Registering Names and Armory

It is our charter to register historically-plausible names and devices. While we work within a pretty broad envelope (for example, in how much time separates name elements), we're not generally able to register names that are pure fantasy or otherwise go beyond the structure and content of attested names found in period sources, nor can we register modern designs as armory.

Our understanding of period practice, and how we adapt the needs of the Society to that model, changes over time. If something was returned by Laurel years ago, there's a chance that it may be registerable now. Likewise, the fact of prior registration doesn't imply that it's registerable by the general public in the present. That "the heralds" told you something could not be done does not mean they spoke correctly, then or now. Myths abound, and stamping out heraldic myth is an ongoing job. Even if some (very) experienced herald says it, they can be mistaken.

We encourage submitters make use of the resources available in the Society rather than go it alone. An excellent place to start is by emailing Æstel Herald.

Administrative actions: Actions such as transferring a badge to another person, granting permission to conflict, or releasing an item, are not submissions, and therefore do not use a form and do not require fees. For recommended form letters covering a variety of situations, see Appendix D of the Laurel Administrative Handbook.

When submitting a letter, please date and sign in ink with your modern name, and send to the same address you'd normally send a submission to.

Step through the tabs below to learn about the registration process.

The Registration Process

Research and Consultation

There are some key points to keep in mind when researching and documenting names and devices.

  • Remain responsive. This is your submission, not someone else's: while being respectful of the time of others, do follow up on questions and commitments. It is in your own best interests to help ensure follow-through.
  • Keep an open mind. While we wish to be helpful and guide you through the process, we must advise based on our understanding of historical plausibility based on attested names and armory practices of the middle ages in Europe. This means period documentation for names and naming practices, and period style and composition for armory. While the cultures we emulate had a broad range of practices, they were not based on the aesthetics of the modern era.
  • Documentation is the burden of the submitter. While we are happy to assist and advise, it is ultimately your responsibility to ensure documentation is provided in a manner we can make use of during submission and commentary.
  • You are encouraged to make use of consult tables and heraldry nights locally and at Crown and Principality events. However, don't feel limited to just those venues: the internet has opened up consultation to a 24/7 activity via email and social media such as Facebook.

Local heralds: We encourage you to provide what consultation you may to those who wish it. Please call upon the College to assist you as needed: we want to help, even if the help is limited to email discussions with you about projects you're assisting with.

Do keep in mind, however, that you are not authorized to accept submissions on behalf of the kingdom, except in the context of a full-service consult table. There are special requirements, including a good history of reporting, which are considered when making this dispensation. For more information, please contact Black Lion.

If you are interested in hosting a consult table without accepting submissions (submitters are sent home with completed forms), there are no restrictions.

Documentation

All names require documentation, as do some armory submissions. Lack of required documentation is grounds for return.

All documentation should consist of a photocopy of the book page(s) in question along with a photocopy of the title page of the book. Underlining pertinent passages (or marking them in the margins) is encouraged. Highlighting is also recommended but remember to highlight after you photocopy.

If you have any questions, contact the Æstel Herald.

Tip: Persona stories, while they may be useful in guiding consultation, don't satisfy documentation requirements. Save yourself the time and postage.

Likewise, don't send essays and books. We work best with brief summaries and photocopies of the relevant page. Sending large amounts of documentation makes it more likely that the documentation will not be read by the very commenters who work to help your submission along.

Tip: There are some books considered "standard references" by the SCA College of Arms for which no photocopies are necessary, just citations of which source, its URL (if online), the header spellings, page numbers, and pertinent information including all spellings and dates of the submitted name elements. A list of these sources is [Appendix H of the Laurel Administrative Handbook][apph].

Given a choice between a source which requires photocopies and one which does not, prefer the one that does not. You'll save time and effort by using a source that is both common and trusted.

Regarding names

  • You can have up to six names registered to yourself at a time, including personal names and household names you own.
  • Name construction varied by culture and followed specific patterns. The patterns that are considered well-known and not in need of further documentation are listed in SENA Appendix A.
  • The way names from different cultures intermingled is similarly limited. The mixes that are well-known are listed in SENA Appendix C.
  • In general, name elements from within a single culture need to be within a 500-year window: an English given name from 1600 paired with an English byname from 1100 would barely meet that standard, while a byname from 1099 would not.
  • Name elements from different cultures (where names are known or documented to have mixed) need to be within a 300-year window: SENA Appendix C will tell you that post-1100, Welsh and French may be combined, and so a Welsh given name from 1234 could be paired with a French byname from 1534, but not one from 1535 or later.
  • We have a wide range of well-researched name lists from period sources, and it's best to rely on these where possible. But when evaluating new sources of documentation, we are looking for the following:
    • Reason to believe the document accurately transcribes the spelling as it existed in period. Handwritten parish records from 1500 are excellent, while family histories written in the modern era are not. Likewise baby name books, books purporting to explain the meaning of names, and so forth have earned a poor reputation in this regard.
    • Place the name was recorded, and the culture the name came from (frequently the same, and usually implied by the document itself).
    • Gender of the name, since this can impact grammar and how the name as a whole is constructed.

Regarding armory

  • You can have up to six pieces of armory registered to yourself at a time, including at most one item marked as your device. You do not have to register a device in order to register a badge; you may choose to register only badges if you wish.
  • The SCA defines what is known as "Core Style", which is our sense of the typical practices of 13th century England and France. This style has three main characteristics:
    • Simple. There's a limit to complexity beyond which we require documentation that the design as a whole follows period examples.
    • Good contrast. The comments about "color-on-color" you may have heard about stem from this.
    • Blazonable. We have to be able to describe it in period terms, in such a way that we believe the original image could then be reproduced.
  • To step outside of Core Style, to produce a design of a red bear on a black field for example, requires researching and documenting what is known as an Indivudally Attested Pattern (IAP). An IAP will provide a pattern that the submission must follow closely: showing a pattern of red beasts alone on black fields doesn't demonstrate red swords on black fields, nor red birds, nor red beasts surrounded by swords. This is best done with an experienced consulting herald, and will take some time. Those interested in pursuing this should realize it's intended for those who are truly interested in period armory; it's not a Get Out Of Core Style Free card.

How to Fill Out An Tir Heraldic Submissions Forms

... some preamble ...

The Name Packet

Submission form:

Submissions for branches should also refer to Branch Requirements for Heraldic Submissions.

A name packet consists of:

  • 1 copy of the name submission form
  • 1 copy of any documentation

Names submitted must have some kind of documentation. If you need help with documentation, contact the Æstel Herald.

Good name documentation will note, for each name element, the:

  • Source of the name (including title, author, date, edition, URL)
  • Name as spelled in period (modernized spellings don't work)
  • Gender of the name
  • Date of the name
  • Culture of the name
  • Where in the source it is found (page number or heading)

Some sources have an implicit date and culture. For example, our most useful sources for Viking-era Scandinavian names are generally derived from the Landnámabok, which implies both date and location. Other similar sources include dated tax rolls for, say, Yorkshire, census records, and so forth. Sources that span either regions or time will need to note the region and time for individual records.

Example: for Oddr Þiálfason, a 9th century Icelandic masculine name

Oddr: Gierr-Bassi p13 sn Oddr, masculine name. Oddr is the OW Norse form of Odd.

Þiálfi: Nordisk Runnamnslexikon sn Þialfi, masculine name, showing OW Norse form is Þiálfi. Genitive form in NR is shown as Þiálfa.

Þiálfason: patronymic form per GB

Modern Name Allowance: If you are using an element from your modern name in your SCA name, it must be in the same 'place' in the names. For example, if you are legally named 'John Richards', you can use your modern name to justify the use of 'Richards' in 'Stephan Richards', but not 'Richard' in 'Richard Smith'. If you are going to use an element from your modern name, make a photocopy of your birth certificate or driver's license and include that with your documentation. Please remember to black out important numbers on personal identification, such as your driver's license number or SSN. We do not need that and it is unsafe to send it. We just need to see the full name on the ID, and the type of ID and the issuing authority.

The Device Packet or Badge Packet

Submission form:

Submissions for branches should also refer to Branch Requirements for Heraldic Submissions.

A device or badge packet consists of:

  • 1 copy of the emblazon form (colored)
  • 1 copy of the emblazon form (uncolored line art)
  • 1 copy of any documentation

Tip: If this is a badge for a specific purpose within a branch, you are strongly urged to note that in the "to be associated with" field. For example: "Populace", "Baronial Sergeantry", "War unit", "Order of the Goutte de Sang", etc. Associations may be made with generic terms ("populace", "bards" -- things all branches may claim to have), or to registered names belonging to the branch (orders, guilds, etc).

Documentation may be required for armory submissions:

  • New charges: If you are using a charge which has never been used in the SCA before, documentation will be required showing its use in period armory, or existance as a period artifact with a reasonably consistent form (aprons, mantle-clocks). This will become the defining instance of the charge in the SCA. Those interested in finding such a unique charge should contact the Æstel Herald, who can act as a starting point in locating resources.
  • Restricted charges: If you are using a restricted charge, such as those restricted to certain peerages, or an augmentation of arms, include the date, kingdom, and nature of the honor, so that we can verify this on the Order of Precedence.
  • Augmentations of Arms: As with restricted charges, note the kingdom and date where you received your honor. Additionally, know that the form an Augmentation of Arms takes is up to the submitter, subject to Laurel requirements (such as contrast, which must be maintained). Persons so honored are urged to contact the Æstel Herald, to guide them through the design.

While you must submit your device on the shield-shaped form, and any other armory on the square-shaped form, you may display your device or badge on any appropriate shape once it is registered. Thus, you submit your arms on a shield shape even though you wish to fight with them painted on a round shield, and you submit your badge as a square shape instead of the merit-badge-like circle you see commonly displayed. If you are submitting a fieldless badge, use the square shape, and check the box for a fieldless badge, so we can be assured that you intend a fieldless badge, rather than a badge on a white or silver field.

When drawing the submission on the form, you will be producing a "coloring book" version -- just line art -- and a fully-colored version. Include internal details, though avoid excessive detail that may muddy up the image when colored in. Also, don't fill in solid blocks of color, though you may fill in solid areas of black at your option.

When making the colored forms, for the best results, be careful about what you use to color in the emblazons. Particularly during the warm months, some inks can shift during mailing. Wax media can and will melt, which can destroy a submission. Additionally, some inks can easily go over-dark if over-worked. For this reason:

DO USE:

  • good watercolor markers, like Crayola Classic basic colors
  • bold, strong colors: blue-blue, not sky blue, not midnight blue; red, not pink; yellow, not orange. While some leeway is given for using multiple hues of the same color for artistic effect (eg, shading or other light detail work), be careful that everything remains unambiguous.
  • lighter strokes for darker colors: saturating the paper with ink tends to darken colors too much, turning blue, purple, and brown into black

DO NOT USE:

  • colored pencils
  • crayons
  • metallic inks/paints/leaf
  • color printers

Fees

All submissions require fees, with the exception of resubmissions made within eighteen months of the date on the return letter, which require no fees.

Canada residents: For information on fees, please read the Tir Rígh instructions.

US residents: All submissions received by Lions Blood Herald are USD $10.00 per action, payable to College of Heralds -- An Tir.

DO:

  • feel free to submit multiple fees as a single check or money order

DO NOT:

  • send cash: Fees must be paid by check or money order.
  • ask a herald at a consult table to convert your cash to a check: they are not allowed to do so. You may, however, ask any one else who is not staffing a consult table.

Example: A change of name, a new device, and two badge resubmissions -- one from a return 2 months ago, the other from a return 2 years ago -- are 4 actions. One of the badge resubmissions was made less than eighteen months after its return, and is therefore not charged a fee. That leaves 3 actions chargeable, for a total of $30.

Example: Two friends are each submitting new names. One chooses to write the check for the other. They may send a single $20 check or money order.

Where to mail the forms

Once you have assembled the packets for each action, you should send them, including all required copies directly to the address listed below. While it is a good idea to show them to your local herald (who can get a copy for their records), local heralds are not authorized to accept submissions on behalf of the kingdom. Submissions should never be given to the local herald for submission, nor should they be mailed to Black Lion or anyone else.

DO:

  • keep submission forms and documentation for a single item together, rather than intermixed with those of other items in the same envelope
  • keep copies of what you send: this allows us to re-create the submission package in case of problems in the post office.
  • feel free to submit multiple submissions in the same envelope, as you wish

DO NOT:

  • attach paper clips or staples: we have enough paper clips, and staples are a nuisance to the clerk.
  • hand to your branch herald and expect they will take care of things: they are not authorized to accept submissions
  • drop off a packet at a consult table except to the specifically-authorized herald responsible
  • send with any signature requirement: you risk return by the post office if the submission remains in the box more than a couple days

Canada residents: You will be sending your submissions to Red Flame Herald. Please read the Tir Rígh instructions.

US residents: Send your submissions to the Lions Blood Clerk address:

An Tir College of Heralds
PO Box 2379
Corvallis OR 97339

Commentary and the Decision Process

Your submission will go through two levels of processing: Kingdom and Known World (Laurel). As an example, a submission received by Lions Blood in January will be put on an internal letter dated in early February. Two months later there will be a Kingdom meeting in April to decide on whether to send your submission on or return it for more work. If your submission is returned at a Kingdom meeting, you will receive a letter from Lions Blood explaining why. No letter is sent for submissions passed at Kingdom, but feel free to ask Lions Blood what happened. The in-kingdom review is a first check and should help iron out any obvious problems of conflict, lacking documentation, or rules violations.

Submissions passed at Kingdom are sent to Laurel Sovereign of Arms where they are ruled on four months later (in this case, in August). It takes a month or more for Laurel to issue the results of the meeting. As a result, Kingdom will hear the results in September or October, and Lions Blood will write you a letter shortly after in all cases (whether the submission is passed or returned.)

Any comments people make cannot be construed as decisions. Decisions about submissions are published by the Laurel office and the kingdom submissions herald, and based on discussion with a number of members of the College of Arms across the Society. Experienced heralds know to couch their discussions carefully. Those who are in a decision-making capacity will try very hard to avoid answering the question at all. Questions of offense, obtrusive modernity, or whether a submission presumes on names or arms we should protect, are answerable only by the Laurel office. These are not in themselves reasons for return by the kingdom submissions herald, though they may provide the opinion of commenters at kingdom.

Oh joy!