Running Heraldic Activities for an Event
compiled by Modar Neznanich
So you've been put in charge of running the heraldic activities for an event, but aren't sure if you're
remembering everything that needs to be done. Following is a list of suggestions compiled from various
heralds throughout the SCA, with an explanation why these suggestions were made. Some of the suggestions
deal with a particular type of event, other deals with the needs of any event. Determine which suggestions
apply to your event, implement them and you will find yourself a long way toward taking care of everything
you will need to do.
- Get other heralds to help.
This is not as hard as it may sound. Most heralds are delighted to help. Simply contact any herald you know,
tell them what's going on, when and where, and then ask if they can help. Whether they can help or not, ask
them if they can recommend anyone else who might be interested in helping. You can never have too many heralds
to share the duties. "Extras" can always be back-ups in case someone's voice cracks. The main thing to remember
is that some people are book heralds, some people are vocal heralds and some people do both. Don't try to fit
someone into an area they are not interested in. For those who are interested in helping with book heraldry,
it's pretty "cut and dried" -- they'll be working at the Consulting Table. For those interested in vocal
heraldry, there are more choices. They can assist in doing event heraldry (making general announcements),
field heraldry (calling competitors to the list field(s), announcing round match-ups, etc.), feast heraldry
(announcing courses, introducing entertainment, etc.), court heraldry (acting as the Voice of the Baronage
and/or Royalty by calling people into court, reading awards, etc.) or any combination thereof. When seeking
help, don't be afraid to ask for help from those arriving at the event. Many people come to events wanting to
assist. If you announce early that you are looking for people to help herald, you will get several volunteers.
Be sure you get the names of everyone who helps, so you can thank them later.
- If at all possible, separate the area for the consulting table from Herald's Point.
Herald's Point is where the populace goes to request announcements to be made, to arrange business in court and
have field heralds conduct tournament cries. The Consulting Table is where the populace goes to receive
assistance in creating and submitting persona names and devices. By separating them, it prevents confusion by
keeping the populace from going to the book heralds inquiring about announcements or court business or
inquiring about names and device from the vocal heralds. This allows the heralds to work more efficiently as
they are in an area prepared for the work mode they are in, whether it is vocal work or book work. All in all,
it helps keep everyone a bit saner.
- If possible, locate the Consulting Table in the same place as Merchant's Row.
This works well, as it allows the populace to discover that a Consulting Table is available. It helps the
heralds working the table as it keeps them from being "off in a corner" where no one realizes they are there
until the end of the day when they are packing up the books. It helps the merchants because, as people go to
speak with the heralds at the Consulting Table, they pass by the merchanting area and tend to browse while
waiting their turn to talk with the heralds. All in all, a good deal for everyone. Note, however, that because
of the expense of the reference books used for heraldic consulting, they need to be protected at all costs. If
Merchant's Row is located in an outdoor setting, please provide a sun fly or other covering as well as one or
two tables and chairs (for heralds and for clients). If Merchant's Row is indoors, the table(s) and chairs
should be sufficient.
- Locate Herald's Point as central to the event activities as possible.
This will make the vocal heralds easier for the populace, Baronage and Royalty to find. Plus it will prevent
the heralds having to walk from one end of the site and back again; they will be able to "radiate" criers out
to various points from a central location. When possible keep it near both the MoL (Minister of the List area,
aka List-Mistress/List-Master table) and the Troll, or a location between the two.
- Make sure the List Table is located near the entrance to the List Field.
This will be invaluable for the heralds needing quick and easy access to and from the List Table to the fighting
field, and back, with index cards announcing fighters.
- Know your site.
This will make setting up your Herald's Point easier, plus prepare you for when people stop to ask where
"X-place" is. The most common places inquired about include: Troll, Minister of List Table, List Field, Feast
Hall, Camping Areas and Restrooms. If needed, make a small map of the site that can be kept at Herald's
Make certain that the heraldic locations are well marked with signs and/or banners. This just makes it easier
on everyone. It also adds to the medieval ambiance.
- Items for Herald's Point
Following are items that are recommended to be at Herald's Point. Make sure that you or any herald working
there has the following available, if at all possible: Heraldic tabards and/or baldrics, paper, index cards,
pens, pencils, a copy of Corpora, a copy of Kingdom Law, court report forms, table and chairs.
- Items for the Consulting Table
There are many items that are recommended to be at the Consulting Table. You and/or heralds working at the
Consulting Table should have at least the recommended items available (if not the suggested items), if at
Recommended items include: File folders, submission forms, blank paper, scratch sheets (these are pages which
have small blank shields on them, for the herald/client to try out different motifs), pens, pencils, colored
markers (the Crayola Classic Colors set is best and comes in both large and small points), basic drawing
tools (compass, ruler, triangle, circle template), templates of frequently used charges, the latest Laurel
Letter of Acceptances and Returns, large boxes for storing books in (plastic ones, such as those made by
Rubbermaid are excellent, but cardboard boxes lined with plastic or large trash bags work OK) and books.
Recommended books include: SCA Armorial & Ordinary; Bruce Draconarius & Akagawa Yoshio - A Pictorial Dictionary
of Heraldry as Used in the Society for Creative Anachronism (aka "The PicDic"); Withycombe - The Oxford
Dictionary of English Christian Names; Reaney & Wilson - A Dictionary of British Surnames; one or more from
this set of books: Foster - The Dictionary of Heraldry, Pastoureau - Heraldry: An Introduction to a Noble
Tradition, or Neubecker - Heraldry: Customs, Rules and Style; one or more from this set of books: Boutell
- Boutell's Heraldry, Fox-Davies - A Complete Guide to Heraldry or Bedingfeld & Jones - Heraldry>; one or more
from this set of books: Parker - A Glossary of Terms Used in Heraldry, Brooke-Little - An Heraldic Alphabet,
or Friar - A Dictionary of Heraldry; a copy of Complete Anachronist pamphlet #22, Heraldry, by Arval Benicoeur
and Marten Broeker; a copy of the Rules for Submissions and a copy of the Glossary of Terms.
Other suggested items to have include: various articles on names (from SCA Heraldry Web Site), the List of
Unacceptable Books for Name Documentation (from SCA Heraldry Web Site), the List of Books Which Photocopies
are Not Needed From (from SCA Heraldry Web Site), the List of Forbidden and Restricted Charges (from SCA
Heraldry Web Site), a copy of Argent Snail's Insta-Boing Check-list (from SCA Heraldry Web Site), a copy of
the article Frequently Given Answers That Are Wrong (from SCA Heraldry Web Site), a copy of the Order of
Precedence, a copy of Corpora and a copy of Kingdom Law.
Other suggested books to have (if available) include: Bahlow, Hans. Deutsches Nameslexikon; Bahlow, Hans.
Deutschland Geographiche Namenwelt; Black, George F. The Surnames of Scotland; Brechenmacher, Josef Karlmann.
Etmologisches Wuurterbuch der Deutschen Familiennamen; Dauzat, Albert. Dictionnaire tymologique des Noms de
Famille et des Pre noms de France; Dauzat, Albert and Rostaign. Dictionnaire tymologique des Noms de Lieux de
la France; Ekwall, Eilert. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Place-names; De Felice, Emidio. dizionario
dei cognomi italiani; De Felice, Emidio. dizionario dei nomi italiani; Fucilla, Joseph G. Our Italian Surnames;
Geirr Bassi Haraldsson. The Old Norse Name; Gruffudd, Heini. Welsh Personal Names; Johnston, James R.
Place-Names of Scotland; MacLysaght, Edward. The Surnames of Ireland; Melcon, R. P. Gonzalo Diez. Apellidos
Castellano-Leoneses; Morgan, Peadar. Ainmean Chloinne: Scottish Gaelic Names for Children; Morgan, T.J., &
Morgan, Prys. Welsh Surnames; Morlet, Marie-Thse. Les Noms de Personne sur le Territoire de L'Ancienne Gaule
du VI au XII Si; Corrin, Donnchadh & Maguire, Fidelma. Irish Names; Room, Adrian. A Dictionary of Irish
Place-Names; Searle, William George. Onomasticon Anglo-Saxonicum; Socin, Adolf. Mittelhochdeutsches Namenbuch,
and Woulfe, Patrick. Sloinnte Gaedheal is Gall: Irish Names and Surnames.
- Make someone the "Herald in Charge of Combat".
Whether this is you or someone you select, this person will be the central coordinator for the tournament
heralding. Have all field/tournament heralds report to them. They will work closely with both the Marshall in
Charge (MiC) and the Minister of the List (MoL). Remind the heralds that the MiC has the final word on all
matters dealing with the tournament, even those relating to heraldry. Remind the tournament herald coordinator
that they should get with the MoL before things get started and ask them to put phonetic spellings on the list
cards (along with the actual spellings) so that the field heralds can "get the names right". Remember that
some of your help may not be as familiar with the correct pronunciation of some names as you are. However, do
not get in the way of the MoL. If they are not willing to get the phonetic spellings, or to let the herald get
them and place them on the cards, then you will have to do without. However, most MoLs are very friendly and
helpful and will be delighted to assist if approached in advance. The exact arrangement of what is to be
announced and how, will vary depending on the size and type of tournament being held, and the customs of the
group or kingdom the event is held in.
- Make someone the "Herald in Charge of Announcements".
Whether this is you or someone you select, this person will be the central coordinator for the cries that are
made at the event. Have all the announcement heralds report to them. The coordinator will take down all the
information for announcements to be made and pass the info on to the heralds who cry the event. Whether these
announcements are made as they arrive, or at preset intervals, will depend on the size and type of event and
local customs. Make sure the coordinator reminds the heralds to make the announcements in enough positions
that the entire site is covered. The coordinator will also keep a list of those who have business to conduct
at court, and what the business is, to present to the Baronage and/or Royalty.
- Have a quick meeting with the heralds before things begin.
Have a quick five minute meeting with all the heralds, before things begin, to be sure they're familiar with
each other and who they're reporting to, find out who wants what assignment that's still open, and to get
- Be prepared for impromptu changes.
There will always be last minute changes, due to one reason or another. Someone doesn't show up, something
breaks, the Crown changes the time for something, etc. Don't sweat it. Do the best that you can and go on.
- Stay Hydrated.
This is important at all times, but particularly when doing outdoor events. Even on days that are cloudy or
rainy, your body goes through a lot of dehydration if you are active. It gets worse on hot, sunny days. To
counteract this, drink plenty of liquids, particularly water or sport drinks that mainly consist of water with
electrolytes added. Avoid tea, coffee and other drinks containing caffeine. Caffeine is a diuretic, making
you have to go to the bathroom, plus when consumed in hot conditions, it can make you tired. Avoid soft
drinks/soda pop if at all possible. Carbonated beverages cause the blood to acidify by converting to carbonic
acid, which in turn helps dehydrate the body. Hence, these beverages do not keep the body at a proper hydration
level, although they may quench the thirst or lubricate the throat. Avoid drinks containing alcohol, as this
will cause the blood vessels in the throat to swell. Any heraldic cries done on a throat in such condition can
cause damage. It is recommended that you drink a minimum of 1-2 glasses of water every hour. The water should
be cool, but not ice-cold as that can cause stomach cramps. To make the water more palatable, a small amount
of lime juice or lemon juice can be added to the water. If there are sufficient people, ask the Head
Waterbearer to assign someone to make a regular route by the Heralds.
Another often overlooked aspect when doing outdoor events, is wearing sunblock. A person can receive a bad
sunburn even on cloudy days. Be sure to wear a sunscreen lotion of sufficient sunblock factor to prevent this.
It can also help prevent windburn. Have a bottle of sunblock available for any herald who may have forgotten
to bring some. Also useful is wearing a straw hat, veil or "headrag".
- Bug Repellant
Again, another overlooked item when an event is outdoors is wearing bug repellant. Depending on the site, a
person can become miserable real quick thanks to those pesky insects. Be sure to wear bug repellant. Have a
can of bug repellant available for any herald who may have forgotten to bring some.
Yet another overlooked area when doing heraldic activities, is food. Although it is most common at outdoor
events where people get hot, and hence lose their appetite, it seems to be a regular occurrence at any event
for heralds to get involved in activities and forget to eat. Be sure that you, yourself, eat and encourage
heralds working for you to do the same. If allowable by your budget, have a few nutritious snacks available.
Suggested items include pretzels (as these provide some carbohydrates plus a little salt that will encourage
people to drink water), lemon drops (if they have real lemon juice in them, as this provides a small amount
of vitamin C plus soothes the throat), cold vegetables (carrots, celery or cucumbers are good), bread and
cheese. On the other hand, the single most requested item from heralds seem to be peanut M&Ms, followed
closely by chocolate chip cookies.
- Reward those that work for you.
Take the time to say "Thank You!" to those who have spent their time assisting you. Also consider giving them
a small gift, if your budget allows. This does not have to be anything big, fancy or expensive. A small token
of some kind, however, goes a long way to ensuring that the heralds who worked for you will do so again, and
will encourage others to volunteer to help the next time. Suggestions for tokens have ranged widely. Among
them are: Flowers (a single daisy, carnation or rose); a small parchment saying something like, "Be it known
that "X" has been instrumental in the successful completed of event "Z" on date "--/--/--" by virtue of their
heraldic efforts. Signed "C, Heraldic Coordinator" (even a computer generated certificate works well for
this), an inexpensive strand of beads, a small pin, a set of Crayola Classic markers (particularly good for
book heralds) or a public "Thank You" by name either in court or the local/kingdom newsletter. If there's a
feast involved with the event, possibly a free meal could be offered to them.
- Have fun.
This is one of the most overlooked aspects of setting up the heraldic activities of an event. If you look
at setting up the heraldic duties as a chance to be involved in an activity you like, and to work with current
friends and possibly make new friends who are interested in the same area you are, then you will find this to
be a pleasant experience instead of an arduous task to complete.
This is the final piece of advice. Relax. As it has been said by many people, there is little or nothing that
will happen that is so terrible that it will be remembered a month from now. Sure, small little "crises" will
occur. They will be handled and things will go on. Everything's okay. Trust us.
(c)1998 Modar Neznanich
The only other thing I ask, is that if an article is printed in a publication, please let me know how I can
obtain or purchase a copy of the publication(s) for myself.
I can be contacted as follows:
H.L. Modar Neznanich, CLM, CSH, OT
First Saker Herald of Calontir
Permission granted to web on July 1, 1998.
These pages are maintained by
Please contact Edward with any corrections/changes.