Herald's Point
The Occasional Journal for the College of Heralds of Atlantia
Volume 5, Issue 6 -- November/December 2008 (A.S. XLIII)


Artwork credit: Maestra Julianna Fiorentini

With no chill in the air, we go merrily into November!

November begins the fall/winter indoor event season, where most of us seek respite from the cold with activities suited to warm, well-lit halls. And what fits warm, well-lit halls better than heraldry! 

If your group is having an event this season, please consider sponsoring a heraldry contest or display. The more armory on parade, the more ambiance for your event. It also helps folks get an idea of what they might like for their own heraldry or, simply how to utilize the stuff they've registered! 

Or even more fun, how about challenging your group to a heraldic bowling night? Design heraldic team t-shirts (with plain white t-shirts and colored markers), then go bowl! Let me know who wins!

I am sponsoring a Heraldic Garb competition at 12th Night and will need some roving judges. Contact me directly if you are interested in helping.

Unevent is next month and I hope to see a bunch of you there (cause I'll be making the drive!). But in practical fashion, please know that if Unevent is a financial hardship for you, OR if you are sick, please do not worry about attending. It is good to have a day when we can connect face-to-face, but I really don't want your cold/flu! ;-)

Later in this issue, you will find a letter written by Baron James of Middle Aston, summarizing the new ruling by Laurel about compatible SCA names. This is a fairly significant ruling and I would recommend everyone familiarize themselves with it.

Keep warm and enjoy the holidays!

-- Rhiannon

Mistress Rhiannon ui Neill
Triton Principal Herald
House Corvus, Atlantia

 A Word from the Newsletter Editor 

Greetings unto all to whom these presents come from Lady Patricia of Trakai!

I realize that everyone who subscribes to the Atlantian heralds' list or other heraldic listservs may have already seen the recent ruling on SCA-compatible names, but in my opinion, it's a big enough change that it should be preserved in this newsletter for posterity. In this issue we're reprinting the explanatory letter that Baron James of Middle Aston sent to his barony, Windmasters' Hill. When someone compiles that list of names that will be affected by the ruling, we'll try to get that in here, too.

Mistress Rhiannon would like to congratulate Baron Askold Brotamadr and Duchess Isabel Grimault, who won the Heraldic Procession competition (sponsored by the College of Heralds) at Crown Tourney! Their personas are not from what we would normally consider traditional heraldic cultures. However, they managed to incorporate heraldry so well into their entourage that they completely wowed our judge. Vivant!

I look forward to meeting as many of you as possible at Unevent on the first Saturday of December. 

Lady Patricia, Editor

A New Heraldic Ruling
By Baron James of Middle Aston
Branch Herald, Barony of Windmasters' Hill

Recently, the Pelican King at Arms (the head herald in charge of deciding upon registered NAMES in the SCA. Yes, there is a different person for armory.) has made a decision which will change the possibilities for submission of names for many people in the SCA.
For years, the SCA has allowed names to be registered as "SCA-Compatible." That meant that we have no documentable period source that the name was used by a person in period. For example, a name that sounds like it could have been a period name, or, was the name of a god/goddess but no human was ever given that name.

Pelican has decided, upon consultation with numerous heralds across the SCA, that, as of their meeting in May 2009, names will no longer be registered that are "SCA-compatible." They must be fully documentable names to period sources.

1) THIS DOES NOT AFFECT CURRENTLY REGISTERED NAMES. Once registered, always registered.
2) THIS DOES NOT AFFECT ANYTHING ALREADY SUBMITTED. If it's in process, then it will not be bounced solely for this issue.

3) Pelican's May 2009 meeting will address submissions from November or December (approximately) this year. If you want an SCA-compatible name, submit it NOW!

4) The Atlantian Heralds did not make this rule. In fact, the Golden Dolphin Herald fought against this ruling. We're here to help. It's the new ruling, so, we're going to do everything we can to get you what you'd like within the rules.

5) The Atlantian College of Heralds is in process of putting together a list of names that have been used in the past that have been approved solely on SCA-compatibility. When that gets accomplished, I'll post a link to that list [Windmasters' Hill]. One example is Ceridwen (a goddess' name that we have no evidence was used by any actual person in period.) Another example would be the name Maeve.

I include that whole ruling at the end. If I can help, please do not hesitate to call.


From Pelican: SCA-Compatible Names

On the January 1996 cover letter, Talan Gwynek, Pelican King of Arms, outlined the definition of SCA-compatibility for names which we continue to use today:

This month's submission of the name Rhonwen Briana MacLean (Atlantia) raised in almost its purest form the question of just what is meant by 'SCA-compatibility' of a name. (Ceridwen Rhiannon MacLean might have posed the question a little more bluntly.) Does 'SCA-compatibility' give a name the same status as an attested period name, or does it represent a kind of second-class onomastic citizenship?

In actual usage the term SCA-compatible, when applied to a name, appears to mean 'not used by human beings in period (so far as we know), but too popular in the SCA to be disallowed'. Thus, use of one of these names is (on the best available evidence) a non-period practice. We allow many practices that were non-existent or nearly so in period, both in our names and in our armory, but in general we stigmatize them as 'weirdnesses' and do not allow too many of them to be combined in a single name or armory. They are 'compatible' in the sense that they are not completely disallowed, but they are still not considered fully acceptable. It is consistent with this approach to allow a name to include a single 'SCA-compatible' element but no more; each such element added to a name further removes it from the realm of authentic period practice. Indeed, we see no reason to distinguish between 'SCA-compatible' names and other non-period names permitted under the provisions of RfS II.4 (Legal Names): both are allowed as concessions to modern sensibilities despite their inauthentic nature.

On the January 2008 LoPaD, we asked for commentary on a question last raised on the August 1994 cover letter: A number of commenters have stated over the past several of months that the SCA has learned a lot since its early days, and it may be time now to put away some of the "mistakes" we have heretofore continued to register. So I put it to you all now -- Should we discontinue the registration of "SCA-compatible" names that were not used by humans in period...

When the question was asked previously, the answer was "no". However, another 14 years have passed, and in that time the number of submissions which use an SCA-compatible element that have reached Laurel-level have been steadily decreasing; in the last five years names which use a SCA-compatible element have comprised about 75 (out of over 4000). (We have no information about how many of such submissions were returned in kingdom.) Additionally, both our knowledge of medieval naming practices and the number of reliable sources which are easily available to the general public, through such places as the Medieval Names Archive and the Laurel education website, have increased and so it seemed reasonable to revisit the issue.

We asked the College's opinion on two points:

* Should we continue the registration of SCA-compatible names and elements, or discontinue this practice altogether?
* If we continue to register SCA-compatible names and elements, should we continue registering some SCA-compatible names and names elements but cease to register others?

I would like to thank everyone who took the time to share their thoughts on this issue. While the commentary was, as expected, not unanimous, the majority opinion (both heralds and non-heralds) was that the time has come to do away with the practice of SCA-compatible names. The strongest argument in favor of this, voiced in various forms by many people, is based on fairness. SCA-compatible names are, as the precedent quoted first above indicates, names which, so far as we know, were not used by human beings in our period but have a high popularity level in the SCA. However, there are many names which, so far as we know, were not used by human beings in our period, but which are not given the status of SCA-compatible because they do not have a similar level of high popularity. A number of the commenters noted that it is in principle unfair, and to some extent arbitrary, to say to one submitter, "You can register this name which we have no pre-1600 evidence for because it is a popular non-period name", and say to another submitter, "You cannot register this name which we have no pre-1600 evidence for because it is an unpopular non-period name". As Effrick neyn Kennyeoch put it, "[Registering] Rhiannon because Rhiannon and her friends will be unhappy if we do not, while disallowing the equally inauthentic Garwen even though Garwen and her friends will be unhappy, is not internally consistent." It is also not consistent with our practice of ruling unregisterable other practices for which we have no period evidence, (e.g., double given names in Dutch), and allowing non-period names because they are popular unfairly penalizes people who have chosen unpopular non-period names.

Additionally, allowing name elements for which we have no evidence that they were used in period solely because they are popular is not consistent with the research and educational goals of the Society. Doing away with SCA-compatible names reflects the growth in our knowledge and standards of authenticity. As Rowel noted, "As the SCA becomes more geared towards historical accuracy in different areas (brewing, garb, etc.), the general historical atmosphere increases and it's not inappropriate for the name authenticity to proceed along with that." The low number of submissions with SCA-compatible elements which reach Laurel-level is an indication that the overall knowledge of historical naming practices in the SCA has increased.

Therefore, as of the May 2009 decisions meetings, we declare that no new name elements or name patterns will be ruled SCA-compatible, that all names previously ruled SCA-compatible are no longer SCA-compatible and that in order for them to be registered, documentation meeting the same standards as for non-SCA-compatible names will be required. We note that such evidence has been provided for the following names which used to be SCA-compatible:
* Ian: We have still found no evidence that this name was used in Scotland , but it appears in our period in Dutch as a variant of Jan and in Russian as a form of John. Ian is hence registerable as a Dutch or Russian given name. Note that in both of these cases, the name would be pronounced roughly \YAHN\.
* the Wanderer: This is registerable as a Lingua Anglica translation of the attested Polish byname Wandrownyk, in Taszycki, S{l/}ownik Staropolskich Nazw Osobowych, s.n. W{e,}drownik. There is also a documented German surname Wanderer, in Aryanhwy merch Catmael "German Names from Nürnberg, 1497".
* -haven in constructed English place names. When this element was ruled SCA-compatible as a deuterotheme in English place names, the only examples that had been found to that point appended the element Haven to an already existing place name. Since then, examples have been found of -haven used as a genuine deuterotheme, in Whytehauene 1279 and Whithaven 1535 ( Watts s.n. Whitehaven), and Kihavene, Kyhavene c.1170-1316 and Kayhaven 1532 (Watts s.n. Keyhaven).
* Silver in order and award names: The August 2005 cover letter says that "orders named for heraldic charges or for items that, while not found in period as heraldic charges, may be used as heraldic charges...may contain the ordinary color names of any heraldic tincture." This includes the use of Silver as the ordinary color name of argent.

Heraldic Cryptography Puzzle
By Lady Patricia of Trakai

The following stanza by the English poet Thomas Gray (1716-1771) is out of period, but the verse contains the word "heraldry" and one of its lines is very famous. See if you can figure it out.

Each letter of the alphabet may be substituted for one other. That substitution is the same throughout the stanza. Look for frequently repeated letters to find hints. I'll give you three clues to start you out:

D --> I        L --> D     R --> C

You may wish to maximize your browser's width before attempting the puzzle. Here's the cryptogram -- good luck!

O U J  R G K Y O  G V  U J C K D I C T,  O U J  F G S F  G V  F G Z'C,
_ _ _  _ _ _ _ _  _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _,  _ _ _  _ _ _ _  _ _  _ _ _'_,

K X I  K D D  O U K O  R J K P O T,  K D D  O U K O  Z J K D O U  J'J C W K A J,
_ _ _  _ _ _  _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _,  _ _ _  _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _ _  _'_ _ _ _ _ _,

K Z K Q O Y  K D Q H J  O U'  Q X J A Q O K R D J  U G P C,
_ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _  _ _'  _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _,

O U J  F K O U Y  G V  W D G C T  D J K I  R P O  O G  O U J  W C K A J.
_ _ _  _ _ _ _ _  _ _  _ _ _ _ _  _ _ _ _  _ _ _  _ _  _ _ _  _ _ _ _ _.

Point of Fact

The traditional Japanese heraldic emblem is called a Mon (singular or plural). It always has two tinctures, one color and one metal, and usually a single charge or charge group. For more information about Mon and how they can be used within the SCA's heraldic rules, see http://heraldry.sca.org/laurel/mons/.

Heraldry is an art as old as Henry II and Eleanor of Aquitaine, and as young as the newest submission. I welcome you to join in exploring it with your colleagues, the heralds of Atlantia -- this is your journal. If you have always wanted to write an article that would be read by every Atlantian herald, or if you have a question you would like to ask of all the heralds of Atlantia, send me a message at Patoodle AT aol DOT com! I prefer that any articles or other messages come as plain text (ASCII), as opposed to HTML or some other format. Thank you!

In Service,
Patricia of Trakai

Herald's Point is the newsletter for the members of the College of Heralds of Atlantia. Herald's Point is not a corporate publication of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. (SCA) and does not delineate SCA policies. Herald's Point does delineate policies specific to the College of Heralds of the Kingdom of Atlantia. Copies of this newsletter are available from: Patricia of Trakai (Patty Daukantas), 7740 Lakecrest Drive, Greenbelt, MD 20770.