Happenings in Our Hamlet, Nov, Dec 2019, Jan 2020

Some great activities are coming up in Caer Gwyn and around the region. Be sure not to miss a thing!

Yule Moot: Sunday December 8, 1:30 – 7:00 at Maeve’s (2715 Western Ave, Mattoon, IL). Business meeting at 1:30, Activities from 3-5pm; pot luck feast 5:30pm. White elephant gift exchange. Rides from C-U available.

Monthly Business meeting: Sunday February 2; 5-6pm, Stock Pavilion

Sewing Nights. Tuesdays, Jan 30; Feb 13. 7-9pm, Illini Union Rm 403.

Sewing nights. March 12, 26. llini Union Rm 403. Bring whatever garb you are currently working on!

Archery Practices. Sundays; March 1 – Caer Gwyn’s annual Novice Tourney and Shire championship!! 3-5pm, U of I Stock Pavilion. (For additional dates, see our Facebook page. )

Rapier Practices. Weekly on Sundays, 3-5 pm, U of I Stock Pavilion (no practices during UofI holiday breaks)

Festival of Maidens. Saturday, January 25 8am-11pm. Orr Building, Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield. Click on links & dropdown menu above for more details.

Middle Kingdom 12th Night and Tournament of Arts. Saturday, January 11, 9am-10pm, Fairfield Inn and Suites, Schaumberg IL. Sponsored by the Barony of Ayerton. Click here for more details.

This is just a small sample of the great things coming up in the near future. For more dates, be sure to see the Caer Gwyn Google calendar (tab above), check out our local event pages (tabs above) or visit the Midrealm calendar for events around the kingdom: www.midrealm.org/calendar.

Happenings in Our Hamlet, October – November 2019

Some great activities are coming up in Caer Gwyn and around the region. Be sure not to miss a thing!

Royal University of the Midrealm. Classes on a wide assortment of subjects of interest to Middle Ages and Renaissance reenactors and enthusiasts. Saturday, October 26. For more info, click the “RUM 2019” tab above. Or see: https://www.facebook.com/events/1106332796233095/

Crystal Ball. Saturday, November 9. All day event revolving about the subject of courtly dance. Classes during the morning and afternoon, and elegant Ball that lasts into the wee hours after a sumptuous feast. Sponsored by the Barony of Shattered Crystal. See: http://www.shatteredcrystal.org/cb2019

Sewing Nights. Tuesdays, October 29, Nov 12, 26, Dec 10; 7-9pm, Illini Union Rm 405.

Arts and Sciences nights. Fridays, Oct 25, Nov 1, 8, 15, 22, Dec 6; 7-9 pm, Illini Union Rm 210.

Monthly Business meeting: Sunday, November 3; 5-6pm, U of I Stock Pavilion. (frequently followed by dinner at a local restaurant afterwards)

Archery Practices. Sundays, Oct 20, Nov 3, 17, Dec 1; 3-5pm, U of I Stock Pavilion. (For additional dates, see our Facebook group. )

Rapier Practices. Weekly on Sundays, 3-5 pm, U of I Stock Pavilion (no practices during UofI holiday breaks)

This is just a small sample of the great things coming up in the near future. For more dates, be sure to see the Caer Gwyn Google calendar (tab above), check out our local event pages (tabs above) or visit the Midrealm calendar for events around the kingdom: www.midrealm.org/calendar.

Happenings in our Hamlet, August- September

Some great activities are coming up in Caer Gwyn and around the region. Be sure not to miss a thing!

Tuesday, August 19: Sewing night at the Makerspace, 6pm, Independent Media Center, Urbana, Illinois.

Saturday, August 24: Baroness Duchess Wars, Annual camping event with all the trimmings – combat, rapier, archery, merchants, royal court, classes, arts competitions. Christian County Fairgrounds, Taylorville, Illinois. Sponsored by the Shire of Swordcliff.

Sunday, August 25: Caer Gwyn demo and info table at University of Illinois “Quad Day”. Noon-4pm, U of I Main Quad.

Wednesday, August 28: Newcomer’s Information Night. A chance to come and find out what the SCA is all about. Meet with members, see more samples of the things we do, ask all the questions you want, or just “geek out” with like-minded folk. Our historical re-enactment has many facets, so if you have an interest in the culture of the middle-ages and renaissance, we probably have something you’ll enjoy! Illini Union, Rm 406, 7-9:00 pm.

Sunday, September 8: Michaelmas Moot. Quarterly gathering of the shire to enjoy a variety of shared activities. Bring a project you are working on, come to practice pursuits martial, or just chat and pass the time. There will be an official rapier practice, plus our annual Shire Archery Championship. Additional planned activities will be discussed on our group Facebook page, (facebook.com/groups/235847550436432) including the pot-luck supper and monthly meeting. Garb suggested. Starts at Noon! University of Illinois Stock Pavilion.

Sunday, September 8: Monthly Business Meeting, 5pm, University of Illinois Stock Pavillion, Urbana, Illinois

Tuesday, September 16: Sewing night at the Makerspace, 6pm, Independent Media Center, Urbana, Illinois.

Saturday, September 28: Coronation of Seto and Ynes. Every 6 months a new King and Queen step up to the thrones of the SCA’s Middle Kingdom, with much pagentry, panoply, and pompousness. Let us welcome our new monarchs! Sponsored by the Barony of Illiton. Pekin, Illinois. More info.

This is just a small sample of the great things coming up in the near future. For more dates, be sure to see the Caer Gwyn Google calendar (tab above), check out our local event pages (tabs above) or visit the Midrealm calendar for events around the kingdom: www.midrealm.org/calendar.

Margery’s Turret Talk

My apologies in advance for beginning this weeks blog with a grisly family story.

I was watching Call The Midwife recently. The episode was about an illegal abortion that went very wrong. I was reminded of a similar tale from my own family.

Way back in the 20s I had a Great Auntie Lizzie. She passed away from a knitting needle abortion. Over the years her story was masked by a more gentle one of how she passed. A gentle story of a young girl of 17 who washed her hair during many days of rain. She didn’t properly dry her hair, went out into the rain, caught pneumonia, and died days later. It was only as a teenager some 50 years later that I overheard a conversation between two of my other great aunties, her sisters of what really transpired.

This is the basis for this weeks’ blog.


Mentha pulegium, commonly (European) pennyroyal, is a species of flowering plant, or mint family, native to Europe, North Africa and the Middle East. Crushed pennyroyal leaves emit a very strong fragrance similar to spearmint. Pennyroyal is a traditional folk remedy and culinary herb. But is toxic to the liver and has caused some deaths.

Documented use of pennyroyal dates back to the Medieval period. Its name – although of uncertain etymology – is associated with Latin pulex (flea), alluding to the manner it was used to drive away fleas when smeared on the body. Pennyroyal was commonly incorporated as a cooking herb by the Greeks & Romans. Although it was commonly used for cooking also in the Middle Ages, it gradually fell out of use as a culinary herb and is seldom used as such today.

Pennyroyal has historically also been used as a mint flavoring in herbal teas and foods. Pennyroyal tea has been used for cold relief, fevers, coughs, indigestion, liver and kidney problems and headaches. The fresh or dried leaves of pennyroyal have also been used when treating influenza, abdominal cramps, to induce sweating, as well as in the treatment of diseases such as smallpox and tuberculosis. To make the tea, the leaves of the plant are boiled in hot water. The lower concentration of toxic chemicals in these teas are less harmful than pennyroyal oil. It is recommended that people only drink pennyroyal tea periodically, as it is taxing on the body and should not be drunk on a regular basis. Consumption of pennyroyal tea can be fatal to infants and children.

The pennyroyal plant has also been used as an emmenagogue or perhaps most famously as an abortifacient. Chemicals in the pennyroyal plant cause the uterine lining to contract, causing a woman’s uterine lining to shed. Women who struggle with regulating their menstrual cycle or suffer from a cystic ovary syndrome may choose to drink pennyroyal tea. Pennyroyal tea is subtle enough to induce menstrual flow with minimal risk of negative health effects. More concentrated versions of the plant, such as the oil, are much more toxic and will likely force a miscarriage if ingested by a pregnant woman.

Respectfully submitted with continued service to the crown,

Margery Draper

Margery’s Turret Talk

Sometimes I love weeds. Well, at least a plant others consider being a weed. I mean they have an insatiable desire to thrive no matter where they are. Unlike some more “well-liked” puny garden annuals, that have to be constantly babied. So what is better than a weed that not only thrives without help but also is so useful? Take for example yarrow. Known as a weed by most, yarrow uses and benefits are endless, well nearly. Whatever you want to call it, yarrow herb, plant or weed is one you want around.

The yarrow plant is impressive for many reasons. Be it in the garden for pest control, or to enhance the aromas and flavors or other plants or in the home-grown apothecary (or medicine cabinet for those who don’t dream of being an herbalist). Once you realize what yarrow can do this will be one weed you will encourage!

Yarrow is a champion in the garden. It is so helpful in repelling many pests. Aphids, nematodes bean beetles, cabbage worms and more all hate this plant and the strong smell it produces. So that makes it a win for you and maintaining organic control over your garden.

Yarrow also is known for enhancing aromas in other plants. Lavender, rosemary and other culinary herbs benefit from sharing garden space with this strong-willed plant.

Yarrow can be used both internally as well as externally and has a history of medicinal uses that vary from relaxing uterine contractions to stopping the bleeding.

Yarrow is wonderful for healing wounds with its many anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. yarrow is often used by midwives to both stop bleeding after birth and heal the new mother’s body with an herbal sitz bath. Yarrow can easily be used in tinctures, teas, powders, salves, and creams.

Easily dried for use in a tea for cold and flu season, or made into a tincture to reduce a fever or stop a nosebleed. Yarrow uses are nearly limitless and many that take almost no effort. With yarrows happy-to-thrive-anywhere attitude and the fact it will readily self-sow all over the place, you are guaranteed to have all you could ever need. Even if you may not have it in your garden yarrow is very easy to find growing wild all over the place.

In the herbal medical world, the yarrow herb has the nickname of “cure-all” and rightly so. It has been successfully used for thousands of years. For a very wide range of issues. What “weed” has that claim to fame? Yarrow is not picky and will happily grow in your garden or wild in a field. Whether to stop a nosebleed or to heal hemorrhoids, to companion plant or keep pests from the garden the many benefits of the yarrow herb are endless.

Yours in continued service to the crown & shire,

Margery Draper

Margery’s Turret Talk

Good Morrow,

When I have the chance to meander down a country road I do. As I trek the byways of rural Logan County I gaze upon the wild flowers growing abundantly wherever Mother Nature has chosen for them to sprout.

It is in Four of these plants, and their medicinal uses that I base my third blog upon. Now you might wonder why talk about plants growing in Illinois…what does that have to do with Medieval Europe. Well I can assure you that the plants I write about this day, are the same plants I see when I have trod upon fields in rural England. I would venture to think, that if they are growing wild along side rural English roads in 2019, they were growing in rural Medieval England too.

My disclaimer, while all of the information contained in this blog is factual, it is written purely for intrinsic value. No information should be used to cure any  medical problem or condition. Should you have any medical problem or condition, please consult your own physician.

White Clover/Trifolium repens:

It is a good alternative medicine for fevers, Bright’s disease, colds, flu, eye ailments and for consistent coughing.  They are used traditionally to cleanse the whole system. It is a good remedy to purify the blood and to treat boils, ulcers, gout, abscess, menstrual conditions, leucorrhoea (whitish discharge from the genitals of females), rheumatoid arthritis, arthritis, scrofula and other skin diseases.

On the culinary side, the leaves may be used as salad and white clover seeds may be parched and grounded to be used as desired.  It is safer however to boil the leaves instead of consuming it raw because the leaves are more digestible if they are boiled for about ten minutes.

If you are thinking of adding the leaves to your soup, then it is advisable to reap the leaves before it blossoms.  Also, the seed pods as well as the flower heads that are dried can be beaten into flour which is highly nutritious.  The flour can also be used in other ways such as sprinkling it on cooked rice as well as steeping it in herbal tea.

Use the blossoms or leaves to make the tea.  Place half cup of dried blossom or leaves in boiling water and allowed to stay for up to fifteen minutes.

Pink Clover/Trifolium pretense:

Pink clove oil is an essential oil derived from various parts of the pink clove plant through steam distillation. It’s used as a natural remedy for many ailments because of its anti-inflammatory and antifungal properties. The distinctive smell and much of its power are due to its main ingredient, a powerful chemical called eugenol. In addition to its many abilities, this chemical also acts as an anesthetic and antibacterial agent. Pink cloves are also very nutritious and contain vitamins and minerals that can improve health in numerous ways. The oil can be used internally or externally but should be diluted with a carrier oil like coconut oil or olive oil in some cases, such as for topical use.

Red clover has been used traditionally in the form of an ointment to treat skin problems like rashes, acne, psoriasis and eczema.

Red clover has a reputation as a medicinal herb in relieving many menopausal symptoms.

It has especially been used to reduce hot flashes and night sweats during menopause, an effect that is most likely due to certain flavonoids found in the herb.

These flavonoids are estrogen-mimicking substances known as phytoestrogens that may contribute to maintaining normal estrogen levels during menopause.

Even though red clover can maintain estrogen levels at their optimal it can also be used to reduce high estrogens levels.

Wild Strawberry/Fragaria Vesca:

Wild strawberries, on the other hand, are delicious. They taste more like the strawberries you might pick in your garden or buy at the grocery store, though arguably better. Though they’re small in size, true wild strawberries are bursting with flavor. Plus, they’re extremely good for you. These low-calorie treats (only 45 calories per cup!) contain more Vitamin C than an orange, and are naturally cholesterol- , fat-, and sodium-free. They contain tons of folic acid and polyphenols and can even inhibit the growth of cancer cells.

Wild Strawberries are smaller than their commercial look-alike, but they are actually sweeter as they ripen more quickly. They usually ripen in late spring or early summer and can be found in both undisturbed rural areas as well as more urban ones.

Ever since ancient times, all parts of wild straw berry have been used as herbal medicine. The leaves and roots have been used in herbal teas to improve bile and liver function, to treat inflammation of the bowel, and the berries have been used as a diuretic and an herbal remedy for gout by dissolving kidney gravel and stones. It is also recommended wild strawberry tea as a remedy for summer colds. As well as for ailments related to the liver.

Wild strawberry infused water is used for soar throats and bumps/sores in the mouth.

Goldenrod/Solidago virga Aurea:

Goldenrod is native to Europe. It can be found along roadsides and in open fields.
Goldenrod has been an abundant, well-known medicinal herb for centuries, both in the Americas and in Europe. Goldenrod mainly acts as a diuretic and anti-inflammatory agent. It has been used internally to treat a variety of ailments, including kidney stones, urinary tract infections, bladder inflammation, digestive problems, colds and flu, sore throat, laryngitis, fatigue, and surprisingly, hay fever and allergies. By method of steeping the leaves into teas, and steaming the leaves to extract essential oils.  Externally, the leaves were boiled and used them topically as an antiseptic and astringent for wound healing and relief from eczema, arthritis, and rheumatism.

Those who are pregnant or have serious heart problems should steer clear of this plant.


I hope you have enjoyed reading the Third blog in the Caer Gwyn series. Please feel free to share the provided link to whomever you might think would enjoy reading it as well.

Yours in continued service to the crown,

Margery Draper









Margery’s Turret Talk

La maith duit, Good day to you in Irish Gaelic.

In my last blog, I spoke of the many topics I would cover over the next year or so. Then I thought, in what order shall they go ? Should I start with gardening since I love digging in the soil, historic sites, since I am a flight attendant and have been to many medieval sites,  or the decorative arts. So many roads to travel, but where to begin ? Then it hit me. I was working a flight last Wednesday from Chicago/O’Hare to New York/LaGuardia. As we were on our final approach we flew over a site in upper Manhattan which I had flown over many times, as well as visited numerous times in my life. While enjoying the place, I never really gave it a second thought.  I knew it like the back of my hand. That’s when it hit me. I was gazing down as we passed over The Cloisters Museum. That’s what my first official blog would be about.

The Cloisters museum in Fort Tryon Park in Washington Heights, Manhattan, New York City, specializes in European medieval architecture, sculpture and decorative arts, with a focus on the Romanesque and Gothic periods. Governed by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, it contains a large collection of medieval artworks shown in the architectural settings of French monasteries and abbeys. Its buildings are centered around four cloisters—the Cuxa, Saint-Guilhem, Bonnefont and Trie—which were purchased by American sculptor and art dealer George Grey Barnard, dismantled in Europe between 1934 and 1939, and moved to New York. They were acquired for the museum by financier and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Other major sources of objects were the collections of J. P. Morgan and Joseph Brummer.

The museum’s collection of artworks consists of approximately five thousand individual pieces. They are displayed across a series of rooms and spaces, mostly separate from those dedicated to the installed architectural artifacts. The Cloisters has never focused on building a collection of masterpieces, rather the objects are chosen thematically yet arranged simply to enhance the atmosphere created by the architectural elements in the particular setting or room in which they are placed.

The building is set into a steep hill, and thus the rooms and halls are divided between an upper entrance and a ground-floor level. The enclosing exterior building is mostly modern, and is influenced by and contains elements from the 13th-century church at Saint-Geraud at Monsempron, France, from which the northeast end of the building borrows especially. It was mostly designed by the architect Charles Collens, who took influence from works in Barnard’s collection.

The Gothic chapel is set on the museum’s ground level, and was built to display its stained glass and large sculpture collections. The entrance from the upper level Early Gothic Hall is lit by stained glass double-lancet windows, carved on both sides.

The Fuentidueña chapel is the museum’s largest room, and is entered through a broad oak door flanked by sculptures which include leaping animals. Its centerpiece is the Fuentidueña Apse, a semicircular Romanesque recess built between about 1175 to 1200.

The Langon chapel is on the museum’s ground level. Its right wall was built around 1126 for the Romanesque Cathédrale Notre-Dame-du-Bourg de Digne. The chapter house consists of a single aisle nave and transepts taken from a small Benedictine parish church built around 1115.

Wonder to your hearts content, and be transported back in time to Medieval Europe (all in air conditioned or heated comfort, depending upon the season). Gaze upon Illuminated manuscripts, tomb effigies, room sized tapestries, carved furniture, stained glass windows, carved stonework, religious artwork & jewelry, paintings and so much more. When you have fully enjoyed the interiors, stroll through the many courtyards and loggias brimming with period plantings of trees, flowers and herbs. All set against a backdrop of the serene Hudson River of upper Manhattan Island to one side, and Fort Tryon Park to other side.

If you visit New York, I sincerely urge you to visit this absolute treasure.

I hope you have enjoyed reading about this most extraordinary site. Please do include it in your travel plans. The next time you decide to visit NYC.

Yours in continued service to the shire and larger SCA community,

Margery Draper






Margery’s Turret Talk

Taobh amuigh, gaelic for outsider. One of the first words I learned from my maternal grandfather, Robert Allan. He was descended from the MacDonald clan of Glencoe. He arrived in America, or the colonies as he always called it, as a Scottish immigrant in 1919.  I must admit I felt like taobh amuigh many times in my life. I grew up in a military family. My father was an officer in the US Air Force. We moved many times during my childhood.

From K-12, I attended 3 elementary schools, 2 middle schools and 2 high schools, all in 6 US states, and 4 countries. In my formative years we were living at Mildenhall Air Base in Suffolk (meaning southern folk), East Anglia England. Admittedly, I loved this experience the best.

I have known of the SCA for years, but didn’t know anyone involved. A lover of the Dark & Middle Ages and the Renaissance (mainly womens fashions and historic sites) I took the plunge.  I looked on facebook, found Caer Gwyn and thought they look like an interesting bunch. I’ll give them a chance.  Unlike many other times in my life, I immediately did not feel like a taobh amuigh, but a cara (gaelic for friend). I was welcomed with the gift of friendship, knowledge, and a sense of belonging. The point I’m trying to make is that I found a group of people that accepted me as I was…a big boy in a dress. No-one batted an eyelash. No-one questioned it.  You are treated not like taobh amuigh, but a cara.

I attended the last moot, and jumped at the opportunity to take over the roll of the Caer Gwyn Blogger. Never having written a blog before, there will be a learning curve. But I am up for the challenge. Each week I hope to provide my readers interesting short articles and pictures about such topics as herbalism, floriography, healers and witches, dance, middle ages travel, and a host of other topics that I hope you will enjoy reading.

Let us all strive in our daily lives to make those that feel like a taobh amuigh a cara

Thank you very much for taking the time to read the first blog.

Yours in continued service,

Margery Draper



Caer Gwyn receives Purple Fretty

Caer Gwyn's Purple Fretty scrollCaer Gwyn received the Award of the Purple Fretty from TRM A’Kos and Bella for their part in the Dragonshire event 12th Night/Festival of Maidens, 2019. Scroll by THL Cydeaux of Brittany. The award was granted at Better War Through Archery in Sternfeld, March 30, 2019.

Thanks to everyone who volunteered at the event and helped contribute to this honor!