Sign Ups for Virtual Heralds Point 2 Are Open

Gleaned from the SCA Heralds email list:

The SCA College of Arms will be hosting a Virtual Heralds Point for approximately 2 weeks, from Aug. 8-22, with a Zoom event for consultations from Aug. 14-15.

Links to the sign-up forms can be found at

All submitters must pre-register before August 5 to take part. That’s this Thursday.

We will again be taking electronic payments via PayPal for submissions. So if you’ve been putting off submitting, this is the time to do it!

The hope is that it will be very flexible, a submitter can enter their ideas and preferred forms of contact, and a herald will get in touch and try to help them through the process, either slowly by email over the course of a number of days, or in one hit over a Zoom meeting, whatever it takes.

Yours in Service,

Dame Lillia de Vaux for Virtual Heralds Point Staff

The Bavarian Herald Jörg Rügen around 1510. Public Domain in the US

Virtual Heralds Point

The SCA College of Arms will be hosting a Virtual Heralds Point for three weeks beginning on Sunday, Jan 24th. Whether you’ve been meaning to get something registered for a while but can’t find your local herald, or you’re a herald looking for a little more consulting work, this is a great opportunity to get something moving. Links to the sign-up forms can be found at

The best part of this consulting table is that we’ll be taking electronic payments via PayPal for submissions. So if you’ve been putting off submitting, this is the time to do it!

The hope is that it will be very flexible, a submitter can enter their ideas and preferred forms of contact, and a herald will get in touch and try to help them through the process, either slowly by email over the course of a number of days, or in one hit over a zoom meeting, whatever it takes. Sign up today over at

The Bavarian Herald Jörg Rügen around 1510. Public Domain in the US

Announcement: Statement from the Laurel Queen of Arms on Offensive Names and the Current Situation

The Bavarian Herald Jörg Rügen around 1510. Public Domain in the US

From Juliana de Luna, Laurel Queen of Arms, greetings to all those to whom these presents come.

Offensive Names and the Current Situation

As you doubtless know, a great deal of concern has been expressed about the fact that Wolfgang von Sachsenhausen, a name registered in 2007, included reference both to a Nazi concentration camp and a scientist who did experiments there.  We wish to share with you, so that you can share with your populace, an explanation of how this name was registered and a general road map of what the Laurel Office has been working on since we became aware of the issue in the morning of Saturday, June 6, 2020.

How this name was registered:

The Standards for Evaluation of Names and Armory (“SENA”) ban the registration of names that are offensive.  Specifically:

No name that is offensive to a large segment of members of the SCA or the general public will be registered. Offense is a modern concept; just because a name was used in period does not mean that it is not offensive to the modern observer. Offense returns are rare because the bar for determining offensiveness is quite high; it has not been unusual for years to pass between returns for offense.

Offense is not dependent on intent. The fact that a submitter did not intend to be offensive is not relevant. The standard is whether a large segment of the SCA or the general public would be offended.

In 2007, we were not as attuned to the problems of white supremacy in the SCA as we are today.  At that time, we used a different set of rules, but the rules about offensiveness were substantially the same.

The people making decisions on names and armory are not experts in every topic that arises.  For that reason, we rely heavily on commentary from our array of volunteer heralds from every Kingdom.  In this particular case, no one at the Society level identified the link between this name and the concentration camp in commentary, so the issue was not considered at the time.  I was a commenter at that time and can say that we rarely looked actively for such issues, assuming that submissions of hate were a thing of the past.

Now, in 2020, we are more alert to the problems of white supremacy and racism in the Society, as are our commenters.  In addition, there is vastly more information available to allow us to identify potentially problematic names.  We make a regular practice of checking Google and other available resources, such as the databases of white supremacist images and lists of offensive racial terminology, when making decisions.  Offensive racial epithets such as the Gypsy have been banned, as have certain depictions of the Celtic or Norse crosses that are commonly used by hate groups.

What has the Laurel Office been doing?

Since becoming aware of the issue, the Laurel Office has been working on several projects:

(1)  We have prepared a report to the Board of Directors discussing the issue, our plans for moving forward, and the calls for revocation of this person’s registration (something that is regulated by Corpora rather than the Laurel office).

(2)  We have prepared and will shortly be issuing a Palimpsest Letter for commentary adding a provision to SENA banning names that are morally offensive and proposing a multi-factor test for moral offensiveness.

(3)  We have researched and prepared a proposal for how to handle names that incorporate place names of concentration camps, which will appear in an upcoming Cover Letter.

(4)  On the April 2020 Cover Letter, we will be announcing a new policy allowing free changes of names and armory for people whose registered elements are offensive.  For example, some period armorial motifs have been co-opted by hate groups in the years since they were originally registered.  Likewise, the phrase the Gypsy once had a very different popular meaning, but is now considered hate speech by the Roma people and the United Nations.  People who now find themselves with inadvertently offensive names may wish to change them and we are removing one barrier to doing so.

(5)  Pelican Queen of Arms is forming a working group to identify other potential red flags in names so that we can maintain a list of problematic name elements going forward.  Although Pelican and her staff have been doing this same work behind the scenes for several years, we now are actively reaching out to people who are not presently commenting to request their assistance.

What can people do?

(1)  Be patient.  Many of the things we are trying to do require substantial research time or input from the Board of Directors.

(2)  Become involved in researching and commenting on names and armory in OSCAR.  The Sovereigns are not experts in every single area of language, history or armory.  We need and rely on commentary from experts in a wide variety of fields.  We remain particularly in need of people with expertise in languages and cultures outside of Europe.

(3)  Become involved in researching and writing articles to help educate people on period names or armorial motifs that have problematic modern connotations.

Julia Smith/Juliana de Luna

Laurel Queen of Arms

How do I create a coat of arms?  Part two, design principles.

This is the fifth in a series of educational articles about heraldry in Calontir. 

Previously, we discussed where to get inspiration for your coat-of-arms.  Now that you  have some ideas, let’s talk about how to put it all together.

Some important design principles to keep in mind:

Duct-tape heraldry.  Aka who’s going to draw this for you? Be considerate of whoever is going to be sewing your heraldic design on your tabard.  There’s no shame in designing good solid heraldry that can be laid out on your shield using duct tape in a pinch.

Identifiability.  The original purpose of heraldry is to identify you across a battlefield.  So the colors are bright, the contrasts are clear, and the designs are relatively simple.  Charges (motifs) tend to be drawn in order to make the key identifying features of the object obvious.  For example, the eagle is shown with its wings displayed on either side.

Stylized and Simplified.  Heraldry is a bit like cartoon art.  Things are not necessarily drawn realistically, or painted their natural colors.  Heraldry has it’s own visual language with defined poses for animals and simplified depictions of objects.  That’s why it’s so useful to study period armorials for inspiration.

Complexity.  We are limited to a complexity count of 8 or less – adding up the number of colors with the number of charges.  So a red shield with a white owl has a complexity count of three: two colors (red & white) and one charge (owl).  A half-blue and half-green shield with a gold stars and a sword on either side of a gold stripe with purple and red hearts has a complexity count of nine – with five colors (blue, yellow, purple, red, green) and four charges (stars, stripe, hearts, sword).  As you can see, it’s a little much.

Contrast.  Identifiably requires good contrast, so we need to avoid putting dark things on a dark background (“color-on-color”, eg. blue on red) or light things on a light background  (“metal-on-metal”, eg. yellow/gold on white/silver) in most situations.

Slot machine.  Having 3 or more different things in the same area of the shield doesn’t match period practice and is also poor design.  You shouldn’t have a star, a diamond and a sword in the same group on your shield.  If you have to have them all, separate them into different sections of the shield.  (More on this in the next article.)

Marshalling.  Marshalling combines the arms of two or more families to display noble lineage.  Since we do not inherit nobility in the SCA, marshalled designs cannot be registered.  There are two types of marshalling:  impaling and quartering.  Impaling is when a shield is divided down the middle with one family coat of arms on the left, and another on the right – originally to show off that both of your grandfathers were important.  Quartering was an alternate way to show off your grandfathers, or you could show your 4 great-grandfathers’ arms in each of the sections.  Note that we can display heraldic designs that look like marshalling.  For example, a couple might marshal their arms as a “marital badge” to mark their children at an event to help people return them. That’s a great use of heraldry, just not registerable.

Contact me or one of the many other heralds of Calontir for further details.  (See “Heraldic Helpers”)

At your service,

Sofya la Rus, Habicht Herald

Calontir Heraldic Education Deputy

12th Night Court Summary, January 5, A.S. 53

In evening court:
Arn Haraldson – AoA
Sasha (dicta Lilith of Lonely Tower) – AoA
Krystyn I Lund – Torse
Hugo van Harlo – Silver Hammer

Other court tidings:
7 newcomers received mugs in court; another was given after court, by Her Majesty’s grace.
Meister Gawin Kappler addressed the populace about the upcoming Historic Combat Studies Symposium at Lilies War.
Lady Alexandra Rikve Jessen will be the new Kingdom Equestrian Marshal.
Master Alan Smyith of Darkdale will be the new Chair of the Lilies Committee.
Siora Zaneta Baseggio and Doña Alexandra Vazquez de Granada addressed the populace about the upcoming Known World Heraldic and Scribal Symposium in July.

Presentation scene; detail of a miniature from BL Royal MS 15 E vi, f. 2v. 15th C. Public domain in the US

How do I create a coat of arms? Part one: inspiration.

This is the fourth in a series of educational articles about heraldry in Calontir. 

Now that you have a useable name, you need some heraldry to go with it.

We’re lucky that we get to design our own coats of arms.  In period, you would have been stuck with whatever your great-great-granddad decided to slap on his shield the night before the big battle that made him famous.  So historical coats of arms did not have “deep personal meaning”, just layers of family honor.   Period nobility had to resort to badges and impressa when a new generation wanted add a personal stamp to their heraldic identity.

Which brings up the question of devices vs arms vs badges.  Your device is what you would put on your shield, your tabard and your banner in order to say “I am here.  This is me.”  Your “device” magically becomes your “arms” when you are given an “Award of Arms” by the Crown. 

Your badge is used to mark your followers, children and your property in order to say, “This is mine.”  (An impressa is an heraldic-ish design that a late period noble would use to express “deep personal meaning” for special events.)

It can be fun to have your heraldry match your persona (or your great-great-grandad’s persona).   We now have lots of period armorials (collections of coats-of-arms) on-line:  German, Italian, English, French, Spanish, etc.  Here’s one place to start:
An Annotated List of Period Armorials Available Online

Even if you don’t plan to match your heraldry to your persona, it’s great to browse through period armorials for ideas.  (If you find a design you like, it’s smart to write down where you found it.  Some period heraldry “breaks the rules”, but we can get around that if you have the documentation.)

You may notice that a lot of period arms are “canting arms”.  A “cant” is a pun so, for example, the Talbot family had an image of a dog (a talbot) on their coat of arms.  This is great for SCA heraldry, too.  Names in period often have different meanings than we would assume, so that’s fun to research. 

Be careful about resume heraldry.  You may be a brewer, a weaver, and a fighter, but trying to work in a barrel, a loom and a rapier on your shield will be messy.  Try to trim your “resume” to one main thing or get more subtle.  Symbolize your fighting with an embattled bordure, or use yellow on your shield to symbolize the mead that you brew.

You don’t have to follow the crowd.  Lots of archers have arrows on their devices, but fewer have pheons (fancy arrowheads).  Why have a plain old lion when you could have a panther breathing fire?  The Pictorial Dictionary of SCA Heraldry is a great resource for the wide variety of charges that have been used in the SCA.  And using period documentation, we can register “new” ones!

As always, the heralds of Calontir stand ready to help.  (See “Heraldic Helpers“)  Bring your ideas to a Heraldic Consult Table at an event or try out the Virtual Consult Table and we’ll help flesh them out!

At your service,

Sofya la Rus, Habicht Herald

Calontir Heraldic Education Deputy

Vert Hawk Herald: Results from September 2018 LOAR

The Bavarian Herald Jörg Rügen around 1510. Public Domain in the US

Greetings to All,

The Armorial has been updated to reflect the items in this LOAR.
In Service,

Gunnar Thorisson, Vert Hawk Herald

CALONTIR acceptances

Æthelred the Well-read:  Name and device. Per chevron argent and sable, two wildcats salient respectant gules and a triquetra argent.

The Letter of Intent argued that byname Well-read is a plausible the lingua Anglica form of the Old English term ge-l{oe’}red. Although this term strictly means “learned” or “erudite,” we give the submitter the benefit of the doubt that “well-read” is a reasonable synonym. If the submitter prefers Æthelred the Learned, he may make a request for reconsideration.

Bjólfr Gunnvaldsson:  Name and device. Gyronny arrondi sable and Or, a bear’s head cabossed gules.BNice 9th-10th century Icelandic name!

Kathryn dei Fiamma:  Device. Argent, a torteau and on a chief indented azure a roundel between an increscent and a decrescent argent.

Oisín Haconson:  Device. Azure, an owl displayed maintaining in its talons a battleaxe fesswise, a bordure argent.

There is a step from period practice for the use of a bird displayed other than an eagle.

Rima al-Wadi:  Name (see RETURNS for device).

Sigvarðr Skarfr:  Device. Checky gules and Or, a cormorant’s head erased sable beaked Or transfixed through the neck by an arrow fesswise sable.

Stephen Cousland:  Name.

The submitter requested authenticity for “England 13th or 14th century.” This name does not meet this request because Cousland is not found that early in English. It is, however, authentic for 16th century England; Jeanne Marie Noir Licorne found Cousland as an unmarked surname in a 1587 London burial record.

The submitter may be interested to known that Cousland is a Scottish place, rather than an English one. AsStephan de Cousland, the name is authentic for 13th century Scotland. If the submitter prefers this form, he may make a request for reconsideration.

Tempest Sea:  Name (see RETURNS for device).

Tempest is an attested English given name found in late 16th century York.

Nice late 16th century name!

Visvamitra Yavana:  Name and device. Azure, an owl argent and in chief a lotus blossom in profile argent.

The submitter requested authenticity for an unspecified time, language or culture. This request was not summarized on the Letter of Intent. Fortunately, Seraphina Ragged Staff identified the authenticity request during commentary, allowing sufficient time for research.

The name elements were documented from the Indian subcontinent. However, we cannot say one way or another whether this is an authentic name from any Indian language or culture. Our resources in those languages and cultures are very limited.

Artist’s note: Please draw the owl larger.

CALONTIR returns

Rima al-Wadi:  Device. Per chevron azure and argent, two dragonflies in chevron argent and a cinquefoil palewise purpure slipped and leaved vert.

This device is returned for violating SENA A3D2c, Unity of Posture and Orientation, which states “The charges within a charge group should be in either identical postures/orientations or an arrangement that includes posture/orientation” The charges here are not in a unified arrangement, as the arrangement of dragonflies must be blazoned independently of the cinquefoil.

Tempest Sea:  Device. Per pall inverted vert, sable, and argent.

This device conflicts with the badge of Hakon Hrafnsson, Per pall inverted Or, sable, and paly argent and vert. Only two of the three field partitions have changes, so it is not eligible for an SC under SENA A5F2. If considered under SENA A5G1, a maximum of one DC is available through change of half the tincture under SENA A5G1a, as half of the field has changed tincture. A second DC cannot be gained through changing the base portion of the field through A5G1d, as only one third of the field is subdivided and the rule requires that at least half of an already divided field be modified in this manner.

Where do I find a good name?

This is the fourth in a series of educational articles about heraldry in Calontir. 

A previous article covered the basic requirements for registerable names, but where do you find a good name?

It’s very helpful if you have already decided on a persona with a defined culture and time period.  In that case, you can look through on-line references for your culture at:

SCA College of Arms, Names Articles –

Medieval Names Archive –


If you don’t know what culture you want, there are a few options.

One, find a period version of your real name, a family name, or the name of someone else important to you.

Two, pick a name that was used in many different cultures.  A name like Elizabeth was popular all across medieval Europe (with variations) so you could use it for many different personas.

Third, explore the Database of Medieval Names or the Dictionary of Medieval Names from European Sources (DMNES).  These sources collect names from multiple cultures in one place, so you can see what sort of names you like.  Often, you’ll find that a certain culture has multiple names that appeal to you – a useful clue about what persona you might want to adopt.

Fourth, wander around events without a name until your friends give you one.  Such names are usually fun and descriptive and come with good stories, although they can be devilishly hard to document after the fact (unless your friends happen to be heralds).

Unfortunately, baby names books and websites usually do not have historical spellings, much less dates.  History textbooks and Wikipedia have dates, but often have modernized or anglicized the spelling of names.  For example, Charles I of Spain was actually called Carlos in Spanish.  A good book will explain in the Table of Contents how they dealt with “foreign” names.  If you’re not sure of the source, look for the name in one of the websites listed above to document it better.

Once you find a name you like, make sure to record where you found it, with the date.  You’ll want that for the paperwork when you want to register it.

Whatever your inspiration, the heralds of Calontir are ready to help. Find us on-line or bring your ideas to a consult table and show us what you’ve got!

Heraldic Helpers –

Virtual Consult Table –


At your service,

Sofya la Rus, Habicht Herald

Calontir Heraldic Education Deputy

What’s in a Name?

This is the third in a series of educational articles about heraldry in Calontir. 

Picking a name is one of the first things a SCAdian has to do, but is also one of the more tricky things to do “properly”.  There are no “heraldic police” in the SCA, so you can use any name you can get people to call you.  But if you want to register the name eventually, it’s good to be aware of the basic rules before getting too attached to a name.

In order to be registered, a name has to be documentable – with a period spelling and period date.  Everyone knows that Mary is a period name, but was it written as “Mary” in 11th century Ireland or did they use a unique Gaelic variation?

A registerable name must also have two parts – generally a first name and a byname.  We know that some cultures in SCA period tended to use only single names, but for administrative purposes, paperwork is filed under your SCA name and it wouldn’t work very well to have multiple people named “Anne”.

Both parts of your name need to go together – compatible genders, and ideally from the same time period and culture, or at least cultures that had close contact with each other.

A name does NOT have to match your persona (especially with the way people change personas in the SCA).  The name doesn’t have to match YOUR gender, either (although it has to be internally consistent with itself, as noted above).

There are some other important restrictions to keep in mind.

First, your SCA name cannot be identical to your real-world name.  It can be similar, but there needs to be at least a couple differences, for example, Mikhail instead of Michael.

Second, a name cannot be offensive.  Offensiveness includes scatological references, sexist or racist stereotypes, or religious disrespect.  This is, admittedly, subjective.

Third, a name cannot be presumptuous – making a claim to rank or power.  For some names, it depends on the culture.  Jesus might be an acceptable name in Spain, but maybe not in England.  Sometimes, a name by itself may be okay, but not when combined with a particular coat of arms.  James York might be registerable, but not with armory that resembles the Yorkist branch of the English royal family.

Fourth, a name cannot be “obtrusively modern”.  Such names have such an obvious modern reference that it pulls us out of the Middle Ages.  An example is “Porsche Audi”.  “Joke names” are registerable, but the joke needs to be medieval, not modern.


All of this maybe a little confusing, but there are plenty of people to help.

Heraldic Helpers –

Virtual Consult Table –


At your service,

Sofya la Rus, Habicht Herald

Calontir Heraldic Education Deputy

Calontir Virtual Consult Table

This is the second of a series of educational articles about heraldry in Calontir.

Calontir has a fairly robust cadre of local heralds and a strong contingent of heralds-at-large who are ready to help with researching and registering names and devices.

But we recognize that sometimes you just can’t get to the consult table at an event with all the other great things going on.  And it can be a challenge to pigeon-hole your local herald at a meeting long enough to hammer out some good ideas.

So, we are offering a brand new service – the Calontir Virtual Consult Table.

The Virtual Consult Table is a place where Calontiri with questions about heraldry can request a herald to work with them on-line to research a name, design a device, and get through the submission paperwork.

If you would like to use the Calontir Virtual Consult Table, go to the Virtual Consult Request Form.

You should receive an email from your assigned consulting herald within two weeks.

After your consultation, please let us know how we did and if you have suggestions for improvement with the Virtual Consult Feedback Form.

Heralds who are interested in helping with Virtual Consults do not have to be “senior” heralds or even “experienced” heralds. You just have to have to be service-oriented, familiar with the key resources (especially SENA and the Calontir Heralds Handbook) and able to ask other heralds for help when you find yourself with a question you can’t answer. And, of course, you need to have reliable email service.  Virtual Consult Volunteer Form.

When you finish a Virtual Consult, please report back so the Herald-in-Charge knows you’re ready for a new client:  Virtual Consult Heralds Report Form.

The Calontir Virtual Consult Table is in beta testing at the moment, but if all goes well, it will find a permanent home on the Calontir Heralds website.  For now, you can find it here:

Please try it out!