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 – http://falconbanner.gladiusinfractus.com/2017/09/09/heraldic-helpers/

Virtual Consult Table – http://falconbanner.gladiusinfractus.com/2017/10/07/calontir-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!

Heraldic Helpers

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

There are two main types of heralds in the SCA:  voice heralds and book heralds.

The voice heralds came first, historically.  In the SCA, they make announcements at tournaments and events (hence the name, herald) and run court and other ceremonies.  Sign heralds are included in the tradition of the voice heralds, since they convey messages also.

Book heralds help people pick names and design coats of arms.  Originally, heralds got into the business of names and armory just to keep track of the people they were announcing.  That evolved into a role in designing coats of arms for new noble families.  And in the SCA, heralds got involved in researching and registering names since you need a name in order to file armory registrations.

Most local groups in Calontir have a herald among the local officers.  Local heraldic officers have varying levels of expertise, from rank novice to grizzled expert, but they will be able to find someone to help you, if your problem is beyond their resources.

Since not everyone has a local herald easily available, Calontir has a system of regional heralds to cover any gaps.  You can contact your regional herald at any time for assistance on heraldic issues.

  • Northeast: Axed Root, Coeur d’Ennui, Deodar, Flinthyll, Heraldshill and Shadowdale. kite@calontir.org
  • Northwest: Carlsby, Crescent Moon, Lonely Tower, Lost Moor and Mag Mor sparrowhawk@calontir.org
  • Central: Amlethsmore, Aston Tor, Bellewode, Cúm an Iolair, Forgotten Sea and Loch Bheathrach. harrier@calontir.org
  • Southeast: Calanais Nuadh, Oakheart, Standing Stones, Three Rivers and Wyvern Cliffe. buteo@calontir.org
  • Southwest: Bois d’Arc, Crystal Mynes, Grimfells, Spinning Winds, Theobald, Vatavia and Westumbria. gerfalcon@calontir.org

Calontir also has a strong contingent of active heralds-at-large who are ready to help.  You can find them and other heralds at the heraldic consult table at many of our events – including Lilies War.

You can also find us online:

At your service,

Sofya la Rus, Habicht Herald
Calontir Heraldic Education Deputy

Heraldic Submission Notifications To Be Sent From Saker Office

Greetings from the Office of Saker Herald.

Gruß Gott!!  Unto the Good Gentles of Calontir, does Herr Gotfrid von Schwaben, soon to be Saker External Submissions Herald, send well wishes to one and all.  I beg your indulgence for an important, but somewhat lengthy, announcement concerning e-mails recently sent from the Saker office.

You may or may not be aware, but the Saker Submissions Office is currently in the process of a transition and expansion from Lady Alexandra Vasquez de Granada (called Shandra) as Saker Herald, to myself as Saker Herald governing the External Submissions process to the Society level and Mistress Dorcas Whitecap as Eyas Herald governing the Internal Submissions process within Kingdom. The expansion was done to meet the growing needs of Calontir’s submission process and designed to coincide with the end of Lady Shandra’s successful tenure.

Some of you may have already noticed and received notifications recently via OSCAR, the on-line system used by Laurel Sovereign at Arms for the heraldic submission process, regarding the status of your name, device, badge, or various other items you have submitted for action.  In some cases, that information has been known for several months; in others, that information has only recently been made available by Laurel, or decided upon at Kingdom.  In any event, during this transition, it has been discovered that due to unusual circumstances a backlog in the direct notifications process within OSCAR has occurred.  We are currently working through the backlog and this process is expected to be completed within the next few weeks at most.

If you receive an OSCAR notification in e-mail and you were not previously aware of your submission’s status, or if you already have been notified of your submission’s status via alternate methods, please help us close the loop in the notification process and acknowledge receipt by picking up the message.  It is my understanding the OSCAR message provides instructions on how to pick up this message.  If you have not received a notification yet, or do not receive one, it is either because you were not affected by this backlog, or your submission is still in the commentary process.  FYI, OSCAR notifications should only occur when a submission has been decided upon at the Kingdom level, and Society level.

I thank you for your time and attention in this matter.

Ich dien,
inbound Saker External Submissions Herald

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

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

August 2016 LOAR Results are in!!

Greetings to All,

The Armorial will be updated this evening to reflect the items in this LOAR.

There were NO returns!

In Service,

Gunnar Thorisson
Vert Hawk Herald

CALONTIR acceptances

* Alexandra Jessen. Name and device. Gules, two pallets between two horses salient respectant argent.
Submitted as Alexandra Ríkvé Jessen, Alexandra and Jessen were both documented for 16th century Germany, but Ríkvé is a Scandinavian name dated to the early to mid-11th century. Because this name combines two languages from different regional naming groups and the temporal gap is greater than 300 years, we are unable to register this name as submitted. Therefore, we have dropped Ríkvé with the submitter’s permission in order to register this name.

Please advise the submitter to draw the front legs of the horses closer together.

* Amalie Helena Hasselbring. Name and device. Per bend Or and gules, a double-headed eagle sable and a Latin cross flory Or.
Hasselbring was not documented in the Letter of Intent. In commentary, Metron Ariston found this element in the FamilySearch Historical Records from Germany, dated to 1650. In addition, she found the given names Amalie and Helena in the same source, dated to the 16th century.

* Beatrix of Thanet. Name and device. Per fess enarched azure and vert, three garbs and a plough Or.

* Rose Wolfden. Name and device. Per chevron Or and sable, in chief a pegasus segreant and a wyvern erect respectant gules.
Precedent states:
Questions were raised about the appropriateness of the spelling Wolfden, as the source cited, “Faire Names for English Folk,” normalizes names. An examination of the source material indicates that the original form is Wolfde, which may represent Wolfden or some other spelling. Luckily, commenters were able to find the submitted spelling dated to the time of Edward III (1327-1377) in The Place-Names of Warwickshire. Therefore, it may be registered as submitted. [Alys Wolfden, July 2010, A-An Tir]

Therefore, we are able to register this element in the present submission.


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

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

July 2016 LOAR Results

Greetings to All,

The Armorial has been update to reflect the items in this LOAR.

In Service,

Gunnar Thorisson

Vert Hawk Herald

* Æþelwyn æt Grenawice. Name.
Submitted as Æþelwynne æt Grenawic, the given name Æþelwynne is an inflected form, not the nominative (base) form required for a given name. Therefore, we have changed it to Æþelwyn.

The place name Grenawic is required by Old English grammar to be in the dative case. Therefore, we have changed it to Grenawice to register this name.

* Aldred Ketcham. Badge. (Fieldless) Issuant from a tower vert, in chief a demi-sword inverted argent.

* Alienor Walcott. Device. Argent fretty azure, a linden leaf and on a chief vert an arrow argent.
Please advise the submitter to draw the arrow with a thicker shaft.

* Angelus Vulpis. Name and device. Sable, a winged fox sejant affronty and on a chief argent a rose azure between two roses gules.
Nice name from 13th century Pisa!

* Asgeirr Hrafnhauss. Name and device. Argent, a sinister clenched gauntlet bendwise aversant sustaining a double-bitted axe bendwise sinister azure, on a chief sable a skull argent.

* Hildibrandr Tjúguskegg. Name and device. Per pale vert and sable, two dragons addorsed, a chief Or.

* Holta-Fj{o,}rleif. Name.

* Hugo Smith. Name and device. Sable, a sea-stag argent attired, collared and chained, maintaining a mallet Or.
This exact name is found in English parish records from 1588 in the FamilySearch Historical Records, making this an excellent 16th century English name!

* Justinian of Tanet. Name.
Justinian is the name of a 6th century Welsh saint.
* Lucrezia Contarini. Device. Per pale argent and sable, two dogs sejant erect respectant forepaws conjoined counterchanged, on a chief azure three leaves bendwise sinister inverted Or.

* Morgan Stone. Name and device. Sable, a chevron purpure fimbriated surmounted by a griffin, in dexter chief a cinquefoil argent.
Morgan was documented as a Welsh name in the Letter of Intent. It is also a late period English given name dated to 1576 and 1597 in the FamilySearch Historical Records. Therefore, this name can be considered wholly English.

Nice 16th century English or Anglo-Welsh name!

There is a step from period practice for the use of a charge overall with a fimbriated ordinary.

*Morwenna de Merbotyl. Name. Morwenna is the name of a Cornish saint, venerated through much of our period.

*Thaddeus Ellenbach. Device. Lozengy azure and argent, a lion contourny maintaining a sword Or, a bordure sable



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

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

Getting Started in Silent Heraldry

Ed. Note:  This article is based on an interview with Mistress Nesscia inghean Chearnaigh, as well as notes provided by her.  Neither the Falcon Banner nor Mistress Nesscia endorse any of the listed links, which are provided for information only.  Nesscia encourages anyone exploring this path to try several of these sources and find the best fit.  

Mistress Nesscia came to the SCA because of Silent Heraldry. She had long time friends who had found the SCA and needed access, so she came along to interpret for them. “I had nasty, old, thrown together costumes” she laughs.  But she soon became enchanted in her own right; “As I looked around it was like ‘This is really cool. Look at what these people are doing. Let me play too.'”

Now Nessica teaches and encourages others in the art of Silent Heraldry. The Falcon Banner recently asked her for some advice on how someone can become a Silent Herald.

    • Start taking classes in American Sign Language (ASL).  Just like a voice herald, you must have a basic knowledge of the language in order to be understood.  Your local college, university or other community resource may have continuing ed courses available. If not, several online resources are listed below.
    • It is very difficult to acquire a language in isolation, especially if you are not attending classes in person.  Find a practice partner.  Engage your child, your spouse, your neighbor or anyone else willing to come along on this journey with your.
    • If you don’t have anyone in your daily life who can assist, there are online groups for practicing with others, via online video.  You can also video chat with someone else in the Kingdom who is involved in Silent Heraldry.  Remember you will need a web camera to participate in these groups.
    • Avoid books on ASL.  It is very difficult for the beginner to look at a two dimensional picture and translate accurately into a three dimensional medium.  Beginners can end up practicing and memorizing the wrong thing.  “It takes twice as long to unlearn something and learn it the right way,” Nesscia advises.  With the availability of video sources, she does not advise hard copy sources at all.
    • Hang out with other Silent Heralds.  Nesscia has a Youtube channel to show the signs for some words that are SCA specific, but much of the nuances of Silent Heraldry are “word of mouth.”  You can also get opportunities to actually do Silent Heraldry this way;  “I’m willing, if you are taking a sign language class, come on, Ill get you up there!” Nesscia says.


Silent Heraldry Video Resources

Articles About Silent Heraldry

Online ASL Learning Resources

Online Practice Resources

Seeking Deputy Lanner Herald

Reposted from the Calonlist
Greetings all

I am seeking a deputy for the position of Lanner Herald.

Many of you have no idea that this position exists, much less what it does. The Lanner Herald’s job is to help with ceremonies in Calontir. I have some time left on my warrant, but I have a project in mind and I need some help.

Calontir has a big book of ceremonies, but this big book is rarely referenced in part because few people know of it and it is not readily available. It is my desire to improve Calontir’s ceremonies by cataloging this big book and all the other ceremonies I can get my grubby little hands upon. This is not a small undertaking and I need help. What I need is someone to scan / transcribe the ceremonies so that I can electronically catalogue them.

Qualifications: An interest in ceremonies, both in the SCA and in history. Constant access to a computer, to help digitize things. A willingness and desire to organize things. Ideas for how you’d like to see things done better.

This is a long-term project. Applicants should expect that by becoming deputy, they will eventually become Lanner themselves. This project thus requires a commitment. Also, applicants should be prepared to actively reach out to those who might need ceremonies.

If you are interested, please email me at rob@kotn.org. I will be accepting applications through King’s Company of Archers.
Master Rhodri ap Hywel, Lanner Herald

Heraldic Policy Change

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

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

Good afternoon Calontir! This is an official announcement of a policy change, decided on at CalonCon.

As of this date and by my authority as Gold Falcon, the Calontir College of Heralds will now offer free resubmission of returned names, devices, or badges for 5 years (60 months) from the date of return. This is an increase from the old policy of one year (12 months). As this is not a matter of Kingdom Law but heraldic policy it goes in to effect immediately.

Additionally, this is retroactive. If you have had a name, device, or badge returned within the last five years you may resubmit a changed item at no cost. Please submit through your local herald or directly to Saker Herald (directions can be found in the Calontir Heraldry website on the kingdom page).

Saito Takauji jibukyo
Gold Falcon Principal Herald

January 2016 LOAR Results

Greetings to All,

Below are the results of this LOAR.

The Armorial and Saker website will be updated this evening to reflect the items in this letter.

In Service,

Gunnar Thorisson

Vert Hawk Herald

CALONTIR acceptances
* Cecilia Manetti da Firenze.  Reblazon of device. Per bend sinister vert and gules, a bend sinister between a mouse sejant erect and a pair of manacles, the chain fracted argent.
Blazoned when registered in January 1998 as Per bend vert and gules, a bend between a mouse sejant erect and a pair of manacles, the chain fracted argent, this is actually a per bend sinister field with a bend sinister.
* Cuthbert Longschankes.  Device (see RETURNS for badge). Per pale azure and Or, on a roundel counterchanged an owl argent.
* Eynon ab Iohannes Mal.  Device. Azure, a demi-sheep argent issuant from a bickern maintaining in its mouth a falchion bendwise inverted Or and a chief Or crusily azure.* Hubert de Stockleye.  Name change from Wulfhere of Eofeshamme.
The submitted requested authenticity for 13th-14th century England. This name is authentic for the 1270s, meeting the submitter’s request.
The submitter’s previous name, Wulfhere of Eofeshamme, is retained as an alternate name.* Isabeau Ruiz.  Name.* Katherine von Heilige.  Name change from holding name Katherine of Forgotten Sea.
Submitted as Katherine die Heilige, this name was pended to discuss whether this name presumed upon the name of Saint Catherine, especially due to the use of the demi-Catherine’s wheel in the submitter’s device.
Saints are occasionally referred to by [given name] die Heilige in modern German, although the reverse order (die Heilige [given name] appears more frequently. The use of die Heilige (“the saint”) is presumptuous under PN4D1 of SENA, as this name appears to make a claim to be the historical St. Catherine. We note that unmarked forms like Heylig and von den Heiligen are not presumptuous because they are attested as the bynames of non-saints in our period.
The submitter allowed a change to the attested byname von Heilige (based on Von Heilige, found in the FamilySearch Historical Records). We have made this change. If she prefers Heylig (or other attested unmarked form) or von den Heiligen, she can submit a request for reconsideration.
This name was pended from the August 2015 Letter of Acceptances and Returns.

* Kezia von Holzenhaus.  Badge. Argent, a billet and a bordure sable.

* Layla bint `Asim.  Name and device. Azure, in fess a mullet and a decrescent Or, a bordure wavy argent.
Please advise the submitter to draw deeper waves on the bordure and the primary charges larger so they fill better the available space.

* Mell MacAlpin.  Badge. (Fieldless) A snail gules attired and shelled Or.
* Mell MacAlpin.  Badge. Per fess embattled azure and Or, in chief three buckets inverted argent.
* Mell MacAlpin.  Badge. Per pale Or and gules, two dragon’s heads couped addorsed counterchanged.
This is the submitter’s sixth piece of registered armory.

* Miranda de Logan.  Name (see RETURNS for device).
Miranda is the submitter’s legal given name. We note that it is also a grey period English literary name. Recently, we ruled the following:
Miranda is the submitter’s legal given name as well as the name of a gray area literary character from Shakespeare’s Tempest and a late 16th century English byname which can be registered as a given name. Therefore, the submitter need not rely on the legal name allowance. [Miranda Mór ingen Fhailtigern, June 2015, A-An Tir]
The instance of Miranda as a late period English byname in that decision inadvertently relied on an I-batch in the FamilySearch Historical Records. I batches continue to be acceptable only on a case-by-case basis, and should not be used as the sole documentation to support a name element.
Therefore, as Miranda does not appear to have been coined until after 1600, the submitter must rely upon the legal name allowance.

* Rianorix of Forgotten Sea.  Name.
Forgotten Sea is the registered name of an SCA branch.

* Thaddeus Ellenbach.  Name (see RETURNS for device).
Submitted as Thadeus Ellenbach, the submitter requested the spelling Thaddeus Ellenbach if it could be documented. The preferred spelling is found in Historia und Christliche Legenden, von der heiligen zwölff Apostel unsers Herrn Jesu Christi, Item von S. Pauli, auch beider heiligen Euangelisten S. Luce und S. Marci, beruff, lehre, leben, wunderwercken, letzten marter und todt, ob standhaffter bekandtnuß des Namens Christi, published in 1589 (https://books.google.com/books?id=20pWAAAAcAAJ&pg=PT529). Therefore, we have changed the given name to this form.

* Theodoric Rufus the Goth.  Reblazon of device. Sable, a sea-lion naiant and in base three pheons two and one argent.
Blazoned when registered in June 1995 as Sable, in pale a sea-lion naiant and three pheons two and one argent, the sea-lion is the sole primary charge.

* Umm Razin Rusa al-Badawiyya.  Name and device. Per fess azure and vert, a chevron couched from sinister and in canton a decrescent argent.

* Zachariah MacDonald.  Name change from Zachariah Lochrie.
The submitter’s previous name, Zachariah Lochrie, is retained as an alternate name.

CALONTIR returns
* Ann O’Carolan.  Badge. (Fieldless) A sword argent and overall a wolf’s head erased contourny azure.
This badge is returned for redraw. Please instruct the submitter on the proper way to draw erasing: either three or four prominent, pointed jags on the erasing, as described on the Cover Letter to the November 2001 LoAR:
Therefore, for purposes of recreating period armorial style for erasing, the erasing should (1) have between three and eight jags; (2) have jags that are approximately one-sixth to one-third the total height of the charge being erased; and (3) have jags that are not straight but rather are wavy or curved.
Alternatively, the submitter could decide to resubmit the overall charge as wolf’s head couped.* Cuthbert Longschankes.  Badge. (Fieldless) A Celtic cross Or irradiated azure.
This badge is returned for not being reliably blazonable, which is a violation of SENA A1C which requires an emblazon to be describable in heraldic terms. Blazoned as a Celtic cross irradiated, irradiation would surround the entire charge and would leave no gaps between the azure extensions. It cannot be blazoned as a mullet of eight points azure with a Celtic cross Or surmounting it as there is no way to blazon the exact overlap of the center of the mullet with the junction point of the cross.* Miranda de Logan.  Device. Azure, a snake headed at each end annodated palewise and on a chief Or, three mullets of eight points azure.
Blazoned on the LoI as palewise counterembowed-embowed, the snake’s posture can only be described as what Parker’s Glossary, p.11, defines as annodated: “bowed embowed, or bent in the form of the letter S.” No documentation was provided by the submitter or in commentary for the period use of this posture in snakes. Thus this device is returned for running afoul of SENA A2C1 which states “Elements must be drawn in their period forms and in a period armorial style.” Additionally, this posture renders the snake difficult to identify and many commenters confused it with a letter S.* Thaddeus Ellenbach.  Device. Lozengy azure and argent, a lion contourny Or maintaining a sword proper, a bordure sable.
This device must be returned for insufficient contrast between the held charge and the field.
Per SENA A3B4a:
Placement of Charges: Charges must have good contrast with the background on which they are placed. Primary, secondary, and overall charge groups are considered to be placed on the field and must have good contrast with it.

While technically this armory has a neutral field, the mostly argent sword lying nearly entirely on argent lozenges of the field has insufficient contrast.