Where the heck is Mons Graupius?
Hello Christine, it’s brilliant to be taking time out to hop over and visit you on my official launch day for Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures – After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks.
Facebook Launch Party going on right now, the 25th March 2014, at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1386740778259833/?ref_dashboard_filter=upcoming Everyone’s welcome to pop in and say hello!
Christine - since I know you’re also a lover of history, you’ll hopefully appreciate the geography involved in Book 3. I know many people at school who avoided one or the other, but geography often tends to be very relevant when writing about times past.
I absolutely adore history in all its guises but I’m particularly enthusiastic about Roman Britain. I live in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, only 9 miles from a range of hills named Bennachie, its main peak named Mither Tap. Mither Tap has a tumbled frill of stones ringing around the summit, the remains of an ancient Celtic hillfort that was vitrified. The old hillfort is interesting but what’s much more interesting, to me, is that Bennachie is one of the contender sites for something named the Battle of Mons Graupius.
From the writings of the Roman historian Tacitus, we learn that in AD 84 Governor of Britannia and Commander of the Legions - Gnaeus Julius Agricola - came to blows in a massive battle with the Celtic tribes of far northern Britannia; their leader named Calgacus, the ‘swordsman’. Tacitus gives the battle no name and no specific place, save a brief description of the geographical location. The name Mons Graupius was given to the battle by early Victorians who found the need to call it something when referring to it and named after the nearby Grampian Mountains. Some historians dispute a battle ever took place at all; however, many historians agree that Agricola wouldn’t have been given the fantastic triumphal honours on his return to Rome around AD 84, if he hadn’t been engaged in successful battle against the Celts of northern Britannia!
I’m totally in favour of Bennachie being the site of a large battle for a couple of reasons. The prime one is that it gives me a great motivation to include my hunky Celtic warriors in wonderful bloody battle scenes in Book 3 of my series – even though at this point of the book elements of romance are heightened. 9 miles from Bennachie, at Kintore, is the site of a Roman Marching Camp which possibly housed some 10,000 soldiers – around two legions plus all the additional camp followers and personnel. Another Roman marching camp site is at Durno, opposite Mither Tap, which sheltered some 30,000 Roman troops. Why would there have been so many Romans encamped there, if not to display their battle superiority? These camps give me good reason to have my Brigante characters, who got separated in book 2 of my series, an opportunity to find each other again…but to say more might be too much of a spoiler!
According to Tacitus, the Battle of Mons Graupius was a crushing defeat for the Celts. I didn’t want to have my Celtic family group from Garrigill be routed at my battle at Beinn Na Ciche - the Gaelic name for the hills – but it would be changing ‘recorded’ history too much to give my Celts a massive win.
|Map by Nancy Jardine|
Books 1 & 2 are set mainly in Brigantia – currently northern Yorkshire – and this is also where Book 3 begins. Brennus of Garrigill, Ineda of Marske and the Roman Tribune Gaius Livanus Valerius, all characters from Book 2, move north to Aberdeenshire over a few seasons. To say more about Brennus’ travels, or Ineda’s spying techniques, or the tasks that Gaius Livanus Valerius has to do for Rome as a tribune with the Legio XX, or even the Legio IX, will give away too much of the plot – so I’ll leave you to read that for yourselves!
Christine - thanks for allowing me to share this today, it’s fabulous to visit you. I’m including a *Giveaway* ecopy of After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks to one lucky commenter on your blog (or if preferred a copy of Book 1, or Book 2, if the winner hasn’t read them yet) All you need to do is say hello in that little comments box and tell me what you like about hunky Celts and Romans!
After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks is available from Amazon:
Nancy Jardine’s novels can be found in paperback and ebook formats from:
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Nancy’s writing time is shared with regular grandchild minding duties, tending her large garden, ancestry research and leisure reading. She’s currently writing a family saga based mainly in Scotland, and Book 4 of her Celtic Fervour series. She’s delighted to be able to share that Topaz Eyes (Crooked Cat Publishing) an ancestral-based mystery, is a finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE Fiction 2014. After Whorl: Bran Reborn - Book 2 of her Celtic Fervour Series (Crooked Cat Publishing) has been accepted for THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION 2014- the most prestigious prize for historical fiction in the UK.
Pursued by Rome.
AD73 Northern Britannia
After King Venutius’ defeat, Brennus of Garrigill – known as Bran – maintains a spy network monitoring Roman activity in Brigantia. Relative peace reigns till AD 78 when Roman Governor Agricola marches his legions to the far north. Brennus is always one step ahead of the Roman Army as he seeks the Caledon Celt who will lead all tribes in battle against Rome.
Ineda of Marske treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius, who is responsible for supplying Agricola’s northern campaigns. At Inchtuthil Roman Fort Ineda flees seeking fellow Brigantes congregating on the foothills of Beinn na Ciche.
Will the battle against the Romans bring Ineda and Brennus together again?