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.