Sunday, 29 March 2015

I'm fascinated by the 8th Century, the Anglo Saxons and Celts

I like to have bits and pieces near me that connect my imagination to the story I'm writing. Sadly, I don't own anything from Durstan's time but I can imagine the wooden cross he wears, when I look at the smaller one in the photograph below. It's a rough version, not the most attractive, and simply crafted.

When I thought initially of a man sitting on a low stone wall looking out to sea, I asked myself who he was, then the date; why was he watching, and what could his story be about? Once I had answered those questions, Durstan became a reality.  

I assumed from the history I had learned at school that everyone in the British Isles converted to Christianity immediately, but that wasn’t the case. People already had an established belief system, their own Gods, often local ones and society was fragmented. Warlords had set themselves up as Kings in the areas which they controlled. Abbots and Bishops tried to persuade these powerful men to give land and coins to the Church, in exchange for a safe passage for their souls when they died, and for political reasons.

But the Old Gods had served people well enough when offerings were made, and the solstices celebrated properly! Given the Anglo Saxons and Celts loved to feast and drink ale, it was a happy bargain. The crops would grow, plagues and other hardships could be eased by sacrifice. People also had their charms, amulets and magic to rely on.

Durstan and Ailan were closer than we are today to the men and women of the much earlier centuries, places in the Hebrides like the above Neolithic village at Skara Brae, and the Bronze Age standing stones at Callenish. It would have had an effect on their thoughts and beliefs, in the wildness of nature and the seasons...

This was the world into which I brought Durstan, and there's more in The Monk who Cast a Spell... The characters came next! I'll be posting about these soon. I also keep a shell for Ailan on my book shelf, which I'll show to you. It makes me think of the one which Durstan finds on the beach at dawn, after they have celebrated Beltane, and he gives to her as a love token.

And the A-Z Blog Challenge begins again on 1st April! Best wishes to all who are taking part. I had a great time in 2014. There's links to my posts last year on the right hand side of the blog. I'm sorry not to be joining in this year, but life is hectic. The Monk who Cast a Spell was released on 16th March, and I'm still in the 8th century writing book 2. I've seen lots of interesting themes for 2015, and heard some thoughts on posts, which I'm looking forward to reading. 

Thank you for visiting the Hope and Dreams blog. I hope you have a great week.