The History of Bryn Gwlad — The Beginnings of the Barony

Check out this piece of Bryn Gwlad History as told by Cynric of Bedwyn, Historian of Bryn Gwlad circa 1994.

Cynric of Bedwyn, Historian 
Final Version, 10/21/1994 

Part 1 
Before Bryn Gwlad 

CAVEAT: History is, under the best of circumstances, subject to the interpretation of both  chronicler and reader. While the following account does contain as much as possible that is  factual and a matter of record, it necessarily relies as well upon the chronicler’s ability to  synthesize and extrapolate to provide continuity to the narrative. The majority of the  information contained herein that predates 1980 is derived from The History of Bryn Gwlad, by  Goshen von Osterreich and Aymbros Turleon de Laisard. Their sources seem adequate and  their accounts plausible, but it must be remembered nevertheless that the amount of hard factual  material used in the preparation of The History cannot be ascertained with certainty. Truth or  fabrication, it is our story. 

Legend has it that a small group of gentles with close ties to those would become the  founding members of the SCA in the West Kingdom formed an unofficial (and, it would seem,  premature) “Barony” in the Austin area in about 1965. From this time until 1967, these gentles,  namely Lowell Johannes von Eck (the “Old Black Baron”), Sir Thomas l’ Jou, Gunny O’Hare,  Lady Ilantho Kattavachi, Randall Garrett, and Alyssin Garrett, apparently held a number of  Revels minor (at which the expected activities took place) and even a few “barbaric courts” hosted by Baron Lowell. They are reported to have sponsored one Winter Solstice Revel that  went on for the better part of three weeks, during which a planned “Druidic ritual failed to  transpire for lack of an available virgin (well, this was the “Free Love” era, after all). The  populace of this energetic group eventually went their separate ways, and the “Barony” (whose  name, if it had one, is lost in the mists of obscurity) dissolved. 

There is rumor of yet another early band of colonists, Atenveldters, who formed a Shire  of sorts here some time later and then themselves dispersed to found the Stargate, the Steppes,  and Bjornsborg, thereby making Bryn Gwlad the cradle of Ansteorra, but this group is even less  well-documented than the previous one; it seems to me that this bit of our history is more likely  based on desire for primogeniture rather than any serious circumstantial evidence. 

The continuous and traceable history of the Austin group really begins in August of  1975 (AS X), when an experienced SCA member (and later knight) named Andeleon du  Axegarth moved to Austin from the already extant Stargate. He quickly recruited a newcomer  by the name of Augustina von Schurger and together they decided to form a new group, which  they called Paiscumbre (supposedly Old French for ‘Hill Country,’ but I have my doubts; it  seems that our uncertain nomenclature dates back even further than ‘Bryn Gwlad’) and which  billed itself, in due course, a Canton of Bjornsborg—though I’m not sure how Bjornsborg  regarded this. The first event sponsored by the fledgling Paiscumbre was an All Saints’ Eve  Revel attended by five Paiscumbrians, five Bjornsborgers, and a great deal of carousing, but the  record shows no actual arrests.  

Andeleon and Augustina participated in Bjornsborg’s fighter practice on a regular basis  over the next few months, in addition to attending Steppes Twelfth Night and the Tournament 

of the New Lands. It was at a picnic in Bjornsborg in January of 1976 that Paiscumbre took on  its first recognizable political structure. The first slate of officers was appointed, and a decision  made to petition the Crown of Atenveldt (and the BOD, of course) for official status for the  canton. The original populace of Paiscumbre, as defined by those who participated in the push  to form an official group, were Andeleon du Axegarth, Augustina von Shurger, Andres de Alta  Mira, Francisco de Alta Mira, Gwendolyn the Undecided, Thomas Bonville, and William  Thraik. Little did these seven founders imagine the mischief they set in motion that day.  

Sometime during the Fall of 1975, Andres de Alta Mira introduced the SCA to the  teachers and students of The Greenbriar School in Elgin. This seed took root, and a thriving  group calling itself Clan Greenbriar eventually became established there. On February 21,  1976, a Revel which attracted some 85 participants (of whom 70 were Paiscumbrians) was held  on the grounds of the Greenbriar School. The event autocrat was Andeleon, with several others  assisting, including Augustina, Andres, Edward the Younger, and Yudah the Cupbearer. The  entertainment included acrobats, magicians, fire-eaters, jugglers, and belly dancers, as well as a  performance by La Primavera, an early music ensemble from the University of Texas. This  Revel (which seems to begin the tradition of February events that culminates in Candlemas)  brought a healthy crop of newcomers into Paiscumbre, and cemented the canton’s identity as a  thriving group. One of these newcomers was Gwilym y Fferil o Caer Lleuad, who will play an  important part in our story a little later. 

March of 1976 saw the manufacture of Paiscumbre’s second helm, making possible  combat and thereby giving birth to fighter practice. Clan Greenbriar became a focus for efforts  in such fields as costuming, armoring, heraldry, and persona. An active school for pages and  handmaidens also sprang into life here.  

On March 23-24, the Mystical Equinox Festival was held at Greenbriar, and featured  singing, drumming, stringed instruments, and dancing beneath the stars by firelight. The next  day a “spiritual foundation” was laid for a bell tower, there was much swimming (in the river),  and fighter practice took place on the banks of said river (presumably the Colorado, given the  school’s location off Bee Creek Road). 

Paiscumbre’s first official demo took place on April 2, near the Village Cinema on  Anderson Lane, and consisted of music, acrobatics, and bridge battles. The participants were  rewarded by free passes to a screening of the movie Robin and Marian. During the five weeks  preceding the annual May Faire at The Greenbriar School, Paiscumbre appointed coordinators  for different scheduled activities and just generally contributed a lot to the entire effort. 

At the beginning of May, the Canton presented a fighting demonstration at Eeyore’s  Birthday Party. The following week a fighting, juggling, and acrobatics demo was held on the  University of Texas campus. 

As May 14-15, the dates for May Faire, drew near, a great deal of setting up booths,  digging latrines, erecting pavilions, building tables, and constructing cooking pits became  necessary. The Faire was an annual fundraising event for The Greenbriar School that drew  several thousand people, and was essentially a miniature Renaissance Festival. In addition to  supplying most of the preparation labor, Paiscumbre operated booths such as “Fight the  Knight,” conducted fighting demos, and provided strolling entertainment for the visitors. By all  accounts, both the Faire’s accomplishments and Paiscumbre’s were substantial.  

The active populace of Paiscumbre at this point was 40-50, but Andeleon was the only  experienced SCA member in the Canton, and he consequently served as the liaison between  Paiscumbre and the rest of the Known World. His service in this capacity was so effective, in 

fact, that when he was forced to leave Austin in August of 1976, the Canton virtually ceased to  exist. At the Clan Cadal Games in late August, Andeleon turned over the Seneschal’s office to  Ewan of Rowanglen, who had recently moved to Austin from San Antonio. During the period  

September through November, 1976, Ewan formed a Shire, composed of almost entirely new  people (with the notable exception of Gwilym y Fferil o Caer Lleuad). On November 14, 1976  (AS XI), the new Shire was given the name “Bryn Gwlad,” in the (again, mistaken) belief that  it meant “Hill Country,” this time in Welsh. The first slate of officers for the Shire of Bryn  Gwlad included Ewan of Rowanglen, Seneschal; Alissand of Seren Glyn, Herald; Jon St.  Vincent d’Outremere, Knight Marshal; Gwilym y Fferil o Caer Lleuad, Minister of Sciences,  and Dail y Eiliwriad o Cwm Cwymp Dwr (Gwilym’s significant other), Minister of Arts. In  those days the arts and sciences were separated into two different offices.

Before Bryn Gwlad…. (link to the pdf version)