First…a quick apology to anyone who saw a Silent Sunday post in their feed this morning. I know it’s not a Sunday. Let me explain…After my first attempt at using the new editor on Monday seemed to go ok, I thought I would try scheduling a post today for later this month…Everything appeared to be going well, until I hit the “schedule” button and a strange comment popped up which amounted to a “you can’t do this for some reason” (my interpretation) and so it was published instead. Don’t really know what I did wrong, and don’t really have the time to look into, so I’m back to the classic editor. Sigh.
Anyway, here’s today’s post…Enjoy!
Visiting the Iron Age…both in real life and in fiction
A few weeks ago we spent a few days away in north west Shropshire, and one of those – or at least, one afternoon – was spent exploring Old Oswestry Hillfort. Dating back to the Iron Age, it is one of the best preserved hillforts in Britain…
I find the Iron Age to be one of the most interesting periods of history and so I loved every moment of walking around the site. I took loads of photos, and I thought it would be fun to share a few of them here.
My novel “Oathbreaker”, is set during the Iron Age (spot the seamless transition there 😉 ). Did you know you can read it for free on Wattpad? It was first drafted in summer / autumn 2018, and at the time the chapters were only given numbers. However, whilst I’d been giving the story a (very) light edit a few weeks ago, which was inspired by the trip to the hillfort, I added in chapter titles and chapter header images too. The photos are all my own, and hopefully reflect one of the themes running through the story: the power and magic of nature, of which there was plenty of both at Old Oswestry.
Hillforts like the one at Old Oswestry would not have been an unfamiliar sight to Eleri and Celyn, the two main characters in Oathbreaker, though they probably would have found the size and scale of the multiple ramparts to be quite impressive.
You can read more about the history of Old Oswestry Hillfort, on this page on the English Heritage website.
The view in the photo above shows the main path up to the top of the hillfort, whilst the one below looks out across the not-very-flat plateau…
The site sprawls across the local area. On the next, very steep hill over, was a lovely woodland which we also took the opportunity to walk around:
Although some people might argue there isn’t much to see today at a site like this, compared to a castle or even a stone circle, (not everyone finds lumps and bumps in the ground as exciting as me 😉 ), the atmosphere was imbued with history. Looking out across the hills, it’s easy to appreciate why the site was chosen: the tribe living there would have had a commanding view of their territory, and should they needed to have defended it from attackers, those multiple steep ramparts would have given them a sense of safety and protection. I can only imagine how fit and strong an invading force would’ve had to have been to run up that hill, carrying weapons and perhaps a shield, whilst the defenders rained down missiles from above, and still be in a condition to fight when they reached the top!
If you enjoy reading historical fantasy with a dash of romance, and inspired by the myth, magic and landscape of the Iron Age, please do check out Oathbreaker. Here’s the story summary:
‘Be my wife.’ The words were so quiet, Eleri wondered if she had really heard them. ‘Please, Eleri. Be my wife,’ he said again, louder and with even more intensity.
Eleri, priestess of the Green Lady, has waited for so long to marry her tribe’s champion, Celyn. Finally, the date is set for Midsummer’s Eve, when the tribes have gathered in the valley to celebrate the longest day at the stone circle perched up on the hill. But nothing is as it seems…
A glimpse of a bird circling over the stones foretells of doom…and maybe even death.
An oath is made. An oath is broken. And Eleri’s life changes forever…
“Oathbreaker” is a story inspired by ancient history, mythology, and the landscape. Set in the Iron Age, where there is no distinction between history and mythology, and where magic is as real as the ground beneath your feet, Oathbreaker charts the journey of Eleri, Priestess of the Green Lady and the unusual quest she finds herself forced to make…
If you enjoy historical fiction, myths and legends, fantasy, adventure and romance, you might enjoy this too…
The cavalier wasn’t laughing. His wig was all askew as he drew his sword and charged at the intruder. How dare anyone enter his home without his leave? He seethed, he raged, at their audacity.
‘Name yourself!’ he cried. ‘State your business!’
‘Who sent you?’
Waving the point of his blade menacingly, he charged at the figure, before passing through the wall.
Written for Weekend Writing Prompt #165 – Cavalier | Word count: 64
The funeral was over, the door to the tomb, which had been filled with all that I could possibly need in the afterlife, sealed. The opening of the mouth ceremony had been accomplished and I had made my way from the tomb through Duat, the underworld, passing all trials I met along the way. The protective amulets and spells I had been given ensured success, at least this far.
And now I found myself here, in the Hall of Two Truths, met at the doorway by the jackal-headed god, Anubis, his ears alert, his face grave. He took my hand and led me into the chamber, at the head of which Osiris, holding his crook and flail, sat upon his throne, Isis and Nephthys standing to either side. I felt the eyes of the forty-two divine judges who resided in the Hall, on me as we moved along the magnificent pillared walkway, the only sound to be heard coming from the scribe-god, Thoth, who had already started to etch a permanent record of events here in stone.
Torches and braziers lit up the vast space, shining light on to the largest set of scales I had ever seen. I swallowed hard as my eye was drawn to Ammit the Devourer, who waited patiently close by. The thought of what was to happen should I be founding wanting at the final test was terrifying.
We stopped before the throne, so that I could make my supplications to the Lord of Duat. As I began to speak, Anubis moved away and left me standing there alone, but my voice didn’t fail me. When I next laid eyes upon the jackal-headed god, he was holding my heart in his hands. Ma’at, the Lady of Truth was standing next to him, her ostrich feather standing proudly in her headdress.
At some imperceptible signal, Ma’at slowly, reverently, removed the feather and placed it on one side of the scales. Nothing happened, for truth, justice, harmony and honesty carried no weight. Then Anubis stepped forward. It was time to see how my heart would fare, to see how pure was my conscience. Would I be admitted into the afterlife? Would I attain transformation into an akh, or would the Devourer of the Dead have her way?
I put my back to the scales and turned my attention to the rest of the assembly, for it was time to begin my negative confession. Addressing each of the judges by name, I started reciting the forty-two statements, silently imploring that my heart would not betray me, that my conscience would be found pure and unblemished and light against the feather…
I have not committed sin…
…I have not uttered curses…
…I have not been angry without just cause…
…I have wronged none, I have done no evil…
…I have not slain the cattle belonging to the gods.*
The time passed quickly and soon my confession was at an end. I could not tell what my heart, if anything, had told those who looked on, but I would soon find out.
Slowly, I turned back around to face Osiris and my fate, hoping against hope that I was about to be declared “true of voice”. The alternative didn’t bear thinking about…
* These statements are taken from those listed in the Papyrus of Ani, translated by E.A.Wallis Budge
This piece of flash fiction was originally posted on this blog in July 2015, here:
Footsteps echo on the ancient ground. Snippets of conversation carried on the wind of time. Shouting. Screaming. Laughter. Crying.
Experience imprinted on the landscape. Memories forever carved in stone. Life and death remembered.
Stories waiting to be told…truths waiting to be heard…
The past is never silent.
A quick read from the archives, dating back to June 2014…
Today was surprisingly warm after the cold spell we had at the beginning of the week here, and so, with the sun shining, and me being in desperate need of some kind of mind-refocusing, we went off to explore a favourite haunt… the local Victorian cemetery. I’ve blogged about it before, here, and perhaps elsewhere but I have a brain like a sieve at the moment and can’t remember lol
Favourite names spotted on gravestones on this visit were: Septimus, Towers, Euphemia…
This piece was written in 2012 and posted on an old blog, before I first posted it on this one in 2014. To view the original post, you can click here.
We had gathered outside the cave entrance, waiting since sunset, as per the orders of the clan-elders. It was dark save for a few torches lit either side of the opening.
And here we were, waiting…for what? No-one seemed to be sure. Everyone was talking in whispers; the air of anticipation surrounded us.
As if pre-arranged, the crowd fell silent. A distant drumming could be heard; although we couldn’t see anything, we all knew it came from inside the cave.
Moments passed and nothing happened. Everyone was watching the entrance to the cave intently.
A noise from behind us had the crowd turning to face the other way, as one. Before us, we could see our holy man, dressed in the skin and antlers of a stag, his usual awe-inspiring ritual garb.
‘Follow,’ he said, pushing his way through the crowd, heading towards the entrance. ‘This night we speak to the children who come after us.’
Very hushed mutterings went up from those gathered, but one look from our holy man and it stopped. He entered the cave taking with him one of the torches, and the crowd followed behind him in a long line.
We did not have far to go. The line slowed, only creeping forward. My heart beat in time with the rhythm of the drum which sounded louder now, but I still could not see anything.
When I was finally at the head of the line, those in front of me now gone, I was allowed into the small side cave. The stone room was lit by torches that threw shadows around the wall and illuminated a painting that made my jaw drop.
‘Dip your hand in the dish, and press it to the wall,’ the holy man encouraged. ‘Don’t be afraid. Go leave your message.’
I did as I was asked and as I removed my hand, a question came to me.
‘What does it say?’ I asked the holy man.
‘Do not worry, for those that come after will understand it.’
It’s been a busy week here but one full of blessings 🙂 My birthday fell mid-week, so I have been busy catching up with family. Pressies included lots of new books (you can never have too many), lots of stationary (you can never have too many pretty pens or blank notebooks either, in my opinion), incense, candles and balls of wool.
As I had decided to bake my own birthday cake, I chose to try something different. If things went wrong, it wouldn’t really matter, as it was my cake and not one I had made for someone else. The cake I chose was a fondant fancy loaf cake, and for my first attempt it wasn’t too bad. The only problem was it took far too long for the fondant icing to set, but it still tasted nice, if a little gooey and sweet 🙂
(apologies for the picture quality – a combination of tin foil and poor lighting, alas!)
This afternoon was spent at a much-loved local watermill. First stop was the coffee shop for a lovely hot chocolate, then off for a short walk for a picture-taking opportunity. The photos below show the inside of the watermill, a holy well beneath an impressive medieval bridge and the River Great Ouse. Of course, a day out would not be complete without seeing some wildlife…cue Mr and Mrs Duck… 🙂
Continuing on with the recent theme of the spirit of place, I thought I would post about another place that I find incredibly inspiring, one that I had the chance to visit again over the bank holiday: a ruined and roofless church in Bedfordshire…
The church for the now vanished village of Segenhoe was dedicated to All Saints, the earliest parts of which date to the late Anglo-Saxon period. This quiet corner is the perfect place to indulge in a little inspiration – and a cup of tea 🙂 It was raining during our visit, and the colours chosen for the photos matched the moody, gothic atmosphere perfectly…