12 July 1986, A.S.
Unto the members of the College of Arms, from
Baldwin of Erebor, Laurel King of Arms.
My lords and ladies,
With the exception of this brief paragraph,
I will spare you the lamentations. Mundane employment and the
exigencies of raising an 18monthold boy are absorbing
an increasing amount of my time, to the point where I'm having
to take time off work to finish these letters.
Enclosed herewith is the letter of acceptances
and returns for the Laurel meeting of May 18th. Submissions were
processed at this meeting for the Middle (12/30), Atlantia (2/1),
West (2/12), Caid (2/14), An Tir (2/23), Ansteorra (2/24), East
(2/26), and Meridies (2/28). There were a total of 226 approvals,
38 returns, and 1 pending item, for an 85% approval rate.
The June meeting was held on the 8th. Letters
of intent were processed at this meeting for Caid (3/10), West
(3/19), Trimaris (2/14) (received 3/25], Ansteorra (3/29), and
East (3/30). The forms for the Middle and Atenveldt letters had
not arrived, so these were carried over to the next meeting.
The July meeting took place on the 7th. Submissions
were processed for the Middle (1/20), Middle (3/15) [appeal),
Atenveldt (3/17), Atenveldt (3/18), Atlantia (3/25) [received
4/19], West (4/6), An Tir (4/26), East (4/28), and East (4/30).
The August meeting is scheduled to take place
on the 3rd. The letters due to be processed at this meeting are
Atenveldt (4/1), Atenveldt (5/1), Caid (5/13), Trimaris (5/14),
Ansteorra (4/28), Ansteorra (5/15), Caid (5/15), Trimaris (5/15),
West (5/23), and Ansteorra (5/29). Comments for this meeting
should arrive no later than July 26th.
Male griffin vs. keythong
Virgule has noted that 'In the Coat of Arms
n.s. II:51f, Garter presents the evidence that the name "male
griffin" is a commentator's mistake for what is an independent
monster, the keythong. "It is urged that the keythong as
a particular beast ... be accepted as such; and the socalled
male griffin should be driven from the scene and from the ken
of the Kings of Arms."'
I couldn't find much in my references to help
flesh this out. BrookeLittle's edition of Boutell's
and his Heraldic Alphabet both speak of the "male griffin,"
as does Franklyn's Shield and Crest. The description in
each case is a bit vague, as if the author is speaking of something
more often read about than seen. FoxDavies' Complete
Guide favors us with a long paragraph and an illustration.
He believes the male griffin to be a British development of the
Continental heraldic panther.
"Keythong" proved to be a much more
difficult term to find. It appears in neither Webster's Second
nor the OED; and I had very nearly despaired of it until I found
a single reference in the Complete Guide. Further investigation
led to Planche's Pursuivant of Arms, and the badge of the
Earl of Ormonde, as recorded in a College of Arms Manuscript dating
from the reign of Edward IV: "A pair of keythongs."
Planche's footnote reads, "The word is certainly so written,
and I have never seen it elsewhere. The figure resembles the
Male Griffin, which has no wings, but rays or spikes of gold proceeding
from several parts of his body, and sometimes with two long straight
horns.Vade Parker's Glossary, under Griffin."*
The term keythong would seem to be both period
and synonymous with the charge we know as a "male griffin."
Unfortunately, it is also devilishly tricky to find. I am willing
to consider allowing it as an alternative to "male griffin",
in the interests of accuracy, but I am reluctant to do so. SCA
heraldry is rife with terms drawn from outoftheway
sources, to the sorrow of artists, neophyte heralds, and those
who lack either the resources or the perseverance to plow through
eight books in search of a single term.
Well, those are my immediate thoughts on the
matter. We can debate the pros and cons on some future occasion.
According to information provided me by Lady
Kiriel of Windhover Cliff, who is a falconer, the characteristics
of a kestrel stooping are as follows:
Wings raised, swept back; tail closed, between
and in same direction as wings; body vertical (head down); feet
back until just before strike, then stretched toward prey; talons
spread or halfspread; head pointing down, or at prey when
close to strike (which is always from above).
Note that the kestrel is headdown, diving
on its prey. I can't say for sure that this is true of other
hunting birds, but it seems reasonable to assume so. The word
stoop means "to bend forward and downward," and
this is, in essence, what the kestrel is doing.
* My edition of Parker's speaks of these variations,
associating the latter with the name Alce, which term, in concert
with Shield and Crest, it disparages. The expression "male
griffin" does not enter into the discussion.
Unfortunately, the same is not true of most
of the birds blazoned as stooping in the SCA. An examination
of the emblazons in the files turned up the following different
representations. (These are general classifications).
1) In profile, head down, as if diving on prey.
2) Affronty, wings spread, as if attacking viewer. (6)
3) In profile, wings addorsed, talons extended,
head up, as if landing. (16)
4) Affronty, wings spread, as if hovering.
Of the more than two dozen examples I was able
to find, only three (group #1) could definitely be said to be
stooping. If we make allowances for artistic variation,
most of the submissions in group #2 could be said to be stooping
affronty. None of the emblazons in group #3 (the most common)
could truly be said to be stooping, nor could the single coat
in group #4.
In addition to the above coats, I found six
coats in which the birds had been blazoned as striking.
All but one of these fall more or less into group #3. The remaining
emblazon is in an indeterminate position (essentially trian aspect).
Effective with the submissions in this letter,
I am reserving the term stooping for birds that are actually
in a stoop. My staff and I are assessing the registered coats
to determine how best to reblazon them. I have used striking
to describe the coats in the current letter, but am leery of making
this the standard, since I don't know if it is being used correctly.
Striking, like stooping, appears to be unique to SCA armory.
Our birds striking are, in fact, indistinguishable heraldically
from birds rising, wings elevated and addorsed, and there's
a strong argument for abandoning our expression in favor of the
Lady Kiriel also provided a description of
a kestrel hovering & (this being an ability unique to that
species of bird):
Wings beating (raised or flat); tail spread,
in opposite direction from wings when wings raised; body horizontal
or up to 30 degrees above horizontal; feet tucked up close to
body; talons folded; head slightly above the horizontal, looking
I have reblazoned her kestrel using this term
partly because that's what it's doing, partly because the
description is consonant with Parker's brief definition of hovering,
and partly because I felt I owed her one for providing as much
information as she did. I am inclined, however, to treat this
as an exceptional case, and insist that future submissions be
in a more recognizably heraldic position. I have enough difficulty
sorting out the existing positions (which, as FoxDavies
points out, are none too well defined in the mundane world) without
There are, at this time, two specific varieties
of Urnesbeast defined for use in SCA heraldry: the "Norse
onelegged serpent" of Brynhildr Kormaksdottir, and
the "Jellingbeast" of Asbjorn Gustavsson of Roed.
(Please note that the captions for these two charges on the illustration
page of the Armorial are reversed.) People wishing to use this
particular motif should adhere as closely as possible to one of
the defined forms. We are currently trying to sort out the "other"
twisty beasties ...
I am hereby soliciting bids for the 1987 Known
World Heraldry Symposium. The criteria are as follows:
The site should be convenient to a major airport
(one providing reasonable fares from other ma or airports around
the country). Arrangements will need to be made for meals (onsite
or at restaurants within reasonable walking distance) and crash
space (figure on 50 to 100 attendees). The site itself will need
to provide a room large enough to accommodate the entire group,
plus several smaller rooms for classes, seminars, and discussions.
You should consider audiovisual equipment, and amenities
such as blackboards, tables, and chairs.
The schedule should provide for opening and
closing sessions, a College of Arms meeting, and an evening revel.
Visitors from out of area may well want to do some sightseeing,
so you should consider this as well. In choosing a date, be sure
to steer clear of major kingdom events and Pennsic War.
"The bid should include the names and
addresses of the members of the bid committee, an organizational
description of who will handle which functions, a description
of the experience of each member with regard to organizing conventions
and SCA events, the proposed dates of the symposium, the proposed
site (or sites) of the symposium, a description of the site and
the region the site is in, and a description of the availability
of public transportation, local drivers, airports, restaurants,
etc. The reason for all of this is so we can be sure that the
winning bid committee is actually prepared to put on a good symposium."
It would also be a good idea to estimate costs:
symposium fee, proceedings, room and board, and possible cost
of local transportation. And it wouldn't hurt to lay out an estimated
timetable for preparations, to make sure you've allowed enough
lead time for advance publicity, publication of proceedings, and
whatnot. Not all of these are necessary; but the more thorough
your preparations appear to be, the better chance you have of
winning the bid.
The actual choice of symposium site will be
the prerogative of my successor, so I can't offer any firm deadlines.
I would suggest that you circulate your bid so that it will have
been received by all members of the College of Arms no later than
Rulings of note
Please take note of the commentary on the submissions
of Valeda of Isenfir (p. 5), Alistair Malcolm MacAlpine (p. 7),
Jack Alan Hartson (pp. 1112), Randal of Kings Hammer (p.
14), Rena Thorbjornsdottir (pp. 1820), Tokugawa Turasai
(p. 20), and William of Bellwood (pp. 2122).
Please believe me to be,