The Almoner

Your Questions Answer'd

Don't see your question in this list? E-mail the College with your query.

How do I become a scribe?

Read The Cloisters: Becoming a Scribe

Where's my scroll?

Firstly, have you registered your name and device? In order to be eligible for a scroll, you must have registered armoury with the College of Heralds. Once this is done, the scroll assignment is placed on our "available" list.

Secondly, is it already in progress? Scribes are volunteers who give up their precious time and skills to create scrolls for the people of the Kingdom. A lot of work goes into a scroll, especially when fitted around mundane and other SCA commitments. Scribes are generally allotted six months to complete a pre-printed scrolls, while an original Peerage scroll may take a year or more. Sadly, however, there are always far fewer scribes than scrolls to be done, so despite our best efforts, unfortunate but unavoidable delays will occur.

Delays can also occur during the administration process, if the scroll has to be shipped interstate or even overseas for signing and sealing. Turnaround on this can take quite a while, although every effort is made to keep this to a minimum.

If you feel that your scroll may have been unduly delayed, please do not hesitate to contact the College so we may follow it up.

Why is Lord X's scroll being done before Lady Y's?

Several factors may be responsible for this. In order to be eligible for a scroll the recipient must be currently active in the Society, and have registered a name and device with the College of Heralds. Even if Lady Y received her Award first, perhaps her scroll cannot be produced because she has not registered armoury, has become inactive, or there is some other reason. It is also possible that her scroll was assigned some time ago, but the scribe was unable to complete the assignment and it has had to be recalled and returned to the 'available' list.

Scribing is not a production line, it also has to be a rewarding and enjoyable activity for the scribe. Perhaps a scribe friend of Lord X has specifically asked to do his scroll--good reason to be friends with a scribe!. Some scribes and scriptoria also like to concentrate on scrolls for people from their local area, and prefer to work on those assignments first; Lord X's scroll may be one of these. In general though, where there is no preference expressed by the scribe, assignments are made in the order the award as given, on a "first in, first out" basis.

I've just got my scroll--how do I look after it?

A Each award scroll, whether a pre-printed AA or an original work of art, is created to be a lasting document of your achievements and honours in the SCA for you to proudly display.

 Framing is recommended for all scrolls, to preserve their beauty at its best for as long as possible. Ready-made frames are easily available for A3 scrolls, which is the size of the pre-printed Award of Arms scrolls used in Lochac. Original scrolls can vary in size, and may require custom framing. Only acid-free, archival quality materials should be used in framing. Using mount boards or frame spacers is recommended so the seals are not pressing against the glass, and although the College of Scribes takes care to use archival quality papers and the most permanent pigments available, UV resistant glass is nevertheless a good investment as it will protect the manuscript from damage from sunlight or fluorescent lighting, and ensure its brilliance for many years to come. In any case, award scrolls should not be hung in full sunlight.

 Scrolls should be framed as soon as possible. Prior to framing, they should be stored flat in a cool, dry place, preferably between sheets of acid-free paper, and handled carefully. If a scroll is rolled up, the wax seals, gilding or heavy paint may crack and fall off. Vellum and some papers may cockle if the surrounding conditions are humid, and the seals may soften if it gets too warm.

 The College takes all possible care to get your scroll to you in good condition. If misfortune does befall your award scroll, please contact the College of Scribes as per the above details. Seals can be replaced, and it may also be possible to organise some minor repairs.

Each scroll is a valuable work of art, representing a significant investment of materials, skill and time. This is especially true of original scrolls, which may be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars (some scribes provide details of the monetary value of a scroll to aid with insurance). Scribes do not receive any remuneration for their labours. Instead, they offer their skills, time and efforts as a service to the people of the Kingdom. An award scroll should therefore treated with respect and care.

Please do take the time to thank the scribe who created your scroll. Scribes work long and hard, and usually without recognition or appreciation. A note or a perhaps a gift expressing your thanks is a simple courtesy, and is greatly appreciated by the scribe.


I want to do my friend's/partner's scroll, why do I have to join the College?

At first glance, it may seem the College has a certain amount of rules that govern our work. However these rules have been developed over two decades on practical experience, and are in place for a good reason, namely to assist us in serving the Kingdom as best we can.

Within the context of the SCA, award scrolls are official documents of the Crown, confirming the bestowing of an award to an individual. It is expected that a certain quality standard will be observed, and that a certain accountability in the production process is in place; because of that, award scrolls may only be done by members of the College.

Exemplars are one of the tools we use to maintain quality control. An exemplar shows what skills a scribe has, and at what levels- not unlike an application to an art school. Based on this, the Provost may determine a suitable level of assignment for a prospective scribe's skills, and hook them up with people or resources who can help them develop their skills further. Once the exemplar is accepted, there is a reasonable presumption that the applicant can adequately produce an acceptable scroll, and they are warranted as a scribe with the College.

No-one is obliged to submit an exemplar. If someone is not yet confident of their skills or just want to practice the scribal arts for their own enjoyment, there is no expectation that they do so. If you want to do award scrolls however, you must submit an exemplar.

The other reasons for this requirement are ones of administrative efficiency. Your friend's scroll may already be assigned to another scribe, for example, or may have already been done some time ago. Doing the scroll again would be a duplication of effort, which wastes time that could be better spent on other scrolls, and is discourteous to the other scribe in question. Proper administration eliminates these frustrating possibilities.

Also, the assignment can be followed so that it is completed and sealed correctly, and presented to the recipient in a timely fashion.

The rules of the College are not meant to be bureaucratic straightjackets. They are simple guidelines which, far from being restrictive, enable us to better provide the valuable service we render to the people of the Kingdom, and by knowing our service is appreciated we ourselves enjoy even more the beautiful works we create.

Please also see The Cloister: Becoming a Scribe.


What is "acceptable standard" for scribe work?

There have been a few enquiries as to what is meant by “acceptable standard” for scrolls. In general, use your own judgment as to whether you have done the best job you can on a scroll. The rule of thumb is, would you be happy to have it on your wall for the next 50 years?

The College has a few basic requirements, so here are some guidelines:


All scrolls should be made with the most permanent materials a scribe has access to. For papers this means a heavy, archival quality paper (between 150gsm and 300gsm is recommended.) Vellum and parchment are of course superior, but expensive and scarce; imitations such as parchmentine 230gsm are an excellent substitute. Ink should be lightfast (will not fade), check the bottle or ask if you’re not sure. Likewise paints should be permanent and lightfast. Period pigments are great but expensive, the College recommends Winsor & Newton designer’s gouache as a good substitute. Look for lightfast rating A for best permanence, it will note on the label. Do not use acrylics, textas or felt tip pens.


All details should be correct: check that the name, blazon and date are correct and that the arms are correctly painted (please check with the Provost if unsure). Errors in these will cause the scroll to be returned unsigned by the College of Heralds. Also check for spelling mistakes, and that all grammar and capitals are correct for formal Australian English, unless using a period spelling in your text.


Try to be as authentic as possible with your design, calligraphy and illumination. The College in Lochac has achieved a reputation for excellence throughout the world, and much of this is due to the emphasis we have placed on maintaining a high level of authenticity. There are many resources on period manuscripts which will provide all the inspiration you need to do your scroll in a period and creative manner. Obtrusive fantasy elements are not acceptable.


I got my award years ago and was inactive for a while, I'm back now but I still haven't got my scroll--what's going on?

As a matter of long standing policy, active members get priority when assigning scrolls. Checks with the local barons and seneschals are are done periodically to keep our stats current, and ensure we are not producing scrolls for long-inactive members. Inactive members are placed on hold. If an inactive member becomes active again and wants scrolls, it's up to them to contact the College to arrange this, as we have no way of knowing it otherwise. Strong are we with the Force, but not that strong!


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