History of the Dreiburgen Armory
As best as I can recall
In the Beginning
The Dreiburgen Armory can trace its roots all the way back to its first baron, Waldt von Markheim (1974 – 1979). His household set out to produce mail with which to armor the fighters of Dreiburgen. This was accomplished with a device made out of three pieces of 2X4 and a 3/8” steel rod with a small hole drilled in it, attached to a power drill. This piece of equipment is still in my possession. Wire of at least several feet in length would be slipped into the hole and the rod rapidly spun around by the drill thus winding the wire. The coil produced from this device was then taken to the cutter, a wood framed device with a foot pedal attached to a pair of nippers. Here the coil would be cut into rings, thus creating the basic material for weaving mail. All that remains of this device is the nippers, rusty beyond use, with springs still attached, laying in a scrap pile here at the Armory.
Enter House Drachenstern
The Armory as it is today probably owes most of its evolution to Kevin of Aberwyvern who, somewhere around 1979-80, moved to Dreiburgen from back east with a beautiful set of plate armor. He claimed that he knew all about armor making and promoted the idea that Dreiburgen needed an effective armory. At the time baronies running their own armories was partially a necessity, since hardly anyone was selling armor. The leaders of House Drachenstern, Lord Eadwynne of Runedun and Lord Elgil Mardil of Dor-Mallos, decided to back this idea and thus the Dreiburgen Armourers Guild was born. Unfortunately for Kevin, he really did not know how to make armor and ended up slinking off into obscurity feeling ashamed of his deceit. Yet if it weren’t for him I probably would not be writing this article today.
Eadwynne of Runedun
Elgil Mardil of Dor-Mallos
It was during this push that finances were arranged and the barony bought an anvil and a B1 Beverley shear. An old army footlocker was stenciled with “Property of the Dreiburgen Armourers Guild” and used for small tools and other resources. These items were placed under the responsibility of the Baronial Science officer, which at the time was Lord Roger de Boeuf. Enlisted in the Air Force, he was stationed at March Air Force Base so the armory meetings were held at his parent’s house in Perris.
Lord Roger de Boeuf
AS XVI (1982)
This brings us up to somewhere in AS XVI (1982), when I attended my first armory meeting. I had already made my first pair of legs in high school metal shop (oh gosh, were they ugly!) and my first brigandine in my father’s workshop; what I lacked was a helmet. I had heard in Council that the first goal of the Armory was to get people out of freon can helms, and a barrel helm pattern was available that would cost about ten dollars to produce.
It was obvious that they were just starting out. The anvil looked new, the Beverley shear was still in its box. Elgil informed us that the very first meetings had been held at his house and they had just moved the operations out to Perris. The site was just an open dirt space to one side of Roger’s parent’s house with a steel cabinet to lock things up and four 4X4 posts set in the ground to eventually make an awning.
There was nothing to mount the Beverley shear to save a two foot square sheet of scrap plywood, thus requiring someone to hold it down during use. This was an especially difficult maneuver due to the fact that a model B1 is only rated up to 16Ga steel and for helms we were using 14Ga, thereby slightly overtaxing the shear. Cutting one gauge heavier metal than what it is rated for can’t be all that bad for the Beverley shear however, because 23 years later we are still doing it! The meetings continued with mostly just the four of us working at the Armory myself, my brother Aladric of Litchfield, Elgil and Roger. Eadwynne was starting classes in Long Beach and was unavailable much of the time.
It was in October of ‘82 when the Armory entered a new phase. We started working on the “Great Desert War” site, which involved digging moats, building keeps, grating roads, drilling wells and laying pipe. But most of that is best left to my next article Two Years Before Estrella. At this time some folks started referring to us as the Dreiburgen Corps of Engineers. The most important thing I got out of the GD War was my friendship with Master Zoltan Kovacs, a.k.a. Kirby Wise, the legendary armorer of the SCA and from whom I picked up most of my skills.
Moved to House Montrose
It was around March of ‘83 that the Armory needed to be moved. Roger’s mother (a dear sweet woman who used to bring us hot chocolate) was in the throes of a terminal disease. She is sorely missed. My parents agreed to let me volunteer their house El Rancho del Shurabet Arrih (later to be known as House Montrose based on the history of Montrose taking over the lands of Buchanan in Scotland).
I had already purchased an old Buffalo forge that I had noticed in someone’s backyard while horseback riding, and Santa had given Aladric and me a 50 lb. bag of coal the Christmas before. So Aladric and I took over the Dreiburgen Armourers Guild. We set up under a porch on the side of the house. I acquired an old workbench during a clean up of the machine shop at Riverside Community College, and I set up some shelves that my father had made out of some old WWII packing crates. Roger and Elgil would come out to run the meetings and Aladric and I would host and help out. I believe it was during 1983 that Roger stepped down as Baronial Science officer due to his duties in the Air Force and his family obligations; Aladric volunteered to take the office.
Aladric of Litchfield
Meetings were on the first Friday of each month at 6:30pm outside in the weather. I do remember a couple of wet meetings where the attitude was “I don’t care if it is raining, my armor has got to be done by X.” Here is a recent picture of this location.
You can see the old workbench and shelves, which are still there, an oil stain on the wall where the quenching tank was installed, and in the foreground the stump to which we mounted the Beverley shear.
One Friday evening a month does not give a lot of time for armor production, so our main goal was to enable people to work in their own backyard. Most people would come to Armory and do the heavy work of cutting, shaping, and welding. They would then take their project home for assembly. We even had some pieces of track rail that we would loan to help with “home work”. These pieces of track were recently unearthed at House Montrose and are back in my possession.
Then Came Music
Over the next few years The Dreiburgen Armourers Guild’s activity level continued to increase as the barony grew; we even got people from that new group out in Hemet attending. As the Armory continued to grow so did my workload. It was somewhere in 1985 that Aladric’s interest in dance and playing the fiddle started to increase, thus leaving more of the hosting duties to me. In October 1985 with interest in the sciences increasing, my father, Mornay of Anglesey, started a Luthiers/general sciences meeting on 2nd Sundays at noon and joined the Guild of American Luthiers as a resource.
Pronunciation: ‘ lu-tE-&r, -thE-&r
Function : noun
Etymology: French, from luth lute (from Middle French lut)
- one who makes musical instruments
It was also in October that Duncan Brock of Greyfeather and I set up Dreiburgen Bards to follow Luthiers at 6pm on 2nd Sundays. Needless to say I was very busy. Over time both the attendance at Armory on 1st Fridays and Elgil’s availability to bring his welding torch and help started to decline. By February 1986 I had purchased my own Oxy-Acetylene welding set, discontinued 1st Friday Armory and combined the Armorers Guild with Luthiers Guild on 2nd Sundays.
Come March of that year I was forced to drop Bardic arts from Baronial Armory/Luthiers/Sciences. This was due to the fact that Duncan rarely showed up leaving me to run them, and when he did show up his behavior was so unchivalrous that there were practically no bards left in Dreiburgen. But most of that is best left to another article, if I write it. Let’s just say bardic activity in the barony went to zero.
Time moved on and I believe it was in the spring of ‘87 that the Barbarian Freehold via Edweird decided to combine its armory with Dreiburgen’s. Now I had both Freeholders and Dreiburgundians attending meetings. Sounds like a lot doesn’t it? It wasn’t really; several people were members of both groups, and fewer Dreiburgundians were coming to meetings. So the number of attendees maintained.
Moves to Gallavally
However, over the next two years the numbers started to decline until by November 1989 no one was left. It seemed that everyone in downtown Dreiburgen had their armor. But there was still a need out in Gallavally. Lord Eadwynne took over the Sciences office and the Dreiburgen Armourers Guild was moved from my house to the workshops Lord Eadwynne was already conducting in Gallavally. Freeholders had also quit attending and I placed their forge (a homemade one from a break drum, pipe and electric blower) in storage.
In 1990 Baron Leo had contracted House Montrose to make a new baronial pavilion. You know it as Big Blue. I was assigned to produce the top rings, the center poll sockets and pulley assembles. Lord Eadwynne arranged for volunteers attending Armory meetings to make the 40+ tent stakes that were required.
Fades into Obscurity
From 1991 to 1997 my connection to the Armory was non-existent; my interest had turned to dance both in and outside the SCA, and I went to sea and was forced (under duress mind you) to sign on with the Brethren of the Coast under Captain Jamie Bellows. So I lost touch with what was happening within the guild.
Somewhere in that period as Mons Draconis was forming I attended a meeting at the Dragon’s Tail, a.k.a. Finn’s house; here I ran into Edweird. I asked him what I should do with the Freehold’s forge and he told me that I should bring it there as they were planning to start their own workshops. So I dug it out of the barn where I had stored it, cleaned off the chicken dirt and delivered it to the Dragon’s Tail.
I didn’t do much metal work again until June 22, 1997 when Collegium Sancti Geronimi hosted a small Hammer-In at House Aquilian. I brought my small Buffalo forge, set it up to demonstrate basic forming skills and give people a chance to try it themselves, and was startled by the amount of interest Dreiburgen showed in metal working. Eadwynne was there and I asked him what was up with the Armory; he informed me that he did not know. He had passed it on and mentioned a few names, but was not sure of its current status. As far as I was able to determine, after Eadwynne passed the Armory on it became very political as to who had it and that usually means one thing, DEATH!
Now that I was living in a house where I could attempt meetings again, I set up my forge and anvil, dusted off the Armory’s resource box which was still in my position, and went to Council to ask where is the Armory? Where the tools? The anvil and the Beverley shear? Are they being used at a location where the populace has access to them? If not may I take possession of them so that I might do so? There was a moment of stunned silence broken by a small voice at one of the tables that said “We own an anvil?” My heart sank. The Dreiburgen Armourers Guild had been dormant for so long almost no one in Council even knew that the barony owned tools. Baron Thurston seemed to be the only one that remembered and told me after Council that he had an idea and would get back to me.
A New Beginning
It was fall of ‘97 when I started up Open Forge. I did not refer to it as The Dreiburgen Armory, nor did I refer to the Dreiburgen Armourers Guild as I was still uncertain as to just what had happened to the guild and whether I was stepping on anyone’s toes. So I just posted that I was opening my shop to anyone in the barony to work on their own projects and make use of my tools and my advice. Hence the name Open Forge. It wasn’t a Hammer-In because an “IN” means that many people are bringing IN their own equipment to show it off or to teach with it. Master Oso’s Hammer-In’s brought in lots of metal workers to show their equipment and techniques.
The response of the populace was overwhelming. People wanted to do metal work so badly that even though it was raining during that first Open Forge people still went out into my back yard and started their first projects. I was quite pleased, considering that when I had handed it off to Eadwynne back in ‘89 attendance was at zero. Open Forge was a success! I continued to schedule meetings for 3rd Sundays at noon. Sancti Geronimi hosted lunch served around 3pm because as Baroness Rowena once said, “Things go better with snackies.”
On October 18,1997 at Dreiburgen Anniversary Baron Thurston gave me the baronial anvil. It was apparently buried in his garage; he wasn’t sure if he had it and it took him a while to find it. Now that I am baron I completely understand how that could happen. A short time later Conan brought over the baronial Beverly shear. He said it had been stored at the Dragon’s Tail and had been used by Mons Draconis in the past. I asked him if he was sure that they were done with it, still not wanting to step on anyone’s toes. He assured me that they were not currently using it and that I was providing better access for the Dreiburgen populace.
Open Forge continued to be a success and on September 20, 1998 at the request of Baron Uillam, Open Forge manned by members of Collegium Sancti Geronimi produced tent stakes for the smaller white baronial Tentmaster. August 1, 1999 Sancti Geronimi used the shop again to refurbish the baronial Marshal’s eric polls.
Back in Business
With the mounting success of Open Forge it became very apparent that my back yard with its car-port tarp was insufficient for the barony’s needs. So after the July meeting I asked everyone in attendance to help me move all the equipment to the other side of the yard to make room for a new 24’X 24’ building. Construction started in August, a time when attendance is traditionally low due to hot weather. Once the building was up we held a small ceremony in which Uilliam and Luighseach cut the ribbon opening the new shop. It was after that event that I asked Their Excellencies if I might change Open Forge back to its original status as The Dreiburgen Baronial Armory. My request was granted and the Armory was back to its old self again.
Since I restarted things back in ‘97 I have noticed a major shift in people’s interests. We rarely produce armor any more the projects these days seem to be more equipment oriented. For example in the past few years we have made lanterns, lantern hangers, fire pits, eric polls (including the Kingdom boffer eric), a cannon and tools for the La Villa A Broka, and a mast for the Skull and Compass.
We have made pewter site tokens for local events, coronations and Pentathlons, and we have expanded into jewelry. The Armory has been twice contracted to provide Signum Reginae. In AS XXXV Uillam contracted the Armory to make the kingdom officers’ chains of state. Prior to my stepping up as baron we made the baronial officers’ chains of state. We make the Order of the Athena for Angels, the Order of the Flame for Starkhafn, and the Order of the Chiron for kingdom. I used the Armory to make my first sterling silver cornet set with star sapphires for Baroness Rebecca Mary Robynson, and use it to make the Order of the Tower and the Order of the Illuminated Tower. The list goes on.
The Armory continues
The Armory continues to meet on 3rd Sundays at noon and is open to all members of the populace. All I ask is that all participants watch a safety video and bear in mind that any one who conducts themselves in an unsafe or unchivalrous manner will be asked to leave. I also ask that participants in the shop please donate a couple of dollars to the coal fund to help me offset the cost of running the shop. The Amory generally does not run “classes” on metalworking. It’s actually shop time for you to make the things you need for yourself. What most people do is come with a project in mind and learn by doing. If you show up and say make me some armor I’ll say hold this and pass you a hammer. Now while your holding it…
Try to B.Y.O.M. (bring your own metal). The most convenient source here in Riverside is K&H Metal and Supply on Main Street. Sometimes I have some metal I can sell, but there is no guaranty as to what type and how much I will have on any given weekend. If you want to undertake a specific project ask about the materials needed and the skills required. We’re here to help you, whether you are a novice or seasoned metalworker.
I recommend caution in selecting a first-time project. I very often encounter someone who says “I want to make a sword”, and I have to explain to them that making a sword is an advanced project and perhaps they might want to start with something smaller. When confronted with someone who wants to try blacksmithing but has no idea of what to do first, I usually suggest a set of dining ware, fork, spoon and knife. A simple project like that can give you the basics of how metal behaves, and it is not a major tragedy if the piece gets ruined. We have a number of experienced metal workers who are willing to teach what they know that drop in from time to time such as Miguel de Zaragossa, Roger Wells, Damales Redbeard and Darius von Tannenberg.
We still serve lunch by volunteer rotation and have workshops in the house (usually sewing) for nonmetal workers, which Robynne likes to refer to as “Friends of the Forge”. Some folks just visit for the social atmosphere. Whatever your reason, come on down. We are open every 3rd Sunday from noon till six, accept when there is a calendar conflict (if you are traveling from a distance we recommend you call first). It’s your Armory.
Dreiburgen Armourers Guild
Armor, Jewelry, Artillery and Shipwrights