Past Stronghold Events

Third Stronghold Christmas Feast/January Feast (almost-incipient Stronghold of Ravensdale, Berwick, NS) A.S. LII

Initially planned for January 6th, a Saturday, the feast was delayed by a day due to inclement weather, which in Nova Scotia in January means the roads were basically impassable. Nevertheless, by Sunday afternoon the snow squalls had left off, and we gathered at Nesrin and Ibrahim's for our third annual Christmas Feast!

Since it sounded like we were going to be having a fairly small gathering this time, we decided to forgo the Great Gules Hall itself (which was chilly last year at -16c outside; today was forecast to be -30c!!) for a Middle-Eastern-themed feast (which meant not hauling tables and chairs over from the barn) upstairs in the house.

It worked very well, with the food table set up in front of the windows dominating the far end of the space, a coffee table down the middle for eating at, and other benches scattered here and there along the walls. With the mats cushioning the floors, and warmed by rugs, it was a surprisingly comfortable, and comfortably casual feast.

Pictures to follow!

Second Stronghold Christmas Feast/January Feast (almost-incipient Stronghold of Ravensdale, Kingston, NS) A.S. LI
Saturday, January 7, 2017
Stronach Mountain Road, Kingston, NS

Many thanks to Brent and Cheryl for hosting this fabulous event.  The exposed wooden beams in your feasting hall gave an excellent period feel, and your banners were lovely.  The beauty and comfort of the space, though, was surpassed by your warm hospitality and good conversation.

The in-garb sledding (under mundane coats except in the case of the viking children) was definitely something to see.  It was enjoyed by all, whether from the vantage of the snowy slopes or through the living room window by the fire.  Although there were no official judges, I believe Olivia and Shereen set the record for distance, while Karl Skullsplitter carried the day for longest standing sled-run.  

After a good snowball fight, the sledders moved inside to find a delicious feast laid out.  We got the candles lit, and the lights off, and enjoyed a wonderful evening of food, conversation, and games of chess and hnefatafl until foul weather forced us to head home.  The only downside to the evening was that it was too short, and I for one can't wait until next time.
-Alman Ibrahim

The now-dry youngsters, and Taymor's new garb!

Our hosts!

Mikhail, Brent, and Cheryl in front of the serving table.

Mikhail and Ulrich ponder the options: lamb kebabs, stewed apples, pottage, torte... which will the whipped cream go best upon?

The evening winds down.

And a lovely time was had by all. Thanks again for hosting a delightful supper, Cheryl and Brent!

Stronghold Christmas Feast (almost-incipient Stronghold of Ravensdale, Berwick, NS)
Friday, Dec. 9th, 2016, 7:00 pm - ??
369 Bentley Rd, Berwick, NS

The Stronghold's second annual Christmas feast, while chilly, was great fun!

It was held in the Great Gules Hall (aka the Big Red Barn). We had gotten the far wall insulated, vapour-barriered, covered, and primed, with curtains covering the closed doorway, and it made a distinct difference to the temperature up there, as did the addition of seven more hanging lanterns (there are now matching lanterns hanging down the centre as well as the rows on either side). We also ran as many heaters as we could without tripping breakers, which were life-savers for those without well-insulated garb.

Even so, though, with slightly lower numbers than usual due to the busy social Christmas season, and an outside temperature somewhere around -16c, it was still not quite comfortable upstairs. We plan to insulate the other wall before the next feast, though, and close off the doorway at the bottom of the stairs with a curtain, and that will make quite a difference as well. As will it (hopefully) not being quite so cold out!

The Baron and Baroness honoured us with their presence again this year, and even brought a guest, Åsa, a friend from Drachenwald. We deliberately did not tell them anything about the GGH, nor posted anything about our hard work on it online publicly, so as to surprise them with the wonderful space. They were surprised, indeed, and much enjoyed it! A memorable moment was the sheep downstairs interjecting comments into a lull in the conversation. Very period!

We do hope to make or acquire some tables and chairs or benches of our own soon, ideally before the next feast, as bringing them in and returning them (especially in the snow) adds an unwanteded level of complication. Great thanks to Ulrich and Ibrahim for dealing with that, and everyone else who helped to load and unload them all, and set them up!

The evening ended around the wood stove inside, drinking tea and enjoying conversation, before Their Excellencies and Åsa had to leave. A chilly but enjoyable night!

Sadly, not too many pics of it. If you have any more, pass them on to me and I'll add them in!

Battle of Hastings Commemorative Feast (almost-incipient Stronghold of Ravensdale, Berwick, NS)
Friday, Oct. 14, 2016, starting time TBA
369 Bentley Rd, Berwick, NS

On the nine hundred and fiftieth anniversary of the Battle of Hastings, and the death of the last Anglo-Saxon king of England, Ravensdale held our first feast in the Big Red Barn. Or the Big Red Hall, or the Gules Great Hall, if you prefer.

Ibrahim and Nesrin have a farm with a spare barn. Sheep were in it until recently but have since been moved over to the other, more modern barn, and with the help of a great many people over several days, the upstairs, which had once held hay, and was then held a kids' play area, and most recently was a home to a truly impressive collection of very large spiders, had the spiders evicted; their homes, dust, and stray piles of hay removed; everything swept down and vacuumed; and then the fun part began: decorating it.

A side-trip delivery of some mutton in Halifax by Freydis resulted in the chance acquisition of four area rugs (needing only to be cleaned, which a pressure washer, a rug cleaner, and Michel readily accomplished). The stairs were reinforced and new railings built by Mikhail and Ulrich. The large central hatch was reinforced. The railing across the opening at one end of the barn was replaced, and a matching one made for the other end.

Lanterns were found (cheaply at the dollar store), the glass removed and they repainted to something more suitable to the Medieval atmosphere, and quickly strung up as food was assembled, tables and chairs laid out, rugs placed. Candles were lit, and the lone electric light extinguished.

A lot of people worked very hard to get the place ready, and the results showed off their efforts beautifully. A double row of copper lanterns lit the upper reaches of the distant, arching ceiling as candles blazed on the tables below. Soft rugs underfoot muffled the sound of feet as we made our way to the groaning board, in position as the high table in front of a screen back-lit by another lantern. A harp played as we ate, officially making this feast the classiest I personally have ever attended.

Disregarding the Order of Precedence, instead, and entertainingly, which side of the hall should fill their plates first was decided with a trivia contest (run by Mikhail): Who knew who our reigning King and Queen were?

Oops. Me neither.

As bellies filled, songs were sung in what I hope becomes a local tradition. I was pleased at how many people now have the words to "A Lame Tame Crane" memorized; I think His Excellency will be pleasantly surprised!

And after, a campfire was lit in the paddock behind, and we talked beneath a bright full moon.

A fantastic feast in a fantastic site! I look forward to many more.

Karl Skullsplitter lights the hanging lanterns.

The view by electric light...

And by flame!

"So then I said to him--"


We are officially the classiest group now!

Camping Event  (almost-incipient Stronghold of Ravensdale, Berwick, NS)
Friday Sept. 30 - Sunday Oct. 2, 2016
Ulrich's Place, 168 Hamilton Road, Berwick, NS

A small, non-advertised camping event at Ulrich's in Berwick (168 Hamilton, same as last time). This is a slightly-cooler-weather, end-of-the-season camping event, very low key. May have fighting if we can get a few fighters and/or rapier fighters together; will definitely have archery.

The days may still be warm enough to use the swimming pond, but pack warmer garb, cloaks, and extra blankets for the nights; we may get to use them! Marshmallows appreciated.

No site fee but feel free to donate to the group if desired.

See the "Fall Camping Event at Ulrich's" thread in the forums (under "Local Events"), or contact the site owner, Ulrich von Spandau, at, or our seneschal, Lord Almaric de la Croix,  at, for more information.

Wing Welcome Demo
(almost-incipient Stronghold of Ravensdale, Greenwood, NS)
Saturday, Sept. 10, 2016 set up at 7:30 am; demo at 10:00 am - 1:00 pm

SCA demo at the Wing Welcome Day at CFB Greenwood, NS. We are in the gym on the base, in the gymnasium. Please come in garb; bring snacks and projects.

2016 07 29-08 01: Ravensdale Birthday Bash: Landing Party

Our first camping event!

Friday dawned warm, but with storm clouds gathering in the distance. It had rained a few times over the previous week, which allowed us to use the fire pit for the event; but a storm was forecast for that morning. Thunder rumbled in the distance as we set up the last few things.

Carefully-piled straw bales awaited only the addition of paper targets from the Barony for the archery and thrown weapons butts to be complete, while several more outlined a small building in the erik, near the archery. Gate, sheltered for the first day under a square tent borrowed for the day from the merchants' area (and thereafter by a patio umbrella), sat at the top of the camping field, convenient to drivers pulling into the site.

The outhouses were looking great, and waited, fully stocked, as did a lone porta-potty near the fire pit. All was ready.

The first people from Ruantallan started to arrive around lunchtime, telling us of the downpour they drove through that still only threatened at the site. Set-up went pretty smoothly for all concerned, with no reported issues. Everyone praised the site, which was picturesque and private, yet close enough to Berwick for supply runs.

A natural enclave of children developed at the end of the site, by virtue of several encampments with them setting up by accident in sort of a U-shape (down one side, across the end, and up the other side of the end of the camping field), which contained the playful, energetic youngsters wonderfully. Parents later mentioned how good the layout was for younger children, with the fighting, fire pit, and targets well away from their play area.

The fighters very much enjoyed the site and the scenarios Mikhail (who was made a full marshal at the event) arranged for them, as well as the tournament fighting. A highlight was the "He's running for reinforcements! Quick, stop him with this spear!" scenario, which was probably as much fun to watch as it was doubtless to play:

A small band of defenders tried to hold a small "building" of straw bales against a marauding band of attackers. They had limited lives, and when the last defender used up his last one, a hold was called.

"Pick your fastest defender," Mikhail told them. "He is going to run as fast as he can to the fifty-yard archery butt there. While he's doing that, one of the attackers has three chances to hit that thrown weapons butt with a spear. If he can hit it before you reach the butt, he killed you, and the defenders don't get any additional lives. But if you reach the butt before he can hit it, then you got away. The defenders then respawn after their next deaths as reinforcements, with two more lives."

A runner and a spear-thrower were then chosen from their respective sides. The defender took off like a jackrabbit on the nearby archery field (with archery paused, of course), while the attacker hurled one, two, three spears on the nearby thrown weapons field. All missed! Reinforcements arrived and the heavy bout continued. Great fun, which also allowed for the incorporation of thrown weapons into the melee (to an extent, given that we did have a thrown weapons marshal present and supervising, but no marshal for light combat).

Sunday saw a fencing tournament, and Lord Almaric is on his way to becoming a fencing marshal. Sadly there wasn't enough fighters for him to become one, but, no doubt, soon.

Allessandra held a couple of talks on inkle weaving (and touched very briefly on tablet weaving), and showed off some very interesting weaving tools, including a small, portable heddle for inkle weaving that was only about the size of a playing card and would allow one to weave pretty much anywhere.

Lady Fallon ran a course to set people on the road to becoming thrown weapons marshals; my understanding is that those who took it will be able to become marshals after having marshalled (under an official marshal, of course) at three other events. Several people took the course and I think we are well on the way to getting a second marshal in the East Kingdom.

The kids found our version of a scavenger hunt (where they needed to collaborate to collect all the clues, then solve riddles to find a location on the site map for their prize) entertaining, and the younger ones, particularly, enjoyed decorating kid-size banners and foam swords and shields.

The promised storm never materialized, and the weather was beautiful all weekend. The swimming hole was definitely appreciated, as was the smaller, shallower pond by the pump that the wee ones could splash around in to cool off. And the fighters seemed to enjoy having the pump close to the field when they got too hot. Next time we'll have a bucket so they don't have to take turns pumping and soaking their heads.

The fire pit was a great success and functioned very well. A popular evening hangout, it went through a startling amount of marshmallows in very short order indeed, with only a few flaming marshmallow injuries (Karl's hand made a full recovery after a couple of days). A beer tent was set up conveniently close to it, and Ziocomo provided some very interesting and tasty period beers, and also demonstrated a clever "cooler" he made for his kegs out of sonotube and spray insulating foam.

The Baron and Baroness held a court Saturday afternoon, presenting several awards. The Barony, in turn, was presented a gift from our Stronghold: six tabards, in the barony's blue and white, along with two matching waterbearer bags, sized to fit two-litre pop bottles. Those bags and two of the tabards were put to good use during the fighting by Shereen and Karl, who acted as waterbearers and did an excellent job keeping the fighters hydrated.

They, Ayesha, and Alvena also did a great job supplying the fire pit with wood, transferring a large stack to a nearby spot. Karl has also learned a valuable lesson in what constitutes a reasonable amount of wood to put on the fire, and how many buckets of water are required to put it out at the end of the night when the pit is completely filled with it. Heh.

Lady Valonia had made some absolutely beautiful and extremely helpful heater-shaped directional signs for the route from the highway to the site, which not only were found useful by people planning to attend the event, but also guided people who knew about the SCA, but hadn't known there was a group in the area. Welcome, Nesrin, Alman, and Michel!

On the last evening of the event, Sunday, an impromptu potluck feast was held in the middle of the encampment. The tables we rented from the community hall were placed together, and everyone still around brought out delicious things to share. An impromptu game of 'Spear the Potato' (the traditional canned beer, for the fun Norse game of 'Spear the Beer' not being available) took place as dishes were gathered and places laid, to demonstrate the technique. The meal ended in song, the Baron once again trying to muddle us (more or less successfully, this time) through"My Dame Has A Lame Tame Crane". We'll get it right one of these days.

It was a wonderful end to a great event, and a very popular idea. It was suggested repeatedly that it become a Ravensdale tradition, and I am sure it will, weather permitting!

The event also was a financial success, coming in under budget and making a profit.

An excellent event all around, and one we can all be very proud of!

2016 03 19: Calligraphy Course
March 19, 2016 (Saturday) 11:00 am - 4:00 pm

Come to a one-day course on calligraphy by a guest from Ruantallan.

Supplies you'll need: 90 pd water colour paper, gauche paint, ink and tools, brushes, pens to do calligraphy. All of these are available at Michael's.

2015 12 19: Event: Stronghold Christmas Feast

This write-up is also posted under News.

Tonight was the stronghold's first event, our Christmas feast, and a roaring success! Nine adults and six kids, including travellers from the Stronghold's furthest reaches. Good to see you again!

We met at Ulrich's toasty warm home on a blustery December day on the North Mountain. The stronghold now has tablecloths, held in custody at his home, since he's got the big table. Between the main table, an additional one against it, and a round one set up for the kids, we just managed to seat everyone at once. Good thing Bran is still a babe in arms!

Mead, wine (Ulrich's delicious home-made), beer, rum, several types of apple juice, and what I am told (and believe) is the best water in Nova Scotia were produced, and the board was swiftly set with a multitude of candlesticks, candelabra,  lanterns, and many, many games. Two boards of Hnaftafl, Nine Man's Morris, Tablero de Gucci (a popular drinking game in An Tir, but provided here as well with plastic "gems" in place of the more traditional shot glasses so non-drinkers could also play), and another one that I don't know the name of, but Karl assures me is fun.

Banners were brought forth to lend a medieval air; we will have to make banner stands at some point fairly soon. Materials for that were discussed. Also, Ulrich has made another bow, to hardly anyone's surprise; the man is a machine. A bow-making, shoe-sewing machine, heh. Well done.

Lord Almaric produced a great quantity of "gold coins", with nearly as much again coming from House Ravenspeak, and announced a tournament: Each competitor would start with a given number of gold coins. As the start of each game, opponents would wager a coin or two on who would win; the winner would get the coin(s). At the end of the night, the person with the most coins would win a very lovely belt pouch Almaric had just finished.

When bardic began after dinner it was expanded so that performers could also be rewarded in coins.

Mikhail brought along his completed knee for Olivia to try out; Ulrich shared some "Future" floor polish for him to take home to test with. The demonstration Ulrich gave at the end of the evening looks promising as a way of stopping rust on armour that won't come off when hit.

He also showed off two metal spoons he made today for the feast, out of bar stock and dished sheet metal, but said they were too much work to produce for sale as Valonia graciously suggested. Once he gets the forge set up, though, he says forged feast gear for sale is a distinct probability; it will be much faster and easier, as well as being able to make them more decorative.

Just before the meal itself began, our Mistress of Arts and Sciences, Lady Valonia, made a presentation to the newest member of the stronghold (and his parents) of a very lovely little tunic and cap she had made, based on a design Freydis had made for Alvena when she was a baby. Big brother Drake got a wooden horse made by Freydis. It was well-timed; Maeve mentioned earlier at the feast that she had tried to dress Bran in an old tunic of Drake's, but that it had been too big. "Oh, gee, that's too bad, heh heh heh..."

It is made of cotton and trimmed in Almaric and Maeve's colours; more pictures will follow under the Arts & Sciences Projects section shortly.

The feast itself was fantastic. Lots of food for everyone. Lots of food. Lots of leftovers. You know that thing where for your feast contribution, you bring enough for twenty people to have some? Now, imagine fifteen people doing that, but with only fifteen people to eat the results, ha ha ha.

Do you know, there was also a pot of barley soup? Man, we would have popped.

This isn't even half of it. There was also a delicious fish pastry, and meatballs, a red cabbage salad, a pork roast... plus stewed apples with currants and a sauce and tiny galleon tarts for dessert! Plus no doubt other things I have forgotten. A wonderful spread!

Once the first edge had been taken off our appetites, Mikhail proposed that, since almost all of the stronghold's members where gathered together, including some from far afield, it would be a good time to discuss a name for the group.

If you have access to the forums on the website then you have seen the discussions and suggestions so far. They were summed up, and it was decided that the name we would put in for would be "Huginnsdalr", which is "The valley of Hugin" in Old Norse, and appropriate considering the stronghold's location in the Annapolis Valley, and CFB Greenwood's internationally-recognized expertise in long-range surveillance and information-gathering, thanks to our giant Aurora airplanes.

Once bellies were full, it was time to turn to entertainment. Alvena and Karl led off, with a delightful Norse ditty, and were duly awarded a few more coins. Almaric sang a lovely song about a love triangle between a lady, her husband, and the jester; and Ulrich's girls sang a lovely song which they accompanied on a guitar. Mikhail and Freydis also sang a few songs, and Mikhail performed his hnaftafl-board-winning rendition of "The Lay of Hogni". It was suggested that we try to perform something at Twelfth Night, and it sounds like that may be either "Gypsy Rover" or "Rose Red".

The night wound down as our furthest travellers and those with the youngest children bade their farewells and departed, but the rest talked for a while as the wind and what Ulrich assured us definitely was not the ghost of a dead child rattled the venting as the bluster outside thought about building to a storm. Designs for a banner and some kind of tabletop stronghold ...something, some way of marking where we were all sitting at Baronial feasts were discussed. The kids were still going strong but the adults were definitely feeling the hour as feast gear, candles, banners, and a lot of leftovers were slowly packed up.

In the end, the winner of the belt pouch was Karl of House Ravenspeak, who displayed an unexpected aptitude at hnaftafl. Well done, Karl!

All in all, a good end to a very good night!

Drake learns Hnaftafl.

"Your move..."

Freydis insists plastic gems are an acceptable substitute for alcohol for Tablero. The rest don't quite buy it, apparently.

"So here's the twenty bucks we owe you, Ulrich. No, those coins are totally real, heh heh heh..."

"Daddy can keep his silly coins; I'm taking all his game pieces."

"See, Karl, that's how you play Hnaftafl. Now go and win all of the coins."

A well-laid table covered in loot, backed by Almaric's banner, frames an absorbing conversation. About loot. And banners.

Merry Christmas, pending incipient Stronghold of Huginnsdalr!

Note: All of these pictures were taken by Maeve, who graciously shared them. If anyone else has any pictures from the feast, send them to me (Freydis) and I'll add them in!