Society for Creative Anachronism
College of Arms

16308 SE 165th St
Renton, WA 98058-8221

For the July 2005 meetings, printed October 7, 2005

To all the College of Arms and all others who may read this missive, from Elisabeth Laurel, Jeanne Marie Wreath, and Margaret Pelican, greetings.

The July Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Sunday, July 17, 2005 and at the Wreath meeting held on Sunday, July 17, 2005. There was also a roadshow at KWHS on Sunday, July 24, 2005. The meetings considered the following letters of intent: Middle (20 Mar 05), Ćthelmearc (24 Mar 05), Ansteorra (24 Mar 05), Atlantia (24 Mar 05), Drachenwald (25 Mar 05), East (25 Mar 05), An Tir (28 Mar 05), Caid (28 Mar 05), Lochac (28 Mar 05), Outlands (28 Mar 05), Northshield (29 Mar 05), Atenveldt (30 Mar 05), West (30 Mar 05), Meridies (31 Mar 05), and Trimaris (31 Mar 05).

The August Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Saturday, August 5, 2005 and the Wreath meeting held on Sunday, August 28, 2005. The meetings considered the following letters of intent: Artemisia (20 Apr 05), Atenveldt (20 Apr 05), Middle (20 Apr 05), Atlantia (21 Apr 05), Drachenwald (22 Apr 05), West (26 Apr 05), Caid (27 Apr 05), Lochac (27 Apr 05), Outlands (27 Apr 05), Calontir (28 Apr 05), Northshield (28 Apr 05), and Ealdormere (29 Apr 05).

The September Laurel decisions were made at the Pelican meeting held on Saturday, September 17, 2005 and the Wreath meeting held on Saturday, September 10, 2005. There was a Wreath roadshow on Sunday, September 26, 2005. The meetings considered the following letters of intent: Atenveldt (13 May 05), Laurel (16 May 05), Meridies (20 May 05), West (25 May 05), An Tir (26 May 05), Atlantia (26 May 05), Drachenwald (26 May 05), East (26 May 05), Middle (26 May 05), Northshield (27 May 05), Outlands (28 May 05), Lochac (29 May 05), Laurel (31 May 05), and Trimaris (31 May 05).

From Laurel: KWHS 2006 - Change of Location

As a result of the recent catastrophes in New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, some adjustments have had to be made to the arrangements for next year's Symposium. The site is, simply, not there any more.

However, the autocrat assures me that her team is still ready and able to put on the Symposium, and at this time plans are being made for it to be moved to Memphis. I will keep the College informed as the necessary changes are made. I thank those who made offers of emergency backup sites and wish to commend the people of Gleann Abhann for tenacity above and beyond. I hope everyone will make an especially strong effort to be there next year; they certainly deserve a good turnout.

From Laurel: Upcoming Rules Discussion

Juliana de Luna, Siren Herald, has kindly agreed to take on the additional duties of Palimpsest Herald. She will be sending out a rules discussion letter shortly, under separate cover, starting with revision of some name examples. Commentary will be due by November 30, with responses due by December 31. If you are not on the mailing list and would like copies of the name letters, please contact her at

From Laurel: Roster, No, Really

Due to some last minute mixups last month, the College of Arms roster that was supposed to be included in the June LoAR, wasn't. Please find it enclosed this month, as well as the elusive page 14.

From Laurel: Territorial Designators

Morsulus notes that branch designators (Kingdom, Shire, etc.) appear in the master database for the Ordinary and Armorial. They are currently updated when an item appears on an LoAR as an acceptance with a new designator. The designator that appears in the database may not match the actual status of the branch, but the listing in the database is not connected to the formal status of the branch, nor should it be. It is a label that was correct at the time the submission was registered.

This month sees two explicit requests for a change in the designator. One is superfluous, as the branch is registering two badges, which will trigger the update automatically. The other simply asks for the change to be made, with no other items being submitted.

If it bothers a branch to see themselves still listed in the O&A as with the wrong designator, such as "shire of" when they are now "barony of", and they care enough to put in a request for the change in an LoI, it will be accepted on an LoAR and updated in the database. However, branches are not expected to do this nor are they in any way remiss if they elect not to change the designator in the O&A.

From Pelican: A Note on the Errant Use of Special Characters

A number of letters of intent have been submitted recently that use the character represented by a d with a horizontal line through the upright instead of the edh đ. While these character may look similar, they do not represent the same letter. Please do not confuse them.

The crossed d is part of the Croatian alphabet. According to the "Hrvatski jezik -- Croatian Language" website (, to pronounce this character "place the tip of the tongue behind the lower front teeth and try to produce a 'mixed sound' between the 'j' of 'jar' and the 'd' (actually 'dy') of British English 'duke'". This character is not used in Western European languages. I do not believe this character is available for typing in Microsoft Word -- instead, it must be inserted by using the Insert Symbol command. It can also be represented in Unicode as 0x0111 and 0x0110. There is, at present, no "Da'ud" notation for this character, and, since it does not appear to have been used legitimately in any SCA registered names, there is not a need to create Da'ud notation for it at this time.

The đ, on the other hand, is a character found in Old and Middle English, Old Norse, and various other Western languages. It representing a "dh" or "th" sound. This character is available for typing in Microsoft Word in Windows: the command sequence is CTRL+' (APOSTROPHE) followed by d or D.

Master Daniel de Lincoln notes why this difference is important:

This is not mere typographic pedanticness. Crossed d and edh are two different characters. When the submission form allows no changes, Laurel has long returned names that have an erroneous apostrophe or accent, much less a wrong character. If an LoI spelling has to be changed, the ruling has to point out and explain the change, which is tedious for a simple typo. The Laurel office, as well as other software, can handle "Latin-1" characters like edh very smoothly, but not crossed d: crossed d often ends up displayed as "?" or as an empty box. Paraphrasing Matthew 5:37, "Let your 'edh' mean 'edh' and your Croat mean Croat; anything beyond this cometh of evil".

Thanks for your attention in this matter!

From Wreath: On Gurges and Schnecken

The gurges appears to be a purely Anglo-Norman heraldic charge, which in its earliest form was a series of concentric annulets. London's "Aspilogia II: Rolls of Arms of Henry III", p.152, describes the original arms of Rauf de Gorges as (in modern blazon) Azure, four concentric annulets argent. It began its heraldic life as an undoubted charge (or set of distinct charges, if you will).

Bruce Draconarius of Mistholme provided some research on gurges:

For a charge that appears so early in the heraldic records, the gurges is remarkably hard to track down. I suspect it's because it was held by so few families, none of whom were prominent.

At any rate, I've found two period emblazons of the gurges, both for the canting arms of Rauf (or Rafe) de Gorges. One is found in the Fitzwilliam version of the Heralds' Roll, c.1265, which may be seen in "Anglo-Norman Armory I" by Humphery-Smith, p.72. It's drawn as six concentric azure annulets on an argent field, with the outer two annulets cut off by the edge of the shield. The other is from Charles' Roll, c.1285, which may be seen in "Aspilogia III: the Rolls of Arms of Edward I" by Brault, plate I. It's drawn as four concentric azure annulets on an argent field, with the outer annulet cut off by the edge of the shield.

Though these are the only period emblazons of gurges I could find, there are still a few verbal descriptions. The best source is probably "Aspilogia II: Rolls of Arms, Henry III" by London & Tremlett, pp.93, 152. The arms of Gorges are found in Glover's Roll, blazoned in the 1253 text, but tricked in a copy made in 1310 as four concentric annulets, none of which are cut off by the shield edge. Robert Glover, Somerset Herald 1570-88, copied these tricks, rendering the gorges in the spiral form which has been used ever since.

Try as I might, I haven't been able to get a copy of the emblazon of Glover's Roll with the spiral form of gurges. Foster's "Dictionary of Heraldry", p.96, has an example of a spiral gurges, but his emblazons are not to be trusted as accurate depictions of period forms.

The gurges is not found in any of the later-period heraldic tracts. It's not in the Boke of St. Albans, nor in Legh's "Accedens of Armorie", nor in Bossewell's "Works of Armorie", nor in Gwillim's "Displaie of Heraldry" 2nd ed.

We're left, then, with modern emblazons of the spiral gurges, and here we find almost no consensus. The spiral might go clockwise or widdershins; the three points of the shield might be all the same tincture, or not; there might be as few as four turns of the spiral from the center to the edge of the shield (Scott-Giles, "The Romance of Heraldry", p.6) or as many as ten turns (Brooke-Little's "Heraldic Alphabet", p.110); the center of the spiral might end in a point for one of the tinctures and a sort of "knob" for the other tincture (Friar's "Dictionary of Heraldry", p.174) or the two tinctures might be of equal width along their entire lengths (Woodward, plate XIX). About the only thing on which modern heraldic authors agree is that the stripes of the gurges and the field are of equal width.

Most important for our purposes, there's no way of telling the gurges from the field. It's impossible to say, from a modern depiction of a spiral gurges, whether the field is argent and the gurges azure, or vice versa. At least with the earlier depiction, made from concentric annulets, one knew that the central space within the innermost annulet must be the field.

But based on the earliest "concentric annulet" form, if I were today asked to render a spiral gurges, I would draw at least four turns of the spiral before it was cut off by the shield's edge; I would draw one of the stripes with a knob at the center, to represent the center of the innermost annulet of the original form; and I would deem that to be the field.

I would certainly welcome any period emblazons of gurges (either annulet or spiral form) that anyone might uncover.

As no evidence has been found that the two forms of gurges (concentric annulets and spiral) were considered different charges in period, we will continue to register either form as simply a gurges. No difference will be granted between the two forms.

Given modern depictions of gurges, which is the depiction used in the majority of the gurges registered in the Society, no difference will be granted between <tincture 1>, a gurges <tincture 2> and <tincture 2>, a gurges <tincture 1>. This applies whether the gurges is spiral or formed of concentric annulets.

According to our rules, overall charges must have good contrast with the field, not with the charge (in this case, with the gurges). The closest analogy would be with a field fretty: since the fretwork is a charge (no matter how thickly the laths are drawn), any overall charge must count contrast with the field, not with the fret. Thus Sable fretty Or, overall a lion gules breaks the rule of contrast, no matter how thick the Or latticework is drawn. Likewise, Azure, a gurges argent, overall a lion gules breaks the rule of contrast, even though the lion may be equally supported by metal and color. However, unlike fretty, with a gurges this has the equally valid blazon, Argent, a gurges azure, overall a lion gules, which technically does have good contrast with the field. Thus, if overall charges are present with the spiral form of gurges, the field will be blazoned as the tincture that has good contrast with the overall charge. If there are no overall charges, the field will be blazoned as the tincture in the dexter chief corner.

The question was raised this month about what difference is granted between a schnecke and a gurges. Current precedent, set by Da'ud Laurel, grants a CD between the two, but not substantial (X.2) difference:

There is clearly a CD between a schnecke and a gurges, but the consensus of the commentary and those attending the meeting [was] that RfS X.2 does not apply between them. [Peter Schneck, 5/96]

Unlike the gurges, the schnecke seems to have started its heraldic life as a field division. Walter Leonhard's "Grosse Buch der Wappenkunst," 1984, p.165, classes the schnecke with other complex field divisions such as Schraegflammenspaltung (Per pale rayonny). Some of his schnecke-like field divisions are similar to period armory found in Siebmacher's "Wappenbuch of 1605": v. the arms of Fridesheim (plate 37), von Ellershofen (plate 106) and die Megentzer (plate 119). Leonhard blazons them all as divisions of the field, e.g. dreifacher Schneckenschnitt ("three-part Snail-cut"). But the schnecke itself he blazons as a charge: linke geschuppte Schnecke ("left-handed scaled Snail," which we'd blazon a schnecke invected reversed). This too is in Siebmacher, plate 198, as the arms of von Rordorf. This last example not only establishes the schnecke as a charge, but also lets us distinguish between the charge and the field: the invected line marks the charge. In SCA usage, the schnecke is always considered to be a charge.

The only thing the gurges and the schnecke have in common is a spiraling form. The schnecke never has more than a single revolution to its spiral: that is, if it issues from the chief, it circles the fess point of the shield once and comes to its point from chief. The gurges has at least four revolutions (if we take the concentric annular form as a baseline).

The research presented affirms the May 1996 precedent. Given their divergent evolutions and consistently differing emblazons, there is significant difference (a CD) between a gurges and a schnecke. However, there is not substantial (X.2) difference between the two.

From Wreath: Gyronny Arrondi

The question was raised this month on what is the appropriate way to draw gyronny arrondi. Since at least 1992 precedent has required gyronny to be symmetric around the horizontal line:

Gyronny of ten is symmetric around the horizontal line, not the vertical line. (Iestyn ap Cadfael ap Ianto ap Danno ap Richard ap Owen ap Rhys o'r Cwm, September, 1992, pg. 33)

A more recent precedent states:

Gyronny should always be drawn with one of its constituent lines fesswise. With straight lines, one can blazon a field like this one as per pale and per saltire, but this is not possible when the lines are arrondy. This design has been returned for redrawing in the LoAR of September 1996:

[Gyronny arrondi of six argent and gules] This is being returned for a redraw. As Master Bruce as Laurel said in his 3/93 cover letter "Parker, p.301, states that gyronny of six should be symmetric around the horizontal axis, not the vertical axis; and this is borne out by such period examples as I've been able to uncover."

[Dofinn-Hallr Morrisson, 02/03, R-East]

However, in October 2004 Laurel registered to Garđr Gunnarsson Gyronny arrondi argent and sable, a roundel within an orle Or with the comment "We have an example from an armorial of period Swedish devices showing a gyronny arrondi field similar to this, though standard SCA practice has appropriate lines of division issuing from the corners." Garđr's device does not have the line of division starting in the corner, nor is it symmetrical around the horizontal axis.

Gunnvör sílfrahárr, the Viking Answer Lady, discusses gyronny arrondi (, stating:

As suggested above, the SCA herald expects that a gyronny will have a line of division on the fess-line of the device. The gyronni arrondi shown here does not have a line of division running on the fess-line (a fess-line bisects the shield via a straight line run across the middle, dividing the field into top and bottom halves). Early Norwegian heraldry, however, does use the version shown here, as early as the 14th century: see the arms of Erling Amundsson in 1303, in: Huitfeldt-Kass, Henrik Jřrgen, Norske Sigiller fra Middelalderen, 8 vols. Kristiania/Oslo: 1899-1950, entry 30, p.3 and plate 8]. Nine years later he sealed with a similar gyronny arrondy of six (see entry 62 in Norske Sigiller, above): the lines curve in the same direction (clockwise moving out from the centre), and each of the three corners of the shield is approximately in the centre of a piece. (Number the pieces of Invarr's field 1 through 8, starting in dexter chief and going counterclockwise. The pieces of Erling's 1312 seal correspond roughly to 1, 2+3, 4+5, 6, 7, and 8, in alternating tinctures.) Here again there is no line that closely follows the per fess line.

Another item to consider is that gyronny is almost never charged at the center point in period heraldry, and never in Norske Sigiller fra Middelalderen. Some examples of charged gyronny fields are found elsewhere in the SCA's period, for instance Edward Vaughan (1509-1522) had "Gyronny of eight argent and sable, four fleur-de-lys counterchanged; on a saltire Or, five cinquefoils gules".

Given this information, gyronny arrondi may be drawn so that the corners of the shield are in the center of a gyron rather than having the line of division issue from the corner. This emblazon of gyronny arrondi has no heraldic difference from the standard gyronny arrondi or from gyronny. The use of a central charge on a field drawn in this manner is one step from period practice.

From Wreath: Counting Differences

The Outlands submission this month for Bjorn inn gauzki, Sable, in bend a compass star and a drakkar prow Or, was an appeal of a kingdom return. The armory was originally returned in kingdom for a conflict with Luxandra of Altumbrea, Sable, semée of suns in splendour Or (1/80, Caid) based on the precedent:

Dyan du Lac des Calandres. Badge. Gules, in fess a tassel Or between a decrescent and an increscent argent.

Conflict with a badge of Conrad von Regensburg, Gules semy of decrescents argent. In Conrad's arms, there is a single group of primary charges consisting of (six or more) evenly strewn argent decrescents. In Dyan's arms, there is a single group of primary charges consisting of one argent decrescent, an Or tassel, and an argent increscent. The LoAR of December 2003 gave a lengthy analysis of the way to count difference in a similar situation, where the charge group changed from a registered group of charges on the field consisting of six lions Or, to an in-submission charge group consisting of a lion and a tower Or. That analysis summarized the change as follows:

It should be recalled that the SCA protects REGISTERED armory. Because of this, the SCA considers changes to have been made from the registered armory to the armory currently under submission, and has interpreted the Rules for Submission in the manner that gives the greatest protection to the registered armory, and allows the fewest possible differences for a change to armory. This implies a certain lack of symmetry to the ruling, because the interpretation of a change from "registered" to "considered" does not necessarily match the change from "considered" to "registered"...

In [this] case, the submitter is changing one of the lions into a castle, which leaves us with a charge group consisting of five lions and one castle. This change is to less than half of the charges in that group, so there is no CD under RfS X.4.e.

After the change of the type (a lion into a castle), we apply the change to the number by removing all but one of the lions and the castle. Of six charges, we remove four of the lions, leaving a total of two charges in the group, which is a change from six to two. RfS X.4.f notes that two and six are signficantly [sic] different, and therefore, entitled to a CD.

In this case, we have changed the charge group on the field from [semy of] decrescents argent to a decrescent argent, an increscent argent, and a tassel Or. The strewn ("semy") charges are considered to be equivalent to any charge group with six or more charges for purposes of the rule for difference in the number of charges on the field (RfS X.4.f).

Thus, when changing Conrad's badge to Dyan's, we are changing one of the (six or more) argent decrescents into an argent increscent, and one of the (six or more) argent decrescents into an Or tassel, and leaving (four or more) of the argent decrescents as argent decrescents. The change in type of two of six (or more) charges (the single tassel and the single increscent) is a change to less than half of the charges in the group, so there is no CD under RfS X.4.e. The change in tincture to one in six (or more) charges (the tassel) is also a change to less than half the charges in the group, so there is no CD under RfS X.4.d.

After the changes to type and tincture (six or more decrescents argent into four or more decrescents argent, one increscent argent, and one tassel Or), we then remove (three or more) of the decrescents, leaving a total of three charges, which is a change from six (or more) charges to three charges. RfS X.4.f notes that three and six are significantly different, and therefore entitled to a CD.

As a result, there is only one CD between these two pieces of armory, and they are therefore in conflict.

Under this precedent there was a single CD between Bjorn's and Luxandra's armory -- the CD for number of charges.

The LoI stated:

I find no evidence of period armory that was cadenced by changing the type of only one of several identical charges and then removing all but the changed one and one other. Without solid period evidence that this sort of pattern would suggest one cadency step, this ruling seems unnecessarily narrow in its interpretation, and I therefore respectfully request that it be revisited with an eye to period cadency.

It should be noted that while many of the rules are based on period cadency, the application of multiple rules may have an effect that is not in line with period cadency. This is a fact that will not be changed no matter how the rules are interpreted.

In interpreting the rules, three things are important: protection of registered armory, ease of explanation (e.g., does the interpretation make sense and can it be explained to heralds and submitters in a straightforward way), and simplicity of the registration process.

The Rules for Submission are a means to codify what is essentially a visual art. The process for determining difference as explained in the ruling on Dyan du Lac des Calandres has some problems.

Instead, we view counting CDs under RfS X.4 as a two-step process: first, the assumption that differences are reached in the fewest possible steps, and second, a comparison of the armory as it exists.

Under the first step, consider the hypothetical case where Azure, a unicorn argent is registered:

This interpretation is consistent with prior precedent, including the December 2003 ruling (Siridean MacLachlan, R-Calontir), which stated

The SCA has always had difficulty dealing with the situation when both the number and the type of a single charge group change. For a classic example, consider the hypothetical arms Azure, a lion Or and a unicorn argent combattant versus Azure, a unicorn argent. In both cases, you have a blue field with a white rampant unicorn. In the first, the unicorn is also accompanied by a gold lion rampant to sinister. The traditional SCA view is to give only one CD for removing the lion so that the two arms are in conflict. However, occasionally, someone tries to argue from a different perspective, namely, that we should give one CD for changing the number of the group (from two to one charge), another CD for changing the type of the group (from half unicorn, half lion to all unicorn), a third CD for changing the tincture of the group (from half Or, half argent, to all argent), and a fourth for changing the posture of the group (from half facing dexter and half facing sinister, to all facing dexter). This, of course, would make the arms well clear of conflict. This interpretation has been disallowed fairly consistently in precedent, although the issue continues to be raised occasionally.

The second step in determining CDs is comparing the actual armory rather than using hypothetical intermediate armory. In the original precedent (Siridean MacLachlan, cited in Dyan du Lac des Calandres, above) with a lion and a castle (submitted) versus six lions (registered), conflict was discussed considering intermediate armory of a castle and five lions and rejecting the alternate intermediate armory of three castles and three lions. Under that precedent, comparing the current submitted armory Sable, in bend a compass star and a drakkar prow Or with the registered armory Sable, semée of suns in splendour Or, there is a CD for the number of charges but nothing for type due to the assumption that the intermediate armory is Sable, a drakkar prow and six (or more) compass stars (or suns). However, this is not a valid assumption as any intermediate armory is hypothetical. Therefore, the determination of difference must be based on a comparison of the actual armory, submitted versus registered, rather than against hypothetical intermediary armory. In the case of the current submission, we are comparing a compass star and a drakkar prow versus semée of suns. There is no difference granted between a compass star and a sun; however, there is a CD for the number of charges and there is a second CD for changing from all suns (compass stars) to only half suns (compass stars).

This two-step process still provides reasonable protection to registered armory, while being both easier to explain and to apply. The December 2003 and March 2004 precedents are thus overturned. In summary, when counting differences:

  1. Use the minimum number of steps or changes between the armory to determine the number of CDs.

  2. Compare the registered and submitted armory without assuming any hypothetical intermediate armory.

From Morsulus: Website is now a going concern. The bulk of the website is a Wiki. As Morsulus has time, he will add discussion of how he indexes armory, how he processes data, and related technical subjects. In addition, there is space to report problems with the online tools, plug additional tools and resources for searching and conflict checking, and to report problems with the data itself (misindexed items, potential errata, etc). Email to addresses at will get to Morsulus as well. Morsulus is footing the bill for this personally; this is not a formal function of the College of Arms of the SCA.

Not all letters of intent may be considered when they are originally scheduled on this cover letter. The date of mailing of the LoI, date of receipt of the Laurel packet, or other factors may delay consideration of certain letters of intent. Additionally, some letters of intent received may not have been scheduled because the administrative requirements (receipt of the forms packet, receipt of the necessary fees, et cetera) have not yet been met.

REMINDER: Until all administrative requirements are met, the letter may not be scheduled.

Send What to Whom

For all Letters of Intent, Comment, Response, Correction, et cetera, send one paper copy directly to each of the Sovereigns of Arms, Laurel, Pelican and Wreath at their mailing addresses as shown on the College of Arms Roster.

Send Laurel office copies of all submissions-related paper, including

to the SCA College of Arms, PO Box 31755, Billings, MT 59107-1755.

Send the required electronic copies of all submissions-related files to This applies to all LoIs, LoCs, LoRs, et cetera.

Cheques or money orders for submissions, payable to "SCA Inc.-College of Arms" are to be sent directly to the Society Chancellor of the Exchequer, who is temporarily acting as Laurel's chancellor of the exchequer, at Laurel Chancellor of Exchequer, 4N400 Church Rd, Bensenville, IL 60106-2928.

Send roster changes and corrections to Laurel. College of Arms members may also request a copy of the current roster from Laurel.

For a paper copy of a LoAR, please contact Laurel, at the address above. The cost for one LoAR is $3. Please make all checks or money orders payable to "SCA Inc.-College of Arms". For subscriptions to the electronic copy of the LoAR, please contact Laurel at The electronic copy is available free of charge.

For all administrative matters, or for questions about whom to send to, please contact Laurel.

Pray know that I remain,

In service,

Elisabeth de Rossignol
Laurel Principal Queen of Arms

Created at 2005-10-05T02:33:16