Podcast Review: The Saga Thing

Tacuina sanitatis 14th C. Public domain in the US

One of the first podcasts I started listening to when I first got into podcasts back in 2014 was The Saga Thing podcast. It is an episodic overview of the Iceland family sagas by two Medieval history professors who met when they were both in grad school. They have a love for the Norse sagas, and decided to create a podcast about a subset of them as a way to stay in touch with each other. Originally they thought that they would spend an hour or so discussing a saga and then pass judgement on it at a trial (hence the “thing” in the podcast’s name). It has turned out that they fail miserably at getting through any particular saga quickly, so a single saga will often take many episodes over many weeks, with another episode just for the judgments. In fact their very first episode was split into 3 parts, and I think only one saga was completed in a single episode. But the length of each episode is well worth it.

They take a lighthearted approach, sharing jokes back and forth, and making LOTS of modern cultural references (e.g Princess Bride, Star Wars, the Vikings TV show, etc.). This keeps the tone light and the digressions interesting. After a few episodes I felt like I knew these guys personally. They describe what happens in a saga (or a portion thereof, typically), and then talk about its significance to the overall story, to other sagas, and even to other Medieval literature. They often contrast what the author is claiming happened versus what they know from studying other contemporaneous texts, always keeping in mind that the Icelandic sagas were written WELL after the fact.

They are currently going through Egil’s Saga. They are 8 episodes in, and are guessing it will take more than twice that to finish. When they read portions of the actual saga (typically in translation, but sometimes in Old Norse) they come up with interesting voices for the different characters, and do a credible job of using the same voice for the same character from episode to episode.This helps keep the podcasts entertaining, and leads to more banter and teasing between the two of them.

When they “judge” a saga, they have several criteria that they use:

  • Best Bloodshed (Best battle scene description)
  • Body Count (Number of unnatural deaths)
  • Nicknames (Best nickname of a character)
  • Notable Witticisms (Most quote-able line spoken by a character)
  • Outlawry (Which character should be banished from Iceland)
  • Thingmen (Which character joins one of the hosts band of brothers (and sisters))
  • Final Ratings

They have come up with several unique measurements over the years, several based on the first saga they reviewed, Hrafnkel’s Saga. Things like length and body count are both compared with that saga to give some perspective on the different themes the different sagas take. Some are less bloody than others, for example, so they want to provide an easy indication of just how blood filled a saga was for it’s length.

In addition to reviewing sagas, they also have created many “Saga Briefs”, in which they spend an episode talking about things related to Medieval Iceland that aren’t directly from a saga. Two relatively recent ones were about the recent “female viking warrior” find and Medieval archery. In both they interviewed experts in the field and presented scholarly findings, rather than click-bait headlines. There have also been several relating to the Vikings TV show, and comparing what is happening there with both the sagas and other historical accounts. They have gotten much better in the past year or so about posting new podcasts more regularly, so you can look forward to new content every couple of weeks, or so.

If you are at all interested in Norse history or saga literature, then you will enjoy listening to these podcasts. While it isn’t necessary to start at the beginning, I would recommend at least starting at the beginning of a particular saga, rather than partway through. Even though they provide a summary of what went before at the start of each podcast, they usually only cover the one just before, not a recap from the beginning of the saga.

— Logan goði —

P.S. It was this podcast that inspired me to use goði as my County equivalent.

Guy Windsor on Head Injury

Detail of fol. 5r from Royal Armouries Ms. I.33, circa 1300. Public domain in the US

This was shared on the Calonlist by HE Duncan Bruce of Logan and further shared on Facebook. It applies to all fighters, but especially to longsword in the Stile community.

This is something we have just begun to work on and, as Guy points out, like HEMA, we are probably not doing an adequate job of it. Especially the point that fencing masks are absolutely not sufficient to protect from concussions, especially the microconcussions that can lead to CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). Adding padding to them actually makes the problem worse.

The second problem is that of perception of risk; that the more safe we perceive something is, the more risk we are willing to accept. This is the nature of human beings and, in our case as in HEMA, leads to excessive blow calibration. The Society has dealt with this by requiring padding to head protection and requiring rigid hand protection for longsword bouts. But, again, this is not sufficient for fencing masks.

He also gives a shout out to SCA rattan fighting for having addressed these issues already.

Definitely worth viewing and discussing.


In Memoriam: The Passing of Anlon McMatha





Word came to us this week of the passing of Lord Anlon McMatha

Many of you will remember Anlon from his many years at Cornucopia at Lilies or as a steadfast pillar of the Shire of Dun Ard.

The THL Tola Rufusdóhtor remembers

Anlon, proprietor of Cornucopia. My friend.

I met Anlon 8 years ago at an event in Lost Moor. With his ready smile he was selling his wares. He often referred to that store, Cornucopia, as “Lilies General Store”.

He was always ready to make a person laugh or listen when seas troubled. He was never too busy. At Corucopia he always had a drink and a shady spot for anyone who needed a rest. Such was his generous heart.

Our world is a dimmer place now, as Anlon crosses to that place where there is no pain or suffering. He was loved by many and will be sorely missed.

Visitation for Anlon (Melvin Rice) will be at 10 am with services following at 11 am on Saturday, June 29 at the Belden-Larkin funeral home in Leavenworth KS. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Smithsonian Institution.

James Smithsonian Society
Smithsonian Institution
PO Box 37012, MRC 712
Washington, DC 20013-7012

Sing Non Nobis!




From Their Royal Majesties: Consent

Kingdom of Calontir, as King and Queen it is our responsibility to protect our populace. At times, that means asking all of our members to be aware, vigilant, and full of honesty in their interactions.

At this Lilies War, We, in conjunction with Their Highnesses, had a conversation with all of our polling orders about Consent, and talking about it openly among our people. We no longer want these conversations to be hidden, swept under the rug, or not discussed at all.

As unfortunate as it is, the mundane world does find its way into what we all want to be the safest place. We asked all, in all of our order meetings: to watch out for those who may find themselves in a compromising situation; to walk up and be sure our friends are talking to someone they want to talk to; to offer an escort late at night, to someone who might not want to be alone; to be a safe haven to someone who might need to gently find an escape.

As friends and especially for those of us who are Peers of the Realm, we should always be open to listen. In listening, we need to be able to hear all sides of a story. If something illegal has been done, we must encourage those who have been wronged to call the mundane authorities with no fear of retaliation. If nothing illegal has taken place, but inappropriate behavior is thought to have happened, please approach our Kingdom Advocate; take down the information from all parties and follow Society protocol for resolving issues.

This is not only something We are talking about in Kingdom, this is something that is being discussed on the Society level and within all mundane communities as well. We want to create as safe a space as possible for all of our members.

To that end, We had Duchess Isabeau print up the Society approved posters and had them posted around camp. Our Heirs, Prince Anton and Princess Yseult, fully agreed with the importance and intent of this message and did discuss this topic with all of our order meetings for which We were not in attendance. This is just the beginning of the conversation, but it is vital that we ALL participate, so that this Society which we all love can truly be the safe haven that we want it to be. With Love, Donngal and Catalina

In Memoriam: The Passing of Genevieve Darroch


Lady Moire inghean Neill, via the Calontir Bards email list:

It is with a heavy heart that I must pass this word along; HL Genevieve Darroch passed away last night in the Outlands.  She was one of the founding members of the Shire of Flinthyll, Apprentice to Mistress Lucie, Master Mikal and Master Eadward. She was one of the first bards I interacted with and the one who presented me with the “big damn stick” and pronounced me the Bardic Champion these many years ago. She was a bright person who was full of joy and laughter. Though she had moved to the Outlands she is still remembered in the halls of Calontir.

Ed. Note:  I recall Genevieve from our time on the archery field together. She was always a joy to shoot with and to be around. I had lost track  of her when she moved, and am deeply saddened to hear of her passing –Mathurin

Announcement: Director Elect, Seat A

Men harvesting wheat, Queen Mary’s Psalter, circa 1310. Public domain in the US

The Board of Directors would like to announce the appointment of Gigi Coulson, M. S. (Giata Magdalena Alberti, OL) as Director-Elect  – Seat A.

 Ms. Coulson, M.S. worked for the federal government for over 15 years as an interdisciplinary sociologist and biologist. She has experience in both qualitative and quantitative social assessments, environmental impact statements, diversity initiatives, program management, environmental justice, conflict resolution, policy creation, and training program development. She has a passion for sociocultural anthropology, living history, learning, and teaching. She is a complete Italophile and tries to visit Italy each year.
Giata  Magdalena Alberti, OL is a late 15th-century Florentine living in Venice. She passes her time spending her condottieri husbands’ money and entertaining the visitors of her father’s house in Venice by hosting weekly salons. Her hobbies include working on her  herbal experiments, occasional hawking, mediating contests of skill and chance, and traveling to Mantua, Milan, and Ferrara to visit her friends at court.

Ms. Coulson may be contacted via gcoulson@sca.org.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas,  CA 95036

You may also email comments@lists.sca.org.

This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism , Inc.  Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.

Announcements: Requests for Commentary – Corpora IV.B.A- Royalty Qualifications – Commentary Deadline October 1, 2019

Detail from the Hunterian Psalter, Glasgow University Library MS Hunter 229 (U.3.2) circa 1170. Public domain in the US

The Board of Directors is currently requesting commentary regarding a proposed change to Corpora IV.B.1 – Royalty Qualifications.  

Corpora IV.B.1 currently reads:

Each competitor in a Royal List must be fighting for a prospective consort of the opposite sex unless the Crown has elected to permit a competitor to fight for a prospective consort of the same sex.

The following change in language is proposed:

Each competitor in a Royal List must be fighting for a designated consort, without discrimination based on race, gender, religion, national origin, or disability.

Please email all commentary to comments@sca.org.

Please use the title “Corpora IV.B.A” in the subject line.

Do not use attachments in your commentary to comments@sca.org.

Attachments will cause your message to be marked as spam.

In lieu of email, commentary may be sent by US Mail, Postage-Prepaid, to:

Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.
RE: Corpora IV.B.A
P.O. Box 360789
Milpitas, CA 95036-0789

Commentary regarding this proposed Corpora change, whether sent by email or US Mail, must be received by the Board no later than October 1, 2019.

Comments are strongly encouraged and can be sent to:
SCA Inc.
Box 360789
Milpitas,  CA 95036

You may also email comments@lists.sca.org.

This announcement is an official informational release by the Society for Creative Anachronism , Inc.  Permission is granted to reproduce this announcement in its entirety in newsletters, websites and electronic mailing lists.

Book Review – Cotton, Climate, and Camels

Bookcases in the library of the University of Leiden, 1610

by The Honorable Lady Vashti al-A’sar


Cotton, Climate, and Camels in Early Islamic Iran: A Moment in World History by Richard W. Bulliet


  1. How to Identify a Cotton Boom
  2. Islam and Cotton
  3. The Big Chill
  4. Of Turks and Camels
  5. A Moment in World History

In Cotton, Climate and Camels Richard Bulliet explores the rise of cotton production and export in Iran during the ninth and tenth centuries.

It sounds simple, and a bit dry. I couldn’t have been more wrong. This tiny book (less than 200 pages) is easy to read and filled with details from primary sources. Even better, Bulliet does a great job making connections between different types of evidence to support his theory.

In addition to background information for  Persians, A’bbasids, and Seljuks, Bulliet explains how the changes in climate, religion, political, and cultural groups coincided in Persia in ways that affected technology, agriculture, and people’s daily lives. These changes are found reflected in the foundation and naming practices of towns, the naming practices for people, artistic styles, industries, and trade goods.

Despite some space given to qualification statements and academic conventions this book was easy to read and a great surprise in the amount of detailed information it contains.

Cooking Classes at Lilies by Mistress Giraude and Master Tosten

From Mèstra Giraude Benet:

Küche mit Kachelofen, aus: Kuchenmaistrey, erstmals erschienen 1485 bei Peter Wagner. V

I’d like to share some info about the cooking classes that Master Tosten will be teaching at Lilies this year. They are under my name in the site book, but while I will be helping, he is the main instructor! You can sign up in advance to reserve a spot, which will help him know how much supplies to bring in. Both classes will be held at my cooking table setup across from The Harp!

Cooking in Clay – Baked Apples
Mèstra Giraude Benet
Private Encampment
Sunday, June 9 – 1:00 pm for 1 hour
Audience: Adults Skill Level: Beginner
Age Limit: 8 Fee: $30 (Fee includes a clay pipkin to keep) Max Size: None

Class Description: With Master Tosten du Calais. Explore the process of cooking in clay in the fire. Participate in the history of cooking, and go home with yummy yummy baked apples and your own pipkin. Cut up the fruit, season, and cook to perfection. Class is open to student 8 and above, with parental attendance in the class as well. You may sign up and pre-pay in advance at Tosten’s Pots

Cooking in Clay – Main Dish
Mèstra Giraude Benet
Private Encampment
Sunday, June 9 – 9:00 am for 2 hours
Audience: All Skill Level: Beginner
Age Limit: 8 Fee: $40 (Fee includes a small cooking pot to keep) Max Size: None

Class Description: With Master Tosten du Calais. Explore the process of cooking in clay in the fire. Participate in the history of cooking and go home with hearty main dish and a small cooking pot. Using period ingredients, create a unique combination for you and to share. Simmer your meal in the coals. And share with others, your interest in cooking and period life. You can sign up in advance on Facebook at Tosten’s Pots.  Anyone who might be interested in signing up for the class but who is not on Facebook can email Master Tosten at Dougv@gryph.com , and he will send a PayPal invoice.