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Book review: A Year of Ravens

I need to break from our Viking adventures for a few moments to share some thoughts on an excellent book! Before the Normans conquered, before the Vikings invaded, before the legends of Arthur, before someone invited Saxons to settle, the island of Britannia was already home to numerous separate native Celtic tribes that together would be knows as the Britons. These tribes were the original kingdoms of the island and just as any other kingdoms would, they fought with each other for domination and control of the land… until one outside force arrived and began to take control. In AD 43 the Roman Empire began its conquest of the island, establishing a province they called Britannia, which came to encompass the parts of the island south of Caledonia (roughly Scotland).  This Roman invasion and domination would last until some time in the 5th century. 

The Celtic tribes were varied in their reactions and acceptances of the Roman conquest. The Roman conquest was a gradual one that actually could be seen as a somewhat peaceful and benefitial  alliance between the tribes and the Roman Empire. In common with other regions on the edge of the empire, Britain had enjoyed diplomatic and trading links with the Romans in the century since Julius Caesar‘s expeditions in 55 and 54 BC, and Roman economic and cultural influence was a significant part of the British late pre-Roman Iron Age, especially in the south.

Between 55 BC and the 40s AD, the status quo of tribute, hostages, and client states without direct military occupation, begun by Caesar’s invasions of Britain, largely remained intact. Augustus prepared invasions in 34 BC, 27 BC and 25 BC. The first and third were called off due to revolts elsewhere in the empire, the second because the Britons seemed ready to come to terms. According to Augustus’s Res Gestae, two British kings, Dubnovellaunus and Tincomarus, fled to Rome as suppliants during his reign, and Strabo‘s Geography, written during this period, says that Britain paid more in customs and duties than could be raised by taxation if the island were conquered. 

During this early time of Roman involvement, many of the tribes were fighting between themselves and in some cases they sought the assistance and intervention of Rome to strengthen their sides. By the 40s AD, the political situation within Britain was apparently in ferment. The Catuvellauni had displaced the Trinovantes as the most powerful kingdom in south-eastern Britain, taking over the former Trinovantian capital of Camulodunum (Colchester), and were pressing their neighbours the Atrebates, ruled by the descendants of Julius Caesar’s former ally Commius.  In fact, when Claudius eventually mounted his invasion and takeover, it’s intent was to force a reinstatement of client King Verica, who was an exiled king of the Atrebates.

England_Celtic_tribes_-_South

map showing locations of Celtic tribes in southern part of Britain during Roman occupation.

Map_of_the_Territory_of_the_Brigantes.svg

Map showing the Brigantes tribe region during Roman occupation

 

I am only sharing this very basic pre-history of the Roman involvement to point out that during the lengthy process of their conquest, there were tribes that willingly chose to ally themselves with Rome, either for economic benefit, political advantage or in some cases, perhaps they saw a larger picture and felt that resistance was not in their best interests.  Because the tribes looked at themselves as separate entities rather than a unified force against one opposing force, they were unable to come together in the beginning stages to prevent a take over that many of of them did not see coming in the first place.  In a way it directly relates to future invasions of their land by the Saxons and then by the Vikings. It could be said that Rome’s occupation of the island destroyed their unity and ability to fight as a that one united force… but, realistically it might better be said that their unity was not there in the first place and it allowed for a situation in which Rome could conquer them. Had they been able to come together from the beginnings of the rebellions, there are times when they could have defeated the Roman forces.  Boudicca’s rebellion was one of those times and events. 

Her rebellion was enough of a crisis to cause Emperor Nero at the time to seriously consider pulling all Roman troops and involvement out of Britain at this early time in their occupation. Unfortunately, despite earlier victories, her army made crucial mistakes that led to their final defeat. Her forces vastly outnumbered the Romans in the battle of Watling Street and had they chosen a different strategy that what they did, they should have been able to win that last battle. For what ever reasons, they chose to meet the Romans head on in a battle of open ground. Previous victories and successes by Briton forces and others against the Romans and each other were won not by head on battles but by more surprise attacks. It also did not help matters that the army brought with them their entire villages and placed them at the edges of the battle location thereby allowing for the slaughter of everyone, not just the army involved in the battle. 

 

With that bit of pre-history and thought in mind, we can move on to the main focus of this post! The book, A year of Ravens is an excellent historical fiction look at one event where the Britons could have managed that defeat and been successful at their attempt to drive the Romans out of their land. It looks at the event of Boudica’s rebellion from all perspectives- the Romans, the Client Kingdoms, the ones who were intent on rebellion against the massive strength of Rome, and from the standpoint of those who had little say in the event. 

The book is a unique collaborative project by seven authors with seven separate yet connected stories of the events leading up to the final battle and aftermath. It addresses the issues that I touched on in the pre-history discussion including reasons for a Client Ruler’s acceptance and alliance of Roman governance. It also gives us an understanding of various Roman perspectives. Not every Roman was stereotypical bad nor did they all agree with what was taking place. In that same line, not every Briton was good or a true believer in the rebellion. 

A year of Ravens

by Ruth Downie, Kate Quinn,Stephanie Dray, Vicky Alvear Shecter, S.J.A. Turney , Russell Whitfield, E. Knight

Britannia: land of mist and magic clinging to the western edge of the Roman Empire. A red-haired queen named Boudica led her people in a desperate rebellion against the might of Rome, an epic struggle destined to consume heroes and cowards, young and old, Roman and Celt . . . and these are their stories.

A calculating queen sees the sparks of revolt in a king’s death.

A neglected slave girl seizes her own courage as Boudica calls for war.

An idealistic tribune finds manhood in a brutal baptism of blood and slaughter.

A conflicted warrior hovers between loyalty to tribe and loyalty to Rome.

A death-haunted Druid challenges the gods themselves to ensure victory for his people.

An old champion struggles for everlasting glory in the final battle against the legions.

A fiery princess fights to salvage the pieces of her mother’s dream as the ravens circle.

A novel in seven parts, overlapping stories of warriors and peacemakers, queens and slaves, Romans and Celts who cross paths during Boudica’s epic rebellion. But who will survive to see the dawn of a new Britannia, and who will fall to feed the ravens?

These separate stories come together so well to tell a larger story of Briton and of Rome, of  mistakes on both sides that brought about the rebellion. In telling their separate stories of one particular point in time and one event that had such an impact on the history of Britain, these seven authors have created a vivid and realistic picture to show us all of the sides. It is grim, harsh and gritty, and fault is laid on all of those sides for the decisions and actions that led to the battles of Boudica. Yet, despite all of the fault and harsh reality, there is an underlying message of  understanding, forgiveness and hope amid such a dark future that lies ahead for so many. Boudicca’s rebellion has failed but her legend will live on to inspire others in the future. 

One of the most interesting and compelling stories for me was not that of Boudicca herself, but of another Queen for the most part forgotten in history. The story of Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes in northern Britain at the time. Cartimandua or Cartismandua (reigned c. ad 43 – c. 69) was a 1st-century queen of the Brigantes, a Celtic people living in what is now northern England. She came to power around the time of the Roman conquest of Britain, and formed a large tribal agglomeration that became loyal to Rome. Our only knowledge of her is through the Roman historian Tacitus, though she appears to have been widely influential in early Roman Britain.

Perhaps we know little about her because her story is one of loyalty to Rome. Author Stephanie Dray’s interpretation of this little known Queen provided such a detailed look at this woman who would have been considered a traitor to the Briton’s cause. It presented an understanding of some of those reasons why a ruler would choose alliance and loyalty to Rome to ensure the future of their people- even if the people did not appreciate it, resented the decision and would choose to spit on said ruler’s grave… As Cartimandua points out in this story, “At least my people will be left alive to spit upon my grave!”  She may have been hated by her people but she was able to look beyond that hatred and be at peace with the decisions she made in order to buy her people time and life in an uncertain future.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cartimandua

Another of the stories that caught me up was the story of Duro the Iceni warrior and Valeria the Roman wife turned slave. Both of these characters were fictional but came truly alive and believable through Kate Quinn’s story telling. This is the story of an aging battle hardened and weary warrior who is Boudicca’s most ardent supporter and leader of her army- second only to her and the council… Duro is the old warrior set in his ways and beliefs, struggling with changes that he can not accept. Valeria at first appears as the stereotypical Roman wife also set in her Roman ways and beliefs. On the surface their relationship is one of detest for each other and the other’s ways. They are on opposite sides in every way possible but underneath all of the opposition and hatred, there is a level of understanding between them. They both know that should the other side win, their own personal life and future will cease or change forever. Duro continues to look to the past he remembers before the Romans but Valeria reminds him that it is wishful thinking and that past will never be again. Valeria reaches within herself to find a person, a warrior that she never knew existed… she will fight for life and survival no matter what, and she can appreciate that Duro has taught her that. Valeria is young enough and strong enough to change her ways of thinking in some ways and to understand that her world has changed. She is on the verge of some new life while Duro is at the end of his and know it. He can not change as his world is changing but Valeria gives him the one thing that matters most to him in the end… a renewed relationship with a son that he spent years pushing away. This story leaves an open ending with Valeria embarking on a new journey, a renewed life forever changed by her experience and her relationship with Duro.  This is about as close to a romance as any of the stories get and it is one that left me wondering about the what ifs… and the future for Valeria on her return to husband. My personal what if was this… what if Boudicca’s army had listened to advice and won the battle? Where would that have left Duro and Valeria?  I could actually see some of that version that Duro dreamed of!

All of the stories were excellent. I have only chosen to highlight the two that touched me the most!

This overall story is balanced with more than enough historical research to enrich the fiction that is woven around the often limited facts. I found myself completely swept up in the individual stories and not wanting them to end. I was left with an overwhelming appreciation of the writing and the history, an almost obsessive need to know more about all of the people whether real or fictional and the events that were taking place during this time. While it began as an effort by the various authors to tell Boudicca’s story, what it did was tell the story of so many others involved in the history taking place during her life time. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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More good news for Bernard Cornwell fans and fans of history!

Just wanted to share this recent news.  A recent Variety article revealed that Bad Wolf productions is developing an small screen adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s series, The Warlord Chronicles!

Variety can also exclusively reveal that the company is developing an adaptation of Bernard Cornwell’s trilogy “The Warlord Chronicles,” which is a revisionist take on the King Arthur legend. “He is a great storyteller as we know from everything from ‘Sharpe’ to ‘The Last Kingdom,’” Gardner said. “He has a very innovative way into the Arthurian stories, which is to take an ordinary man who by work, chance and life is an observer and an intimate in the relationships of Arthur, Lancelot and the key characters that we know.”

This information was included in Variety’s announcement of  HBO partnering with Bad Wolf Productions. You can read the entire article here:

http://variety.com/2015/tv/global/hbo-partners-with-production-company-bad-wolf-1201632217/

If you follow this blog on any regular basis, you will probably be well aware and familiar with my interest in the early Saxon period in Britain as well as the Roman involvement there. I’ve read the Warlord Chronicles and discussed them previously.  If you have not read this series, you should!

Bernard Cornwell takes a more realistic approach and perspective in his telling of the legend of Arthur. For the most part, he avoids the myth, magic and fantasy realm and tries to create the more real world that Arthur might have lived in. The only exception is his inclusion of Merlin, but even with Merlin, Cornwell attempts to give us a more realistic presentation of Merlin as one of the few remaining Druid Preists in that time period. He does an excellent job for the most part, of debunking much of the magic, mystery and myth but does leave some mystery and question surrounding Merlin.  I say for the most part, because I will admit that I did struggle a bit with the character of Merlin, and at times I felt like Bernard struggled a bit with him as well. Aside from that minor issue, the books were an excellent interpretation of the legend and the more real history that surrounds that myth and legend.

I’ve already written reviews on the book series as well as a number of articles pertaining to early Saxon and Roman history in Britain. I have also previously discussed the legends of Arthur. I will provide links here to some of those previous articles!

Saxons, Romans and Arthur:

king-arthur-tapestry

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/30/saxons-romans-and-arthur/

From Odin and Woden to Anglo-Saxons in Britain:

wodin and his followers

wodin and his followers

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/06/23/from-odin-and-woden-to-anglo-saxons-in-britain/

 

Ancient history connects Norse with Romans and Arthur:

Roman era map of Britain

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

Reflections, wishes and suggestions for the new year!

I just want to take a quick bit of time today to catch up and catch my breath from the busiest weeks of the Holiday season! I hope everyone is enjoying what ever winter holiday you observe or celebrate. My wish is that it is filled with joy, with love, with faith and blessings for the new year! May the coming year be filled with light and goodness for all of you!

After celebrating Yul with all of you here, Christmas with my family, and working, I am going to take a few days to relax and recover from all of it! As I do this, I am reminded of how holidays used to be as compared to what they are now? At one time, really not so many years ago… well, okay a lot of years ago if you are one of the young ones for whom time is still flashing by so quickly that you don’t realize it’s leaving you.  I’m showing my age here, so please be patient and understanding!  When I was growing up all of those years ago, certain days were considered and observed as National Holidays for almost everyone. Businesses were closed, entertainment venues, restaurants- all but essential services were closed so that people could take those few days to celebrate and enjoy the occasion with their families. Little of that remains anymore. Now these Holidays have become much like any other day, with people attempting to carve out some precious time to make it feel like a holiday and capture some thread of what was once so special about the event.  Families were much closer back then, in distance as well as heart. It was easier to come together, share the special time, reconnect with loved ones and build memories that would carry on to the future generations.

Now days, many of us struggle with trying to keep those traditions, those memories and yet adjust them to fit into a world that so quickly changing and evolving around us. With such change always comes compromise. We must give up some beliefs, traditions and sense of our past in order to adapt to a new world, new beginning. What we do not need to give though, are the memories, the stories and the lessons that we learned from the past! We are not the only society that has undergone great change so quickly and profoundly that it wiped out some traces of previous cultures and beliefs. As we look at history, we can find many examples of societies and civilizations that either survived, adapted or faded away as their worlds changed around them. The expression of “If we do not learn from history, we are destined to repeat it” holds as much truth and value today as it did when George Santayana first commented on it.

George_Santayana

Santayana is known for famous sayings, such as “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”,  or “Only the dead have seen the end of war.” Santayana, like many philosophers since the late nineteenth century, was a naturalist (that is, he denied the existence of supernatural beings, like gods and ghosts), but he found profound meaning in literary writings and in religious ideas and texts (which he regarded as fundamentally akin to literature). Santayana was a broad ranging cultural critic whose observations spanned many disciplines. He said that he stood in philosophy “exactly where [he stood] in daily life.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Santayana

 

It is my personal belief that we assume too often that history is not important, that it has no bearing or affect on what we are experiencing in such a new and different time. We assume that our current life struggles and issues are so vastly different from those of the past, that we are so much more intelligent, more evolved, and somehow better than those long dead ancient beings. Of what use or importance could any of their experiences be to us? In reality, they struggled with the same universal life issues that we do today. Some of them survived and flourished, some of them did not. It was all about choices that they made with their hearts, their consciences, and their desire to create a better world for the future. We all make those exact same choices each and every day.

My hope and wish for this coming year is simply that by coming here, reading through my thoughts and my impressions of the past, some of you might find that history speaks as much to you in some way as it does to me? I am reminded of what I have learned through years of teaching and helping others… If you make a difference in one person’s life, then you have succeeded in a purpose of your life. You may not be able to change the world, but if you change one person’s life, then you have made a start on that greater change.

 

Okay, enough my reflections and philosophy… As you take your own time to wind down from Holiday stress and prepare for the coming year, I just want to leave you with a few suggestions for reading and viewing!

 

Movies and Television Viewing Suggestions

For the many Outlander fans here, I have a viewing suggestion that may or may not interest you, but might help some of you get through the later books that involve so much detailed history of the American Revolution? The AHC- American Heroes Channel- has a three part mini series on the American Revolution. I have not watched it yet, but have it recorded and plan to watch it all later this evening!

http://www.ahctv.com/tv-shows/the-american-revolution

American revolution2 american-revolution-ahc-2

 

If you prefer some much earlier history, along with some blood letting and a look at the earliest beginnings of Britain, I have two suggestions for you.  I am not normally a fan of blood and heavy handed action movies that don’t necessarily portray history all that realistically but I did watch these two movies and stayed interested all the way through them!

First is The Eagle (2011 film)

The_Eagle_Poster

The Eagle is a 2011 historical adventure film set in Roman Britain directed by Kevin Macdonald, and starring Channing Tatum, Jamie Bell and Donald Sutherland. Adapted by Jeremy Brock from Rosemary Sutcliff‘s historical adventure novel The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), the film tells the story of a young Roman officer searching to recover the lost Roman eagle standard of his father’s legion in the northern part of Great Britain. The story is based on the Ninth Spanish Legion‘s supposed disappearance in Britain.

The film, an AngloAmerican co-production, was released in the U.S. and Canada on 11 February 2011, and was released in the United Kingdom and Ireland on 25 March 2011.

In the year AD 140, twenty years after the Ninth Legion disappeared in the north of Britain, Marcus Flavius Aquila, a young Roman centurion, arrives in Britain to serve at his first post as a garrison commander. Marcus’s father disappeared with the eagle standard of the ill-fated legion, and Marcus hopes to redeem his family’s honour by bravely serving in Britain. Shortly afterwards, only Marcus’s alertness and decisiveness save the garrison from being overrun by Celtic tribesmen. He is decorated for his bravery but honourably discharged due to a severe leg injury.

Living at his uncle’s estate near Calleva (modern Silchester) in southern Britain, Marcus has to cope with his military career having been cut short and his father’s name still being held in disrepute. Hearing rumours that the eagle standard has been seen in the north of Britain, Aquila decides to recover it. Despite the warnings of his uncle and his fellow Romans, who believe that no Roman can survive north of Hadrian’s Wall, he travels north into the territory of the Picts, accompanied only by his slave, Esca. The son of a deceased chieftain of the Brigantes, Esca detests Rome and what it stands for, but considers himself bound to Marcus, who saved his life during an amphitheatre show.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eagle_(2011_film)

I enjoyed the movie for it’s look at the pre-history, and the history of the Roman involvement in Britain. It deals with the real mystery of the Ninth Legion, and you can find more information on that here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legio_IX_Hispana

the-eagle-movie the-eagle-movie2 the-eagle-movie-tatum-3

One other excellent film dealing with early Britain and legends is, King Arthur.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur_(film)

Movie_poster_king_arthur

This is not your typical King Arthur legend type of film! This movie presents the legend in a much more realistic portrayal. As many of my long time followers know, I have a deep fascination and interest in all things King Arthur related so this movie was perfect in every way for me! for more information on the history and legends about King Arthur, you can search through my archives on the subject!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

King Arthur is a 2004 film directed by Antoine Fuqua and written by David Franzoni. It stars Clive Owen as the title character, Ioan Gruffudd as Lancelot, and Keira Knightley as Guinevere.

The film is unusual in reinterpreting Arthur as a Roman officer rather than a medieval knight. Despite these departures from the source material, the Welsh Mabinogion, the producers of the film attempted to market it as a more historically accurate version of the Arthurian legends, supposedly inspired by new archaeological findings. The film was shot in England, Ireland, and Wales.

Arthur, also known as Artorius Castus (Clive Owen), is portrayed as a Roman cavalry officer, the son of a Roman father and a Celtic mother, who commands a unit of Sarmatian auxiliary cavalry in Britain at the close of the Roman occupation in 467 A.D. He and his men guard Hadrian’s Wall against the Woads, a group of native Britons who are rebels against Roman rule, led by the mysterious Merlin (Stephen Dillane).

As the film begins, Arthur and his remaining knights Lancelot (Ioan Gruffudd), Bors (Ray Winstone), Tristan (Mads Mikkelsen), Gawain (Joel Edgerton), Galahad (Hugh Dancy) and Dagonet (Ray Stevenson) expect to be discharged from their service to the Empire after faithfully fulfilling a fifteen-year commitment.

However, on the night they are to receive their freedom, Bishop Germanus (Ivano Marescotti) sends them on a final and possibly suicidal mission to rescue an important Roman family. Marius Honorius (Ken Stott) faces impending capture by the invading Saxons, led by their chief Cerdic (Stellan Skarsgård) and his son Cynric (Til Schweiger). According to Germanus, Marius’ son, Alecto, is the Pope‘s favorite godson and may be “destined to be Pope one day”.

At the remote estate, Arthur discovers Marius has immured pagans: a Woad named Guinevere (Keira Knightley), and a small boy, Lucan. Arthur frees them and decides to take everyone, along with Marius’ family, back to Hadrian’s Wall.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_Arthur_(film)

Saxons

king-arthur-sagaci-sassoni saxons

Arthur and his Knights

King-Arthur-2004-king-arthur-875459_1000_674

A truly original and unique version of Guinivere!

king arthur movie2 king arthur movie

 

Of course, there are a number of television series that will entertain you and possibly, hopefully provide you some historical lessons as well. If you have Starz, or any number of online services, you might want to catch up on Outlander- if you have seen it already, or not enough times in the case of many fans out there! We’ve already discussed all of it in great depth through out the blog.  Just start searching through the archives for it and that could keep you busy until the show starts again in April!

http://www.starz.com/originals/outlander

OUT-101_20131011_EM-0630.jpg Outlanderday

 

Another show that we’ve made extensive reference to here is Vikings on the History Channel!

http://www.history.com/shows/Vikings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikings_(TV_series)

ragnar viking long boat Lindisfarne-ep2

The Vikings will return for season three on February 19! We will be exploring more of their history and the show in upcoming posts!

Vikings is an Emmy Award nominated  historical drama television series written and created by Michael Hirst for the television channel History. It premiered on 3 March 2013 in the United States and Canada.  Filmed in Ireland, it is an official Ireland/Canada co-production.

Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known mythological Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. It portrays Ragnar as a former farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Bjorn, and his wives—the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug.

On 5 April 2013, History renewed Vikings for a ten-episode second season, which premiered on 27 February 2014.  On 25 March 2014, History renewed Vikings for a ten-episode third season, which is scheduled to air on February 19, 2015.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vikings_(TV_series)

 

Book suggestions!

If the viewing suggestions are not enough, and you prefer reading about history, I do have a few suggestions for that as well.  Contrary to recent posts and public opinion, I do read a great deal besides Outlander! In fact, I spend much of my free time reading… I have a long commute to and from work each day, which provides me with plenty of time to indulge in one of my favorite pass times- reading. While I do occasionally venture into the time travel realm for reading enjoyment… I know, I know, it would seem and appear that time travel would be my main priority/focus, but actually it is not. Most of my reading focus is on early medieval history from the early Viking Ages through William the Conqueror and on through to about the 1500s.

I have been quite lax and remiss about updating my book reviews page since Outlander appeared but, please rest assured that I have indeed kept up with my other reading! I am providing a quick guide here for those of you who are interested in reading material aside from Outlander! You can also always check out my reviews and books on my Goodreads page.  I have better luck keeping those reviews updated than the ones here!  https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/22404301-judywork

For now, I will just update you with a few that I’ve read lately and may have referenced in earlier posts!

 

 Veil of Time  by Claire R. McDougall.  This was a one of the time travel exceptions I’ve made and it well worth the read as it is so much more than just time travel or a romance novel!

Veil of Time

A compelling tale of two Scotlands-one modern, one ancient-and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18144050-veil-of-time

Now, while the area of Dunnad and Kilmartin are filled with ancient Stone circles and Standing Stones, Maggie did not make use of them for her trip through time. They were an integral part or mechanism for her travel though as she had not experienced the time travel previously to her visit to Dunadd as an adult.  Also, the Druidess priestess and others she met in the past seemed to feel that the Stones were responsible for her travel as well as for any number of other events. Maggie was suffering from a number of traumatic events in life and decided to spend some time by herself in an isolated cottage at the base of the Dunnad hill fort.  She is working on her doctoral thesis- on the history of Witchcraft in Scotland and trying to finish it before facing a life altering and possible mind altering major operation to cure her of her epileptic seizures. It seems that the combination of the seizures and what ever mystical properties might be at this area are initially the trigger to send her back through time to the year 735 when Dunnad was at the height of it’s importance in history.

The book gives a very good description and visualization of  Mid-winter solstice celebrations as they might have taken place during that time! It also references the Druidic influences and Pict representation in that area and time.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/?s=veil+of+time

 

 

Circle of Ceridwen Series by Octavia Randolph

If you are interested in early Saxon and Viking history in Britain, I highly recommend this series!

For a more detailed and in depth look at these early Saxons, their struggle to hold on to their old ways and their eventual demise under the Christian influence, I would highly suggest you read this series of books by Octavia Randolph. I suggest here mainly because she deals with the early Saxon beliefs and how closely they were connected to the Norse/Vikings beliefs of the time. She also has excellent descriptions of some of their traditions and celebrations! It is a series of four books that tell a young woman’s journey through the Viking conquests of early England and then her life in the northern lands of  Danemark, and Gotland.

circle of ceridwen1

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23123223-the-circle-of-ceridwen

In Circle of Ceridwen, Octavia Randolph discusses in great detail, the Saxon belief in Woden and  it’s close connection to the Viking belief in Odin.

Young women with courage. Swords with names. Vikings with tattoos. Danger. Passion. Survival. Warfare. Sheep. And Other Good Things…

The year 871, when England was Angle-Land. Of seven Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, five have fallen to the invading Vikings. Across this war-torn landscape travels fifteen year old Ceridwen, now thrust into the lives of the conquerors. But living with the enemy affords Ceridwen unusual freedoms – and unlooked-for conflicts. Amongst them she explores again her own heathen past, and learns to judge each man on his own merits. Her divided loyalties spur her to summon all her courage – a courage which will be sorely tested as she defies both Saxon and Dane and undertakes an extraordinary adventure to save a man she has never met.

The first book of The Circle of Ceridwen Trilogy, the historical adventure saga enjoyed by thousands of readers in over 125 nations.

 

There are four books in the series… and I am keeping my fingers crossed that there will eventually be more. The series covers the life and journey of Ceridwen from her early years as a somewhat naïve teen through her years living with the Viking conquerors of  Britain, to her journey to the Viking homelands of Gotland. It is an excellent well documented and detailed look at the changes in lives and cultures during that time period, with a focus on how one young woman deals with all of those sudden changes in her life.  I would definitely recommend you read all of them and check out Octavia Randolph!

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1365292.Octavia_Randolph

Ceridwen of Kilton the claiming Hall of Tyr

After reading the last one, Hall of Tyr, there was also a nice bonus of a medieval cookery booklet included. She includes early medieval Britain fare as well as medieval Scandinavian dishes!

For a sample of her cookery details, you should read this article!

http://englishhistoryauthors.blogspot.com/2014/08/venison-pie-and-honey-cakes.html

3harts

 

For slightly later medieval history, try The Handfasted wife  and the Swan daughter by Carol McGrath.

the handfasted wife by Carol McGrath The Swan daughter by Carol McGrath

These two books are about history during the time of William the Conqueror. They are well written historical biography types more than romances.

The first one, Handfasted wife tells the story  of the Norman Conquest from the perspective of Edith (Elditha) Swanneck, Harold’s common-law wife. She is set aside for a political marriage when Harold becomes king in 1066. Determined to protect her children’s destinies and control her economic future, she is taken to William’s camp when her estate is sacked on the eve of the Battle of Hastings. She later identifies Harold’s body on the battlefield and her youngest son becomes a Norman hostage. Elditha avoids an arranged marriage with a Breton knight by which her son might or might not be given into his care. She makes her own choice and sets out through strife-torn England to seek help from her sons in Dublin. However, events again overtake her. Harold’s mother, Gytha, holds up in her city of Exeter with other aristocratic women, including Elditha’s eldest daughter. The girl is at risk, drawing Elditha back to Exeter and resistance. Initially supported by Exeter’s burghers the women withstand William’s siege. However, after three horrific weeks they negotiate exile and the removal of their treasure. Elditha takes sanctuary in a convent where eventually she is reunited with her hostage son. This is an adventure story of love, loss, survival and reconciliation.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harold_Godwinson

1024px-Bayeux_Tapestry_scene23_Harold_sacramentum_fecit_Willelmo_duci

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_the_Fair

Edith_discovering_the_body_of_Harold

 

The second book is about Edith and Harold’s daughter, Gunnhild.  The Swan Daughter is a true 11th C tale of elopement and a love triangle by best-selling author of The Handfasted Wife, Carol McGrath. A marriage made in Heaven or Hell.  It is 1075 and Dowager Queen Edith has died. Gunnhild longs to leave Wilton Abbey but is her suitor Breton knight Count Alan of Richmond interested in her inheritance as the daughter of King Harold and Edith Swan-Neck or does he love her for herself? And is her own love for Count Alain an enduring love or has she made a mistake? 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Rufus

Alan_Rufus

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gunhild_of_Wessex

 

For a better and even more detailed perspective the events of this time period, I would suggest and encourage you to read  two other books about this era by Helen Hollick!

I have already previously mentioned her work, The Forever Queen (The Saxon Series #1)  on my book reviews page but am going repeat here for easier reference. This book is a great depiction and detail of  Emma of Normandy, whom little is known about but who is so important in history. It is the first of two books on Emma and her offspring, with the second book being, I am the Chosen King.

What kind of woman becomes the wife of two kings, and the mother of two more?

Saxon England, 1002. Not only is Æthelred a failure as King, but his young bride, Emma of Normandy, soon discovers he is even worse as a husband. When the Danish Vikings, led by Swein Forkbeard and his son, Cnut, cause a maelstrom of chaos, Emma, as Queen, must take control if the Kingdom-and her crown-are to be salvaged. Smarter than history remembers, and stronger than the foreign invaders who threaten England’s shores, Emma risks everything on a gamble that could either fulfill her ambitions and dreams or destroy her completely.

Emma, the Queen of Saxon England, comes to life through the exquisite writing of Helen Hollick, who shows in this epic tale how one of the most compelling and vivid heroines in English history stood tall through a turbulent fifty-year reign of proud determination, tragic despair, and triumph over treachery.

The Forever Queen (The Saxon Series, #1)The Forever Queen by Helen Hollick
My rating:
5 of 5 stars

Fantastic! I was quite impressed with all of this book. I appreciate that it was not so much a gushy over done, made up romance novel but more of a historical docu-drama of her life. Helen Hollick took the limited details surrounding this somewhat forgotten queen that we hear so little about and wove those details into an excellent story!

I wrote the above short review a while ago but wanted to add to it because I am still so impressed with the storytelling of Helen Hollick. I have not read the second book of the series yet, but will get to it soon! After spending an immense amount of time reading quite serious histories, I needed to take a break and read some less intense ones!

This was most definitely one of the more serious and intense ones! It is not a feel good, happily ever after love story by any means. If you are looking for that, you will be quite disappointed. What you will find is a story about the grim and gritty realities of a woman’s life in those early medieval times. Just because a woman was of noble blood and ended up with a crown- more than one, it did not mean her life was any easier. In fact, in so many ways it was even more difficult.

Emma was married first to Æthelred who failed as both a King and a husband, but Emma did do her duty in providing him with not one, but two legitimate heirs. That should have given her some security in those times but unfortunately luck was not with her… or maybe it was? The kingdom is overtaken by Cnut who claims her along with the kingdom. She finally finds love with him only to have him die leaving the kingdom in another battle of who should rule.

The story of her life was well documented in this book with more than enough factual information woven into the story to give what I felt it was an excellent representation of the constant hurdles she endured throughout her life that colored and shaped how she viewed her role and her destiny as well as that of her sons.

 

I am the Chosen King

In this beautifully crafted tale, Harold Godwinesson, the last Saxon King of England, is a respected, quick-witted man both vulnerable and strong, honorable and loving-and yet, in the end, only human. After the political turmoil and battles leading up to 1066, we all know William the Conquerer takes England. But Helen Hollick will have readers at the edge of their seats, hoping that just this once, for Harold, the story will have a different ending.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/9223563-i-am-the-chosen-king

I am in the process of reading I am the Chosen King right now and am just as impressed with it as I was with the first book! What is interesting for me now is the comparison between this work and the information I previously read in Carol McGrath’s books about the same people. Where as Carol’s books deal more with Edith’s and her daughter’s lives and their possible perspectives of the time and events, this work goes into more depth concerning all of the key figures of the time. By reading all of them, I think you could gain a better insight and picture of  what was happening and how those involved might have come to the choices they made.

 

 

Now for one last thought of interest.  You might be wondering just how all of this extensive and in depth history ties into  my interest in the Vikings Saga on the history channel and it’s related actual history? Well, I will leave you with a few clues…

Vikings is inspired by the sagas of Viking Ragnar Lothbrok, one of the best-known mythological Norse heroes and notorious as the scourge of England and France. It portrays Ragnar as a former farmer who rises to fame by successful raids into England with the support of his family and fellow warriors: his brother Rollo, his son Bjorn, and his wives—the shieldmaiden Lagertha and the princess Aslaug.

As the above paragraph states, the show and it’s various main characters are based on what is known about actual history. Ragnar Lothbrok is based on

Ragnar Lodbrok or Lothbrok (Old Norse: Ragnarr Loðbrók, “Ragnar Hairy Breeches“) was a legendary Norse ruler and hero from the Viking Age described in Old Norse poetry and several sagas. In this tradition, Ragnar was the scourge of France and England and the father of many renowned sons, including Ivar the Boneless, Björn Ironside, Halfdan Ragnarsson, Sigurd Snake-in-the-Eye, and Ubba. While these men are historical figures, it is uncertain whether Ragnar himself existed or really fathered them. Many of the tales about him appear to originate with the deeds of several historical Viking heroes and rulers.

According to legend, Ragnar was thrice married: to the shieldmaiden Lagertha, to the noblewoman Þóra Borgarhjǫrtr, and to Aslaug. Said to have been a relative of the Danish king Gudfred and son of the Swedish king Sigurd Hring, he became king himself and distinguished himself by many raids and conquests until he was eventually seized by his foe, King Ælla of Northumbria, and killed by being thrown into a pit of snakes. His sons bloodily avenged him by invading England with the Great Heathen Army.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ragnar_Lodbrok

vikings_ragnar_3-P

In reality, Ragnar ultimately comes to a bad end and probably was not such a likeable fellow as he is portrayed in the show.

His brother, Rollo is inspired and based on another historical Viking.

A character based on the historical Rollo, played by Clive Standen, is Ragnar Lodbrok‘s brother in the 2013 television series Vikings

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rollo

vikings_gallery7_2-P rollo

 

In actual history, Rollo comes out far better than Ragnar ever could have hoped for!

600px-Cronological_tree_william_I_svg

If you look at his family tree, you will see how he ties in to medieval history. He was the ancestor of William the Conqueror- and if you look into William’s activities, you might see that his Viking heritage of conquering came out quite boldly in his genes!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_the_Conqueror

 

Rollo is the great-great-great-grandfather of William the Conqueror. Through William, he is an ancestor of the present-day British royal family, as well as an ancestor of all current European monarchs and a great many pretenders to abolished European thrones. A genetic investigation into the remains of Rollo’s grandson Richard I and great-grandson Richard II has been announced, with the intention of discerning the origins of the famous Viking warrior.

The “Clameur de Haro” in the Channel Islands is, supposedly, an appeal to Rollo.

Rollo’s grave at the cathedral of Rouen

1024px-Grave_of_Rollo_of_Normandy

So, as my last thought and conclusion for the day…. Which brother would you prefer to take your chances with? Personally, I am going with team Rollo!

Rollo-vikings-tv-series-34189423-500-300 vikings_episode6_gallery_1-P

Follow our Viking journey in coming new year!

Ragnar and Rollo legacy

Time Traveler’s guide to Christmas: Pre-Christian roots

Music to accompany your holiday time travel journey: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/16/musical-inspiration-christmas-music/

 

 History of Christmas in early England

Previous post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/12/12/time-travelers-guide-to-christmas-part-one/

yule3

As I mentioned in the previous post, this next discussion will focus on earlier forms of celebrating Christmas. As we work through the history, you will find that many of the customs and traditions you follow now as Christmas celebrations are passed on from much earlier pre-Christian winter Solstice celebrations.  Some of them are remnants of Roman traditions but the majority of them that we are most familiar with stem from ancient Germanic and Nordic beliefs and customs. As we saw in the previous post, the earliest Norse migration into northern Scotland and the later Saxon and Viking migrations into the southern portions of the British Isles infused the cultures there with those Germanic and Norse traditions.  The earliest Romans also left their mark in some ways, but towards the end of their occupation of the land, they had become Christians and would eventually bring Christianity to the land.

 

 Roman traditions and beliefs

The druids, the Celtic priestly caste who were believed to originate in Britain,  were outlawed by Claudius,  and in 61 they vainly defended their sacred groves from destruction by the Romans on the island of Mona (Anglesey).  However, under Roman rule the Britons continued to worship native Celtic deities, such as Ancasta, but often conflated with their Roman equivalents, like Mars Rigonemetos at Nettleham.

The degree to which earlier native beliefs survived is difficult to gauge precisely. Certain European ritual traits such as the significance of the number 3, the importance of the head and of water sources such as springs remain in the archaeological record, but the differences in the votive offerings made at the baths at Bath, Somerset, before and after the Roman conquest suggest that continuity was only partial. Worship of the Roman emperor is widely recorded, especially at military sites. The founding of a Roman temple to Claudius at Camulodunum was one of the impositions that led to the revolt of Boudica. By the 3rd century, Pagans Hill Roman Temple in Somerset was able to exist peaceably and it did so into the 5th century.

Eastern cults such as Mithraism also grew in popularity towards the end of the occupation. The Temple of Mithras is one example of the popularity of mystery religions amongst the rich urban classes and temples to Mithras also exist in military contexts at Vindobala on Hadrian’s Wall (the Rudchester Mithraeum) and at Segontium in Roman Wales (the Caernarfon Mithraeum).

 

Fourth century Chi-Rho fresco from Lullingstone Roman Villa, Kent, which contains the only known Christian paintings from the Roman era in Britain.

It is not clear when or how Christianity came to Britain. A 2nd-century “word square” has been discovered in Mamucium, the Roman settlement of Manchester.  It consists of an anagram of PATER NOSTER carved on a piece of amphora. There has been discussion by academics whether the “word square” is actually a Christian artefact, but if it is, it is one of the earliest examples of early Christianity in Britain.  The earliest confirmed written evidence for Christianity in Britain is a statement by Tertullian, c. 200 AD, in which he described “all the limits of the Spains, and the diverse nations of the Gauls, and the haunts of the Britons, inaccessible to the Romans, but subjugated to Christ”.  Archaeological evidence for Christian communities begins to appear in the 3rd and 4th centuries. Small timber churches are suggested at Lincoln and Silchester and baptismal fonts have been found at Icklingham and the Saxon Shore Fort at Richborough. The Icklingham font is made of lead, and visible in the British Museum. A Roman Christian graveyard exists at the same site in Icklingham. A possible Roman 4th century church and associated burial ground was also discovered at Butt Road on the south-west outskirts of Colchester during the construction of the new police station there, overlying an earlier pagan cemetery. The Water Newton Treasure is a hoard of Christian silver church plate from the early 4th century and the Roman villas at Lullingstone and Hinton St Mary contained Christian wall paintings and mosaics respectively. A large 4th century cemetery at Poundbury with its east-west oriented burials and lack of grave goods has been interpreted as an early Christian burial ground, although such burial rites were also becoming increasingly common in pagan contexts during the period.

The Church in Britain seems to have developed the customary diocesan system, as evidenced from the records of the Council of Arles in Gaul in 314: represented at the Council were bishops from thirty-five sees from Europe and North Africa, including three bishops from Britain, Eborius of York, Restitutus of London, and Adelphius, possibly a bishop of Lincoln. No other early sees are documented, and the material remains of early church structures are far to seek.  The existence of a church in the forum courtyard of Lincoln and the martyrium of Saint Alban on the outskirts of Roman Verulamium are exceptional.  Alban, the first British Christian martyr and by far the most prominent, is believed to have died in the early 4th century (although some date him in the middle 3rd century), followed by Saints Julius and Aaron of Isca Augusta. Christianity was legalised in the Roman Empire by Constantine I in 313. Theodosius I made Christianity the state religion of the empire in 391, and by the 5th century it was well established. One belief labelled a heresy by the church authorities — Pelagianism — was originated by a British monk teaching in Rome: Pelagius lived c. 354 to c. 420/440.

A letter found on a lead tablet in Bath, Somerset, datable to c. 363, had been widely publicised as documentary evidence regarding the state of Christianity in Britain during Roman times. According to its first translator, it was written in Wroxeter by a Christian man called Vinisius to a Christian woman called Nigra, and was claimed as the first epigraphic record of Christianity in Britain. However, this translation of the letter was apparently based on grave paleographical errors, and the text, in fact, has nothing to do with Christianity, and in fact relates to pagan rituals.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roman_Britain#Religion_2

While this may not seem related to our discussion of early Christmas traditions, it is important to know some of the early history of the land in order to better understand how the various beliefs and traditions came to merge together and become what we observe and practice today. It is of course, extremely important to any time traveler who might find themselves in such an earlier time period either by choice… or as the result of any miscalculation or error in the time travel mechanism! While Crag na dun Time Travel has perfected it’s travel, there is always the slight chance of malfunction resulting in a misplacement in time. In these rare cases, Crag na dun Travel will offer full refund and reimbursement upon your return. Please keep some receipt of travel to the time period as your proof of error on their part! Now, back to our discussion…

During the Roman occupation of the British Isles, they most likely left traces of their own midwinter celebrations. Their occupation of the area lasted for some time, from about 45Ad to the late 5th century.  Over those centuries, they made the transition from paganism to Christianity but many still practices and observed their Pagan festivals even after turning to Christianity. One such festival was that of Saturnalia.

Saturnalia

Saturnalia was an ancient Roman festival in honor of the deity Saturn, held on the 17th of December of the Julian calendar and later expanded with festivities through to the 23rd of December. The holiday was celebrated with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, in the Roman Forum, and a public banquet, followed by private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms: gambling was permitted, and masters provided table service for their slaves. The poet Catullus called it “the best of days.”

In Roman mythology, Saturn was an agricultural deity who was said to have reigned over the world in the Golden Age, when humans enjoyed the spontaneous bounty of the earth without labor in a state of social egalitarianism. The revelries of Saturnalia were supposed to reflect the conditions of the lost mythical age, not all of them desirable. The Greek equivalent was the Kronia.

Although probably the best-known Roman holiday, Saturnalia as a whole is not described from beginning to end in any single ancient source. Modern understanding of the festival is pieced together from several accounts dealing with various aspects.  The Saturnalia was the dramatic setting of the multivolume work of that name by Macrobius, a Latin writer from late antiquity who is the major source for information about the holiday. In one of the interpretations in Macrobius’s work, Saturnalia is a festival of light leading to the winter solstice, with the abundant presence of candles symbolizing the quest for knowledge and truth.  The renewal of light and the coming of the new year was celebrated in the later Roman Empire at the Dies Natalis of Sol Invictus, the “Birthday of the Unconquerable Sun,” on December 25.

The popularity of Saturnalia continued into the third and fourth centuries AD, and as the Roman Empire came under Christian rule, some of its customs have influenced the seasonal celebrations surrounding Christmas and the New Year.

The poet Catullus describes Saturnalia as the best of days. It was a time of celebration, visits to friends, and gift-giving, particularly of wax candles (cerei), and earthenware figurines (sigillaria). The best part of the Saturnalia (for slaves) was the temporary reversal of roles. Masters served meals to their slaves who were permitted the unaccustomed luxuries of leisure and gambling. Clothing was relaxed and included the peaked woollen cap that symbolized the freed slave, which looks an awful lot like Santa Claus’s peaked red hat . A member of the familia (family plus slaves) was appointed Saturnalicius princeps, roughly, Lord of Misrule.

So, the tradition of Saturnalia left us with gift giving, candles, Santa’s red hat… and the Lord of Misrule!

 

Lord of Misrule

In England, the Lord of Misrule — known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason and in France as the Prince des Sots — was an officer appointed by lot at Christmas to preside over the Feast of Fools. The Lord of Misrule was generally a peasant or sub-deacon appointed to be in charge of Christmas revelries, which often included drunkenness and wild partying, in the pagan tradition of Saturnalia.

The Church held a similar festival involving a Boy Bishop. This custom was abolished by Henry VIII in 1541, restored by the Catholic Queen Mary I and again abolished by Protestant Elizabeth I, though here and there it lingered on for some time longer.[1] On the Continent it was suppressed by the Council of Basle in 1431, but was revived in some places from time to time, even as late as the eighteenth century.

 

In the spirit of misrule, identified by the grinning masks in the corners, medieval floor tiles from the Derby Black Friary show a triumphant hunting hare mounted on a dog.

While mostly known as a British holiday custom, the appointment of a Lord of Misrule comes from antiquity. In ancient Rome, from the 17th to the 23rd of December, a Lord of Misrule was appointed for the feast of Saturnalia, in the guise of the good god Saturn. During this time the ordinary rules of life were subverted as masters served their slaves, and the offices of state were held by slaves. The Lord of Misrule presided over all of this, and had the power to command anyone to do anything during the holiday period. This holiday seems to be the precursor to the more modern holiday, and it carried over into the Christian era.

In the Tudor period the Lord of Misrule is mentioned a number of times by contemporary documents referring to both revels at court and among the ordinary people.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_of_Misrule

 

Boxing Day

In addition to the already listed contributions, the Romans were also responsible for the eventual tradition and holiday of Boxing Day, which is celebrated throughout the British Isles.

The exact etymology of the term “boxing day” is unclear. There are several competing theories, none of which is definitive.  The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, has been dated to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown. It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor. Also, it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, wherein metal boxes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the Western Church falls on the same day as Boxing Day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradespeople to collect “Christmas boxes” of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas as thanks for good service throughout the year.This is mentioned in Samuel Pepys‘ diary entry for 19 December 1663.  This custom is linked to an older English tradition: since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day to visit their families. The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses, and maybe sometimes leftover food.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boxing_Day

 

Anglo-saxon  period, traditions and beliefs

The Romans left the British Isles around the end of the 5th century and were replaced by the Angles/ Saxon invasion and migration into the area. They arrived during the 5th century and remained a dominant force until 1066 and William the Conqueror took over the land.

The Anglo-Saxons were a people who inhabited Great Britain from the 5th century. They included people from Germanic tribes who migrated to the island from continental Europe, and their descendants; as well as indigenous British groups who adopted some aspects of Anglo-Saxon culture and language. The Anglo-Saxon period denotes the period of British history between about 450 and 1066, after their initial settlement, and up until the Norman conquest.

The Anglo-Saxon period includes the creation of an English nation, with many of the aspects that survive today including regional government of shires and hundreds; the re-establishment of Christianity; a flowering in literature and language; and the establishment of charters and law. The term Anglo-Saxon is also popularly used for the language, in scholarly use more usually called Old English, that was spoken and written by the Anglo-Saxons in England and eastern Scotland between at least the mid-5th century and the mid-12th century.

The history of the Anglo-Saxons is the history of a cultural identity, and how this developed from divergent groups, grew with the adoption of Christianity, was used in the establishment of various kingdoms, and, in the face of a threat from Danish settlers, re-established itself as one identity until after the Norman Conquest.  The outward appearance of Anglo-Saxon culture can be seen in the material culture of buildings, dress styles, illuminated texts and grave goods. Behind the symbolic nature of these cultural emblems there are strong elements of tribal and lordship ties, and an elite that became kings who developed burhs, and saw themselves and their people in Biblical terms. Above all, as Helena Hamerow has observed, “local and extended kin groups remained…the essential unit of production throughout the Anglo-Saxon period”.

Use of the term Anglo-Saxon assumes that the words Angles, Saxons or Anglo-Saxon have the same meaning in all the sources. Assigning ethnic labels such as “Anglo-Saxon” is fraught with difficulties, and the term itself only began to be used in the 8th century to distinguish “Germanic” groups in Britain from those on the continent.  Catherine Hills summarised the views of many modern scholars that attitudes towards Anglo-Saxon and hence the interpretation of their culture and history has been “more contingent on contemporary political and religious theology as on any kind of evidence.”

The history of the Saxons is far too in depth and extensive to delve into here and does not pertain all that much to our discussion of early Christmas traditions and beliefs. The most important thing to keep in mind and consider is that they were made of a variety of northern Germanic tribes. While some of these tribes were early converts to Christianity, many of them were not and brought with them their more Norse beliefs.

800px-Anglo_Saxon_migration_5th_cen

Many of the early Saxons had similar beliefs to the later Viking invaders, though as time passed they became the minority and were eventually over taken by those who had converted to Christianity.

For a more detailed and in depth look at these early Saxons, their struggle to hold on to their old ways and their eventual demise under the Christian influence, I would highly suggest you read this series of books by Octavia Randolph. I suggest here mainly because she deals with the early Saxon beliefs and how closely they were connected to the Norse/Vikings beliefs of the time. She also has excellent descriptions of some of their traditions and celebrations! It is a series of four books that tell a young woman’s journey through the Viking conquests of early England and then her life in the northern lands of  Danemark, and Gotland.

circle of ceridwen1

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23123223-the-circle-of-ceridwen

In Circle of Ceridwen, Octavia Randolph discusses in great detail, the Saxon belief in Woden and  it’s close connection to the Viking belief in Odin.

 

 

Woden in Anglo-Saxon England

“If a West Saxon farmer in pagan times had walked out of his bury or ton above the Vale of Pewsey some autumn day, and looking up to the hills had caught sight of a bearded stranger seeming in long cloak larger than life as he stalked the skyline through the low cloud; and if they had met at the gallows by the cross-roads where a body still dangled; and if the farmer had noticed the old wanderer glancing up from under a shadowy hood or floppy brimmed hat with a gleam of recognition out of his one piercing eye as though acclaimed a more than ordinary interest, a positive interest, in the corpse;… and if all this had induced in the beholder a feeling of awe; then he would have been justified in believing that he was in the presence of Woden tramping the world of men over his own Wansdyke.”

Anglo-Saxon polytheism reached Great Britain during the 5th and 6th centuries with the Anglo-Saxon migration, and persisted until the completion of the Christianization of England by the 8th or 9th century.

For the Anglo-Saxons, Woden was the psychopomp or carrier of the dead,  but not necessarily with the same attributes as the Norse Odin. There has been some doubt as to whether the early English shared the Norse concepts of Valkyries and Valhalla. The Sermo Lupi ad Anglos refers to the wælcyrian “valkyries”, but the term appears to have been a loan from Old Norse; in the text, it is used to mean “(human) sorceress”.

The Christian writer of the Maxims found in the Exeter Book (341, 28) records the verse Wôden worhte weos, wuldor alwealda rûme roderas (“Woden wrought the (heathen) altars / the almighty Lord the wide heavens”). The name of such Wôdenes weohas (Saxon Wôdanes with, Norse Oðins ve) or sanctuaries to Woden survives in toponymy as Odinsvi, Wodeneswegs.

Royal genealogy

Woden listed as an ancestor of Ælfwald of East Anglia in the Textus Roffensis (12th century).

As the Christianisation of England took place, Woden was euhemerised as an important historical king  and was believed to be the progenitor of numerous Anglo-Saxon royal houses.

Discussing the Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain, Bede, in his Ecclesiastical History of the English People (completed in or before 731) writes that:

The two first commanders are said to have been Hengist and Horsa … They were the sons of Victgilsus, whose father was Vecta, son of Woden; from whose stock the royal race of many provinces deduce their original.

The Historia Brittonum, composed around 830,  presents a similar genealogy and additionally lists Woden as a descendent of Godwulf,  who likewise in Snorri Sturluson’s Prose Edda is said to be an ancestor of “Vóden, whom we call Odin“.

According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, composed during the reign of Alfred the Great,  Woden was the father of Wecta, Beldeg, Wihtgils and Wihtlaeg  and was therefore an ancestor of the Kings of Wessex, Northumbria, Mercia and East Anglia. As in Bede’s Ecclesiastical History, a history of early Anglo-Saxon migration to Britain incorporating Woden as an ancestor of Hengist and Horsa is given:

These men came from three tribes of Germany: from the Old Saxons, from the Angles, and from the Jutes … their commanders were two brothers, Hengest and Horsa, that were the sons of Wihtgils. Wihtgils was Witta’s offspring, Witta Wecta’s offspring, Wecta Woden’s offspring. From that Woden originated all our royal family …

Descent from Woden appears to have been an important concept in Early Medieval England. According to N. J. Higham, claiming Woden as an ancestor had by the 8th century become an essential way to establish royal authority. Richard North (1997) similarly believes that “no king by the late seventh century could do without the status that descent from Woden entailed.”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W%C5%8Dden

Pre-cursor to Santa Claus

The reason that Woden and Odin become important in our discussion of Christmas is that they are both considered pre-cursors to Father Christmas and Santa Claus!

Throughout the Middle Ages and into the modern period, Woden persisted as a figure in folklore and folk religion, notably as the leader of the Wild Hunt found in English, German, Swiss, and Scandinavian traditions.

Woden is thought to be the precursor of the English Father Christmas, or Father Winter, and the American Santa Claus.

A celebrated late attestation of invocation of Wodan in Germany dates to 1593, in Mecklenburg, where the formula Wode, Hale dynem Rosse nun Voder “Wodan, fetch now food for your horse” was spoken over the last sheaf of the harvest.  David Franck adds, that at the squires’ mansions, when the rye is all cut, there is Wodel-beer served out to the mowers; no one weeds flax on a Wodenstag, lest Woden’s horse should trample the seeds; from Christmas to Twelfth-day they will not spin, nor leave any flax on the distaff, and to the question why? they answer, Wode is galloping across. We are expressly told, this wild hunter Wode rides a white horse.

A custom in Schaumburg is reported by Jacob Grimm: the people go out to mow in parties of twelve, sixteen, or twenty scythes, but it is managed in such a manner that, on the last day of harvest, they are all finished at the same time, or some leave a strip that they can cut down at a stroke, or they merely pass their scythes over the stubble, pretending that there is still some left to mow. At the last strokes of their scythes, they raise their implements aloft, plant them upright, and beat the blades three times with their strops. Each spills on the field a little of his drink—whether beer, brandy, or milk—then drinks it himself, while they wave their hats, beat their scythes three times, and cry aloud Wôld, Wôld, Wôld!. The women knock all of the crumbs out of their baskets onto the stubble. They march home shouting and singing. If the ceremony was omitted, the hay and corn crops would be bad in the following year. The first verse of the song is quoted by Grimm,

„Wôld, Wôld, Wôld!
Hävens wei wat schüt,
jümm hei dal van Häven süt.
Vulle Kruken un Sangen hät hei,
upen Holte wässt manigerlei:
hei is nig barn un wert nig old.
Wôld, Wôld, Wôld! “

“Wôld, Wôld, Wôld”!
Heaven’s giant knows what happens,
He, looking down from heaven,
Providing full jugs and sheaves.
Many a plant grows in the woods.
He is not born and grows not old.

“Wôld, Wôld, Wôld”!

 

Wodan_heilt_Balders_Pferd_by_Emil_Doepler wodin saxon god wodin

 

As the Saxons became Christians, their beliefs in the old Gods and old ways were considered Pagan by the Church. It was a constant struggle  for the Church to eliminate the Pagan beliefs and traditions so they began to incorporate the Pagan beliefs into their preaching as a way to draw the people in. This took place from the beginnings of the Church as an organized powerful and political force. No matter how they tried though, they were unable to get people to give up many of their long held traditions and celebrations of the mid-winter Solstice.  Their earliest means of  incorporating the mid-winter Solstice was to set the birth of Jesus at the same time, referring to him and the event as the “Sun of Righteousness”.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christmas

The Saxons became Christians and the lower portions of the British Isles were  settled into small separate  kingdoms and territories ruled by newly Christian overlords who fought amongst themselves for power and control but  generally followed the laws of the Church, which held most of the power at the time. If they still practiced or observed Pagan traditions, they did it privately.

The arrival of the Norse Vikings brought back old ways, beliefs and traditions.

It is important to note here that the Saxon migration, as well as the later Viking migration only applies to the lower portion of the British Isles. Scotland was not really involved in this restructuring of the land and was dealing with it’s own changing dynamics. As I have previously mentioned, there was already a Norse migration and influence on the Northern portions of Scotland, the Church was also making it’s way into converting the Scottish lands, and there was what might be considered as a form of genocide of the remaining Druids and Picts of the areas. Little remains of either culture to determine what their traditions or beliefs might have entailed.  what we can note here is that the inhabitants of the Highland areas had a clan or tribal system that might be similar to those of Germanic or Norse tribal or clan systems.

For a better feel and sense of what was taking place in the northern areas of Scotland during these early times, I would suggest reading

 

For our purposes, we are focusing on the beliefs and traditions that we can more easily trace back to their original roots.

 Maggie Griggs makes the trip back in time in Veil of Time  by Claire R. McDougall.

Veil of Time

A compelling tale of two Scotlands-one modern, one ancient-and the woman who parts the veil between them.

The medication that treats Maggie’s seizures leaves her in a haze, but it can’t dull her grief at losing her daughter to the same condition. With her marriage dissolved and her son away at school, Maggie retreats to a cottage below the ruins of Dunadd, once the royal seat of Scotland. But is it fantasy or reality when she awakens in a bustling village within the massive walls of eighth-century Dunadd? In a time and place so strange yet somehow familiar, Maggie is drawn to the striking, somber Fergus, brother of the king and father of Illa, who bears a keen resemblance to Maggie’s late daughter. With each dreamlike journey to the past, Maggie grows closer to Fergus and embraces the possibility of staying in this Dunadd. But with present-day demands calling her back, can Maggie leave behind the Scottish prince who dubs her mo chridhe, my heart?

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18144050-veil-of-time

Now, while the area of Dunnad and Kilmartin are filled with ancient Stone circles and Standing Stones, Maggie did not make use of them for her trip through time. They were an integral part or mechanism for her travel though as she had not experienced the time travel previously to her visit to Dunadd as an adult.  Also, the Druidess priestess and others she met in the past seemed to feel that the Stones were responsible for her travel as well as for any number of other events. Maggie was suffering from a number of traumatic events in life and decided to spend some time by herself in an isolated cottage at the base of the Dunnad hill fort.  She is working on her doctoral thesis- on the history of Witchcraft in Scotland and trying to finish it before facing a life altering and possible mind altering major operation to cure her of her epileptic seizures. It seems that the combination of the seizures and what ever mystical properties might be at this area are initially the trigger to send her back through time to the year 735 when Dunnad was at the height of it’s importance in history.

The book gives a very good description and visualization of  Mid-winter solstice celebrations as they might have taken place during that time! It also references the Druidic influences and Pict representation in that area and time.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/?s=veil+of+time

 

In our next segment, we will explore what happens when the Saxons of England face their past and their future with the arrival of the Norse Vikings who bring with them the old beliefs and traditions once more.

 

Settled Christian Saxons face their past and their future with arrival of Vikings

King Ecgbert of Wessex

King Ecgbert of Wessex

 

Outlander musings and preview of episode 6.

Before I get into any preview of this week’s coming episode, I just want to put down some thoughts on the Outlander Experience as it relates to me?  I am a late comer to the Outlander Experience, having just discovered it this summer.  My initial thoughts after reading the first book a few months ago were, “How did I miss this when it first came out all of those years ago!” My daughter asked me the same question and I had to sit down for a bit and think about how or why I might have missed out on the book at that time.

In order to answer that, I had to travel my thoughts back to what might have kept me from enjoying the first book and the future ones as they made their way into the bookstores and libraries. So, what was I so busy with back then that prevented me from noticing this book, which by all rights should have immediately caught my attention by way of the fact that it hit all of my target book reading genres? Well, first of all let’s look at what I was doing in 1991 when the first book was released.  I was a single Mom of two small children , one of whom had some serious learning difficulties at the time, I was going to school full time, working part time so let’s conclude that I was extremely busy juggling balls in the air and didn’t have much free time to browse, shop for, or read big fat books unless of course they were text books! I also had little spare cash to spend on those big fat books at the time.  I did make a few occasional exceptions in cases where I already knew an author and their previous works… such as the case of  Jane m Auel and her Clan of the Cave Bear series. Those books were my one exception to the ‘No Big Fat Books that we have no time for ‘ rule.  In all honesty, when I think back to that particular time, most of my reading as pleasure time was spent reading what ever my children were interested in. In fact, I believe that might have been the summer that I spent re-reading the entire Little House on the Prairie series along with my daughter.  Fortunately for me, my daughter was and is a voracious reader and was reading at much higher reading levels than most 10 year olds. She also had an all consuming passion for anything historical from her earliest years. We quickly moved on from the Little House books to much weightier novels and biographies.  My son was never much of a reader when he was young but did enjoy being read to and he also enjoyed the history with some fantasy thrown in. We devoured the Indian in the Cupboard- still a favorite of mine, I have to admit! We also progressed to The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe and spent a lot time with Beatrix Potter as well. It was during that year too, that we wandered into poetry and prose with Robert Lois Stevenson and then headed into the darkness with the Brothers Grimms Fairy tales.  So, while yes… I was reading and enjoying it, Diana Gabaldon and Outlander were most likely not anywhere close on my book radar screen at that time!

One other reason that I might overlooked the book, as if the first ones were not enough?  On the few occasions that I did indulge in the luxury of browsing for and buying a book just for me, one that I could escape into some adult fantasy realm for a few hours… one that I would have to hide away because I knew that my daughter’s hands and eyes would quickly find it? On those few rare occasions, I would head for the historical romance section and search for some steamy adult reading content- yes, you know, the ones with a ravished woman and a conquering hero on the cover.  Well, hmmm did Outlander have such a cover to entice me? No, it did not… If you were a busy stressed out Mom on a hectic schedule with just a very limited amount of time to sneak into the Romance section and find yourself some romantic escape rather quickly, would this book have called out to you? I think not!  I deeply regret that now of course, but Hey, I had a lot going on back then and didn’t have a lot of extra time to search in depth!

Outlander-blue-cover

For an interesting perspective on the length of time passed and what was involved in the initial writing of the first book, you can read Diana Gabaldon’s perspective here: http://www.dianagabaldon.com/2014/03/26-years-ago-today/

 

Now that I look back on it, I am glad that I didn’t get around to reading them as they came out, having to wait all of those years in between for each book to finally arrive.  By discovering them all at once I was able to take the journey all at once… well, ok it did take a bit of time to get through them all so, no it was not really all at once but, you know what I mean!  What this wonderful discovery did was give me a feeling of having spent my summer on a whirlwind trip to the Highlands and various other spots of interest. In a sense I felt like I had enjoyed a true vacation without leaving home. So, if people should happen to ask how I spent my summer, I could happily announce, “Why, I spent it trekking through Scotland, the highlands. I met the most amazing people there and then I took this incredible trip to the Standing Stones of Craigh na Dhun,  traveled through time to Early America and back again several times… So, how did you spend your summer?”

 

Craigh na Dhun Stone Circle: http://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=1146411369

callanishiv1a

 

One last thought to share on the Outlander experience and the length of  time involved from the beginnings of it. It began in 1991 and the story is still unfolding. Most of us would certainly hope that we are around to see how it all continues. I work in a residential facility for the elderly. One of my residents, a lovely woman who is now not in the best of health, is a Outlander fan and has waited patiently over the years for each installment of the story.  She made a comment to me one night that put the waiting and the story that Diana is telling into perspective and made me think about it. She just recently finished the latest book, and when I asked her what she thought of this one, she sighed and said this, “It was wonderful but I am a little disappointed that I probably won’t be around to see how it all turns out for them.”  Knowing the woman’s health issues and knowing full well how long it takes for another book to come out, I had a hard time coming up with some uplifting comment back to her. I did mention that perhaps this could be come incentive for her to keep on ticking for a good bit longer? She just nodded and said, “Honey, I’m not sure that I can hold out quite that long!”

 

Now that we’ve covered some of the general musings on the history, timeline and the overall experience, you need to be prepared for the next episode of  Outlander, The Garrison Commander. When I say you need to be prepared, I am quite serious!  I believe that this episode is where we begin the true journey. The journey is not just a trip into the past and a love story between Jamie and Claire. It is far more than that, in that it takes us on an often dark journey into the minds and souls of those we assume are villains and evil doers. What Diana Gabaldon has done so well in the books is give us a full picture of those minds and how they come to think and act the way they do. She provides us so well with a highly detailed portrait of  tortured souls that act out in horrendous ways but very often have some underlying layer of  feeling or compassion. Before you start hating on black Jack Randall, please remember this… it will unfold in later times and you will better understand the man’s very warped mind!  Yes, the man is clearly extremely dangerous and depraved, it’s quite obvious that he has a very dark and vicious side to his soul but at some later point in time, he shows a different side of himself that one would not think possible.

 

I did read a mention that a portion of this next episode is not taken from the book so I am anxiously waiting to see what they come up with. I am assuming that they did this in order to move the story along in some ways and better suite it to audience viewing.  I am really looking forward to this episode for the fact that it does take us deeper into the complexities of the story. As I have mentioned, it is not just a love story by any standard. It is very complex and involved with the politics, the mysteries and the intrigues of the time period.  Diana spent a great deal of time detailing the politics and the intrigues of the period and I am not sure how they will manage to present all of it.  If you  have spent far too much time dreaming and drooling over Jamie during previous episodes and missed some of the dialogue, I would highly suggest that you start paying close attention to the ongoing dialogue because I think that it is coming to the point where you need to pay very close attention to all of what’s going on. The issue of the Standing Stones and getting back to them begins to take a lesser role as Claire becomes much more involved in the coming war and the MacKenzie’s part in it.  It is here, too, I think that her decisions, whether good or bad… and she certainly does make her share of bad ones, just as Jamie and everyone else does along the way… her decisions begin to seriously affect others and she starts to realize that it isn’t just about her, or her desire to get back to the stones any longer. This is definitely where the true story starts, in my opinion anyway!

 

 

 

OUT_106-20140414-ND_0524.jpg Outlander 2014 OUT_106-20140414-ND_0187.jpg

 

If you have not read the books, are not all that much of a deep history buff, I am thinking that some of the upcoming events may cause you a bit of confusion… I will be the first to admit that much of my time reading the books was spent googling various events mentioned throughout the books!

I will help you out with that and provide a few quick links here if you are interested in some very basic history on the events!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobite_risings

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobite_rising_of_1715

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacobite_rising_of_1745

 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Culloden

 

Some other history of note which did show up in last week’s episode involved the “Black Watch” here is a brief history of them during the time period from the early Jacobit risings in 1715 through the 1740’s.

 

History

Early history

After the Jacobite rising of 1715 the British government did not have the resources or manpower to keep a standing army in the Scottish Highlands. As a result, they were forced to keep order by recruiting men from local Highland clans that had been loyal to the Whigs. This proved to be unsuccessful in deterring crime, especially cattle rustling. Therefore Independent Highland Companies (of what would be known as the “Black Watch”) were raised as a militia in 1725 by General George Wade to keep “watch” for crime. He was commissioned to build a network of roads to help in the task.  The six Independent Highland Companies were recruited from local clans, with one company coming from Clan Munro, one from Clan Fraser, one from Clan Grant and three from Clan Cambell. These companies were commonly known as Am Freiceada Dubh, or the Black Watch, this name may well have been due to the way they dressed.[4] Four more companies were added in 1739 to make a total of ten Independent Highland Companies.

The ten Independent Highland Companies of “Black Watch” were officially formed into the “43rd Highland Regiment of Foot”, a regiment of the line in 1739.   It was first mustered in 1740, at Aberfeldy, Scotland. The Colonel was John Lindsay, 20th Earl of Crawford and the Lieutenant-Colonel was Sir Robert Munro, 6th Baronet. Among the Captains were his next brother, George Munro, 1st of   Culcairn (also a Captain of an Independent Company raised in 1745)  The other Captains of the 43rd were George Grant, Colin Campbell of Monzie, James Colquhoun of Luss, John Campbell of Carrick, Collin Campbell of Balliemore and Dougal Campbell of Craignish.

First action and Mutiny

The regiment’s earliest days were inauspicious: ordered to London in 1743 for an inspection by King George II, rumours flew that they were to be shipped to the West Indies to fight in the War of Austrian Succession, and many left for Scotland. They were recaptured, three of the leaders shot in the Tower of London, and the remainder of the regiment shipped to Flanders.

The regiment’s first full combat was the disastrous Battle of Fontenoy in Flanders in 1745, where they surprised the French with their ferocity, and greatly impressed their commander, the Duke of Cumberland. Allowed “their own way of fighting”, each time they received the French fire Col. Sir Robert Munro ordered his men to “clap to the ground” while he himself, because of his corpulence, stood alone with the colours behind him. For the first time in a European battle they introduced an infantry tactic (alternately firing and taking cover) that was not superseded. Springing up and closing with the enemy, they several times drove them back, and finished with a successful rear-guard action against French cavalry. Robert Munro’s cousin John Munro, 4th of Newmore also fought bravely and was afterwards promoted to be a lieutenant-colonel.

When the Jacobite rising of 1745 broke out, the regiment returned to the south of Britain in anticipation of a possible French invasion. However one company of the regiment fought for the British-Hanoverian Government under Dugald Campbell of Auchrossan at the Battle of Culloden, where they suffered no casualties.   From 1747 to 1756 they were stationed in Ireland and then were sent to New York.

 

 

 

Outlander 2014 OUT_105-20140404-EM_0744.jpg

Ahhhh now, for one last thought…. well, alright- a couple of last thoughts for the day! Some have debated on the discussion of how while Jamie Fraser is indeed a fine young Scotsman, and wears his kilt so well, he is a wee bit young for many of us? Yes, we could always give our praises and other favors to Dougal MacKenzie instead but that is such an iffy compromise being that Geilles will be our competition… In this line of thinking, I must remind you all that before Jamie, there were other drool worthy, kilt wearing representations for us to dream about and drool over? And, at the same time, giving us a bit of a history lesson just to assure ourselves and others that we were watching for the historical content?

 

I am not endorsing this first representative but I do realize that many found him drool worthy at the time and it was a Scots story so I feel that I must include it in your history lesson?  He did wear his kilt such as it was rather well and he told a good story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braveheart

braveheart Braveheart_portrait_w858 braveheart-mel

 

Now, my own personal favorite, which I give glowing endorsement to along with any other favors he would accept?  If you have never seen this movie, you should! Besides the history lesson, you can enjoy seeing Liam Neeson and others wear their kilts extremely well… and not wear them at all?! One note… I could not find it on Netflix but had to go to Amazon and rent it… it was well worth the money!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rob_Roy_(1995_film)

 

Ahhhh Just had to add this! Celtic Archives posted this debate a while ago: http://wildeyedsoutherncelt.com/tag/celts/    Rob Roy versus Jamie Fraser, who wears the kilt best?

Liam as Rob Roy Rob roy2 rob_roy rob_roy_13 robroy_large rob-roy-09-g

rob-roy rob roy 2

 

Now, for one last bit of eye worthy history watching… This one has nothing to do with the Scots wearing their kilts well, but my daughter made this observation recently and I do have to agree with her. In later books, mainly the last one, My Own Heart’s Blood, one of the characters comes into his own.  He’s been one of my favorites since he was introduced and I was happy to see more time devoted to his story! Jamie’s nephew, Ian travels to America with Jamie and Claire and his life is shaped by the time he spends living with the Indians. My daughter was watching the Last of the Mohicans one night and commented on she always had that image of Ian, especially with Diana Gabaldon’s references to the book and some of the characters in that book.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_of_the_Mohicans

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_of_the_Mohicans_(1992_film)

the-last-of-the-mohicans-original Daniel Day Lewis first American hero

 

And, that concludes our musings, our history lessons and our drooling for the day! Now, go off and prepare yourselves for tomorrow’s episode!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Behind the Scenes: Dunvegan’s private gallery and Hadrian’s Wall Fort

Some work on the upper level private museum/gallery at Dunvegan where Eric went to surround himself with  his distant past as he remembered those times.

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/29/eleanors-journal-the-depths-of-erics-past-from-norseland-to-vampyres-and-romans/

Normally, I do try to keep custom content out of the builds, but since this Castle has such a number of  various artifacts and memories, I felt it important to try to represent them! I am trying to keep it to a minimum and  will include a list of the items and where they can be found for download purposes.  These two photos include some of those items. The Sword and the cups on the shelf are from Sims Resource, Cashcraft’s  Pendragon Medieval collection which can be found here:

http://www.thesimsresource.com/artists/Cashcraft/downloads/details/category/sims3-sets/title/pendragon-medieval-collection/id/1043540/

Eric in the upstairs private gallery

The displayed Sword is important because it does reflect the red dragon mentioned in some of the historical theories on the origins of King Arthur. The decorative cups are representations of the Dunvegan Ceremonial Cup. The Wall antlers represent some of the ancient Macleod history, which Eric has not as yet come to in his memories!

private gallery

The other ancient swords and shields are courtesy of  Mod the Sims Medieval Armory set

http://www.modthesims.info/download.php?t=463364

 

The tapestries shown here have been in my game forever and you can find similar ones here:

http://www.thesimsresource.com/downloads/details/category/sims3-objects-furnishing-decor-paintingsposters/title/majikgoldys-medieval-tapestry/id/1028752/

Screenshot-15 private gallery4

The rest of the items in the room are game or store items!

 

The recent episode of Eric remembering his turning at Hadrian’s Wall Fort requires of course, that we have some version of Hadrian’s Wall Fort to refer to! We will be referring back to it again in the near future so we had to do work on constructing a set for it! Here are some initial views of it. It is not meant to be the entire wall, only a portion of it representing one of the early Roman Fortresses attached to it. Most of these Forts were nothing fancy and built for defensive purposes, not luxury!

These are some views of what it might have looked like in Eric’s early years there. This is an over view of it.

view of Hadrian's Wall Fort

 

Back view of Fort, most likely the portion that faced their enemy. The open space will be open field, possibly including a ditch to slow down the Barbarians.

Screenshot portion of Hadrian's Wall Fort

View of the Front, which would have been the Romans’ main entrance, but still well barricaded and fortified to withstand attack.

Hadrian's Wall Fort

Artorius with his sword… This should give you a clue as to who Artorius is? We have seen him before in connection to Eric!

Artorius and Eric

 

 

Eleanor’s Journal 74: The depths of Eric’s past… from Norseland, to Vampyres and Romans

Before you start on this episode, you may want to get your drinks and your munchies… it is a quite lengthy post! Also, there are limited illustrations in this episode. The far ancient past was a bit too difficult to attempt with any good quality so I chose to leave it as is with just the text to carry it. You may also want to refresh yourself with the details of some previous posts to aid in some understanding of Eric’s deepest past!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/24/from-the-creator-ancient-history-connects-the-norse-with-romans-and-king-arthur/

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/21/from-the-creator-some-history-of-clans-in-scotland/

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/20/eleanors-journal72-erics-memories-a-time-before-vampyres-and-a-life-of-contradictions/

 

Now on to the story!

Screenshot-4 Judith Self

Eric shook the thoughts of Judith out of his head for the moment. In his mind, she was his future and he would have no need to sit in the dark and relive his moments with her. He was determined that he would find her safe, and that things would work out with her. What he needed to do for now was clear his head of the other memories that made up his past. If he were to have a future worth living with Judith, he must sort through the mess of his long and turbulent life, put it all into perspective, truly learn from the mistakes and not be guided by the emotions that always had a way of attaching to memories. Eric reminded himself that those events of his past were neither good nor bad, they were all merely lessons that everyone must learn. Some such as mortal humans learned them over a series of lives and deaths, while others such him now, learned them all in one long life time.

Screenshot-15

Eric had spent an evening with Brennie and Svein, honoring their most ancient traditions and beliefs. Even though he had never been such a profound or firm believer in those things, he still held on to the traditions and the rituals for the peace it gave him. The Summer Solstice was one of those most sacred and spiritual times for many beliefs. It was one of those time when many believed that magic and miracles were at their strongest. When the veils between time and worlds were at their thinnest, and when those on other sides- whether it be Gods or simply those in other dimensions could hear and feel each other more intensely. It was often said that if one offered prayers, blessings or beseechings at these times, they would be heard and answered from beyond. He wasn’t sure of that but was well willing to take the chance if someone could hear their requests and help them on their mission to find Judith.

Screenshot-2 (4)

Later after it was over, he had went to his own place of private prayer and offered his thoughts and his blessings to the one whom he missed so much. He had built this small memorial to her on the place where she had died so many centuries ago, and added one here at Dunvegan as well. While he had built with the outward appearance of honoring the Dunvegan legend of the Fairies, in his heart, he knew that it was in tribute to that one he had called a true friend. He often spent time alone with her in these places. Many times he could feel her presence with him, reaching out to him from that other place where she dwelled now. For a long time after her death, he had felt nothing but raw and grating pain, he had heard moans of terror and grief, keenings of hurt and wandering through darkness. At some point it had settled to a fog of uncertainty and not caring… But, lately it had become more intense again in it’s searching. It felt as if she were re-awakening on some level and trying to find her bearings. This night, he felt her reaching out desperately, and he heard in some faint tunnel of whirling sounds and waves, her voice calling. He thought he heard his own name, as well as others. He could not trust that it wasn’t just his wishful thinking and his own desperation that played tricks on his mind though because he thought he felt Judith and someone else in that mist as well?

Guinivere1   guinivere's arrival

Usually after some time spent here, he was more at peace with the world. Tonight, though he left with his heart and his soul in even more turmoil than it was when he began the evening. He wandered back up to the Castle and locked himself in the upstairs private library and museum that held so many of their most valued artifacts from the ancient past. Surrounded by these material remains of history, he poured himself a highly prized, very rare Whiskey and settled in front of the fire to recall his life in detail. He kept the bottle close at hand, knew well that it would take some long time and much of this strong fortifier to get through it.

The deepest depths of Eric’s memories

He took his thoughts back to the very beginnings… he intended to work his way straight through and come out on this end with a firmer grasp on his emotions. His intent was to work through it, honor it, grieve it, forgive himself and others for the wrongdoings, and then say Good Bye to much of it. His own private wake for his life was how he looked at this, and a celebration of a new journey upon which he would then embark.

           His earliest memories were few. He remembered little of the time spent in that other North land of his earliest ancestors, other than the leaving of it on that earliest voyage across the sea. His Father, a large and loud hulk of a man with wild blonde hair and the palest, faded blue eyes-possibly from staring out at the skies and the sun from his ships much of the time. His Mother, almost as tall as his Father, yet slimmer and a bit more refined in her looks but no less imposing. She was quieter, more thoughtful than his Father equally as strong and determined. She had a regal and royal bearing to her which never left. It had been his Mother’s line from whence their status came and she quite often took pains to remind her husband of it. While his Father was the brute force and strength that people looked at and feared immediately, his Mother was the one who held the calm, and if need be cold reserve that would hold one’s fear and respect even longer after a punishment meated out by her husband.

           She was a queen in her own right and never should any forget that, she vowed to her husband as they embarked on this journey to a new settlement in a far away place. His Father, Eirkr, whom he was named after, being the eldest son, was a great warrior and Chieftan in that North land but was choosing instead to follow his brother, Svein to this new place of peace and plenty. His Mother, Asdis, an honored and well revered Queen of one of those North places had made choice to align her tribe with that of Eirkr’s in a treaty of peace. She had gifted herself to Eirkr as wife and thereby stopped much of the warring, at least between their two lands. The rest of the wars continued however and there were constant battles for land and power among the various tribes of those lands. As their populations increased, the land became less able to sustain them all equally. The wars for limited resources became more violent and deadly.

            Eric remembered little of that, save what others told him in stories, and in their move this new land, those stories became of less importance or value. Eirkr’s brother Svein was a younger brother who must seek out his own destiny and he had chosen to seek it on the seas, traveling to far distant realms and returning with stories of vast oceans full of fish, of lands plentiful for those who would dare to claim it, and of places filled with magic and mysteries. He told of other peoples there who held secrets of the world and of life. On those visits, he would sit with them in the fire lit lodge and fill them with stories, some meant to scare and others meant to provide a smile and a dream or two of those far off places.  Eric’s Mother, Asdis, was a healer and mystical woman herself and she would badger Svein for more details of these places until he would wave his arms in defeat, “Ach, I’ve no more to tell ya, unless ya want to be makin it up, or ya want to get on a boat and join me there!”

             Asdis and Eirkr were adventurers and sea goers. They were also practical ones who knew that they could not hold off invasions of their lands indefinitely. They had discussed it long and hard for months, swaying back and forth on their options. Finally, they had come to a decision. They would leave their lands of that North place in search of a new destiny with Svein. The choice had been left to their people whether to go or stay put. Asdis had turned her power and her crown over to her younger brother. She would step down as leader of that group and then swore her fielty and allegiance  to her husband and his people. Previous to this, they had managed to rule together but separately their two groups. In accordance with their traditions, she had retained her role as ruler and Queen of her people while her marriage was looked at in a separate fashion. Now, she gave the role of Queen and stepped into the role of wife to a King. In their culture this was a very different thing… there was no such role at that time as Queen consort. One was either a Queen in her own right and ruler of her people, or one was a mate of a King, with much less standing, influence or power. Twas a difficult choice she made, and oft ground her teeth over in later times. She did however, adapt to the role in as much as she was able… and while no longer a Queen in that sense, she did wield power as the Mother of future rulers… which Eric was destined to be.

            Eirkr and Svein agreed to be co-rulers of their group in the new land. Months of preparations had finally found them all setting forth on that voyage across the North Sea to the place which Svein called Hjaltland.  Eventually, they had migrated farther south to the place they referred to as the Isle of Skuy and made their settlement there.

map of Scotland with Shetland islands and Isle of Skye

             Those earliest years had been a struggle for survival as they learned to carve out a new life in this much different place. It was indeed a place of strangeness and mystery but one thing it was not in that beginning time, was a place of such violent battles for land. There were already peoples living there, but like the Norse settlers, they were struggling to survive. It was not a land for the weak willed in any way. Here the battles were not so much with each other over limited territories, but with the sheer forces of an untamed wilderness and the rages of the natural environment. They learned together, the Norse settlers and those earliest of inhabitant of the area, the Picts. There were others there too, ones who had been there fighting just as long, or longer… the small groups of Fairie peoples deep within the forests and those other wanderers, Vampyres. Those two groups mostly kept to themselves in their own small communities but it was more due to a matter of comfort in residing with those of one’s own kind than anything else back then. There was no resentment or fear of others, unless they should bring it upon themselves by some action or behavior on their own part.

Old Celtic tribes of southern scotland and north east England

             No, back in that earliest time, they had all eeked out an existance together in that land. Eric’s family Clan had settled this piece of land near the sea and had been there ever since. He had grown to his young manhood there, working along side his Father, his uncle, his younger brothers and cousins to build a life for themselves. They had done well in that respect, traveling the seas, trading with the Picts, the Fairies and the few Vampyres there to forge a well knit community. Their peoples had mated to each other, new ties and new bloodlines. Eric remembered fondly his uncle Svein’s uniting with the young Vampyre, Gisella. It had been an arranged mating, as so many often were back in those ages, but they had been happy with it. Svein had come to love her most dearly and eventually turned to the Vampyre bloodline himself. He had done it willingly out of his love for that woman. Svein’s mating and turning had more sealed their bonds with that small Vampyre Clan and eventually they had easily blended into one larger clan rather than two separate ones. Other matings had blended them with the Fairies of that land, of the Picts as well. Their life had been hard but well satisfying and over all peaceful other than small skirmishes between clan members. Those small battles and disagreements were to be expected among any groups living in close proximity to each other. The disagreements were usually solved quickly and with limited violence, despite what history might attribute to those times. Eric laughed to himself… what did historians truly know of that time before such detailed and supposedly accurate documented accounts from questionable sources?

             No, life had been good then… until the arrival of the others upon their borders and their soil. The Romans had discovered the lands and the valuable resources of the British isles and set about claiming that land and those resources for their ever expanding empire. What the Romans had not counted on was such resistance from ones that they deemed primitive Barbarians. In those lower regions of the isle, they were more successful in their conquering of the local peoples already there. Despite their best efforts however, they never succeeded in conquering the upper regions of the land. What they did manage for some time though, was to form a tight circle around that area, controlling much of the land and the sea around it. They also brought something else with them on their arrival to those lands, which although unintended and not purposeful, did much to decimate the numbers remaining in the upper lands. Their secret, unknown- even to themselves- weapon was disease. As in the case for many conquerors, diseases and illness, which those conquerors may have built up some resistance to, often did a more thorough job of controlling an opposing force or army than the men themselves could accomplish.

probable Roman defenses

probable Roman defenses

             The inhabitants of that northern region were generally much isolated to themselves and not exposed to the deadly plagues of other populations. As the Romans ventured farther and farther north into their settlements and territories, they brought with them those plagues that swept through their new victims with alarming speed. Many of the Northern clans were wiped out in entirity by an illness or ailment which the Romans may have easily fought off with their increased immunities due to having been exposed to such an illness previously. Along with the threats of illness, there were also climate and weather changes that none could control. In addition, if that were not all bad enough, the increasing population brought by the Romans upon the land caused the lands themselves to be over used and ravaged. So, as the Romans advanced, the land became unusable, people became hungry and desperate.

               It was during those darkest times that history does seldom speak of… for much of the history was documented by the Romans who would not want for themselves to looked on as the blame for any of it, nor did they want to admit that they were often defeated by such small ragged bands of Barbarians who would fight to their death and their extinction before they gave in so willing to the Roman forces. So, the Romans made excuses for their retreating to back behind the walls they created for their defense against such savages that they could not manage to control. In truth, the Roman empire was at that time, beginning to fail as a whole and would soon be defeated by many such numbers of so called savages.

             During some of those bleakest of times before the next dark ages approached, Eric’s family and Clan had faced much of the demise as others. They had joined together with the Picts to fight the legions of Roman Warriors and lost many of their members to those wars. Ones not lost to the horrors of battle were lost to other horrors of plague and starvation.

             Towards the end, there had been little Clan left to lead or to rule. Eric along with most of the other men, and many of the women too had went into battle for their lands, their freedom and their very lives. Most of them lost the battle. He had watched his Father and his younger brothers die in one such battle, still on occasion, would wake to their battle cries and then screams of agony. Eric himself had been gravely wounded in the battle and prayed for death to come to him. Unfortunately, it had not been death to come, but a Roman Warrior wandering the field in search of survivors to take away as prisoners, captives and eventual slaves to the Empire. It was then that Eric had opened his eyes and saw a blurry vague vision of that Warrior kneeling over him. He had prayed even harder for death to come quickly. His Norse and Celtic Gods had not been listening at the time, or so he thought anyway… but perhaps some other God was. That Roman Warrior had been a man by the name of Artorius. Lucius Artorius Castus had been his name back then. He wore on his shield the emblem of a red dragon and he carried such a sword as Eric had never seen before. 

               In his delirium, Eric thought hopefully that the man meant to slay him right then and there. There was no such luck to be with him. The man had though, gently and carefully reached down to touch his face, then his neck and chest, to check for signs of any fading life. Eric had felt the man’s touch, just barely… but it brought to his foggy mind, the touch of his uncle and other Vampyres, who felt so much colder than humans at first touch. Eric had fought to open his eyes once more and look into the man’s eyes. He saw it there, the faintest glimmer of that other blood flowing through him. Eric then fought to leave his life as quickly as possible. He did not want this man claiming his life in any way. If he were going to die, it would be on his own terms, a warrior’s death. He silently battled within his mind to die as that warrior, and not owe his life to any other, especially on such terms as a Vampyre would demand. He knew enough of their ways that they would not touch or revive one already dead and he willed his heart to stop.

              The man sensed his inner battle, his fears and his silent pleadings for death. He had knelt closer and held a steady hand upon Eric’s chest while whispering to him in some voice that reached in to touch his mind. “Do not fear, my warrior. You shall have an honorable death, or not… that is not up to any of us. If your death comes here upon the field then I will give you honor in burial. You have fought with courage and if you should die now, you will go on to your peace and your joy as a warrior to that place you call Valhalla. If death does not take you, I shall determine to save you and give you honor in life.”

             The man, Artorius, had stayed there with him for some time, waited for his death to come. After a few hours, that death had not arrived and the agonies of continued life began to invade Eric’s mind and body. He shook with tremors of pain, and his faintest moans of a life leaving turned to screams of a live remaining. Artorius had leaned over him and shared his thoughts once more. “Enough, now… You have not won your battle with life and death as you desired. If I do not intervene now, you will most likely survive, but not in any manner of which would give you further peace or comfort. If I do not step in, you will surely lose a leg, and a part of your being which I do suspect you are even more fond of than the legs you walk on. You are seriously and greviuosly  injured in a most sensitive part… Our physicians could most likely put you back together, but you should not appreciate the results.” He did not wait for Eric’s answer of approval or agreement, but instead immediately took the necessary steps to turn Eric.

              Even with the turning of him, it still took many weeks for his body and his mind to come close to recovering from all of that which had taken place. He remembered little of it other than being carried back to one of the forts on Hadrian’s wall upon the back of the man’s enormous black war horse. He had been cared for by the man’s personal servants and physicians. Lingering for much of that time in a state of half sleep induced by many potions forced down him by those physicians , he had still wished for death to over take him. Artorius had visited often and calmy entered his troubled mind to still those thoughts. “It was not your destiny to die then, or now. You are a fine and honorable warrior and man. The Gods have some other destiny in store for you and you must accept it and go on with your life such as it is now.”

              Artorius had addressed his other thoughts as well. “You are not a slave, You will never be one to anyone, to the Roman Empire nor to me either. For one thing, you would be worthless any sort of slave…It would take more energy, effort and will power than I or anyone else for that matter has to make it worth while to even attempt such a feat! On a second note, I did not save your life for the reason of binding you to me or my kind.” He continued to delve into Eric’s most private thoughts. “I know that you are well familiar with the Vampyre blood and of their rules and traditions. I will settle some this fear for you now.”

              The man had left for a time and returned with a few others. They were dressed richly in Roman wear with fine robes trimmed in fur covering them. Two of them stepped forward, close to him and stood silent with their hands clasped together. They were older, a man and a woman, obviously of some very high status in Roman, or any other terms. They wered adorned with jeweled neckplates, arm bracelets and rings. They stood there regally and their bearing reminded Eric of his Mother when she took on her Queen stance. He also noticed dimly  that they were both of Vampyre blood.

              Artorius spoke softly to them, they nodded and motioned to a younger man, some sort of scribe, he must be… to step forward with them. He held a scroll and some sort of quill, and knelt to make himself comfortable as he prepared to write upon the scroll. Artorius returned his attentions to Eric and spoke in formal tone. “Eric of the Northland, I hereby to release you from any blood bound ties that may connect you now to my line. Your life and your blood are yours to do with on your own as you see fit in this the remainder of your now eternal life. You owe me nothing in return for the lifeblood I gave you, save respect and honor for that doing. I make it known to all that I gave you life in honor as I would have given you burial in honor. What I expect in return from you is only honor in all things you continue on with in your life. I will provide you with sustinance and guidance in this new life and expect nothing other than honor in return for that. You fought with honor and bravery in battle and met your demise with the same honor.” He went for some time longer outlining the details of his vow and his agreements for Eric’s future but Eric by then, lost some conciousness again and could not well follow the remainder of it. What he did realize was that this man was officially releasing him from any Vampyre blood ties along with any servitude ties to the Roman Empire.

              This man, Artorius was releasing him from any servitude to the Roman empire and giving him his freedom to return to his people and his home with one final condition, though. Should he caught in any future battle with the Romans, there was no gaurantee on what should happen to him. He would not receive help or assistance from Artorius and his Vampyre bloodline, where by if he had been bound to them by blood, they might have been able to make some sort of agreement. Should he return to his home and then decide to make some other choice, he was free to return to Artorius as a free man and pledge his alliances and alliegance to the man personally, if not the entire Roman Empire. He thought this rather odd that the man should make this offer to him but in his weakened state, he had not dwelled on it.

              His weeks of recovery had turned to some long months of training and guidance from Artorius, who took his vows quite seriously. He had vowed to train Eric in the Vampyre ways in order for him to survive on his own if that would be the need or the choice in his future. The training was long, involved and ensured that he would be a honorable warrior not just as in the human sense, but in the Vampyre way as well. During this time, Artorius had sent out his scouts into those highlands and outer isles in search of Eric’s family and clan, or what ever was left of them. The news was grim. Few of his clan remained, save Svein and a few others. Svein and a few of the other Vampyre bloods had most likely survived due to their Vampyre blood, but even that had not been a certainty. There were plagues that affected even the Vampyres and the Fairies.

              On one evening after the return of his scouts, Artorius felt compelled to sit down with Eric and share the gruesome details with him. There was nothing much to return there for it seemed but he was quite sure that the young man would feel honor bound to return to what ever was left up there. He needed to know ahead of time what he would face upon that return.

              Eric’s Father and brothers had died in the battle, he was well aware of that much. What he did not know of was what Svein had found on his return to their home in the north, nor of course, the current condition that Svein was in up there. Svein had lead the few survivors of the battle who managed to escape back to their home. He had found it ravaged and burnt to the ground with everything in a near vicinity to it destroyed and turned to a wasteland… They had lived near the sea on a well placed, or so they thought, piece of land that gave them easy access to that sea. The Roman legions that swept over those seas surrounding the northern places had come down so far as their safe place and decimated everything within their reach. There had been few left in that place they assumed safe do any real battle with the Romans. The ones who attempted it were quickly taken down. Others, such as young children and women had been taken as captives bound for a life of Roman slavery or death. Yet others, who they deemed unfit for servitude were not killed outright, they were simply left to die there on their own, or live as testimony to what the Romans were capable of. Eric held his head in his hand so as not to show such grief and tears in front of Artorius.

              Svein was there now, and had been so consumed by his rage and grief that he seemed to live in some violent world of his own creation. His beloved wife, Gisella had not followed them into battle because at the time she was great with child. Eric’s Mother, Asdis and a few other women had remained behind with her to assist her, along with the younger children, and some of the elders too weak for battle. The sickness had come to them and taken many, among them his Mother, who had been caring for those who were ill. Gisella had taken ill as well, but with her Vampyre blood, she had survived longer. In the end, she most likely wished that she had died earlier with others. As the Romans arrived, she was close to her time and could do little to defend others or herself. She was gravely ill as well as being so near to delivering her child and she was one whom the Romans had determined was little use to them, other than as a form depraved entertainment to some of the warriors. Uncaring of her illness, her advanced state of pregnancy, or for that matter her more sensitive to daylight Vampyre blood, they had used her viciously, repeatedly, and laughed at her dying screams in the brightest of daylight. The last man to use her dropped her casually in the dirt when the life finally left her body, and that of the unborn son within her.

              On returning to the wreckage of their home, Svein had found her skin burnt body, with what was left of her features still seeming to be wracked in some stone like eternal cry of such pain that it could still be felt by any who might come near. His ears were filled with those screams, along with the echoes and traces of so many others. The few others who survived had only managed to do so by fleeing to the wilds of the forested areas and they were too frightened to return to the place they had once called home. Svein had held on to his sanity long enough to bury his wife’s body and those of others who had been slain. He had carried on long enough to put the place to some sort of livable rights for a time and search for the remaining survivors in order to determine what had happened. He could not convince any of them to remain there, he did not expect them to… but he remained, refused to leave the place and then went much mad with his grief and his rage at all Romans.

              Eric’s younger sisters and some of his female cousins had been taken away with the Romans to parts unknown. The only thing that held Svein in any sane mind at times was the thought of his own daughter and his nieces out there somewhere in the hands of the Romans. On hearing of his sisters’ plight, Eric’s grief too, turned to rage and to a determination to find them all, to bring them home.