Hitting Hadrian’s Wall

Picture of Hadrian's wall at Cuddy's Crags and Housesteads Crags.

Hadrian’s Wall at Cuddy’s Crags and Housesteads Crags.

I’m in the research portion of my Moor Inspiration trip now. As you know, I’m exploring various historic sites and determining possible places to use in Eboracum Book V. I’m looking at the area around Dumfries, taking in the Antonine Wall (known as Vallum Antonini to the Romans), and following Dag’s route to where he fought the Dumnoni.

Excerpt No Turning Back: Eboracum Book IV

Dag hadn’t seen the like since he’d been wounded coming on two years back, fighting the Hibernians when they raided Glannoventa on the west coast, just south of the Great Wall. There had to be at least a thousand now facing them, and perhaps even half as many again. The deep, raucous ranks of warriors were doubtless lined up by tuath and by kin, maybe three hundred paces to the west at the foot of a long, gently sloped pasture. More wild and gutsy fighters you’d not find anywhere, Dag told himself as he watched the Dumnonii tribesmen slowly work themselves into a frenzy. And it was all so familiar: each man building his courage, adding voice to the roaring, thunderous din, backed by an endless clamour of thumping shields, stamping feet, and a screeching chorus of threats, insults, and loathing. And here he was, hoping his Picts would stand fast…

I’ll also head to Carlisle to see what’s left of the Roman fort there, Luguvalium. In No Turning Back, a young Dumnoni rider had trouble remembering this fort’s name.

“They’re running, probably from the Romans,” Dag interrupted, his eye firmly on those of the young Dumoni. “What happened to their ships, lad? They get caught in their own net?”

The man raised his eyebrows in surprise, but that was all. He seemed to consider his answer at far too much length, and even then he glanced first at Tarain before giving it. The ailing chieftain gave a barely perceptible nod, possibly because he figured it would be the only way he might learn what was going on. “Yes. They’re running. From the Romans. They’re throwing themselves on Talorcan’s mercy. They’re even willing to fight for him, but that would depend on what the Romans do.” The Dumnoni rider shrugged. “Me, I think they’re all panicking. I don’t think the Romans will follow them all the way to the coast. Too risky.”

“You do, huh?” Galam was scornful.

The man shrugged his indifference. “Don’t take my word. Talorcan figures they won’t, either. He figures they’d be afraid of getting themselves in too deep. He’s being careful, though. He’s moving our people south to stop them if they do.”

“How many Romans are there? And those ships. What really happened to their ships?” Dag glanced impatiently toward Galam, which was becoming annoying. The Roman’s expression said it was time to be moving north again, no matter how many of the enemy were out there. But if all them, Talorcan, the Scotti and the Romans, started fighting each other, there was likely an advantage to be had.

“The Scotti say they don’t know how many, exactly.” The Dumnoni rider shrugged with a nonchalance that told Galam the fellow likely had rank of some kind. “Enough to trap more than a thousand Scotti into abandoning their ships, and head inland. And certainly enough to risk following behind. How many would that be? Two, four, maybe five thousand? Nobody’s seen them except the Scotti.”

“So what did happen?”

“The Scotti sailed into the mouth of the Nithia, bent on raiding the town there. That’s in Novantae territory. It’s a fair way upriver to reach the town, and even then the tide has to be exactly right, just to get close. Someone must have sent word to the Romans, because they marched for a full day and into the night, all the way from that big fort at the end of their wall. Lugle…Luger…”

Luguvalium,” Dag suggested.

I’ll definitely hit Hadrian’s Wall, (not literally of course but literarily) and then drive to the ocean off Bridlington. This is where Bren is wounded early in Book IV. I called it North of Praetorio in No Turning Back and wrote an explanation in Appendix III, Place Names and Detail.

Picture of North Landing, Sea, Bridlington, Yorkshire.

North Landing, Sea, Bridlington, Yorkshire.

Praetorio (or Praetorium): the site of this fort has not been verified, but in the book it has been placed at a location that seems favoured by most historians: close by Bridlington, on the east coast, about 40 miles east and slightly north of Eboracum. It was later a base for one of the smaller legions of the comitatenses (See Appendix I). It was likely manned by a Gallic mobile infantry/cavalry unit, specifically formed to deal with the changing threat status of the later occupation.

I’m headed home to Canada at the end of this month. I’ll answer any question you have about my trip. Ask me in the comment section below.

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Radio and Romans (and me)

Today, I’m talking to David Driver of DrystoneRadio. He’s taping an interview that will air on The Writers Bookshelf either on Nov. 28 or Dec. 5.

Tomorrow, I have an early morning chat with RadioYorkshire! Good Morning Yorkshire starts at 6:30 a.m. The U.K. is 7 hours ahead of Alberta so that makes it 11:30 p.m. tonight for Albertans. Gives you night owls something to do…

On my way

Picture of a Pict.I’m leaving for the U.K. today to start my “Moor Inspiration” trip. I’m going to play a little game with you to see if you can guess where I’m stopping first. In Eboracum: The Fortress, Galgar is a Caledonii king (or primary chieftain) and the leader of a combined tribal army.

Where was this army based?

Answer in the comment section below. (Either the historical or the current name will suffice.)

Moor inspiration – Graham in Yorkshire Tour

Roman Milestone on Pateley Moor, North Yorkshire.

Roman Milestone on Pateley Moor, North Yorkshire.

When I’m writing about an area, I like to get it right. This is especially important as a writer of historical fiction. I don’t want to put a mountain in the centre of the city of York (or in my books, Eboracum) when I know there isn’t one. That just takes you, the reader, out of the story and start doubting the authenticity of the characters. I don’t like doing that. That’s why next week I’m heading to Yorkshire to do some research as well as novel promoting and visiting family.

I’m Yorkshire born and born out of my former home are my four Eboracum novels. The fifth book is slowly being shaped and I’d like to check out some landmarks to make sure they fit in my characters’ landscape. Of course, I know after thousands of years things change but like I said above, you can’t make a mountain out of a molehill.

Scotland is my first stop and then I’m off to Yorkshire where I’ll be delivering books to a few radio stations that are interviewing me. One drop-off location is in Scarborough on the North Sea coast and where I first learned to swim. After those errands are done, I’ll spend the rest of the time on the moors doing research and being inspired by the scenery and ghosts of ages past.

The radio interviews start on Wednesday, Oct. 18 with Coast and County Radio, a North Yorkshire station. The next day, Drystone Radio is taping a talk about my books. Friday, Oct. 20 starts with an early morning chat with Yorkshire Radio. (I’ll keep you posted about the interviews via my social media.)

On my downtime across the pond, I’ll be exploring various historic sites for research and determining possible places to use in Book V. Three places in Scotland that I’d like to see are the Tava estuary, where Dag was holed up; Stirling, which I’m using as a new base for him; and also the road that goes to Agricola’s forts and where Selia fled south. (I’m glad the U.K. isn’t as large as Canada.)

At the end of October, I’ll return home to Alberta with moor inspiration and a clear view of old battlefields, ancient harbours and bygone villages. Readers, get ready to take on an action-packed Book V!

The North Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

The North Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire.

If you’re a reader of mine in the U.K., I won’t have room in my luggage to bring my new book, No Turning Back, to you. To buy it, go to http://bit.ly/2h0zkBc or for the ebook: http://amzn.to/2jZyWEw. Drop me a line under the comments section here and tell me about your favourite historical place to visit in the U.K.