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A Not-So-Brief History
of the Shire at Last Revealed as
Castell Gwent

The First Decade

In the beginning (circa 1992), Lord Vardon Owain Rhyfel Draig moved to Bellevue, Ohio. But the landscape was flat and void of a branch of the Society for Creative Anachronism within reasonable driving distance. And there were in the Midrealm those that appealed to Lord Vardon, asking him to create a new shire. A small group began to meet regularly in the Coach House in Bellevue, and they put on demos alongside Civil War re-enactors. And it was designated a Proto-Incipient Shire.

And Lord Vardon wanted to name the shire The Black Swamp, but the College of Heralds said that we were not in the Black Swamp and would not approve it. So he chose Vast Eerie Reaches for a name, and sent that to the heralds, but no one sent the documentation, so they would not approve that either. And finally in desperation he named the shire The Gateway to the Emerald Moors.

And about six years after it first began, Lord Vardon beheld the shire, and lo it was puny. So in 1998 he moved the monthly meetings to Tiffin University (TU) in Tiffin. And behold, new people showed up at the meetings, some of whom had actually heard of the SCA before. And in December of 1999, the No Bull Newsletter was started. In Sept. of 2000 we moved our meetings to the First Lutheran Church in Tiffin and began meeting twice a month. And so the shire continued for several years. And lo, the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Domesday Report was easy, for all the numbers were zeroes.

And Lord Vardon said, “This is ridiculous. We’re still proto-incipient! We need to work on the shire’s status. Let’s put on an event!” And lo, the Emerald Beast was conceived. And one arose from within the shire who was a mighty Feast Steward, well able to prepare a damn good feast with no kitchen on site. Then the first annual potluck Christmas feast was held, and there was great rejoicing. In March, a new gentle with bookkeeping experience arrived who took over as Exchequer (just in time for the event!). Of course, we still didn’t have any money. And on the last weekend of April 2001 the Emerald Beast was born, with Red Spears as midwife. The pears in mead sauce were a big hit. We made some money. We opened a bank account! And the shire advanced from proto-incipient to incipient status.

In June, long-time and faithful worker Marion received her Award of Arms, the first ever to be awarded to someone while they were in our shire. General hoobahs! Then, rather suddenly, Lord Vardon moved away to settle in Canal Fulton, Ohio. He named Cadmar to be our new seneschal. And Cadmar vowed that he would work to advance the shire’s status, and he sent many and eloquent missives via e-mail to kingdom officers, but none could tell him when to expect full status. So we had a movie night. And another year passed. Planning for our second event began and the early years of our shire passed into legend.

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Recent Years

In January of 2002, we moved shire meetings back to TU. In February of 2000, Otto der Beger von Heidelberg took over the web site created for us by Justinos Tektos. The first baby was born to shire members. April saw us shivering at our second event, where again the Emerald Beast arose and prowled throughout the land, vanquishing the hordes of the enemy. And there was another feast that couldn’t be beat. In July, Cadmar stepped down and Otto took over as seneschal.

And it came to pass in those days that there went out a decree from SCA Corporate that no incipient shire could administer its own funds. And Otto swore a great oath – no, not that kind – Otto swore a great oath that he would pursue a quest to get the shire full status. And he sent many e-mails and made phone calls late at night to strangers.

We transfered our funds to the Marche of Three Towers, which became our sponsoring shire. We began a monthly gathering for cooks. And lo, Otto received news: The Gateway to the Emerald Moors name had never been submitted to the heralds for approval; and anyway there was no way it could pass! And there was great wailing and gnashing of teeth. In February of 2003, following much research and consulting of experienced heralds we chose a name that was sure to be accepted by the heralds: Caer Byrbryd. We submitted the paperwork July of 2003.

In March, we ran the first of what have turned out to be many lunch taverns at neighboring events. In April, we hosted Beast III, this time sponsored by Three Towers. In May, four representatives from Red Spears came to a shire meeting to discuss if we would be interested in becoming part of the barony.

In Feb. of 2004 we began monthly meetings in Upper Sandusky and Fostoria as well as in Tiffin. At Masque of Courtly Love, which featured the new baron and baroness’ investiture, we presented velvet pouches we had made in the baronial colors, our congratulations, and expressions of good will to the newly formed Barony of Brendoken. Over the spring and summer we held several work days at the site for our next event in exchange for a reduced site charge.

In August of 2004, our pursuivant learned that “Caer Byrbryd” was dead in the water. No appeal was possible. We decided to not change the shire name we used again until a name had passed. At Pennsic, with the input of practically every herald at Herald’s Point that week and with petitions signed by most of our shire officers, who were on site, we settled on “Castell Gwent” and submitted it with our device.

We renewed discussion of possibly joining a barony, with consideration given to both Red Spears and Brendoken. In October, we performed the Officer Shuffle*, and Mathilda Harper took over as Seneschal. We decided to put off any decision about joining a barony for six months.

In January of 2005, we decided to bid to host the Northern Oaken Regional Arts & Sciences Faire, which did not yet have a site. We scrambled to make some quick plans, and submitted a bid. On April 30, we hosted the event. In addition to the A&S faire, our pursuivant arranged for a Heraldic Reference Library and for the regional herald to lead a Herald’s Roundtable. We also offered classes, an organ concert, a feast, and children’s activities. We were very pleased that Her Majesty Noelle joined us for the day and held a royal court.

In September, the Emerald Beast, limping somewhat, showed up for A Beastly Event (Beast V), then huffed off for a long period of hibernation. We welcomed active neighbors to the north with the re-invention of the Shire of Oakford.

On July 5, 2005, our pursuivant announced (via e-mail) that our new shire name of Castell Gwent and our shire device had been accepted. And there was general rejoicing! After much work on an application for full status, King Edmund and Queen Kateryn welcomed Castell Gwent as a full shire at their Coronation in October. Otto took over as Seneschal (again). We found a great new meeting place at Trinity Episcopal Church in downtown Tiffin. We began holding some combined meetings and fighter practices with Oakford.

In the spring of 2006, the Emerald Beast became a permanent part of the shire by appearing on a shire badge approved by the college of heralds. In June, Otto stepped down and passed Mathilda the baton (again). In October, we put on an all-afternoon demo at an Oktoberfest celebration at Garlo Nature Preserve. And the Emerald Beast galumphs on into the future ...

*The Officer Shuffle is a traditional SCAdian dance performed in many shires annually or bi-annually.

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Updated 2006