[Ansteorra] Sable Thistle badge etc. (was: Question about motifs in artwork)

Diane Rudin serena1570 at yahoo.com
Thu Jun 15 18:02:17 PDT 2006

The use of the crowned Scottish thistle as depicted on a period
Scottish coin (the link to the image of which was sent in a separate,
later message) is an heraldic use, not merely an artistic one.

The crowned Scottish thistle is a royal badge of the crown of
Scotland, going back well into period (for which I can provide
examples from period sources, if necessary).  The uncrowned Scottish
thistle is the badge of the Order of the Thistle, an order of
knighthood of the kingdom of Scotland.  As such, it is inappropriate
to use either form of the Scottish thistle on its own in the SCA.

It is for this reason that the Sable Thistle of Ansteorra is NOT the
Scottish thistle, which we were expressly forbidden by the SCA's
Laurel King of Arms to use, but rather a Mexican thistle, a native
Texas plant, Eryngium leavenworthii:


Contrary to popular perception, this is not just an artistic
variant--representing the Sable Thistle of Ansteorra by using a
Scottish thistle has been forbidden since the Laurel King of Arms
ruling in 1981.  Using the Scottish thistle for insignia of the Sable
Thistle of Ansteorra is a violation of that ruling, and therefore
Society law.  Such versions cannot legally be used, although
enforcement in this area is woefully lax. 

On another note, the Iris referred to in the name of the Order of the
Iris of Ansteorra is NOT the flower, but the Classical goddess of the
rainbow.  Therefore, you can use all the iris flowers you want to in
any way that you want to, and not run afoul of any heraldic

Answers to Susan's other questions are interleaved as follows:

> What exactly is the rule on using things that were used in period,
> but are also used in regalia?  

That depends both on the manner in which they were used in period and
the manner in which they are used in SCA insignia and regalia.

> Is it ok to make them with appropriate 
> documentation, but they can only be used by someone who has the
> right to bear that thing?  

That is essentially correct.

> Can you only do it if the person who uses it has
> the rights to wear that piece of regalia?  

No one should ever use a symbol in a way that implies that he/she is
entitled to something to which he/she is not entitled.  I would be
livid if someone wore a Medal of Honor or an Eagle Scout pin who had
not earned the right to wear it.  I would, however, gently correct
the person on the first violation I noticed--it's never a good idea
to go raging at someone from out of the blue.  Repeat offenders are
fair game.

> If so, how about where cultures/kingdoms are next to each other?  

It is considered simple politeness to not use other kingdoms'
insignia and badges in a way that claims them, whether those be SCA
kingdoms or real-world kingdoms (or countries, or baronies, or
whatever).  Note that there have been a few claims of incidents in
Drachenwald of SCA people inadvertently violating local heraldic
regulations--which they still have, and enforce, in Europe.

> And people who move from one 
> kingdom to another, do they stop wearing pieces they had had in
> another kingdom that wern't attached to any regalia?

The only reason to do this would be if it IS attached to insignia or
regalia in the new kingdom of residence, in which case it wasn't a
very good idea to be wearing it in the first place.

> How about on people's arms?  

Exact armorial bearings that are registered with the Society College
of Arms are protected in their exact forms.  Unregistered armorial
bearings are not protected by Society law, but are sometimes
protected by unwritten local customs.

> I make it to things in about equal number in Ansteorra and 
> Calontir and this has been perplexing me.  I have always been
> interested 
> in this, expecially in cases such as the proper garb accutraments 
> weren't appropriate because of belt color and issues like that.

Belt colors are NOT regulated by Society law, except that white belts
& baldrics are restricted by law to the respective members of the
Orders of Chivalry of the Society.  Anything else is custom, which as
I noted earlier can have, through social pressure, the force of law.
Susan, in answer to what I think is your most urgent question, the
most appropriate thing to do to make coins for your new baron and
baroness in the same way that a period coin-maker would have made
them is to use the registered arms and/or badges of the barony they
rule (NOT their personal arms and/or badges), with their names on the
rim, one on front and one on back: Soandso Baron Suchaplace, Soandsoa
Baronessa Suchaplace.

That would use the same principles by which real-world coinmakers of
all eras have made coins.

If you have any more questions, feel free to ask.

--Serena Lascelles, Blanc Gryffon Herald

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