By Lady Elyssa the Bower of Trimaris
Now in its 43rd year, it’s no surprise that Pennsic has a rich history. Much of that history is reflected in the names of the roads that cut through our camps and marketplaces. Curious about the origins of these names, Dame Morwenna Trevethan of Atlantia began to research them during Pennsic 39. What resulted was 30 pages of notes on the history of each road, field, and forest on the Pennsic map. Armed with this knowledge, she started teaching a class called Street Smarts, wherein students can satisfy their curiosity about the names of any Pennsic landmark.
The road that every Pennsic-goer should know is Cariadoc’s Path, named for the founder of this great War, Duke Cariadoc of the Bow. There are many versions of the Pennsic story, but a common version is this: Cariadoc, then King of the Middle, decided to liven things up by declaring war on the East. His declaration was received and then ignored by the Eastern King. Some years later, Cariadoc became King of the East himself, found the old missive, and accepted the Middle Kingdom’s brash challenge. The East lost that first Pennsic, making Cariadoc the only king to ever declare war on himself and lose.
Like Cariadoc’s Path, many Pennsic roads are named for gentles that have had an impact on Pennsic’s history. For instance, Finnvarr’s Footpath, the trail that leads fighters to the Woods Battle, honors Duke Finnvarr du Taahe, who was war king of both the East (Pennsic II) and Middle (Pennsic VI) and fought in every Pennsic battle from year I to XL. Another good example is Mack’s Field, which is named for Mack Cooper, the owner of Cooper’s Lake Campground until his death in 2011. This designation is supposed to replace the informal name, Serengeti, bestowed on the flat, treeless eastern side of Pennsic. In 1980, Mack and his wife, Betty, were made Court Baron and Baroness by both the East and Middle for their help in making Pennsic the wonderful event we know today.
Another important piece of Pennsic history is noted in the names of Runestone Hill, Highway, Path, and Park on the western edge of Pennsic south of Midrealm Royal. The Runestone was erected at Pennsic X on the site of the former battlefield. The grassy area around it is often used for vigils and elevations. You can see an image of the Runestone’s inscription on the back of your Pennsic book, or you can take a pilgrimage to the stone yourself to honor this important landmark.
Other Pennsic names are factual or simply humorous. The roads in the B-Block are generally named after important medieval battles from Agincourt to Dorylaeum. Several roads in the North Block are named after medieval occupations, such as Fletcher and Wainwright’s Road. Some names are cleverly crafted puns such as Bythe Way. Yet others amusingly point out just how distant they are from anything else, like Abandon Hope and Two Dam Far Road.
The Pennsic map changes from year to year with roads added or altered. With that in mind, Dame Morwenna has faithfully updated her notes, keeping her class consistent with each Pennsic at which she teaches it. If you would like to learn more about Pennsic’s history through its names, you can attend the repeat of Street Smarts on August 4th at 9:00 AM in A&S 3.