Jousting—The Sport of Kings

1840 jousting

Figure 1. “A Maryland Tourney: Riding at the Quintain.” This silhouette shows the riders jousting at a mannequin knight, seen at the far right of the rendering (Private collection, copy at the Maryland Historical Society).

After last week’s essay on Babe Ruth, a colleague informed me that all of my future blogs should be about sports.  While I won’t always be able to oblige Ed, I was inspired to post another sports topic this week.  After opening Calvert County’s tourism e-newsletter, I was astonished to learn that 2013 marks the 147th anniversary of the jousting tournament held each summer at Christ Church in Port Republic.  

Now, I knew that jousting was the official state sport of Maryland, but I was under the mistaken impression that its origins in Maryland were much more recent. Chivalry made a come-back in the mid-nineteenth century among young Maryland gentlemen, who would don medieval attire and compete on horseback to spear, not each other like knights of old, but sets of rings.  The sport is believed to have been established in Maryland after William Gilmor attended a Scottish jousting tournament in 1839 (NJA 2013a).  Gilmor, who lived on the family estate outside of Baltimore known as The Vineyard, hosted a tournament there the following year (Hiss 1898:342).  This event is believed to have been depicted in a silhouette that shows riders jousting to the delight of male and female onlookers (Figure 1).   Continue reading

What the Baltimore Orioles and Babe Ruth Have in Common (Besides the Obvious, That Is!)


Baltimore Orioles logo.

Because it is summer and the height of baseball season, I have decided this week’s blog will focus on the Baltimore Orioles, Maryland’s only major league baseball team. The connection with archaeology and artifacts from the Maryland Archaeological Conservation Laboratory collections may not be immediately apparent, but stick with me—we will get there! Continue reading

Oyster Wars


A sample of oyster shell recovered at the Cumberland site (18CV171), a Native American palisaded village in Calvert County.

When most people think of Maryland seafood, probably the first thing that comes to mind is the blue crab, steamed to a bright red and fragrant with Old Bay seasoning. But the “lowly” oyster played just as significant a role in Maryland’s maritime history and economy. Although it may have been a “bold man that first ate an oyster” (Swift 1738), any initial squeamishness toward the bivalve was quickly overcome by humans, who have dreamed up more ways to serve an oyster than Forrest Gump’s business partner envisioned for shrimp. And it also happens that the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries have historically provided the appropriate water temperatures and salinity levels that allowed Eastern oysters (Crassostrea virginica) to thrive (NOAA 2013). Continue reading