Documenting and Registering Names for the SCA

Everyone in the SCA needs a name to use, preferably based in historic naming practices. In order to register the name with the College of Heralds, it needs to be supported with evidence, and adhere to some SCA specific conventions. When picking a name, I recommend starting with one of the name articles available on…

Tetralogical Illumination in Medieval Russia

I taught a class at An Tir Collegium 2018 on my favorite Russian illumination style, the tetralogical, or knotwork style. That handout is expanded from previous versions, and available here: Tetralogical Ilumination in Medieval Russia

S-shaped lock rings found in Hungary and Romania.

S-shaped terminal temple rings , found commonly in West and East Slav contexts like Poland, Czechia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and NW Russia, have an analogue, found in Hungary and Romania. These areas are the Carpathian Basin and Transylvanian Basin/Plateau, respectively. S-shaped terminal lock rings from Dábáca. Source: Gáll 2013. Carpathian and Transylvanian basins pre 19th c….

Two inscribed tally sticks from Novgorod.

Tally sticks are notched and split sticks that record an amount paid, owed, done or collected, and are known from many finds in Russia as well as in western Europe. Some tally sticks are inscribed with the name of the debtor or the owner. Both of these finds from Novgorod have inscriptions. The top tally…

Two pre 1600 Russian banners.

I’ve been looking for extant Russian banners. Certainly the idea of pennants, etc is known, as can be seen in this 15th C icon showing the 12thC battle of the Novgorodians and Suzdalians. Source: WikiMedia Commons. Here’s the two I have so far, both with saintly imagery and text: One is painted canvas from the…

Ways to Wear Temple Rings

When temple rings are found in burials, they are generally found near the temples or on the side of the skull, though the specific attachments do not always survive. Over time, various types have been referred to both as earrings and temple rings, depending on the source. Many wearing options are now attested, including in…

14th- 15th c Manuscript Production in Novgorod.

Many medieval Russian manuscripts were produced by and for clergy, though lay production is known. Novgorod was a center of production, centering around the archbishopric, and then expanding in the 15th century to the monasteries. Types of manuscripts made included Gospels, Psalters, Lectionaries, Bibles, books of sermons, commentaries, chronicles, and miscellanies. (Popova 1984, Smirnova) Manuscript…

Characteristics of Tetralogical Style Manuscript Illumination

14th and 15th century Novgorod saw the flowering of a striking and idiosyncratic style of manuscript illumination which incorporated high contrast zoomorphic knot work formed into a variety of shapes. Gospels, psalters, books of canons and more were decorated in this manner. This distinctive style was based in Novgorod starting in the 13th c. and…

Food, livestock, and game in the Novgorod birchbark documents

Many birchbark documents from Novgorod discuss trade, tribute or debt. Food appears frequently as a medium of exchange, as tribute, or simply in a shopping list. Various cereals are mentioned often including rye, barley, wheat and oats. Other items such as peas, hops, cheese, beer, wine, fish, game, livestock and flax appear as well. I…

Russian names from the Trinity- Sergius Monastery

My article ‘Inscriptions for their memory: 14-17th century Russian names from the collections of the Trinity-Sergius monastery ‘ is now available in the online Proceedings of the 2017 Known World Heralds and Scribes Symposium. Direct link to the article. Image credit: Trinty- Sergius in the 19th c, Wikimedia Commons

Birchbark documents in Novgorod. 

Much of Novgorod’s casual personal and business correspondence was carried out on birchbark, including collections and records of debts, directives from landowners to peasants, shopping lists, child’s writing practice, personal letters, and much more. (Thompson 56-63, Petrova et al 38-40, Franklin 37) Birchbark is also found as containers, fishing floats and shoes. (Kolchin) While birchbark…

S-shaped temple rings

S-Shaped temple rings are found in multiple early medieval (generally 9th- 13thc ) East and West Slavic contexts, including Russian, Czech, German, and Polish. The name comes from the S shaped terminal on one end of the ring. There are several typologies in use, differentiating by the treatment of the other end of the ring,…