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Pigments of your Imagination

Scribal Newsletter of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc - June 2003

Volume 1 - Issue 3

From the Sylvan Signet

Hello to all of the marvelous scribes and scribal support team members of Æthelmearc! You continue to astound me with your shared talents and generosity! Let me begin with another thank you to our amazing Alienora for another successful newsletter!!!

Please send your letters of recommendation to Their Royal Highnesses, Prince Henri and Princess Berengaria. It was expressed to me by our Queen, Her Majesty Maurya, that it was excessively difficult for she and His Majesty, Christopher to initially put Their Royal Docket together because they received very few letters of recommendation. Thus, the docket is light, and many of our scribes haven't enough work to keep your talented fingers doing what you love the best. Let's not let that happen again. Duchess Dorinda has a lovely article published on the Æthelmearc website outlining how to write effective letters of recommendation if you are nervous about it. I believe that Their Highnesses will accept on-line letters of recommendation.

Also, there have been some problems with scroll wordings cropping up. This is understandable but preventable. On the website maintained by our amazing Maitresse Yvianne, there is a wealth of information on proper scroll wordings, and this good woman has taught a marvelous class on the subject at the Æthelmearc Academy and written an article on the subject. Please do not be shy if you have questions!!! Scribes are some of the most sharing people that I know of in the world! Also, the new "red book" with its tremendous information will soon be available for distribution. There has been a delay to make it its best for all of you and keep the cost down. Printing has been donated by Roberta McMoreland, with artwork and editing contributed from so many of the Kingdom's members! Thank you to you all, and thank you to Mistress Cori, THL Roberta, and all of you for your hard work!

Please, if any of you have questions, comments, or concerns about the Signet Office, the publications, classes, or anything, please feel free to contact me. One of the reasons I was so excited to take this position was that I really want to know all of you so much better. I don't want anyone to feel left out, and I would love it if we could be a more closely-knit scribal family. Please, I dearly love working with you all. It is not flattery when I say how awed I am by you all; it is the truth.

I wish you so much success in your artistic pursuits,

Your Sylvan Signet,
Katerina Affodil


We have a new name! And we have two winners and my thanks to all who submitted names and all who voted for the name. The winning name was submitted by Eldjarn and he will be receiving a copy of Medieval Miscellany and a $15.00 gift certificate for Dick Blick. The winner of the drawing among all who voted was Duchess Dorinda and I will have a small gift for her as well. Again, thank you to all of you. The voting was close, and I hope you will all enjoy the results.


Nobody *needs* two Awards of Arms:
How to double check assignment information

by Maitresse Yvianne de Castel d’Avignon

Before an assignment comes to you as a scribe, it has been at several other stops along the way. Each person who handles it has a chance to catch a mistake ... or to make one. Aside from typos, the royalty may have received the letter of recommendation with incorrect information, the award may have already been given by previous royalty or recipient may have been given another award that would affect something in the assignment you have accepted. There are many resources that scribes can use to confirm the information in their assignment and help avoid embarrassing mistakes. The suggested resources for double checking assignments can also be used to personalize scrolls and tailor them to suit the recipient.

Scrolls should contain the following information: who, what, when, where, why and royalty. Each of these components are relatively simple to double check.

Who (the recipient) - Even more important than the spelling is the gender. If you aren't sure whether the recipient is male or female, find out before you write the wording. This may be harder than it sounds. Sometimes you can get a clue from the recipient's mundane name listed on their home group's web page, in the officer's listings or event announcements in the AEstel. Doing a web search for the name may also help. and are two search engines that come in handy.

If the recipient's name is registered you can do a name pattern search to find out what the correct spelling is at If their name has not yet been passed, the information on what has been submitted may be online at If the recipient hasn't submitted a name yet you could try checking the web site of their Barony, Shire or Canton. Many local groups have member information online. Not sure about the recipient's home group? Try a web search using their name as you received it. You may even land on their personal web page and have all of the information you could possibly want to complete your scroll assignment. If you are still unsure about the name, it's OK to pencil it in and write it in ink sometime after the award has been given.

What (name of award or recognition) - The AEthelmearc Order of Precedence is online at The information there is usually updated several times a year. It is not foolproof. It is possible that the recipient could have received recognition between the time the OP was last updated and when you received your assignment. Local group web pages, personal web pages, court reports from old issues of AEstel may help you catch this snafu. The good news is that Signet often catches mistakes of this type. Even if the information is not available online, it is likely that the name and award will jog Signet's memory. From there it's easy to double check old dockets or court reports.

If a recognition includes Arms (Award, Grant or Patent) it is a good idea to double check the OP to see if the recipient already has an equal or higher award - which would mean they don't receive the Award, Grant or Patent again. Please be very careful of the wording for your scrolls. When doing the wording for an Award of Arms you should avoid using the word "grant". You can have the Royalty give a recipient Arms, bestow unto them Arms or award them Arms. If you use the word "grant" it may be confused as a Grant of Arms ... a completely different recognition from an Award of Arms.

You should never put a recipient's personal device on a scroll until they have it properly registered. You can do a name pattern search at and the blazon will come up in the results if there is any heraldry registered to that person. Another site that may also have the information is the AEthelmearc heraldry submission site Before you use the heraldry you find there on a scroll, please be sure it has been accepted at Society level. It would be easy to get confused by the information available on the AEthelmearc site if you aren't familiar with heraldic terms and the protocol of registering a device.

Emblazon is a picture of the heraldry. Blazon is the language of heralds. An easy way to remember which is which ... If you don't speak heraldese, it all sounds like bla-bla-bla (bla-zon).

If you need help with an emblazon there are several things you can do. Many group web sites have a gallery of the heraldry of the local members ... or links to their personal web pages. It is always a joyous moment when you find a full color graphic of the recipient‘s Arms. If you can't find a picture, you can try and translate it yourself. The AEthelmearc Scribes’ Handbook or any basic guide to heraldry may help you with some of the easy terms. A heraldic glossary and atlas is online at You can also do a web search for the confusing term. If you can't find anything or are still unsure, ask a herald. Most heralds are able to break even the most confusing blazon down into plain English.

When (date of event) - A calendar of events is printed in AEstel every month. You can also find event information online at It is a good idea to look at a regular calendar and confirm that the date is a Saturday, typos happen. There are some exceptions to this. At some long events, such as Pennsic, court is occasionally held during the week. If you are not sure which day the scroll will be going out, it is usually acceptable to leave the date out so long as the event and year are on the scroll.

Where (name of event, hosting group) - You may use either of these or both. This information will be in the event announcement. You can find the announcement in the AEstel or online at .

If the full announcement is not available look at the Regnum or listing of groups for the spelling of group names. You know you're a true AEthelmearc scribe when you can write Rhydderich Hael or Abhainn Ciach Ghlais on a scroll without having to look it up first. Occasionally events will be hosted by a kingdom rather than a single group, Sylvan Crusades comes to mind, or Pennsic which is hosted by several kingdoms. Please be careful that you do not confuse the local group with the group hosting these types of events.

Why (reason for recognition) - Occasionally you will receive an assignment that will have a vague reason for recognition, like "service" ... OK, what kind of service? Does the person cook, sew, teach, marshal...? Are they autocratting the event they will be recognized at? Do they hold an office? Signet or the Royalty (whoever gave you the assignment) may be able to give you more information. Don't be afraid to ask. You could also check the recipient's home group's web site or do a web search using the recipient's name. If you decide to ask someone from the recipient's area who they are and what they do, please be discreet.

Royalty (... or folks giving the award) - I’ll admit it, I've misspelled my own name. Good thing I have it in my spell check or I’d probably mess it up more often. It doesn't surprise me that other people misspell names too - even their own. The names of the Royalty and Landed Nobility are listed in AEstel and on the Kingdom of AEthelmearc web site. Occasionally they are even misspelled there as well. If in doubt, ask the Royalty directly. I'm sure they would rather you ask than have the name misspelled on every scroll you do during their reign.

If you find what you believe to be a mistake or have a question about an assignment, contact the Sylvan Signet before you proceed. There may be a logical reason an assignment came to you with seemingly incorrect or conflicting information. Some awards can be given to the same person more than once (Sigils, Sycamores, etc.) Some people don't like the way the heralds spell their name (or the gender assigned to it). Out of courtesy, AEthelmearc scribes often use the recipient's preferences.

AEthelmearc scribes are known for their attention to detail in matching scrolls to the recipients ... not just the illuminators, but the calligraphers and wordsmiths too. How we do it isn't magic ... just a little extra effort. The resources listed in this article should make it even easier for scribes to give the populace of AEthelmearc the very best medieval(ish) scribes and modern technology can combine to give them.

Visigothic Miniscule

by Hrefna in heppna Thorgrimsdottir and Violante de Sant Sebastian

Visigothic miniscule is one of the “National Hands” which developed as the largely illiterate Germanic tribes migrated into the Roman Empire in the fourth and fifth centuries. These scripts varied widely in their legibility as they represented a fusion of two Roman scripts: New Roman Cursive and Half Uncial. Most of the national hands were replaced by Carolingian miniscule in the late eight century, as the Carolingian Empire replaced Rome as the cultural and political center of Western Europe. Carolingian miniscule provided a very legible, standardized script for the dissemination of texts in the intellectual developments of the ninth and tenth centuries.

Visigothic miniscule survived longer then most of the other national hands in part because of its geographical and political remoteness from the Frankish kingdom; move over the heavy use of Half-Uncial forms made the script more legible then many of its regional counterparts. As the Christian kingdoms in the north of Spain came under increasing French influence over the course of the eleventh century, Visigothic miniscule came more and more to resemble the Carolingian miniscule. The Visigothic script did retain its distinguishing features, such as the open “a” and looped “t”. Carolingian miniscule officially replaced its Visigothic counterpart as the script for liturgical books in 1091 at the Church Council meeting of Leon. Examples of writing with Visigothic characteristics can be dated to as late as the middle of the twelfth century.

There are no capitals in Visigothic miniscule. Like Carolingian miniscule and the national hands, Visigothic capital letters are drawn from older scripts. Examples of Roman Capitals, Uncial and Half Uncial are regularly found. Capitals are not used in the middle of sentences. They are reserved for large blocks of important text, the first letter in a paragraph or passage, or to begin the occasional sentence. Sentences within a paragraph begin with a capital letter perhaps a third of the time.

Punctuation is used fairly consistently with this script. Periods are seen at the end of sentences, as are question marks. Colons are occasionally seen but are rare. Periods may be replaced by large spaces between words. These spaces can be used in conjunction with periods, so they may possibly indicate the end of a paragraph.

Line spacing is very wide. The ratio between line spacing and text width can be as much as three to one. A table of line spacing measurements taken from several manuscripts is presented below. Line spacing can vary widely within the same codex. For this reason there are two entries taken from the Morgan Beatus. All measurements are in millimeters with an error of ±0.5 mm.

La Cava Bible (1) Morgan Beatus (2) Morgan Beatus (3) Beatus from San Millan (4) Vitae Patrum (5) Beatus in Apacolypsin (6) De Fide Catholica (7)
Minimum 1 2 1.1 1.5 2 4 2.5
Ascender 1.7 3 3 3 3.5 7 3
Descender 1.5 2 2.5 3 3 6.5 3.7
Line Space 2.5 4 3.5 4.5 4.5 12 8

Spacing between words ranges. Typically, the word space is larger then the space filled by an “i” and but smaller then that of an “o”.


1 Williams, plate 2.
2 Williams, plate 14.
3 Williams, plate 19a.
4 Williams, plate 23.
5 Millares-Carlo, Tratado de Paleografia Espanola, plate 22.
6 Millares-Carlo, Tratado de Paleografia Espanola, plate 27.
7 Millares-Carlo, Tratado de Paleografia Espanola, plate 29.

Sources Consulted

Boyle, Leonard E. Medieval Paleography A Bibliographical Introduction. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1984. pp. 115-119.

Brown, Michelle P. A Guide to Western Historical Scripts from Antiquity to 1600. Toronto and Buffalo: University of Toronto Press, 1990. pp 32-33, 46-47.

Drogin, Marc. Medieval Calligraphy Its History and Technique. New York: Dover Publications Inc., 1980 pp. 95-99.

Fletcher, Richard. The Quest for El Cid. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991. pp.95-96.

Loew, E.A. “A contribution to the history of early Latin miniscule and to the dating of Visigothic manuscripts.” Studia Palaeographica. Minich: Koniglich Bayerischen Akademie der Wissenschaften. 1910. p. 97.

Millares-Carlo,Agustin. Nuevos Estudios de Paleografia Espanola. Mexico: Fondo de Culture Economica, 1941. pp. 154-157.

Millares-Carlo, Agustin. Tratado de Paleografia Espanola, 2nd edition. Madrid: Liberia General de Victoriano Suarez, 1932.

Williams John. Early Spanish Manuscript Illumination. New York: George Braziller, 1977.

© 1999.


According to the Æstel, there will be A&S displays, forums and/or classes at the following events:

Scribal Workshop: The Incipient Shire of King’s Crossing continues to hold workshops. The next one is scheduled for July 20. Please contact Master Creador ( For more information.

Æthelmearc Academy - June 21

Please make plans now to attend. There will be an A&S Display, an “ask a laurel” forum, and a scribal tea and, of course, classes, classes, classes. The event is being hosted by our own Sylvan Signet, THL Katerina Affodil, and Lady Alessandra d’Avignon. Reservations should be sent to Mistress Ts’vee’a (Gail Lefkowitz, 7333 Shoyer Ave., Swissvale, PA 15212.)

Field of the Crimson Shore - June 28
A&S Competition

Pax Interruptus - July 4
The drawing for the Scroll Blank competition will be held at Pax. Detailed information regarding directions to and registration for Pax can be found in the Æstel and on the Kingdom Home Page. The purpose of the competition is to provide scroll blanks for the Kingdom which may be used for prizes, awards, thank yous, etc. The competition is not judged and the drawing will be random. Details on the competition can be obtained from THL Roberta McMoreland at roberta or 585 442-2993.


The Scriptorium at West AEthelweald is not a formal Shire or Baronial guild, just a bunch of folks with a common interest in the scribal arts. Yvianne de Castel d'Avignon and Aengus MacBain (when his schedule allows him to be home in the evening) hold scriptorium nights at their house in Butler, PA.

As few as 2 and as many as 8 folks show up on the first and third Wednesday of the month. Since the group is both small and diverse, everyone is encouraged to work at their own pace on whatever it is they enjoy. More structured classes are occasionally scheduled when someone has a special request. A typical evening might have some novices working on calligraphy while some more experienced scribes are focusing on a particular illumination skill or working on a scroll assignment ... and someone else may be looking through books in search of inspiration. Materials are provided for those who have not purchased any yet or have forgotten theirs at home.

Anyone interested in visiting the scriptorium can contact Aengus or Yvianne for more information. If someone can't make it on the dates and time set aside for scribal gatherings there is no need for them to feel left out of the scribal community. Private arrangements can be made. In the past, Aengus and Yvianne have met with scribes during the day or set aside time at events and practices to do scribal things with those who are interested, but can't make it to scriptorium nights.



I have now officially published all of the articles which have been submitted to me. To keep the next edition of the our newly named newsletter from being 8 blank pages–which would be easy on the printer, I would say–PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE send me articles, artwork and information about what you all are doing . Upcoming deadlines are July 21 and September 22, but I will sleep more soundly if I have articles well in advance of those deadlines. Thanks!

This is the Æthelmearc Scribal Newsletter, a publication of the Office of the Sylvan Signet of the Kingdom of Æthelmearc within the Society of Creative Anachronism, Inc. It is not a corporate publication of the Society of Creative Anachronism and does not delineate SCA policies. Opinions are those of the authors and may not reflect or imply the view of the Editor or any member of its staff. Contents used with permission. Any gentle wishing to submit articles, artwork, or the like to the Æthelmearc Scribal Newsletter is invited to send work for consideration to the editor, Lady Alienora Russeal by the following means:

US Mail: Linda J. McDaniel
1250 Stillhouse Lane
Etters PA 17319
Telephone:Days 717 938-3396
Evenings 717 932-5321

The editor reserves the right to edit, refuse, or reprint any submissions. The submission deadline is Monday of the last full week of March, May, July, September, and November. (Please remember to include the release found elsewhere in this newsletter.)

Submissions Release I, ___________ , known within the Society of Creative Anachronism as ___________ , hereby do submit my written works titled:___________ and/or my artwork titled:___________ For publication within the Æthelmearc Scribal Newsletter, newletter of the Office of the Sylvan Signet within the Kingdom of Æthelmearc of the Society for Creative Anachronism. I also hereby give permission to have these works reprinted within this publication. Signed:___________Dated:___________

Rights to all articles and artwork remain with the submitter.
Please contact them directly for permission to reprint.

This page is not a corporate publication of the Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. and does not delineate SCA policies. In cases of conflict with printed versions of material presented on this page or it's links, the dispute will be decided in favor of the printed version. The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc. and its branches do not endorse the products or services of advertisers displayed on this web page. The Webminister of this page is Maitresse Yvianne de Castel d'Avignon. If you are having trouble viewing this page or encounter dead links please contact me at