The Media and You

We seem to have a complex relationship with the media. We appreciate the stories and attention, but we’re also frequently nervous that something will be misunderstood and that communication and expectations won’t be clear.

This is the paperwork for the class at Marketplace at Birka. This will be conducted at other events as well as online. This document is best used in concert with information from the workshop.

— Aneleda

Icelandic Snail Cross

It’s typical for a consort to give their fighter a token with their arms on it to wear into battle. Often, this is done with a belt favor embroidered by the consort. I’m getting more and more into Viking garb and study, and Culann is a northern Celt, so a belt favor didn’t make sense to me. So I pondered, “what might a Norse woman give a northern Celt?”

I consulted with Master Freidrikr about what would be an appropriate gift and he suggested that an amulet, like a Thor’s Hammer, would have been a noble gift. My inspiration piece was an Icelandic 10th-century artifact known as the “Wolf Cross” or vargkors”  found in Foss.*

This is the final result:

bronze-cast winged snail version of Icelandic wolf-head cross


Wolf cross from Foss, Iceland, 10th-century
Wolf cross from Foss, Iceland, 10th-century

Out of beeswax I created a Thor’s Hammer as a gift for Sir Culann MacCiannon, my favor, for him to wear when he fought for me in the East Kingdom Spring Crown Tournament AS52.  It was cast in bronze by Mark Frasier (Izzo) and let’s be clear that Izzo did the lion’s share of the work!

My original one was really huge and would have been totally inappropriate for the work, I discovered, even if it had been successful. (And way, way too heavy.) The original was very tiny, mine is much bigger but still reasonable.**

Here’s a shot of the wax which was cast. A mold was poured around it and then when dry the mold (plaster and/or sand) is put in a kiln to harden, and the wax melts, leaving the empty cavity. (The first such mold exploded in the kiln because it still had moisture in it, losing the mold and the first wax item.) Then hot metal is poured into the mold and when cooled the mold is broken. Every piece is as unique as the wax because of this process.

Winged snail sculpted in beeswax


Winged snail sculpted in beeswax, top view


Here’s a whole photo process document, if you’re interested:


* (öllnir#/media/File:Vargkors_kopia.jpg)



Gold All The Things!

Cloth is not a thing I’m comfortable working with. So when I volunteered to assist my friends by making an embellished border for a beloved friend’s Laurel cloak, well…. that was kind of foolish.

However, I decided to go big or go home.

First, gold leaf on cloth was totally done in the SCA period. Linseed oil was used as the sticky part and a sealant was painted over the gold. So I had proof that it was done. (And then Ollilia gave me this great text to help!)

I documented this with lots of photos, so please feel free to look at the Google album, which has all the notes!!

Other resources I found that were kind of helpful included:

Maunche – Albreda Alyese

Quiet, gode people, as we praise a quiet worker,

sound the voices from the Eastern thrones.


We call one from whose hands the finest fibers flow,

Albreda Aylese, who sets the spear-beam into binding.


With strong rods does the thread resound for her.

The whirring shuttle moves across a sea of strands.

The weavers rods her oars, the lozenges her woolen waves,

Her songs are ancient, rhythmic ones.


Her progress passes as many nights

as swan-road journeys in the summer.
As snow-hare stands in silent footprint

still, she sits, softly guiding sweetest silk.

She crafts the pattern, bright or subtle.

Flowers bloom eternal at her bid.

Æthelstan would blush at such gifts as she gives.


Witness her name weave’d in history

as the newest of the Order of the Maunche.


In her heart-home deep in Coldwood,

At the Closing of the Inne

She is granted arms to bear,

Vert, a winged frog salient Or,

Whose form soars o’er the warp and weft

Away from this lateness of September,

on this twenty-fourth day, in Our fifty-first year.


It is so done by the hand of King Kenric and Queen Avelina.

* * * * * * *

(Calligraphy by Rhonwen Glyn Conwy, Illumination by ______________

Text by Aneleda Falconbridge, inspired by the Anglo Saxon riddles of the Exeter Book)


The inspiration was from Anglo Saxon riddles found in the Exeter Book (and some epic poetry and a little norse-ish prose.)

37 (k-d 56)


I was in there where I saw something,

a thing of wood, wound a striving thing,

the moving beam —it received battle wounds,

deep injuries; spears caused the hurts

of this thing; and the wood was fast bound

cunningly. One of its feet

was stable, fixed; the other worked busily,

played in the air, sometimes near the ground.

A tree was nearby, that stood there hung

with bright leaves. I saw the leavings

of the arrow-work brought to my lord

where heroes sat over their drinks.

Ic wæs þær Inne þær ic ane geseah

winnende · wiht wido bennegean

holt hweorfende heaþoglemma feng
deopra dolga daroþas wæron

weo þære wihte     ⁊ se wudu searwum

fæste gebunden hyre fota wæs

biid fæft oþer · oþer bisgo dreag

leolc on lyfte hwilum londe neah
treow wæs getenge þe þær torhtan stod

leafum bihongen Ic lafe geseah

minum hlaforde þær hæleð druncon

þara flan on flet beran

The favored solution is Weaver’s Loom. The “striving thing” is the web still in the loom; it is injured by the needle or shuttle passing through it. The spears or darts “must be the teeth of the batten penetrating through the warp.” “The two feet can only be the weighted ends of the two rows of warp threads.” The tree with leaves is a distaff, with flax on it; and the standing warp explains the metaphor of feet. On this see the learned and well-documented article by Erika von Erhardt-Siebold, “The Old English Loom Riddles,” Philologica, Malone Anniversary Studies, Baltimore, 1949, pp. 9–17. Mrs. von Erhardt-Siebold includes with the Loom Riddles 50 (k-d 35), Coat of Mail, which is related insofar as chain mail resembles weaving; and 45 (k-d 70), which is usually solved as Reed Pipe (p. 37 below).


Me the wet ground, exceeding cold,

first brought forth from within itself.

Neither am I wrought of woolen fleece

nor of hairs, with skill; I know it in my mind.
I have no winding wefts nor any warp in me;

nor with strong rods does the thread resound for me,
nor the whirring shuttle move across me,
nor the weaver’s rods anywhere smite me.
Worms do not weave me with fatal wiles

which fairly adorn the fine yellow web.

Yet nevertheless the wide world over
one will call me a joyful garment for heroes.

Say now truly, you cunning sage,
learned in language, what this garment may be.


Mec se wæta wong wundrum freorig

of his innaþe ærist cende

ne wat ic mec beworhtne wulle flysum

hærum þurh heahcræft hygeþoncum min ·

wundene me ne beoð wefle ne ic wearp hafu

ne þurh þreata geþræcu þræd me ne hlimmeð
ne æt me hrutende hrisil scriþeð
ne mec ohwonan sceal amas cnyssan
wyrmas mec ne ā wæfan · wyrda cræftum

þa þe geolo godwebb geatwum frætwað

wile mec mon hwæþre seþeah wide ofer eorþan

hatan for hæleþū hyhtlic gewæde ·

saga soðcwidum searoþoncum gleaw
wordum wisfæst hwæt þis ge wædu sy

In short, a Coat of Mail—woven, but not of wool or of silk. Weaving is suggested, yet with a series of exclusions to show that the thing is not what you would at first suppose.


Chivalry – Njal Kennimathor Geirsson Virtanen

One of the great benefits of being a wordwright is that I get to write words of praise and recognition for people who are special to me. Sir Colin contacted me with news that Kennimathor Giersson would be elevated to the Order of Chivalry at Birka and invited me to write the words to the scroll Master Ed MacGuyver would create. I leapt at the chance, because Kennimathor is very special to me. He was one of the Eastern Unbelted Champions from my time as bardic champion, a dear friend, and I had the great honor to be his consort for an Eastern Crown Tourney one fall. It was one of my SCA highlights and so to be able to tell his story this way was, in many ways, a gift to me as much as to him.

I wanted to respect his Norse persona and asked Their Majesties if I could write a nontraditional scroll that they would certify rather than sign. I tried to write of Kennimathor as if his knighting was one of the sagas I’ve read, which have blunt narrative and then poetry. I used some common kennings and created others as I needed them. I chose to feature a verse from the Hávamál that has special meaning to me and would resonate with Kennimathor as well.  

I was also given the honored position of speaking for him at his knighting as the representative of the Order of the Laurel. I called attention to that verse as well, and focused on a theme that art requires protectors who will defend it, uphold it, create it, and be inspired by it.

I also got to help name an amazing sword. Ulfgir the Nice (Jamie Lundell) created a sword for the occasion and we worked together to name it. First, Ulfgir asked people about what to name a Norse sword and Ken took the bait and told him “vengence”. I took that and researched Norse weapons names in ancient literature. Master Friderikr helped me clarify some thoughts and I settled on honoring the Norse god of revenge, Víðarr, with the weapon, naming it “Víðursnaturr” or Víðarr’s gift.

The text I created for Sir Kennimathor is below:

Requested to the law rock by King Brion and Anna, the Queen he served, Njal Kennimathor Geirsson Virtanen went to see them. It was Þorri*, the month of men, deep in winter’s grasp. At his approach, the Ring-givers spoke to the people of this oak-limbed warrior, as beautiful and dangerous as winter’s ice. Kennimathor was a son of the northland, raised upon the field of battle. He was rich with kin whose loyalty shone like arm rings.

His skill at eagle-feeding brought notice from the king’s þegns* who said that Kennimathor should be added to their war band. The rulers agreed and gave him a Patent of Arms marked with his sigils: Per saltire sable and argent, two Thor’s hammers inverted and two spears counterchanged. Others brought gifts – a strip of snow-colored leather, a pair of shining spurs, a chain wrought of gold that had been worn by his ancestors, and a fine wool cloak from his kinswomen. His kinsman, Colin, gave him a sword made by Ulfgir who called it Víðursnatur.* When he possessed these things, he was pronounced a member of the Order of Chivalry. His last gifts were stout blows but he returned all save the one given him by King Brion.

An ancient verse was then invoked —

“Then he began to thrive
and wisdom to get.
He grew and well he was.
Each word led him onto another word,
each deed to another deed.”*

Thus was he sent into the world.

Brion and Anna set their marks on all Thing-words at the Birka Marketplace in the Barony of Stonemarche, the outpost where Kennimathor had long served. It was day 28 in the month and the year of the Society was LI.

Their names are signed here, proving that this is true.

—BRION—        —ANNA—

The sword was named Víðursnaturr = Víðarr’s gift, after Víðarr, the Norse god of revenge.
Þorri = The time of late jaunary / early february
þegns = seasoned warriors
hirðmaðr =  follower of a king or earl

  1. Þá nam ek frævask ok fróðr vera
    ok vaxa ok vel hafask,
    orð mér af orði
    orðs leitaði, verk mér af verki
    verks leitaði.

from verse 141 of the Hávamál – The Sayings of Hár -