties taking leg hits before Wolfgang landed another head blow on young Roderick. Thus it was that Otto, who served as Marshal for this duel, duly proclaimed Wolfgang Adolphus Jager Champion of Heavy Weapons.

All the combat being now completed, the champions were duly presented to Lady Genevive, who complimented them on their prowess, and then the guests of the House were also presented.

First came Frances Terring, who carried with him the following missive from Prince Theophilus:

Theophilus, by right of election and succession and by the loving will of the people, prince of the Far Isles, Overlord of the Grim, Lord of the Duchy of Camcairndryth, Seigneur of the Free Mark

To the people of Brighthelm the New Greetings and God's Blessing. 
We send you this by our well-beloved servant, Francis Tarring, Alderman of the Far Isles, who we ask you to accept as our emissary to your celebrations. It has long been a sadness in our heart and in the hearts of all in the Far Isles that on the maps of our lands there no longer lies any sign of the prosperous, valiant and mighty place known as BrightHelm. Imagine then our joy and the joy of all in our court when we learned that this paragon of courage had not perished but merely shifted its seat to another realm.
Be assured that our prayers are with you as you bring the virtues of valour, chivalry and honour that were ever the mark of BrightHelm into that dark northern land. We look to the future with anticipation that the messages of friendship and heavily-laden barqes filled to the brim with the goods of merchants may flow freely between Brighthelm's old overlord and her new.
Given in our palace in the Grimwood under our hand and the Seal of the Far Isles on the sixteenth day of July in the sixth and last year of our reign.

Next came Thorkill More and Roderick Thorkillsson, who the Lady Genevive praised for their marksmanship and their indulgence of the would-be archers of the House.

Eadwulf MacRuthven was then presented, and carried with him this message from afar, being from Eric the Trespasser, Prince of Avacal:

Greetings to all assembled from Eric the Trespasser, Prince of Avacal, 
Please accept into your presence Our worthy ambassador, HL Yeoman Eadwulf MacRuthven. His is Our vassal and Our friend. He is a man of grace and talent and an advisor of great intellect. Those priviledged to call him friend are lucky.We envy his location, for We were born in the British Isles. Specifically Southampton, with a great-grandfather from the Clan Murdoch. We send the wish of a good evening with friends, new and old, and the hope that one day We may join you, for an ale or two. Maybe even a single malt.
Master Eric the Trespasser
Order of the Laurel Prince of Avacal, in the Kingdom on An Tir.

Then, with the formalities of the day over, the Lady Genevive announced the commencement of the festivities with the following words:

"Break out the beer - and, more importantly, break out the mead!"

Or, as Richard the Rampant put it:

"The beer's on my Lady!"

1-10 of 18