Friday, July 9, 2010

A little bit on herald's point.

I wanted to take a moment and talk a little about the idea of a Herald's Point for medium and small events. The main reason I am mentioning it here is because I have spoken to several people on the topic in the past, and frankly got a lot of resistance to the idea. Reason's varied, but the cornerstone argument is usually centered on tradition more than anything else. "We just don't need a herald's point" is an all too common rebuttal. Well, there are cases where that may very well be the situation, but I would like to submit that more often than not, an event would benefit from the establishment of a herald's point.

What is a Herald's Point?
Let me start off by defining what I mean. I am not talking about the complete administrative center for heralds of all types that goes up at Gulf Wars and (reportedly) Pensic. These things can certainly be included at a herald's point, and at larger events, probably should, if for no other reason than the sanity of the lead site herald. A herald's Point is rather literally any identifiable point on a site where people can readily notice it and gather. So, with that definition, any table, tree, bench or pavilion could easily work. In fact, any spot of ground will work. This truely is a case of location, location, location.

Why would we want to make a Herald's Point?
Depending on the size of the event, a steward could easily find themselves gathering as many as twenty, or as few as five heralds for things like site, list, court and feast heralding duties. I can say from personal experience is that even a "well oiled"  system can burn a lot of time just getting everyone in the right place at the right times. And at the larger events, there are always people who are late finding the gathering site, or didn't hear the instructions clearly. I'm not saying that these are crippling factors by any means. Events go over well all the time, with good heraldry from good people. However, I doubt that anyone is willing to argue that the current system we have is perfect.

How would we do it?
Okay, so I am talking about a quick and easy way to do a Herald's point that doesn't involve parking a 'period office building" in the middle of site. What do I have in mind? What I am talking about is a banner, or standard on a tall pole. Too simple? Not really, and here's why. First of all, if the standard is the SCA herald's Green with crossed gold trumpets, than everyone will know that it is for heralds. And even if it isn't that, but the arms of a group (like it should be), it is something that can quickly be identified as "the place to go for issues heraldic".

Standards have been the cornerstones of military maneuver for centuries, and in the modern context, they still serve a very functional purpose in and out of the military. We recognize not only our national flags, but the white field with a red cross is internationally recognized as a place for emergency aid and medical care. Maltese crosses on the doors of cars and SUVs instantly denote them to the general public as fire department vehicles, and the traditional gold or silver shield are commonly used to mark official police vehicles. These modern forms of heraldry clearly show that people still respond to visual symbols, and know to react to them in select circumstances. Historically, military formations predating the Romans, and as late as the American Civil war, actively used large flags on tall poles to guide formation maneuvers, rally troops and signal other units.

Okay, that was a little more history that was probably really needed, but it does give some depth to my statements.

What are the benefits?
Functionally, having a place that is for the heralds allows people to say "meet at herald's point" rather than have to remember which corner of what building or pavilion to met at. Also, seeing the banner during the day can act as a reminder to people about heraldry, and that they might want to help heralds. In a word, advertising.
Additionally, a simple pad of paper, clipboard and pencil can be tied to the flagpole for messages. An example would be one page that lists the times heralds will be needed, and another down below that says "if you need something announced, please write it here and we will cry it the next time we go out." That way anyone can leave a written message with a reasonable assurance that the site herald will check in and see the note.

Lastly, even if the point is only used once, and no one leaves any notes, a colorful period banner displaying on an event ground will add another level to the feel of the event, and is that really a bad thing in any way?"

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King!"

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