The history of the Needwood Forest Company of Archers is not very long. The idea of the Company began in A.S. XXXIX among a group of archers that were regularly gathering for target archery. Many of the people interested in forming the Company were relatively new to the SCA. As time passed we noticed that not only were we training together but that we were attending the same archery events. Some thought it would be a good idea to establish a common identity despite numbers from many different baronies of the local Known World. The idea for the Company was born.
Why the name?
The name Needwood Forest Company of Archers is derived from the name of Lake Needwood near where we practice on Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings. Our soon-to-be vintenar, Timothy of Shaftesbury also liked the word-play of a "forest that needs wood". Everyone seemed to like it, so the name stuck.
The symbol of the Needwood Forest Company of Archers is a porcupine. The idea of adopting the porcupine as a symbol is older than the Company itself. Originally, Æþelwine of Ealdgythesleage proposed (jokingly) that the local archery group should give out an Order of the Porcupine award for people that moved across the firing line to retrieve their arrows before the shooting was done. Later, when the idea of the Company was being bantered about, the porcupine idea rose again. After some Google research, we learned that the porcupine/porpentine idea was more appropriate than we first realized. Teresa de Çaragoça discovered that
Louis XII used the porcupine in
a badge (see below) with the motto "cominus et eminus" (from near and far), based on
the porcupine's purported ability to be dangerous both far away and close up (it was believed at the time that porcupines could throw their quills).
The symbol on the Company banner is a stylized porcupine. The design was adapted from an image common to Saxon sceats that is believed (by very imaginative people) to be a porcupine (see a mixture of 7th to 8th century Saxon and continental porcupine sceats below).
Is the name Needwood period?
Although the name Needwood is derived from the lake near where the Company first practiced, the Society requires that the name be period if it is to be adopted. During the scramble to find older references to the name, members of the Company discovered mentions of:
- Barton-under-Needwood, a Saxon settlement in the Kingdom of Mercia (listed in the Domesday Book)
- Barton Suptus Nedwode: Calendar of Inquisitions Post Mortem and Other Analogous Documents
Preserved in the Public Record Office Vol. X, pp220-225
- Suptus Nedwode: First appearance on 1280 deed
- Needwood-near-Tutbury: Staffordshire (information); 1314 grant of extensive rights and privileges by the Earl of Lancaster to Richard de Holland
- Needwood Forest (information and a non-period painting)
Whats a Vintenar?
When our leader decided on the title "Vintenar" we thought he was going to be making wine, which sounded like a fine idea. More research however revealed that a Vintenar was a leader of nineteen infantry soldiers (called a Twenty). This was the most basic military unit in the Anglo-Norman period. Five of these units made a Hundred, commanded by a Centenar.