Summer AS 54 (2020) BONUS – The Hordweard

The full Summer AS 54 issue of Cockatrice is available here!

The Hordweard

Note: Much of this information has been adapted from the Hordweard website, originally written by Mistress Porzia Vincenzo.

For more information on the challenge, or if you’re interested in participating, please see the Hordweard website at or jump in to the Hordweard group on Facebook.

What is the Hordweard?

The Hordweard is an annual challenge for artisans in the Society for Creative Anachronism to learn about life before 1000CE.

For the next year, you are invited to take up the new Hordweard Challenge:

The Life of a Dark Age Craftsperson, for any culture in Eurasia and Africa from 1-1000 CE.

Those who would participate must give into the Hoard, a piece of value (in hours or gold), make their vow of what they will do, and bring to judging the best of their arts. The journey of one year will be the key to success, challenging yourself to step beyond what you know, and rewards follow for those who take the greatest steps in their arts. With the acclaim of their competitors, the winner will be enriched by the hoard, and toasted by all as the Hordweard Cempa for the coming year. And their inspiration among their Hordweard friends will gain by the first pick among the hoarded treasures.

The current Hordweard Cempa is Leoba of Lecelad, who won the inaugural challenge “From the skin out” with her recreation of the clothing of an anglo-saxon woman, based on Grave 77 from the Butler’s Field, Lechlade cemetary.

The Hordweard Challenge has an open facebook group, that anyone can join in the spirit of learning about pre-1000 culture, and being part of the community supporting those who take up this challenge.

Hordweard is an anglo-saxon word meaning Treasure-Guardian. It is used in Beowulf to describe both the King as the Treasure-Guardian of Warriors, but also to describe the Dragon, a hoarder of gold.

How does it work?

The Hordweard Challenge

This is a challenge to learn and create something new from the era before 1000CE. It is designed to encourage new understanding of this time period in the SCA, and also to create networks where people can share and learn from each other. The Hordweard Challenge is run as follows:

  • This is an annual event. You can compete as many times as you like. as long as you fulfill the conditions for competing below. Each year a new champion (Cempa) is selected at the Thing, and they are responsible for running the challenge, though they can get as much help as they like.
  • The scope of the Hordweard competition each year will be a broad area of study relating to Early Period (Defined as before 1000 CE) lifestyles in order to encourage the study of these cultures, and the widest possible scope for entrants (for example, the first Hordweard competition was “From the skin out”).


Scholars of all levels are encouraged to participate as Challengers, as it is about improvement and new learning, not previous levels of knowledge brought to the competition. Areas that will require some original investigation as they are uncommon to the SCA are specifically encouraged. Challengers are encouraged to share their journey through photographs, blog entries, sharing information on the Hordweard site or Facebook group, or any other medium, in order to show and share their journey with other participants. Anyone may participate as a Challenger, provided they do the following:

  • Declare their specific goals for their journey as a Challenger within the boundaries set for the year. Interpretation of the challenge will be up to the Challenger, as long as there is an output at the end. Signing up to the competition must be done by the deadline set by the Hordweard for this year.
  • In order to participate a Challenger must put forward a pledge. This pledge must be of significant value to the participant, in time, trouble, sentimental or monetary value, to make the Hoard a true treasure worth striving for. Even if you drop out of the competition, this pledge is still due.
  • The Challenger then needs to make and research something that is new to them. And you need to show us your learning journey. Drawings, photographs, books, blogs or any other evidence of enquiry are all encouraged. And there is a facebook group to encourage you to talk through any problems or challenges, share resources and learn from along the way.

Hordweard Thing

Judgement of the Hordweard takes place at the annual Thing. Everyone’s journey will be different, but all will require a significant effort, and for that reason, only Challengers who have made an effort to fulfill their goal can participate in the judging, though anyone else may attend. Challengers will need to share in a short presentation what they have made, and what they have learned. They are not required to attend in person, and can still compete if they make their entry available online, via written documentation or via a proxy. Judging will be based on the following

  • The sole criteria for judging is the depth and breadth of new dark age skills learned by the Challenger in their journey, as evidenced in what they have made, and the journey they have chronicled. For this reason, only new items made by the Challengers during the challenge will be considered eligible for judgement, as it should not be possible to win this challenge through purchasing goods. Although items bought or traded will not be counted, research put into the items acquired can count.
  • It is expected that all entries will be accompanied by documentation. Partly this is to show what you have researched and learned, and give all other Challengers a chance to understand your project, but also it is to build up resources for all those interested in this era to use.
  • Each Challenger will present their nomination for the new Cempa (Champion) in writing or by token to the Hordweard. The Hordweard will tally the nominations for each scholar and will make a ruling. In the event of a tie, the Hordweard will decide who has won the challenge.

Hordweard Cempa

The Hordweard Cempa (Champion) will be the person in charge of the competition, usually the champion of the previous year’s competition, or their representative. Their role as Cempa includes the following:

  • Choosing the scope of the competition for that year, in line with the scope of the overall guidelines.
  • Declaring a date by which pledges are due, and
  • Organising the Thing at which the Hordweard is judged.
  • Notifying potential competitors of the dates involved
  • Keeping track of the hoard pledges for the year.

The pledge date and the Thing will be at least six months apart to ensure that all competitors have the time to create something they are really proud of. They can of course compete again in their own challenge if they would like.

A new Hordweard Cempa is appointed each year, based on the judgement at the Thing. The ceremony to pass the standard to the new Cempa involves the following:

  • The old Cempa will call the new Cempa into court (or before all, if there is no court at the event) to describe the challenge, describe their victory in the challenge, and to present them with the Hoard.
  • The new Cempa’s first action will be to acknowledge this is a group journey by calling up one or more scholars (or their representatives) who have inspired them most during the year, and give them first pick of the Hoard.The Hordweard may then keep or distribute the rest of the Hoard as they see fit.
  • They will then issue their challenge in court for the year, putting the first pledge to start the new hoard, and announce they are willing to to run the new Hordweard competition (though they may appoint a proxy if they need to).

The Pledges

Thomas Boardmakere

Home Group/BaronyMordenvale
Pledge ItemTurned carving mallet.
Time PeriodJorvik settlement, 9th Century.
Area of Research & ProductionReplicating the bowls found at Jorvik. This will involve building the lathe, forging the tools and harvesting the timber so that it can be worked wet on the lathe.

Bjorn Saemundarson

Home Group/BaronyMordenvale
Pledge ItemCoins reproduced from the Sutton Hoo hoard, commissioned from West Kingdom artisan Master Emmerich of Vakkerfjell (and the pouch I made for them). In addition to this, one complete place setting of the items I produce will be added to the hoard at completion.
Time PeriodViking Age
Area of Research & ProductionI plan to produce what would be considered the ‘fine China’ of a homestead in southern Norway during the late Viking Age. The items that would be kept away for special occasions. This will be accomplished through examination of physical and written evidence.

Dagný Sveinsdóttir

Home Group/BaronyMordenvale
Pledge ItemIn addition to a tablet woven band constructed with the hand spun yarn I aim to produce, I pledge this small pouch based on the Hedeby finds. This beautifully embroidered bag is one of a pair made by Bjorn Saemundarson and gifted to the Baron and Baroness of Mordenvale. I was honoured to receive it as a gift with my Jade Annulet and also charged with the task of finding it a new home – Amongst the horde, I do believe it will go to a worthy craftsperson!
Time PeriodMigration Period / Late Iron Age
Area of Research & ProductionI aim to research and practice the skill required to spin wool yarn appropriate for tablet weaving in this period.

Runa Hundardottir

Home Group/BaronyMordenvale
Pledge ItemOil tanned leather and 2 pieces of antler.
Time PeriodViking Age
Area of Research & Production to recreate the persona and several aspects of a viking age seidkonr (völva/ volur). The specific aspects will be: shoes, knife, stave, necklace, cloak and hood and a ‘cairn song’ which is a song that would have been sung to initiate one of her rituals

Kata of Mordenvale

Home Group/BaronyMordenvale
Pledge ItemCoppergate naalbinded socks
Time PeriodAnglo Saxon (6-7th C)
Area of Research & ProductionI am currently researching Anglo Saxon burials in the hope of finding a single burial with a number of ceramic vessels, which I plan to recreate from raw natural clay to finished vessels. The idea being that if they all came from a single burial that they would be representational of single persons belongings, as well as important items nessasary for the afterlife.
Home Group/BaronyMordenvale
Pledge Item 300cm x 145cm length of heavyweight Lithuanian undyed linen (290gsm)
Time PeriodViking Age
Area of Research & ProductionCreate the persona of a fictitious Viking age Völva; along with her tools, outfit and backstory.

My main focus will be on the creation of an authentic persona and her backstory


Thomas Boardmakere

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