Pippa's 30 years of Stargate

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A Brief History of the Stargate

The 1st 30 Years

by Baroness Philippa Rookhaven

(Edited and Expanded by Mistress Annes Clotilde von Bamburg)


SCA started in Berkeley California in 1965. Students there had taken a medieval history course and had a medieval tournament to celebrate its completion. They had so much fun they decided to do it again, and again. The birthday of the society is dated from that event. May 1 is celebrated as New Year’s Day in the Society.


The SCA soon spread to the east coast, and then grew from there. By the time that the Stargate came into being there were 4 kingdoms, West, East, Middle, and Atenveldt. Atenveldt was our kingdom. It extended from Arizona to the Atlantic Ocean. It included what are now the kingdoms of Atenveldt, Outlands, Ansteorra, Meridies, and Trimaris.


In AS VII (1972) a group of nine people gathered to create the first SCA branch in Texas. They had an All Hallow’s Eve  revel in the back yard and garage apartment of one of the participants. These people became the Starholders of Stargate. The Stargate Star has 9 points to honor these founding members. The only ones of these original nine who still plays today are Bran de Tintrac and Shanahan the Fey. Mryddin ap Rhys was also a Starholder. Dierdre du Clarik missed the meeting but joined the group immediately and so is also counted as a founding member.


At that time it was customary to create the first branch in new area as a barony. Therefore Stargate has always been a barony. For sometime, Stargate was known as “that Barony in Texas.”


Stargate’s first tourney was held in AS VIII (1973) in a cow pasture outside of Bryan. It was fought by torchlight. A duke was present, so a march of precedence was held. We often held these marches in the old days where everyone who had an award of arms was called before the thrones by name and presented to the court. This could usually be accomplished in about 30 minutes.


So seldom did anyone of rank visit our little group that the arrival of a dignitary from the far reaches of our kingdom was an important occasion. The king occasionally sent emissaries with awards to present or sometimes even the authority to create awards on the spot. The king himself never came.


One such occasion was a revel in AS VII (1974). Sir Michael of Moria, Baron Atenveldt, who was Seneschal of Atenveldt at the time, held Court. At this event Deidre du Clarik was made the first Laurel of Ansteorra.


Our first baron was Mryddin ap Rhys. He was invested in Meridies. He held his first court in Stargate in October AS VIII (1974).


Stargate’s first Yule revel was held that year as well.


Sir Tarl Mapt became our second Baron in AS XI (1977). His lady, Arlene the Soother, became Baroness at a later date. One month before this event was held the event steward (autocrat) still was not sure where the event would be held. The event was known as the Kolache Tournament.


Sir Tarl’s first baronial court was held 3 months later. At this event the first Pearl of Great Price was given to Lady Ivivis of Cornwall. It is recorded that Lady Tambryln Shauti provided “exotic entertainment” accompanied by recorder and harp. I’m sure this means that she bellydanced.


A low-key event that was a favorite for many years was first held in September AS XII (1977). Its official title was “The First Annual Greater Stargate Military Conflagration, Elf Stomp, Adult Titillation and Last Chance to Sweat Labor Day Tournament.” It was held at the Texas Renaissance Festival site and featured, a list, swimming, clinch-a-wench, a bardic circle, melees, a medieval bathing attire contest, a court of love, a comely limb contest, a kissing contest, a contest of insults, and other assorted frivolities. Master Lloyd von Eaker was declared Grand Poohbah and High Mucktymuck.


Around this time there was an announcement in the Two Towers that retracted the statement that shoes had to be worn in all tournaments. It seems that actually, they were only required in Crown Tourney and Kingdom Warlord Tourneys.


The Atenveldt Crown Tourney that was held in the fall of AS XII (1977) was the first to be held outside of Arizona. It was held in Anahuac. This was centrally located in the middle of Atenveldt and was well attended by people from all over the kingdom. The winner of the Crown List was Sir Koris Natterhelm from Ansteorra. He was the first Aten king who was not from Arizona. At this event it was announced that Meridies would become a Kingdom and Ansteorra a principality. This was my first event in the SCA.


Soon the first Ansteorran Coronet List was held to choose the first Prince of Ansteorra. The first Prince and Princess were Sir Sean McFlamm and Lady Katarina von Allyson. Having a prince added a new layer of bureaucracy to Ansteorra, because we now had principality awards and principality officers. It did make it easier to contribute to the SCA and did give more opportunities for recognition to our people.


The second Coronet Tourney was held in Stargate in March of AS XII (1978). The event was held in Lake Jackson. Sir Randall von Nordlichvald won the tournament and was presented with a rare and valuable Polish chicken (live). His Princess was Constance St. Dunstan.


The first baronial championship of the Stargate was held in AS XIII (1979). The event stewards were Sir William of Weir and Lady Philippa Rookhaven. It was held at Hermann Park on the Theatre Stage and the feast was held at Baker Commons at Rice University, which is a very nice hall, but too small for most of the events we hold today. The first Baronial Champion was Master Tivar Moondragon. For the first several years of the Baronial Championship it was a 3 part competition. Each contestant had to fight chivalric weapons, rapier, and break ties with a game of chess. The highest finishing non-Stargate fighter was named Starfriend. The winner of the list stewarded the event the next year.


A landmark event in the history of Ansteorra was the Tournament of Chivalry held at the Renfaire site in AS XIII (1979). All of the “Legends” of Atenveldt and Meridies were invited to attend. Ladies decided on the winners of the list based on Chivalric behavior. Our distinguished guests conducted seminars on Chivalry. Eight people were elevated to the Order of the Laurel and one Pelican was made. There were no special ceremonies. It was just “poof”! You’re a Laurel. Fourteen of us got our Awards of Arms, in two groups of seven in the pouring rain, huddled under an army tent with a couple of hundred of our closest friends. Lord Tivar Moondragon became the premier White Scarf of Ansteorra. It was announced at this event that Ansteorra would become a kingdom. (Editor’s note: Tivar Moondragon is the premier White Scarf of the Known World. When Simonn and Tessa, 3rd and last Prince and Princess of Ansteorra instituted the White Scarves of Ansteorra, technically, Ansteorra was not a kingdom yet. The first actual Don in Ansteorra was Luigi di Donate made by Lloyd and Jocelyn, 2nd King and Queen of Ansteorra.)


Sir Jonathan de Laufyson and Mistress Willow de Wisp became the first King and Queen of Ansteorra. They had earlier been King and Queen of Atenveldt. They were not crowned at the same event, because Willow was unable to attend the event where Jonathan was crowned. She had her own coronation event in Stargate. At Jonathan’s coronation John the Plain was knighted and became Premier Chevalier of Ansteorra. At Willow’s coronation, William of Weir was knighted and was named Queen’s Champion.



The next major event in the Kingdom was the Anvil War. This was an altercation between the Baronies of Stargate and Bordermarch over possession of a 500-pound anvil.  Many Meridians came to the event, as it was conveniently located to their western border. Duncan the Commodious received his award of arms on the toilet. Pieces of the anvil were given to Their Majesties Ansteorra, Their Majesties Meridies, and Their Excellencies of Stargate.


About this time Stargate acquired its first canton, Loch Soilleir. The Loch’s first event was a Cantonese Revel that was an oriental personal event. Everyone went around all evening adding -san to his or her names (as in Pippa-san.)


William of Wallingford and Gladwen of Ayelsford became Baron and Baroness of Stargate in July of AS XVII (1982). The event was a Middle Eastern revel. Everyone sat on pillows on the floor for court. William and Gladwen established a new baronial service award called the Astral Clarion. Unfortunately, Baron William was severely injured in an automobile accident several months later, and they had to end their time as Baron and Baroness prematurely. Baron William died soon after stepping down from the Baronial throne. He was a fine man and greatly missed.


Another momentous occasion in the history of Ansteorra was the Old Atenveldt Reunion. This was a get together by notables from all of the Kingdoms that were formerly part of Atenveldt (Atenveldt itself, Ansteorra, and Meridies). The event was marked by immense amounts of rain. Many people abandoned their tents and spent the night in the privies at Renfaire. Hey, they were roomy, dry and had flush toilets.


Sir William and I were invested as Baron and Baroness of the Stargate at Elfstomp in AS XVIII (1983). We had to promise not to detract from the silliness with serious court stuff any longer than necessary. The highlight of the event was a quest that I have always referred to as the “Polynesian Gothic” Quest. Sir John the Plain was Questmaster. He wore a grass skirt and had a tiger tattooed on his chest. Lady Elisena had a fish tattooed on hers. Rowan was a mermaid with blue skin (lots of it). Among the prizes were coconuts filled with amethysts. It was fun.


Sir William and I started the first children’s award in the kingdom. This is the Rook of the Stargate. The first recipients were Heidi of Thuringia and Crystal of House Weir, daughters of Lady Elisena de Bayonne.


I started the first titled artisan competition in the kingdom in August AS XIX (1984). The first competition was based on a complete body of work and was won by a newcomer to our barony, Rose Stewart Cathan. She came to us from An Tir and totally blew us away. She entered calligraphy, spinning, dying and weaving, embroidery, painting, and egg decorating. It was wonderful to have our first artisan to be a person of such high caliber both personally and artistically.


Squire’s invitational began in February AS XX (1986). A relatively new member of the SCA, named Rebecca, dreamed this event up in our car on the way back from an event. It turned out to be very popular and soon became a venue for cadets as well as squires.


Bran de Tintrac and Elisena de Bayonne became Baron and Baroness of the Stargate in May of AS XXII (1987) at a Baronial Championship Tourney.


About this time the College of Twr Cath came into being. (Actually, it went through a rapid series of name changes before settling on Twr Cath). This was the campus group from the University of Houston. The college was an active part of our Barony for several years before going dormant several years ago.



Two popular tourneys began in AS XXIII (1988-89). The first of these was Five Star, which is a melee tourney with five-member melee teams. The second was Black, White, and Gray. This was a light-hearted assassins tourney with a different theme every year (it’s not hard to find times of political upheaval to commemorate in the Middle Ages.)


The Tournament of the Nine Worthies began in AS XXIV (1990). This event was the brainchild of Duke Sigmund the Wingfooted. Nine winners were chosen by a panel of judges to represent the traditional Nine Worthies of Medieval Legend. Each Worthy named a lady as one of Nine Heroines. Medieval tradition did not supply us with names for these heroines, so we chose them ourselves. Beginning with the second tourney, the consorts had to answer questions on love as the fighters answered questions on chivalry.


In AS XXV (1991), Gate’s Edge became a Canton calling itself Fyramptewealde. I believe it means “fire ant mound.” (Aren’t you glad that one didn’t pass the Heralds!) Their first event was a picnic in Spring Creek Park. My records indicate that the fire ants won the tourney.


In the same year West Gate became a canton. They first called themselves Dun Broadair. This name also changed several times before meeting the approval of the heralds. The first event I have recorded for the group was in the home of Count William Miesko and Countess Catherine Blackrose. The group wavered for a while, but is now hale and healthy again.


The Coronation of the only Queen by Right of Arms in the history of the SCA took place in Stargate in AS XXV (1991). It was indeed a historic moment when Queen Rowan placed the Crown of Ansteorra on her own head.


Summerthing began in AS XXVI (1991) as a low-key, low-sweat summertime event. It is generally potluck and features an arts and sciences competition selected by popular vote, classes of various sorts, and bardic competition. Winterthing began the same year and is a similar event.


The first Stargate Archery Champion was chosen at the Baronial Championship in AS XXVI (1991). The first champion was James of Innes.


Sindra Gunhild Sigmundsdottir became Baroness of the Stargate at the Tournament of the Worthies in April AS XVI (1992). She replaced Baroness Elisena de Bayonne as Baron Bran’s consort. She was carried into court on a shield borne by men at arms.


Stargate celebrated her 20th anniversary as a barony in grand style at Woodsy Hollow Campground in September AS XXVII (1992). At this event Stargate was given a license to crenellate its fortifications. The Flying Fish Sailors were among the groups to perform at the event.  The one downside to the event was a plague of lovebugs that invaded the site. If you ran across the field with a smile, you would be picking them out of your teeth. They were in our food, our clothing, our armor, I even brought some home in the historian’s archives. Even this failed to dampen our enthusiasm.


Michael Silverhands and Neassa the Obstreperous were invested as Baron and Baroness of the Stargate at Baronial Championship in AS XXX (1995). This event was held at Double Eagle Ranch.


I believe the first Children’s champion at the Baronial Championship tourney was created in AS XXXI (1996).


The first Equestrian Champion was created in AS XXXIII. The first champion was Sir Alexis la Bouche.


Sir Godwin of Eddington and Mistress Elisena de Bayonne were invested as Baron and Baroness of the Stargate at the Baronial Championship in AS XXXV (2000).


And so we come to our 30th Anniversary as a Barony. Many have come and gone over the years, each contributing in some way to who we are. We have much to be thankful for and a wonderful base to continue to build on. Let us raise a glass to our first thirty years and look forward to beginning on the next thirty. I wonder what historians of the future will be saying about us?

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