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Road-Heraldry-art - 7/21/13


"Advanced Road Heraldry for Beginners (Site heraldry 2001)" by Lord Ivo Blackhawk. An outline for a course on announcement heraldry at SCA events.


NOTE: See also the files: List-Heraldry-art, Court-Herldry-art, heraldry-msg, SCA-Titles-art, Voice-Herldry-art, Field-Herldry-art, Herald-Embro-art.





This article was submitted to me by the author for inclusion in this set of files, called Stefan's Florilegium.


These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org


Copyright to the contents of this file remains with the author or translator.


While the author will likely give permission for this work to be reprinted in SCA type publications, please check with the author first or check for any permissions granted at the end of this file.


Thank you,

Mark S. Harris...AKA:..Stefan li Rous

stefan at florilegium.org



Advanced Road Heraldry for Beginners

(Site heraldry 2001)

by Lord Ivo Blackhawk


1.   Introduction:

1.   Objective

i.      This class is designed to train someone with no field heraldry skills to the point of being competent to assist in general sight heraldry.

2.   Who?

i.      Us! We are here, now, hoping to do this very demanding but very important job

3.   What?

i.      Information. This is our lifeblood, and the core of our job. If we loose site of that, the task of road heraldry becomes pointless.

4.   When?

i.      Anytime. Road Heralds are needed any time there is official activity at an event, and some events schedule their activities well into the night.

5.   Where?

i.      Anywhere that people camp, anywhere that activities take place and anywhere in between. This is our domain.

6.   Why?

i.      Without Road heraldry, events would largely not happen. We are part of the chain of command of an event, and without our work, next to nothing would get done. The gridlock of information that would develop between the autocrat and the attendees would be total and complete within hours of site opening up. Without road Heralds, every major event in the SCA, and the vast majority of the minor ones would never happen.

7.   How?

i.      This is why you are here.

2.   The Basics

1.   We are the voices of the event. Every activity, change in schedule and announcement must go through us in order to take effect. We are the primary and most timely line of communication between the event organizers and the attendees.

2.   You do not need to be super loud, but it does help. There are some who’s voices will not serve well in a road heraldry capacity, but these are few and far between. For the majority of us, skill, brains, and forethought will empower us to Road herald very effectively under most circumstances.

3.   Road heraldry has four basic components, and by understanding these four elements, you should be able to serve as an extremely effective site herald, even if it's your first time out.

i.      The Four components are:

1.    Information Management

2.    Technique

3.    Projection

4.    Self Care/Protection


3.   Information Management

1.   Figure out where you are getting for information from.

i.      Some events channel all scheduling changes through a central authority figure, and others let the specific people running an activity make their decisions on the fly. As a site herald, you need to know where the information is coming from.

1.    BUT… It is not automatically your responsibility to go and find these people. Unless an event autocrat tells you otherwise, the chances are exceptionally good that someone will find you when they need you.

ii.    The advantage of being a site herald is that you will likely be walking past these people every time you herald. Make a habit of knowing when to check in at what activities to see if the person running it has anything they need heralded.

1.    You will probably want to check in about an hour ahead of time, most people who are running an activity will find you if they need something announced earlier.

2.    Ask these people if they need something heralded on the NEXT time you herald the camp. Don’t add to your herald as you go, that is a headache waiting to happen!

2.   Messenger service?

i.      While your primary concern is moving information down the event’s chain of command, you may be asked to serve as a messenger as well.

1.    Any time the autocrat, or an event organizer asks you to pass a message to a specific individual for event related reasons, that can be considered an official part of you job as a herald.

2.    Any time you are asked to relay an event-related message back to the autocrat or an activity organizer, the same general rules apply.

3.    Site heralds are NOT general messengers, however. If someone’s request does not fall within the scope of the above two qualifications, you generally have the option to politely decline the request.

4.    You can always take on the added responsibility if you feel you can, but as a herald, your responsibilities do not include running private messages, and asking to site herald does not obligate you to accept such requests.

3.   Accuracy Is Critical!

i.      You MUST make sure that the names, places and times are accurate and up to date. It's not the end of the world if you slip up once or even a few times in a row. But, if a third of the camp at a major war misses armor inspection by an hour because of your mistake, there will be consequences and hurt feelings.

ii.    If you are not comfortable with trusting your own memory, feel free to write down anything you need in as much detail as possible. And you may absolutely read straight from your notes while heralding.

1.    This is not a competition!

4.   You are not being judged for being the best or worst at anything.
Organizing your information

i.      When you get all of your announcements together, try and group them together in some logical order. Chances are you will already get them grouped together like this, but still, it helps to understand the concept so that you know to actually do it when you are handed a real mess.

1.    Organize them by time-this is the most common, at least in the north.

1.    “These are your announcements for the upcoming eleven o’clock hour: Armor Inspection will start at the list field. The Archery fielded will open for general target practice, The Arts and Sciences competition will start in the feast hall, please set up your display if you have not already. And the Charity Raffle will begin selling tickets at the Troll gate just outside the feast hall. These are your announcements for the upcoming Eleven O’clock hour.”

2.    Organize them by Location-This is less common, thought in some circumstances it is appropriate.

1.    “This is the schedule of morning activities for the feast hall. At nine O’clock will begin the Primitive Site Cooking class. At ten thirty will begin the Children’s activities. Preparations for the after-lunch Ball will begin promptly at noon. These are the morning activities for the feast hall.

ii.    Names and titles

1.    While it can be argued that Time and Location are the most important elements in Road heraldry, the names of people relevant to the announcements are not trivial elements.

2.    Keep in mind that some of the people listening to you may not know all of the local personalities, and will want to be able to understand the name that you announced so that they can find that person with question.

1.    “The herald said to speak with a Lord Asric about the Brewing competition. I have a question for him.”

iii.   Locations

1.    Be specific with your locations when announcing them.

2.    Don’t hesitate to ask local members what places are called by what names. This might save your from having to give a drawn out verbal description of the building twenty times in a row.

1.    Example 1

i.      The “Admin building”

ii.    The large Brick building closest to the parking lot.

2.    Example 2

i.      The “Wagon Circle”

ii.    The round-toped cabins on the north side of site.

iv.  Quantity

1.    There is such a thing as too much information, especially for a single person. Usually you will get your announcements every thirty minutes to an hour, directly from the autocrat or their deputy, and roughly about a half hour before you need to make them, depending on the circumstances.

2.    As you do your appointed rounds, do not be surprised if others ask you to add to your list of announcements.

3.    Be aware that the further ahead of time you are given the information, the less likely it is to be accurate. Most activities can be, and usually are rescheduled at least slightly at the last minute due to circumstances beyond anyone’s control or prediction.

1.    Heralding anything other than a major battle, a crown tournament, or a grand court three hours ahead of time is just inviting trouble.

4.    It is up to you to balance accuracy and importance so that the people get what they need to hear, but you don’t want to wind up having to herald corrections to your own messages all afternoon.

1.    A good rule of thumb has always been for me to plan as far ahead as an hour, but not any more.

2.    If someone does tell you to herald something in three hours, feel free to reply that they should find you in about two hours and remind you then.

i.      Don’t make it your responsibility to keep up with OTHER people’s scheduling problems. Your job to make the information known, not to figure it out as well.


4.   Technique:

1.   The Act of road heralding is deceptively simple, but is by no means easy. Using your head and planning out your path of travel, how loud you will need to be, and how often you actually need to yell will help you stay in the game longer and have more fun doing it.

i.      Plan your route!

1.    Minimized overlaps in your path.

2.    Know where shelter is

1.    You may need to hide from rain, snow, sun, or wind at times.

3.    DON’T waist time and energy by going where you don’t need to go.

ii.    Know how far away people can be and still understand you.

1.    Keep in mind that we throw our voices forward due to the shape of our mouths and face. Your announcements will likely not be as understandable or as loud to people behind you as it is to people in front of you.

1.    It is usually safe to assume that only people in front of the plane of your shoulders can hear and understand you when you herald.

2.    If you know how far you can project and still be understood, then you can plan ahead to see how often you will actually need to raise your voice.

iii.   Things to Avoid

1.    Try not the cut through camps or activity centers

2.    Don’t take risks, stick to smooth ground and off of rocks or mud if you can.

3.    Look out for peerage circles, royal meetings and baric circles. Any of them can get rather testy if they think you interrupted them carelessly.

4.    Don’t stop and talk for more than a few minutes total! Five stops at three minutes each, add up to a quarter of an hour, and if it takes twenty minutes just to walk around site, you’re already behind the eight ball by the time you’ve had your third chat.

iv.  ALSO:

1.    Don’t hesitate to ask for directions.

2.    Don’t hesitate to ask for a quick tour of a large site from someone who knows the location.


2.   Tactics

i.      Targeted heralds

1.    Target places where people gather in large groups

2.    People tend to camp in groups, with tents centered around common areas, near tents from the same group, around fires, or near water fixtures or power outlets.

1.    Try and give each camp a separate herald to make sure everyone heard you. If you’re sure of your projection power, you can ‘hit” two or even three camps at a time.

2.    Targeting is the easiest way to make sure you hit the vast and wide majority of a camp.

3.    Heralding targets

1.    Camps

2.    Pool house in a hot summer

3.    Feast hall

4.    Listfield

5.    Archery Field

6.    Large Camp fires

7.    Drumming circles

ii.    Blanketed Heralds

1.    This is “carpet bombing” Heraldry.

2.    When an event site is so active that people are constantly in motion and cover a huge area relatively evenly, the best you can do is to just make sure your cries are heard on every square foot of the event ground.

3.    You will have to Herald multiple times all across the camp, and will probably be heard several times by the same person.

4.    But at the same time, if the site is that active, there will probably be a lot of people who only hear you once.

1.    This is the type of heralding that almost always requires a big voice and a powerful set of lungs.

i.      If you don’t have that type of power, this technique may knock you out in less than an hour’s time.

iii.   Selected Audience heralds

1.    Their will come times where you will need to speak to groups of people specific to one location and only one location.

1.    People in the feast hall

2.    Merchants along Merchant row

3.    People armoring up on the list field

2.    With these types of heralds, you will want to go to the location and position yourself so that everyone, or a significant majority of the people are in front of you.

3.    You should only need to herald once or twice at the most.

4.    Make sure you herald your information clearly, and with smaller locations, you can usually insist on total attention for your announcement to assure it is heard.

iv.  High priority heralds

1.    As a road herald, you can be called to deliver mandates or rules from the autocrat or local nobles.

2.    While you do not enforce these rules, you are fully expected to deliver them with the same force of certainty as the autocrat or noble did when giving them to you in the first place.

1.    “Everyone is reminded that they MUST have their vehicles parked in the parking lot before the morning court.”

v.    “Due to unfavorable weather conditions, the marshal has closed the list field and declared that there shall be no heavy weapons combat until otherwise notified. All Fighters are instructed to remove their armor and stay under shelter.”
Emergency heralds

1.    In extremely rare circumstances, you will be likely be asked to serve as the primary broadcaster of information in order to save lives or property.

1.    Under these circumstances you may get creative with how you get the campsite’s undivided attention.

i.      Secure a amplified bullhorn

ii.    Use an air Horn

iii.   Use a car horn

iv.  Just about anything that doesn’t get you arrested.

2.    These circumstances are rare and most of you will never encounter them, but if they occur, it is critical that you convey urgency without propagating panic.

3.    You may be asked to warn a campsite about any of the following situations.

i.      Tornadoes

ii.    Extreme Rain or wind

iii.   Fire

iv.  Missing child

4.    Remember, time and accuracy are critical under these circumstances, so don’t offer to help unless you are confident that you can do the job!

3.   Phrasing

i.      How we phrase our messages is a careful balance between flowery language and efficiency of words.

ii.    The Basics

1.    Avoid modern sounding phrases

1.    Help preserve the medieval ambiance of the event

2.    Try to speak clearly and with crisp, well defined words

1.    Annunciate like you have never done before!

3.    Structure your sentences so that you get people’s attention and then tell them what they need to know

1.    “Oyez, Oyez, All Good Gentles please attend for these, the announcements for the eleven o’clock hour...”

2.    “Oyez, Oyez, All fighters, all fighters, Attend this announcement from the list mistresses…”

3.    “Oyez, Oyez, All parents of small children, all parents of small children, please attend…”

4.    Watch your words, and don’t play with phrases that have been given to you.

1.    If someone tells you what to say, write it down and repeat it, don’t get flowery unless your are comfortable that you will preserve the meaning

i.      You are given: “Armor inspection will close in ten minutes, exactly”

ii.    You do not then say: “Armor inspections will close in approximately ten minutes.”

2.    Meanings.

i.      You are the messenger, not the decision maker.


1.    “Shall” is a definite

2.    “Should” is a suggestion

3.    “at your convenience” does not mean “now”

4.    “Approximately ten minutes” and “in ten minutes” are two different statements.

2.   If there is any question about the flexibility of an announcement, ask the person to clarify their message.

iii.   Structure

1.    Use a consistent structure with your announcements as much as you can. If you become a regular sight herald, people will come to recognize your voice and will know what part of your announcements carry what information.

1.    Example 1

i.      “Oyez, oyez, All good gentles pray attend for these the morning announcements”

ii.    [listen up] – [everyone] – [here is what I have to say] – (now you tell them what you have)

2.    Example 2

i.      “Oyez, Oyez, All fighters, pray attend!”

ii.    [listen up] – [Anyone fighting or helping with fighting] – [I need your undivided attention!] – ( now you tell them what you have)

3.    Both of these use the same formula

i.      [listen up] – [name my target audience] – [what type of announcement is it] – ( the subject matter)

4.    You may use any formula that you want, but find something that you can use on the fly and that other people understand.

iv.  Time Management

1.    Heralding takes time, and as the majority of your work will revolve around broadcasting schedules and their changes, you need to be aware of the current time, how long it takes you to complete one circuit of your site herald, and how often things need to be announced.

1.    Figure out how much territory you need to herald.

2.    Figure out how long it will take you to herald across that whole distance.

3.    Keep in mind that the vast majority of events start their activity at the top of the hour, or relative to the conclusion of another even.

4.    Find out how often the autocrat wants you to make your heralds.

i.      Every hour, every half an hour…

5.    Questions to ask yourself.

i.      “Can I herald as frequently as I am being asked?”

ii.    “Is their anything else during the day that I want to do and does the autocrat know about it?”

iii.   “How much time will I need to recover between rounds?”

6.    “Do I have enough time to recover?”

i.      It takes me an average of fifteen to twenty minutes to walk a complete circuit of Will Rodgers Boy Scout Camp, including the main feast hall, the edge of the parking lot, the pool house and the central list field.

ii.    Most of the scheduling for Mooneschadowe and Northkeep events are on the top of the hour, though some other activities will get pushed around and might start at odd times.

iii.   Conclusion:

1.   I will have about 40 minutes out of every hour-most of the day-to do other things while staying within ear shot of the autocrat incase I’m needed.

2.   I will want to start my heralds at about quarter of, and make sure to catch as many of the heavily populated places as possible early on (merchant’s row, Camping areas, Listfield).

3.   I’ll need to keep track of time, even if I know what time everything starts off at, other people will likely ask me what the time is because they don’t have a watch on.

7.    During the busy periods, I will probably have to do three or four back-to back heralds in order keep up with the event as it accommodates random changes throughout the day.
Things to note!

i.      If your area takes thirty-five minutes to walk around, you are NOT going to be able to herald every half hour.

ii.    Set a fair pace early on, or you will set a standard you can’t keep up with. Racing around site at a near jog is only going to burn you out very fast.

5.   Projection

1.   Actually getting out and crying the event information is the most obvious and important step in road heraldry.

2.   Breathing

i.      Much like singing, good site heraldry requires good breathing technique and support

1.    Breath deep, and project from your throat AND head, not your mouth.

2.    Use your diaphragm and stomach to support your cries, not your ribcage.

3.    Breathe deeply, but don’t over-do it, your only going to make it harder on yourself in the end.

3.   Range

i.      It is important to know how far away you can clearly be heard, this can be thought of as your heralding range.

ii.    Proper articulation and breathing will allow you to keep this range up, and even increase it over time as you gain experience

4.   Managing your air

i.      Don’t try and say complete sentences or push yourself to your last breath.

1.    You are only going to make yourself light headed and tired.

ii.    Don’t hesitate to stop in the middle of a sentence. If you do, just take another breath and continue.

5.   Emphasis

i.      Feel free to emphasize words that are important, even if it is in a way that you wouldn’t say it in normal conversation.

6.   Pacing

i.      Don’t overwork yourself; you’re only going to burn out your vocal cords before the day is over. Pick a comfortable volume and herald over a comfortable distance consistently and you will be surprise how little time it takes for your body to adjust.

6.   Self Care / Protection

1.   As a primary Sight herald, you are possibly going to be pushing yourself pretty hard, and at the same time exposing yourself to your own set of challenges and dangers. Keeping a level head and thinking things through will usually keep most eventualities at bay.

i.      Weather dangers

1.    Heat

1.    Drink water!

2.    Stay in the shade

3.    Wear sunscreen!

4.    Don’t exert yourself, STOP the instant you start feeling light headed.

5.    Stay in sight of people so that if you do go down, help is near by.

2.    Rain

1.    Keep some dry cloths handy

2.    Keep your feet dry

3.    Talcum powder!

1.    Stay Warm!

2.    Stay dry!

3.    Drink Warm Liquids

4.    Dress in layers

5.    Be aware of sunburns!

4.    Wind

1.    Dress in layers

2.    Be aware of what winds do to your voice when you herald, you will probably have to herald more often at a slightly lower volume unless you think you can out shout Mother Nature.

ii.    Site hazards

1.    Trip hazards,

2.    Mud

3.    Fire-Ant hills

4.    Skunks

5.    Ticks

6.    Mosquitoes

7.    Snakes

1.    All of these can be dealt with easily, but mitigating their danger depends on you being aware of them and not getting so wrapped up in being loud that you forget your environment. Aside from being annoyances, some of these hazards can be uncomfortable and can, without being even truly dangerous, be crippling to a herald.

iii.   Try walking site every thirty minutes on a twisted ankle

1.    Make no mistake about it; your heralding will not coincide with everyone’s idea of appropriate timing. The vast majority of people are good-natured about it, and if you become a regular site herald, you will develop the type of relationship with the regular eventers that will allow and encourage joking and whatnot.

1.    HOWEVER!

i.      Heralds have occasionally been threatened by intoxicated or just belligerent people.

ii.    Know how to protect yourself.

1.   If you feel your safety is in danger, just get out. No message is worth a trip to the hospital.

2.   If you see that a person is in a bad mood, you can always walk up to them and give them the message in a regular speaking voice.

3.   If feelings are hurt, apologies for the inconvenience, and then get out!

iii.   As a road herald, you are effectively an agent of the autocrat, so use the most conservative and reserved course of action at all times.

1.   Remember: Heroes tend to get that title posthumously, or while still in the ICU.

iv.  Report ALL aggressive action to the autocrat the moment you can. Threatening the Herald is not a laughing matter, and even if you make an honest mistake, nothing justifies open aggression in words or actions.
Rules of thumb

1.    Drink water!

2.    Use lemonade, raw lemons, throat lozenges, or candy to keep your throat from tearing itself up as you herald

3.    Don’t push yourself!

1.    If you feel like you are not going to make it through the next round of heralds, tell the autocrat or Herald in charge.

2.    Don’t ever go out heralding if you are not absolutely sure you’re going to make it all the way through the circuit.

7.   Conclusion

1.   Remember, while road Heraldry is usually required to make an event happen, this does not preclude you from enjoying yourself.

2.   The quality of your work will count towards your character like any other craftsman.

i.      If you become good as this, you will likely develop a reputation for you skills.

3.   Your service as a site herald is not a small issue. On top of general service, your work is every bit as important and valuable as Book, List, or Court heraldry. Take pride in your accomplishments, and consider yourself as much of a herald as any other in the general sense of the word.

4.   Humor

5.   While this class concentrates on the mechanics and practical’s of Road Heralding, there is nothing preventing your from injecting humor or entertainment into your work. Humor done right can not only lift the spirits of the masses, but can increase the dignity of your station by demonstrating your above average skills.

i.      You don’t have to herald a whole event by yourself. Dedication is a measure of doing the job right when you are doing it, and handing it off in such a manor as not to disrupt the flow of the event when you are done.

6.   Marketability

i.      Very few events or groups (at least in the north) have a waiting supply of site heralds, and a large number of site heralds also have other things they need/want to do during an event. If you want to site herald, you will probably not need to ask around for very long at all before you find opportunity.

ii.    Site heralds (again, at least in the north) are generally considered unaffiliated free agents. You are free to develop any new relationships as far a site heralding is concerned.

iii. If you get really good, you might even get intercepted at your car and asked to herald before you’ve even checked in with Troll. (True story, several times over).


Copyright 2008 by Cisco Cividanes, <engtrktwo at gmail.com>. Permission is granted for republication in SCA-related publications, provided the author is credited. Addresses change, but a reasonable attempt should be made to ensure that the author is notified of the publication and if possible receives a copy.


If this article is reprinted in a publication, I would appreciate a notice in the publication that you found this article in the Florilegium. I would also appreciate an email to myself, so that I can track which articles are being reprinted. Thanks. -Stefan.


<the end>

Formatting copyright © Mark S. Harris (THLord Stefan li Rous).
All other copyrights are property of the original article and message authors.

Comments to the Editor: stefan at florilegium.org