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Travel planning and Last Kingdom!

Ahhhh I’ve been so busy with initial travel plans that I have not had time to focus or concentrate on much else lately. When you first think about it, 6 months seems like a long time in the future and one might have the thought of “That’s so far out there, why worry so much about it now?” In reality, we’ve come to realize that planning a trip such as this is somewhat similar to planning a wedding. When you break down all of the various details that need to be addressed in order for this to be successful, 6 months is not really all that long! I mentioned in my previous post that one of those important details needing attention so far ahead of time was the accommodations. Those have been set and so now they shape the rest of the travel plans because they set the route and the stopping points for the trip. We also quickly realized that while we would love to take that more care free, wing it attitude that we so often do with our road trips, we really need to plan ahead for this sort of adventure. We will remain somewhat flexible in our sight seeing options along the way but there are just some things that we feel we can not be quite so flexible on. 

As I mentioned in the previous article, there are a few specific places and sights that we have labeled as priorities and those sights must be included in our overall plan.  My daughter has added her own additional stipulations to the plans… she is determined expand her knowledge and appreciation of Beer and breweries. Neither of us are quite so fond of harder spirits such as Whisky but really, one can not visit Scotland without tasting the Whisky.  She was initially more set on the Beer and breweries so she set about a search for breweries in Scotland. She was immediately served with a list of distilleries rather than breweries in that area so has chosen to embrace, or at least experience the Whisky in Scotland. So, because of this, we must find a way to include some of that Whisky experience in our tour of Scotland. Her current thought is as long as the day ends at a pub with opportunity for appreciating the alcohol, she’s good with what ever else happens throughout the day. I am quite fine with that idea as well, and one thing we both agree on is that there will be absolutely no tasting, experiencing or appreciating Haggis!

We have spent the past week tweeking and adjusting our plan and schedule in regards to what we feel is most important and what is realistically workable for us. It has been a process of  thinking on what we truly want to see and experience the most, what we can do without and what we feel is actually doable given our tight timeline and budget. Part of this intense pre-planning is having an estimate far ahead of time on the budget aspect. We need to have a good idea of how much some of these must see sights and experiences will cost us as well when they are open and how much time they will take to experience.  Because of the time issues and the budget, we really do need to have a fairly detailed plan set well ahead of time. I wish it could be otherwise but as I said, in order for this marathon race to be successful, we need to be well prepared and have a good solid plan as to how to accomplish this adventure.

Our time in Scotland is pretty well mapped and set- I will give you more details about that in a separate post. In this post, I want to talk about the one portion or leg of the trip that we have spent the past few days working on. This is possibly the most important and exciting portion for me… and my daughter has begun to show some great enthusiasm for it as well. This one day trip from Edinburgh to Leeds will  be  full of history from ancient Romans, early Anglo-Saxons, Viking era, some Norman influences and some Scottish history. I can’t even think of which is more interesting or important and there is no way to try to eliminate one sight or place from the plan… believe me, we did try but when it came right down to it, neither of us could say “No, let’s toss this part out” so we opted for a way to include as much of it as possible. I will admit that being able to fit Bamburgh Castle into the plan and have my daughter get excited about it was a highpoint of the planning!

This portion of the trip will truly be a marathon day and because of that we have attempted to plan it out as much as possible. In order to hopefully include all of the sights we have listed as a priority on this portion, the pre-planning was and is essential. This will be an incredibly long day. Our ultimate goal is to visit each of the following sights/places and arrive in Leeds completely exhausted- probably late in the evening with no thought or plan to do anything there but sleep and be ready for the next day’s trip.

We will leave Edinburgh as early as possible on Saturday morning in order to accomplish our marathon history goal.  Our mapped out schedule is as follows:

Edinburgh to Prestonpans:

edinburgh to prestonpans

This is a relatively short trip, about 1/2 hour drive. Prestonpans is the site of the 1745 Battle of Prestonpans, and has a history dating back to the 11th century. The town boasts some impressive examples of historical architecture, such as the Preston Tower and the doocot and the local Mercat Cross, which is the only one of its kind in Scotland which remains in its original form and location.  The town is also credited for achieving the title of “Scotland’s Mural Town” with many wall murals reflecting the town’s colourful past.

According to certain stories Prestonpans was originally founded in the 11th century by a traveller named Althamer, who became shipwrecked on the local beach/coastal area. Finding it impossible to get home, the survivors of the wreck decided to remain where they were and founded a settlement named Althamer in honour of their leader. Whether this story is true or not is a matter of opinion, however when the monks of Newbattle and Holyrood arrived in the district in 1184 there was already a settlement named ‘Aldhammer’ on the site of what is now Prestonpans. The monks gave the settlement their own name, Prieststown or Prieston. Because of the salt manufacturing carried out by the monks using pans on the sea shore, the town’s name would later develop into Salt Prieststown and Salt Preston, and finally Prestonpans.

The Battle of Prestonpans (also known as the Battle of Gladsmuir) was the first significant conflict in the second Jacobite Rising. The battle took place on 21 September 1745. The Jacobite army loyal to James Francis Edward Stuart and led by his son Charles Edward Stuart defeated the army loyal to the Hanoverian George II led by Sir John Cope. The victory was a huge morale boost for the Jacobites, and a heavily mythologised version of the story entered art and legend. A memorial to the Battle of Prestonpans in the form of a modest stonemason-built cairn sits close to the battle site. An earlier (and tellingly, much larger and more impressive) monument to Colonel James Gardiner, a Hanoverian who was mortally wounded on the field of battle, was also erected in 1853 near Bankton House where the Colonel lived. It was sculpted by Alexander Handyside Ritchie. Each year on the anniversary of the battle, a Battlefield Walk is organised by local historians, and in September 2008 the Battle of Prestonpans 1745 Trust organised a symposium on local battlefields. A memorial in the parish church commemorates “John Stuart of Phisgul…barbarously murdered by four Highlanders near the end of the Battle.

Battle_of_Prestonpans_Cairn

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

I have stated previously that this trip is not any sort of Outlander theme type trip but more about all of the rich history of both Scotland and England. This site is important to all of that history and may interest some of the Outlander readers/fans because it the battle that the Jacobite forces won. The Battle of Prestonpans was the first significant conflict in the Jacobite Rising of 1745. The battle took place at 4 am on 21 September 1745. The Jacobite army loyal to James Francis Edward Stuart and led by his son Charles Edward Stuart defeated the government army loyal to the Hanoverian George II led by Sir John Cope. The inexperienced government troops were outflanked and broke in the face of a highland charge. The victory was a huge morale boost for the Jacobites, and a heavily mythologised version of the story entered art and legend. We will arrive at Prestonpans early in the morning and most likely won’t see too much, but we are hopeful that we can manage to fit in something of the history.

 

From Prestonpans it is  short trip on to Berwick upon Tweed. We will be following the coastal route down through this portion of England.

prestonpans to berwick

prestonpans to Berwick

The trip from Prestonpans to Berwick is about an hour.

Berwick-upon-Tweed  is a town in the county of Northumberland and is the northernmost town in England,  on the east coast at the mouth of the River Tweed. It is 2 12 miles (4 km) south of the Scottish border. It is about 56 miles (90 km) east-south east of Edinburgh, 65 miles (105 km) north of Newcastle upon Tyne and 345 miles (555 km) north of London. Founded as an Anglo-Saxon settlement during the time of the kingdom of Northumbria, the area was for more than 400 years central to historic border war between the Kingdoms of England and Scotland, and several times possession of Berwick changed hands between the two kingdoms. The last time it changed hands was when England again took it in 1482. Berwick remains a traditional market town and also has some notable architectural features, in particular its medieval town walls, its Elizabethan ramparts and Britain’s earliest barracks buildings (1717–21 by Nicholas Hawksmoor for the Board of Ordnance).

In 1296 England went to war with France, with whom Scotland was in alliance. Balliol invaded England in response, sacking Cumberland.  Edward in turn invaded Scotland and captured Berwick, destroying much of the town. Edward I went again to Berwick in August 1296 to receive formal homage from some 2,000 Scottish nobles, after defeating the Scots at the Battle of Dunbar in April and forcing John Balliol to abdicate at Kincardine Castle the following July. It was at this time that work began on building the town walls (and rebuilding the earlier Castle); these fortifications were complete by 1318 and subsequently improved under Scottish rule. An arm of William Wallace was displayed at Berwick after his execution and quartering on 23 August 1305. In 1314 Edward II of England mustered 25,000 men at Berwick, who later fought in (and lost) the Battle of Bannockburn.

Between 1315 and 1318 Scottish armies, sometimes with the help of Flemish and German privateers, besieged and blockaded the town, finally invading and capturing it in April 1318.[21] England retook Berwick some time shortly after the Battle of Halidon Hill in 1333.  In October 1357 a treaty was signed at Berwick by which the Scottish estates undertook to pay 100,000 marks as a ransom for David II of Scotland,  who had been taken prisoner at the Battle of Neville’s Cross on 17 October 1346.

Berwick Castle was the site where one of Robert the Bruce’s supporters, Isabella Macduff was imprisoned for 4 years of the war between Scotland and England. She was the daughter of Donnchadh III, Earl of Fife, and Johanna de Clare, daughter of Gilbert de Clare, 6th Earl of Hertford. She was married to John Comyn, Earl of Buchan and thus was the Countess of Buchan. After Robert the Bruce killed John III Comyn, Lord of Badenoch at Greyfriars Kirk in Dumfries, the Earl of Buchan joined the English side in the Scottish Wars of Independence. Isabella took the contrary view.

According to tradition, the ceremony of crowning the monarch was performed by a representative of Clan MacDuff, but Isabella arrived in Scone the day after the coronation of Robert the Bruce in March 1306. However, the Bruce agreed to be crowned for a second time the day after, as otherwise some would see the ceremony as irregular, not being performed by a Macduff.  Bruce was defeated at the Battle of Methven in June 1306, so he sent Isabella and his female relatives north, but they were betrayed to the English by Uilleam II, Earl of Ross. Edward I of England ordered her sent to Berwick-upon-Tweed with these instructions: “Let her be closely confined in an abode of stone and iron made in the shape of a cross, and let her be hung up out of doors in the open air at Berwick, that both in life and after her death, she may be a spectacle and eternal reproach to travellers.”[1]

She was imprisoned in this cage for four years,  then moved to the Carmelite friary at Berwick. This was not necessarily a humanitarian move; it is suggested that by this stage Bruce was gaining support, his female relatives were potentially valuable hostages, and the English did not want them to die of ill-treatment. The last clear mention of her is being transferred again in 1313, her eventual fate is uncertain. Most of Bruce’s female relatives returned to Scotland when they were exchanged for English nobleman captured after the Battle of Bannockburn, but there is no mention of her in the records, so she had probably died by then.   Little or nothing remains of the original Castle other than ruins but I am hoping to see them!

berwick castleberwick castle2berwick castle3

With our arrival in Berwick upon Tweed, we will officially be in Northumbria! We will drive down the coast from Berwick towards the best part of all… for me anyway- we will make our way to Bamburgh Castle! For fans of Bernard Cornwell’s Last Kingdom series, Bamburgh Castle is the basis for Uhtred’s ancestral home of Bebbanburg!

berwick to bamburgh castle

berwick to bamburgh castle

From Berwick to Bamburgh Castle is about  1/2 hour drive and will take us past Lindisfarne/Holy Island. Due to our limited time frame, we will not be making the trip to the Island. I have been advised that there is the very real possibility and likelihood that we could get stranded there for a number of hours because of the tides. We will view it from the mainland as I am not about to miss out on Bamburgh Castle because I am stuck on Holy Island for 4-5 hours!

 

As I mentioned, Bamburgh Castle is the basis for Bebbanburg Castle, Uhtred’s childhood home.

Young Uhtred of Last Kingdom

Young Uhtred of Last Kingdom

I am Uhtred rightful lord of Bebbanburg I am Uhtred and I wll claim what is mine

For those of you waiting and anticipating the premiere of Last Kingdom on BBC America which airs on Saturday, just a few days from now- here is just a quick biography of Uhtred:

Uhtred was born into status as son of Ealdorman Uhtred, Lord of Bebbanburg, and raised to have hatred towards the surrounding kingdoms of Mercia, East Anglia, Wessex, Scotland and the Danes. Uhtred was originally called Osbert and was the younger of Ealdorman Uhtred’s sons. The name Uhtred was given always to the oldest son, but after his older brother was killed in a failed attack on the Danes Osbert’s name was changed to Uhtred. Uhtred was never taught swordsmanship in his nine years at Bebbanburg as his stepmother wanted him to pursue a life dedicated to being a priest.

In 866, the first of the Danish army began to arrive in Northumbria. In their speed the Danes were able to capture Eoferwic. Ealdorman Uhtred was killed in the failed assault to reclaim Eoferwic, and Uhtred was captured by the Danes following his furious but feeble attack on a Danish warlord. That warlord, Ragnar the Fearless, son of Ravn, decided to nurture Uhtred’s fury into a suitable fighting spirit and so adopted him. Uhtred found that living with the Danes was a much freer existence than with the pious Christians and their dour priests at Bebbanburg and embraced the Danish gods of Thor, Odin, and Hoder. Uhtred came to love Ragnar as a father and became a brother to Ragnar’s sons, Ragnar and Rorik, and daughter, Thyra.

Living in Ragnar’s company was enjoyable, even after Rorik’s death of sickness, until everything changed. Ragnar had made an enemy in a man named Kjartan due to an incident between Thyra and Kjartan’s son, Sven. The enmity came to a head one night when Uhtred was in the forest making charcoal for weapons. Kjartan led a warband to where Ragnar and his family were sleeping and lit their hall on fire, killing them all. Kjartan initially believed Uhtred to have also died in the fire. Uhtred was crushed by Ragnar’s death and left Northumbria to find family amongst the Saxons in Mercia, to the south.

Uhtred ended up in Wessex and in the service of Alfred the Great. Wessex was the last unconquered Saxon kingdom in England and thus always under constant threat from the Danes. Despite Uhtred’s childhood he began to fight and revel in Danish defeats. However, Uhtred had a particular hatred towards Alfred whom he believed too pious, weak and trusting to fight off the Danish invasion, although he maintained a healthy respect for Alfred’s intelligence. Alfred managed to calm any wanton violence between the two and Uhtred served him faithfully, though grudgingly, and at times with a mind to return to the Danes. Yet, as Uhtred’s usefulness improved so did Alfred’s attention, and as Uhtred aged he began to understand Alfred’s wisdom although dislike was always present.

 

Now, here is some information on the real Bamburgh Castle.

Built on a dolerite outcrop, the location was previously home to a fort of the native Britons known as Din Guarie and may have been the capital of the British kingdom of the region (see Gododdin, Bryneich and Hen Ogledd)  from the realm’s foundation in c.420 until 547, the year of the first written reference to the castle. In that year the citadel was captured by the Anglo-Saxon ruler Ida of Bernicia (Beornice) and became Ida’s seat. It was briefly retaken by the Britons from his son Hussa during the war of 590 before being relieved later the same year.  His grandson Æðelfriþ passed it on to his wife Bebba, from whom the early name Bebbanburgh was derived. The Vikings destroyed the original fortification in 993.

The Normans built a new castle on the site, which forms the core of the present one. William II unsuccessfully besieged it in 1095 during a revolt supported by its owner, Robert de Mowbray, Earl of Northumbria. After Robert was captured, his wife continued the defence until coerced to surrender by the king’s threat to blind her husband.

Bamburgh then became the property of the reigning English monarch. Henry II probably built the keep. As an important English outpost, the castle was the target of occasional raids from Scotland. In 1464 during the Wars of the Roses, it became the first castle in England to be defeated by artillery, at the end of a nine-month siege by Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick.

The Forster family of Northumberland provided the Crown with twelve successive governors of the castle for some 400 years until the Crown granted ownership to Sir John Forster. The family retained ownership until Sir William Forster (d. 1700) was posthumously declared bankrupt, and his estates, including the castle, were sold to Lord Crew, Bishop of Durham (husband of his sister Dorothy) under an Act of Parliament to settle the debts.  The castle deteriorated but was restored by various owners during the 18th and 19th centuries. It was finally bought by the Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, who completed the restoration. The castle still belongs to the Armstrong family, and is opened to the public. It also hosts weddings and corporate events. It has been used as a film location since the 1920s, featuring in films such as Ivanhoe (1982), El Cid (1961), Mary, Queen of Scots (1971), Elizabeth (1998) and both the 1971 and 2015 adaptions of Macbeth. This gives me all the more reason to see the current movie, Macbeth!

bamburgh castle1 bamburgh castle2 bamburgh castle3 bamburgh castle5 bamburgh castle6 bamburgh castle7 bamburgh castle8

http://www.bamburghcastle.com/castle.php

 

I may have extreme difficulty tearing myself away from Bamburgh… I have a feeling that my daughter may have to step in and forcibly drag me away! If we are able to manage departing this place in a reasonable amount of time, we will head on to Roman history at Housesteads Roman Fort which is a part of Hadrian’s Wall.

bamburgh to housesteads roman fort near hexham

It is about 1 1/2 hour drive from Bamburgh to Housesteads so we may end up in a sever time crunch to fit this or the next possible stop into our schedule. Set high on a dramatic escarpment on Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, Housesteads Roman Fort takes you back to the Roman Empire. Wander the barrack blocks and the hospital. Peer into the oldest toilets you’ll ever see, and admire the stunning panoramic views from this ancient fortress. Our interactive museum showcases objects once belonging to Roman soldiers, and the mini-cinema will take you on a journey through time. 

Roman Fort and Tour

Imagine what life was like for the 800 soldiers living and working at Housesteads in Roman times.  The fort’s original name was ‘Vercovicium’ meaning ‘the place of the effective fighters’.

At the very edge of their empire, the soldiers were secure and self-sufficient within the fort. They had a barracks block, hospital, Commander’s House, granaries and communal toilets, all of which you can still see today.

 

http://www.english-heritage.org.uk/visit/places/housesteads-roman-fort-hadrians-wall/

 

housesteads-hadrians-wall-view housesteads-museum housesteads-roman-fort

 

As I’ve mentioned already, this will be a marathon day and if we manage to accomplish all of it, I think we shall consider ourselves winners!  From Housesteads, we will head for Leeds.

housesteads to leeds

It’s another two hour drive from Housesteads to Leeds so I can safely assume that by the time we arrive in Leeds it will be fairly late. Our plan is just to find our hotel and crash into bed! No sights or plans other than that for the Leeds area!  I was originally hoping to fit in a trip through Durham on the way to Leeds but being realistic, we’ll be lucky to accomplish what is on this list as it is without adding anything else to the plan!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TimeSlips makes travel plans, real ones!

TimeSlips travels

I just want to re-post this with a quick update. Yes, after many months of planning and a few glitches along the way, everything has now finally come together and I can breathe easier now and begin my official countdown to this much anticipated vacation! Tickets are bought, lodging is paid for, rental car is pre-paid, vacation is approved and my passport is finally on it’s way to my impatient nervous little hands! Five more weeks until our adventure begins. There have been a few minor changes but overall the general plan is still the same. The one major change will come at the end of the trip. We have managed to add a few days and adjust our schedule a bit so we will be making a stop in Dublin as well! It ended up being cheaper for us to fly home from Dublin than from London, even with adding in the cost of flights from London to Dublin. 

  It has always been a dream or wishful thought of mine to make one more trip across the pond to see places I never got to see the first time I visited the other side of that wide ocean. I never really thought it might happen and thus set the wish aside into that realm of not in this life time. Many years ago I had the opportunity to fulfill most of my travel dreams with a two year stay in Germany. I did as much as I could to enjoy and appreciate that chance of a lifetime. I visited much of Germany, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, I went to Austria and even to Spain during that time. I also managed a trip to England but that trip was limited by the fact that I was pregnant at the time. And, one other pesky event interfered with my short trip then… I happened to choose the most difficult time to attempt anything in England. I made the mistake of visiting England at the time Princess Diana and Prince Charles were about to celebrate their wedding with an untold throng of everyone and anyone who could find their way to London and any point within the country just to perhaps say they were at least in the country for the Wedding, if not the city or the church! Needless to say, that event put something of a damper on any of my plans even if they didn’t include wanting to visit London!  I did enjoy my brief visit and saw a wee bit of the country but I always regretted that I didn’t see more. I also always had a thought of regret at never getting to Scotland. Over the years, I can honestly say that it is one of the few regrets I have over my travel experiences. I have been blessed to see and experience as much as I have in this life and have accepted that one can not have everything they wish for!

Just because I have accepted the reality does not mean that there aren’t times late at night when I softly speak of those regrets and heart wishes to the universe… to the spirits that guide us and perhaps listen to our dreams even when we think they may not be paying attention to us. Recently, my daughter announced a plan she has been thinking of for some time. I knew that she had been thinking for quite a while of taking her own trip back across that ocean. She went to Germany when she was in high school and has always wanted to go to England and Scotland. It’s one of her personal bucket list things to do so when she mentioned that she was thinking of doing it this spring, that did not really surprise me… I would be thrilled for her to take such a trip and  happy with her sharing the whole experience with me on her return home. What did surprise and completely overwhelm me was her announcement that she was planning to include me in this trip of a life time. I am still overwhelmed that she would make such a choice and give me such an incredible heartfelt gift as this. Just the thought that she wants to do this for me and with me touches my heart and soul in a most indescribable way.  I do not have words to adequately explain how much this means to me!

My one thought right now is that those ancient ones, those wise ones, those spirits that guide me through life and destiny have indeed been listening to my whispered wishes and thoughts and have decided to possibly grant my wish. My other thought is that of my Father’s admonishments to be careful of what you wish for, you just might get it? When I was young, of course this never made much sense to me. As I grew older however, I began to understand his warning quite well! Sometimes those things we so fervently wish for and desire turn out to be difficult life lessons with our receiving of that gift. I  understand  how those spirits and guides choose to teach us hard lessons by giving us what we think we want and then showing us the high cost or  consequences . Hopefully they are not preparing one of these lessons for us!

So, because the universe appears to be listening, it seems that my daughter and I will be embarking on the journey of a life time next spring… if the prankster spirits do not create havoc and decide to foil our plans in some way.  I only mention this because we all know how the fates love to interfere with the best of plans just because they can! With all that being thought of and mentioned, we shall move on to how we hope to accomplish this trip of a life time.

We have chosen a daunting journey that may seem impossible. Who knows, it may well prove to be that- but we are determined to attempt the voyage anyway and hopefully we will survive the trip in one piece, still sane enough to recall or remember it and still on speaking terms with each other. When I get to the details of our plan you will understand the daunting nature of our plan.  We have a few things in our favor, the most important being our sense of humor and our ability to find said humor in even the worst  and most difficult situations. When I was left without words to express myself at this gift from her, my daughter’s reason was, “I am doing this for you so you will have something to talk about when I stick you in a home and this way you won’t feel bad when I commit you!”  My response to that is “If that is how I have to repay this trip, I’ll be quite happy in what ever home she chooses for me!”  Humor will get us through just about anything we might have to encounter on this trip or in life.

Another thing in our favor… we have what I think is some sort of unique genetic trait imprinted on us. I would describe this as a benefit of growing up in Northern Minnesota… the term road trip is essentially an every day life skill challenge and just some quirky fun idea that pops into our head! We are born with some sort of “Road Trip” trait imprinted in our genetic makeup! It allows us to think nothing of traveling long distances over nasty and barely driveable roads for many hours just to indulge something as mundane as an ice cream cone and think nothing of it! I believe this inherent trait will enable us to survive our future trip… Others who do not have this gene should probably not attempt the type of trip we are planning! Along with this unique Road Trip gene, we have also been blessed or cursed (depending how you look at it) with a wanderlust spirit that craves that adventure for adventure’s sake. This means we are flexible, adaptable and not so concerned with the final destination or outcome as much as the experience of getting to said destination. Of course, when destination involves set times for necessary transportation, then we must keep that end point in mind. As much as we would love to wander aimlessly throughout the world without a care, we are realistic and practical. We must return home to real life and jobs to pay for further excursions!

Now we can talk about this trip, how we came about our plan and what that plan entails so far.  My daughter and I are unabashedly proud history geeks- if you’re visiting this blog, you’re obviously aware of this fact! My interests run more towards the  medieval and earlier time frames while my daughter is more interested in the later time periods. We both are avid Outlander fans, but not the truly obsessive sorts so this will not be turning into an Outlander themed tour. We will be including a few Outlander type stops during our stay in Scotland but we will not be focused on the Outlander connection.  This trip is more about absorbing as much varied history and culture of the entire UK as possible within a very limited amount of time. When we started making decisions, we first took into account our time constraint of 10 days. We have 10 days to accomplish what some might perceive to be a rather impossible challenge- to tour Scotland and England in a road trip type driving tour. We knew from the start that we would prefer to do this on our own and not have to be at mercy of set transportation or tour schedules. Our road trip gene, wanderlust spirit, varied interests and curiosity do not mix all that well with rigid set schedules. We already know this and took that as our first consideration in planning this trip. We are willing to suffer the pitfalls and setbacks of traveling in this way in order to experience the journey in a way that suits us best. This may indeed be a crazed idea that we will at times regret but overall, we think it will be the far better option for us. Due to our road trip gene, we are well used to spending vast amounts of time in a car on unpredictable and sometimes treacherous roads in order to reach some unknown or undecided destination. For us, it is ultimately all about the journey, the surprises and the discoveries along the way. We enjoy the driving, the scenery and the ability to stop when ever we see something that inspires or interest us… not to mention being able to stop on our own schedule for such needs as eating and peeing.

For us, the driving experience was the first and most important decision to be made before anything else. Once that decision was made, we had to figure out the rest of the details in relation to the idea of a driving tour, set time limit and budget. While we are flexible, adaptable and willing to compromise, we do have a few non-negotiable goals or criteria for the trip that had to be worked into the plan from the beginning. Fortunately for us, we share many  of the same interests so the compromises have not really been that difficult. Our first criteria was that we see both Scotland and England. This was a priority for both of us and would shape the rest of our plans. My daughter’s non-negotiable items were and are that we visit Cardiff Wales and that we have some time for London.  My original non-negotiable was a visit to Isle of Skye. During the initial planning stage, I began to realize that visit might be stretching us a bit and would involve  a great deal of additional time that would thereby take away from time spent at other important places. Although I would still dearly love to see it, I just could not realistically fit into the plan without giving up some other equally important places.  My daughter did say that if it was important to me, we should find a way to fit it into the plan- she has been open and flexible, leaving much of the itinerary up to me other than her requirements of Cardiff and London. For my part, I just can not justify the added trip to Skye that she may not be as interested in. It would add to our time crunch and as I mentioned, it would potentially limit us as far as visiting other places that we both want to see. After mapping it all out and looking at the time required, I eliminated it from our plan.

Using our criteria of  driving tour and of seeing both Scotland in the allotted time limit of 10 days, we set about coming up with a travel plan that we think, hope will work out for us. Keep in mind, this plan is definitely not for the faint of heart or anyone daunted by the idea of  an epic road trip experience that involves learning to drive on the other side of unpredictable, unknown roads in a foreign country! We are now referring to this trip as our own personal version of Amazing Race. Our intent is to absorb as much as possible and arrive at our final destination on time in one piece with sanity intact. Our reward will be the accomplishment of completing this trip together, memories to last a life time and a fulfillment of life long dreams.  We have six months to plan and prepare for this very real trip through time and I will attempt to share the planning process as well as the actual trip when we finally get to that point.

For now, I will share the initial planning stage with you so you can see how and why we’ve come up with our travel plan. As I’ve already mentioned, we began with some basic specific requirements that have set the parameters and guideline for our planning. We have set the time frame for six months from now because it allows us to set up vacation time well in advance and it also provides us with enough time to make necessary reservations for air travel and hotel bookings. I should advise here that this advance planning is crucial when trying to find the best and most affordable options for lodging. Many of the places we looked at were already booked full even this far ahead of time. The airfare seems to be an opposite issue- by  booking so far in advance, you lock yourself into a price and miss out on any possible last minute deals that may show up at a later time. My daughter’s intent with this trip is to pay for as much as possible in advance and arrange it so she make purchases in chunks over the next six months. She has done this successfully in the past with other major trips so she is planning for this trip in the same way. We have set up an initial travel plan, set our time frame and booked lodging according to this plan in order to have the lodging accommodations available and not have to search last minute for places to sleep! So, our basic plan is set to include our most important requirements but everything else in between is subject to our own modifications once we arrive.

A major chunk of our budget will of course be the airfare costs. Because of that cost and my daughter’s budget planning, she has chosen the option of  doing the airfare in two separate arrangements of planning for one way tickets to and from rather than round trip tickets. This may cost more in the long run but it does enable her to pay for the two portions separately at different intervals. This is a compromise that she is willing to make- others with enough ready cash on hand will probably choose the round trip option. In our search for most affordable fares that will work with our plans, we found that Icelandair offers us the best price and the best overall travel option for both the trips.

When we took our desire to see both Scotland and England into consideration, we decided to start in Scotland and work our way down through England with a stop at Cardiff Wales and end up in London as our final destination and departure point for home.  Originally, we had planned to fly into Glasgow and start our tour with Isle of  Skye but as I previously mentioned, this would involve a great deal of additional time. If you look at the driving map from Glasgow to Isle of Skye, it is at least a 4 hour drive probably more like 5 hours at least for us in the beginning stages of adjusting to the travel. Then you would have to add the time to actually visit the Isle… this would end up being at least one entire day or more of our trip being spent on this excursion. If we were not working on such a tight schedule, I would certainly include Isle of Skye on our list. Due to our time constraints, I chose to change our arrival point in Scotland to one that will fit better with our time plus  offer us more benefit in sights and interest.

glasgow to isle of skye

Instead of Glasgow, we will be flying into Aberdeen. Our flight plan is as follows:

flight schedule to Aberdeen

On Saturday, April 2 our plan is embark on this ultimate adventure by boarding a flight from San Francisco that will eventually land us in Aberdeen, Scotland. Along the way we will stop for layovers at Seattle and then at Reykjavik Iceland. We will leave San Francisco at 1pm Saturday and arrive in Aberdeen at noon on Sunday.  I chose Aberdeen for a couple of reasons. First is it’s close proximity to Inverness, which was on our list of places to see. It is about a 3 hour drive from Aberdeen to Inverness and I am thinking that the drive will probably include points of interest along the way.

map and directions from aberdeen to Inverness

The second reason for Aberdeen as our starting point is that it is an area full of history and Castles…We all know I have a love of Castles! Aberdeenshire is known as ‘Scotland’s Castle Country.’  There are more castles per acre here than anywhere else in the UK. Scotland’s only dedicated Castle Trail lets you discover 18 of Aberdeenshire’s most famous and dramatic castles with our suggested 4-day itinerary and downloadable map. Simply follow the distinctive brown and white road signs through the heart of Aberdeenshire.

http://www.visitscotland.com/en-us/see-do/itineraries/castles/scotlands-castle-trail

There is so much to see that one could probably devote the entire 10 days just to this area. It includes everything from ancient ruins to more recent manor houses and it’s history stretches from the Picts , Robert the Bruce, wars of 1600s through the Victorian era when Queen Victoria made one of it’s area Castles, Balmoral her royal residence. Balmoral has been one of the residences for members of the British Royal Family since 1852, when the estate and its original castle were purchased privately by Prince Albert, consort to Queen Victoria. They remain as the private property of the royal family and are not the property of the Crown.

800px-Balmoral_Castle

Balmoral Castle

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_tolquhon18.JPG

haddo-house

Haddo House

National Trust for Scotland

National Trust for Scotland Castle Fraser

We will spend two nights in Aberdeen with lodging booked at the Caledonian hotel. We will attempt to see as much as possible before heading towards Inverness sometime on Tuesday.

Caledonian hotel in Aberdeen

In Inverness, we will stay at a Bed and Breakfast, Ardmeanach House for two nights- Tuesday and Wednesday. This will give us a few days to tour the Inverness area.

http://www.ardmeanach.co.uk/

Ardmeanach house inverness2 Ardmeanach house inverness

The Ardmeanach website is excellent and provides a great list of the numerous points of interest in the Inverness area. One of our priorities for this area is Culloden Battlefield. Culloden Battlefield is situated about 5 miles from the City centre and is a must for anyone visiting Inverness. The site of the last Battle to be fought on British soil. There is a large Exhibition Centre and a walk around the battlefield is a must to soak up the history and atmosphere.

Culloden%20Grabstein

http://www.visitscotland.com/en-us/info/see-do/culloden-battlefield-and-visitor-centre-p247471

In honor of Outlander, we will also search out some standing stones. There a number of sites in the Inverness area so we should be able to accomplish our search for Standing Stones!  Situated in Glen Urquhart (8 miles west of Drumnadrochit) is the Corrimony chambered cairn surrounded by a circle of 11 standing stones. Robert Pollock has a guide to this site.

Six miles east of Inverness are the Clava Cairns (also known as Balnuaran of Clava). These Bronze Age chambered cairns are each surrounded by a stone circle in a wooded field. A most unusual place. Robert Pollock has a guide to this site. Photos online by Phil Wright and Undiscovered Scotland.

In the grounds of Brodie Castle there is a Pictish stone which was found in 1781 during excavations for a local church. It was moved here around 1840 and is sculptured with Ogham inscriptions including fish monsters and an elephant. This cross-slab of grey sandstone is known as Rodney’s Stone with varying stories as to the origin of the name. Photo reproduced by kind permission of Paul Warrener.

After Inverness, we will head toward Edinburgh where we have lodging booked at the Parliament House Hotel for Thursday and Friday.

Untitled_Panorama1-copy

Right in the heart of a city renowned for its heritage, the Parliament House Hotel has its own extensive history. Jacobean and Georgian buildings have been carefully brought together to form an elegant fifty-three bedroom hotel. We’ve retained many period features and introduced a little local character to all our rooms. However, we have also moved with the times and have incorporated all the latest in-room features today’s travellers expect.

Sitting in quiet seclusion at the foot of Calton Hill down a short cobbled lane, the hotel enjoys a tranquillity that belies its city centre location. Edinburgh’s main attractions like the Castle and Scottish Parliament, as well as its top shopping streets, are all tantalisingly close. Our central position makes us a popular choice for more than stylish accommodation and a good night’s sleep. We also appeal to business travellers with important meetings; family and friends attending a city wedding; theatre goers catching a quick bite in our bistro before the show; or couples making the most of all that Edinburgh and Scotland has to offer on a weekend break.

http://parliamenthouse-hotel.co.uk/about/

On our trip from Inverness to Edinburgh, we’re hoping to include a detour trip to Antonine’s wall, which was one of the attempts by the Romans at building a defensive wall border.

The Antonine Wall was a turf fortification on stone foundations, built by the Romans across what is now the Central Belt of Scotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde. Representing the northernmost frontier barrier of the Roman Empire, it spanned approximately 63 kilometres (39 miles) and was about 3 metres (10 feet) high and 5 metres (16 feet) wide. Security was bolstered by a deep ditch on the northern side. It is thought that there was a wooden palisade on top of the turf. The barrier was the second of two “great walls” created by the Romans in Northern Britain. Its ruins are less evident than the better-known Hadrian’s Wall to the south, primarily because the turf and wood wall has largely weathered away, unlike its stone-built southern predecessor. Construction began in CE 142 at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius, and took about 12 years to complete. It may be noted in passing that Antoninus Pius never visited the British Isles, whereas his predecessor Hadrian did, and may well have visited the site of his Wall, though this has not yet been proved. You can find more information about wall on the official website:  http://www.antoninewall.org/

Antonine's wall

Although the Antonine Wall was not built of stone, its impact on the landscape was immense.

This is the route from Inverness to Edinburgh, which is approximately a three hour drive.  Seeing Antonine’s wall would require a detour from this route, or a trip to it from Edinburgh. To me it makes more sense to do the detour on our way from Inverness rather than plan for an added trip from Edinburgh.

map and directions from inverness to edinburgh

This detour would entail a three hour drive to the wall area from Inverness, then about an hour drive from Antonine’s wall to Edinburgh.

from inverness to antonine's wall

from antonine's wall to edinburgh

Our plan is to spend two days in Edinburgh… yes, we know that is barely enough time and we could also spend an entire two weeks soaking up Edinburgh! Never the less we will try to accomplish at least a few highlights of the city- the two priorities being Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace!

1024px-Edinburgh_Castle_from_the_south_east

Edinburgh Castle

1280px-Palace_of_Holyroodhouse,_Edinburgh

Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh

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

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

Are you dazed and exhausted yet just thinking about this plan? Yes, you probably are… I admit that it seems like a daunting challenge even to me!  I do have some doubts about it but, as I’ve said, we are determined to try and we are willing to make modifications mid trip if we realize that we are fighting a losing battle! Much of the trip will be spent in Scotland because we simply could not make a choice on what to leave out!

On Saturday we will head south towards England with a planned destination of Leeds. The route from Edinburgh to Leeds affords us a bit of much needed leeway depending on when we leave Edinburgh.  This map of the trip from Edinburgh to York and Leeds area shows about a 4-5 hour drive. The only reason I say it affords us some leeway is that there is only one current detour or sight along the way.

from edinburgh to York

We’re hoping to include a stop at Hadrian’s wall, which is along the route. This would break up the trip yet still put us on a continued path towards our Saturday destination of Leeds. It would be about a 3 hour trip from Edinburgh to Hadrian’s wall.

from edinburgh to hadrian's wall

http://www.visithadrianswall.co.uk/

800px-Hadrian's_wall_at_Greenhead_Lough 800px-Leahill_Turret_51B,_looking_East__Hadrian's_Wall

From Hadrian’s wall area to Leeds is about a 2-3 hour drive so this would put us at arriving in Leeds late afternoon on Saturday depending on how much time we would spend at the wall area. If we limit our time there, we could get into Leeds earlier and have more time for Leeds and Yorkshire area. There is a great deal to see in this area and we may end up finding a way to do a quick stop at a portion of the wall so we can get to Leeds sooner.

hadrian's wall to leeds

Another possible option besides the wall visit is a stop at Durham, which is on the route to Leeds. Durham is another city filled with history. Archeological evidence suggests a history of settlement in the area since roughly 2000 BC.  The present city can clearly be traced back to AD 995, when a group of monks from Lindisfarne chose the strategic high peninsula as a place to settle with the body of Saint Cuthbert, that had previously lain in Chester-le-Street, founding a church there. Durham’s geographical position has always given it an important place in the defence of England against the Scots.  The city played an important part in the defence of the north, and Durham Castle is the only Norman castle keep never to have suffered a breach.  The Battle of Neville’s Cross, which took place near the city on 17 October 1346 between the English and Scots, is the most famous battle of the age.

800px-Durham_Millburngate_Bridge durham castle

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Durham,_England

durham england

Durham England on the map

durham to leeds

route from Durham to Leeds

 

 

In Leeds, we will be staying at the Bridge Farm Hotel, a  family-run, 18th-century coaching house, Bridge Farm Hotel offers a small bar, a separate TV lounge, free parking and free Wi-Fi in public areas. In the morning, a full English breakfast is served in the dining room.Each bedroom is individually decorated and comes with an en suite bathroom and tea/coffee making facilities. A 15-minute drive from Leeds city centre and Wakefield city centre, Bridge Farm is only 10 minutes away by car from Temple Newsam Golf Club.

bridge farm2 bridge farm hotel in leeds

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g186411-d3396409-Reviews-Bridge_Farm_Hotel-Leeds_West_Yorkshire_England.html

We will be staying only one night in Leeds and if you think the previous portion of this whirlwind trip is a crunch, the remainder of it will be even more so! On Sunday, we will need to make our way from Leeds area down to Bristol and Cardiff Wales where we have planned to stay on Sunday night. It is about a 4-6 hour trip from Leeds/York area to our destination of Cardiff, Wales. This will that anything we want to see in the Leeds/York area will have to be done in the morning so we can head out at a reasonable time to make Cardiff by late afternoon. We may end up not seeing much of the York area in order to have some time for Cardiff, which is a priority on our list. In order to accomplish this, we may be better off heading from Leeds straight off in the morning. We really do want some time in Cardiff and this would be the compromise needed to get that time.

york area to bristol and cardiff

Once in Cardiff, we have reservations at Innkeeper’s Lodge.

inkeeper's lodge cardiff

A Cardiff hotel with the whole package

If you’re looking for hotels in Cardiff, our lodge offers budget accommodation close to the heart of the city. So whether you’re here for business or pleasure, you’ll be near enough to all the action, yet happily away from the hustle and bustle. The Millennium Stadium is just a 15-minute walk away, as is Cardiff Arms Park, and attractions such as Cardiff Castle and Cardiff Bay are also within easy reach. While you’re sightseeing, how about stepping into the future – or the past – by visiting the Dr Who Experience?

Of course, you won’t need a Tardis to get to us because the M4 is on the doorstep, and excellent rail and plane connections are just a taxi-ride away.  As for the lodge itself, our classic Victorian building was once a rich man’s townhouse. Today it’s anything but expensive to stay here. With a comfy bed and a cool pint or plate of hearty pub-food available in the pub downstairs, you’ll find it offers a great-value base for exploring the Welsh capital.

http://www.innkeeperslodge.com/cardiff/#about

Now, I must remind everyone that my daughter is in charge of the hotel reservations. I am quite certain that it was the specific mention of Dr. Who and the Tardis that swayed her decision to book at this hotel. She happens to be a devoted Dr. Who fan and I have a feeling that played a part in her insistence on visiting Cardiff. This is also the reason I am trying to give us some additional time in Cardiff on Sunday and Monday morning. I am trying too to make time in Cardiff to hopefully meet up with some friends who live in the area!

From Cardiff, we will need to make our way to London, our final pit stop of this race! It will probably be about a 6 or possibly 7 hour drive from Cardiff to London. I know the map says about 3 but I am adding time in as a buffer to include any stop we might decide to make along the way…such as a quick stop at any rest area that might give a view of Stonehenge. We’re not planning a stop there because you can’t actually visit the site anyway so why include it on our priority list at all. If it happens that we can get a view of it along our way, that’s fine- if not, we’re not concerned about it! I have a feeling that by this point we will not be concerned about much of anything other than getting to London.

cardiff to london

We have reservations made for two nights- Monday and Tuesday in London at Airways Hotel Victoria.  It is nothing fancy or interesting, just reasonably priced and in a convenient location- that was all we were concerned about for this final part of the trip.

Airways-Hotel-4

Looking for cheap budget hotels in London? The Airways Hotel, a cheap hotel in Central London, may be the answer to your search. We are a family run budget hotels in Central London offering affordable accommodation with quality service. En suite rooms in this budget hotel are clean and comfortably furnished, and our staff are well trained to ensure they can help you with whatever you may need and are eager to help. Although we are a low priced B&B Hotel still we have not compromised our quality of service. 

We are one of the most conveniently located Central London hotels.
The bed and breakfast hotel in Central London is 7-10 minutes’ walk from Victoria Station, which has links by Underground, Bus, Train and Coach to all parts of London, including tourist sites, and places as far as mainland Europe. Buckingham Palace, Big Ben, London Eye and Harrods are all within 20-30 minutes walk of the Hotel and if you use public transport you are within 40 minutes of all of London’s tourist attractions, including Tower of London, and airports (Heathrow, Gatwick and Luton).

Our budget hotel is housed in a mid Victorian building in a well conserved residential part of London. The Airways Hotel is the answer for tourist and business travellers looking for a cheap hotel in central London in a quiet and safe residential setting. We are one of the leading bed and breakfast hotels in London.

http://www.airways-hotel.com/

Our flight from London to home will depart on Wednesday afternoon, 1pm so we will really not have time to see much of London. As it looks right now, we will basically have one day- Tuesday to see anything we want to see in London. I know my daughter is still trying to figure out some way of making more time for London sights, but realistically I think by this point we will be so toured out that it may not be such a pressing desire. Add to that fact, it is at the end of our trip, extremely expensive and we will at the end limit of our tight budget besides our patience and our endurance!

This is our initial plan… we may come to our senses at some point during the process and make modifications to it, but modifications will most likely be in what we are willing to compromise on as far as sights or stops along the way. Our plan is to stick with the driving tour and the pre-planned hotel stays if at possible. If it becomes a seriously rocky trip, we may adjust some of the time spent in Scotland and compromise on that portion to give us added time in England. I will continue to keep everyone updated on our plans and the progress. Consider this as our real life trip through history!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

TimeSlips: looking back and forward!

 

Timeslips cover

We’ve reached another huge milestone and once again it’s time to take a few moments to thank everyone who visits and travels through history with me! A few of you have been here since the beginning with me and I want you to know how much I appreciate your continued following through all of the paths we’ve taken in exploring history. Some of you arrived here via the Sims, where this all started, some made the journey through those mysterious Outlander Stones, and yet others have sailed in with the Vikings!  No matter how you have found us, many of you have chosen to stay on the journey.  I can not tell you how much it means to me, how much I appreciate your visits, your comments, questions, and your involvement in this site. I bid you all a gracious and heartfelt welcome and hope that you will continue to enjoy exploring the past with me!  As I mentioned, we have reached a personal milestone for me- 100,000 views! If you have been with me from the earliest beginnings, you will understand why this is such an amazing accomplishment for me.

I began this blog as a way to share my little fantasy world of the Sims 3, my builds, my characters and my stories within that context. One thing has been here since that initial beginning and that has been a life long love of history! I used that Sims platform to begin sharing my love of history, story telling and the weaving of those passions together. I am forever grateful to the Sims 3 for providing me with a basis to begin this journey!  If you look back in my archives, you will find the creations, the ideas and the stories that have led us to where we are today- in the middle of the Viking era with historical figures such as Ragnar, Rollo, King Ecbert, King Charles of France and others who will arrive in our future.

When I began building the castles and homes of history, I did it with the thought and premise that every building has a history filled with people, events and stories never told. I went on the idea that perhaps if one had such ability, they might be able to feel the vibrations, hear the sounds of that past and see the stories unfold in some way. Much of my early writing was a combination of building or renovation progress and the stories that came to life with that progress. I based it much on the way you might see it if you were renovating a historical building in real life. Each time you strip away a layer of paint or dust, you find a new layer, a new story of the past.

As I’ve mentioned, it all began with Sims 3, with castles, with royals, with history and fantasy woven together. Those creations, characters and stories were a huge part of  our beginnings here . While I have progressed from them, I have not forgotten them and I am proud of them. That early work enabled me to set a foundation for this blog that I have tried to keep in mind even today as I use other platforms such books and television to hopefully inspire and encourage you on your own explorations of history. My intent has always been to present history in a way that is interesting and captures your attention. I have always tried, from the beginning to present historical facts in a way that you might be curious enough to go off on your own search of history. In the past, I used the Sims 3 platform to weave together a long and ongoing look at history with a huge dose of fantasy… the Sims allowed me to explore that venue, that realm of vampires, fairies, witches and time travel and use them in telling the stories of the past. As I used that method, I always tried to incorporate actual events, facts and real life mysteries where ever possible along the way. Those early stories, while often fanciful did lead us through history from the present to the past and back again. Yes, I have taken a break from them, but as any writer can attest to, sometimes you need to step back, take a long break, and perhaps re-evaluate your work. The story remains in the background waiting for that time when you can return, re-focused with a clearer idea of where to go. That is where my story is… always in the back of my mind, always in my heart, waiting for that time when I can return to it and give it the proper attention and focus that it deserves!

In a way, my deviation and time away from the story is actually a way of doing more research into the past while keeping my original story and those characters that are now like a part of my family in mind. In some ways, the paths are always connected whether  or not you are ever aware of it. My mind continues to research, to piece together events and people together in relation to my beloved story of the past, the present and the future!

For those of you who have arrived later in the journey and have not searched this space for other bits of information, I can only suggest and hope that you take some time during your visits here to explore those other times, places and stories that are stored here! My archives have become a rather vast vault of time and history spanning from the earliest Roman history in Britain, to that now ever present Viking era that involves so much more than just the Vikings, it veers from tales and history of King Arthur to the mysteries of the princes of the tower. Our journey through time brought us to the world of Outlander, where we became lost in the Standing Stones and spent much time in the 1700s of Scotland and early America, and because of that trip, we found ourselves immersed in the world of the Vikings and early Saxon history! As a result, we are now on a journey through the early medieval period that includes those Vikings, Saxons, and everyone else in between that the Vikings influenced from the Frankish Empire to the creation of Normandy and the eventual battle for a united Kingdom of Britain, as well as future travels to Iceland, Ireland, Scotland, and possibly even on to earliest explorations of North America.

So, how do my early stories of history still remain connected to this present path we are on?  Well, for that you need to take a look at some of those early stories and where my characters have been in the past. First of all, you may need a short summary of how their stories actually began with a fantasy called Royals Castle and a young woman named Eleanor Deguille… my first blog entries covered the beginnings of her story and her life. She began at Royals Castle, traveled through time to various points in history, arrived in the present and then travelled back again. Throughout her story, she met a number of historical figures, viewed some important events and, her story introduced us to some other important characters who had their own stories to tell.

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother's spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother’s spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

Eleanor’s story was the start of this blog! If you are interested, you can read those earliest beginnings here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/19/eleanors-journal-entries/

For another look at Eleanor and how her life is woven together within the threads of history and legends, you can read this story about the legends of Avalon, Melusine the Water Goddes and my interpretation of that legend as it shows up through history with people such as Henry VIII and his ancestors making claims to being descended from Arthur and even Melusine! Melusine is a legend or tale that has it’s origins in early France, mainly Poitou, the low countries, and Normandy! She was often referred to as the  fairy of Normandy, or Bretagne. Connecting Eleanor to this legend gave her a more solid connection to the history of France.

Avalon cover1

Arthur and Vivianne

Arthur and Vivianne

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/melusinas-story-a-royals-link-to-avalon/

Eleanor Deguille’s mysterious life eventually connected her to the beginnings of tales of Britain, Romans  and a man named Arthur… that is was where her life, her time travel and her story began. While her story and the rest of it is steeped in the fantasy of those Vampires, Witches, Fairies and time travel, it is woven together with those real events of history. Eleanor’s story took her from that early beginning in the fairy tale realm of British history to the 1400s and 1500s of France, England and Scotland. In those earliest beginnings we met a man named Eric North. Eric’s story is just as important as Eleanor’s and it is a connecting point for that earliest time in Britain’s history. Eric’s story begins in the present day, and then goes on to tell the story of the earliest migrations of the Norse to areas of Northern Britannia as it was known then by the Romans who inhabited the isle. Eric began his life in one of the far off North places and made a journey by sea as a young child with his family to a place now known as the Isle of Skye on the coast of Scotland. He spent his youth growing up in that place which would eventually become Dunvegan Castle.  I used this place and this Castle as the setting for Eric’s birthplace and ancestral home because of it’s rich ties to early Viking history as well as it’s stories of such mythical things as the Fairie Flag. It’s location also lent itself well to making it plausible as a place that some of those earliest travelers might have made their way to. I have always attempted to make those  connections where ever possible when weaving together the fantasy and the history.

You can read part of Eric’s story here:

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

Eric in the Castle Eric's final farewell to loved ones

While Eric’s character and story are that of the fantasy realm, his story does make the connections from that earliest migration of the Norse, their settling in this new unknown place and their eventual plausible meetings with the Romans who were attempting to advance from the southern portions of Britannia into the northern portions which were already inhabited by groups such these ancient Norse and Picts…  Eric’s story tells of the rich history  those northern regions now known as Scotland. His story presents the earliest known legends and theories that go back as far as Egyptian migrations to that area!

You can find more of the ancient history of  the Romans and the Norse migration here:

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

This early post explains some of the theories and thoughts on possible Egyptian migration to Ireland and Scotland!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/07/20/from-the-creator-historical-information/

As to why I chose the Isle of Skye for the setting, you can read that here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/02/from-the-creator-some-historical-background/

If you go back and read some of these early posts, I think you will see how Eric came to play such an important part in my story, how he sort of took over the story with his life and his story and why he remains such an important connection for me on my path through history which has landed me in this time of the Vikings and kept me here for so long!

 

All of those early stories of history have led us to where we are right now, exploring the real history of all of those people that Michael Hirst and other creators/authors introduce us to! One such important person is Rollo, who we have seen claw his way out of the shadows and darkness of his early life to put himself on the path to his own fame and dynasty.

 

Portrait of Rollo's destiny. Credit to Ines Jagger of Vikings Aftermath group and to lindamarieanson of deviant art. 600px-Cronological_tree_william_I_svg

William the Conqueror AKA William I

Recently, I began reading a book about our Viking, Rollo’s descendant, William the Conqueror and was rather surprised to find a mention of the Fairie Flag in it. The Fairie Flag is one of those relics of Dunvegan Castle that I originally found so intriguing when researching a past for my character,  Eric.

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

Dunvegan cup, Fairie Flag and rory mors horn

fairy_flag_2

http://fairyroom.com/2013/01/fairy-flag-of-dunvegen/

More information on the history of Scotland, Clans, Dunvegan Castle and the Fairy Flag can be found in this early post:

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

Now, as I mentioned, the book I was reading was about William the Conqueror and Normandy so I was immediately puzzled and curious about this  reference to the Fairy Flag. The book is  The Lion and the Rose: William Rising by Hilary Rhodes. It is the first book in a series about William, his history and his conquest of England. Yes, it is historical fiction, but it is extremely well researched and I think it presents a great picture of the man and his path to the Crown of England. The author presents and provides some excellent resources and references as well as weaving together an interesting story!

http://www.amazon.com/Lion-Rose-Book-One-William-ebook/dp/B00L4K5GKE/ref=sr_1_3?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1433189138&sr=1-3&keywords=the+lion+and+the+rose

Fairie flag and Robert of Normandy

In the beginning of the book, William’s Father, Robert the Magnificent or Robert the Devil, travels to the Byzantine Empire where he meets the Empress Zoe, who shares a foreshadowing, a prophecy of his future with him. That prophecy is a bit of a puzzle for readers to decipher throughout the book or books. I found it interesting, intriguing and of course I had to go in search of answers!  The prophecy states: The fighting man and the wyvern and the fairie flag, all will come, and all will give battle, but it is the lion that reaches for the roots. I can not see the end of that. I can not see if it will be enough. The deepest roots can be ripped free. And there is a great ripping to come, aye.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_I,_Duke_of_Normandy

In attempting to make sense of this puzzle, there is one other piece of information that shows up on the same page and is an important clue. This bit of information ultimately gives us the answer to the puzzle of the Fairie Flag and links the entire story and history of Dunvegan Castle to that of the Vikings. That clue is found in the mention of one Harald Sigurdsson… otherwise known  as Harald Hardrada!

Harald_Hardrada_window_in_Kirkwall_Cathedral_geograph_2068881

Harald Sigurdsson (Old Norse: Haraldr Sigurðarson; c. 1015 – 25 September 1066), given the epithet Hardrada (harðráði, roughly translated as “stern counsel” or “hard ruler”) in the sagas, was King of Norway (as Harald III) from 1046 to 1066. In addition, he unsuccessfully claimed the Danish throne until 1064 and the English throne in 1066. Prior to becoming king, Harald had spent around fifteen years in exile as a mercenary and military commander in Kievan Rus’ and in the Byzantine Empire.

When he was fifteen years old, in 1030, Harald fought in the Battle of Stiklestad together with his half-brother Olaf Haraldsson (later Saint Olaf). Olaf sought to reclaim the Norwegian throne, which he had lost to the Danish king Cnut the Great two years prior. In the battle, Olaf and Harald were defeated by forces loyal to Cnut, and Harald was forced in exile to Kievan Rus’ (the sagas’ Garðaríki). He thereafter spent some time in the army of Grand Prince Yaroslav the Wise, eventually obtaining rank as a captain, until he moved on to Constantinople with his companions around 1034. In Constantinople, he soon rose to become the commander of the Byzantine Varangian Guard, and saw action on the Mediterranean Sea, in Asia Minor, Sicily, possibly in the Holy Land, Bulgaria and in Constantinople itself, where he became involved in the imperial dynastic disputes. Harald amassed considerable wealth during his time in the Byzantine Empire, which he shipped to Yaroslav in Kievan Rus’ for safekeeping. He finally left the Byzantines in 1042, and arrived back in Kievan Rus’ in order to prepare his campaign of reclaiming the Norwegian throne. Possibly to Harald’s knowledge, in his absence the Norwegian throne had been restored from the Danes to Olaf’s illegitimate son Magnus the Good.

In 1046, Harald joined forces with Magnus’s rival in Denmark (Magnus had also become king of Denmark), the pretender Sweyn Estridsson, and started raiding the Danish coast. Magnus, unwilling to fight his uncle, agreed to share the kingship with Harald, since Harald in turn would share his wealth with him. The co-rule ended abruptly the next year as Magnus died, and Harald thus became the sole ruler of Norway. Domestically, Harald crushed all local and regional opposition, and outlined the territorial unification of Norway under a national governance. Harald’s reign was probably one of relative peace and stability, and he instituted a viable coin economy and foreign trade. Probably seeking to restore Cnut’s “North Sea Empire“, Harald also claimed the Danish throne, and spent nearly every year until 1064 raiding the Danish coast and fighting his former ally, Sweyn. Although the campaigns were successful, he was never able to conquer Denmark. Not long after renouncing his claim to Denmark, the former Earl of Northumbria, Tostig Godwinson, brother of the newly chosen English king Harold Godwinson, pledged his allegiance to Harald and invited him to claim the English throne. Harald went along and entered Northern England in September 1066, raided the coast and defeated English regional forces in the Battle of Fulford near York. Although initially successful, Harald was defeated and killed in an attack by Harold Godwinson’s forces in the Battle of Stamford Bridge.

Modern historians have often considered Harald’s death at Stamford Bridge, which brought an end to his invasion, as the end of the Viking Age. Harald is also commonly held to have been the last great Viking king, or even the last great Viking.

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

 

Harald Hardrada could be considered as the fighting man of the prophecy, but what connection would that have in relation to the other parts, such as the Fairie Flag of Dunvegan Castle?  What does the Fairie Flag or Dunvegan have to do with this at all? Well, for that, you need to know the history of Dunvegan Castle, and the theories on the origins of the Fairie flag!

dunvegan8

Dunvegan Castle

dunvegan3

Dunvegan Castle2

 

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/from-the-creator-history-of-dunvegan-castle/

Although three individual Chiefs in the last seven generations have been comprehensively ruined by the apocalyptic difficulties caused by the unrelenting hostility from centralised government towards the Clan system practised behind the Highland line, they have remained faithful to the Rock. Dunvegan Castle is said to be the oldest inhabited castle in Northern Scotland, having been occupied by the Chiefs of MacLeod continuously, for over seven centuries and still today remaining the Ancestral home of the present chief, Hugh MacLeod of MacLeod, the 30th of the line, and his family.

Geneologies trace the origins of the McClures and the MacLeods to a thirteenth century fellow named Leod (1200-1283), the son of Olaf the Black, King of the Isle of Man, who in turn was the descendent of the eleventh century Norse King Harald Hardrada. Leod married Lady Macarailt, an heiress to Dunvegan, the birth of their two sons (Tormond and Torquil) marking the entry of the MacLeods into Dunvegan and the pages of history. Very simply, “Mac” is a Gaelic word meaning “son of” with Tormond fathering the MacLeods of Harris, and Torquil begetting the MacLeods of Lewis. (Incidentally, the McClure’s are the descendents of Tormond.)

 As to the theories on the Fairie Flag…  Legends, however fantastic or far-fetched they may appear to be, are rarely without some trace of historical fact. When a relic survives to tell its own story, that at least is one fact it is impossible to ignore. The precious Fairy Flag of Dunvegan, the most treasured possession of the Clan, is just such a relic …The traditional tales about its origin, some of them very old indeed, have two themes – Fairies and Crusaders. Fairy stories are difficult to relate to fact; they often occur as a substitute for forgotten truth. The connection with the Crusades can, however, be linked to the only definite information available as to the origin of the Fairy Flag – the fabric, thought once to have been dyed yellow, is silk from the Middle East (Syria or Rhodes); experts have dated it between the 4th and 7th centuries A.D., in other words, at least 400 years before the First Crusade. So was it the robe of an early christian saint? Or the war banner of Harold Hardrada, King of Norway, killed in 1066, or did it emerge mysteriously from some grassy knoll in Skye? The Legends are all we have to guide us to the answer.

So, there is our connection between Harald Hardrada, the Fairie Flag and Dunvegan Castle! Harald’s connection to the prophecy and to William the Conqueror is that he was one of the fighting men attempting to lay claim to the crown of England at the same time as William. He felt he also had a valid claim and chose to fight Harald Godwinsson for it. It is sometimes thought that his battle with Harald brought about the end of the Viking age, and the end of Harald’s rule of England as well. Harald Godwinsson and his forces defeated Harald Hardrata at the  Battle of Stamford Bridge but did not have time to recover fully before having to turn around and face William and his army at Hastings. The forces were well evenly matched and the battle was close. It is thought that had Godwinsson’s army been better rested and recovered from the previous battle with Hardrada, they would probably have been victorious in the battle of Hastings.

There is one  bit of information on Harald Hardrada that should be of interest to all of us who are waiting for the next raiding season of the Vikings Saga to arrive…

Harald Hardrada was a descendant and a member of the Fairhair/Finehair dynasty of Norway. A member of that dynasty is rumored to be arriving on our Viking shores soon! One Harald Finehair and brother, Halfdan the Black will be showing up as rivals and threats to Ragnar.

peter franzen4

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/vikings-season-4-coming-soon-to-a-village-near-you/

Harald Fairhair (Old Norse: Haraldr Hárfagri, Norwegian: Harald Hårfagre; c. 850 – c. 932) was remembered by medieval historians as the first King of Norway. According to traditions current in Norway and Iceland in the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, he reigned from c. 872 to 930. Most of his life remains uncertain, since the extant accounts of his life in the sagas were set down in writing around three centuries after his lifetime. A few remnants of skaldic praise poems attributed to contemporary court poets exist which seem to refer to Harald’s victories against opponents in Norway. The information supplied in these poems is inconsistent with the tales in the sagas in which they are transmitted, and the sagas themselves often disagree on the details of his background and biography.  Two of his sons, Eric Bloodaxe and Haakon the Good, succeeded Harald to become kings after his death.

Harald_Hardrada_saga_ancestry

A last bit of interesting information on Harald Hardrada…. it seems that there has been some effort and attempt being made to make a bio-pic movie about his life. I just recently came across a few articles regarding the possibility of Leonardo DeCaprio producing and starring in such a movie. The articles are a bit dated though and I have heard nothing else about such a project. I am curious about it  and wonder if it is still going forward…. With all of interest now in Viking history, I would think it might do well!

http://www.slashfilm.com/leonardo-dicaprio-producing-and-could-star-in-viking-film-king-harald/

 

This battle for the crown of England was  much a case of family disputes and feuds over who had right or claim to that crown. Harald Hardrada had a claim based on his link to the previous ruler, Harthacanut of Denmark and England but realistically he had a very weak claim at best. Harald Godwinsson had no real claim either, the only with any true justifiable blood claim to the crown was indeed William the Conqueror, who was at least a blood relative- even though distant- of King Edward. So, in this sense, William would end up digging deep into the family roots and toppling all to claim the crown. The only other person with a better and legitimate blood claim was unfortunately a young boy with no hope of winning any battle for the crown.

The one other part of the prophecy that we have not mentioned yet is the wyvern.

A wyvern (/ˈwvərn/ WEYE-vərn), sometimes spelled wivern, is a legendary winged creature with a dragon‘s head and wings; a reptilian body; two legs; and a barbed tail.

The wyvern in its various forms is important to heraldry, frequently appearing as a mascot of schools and athletic teams (chiefly in the United States and United Kingdom). It is a popular creature in European and British literature, video games, and modern fantasy. The wyvern is often (but not always) associated with cold weather and ice, and it will sometimes possess a venomous bite or have the ability to breathe fire. The wyvern is a frequent charge in English heraldry and vexillology, also occasionally appearing as a supporter or crest.

In regards to it’s mention in the prophecy, a wyvern is used as symbol in one very  important place.  The Wyvarn is depicted as the symbol of Wessex, the home of Ecbert and his descendents including Alfred the Great and on to Edward the Confessor who left the future rule of England in such dispute and question that his witan/council even went so far as to search for a long exiled and hidden heir residing in Hungary!

After the Danish conquest of England in 1016, Canute had the sons of Edward’s half brother Edmund Ironside, Edward said to be only a few months old, and his brother, Edmund, sent to the Swedish court of Olof Skötkonun  (who was either Canute’s half-brother or stepbrother), supposedly with instructions to have the children murdered. Instead, the two boys were secretly sent either to Kiev, where Olof’s daughter Ingigerd was the Queen, or to Poland, where Canute’s uncle Bolesław I Chrobry was duke.  Later Edward made his way to Hungary, probably in the retinue of Ingigerd’s son-in-law, András in 1046, whom he supported in his successful bid for the Hungarian throne. Many years later when it became apparent that King Edward and his wife Edyth were not going to produce and heir, a search for any missing heirs ensued and Edward the exile was found in Hungary.

On hearing the news of his being alive, Edward the Confessor recalled him to England in 1056 and made him his heir. Edward offered the last chance of an undisputed succession within the Saxon royal house. News of Edward’s existence came at a time when the old Anglo-Saxon Monarchy, restored after a long period of Danish domination, was heading for catastrophe. The Confessor, personally devout but politically weak and without children, was unable to make an effective stand against the steady advance of the powerful and ambitious sons of Godwin, Earl of Wessex. From across the Channel William, Duke of Normandy, also had an eye on the succession. Edward the Exile appeared at just the right time. Approved by both king and by the Witan, the Council of the Realm, he offered a way out of the impasse, a counter both to the Godwinsons and to William, and one with a legitimacy that could not be readily challenged.

Edward, who had been in the custody of Henry III, the Holy Roman Emperor, finally came back to England at the end of August 1057. But he died within two days of his arrival. The exact cause of Edward’s death remains unclear, but he had many powerful enemies, and there is a strong possibility that he was murdered, although by whom is not known with any certainty. It is known, though, that his access to the king was blocked soon after his arrival in England for some unexplained reason, at a time when the Godwinsons, in the person of Harold, were once again in the ascendant. This turn of events left the throne of England to be disputed by Earl Harold and Duke William, ultimately leading to the Norman Conquest of England.  Edward the exile did leave an heir, a young boy- Edgar the Aetheling who was immediately made heir apparent or Atheling. When Edward died, the boy, a young teen at the time was too young to successfully wage a fight for the crown or win any war that was certain to follow. The council feared being taken over again by outsiders waiting for a chance to claim England so they chose instead to elect Harald Godwinsson to the rule. Edgar eventually found asylum in Scotland with Malcom III, who had married Edgar’s sister Margaret.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edgar_the_%C3%86theling

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

Wessex is often symbolised by a wyvern or dragon.

Both Henry of Huntingdon and Matthew of Westminster talk of a golden dragon being raised at the Battle of Burford in AD 752 by the West Saxons. The Bayeux Tapestry depicts a fallen golden dragon, as well as a red/golden/white dragon at the death of King Harold II, who was previously Earl of Wessex. However, dragon standards were in fairly wide use in Europe at the time, being derived from the ensign of the Roman cohort, and there is no evidence that it identified Wessex.

 

800px-Flag_of_Wessex_svg

Wyvern on early flag of Wessex

 

Why is any of this important in relation to where we’re at now in history with the Viking age?  It is extremely important because the Vikings of our Vikings saga as presented by Michael Hirst, and hopefully soon the onscreen version of Bernard Cornwell’s Saxon Chronicles, will soon move on to the next years, the next era of the Viking history that includes so much more than just the story of Ragnar Lodbrok and his adventures. We will soon be traveling to the time when Ragnar’s sons and so many others make their own marks and contributions to history. We will see the beginning of Rollo’s great dynasty in Normandy take shape, we will see Ecbert’s grandson, Alfred the Great will take his place in history. The battles for land and claims to kingdoms will begin in earnest and we will witness all of it. As we do, I will continue to help weave the history and the stories together, and perhaps one of these days, I will even find time and inspiration to return to some of my original stories.  I hope that all of you will remain on the journey with me and enjoy all of it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A heartfelt Thank You!

I want to take some time to express my appreciation for all of you who have visited here and made this endeavor of mine such a success! In checking the stats for my blog tonight, I was amazed by the sudden realization that my random thoughts and words have now reached 20,ooo views. I know that some of you more successful bloggers out there- those of you who know what you’re doing… this milestone might not seem like all that much. For me, though, this is a huge accomplishment!

First of all, before I go any further, I want to thank Diana Gabaldon for her creation of the Outlander series which has swept me away through the Stones into a whole new life and journey. Long before I discovered her work, I was writing and creating my own little fantasy time travel world here. What Diana’s books, her devotion and allegiance to her fans, and her support of all writers have done for me is this: With her works and her many devoted fans, she has given me the self confidence to share my writing attempts and my creations. Through her support and guidance to aspiring writers, I have learned so much. Most of all, I have learned that it’s okay to write in the style that I do… chunks of seemingly unrelated scenes that eventually come together as long as I don’t forget an important character and leave them stranded somewhere in time? She has put herself out there, made herself and her knowledge available in so many places for us to learn from her even if we can not meet her in person. Because of this sharing of her experiences, I find myself more comfortable sharing my bits and pieces of thoughts and words with others even if they are never quite finished!

 

I began taking this blogging experience seriously about a year and a half ago.  For me it was a simple little experiment to see if I could do it, and stick with it? I have some major issues with ADD and procrastination which generally result in my not sticking with projects that I start. So, this blog was sort of a test for me… I wanted to push myself, to set some goals and have a way of holding myself accountable for continuing to work on them.  I thought that if I created a page or space where I could put my work, then maybe I would be more successful at continuing my projects.

When I originally started the blog, it was for the purpose of sharing my Sims3 creations and stories all in one place, rather than having them scattered all about in various Sims3 community sites. Honestly, trying to keep up with such a number of communities was consuming more and more of the limited time I had to devote to creating. It became much easier to just have it all in one place.

Many of you who have only recently started following and viewing this site probably wonder at the titles and are most likely not even aware of the original basis for the names. I know many of you assume that this is just an Outlander based blog… well, yes that is what it has become since I fell through the Stones with Diana Gabaldon and the Outlander series early this summer. But, it did begin with an entirely different story based on my own theories of time travel. So, while I do thank each and every one of my fellow Outlander time travelers for making this site the success that it is, I also feel that I need to thank the earliest followers of my work. The Sims3 communities and members that have stuck by me since the ragged and rambling beginnings. Those simmers who appreciated and valued my creativeness, who inspired and encouraged me to continue with it, who still come here in search of Sims related content and information, only to find an endless sea now of Outlander! To all of you simming friends, I give you my endless gratitude and the promise that I have not completely given up on the simming or the stories! I am hoping to return to some it in the next few weeks. I do miss my own story telling and the creative process that the Sims provides.  In my most recent ventures back into the simming, some of the characters from my long running soap opera type story even made their own connection to those more famous members of the Outlander Series…

For those unfamiliar with my sims related projects and stories, you can find more information in some of the separate pages devoted to them, or if you have an enormous amount of time and need something to fill up your days waiting for more Outlander… You could always go back to my archives and start the story from it’s earliest beginnings with Lady Eleanor DeGuille and Royals Castle?  Wow, that brought back memories for me! Poor Eleanor is still trapped between the walls of one Haunts Castle waiting for someone, anyone, to come rescue her!  Our story was moving along at a fairly good pace until we were side tracked by a few other  things… Dunvegan Castle, the Viking history of one Eric North, and Outlander!

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2013/07/20/lady-eleanors-journal-entries/

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother's spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

Lady Eleanor DeGuille through time and history, from a lonely child pawn of Royals to an uncertain romance, timeless friendship to a Mother’s spirit within her guiding her journey and her destiny.

 

As I mentioned, one of the other projects that side tracked us in the story was Eric North’s decision to go home to Dunvegan Castle on the Isle of Skye. He is one of those characters that ends up having a mind of his own and insisted on telling his story! Eric’s appearance in the story began in the present day when he met Judith Self. He began with some minor small appearances in the storyline but for some reason, his character took on a larger than planned role. He emerged as a central character for much of the early medieval portion of the story where he appeared with Arthur and Guinivere in their ill fated story… He was a friend and fellow knight of Arthur’s and Adrian DeWare’s, and somehow his story took on a life of it’s own!

Eric’s appearance in the Arthur and Guinivere portion of the story

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/05/03/eleanors-journal-61-beyond-the-tower-and-back-again/

Screenshot-25

 

Eric and Brenny into the woods Eric North poster

Eric begins his story of his ancient Viking history and it’s connection to Dunvegan Castle

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

Eric and friends10 Eric holds Reina

You can read about the Dunvegan Castle project starting here:

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/09/from-the-creator-history-of-dunvegan-castle/

dunvegan castle

My interpretation of Dunvegan Castle

overview of front with windows, towers and turrets Screenshot-11 Screenshot-9

 

I did mention that during the work on Dunvegan Castle and our characters’ involvement in that place, there was recently a reference and connection made to Outlander. Right now as the story stands, Eric and Brenny are remembering their time spent at Dunvegan during the 1700s when much work was done on improving the conditions of the Castle. When last we saw them, they were having a serious discussion about an odd invitation they had received from the Clan MacKenzie?

https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/20/dunvegan-castle-recieves-an-odd-correspondance-and-invitation/

Eric and Svein in the stable Rory's parsel of correspondance Wedding Invitation The women have their own discussion

 

Now, I hope this clears up some of the confusion or wondering about the origins and beginnings of this blog. I hope that you take some time to explore the other portions of it that I have devoted so much time and love to over the last year. I will soon get back to my own stories and characters because they are the reason I am here in the first place! They have a place in my heart forever and I am deeply devoted and attached to all of them. Even though my story winds and bends through space and time… much like my mind most of the time, I do still want to continue the journey for them and not leave trapped in the mists of time! I write in fits and starts, chunks of seemingly unrelated pieces but, as Diana Gabaldon has mentioned about the individual writing process, that is entirely Okay as long as I remember where I left each of them and don’t leave one of them trapped for years? If it’s alright for little Jemmy to be stuck in a cave for years, for Jamie Fraser to be waiting on a window sill for many months… then I guess Eleanor DeGuille should not be complaining about being trapped in the walls of Haunts Castle for a few more months!

leaving Jamie ing the window Jack wins the hand with a rope in the drawer Dragon Fly in Amber 11_dragonfly_in_amber_00001

 

Don’t worry Eleanor and Judith, Eric will eventually come to your rescue!

Judith and Eleanor in the hall

 

 

 

 

Dunvegan Castle recieves an odd correspondance and invitation!

Warning, disclaimer and apology for a wayward tangent that I was unable to resist!  Normally, I keep my story segments and creations separate from my other fascinations and addictions… such as Outlander? For this one instance however, I was unable to resist the notion of them running across each other a bit! This is the one and only time that I will cross these paths!

 

First of all, in order to see or understand how any of this outlandish and far fetched fantasy might in any way shape or form have cause, reason or the remotest plausibility of intersecting, it may help to have a bit of background information on some relevant facts concerning Clan MaCleod and Dunvegan Castle during the period of the 1740’s. I will only supply the basic pertinent facts as they relate here to this story. My characters are fictional members of the Clan MacCleod much as Diana Gabaldon’s characters are fictional members of the Clan MacKenzie!  While they are fictional characters, I do try to tie them to historical events when ever possible!

 

Before anything else, let us look at where Dunvegan Castle and Clan Macleod lands sit on the Clan map of the highlands. This is important as it will give you some idea of where the MacCleod Clans resided in relation to MacKenzie and Fraser Clans. As you can see it would not have been odd for the MacCleods to know of or have dealings with either MackKenzies or Frasers.

Scottish Clan map with Dunvegan Castle's location starred.

Scottish Clan map with Dunvegan Castle’s location starred.

 

As far as factual information goes, during the 1740’s Clan MacCeod was headed by Norman MacCloid, who did not support the Jacobite rebellion and led troops in support of the Government forces.  The chief led 500 men of the MacLeod Independent Highland Companies in support of the Government at the Battle of Inverurie on 23 December 1745, where they were defeated.

The Macleods of Raasay, a branch of the MacLeods of Lewis, fought at the Battle of Culloden as part of the Glengarry Regiment, in retribution, the MacLeods of Dunvegan, under their chief, Norman MacLeod, burned and pillaged the Island of Raasay, harassing its inhabitants for many weeks in the late summer of 1746. As a result Norman MacLeod became known as “The Wicked Man”. In 1745, MacLeod of Dunvegan was said to have been able to “bring out” 700 men.   

Clan MacCleod history: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clan_MacLeod#18th_century_and_Jacobite_risings

Norman MacLeod (The Wicked Man) : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Norman_MacLeod_(The_Wicked_Man)

Dunvegan Castle:  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunvegan_Castle

So far, I have not addressed any of this as yet in my story, but eventually will get to these details! Suffice it to say, Norman MacCleod would probably not been a friend of Dougal MacKenzie. But, then again, it might have been possible as the Jacobite Rebellion created a civil war, a divide between families and one time friends.  In our current story, we know little of the MacCleod Clan’s political or religious dealings at this time. As far as we know at this point, our fictional Clan members consisting of Eric North, Svein North, and young Brennie along with a housekeeper, Minn are the current residents of  Dunvegan Castle. Svein and Eric have been there since it’s beginnings and Brennie has been there for a few centuries now.  A clue as to the reason for them residing there and not Norman can be found in his factual history.  He supported the Government cause in the Jacobite Rising, and was an absentee chief as he seldom lived at his ancestors’ traditional seat of  Dunvegan Castle.  If you’re thinking Clan MacKenzie was the only Clan with not so likeable or trustable Family members, you might want to read more about Norman MacCleod? He was one of those Clan leaders that members probably rued the day they put him in power?  Ok, enough on him, he will show up in our story later!

Eric has appeared throughout this long sage but his personal story and his connection to Dunvegan Castle unfolds starting here: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/06/16/eleanors-journal69-eric-at-dunvegan/

 

It might also be of interesting note here that Dunvegan Castle has a long history and connection- which they are proud of by the way- with the Fairie realm and other such folk lore. Maybe they heard stories of that strange woman residing with the MacKenzies?!

 

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Now that you have a bit of background history on the MacCleods and Dunvegan Castle, we can go on with our strange intersection?

 

During our construction of Dunvegan Castle we’ve been following Eric’s and Brennie’s memories of the past in the Castle. Brennie is reliving many of her own memories of  past events with thoughts of that time when her close friend and mentor, Minn was there as housekeeper and so much more. It was during the during the 1700’s when much of the Castle was renovated from a medieval fortress to a more habitable home, thanks much to Minn’s efforts and knowledge!   Brennie did not know much of what the outside world was doing, or what Eric and Svein were involved with during those times. She was just coming into her own as a new person thanks also to Minn’s sometimes overbearing but caring guidance. It was during this time that Brennie began to take part in what was happening around her, and what was happening in Scotland. 

Eric and Svein were often gone on Clan business, most of which Brennie questioned little of before this time. With Minn’s arrival though, the Castle began to change and become more of a home to many Clan members. Eric and Svein were not Clan Chiefs… they left that duty to the more human members of the Clan, a fact that in this time, they were beginning to regret. The current Clan Cheiftan, Norman MacCleod, did not reside at the Castle and rarely if ever bothered to even visit there. He did send two orphaned Clan members there though.  Two of his illegitimate offspring were sent to Dunvegan when their Mother died and Norman wanted them well out of his way.  So, Dunvegan along with Minn and Brennie took them in, welcomed them, and raised them.  The boy, Alexander was taken into training by Eric and Svein.  Where ever Svein or Eric went, so went Alex! Ellen, followed Minn and Brennie around with the same adoration.

Alexander

Alexander

 

 

Ellen MacCleod

Ellen MacCleod

 

Late one evening, the men were in the stables when young Alexander arrived exhausted from traveling hurriedly across the country with a message he said was of dire importance. He did not know what it was, had been given by one of the MacKenzies and told only that it was urgent that he get it to Svein and Eric.

An exhausted Rory

The first debate before even opening the message was one of what the MacKenzies wanted with them?  Eric was puzzled and doubtful, then suspicious… his words to Svein, “What have ye done? We’re at peace ye ken, and I would it to stay that way. I want no wars or battles now with other Clans. We have us enough trouble with Norman!”

At the mention of  his Father’s name, Alex hung his head. He knew of how much trouble the man was causing, and he was tired of the battles in his head and his heart over being the man’s son.

Debate on what to do

Svein assured Eric, “Need ye not worry, I have not done a thing, cept befriend the man!”

Eric’s response was resigned. “Achhh and, I am supposing that ye think that’s a much better thing? Dinna think that I want to be in that Man’s debt more than I want to be his enemy! What have ye promised him that we canna provide?”

Eric and Svein in the stable

Svein paused before answering. “Nothing, I promised nothing that we canna provide. I merely pledged our assistance against a more personal matter that he be involved in.  I promised our neutrality in that matter of his Fraser kin. We willna take any sides in what ever matters they dispute about was all I promised him.”

Eric nodded, “Well we can provide that, we have no quarrel with either of them and we need it to stay that way.”

He told Alex to take the parcel upstairs and noticed the frustration on the boy’s face. “Ye hold yer temper lad, and do as I ask. Ye’re not too old for a whipping yet even though ye think ye are!”

Discussion of news

Some time later, the family stood around the table staring at the parcel and missive that had been delivered, not quite sure what this meant to them?

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The message was indeed a rather odd and curious one?

Wedding Invitation

Eric was not sure what it meant and thought for a few moments before asking Alex, “Are ye sure ye got the right parcel? And, are ye sure they said to deliver it here? Maybe ye heard them wrong or grabbed the wrong message. How much ale did ye drink and how tired were ye when ye were talkin to them?”

Alex bowed his head, mainly because he was so tired he was bout to drop off right there… and he did not want to share either just how much of the Ale he had shared at the Inn with the MacKenzie travelers! “Nay, Eric, I dinna grab the wrong message! Twas that Mutagh Fitzgibbons that shoved it in my shirt front, told me to ride like Hell to Svein and then get our arses back there soon as we could!”

 

Svein sighed and gave the only plausible explanation he could think of. “Well, like as not, we’re being called as to be impartial witnesses. I pledged to Dougal that I would not take sides in any of his family matters and this looks to be an important family matter? I know not much about the whole story of the lad but there is that land dispute in question between the clans, which the lad stands to inherit when he marries. Maybe it all has something to do with that?”

Rory bows his head

They discussed it for some time and could not come to any further conclusion than what Svein had suggested. There was agreement that what could it hurt to attend as requested… to not show up would cause some rift between them and Dougal that Eric did not want to encur so he went along with it though with some hesitation. He did not want to walk into some sort of trap either or become embroiled in some larger dispute of the MacKenzies. He agreed that they would go as requested, then return home immediately afterwards. The women would stay home, there was no need to endanger them and this was a man’s business anyway, Svein insisted.

 

Minn had her own thoughts as to Svein’s comment but wisely for once, kept them to herself.  After the men left the room, she filled Brennie and young Ellen in on her latest gossip about the MacKenzies and their strange guest who was visiting and now about to become their newest family member. “I heard tell that some folks think she’s a witch? They do say she is might odd, but a fine healer even if she does drink a might much? Probably should not be asking for her aid if it gets a bit late in the day… if ye know what I ken?” She went on with her tales and then after a moment reminded the women, “Achhh, Ye know of that lad, he’s passed through here before. Ye remember that fine young lad who all the lasses swayed over, the one who wouldna go in the boats?”

Brennie and Ellen nodded, they both remembered him now! Ellen blushed and said sadly, “Well I could only wish such a lad like him could find his way here for me! Not that it would matter though, as no one would be fool enough to have me.”

Minn just hushed and tsked at her youthful but true comments. “Hush ye Ellen, ye’re far too young to be thinking such thoughts anyway, and when the time does come we’ll be sure to find you a right fine lad!”

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Previous Outlander post: Marriage of Convenience https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/16/outlander-marriage-of-convenience-and-other-things/

Previous Dunvegan Castle post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/09/07/dunvegan-castle-great-hall-and-still-room/

 

Most recent progress on Dunvegan Castle:

 

Left side Watch tower room with access to a work room.

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Off the Work room is a small space which Minn uses for her book work space

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This general work room is part of the original old Castle rooms. It  was used as work room space by Castle residents for many years, as it was better lit with windows and sunlight than some of the other rooms of the time.

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Overview of work room with stairs down to stables and still room storage on the other side of it.

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Dunvegan Castle: Great Hall comes to life with music

Previous Dunvegan Castle post: https://timeslipsblog.wordpress.com/2014/08/24/dunvegan-castle-progress-medicinal-room-and-gardens/
Brennie and her music1

Work on the Castle continues and Brennie brings it back to it’s former life with her memories of it.  After living here for so many centuries, everywhere Brennie looks holds a vivid thought or memory of the past! Walking into the Great Hall/Dining room, she can see it as it once was and she can still hear Minn encouraging her to come back to life… to really live again and do what she was meant to. For such a long time, Brennie hid herself away in the Castle, avoided the Clan and it’s people as much as possible. The Castle stood empty and silent most of the time save for when Eric and his men would return from their battles and their journies.  One day, Minn dragged her into the empty Great Hall and as usual, sternly lectured her.  She swept her hands out around the room and demanded that Brennie look around at the emptiness.  Then she pointed her finger at Brennie, gave one her disgusted looks and sounds… “This, this is your fault. This emptiness and quiet is because of you. You need to fill this room, fill this place and fill our people’s hearts. That is what your duty is!”

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Brennie was puzzled by her remarks. “My fault? My duty? What ever are you going on about now. I have no real duty here. This place, these people and their hearts are Eric’s and his Clan’s. I have no true place here, or anywhere else for that matter. My place and my people are long gone… as I should have been as well.” Brennie shrugged her shoulders and lowered her head. These people do not care about me, they care about Eric and the men who fight for them. They do not know what do with me any more than I know what to do with them.”

 

Minn shook her finger and her head with frustration, “Achhhh Yea, your people are long away, but they be not gone… it’s because you choose them to be gone that they are. The Ladies of the Lake are always out there waiting for you to return to them but you willna go because you’re skairt. You’re skairt of life! The people here, they dinna care because you willna let them. You willna let them know you or be a part of your life any more than you will let yourself be a part of their life. You hide away here because you dinna want to feel the pains of life and death around you. And, as to the fighting, every day is a fight for every one of us whether we be mortal or Fairie, Witch or Vampyre. They care not if you be Vampyre… My Stars Girl, have ye not eyes to see that half the people around here are descended from Vampyres, Witches and Fairies?  They all know the secrets of this Clan and they stand proud to defend those secrets during these times. They care about Eric because they know he goes out there and fights for them and their freedom to be what they are.”

 

With that speech, Minn walked over to a case lying on the floor near the fire. She pointed down to it and motioned to Brennie to open it. Inside was a beautiful, intricately carved violin. Brennie picked it up carefully, holding her breath as she felt the warmth and the satin smoothness of the wood. She felt something else as well, she felt the vibrations of the music within it reaching out to her, wrapping around her soul. It had been long since she had allowed herself to feel the music. Tears came to her eyes as she remembered the music that had filled her mind and her soul.

 

Minn smiled softly and motioned her to play, “This is your calling, your destiny, your way to fight for yourself and for all of us.”

 

Brennie gave her a bewildered look. “What do you mean? I am not sure I understand what you want me to do.”

 

Minn answered her calmly, “What do I want you do? I want you to use your gifts to fill this place, and these people with your music, your stories and your spirit. I want you to remind them of the old ways, of the legends and the prophecies. I want you to give them hope, give them courage and give them their pride in their heritage. Every Clan, every Castle has it’s Bard and you are Dunvegan’s now and forever more. You are a Bard, and that is what you shall do to inspire these people. Now, Play and fill this hall with music once again!”

 

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Bard

In medieval Gaelic and British  culture, a bard was a professional poet, employed by a patron, such as a monarch or nobleman, to commemorate the patron’s ancestors and to praise the patron’s own activities.

Originally a specific class of poet, contrasting with another class known as fili in Ireland and Highland Scotland, the term “bard”, with the decline of living bardic tradition in the modern period, acquired generic meanings of an epic author/singer/narrator, comparable with the terms in other cultures (minstrel, skald, scop, rhapsode, udgatar, griot, ashik) or any poets, especially famous ones. For example, William Shakespeare is known as the Bard or the Bard of Avon.

Bards (who are not the same as the Irish ‘filidh’ or ‘fili’) were those who sang the songs recalling the tribal warriors’ deeds of bravery as well as the genealogies and family histories of the ruling strata among Celtic societies. The pre-Christian Celtic peoples recorded no written histories; however, Celtic peoples did maintain an intricate oral history committed to memory and transmitted by bards and filid. Bards facilitated the memorisation of such materials by the use of metre, rhyme and other formulaic poetic devices.

 

A description of life at a training school for bards survives in the Memoirs of the Marquis of Clanricarde, written in 1641-1643, but published in 1722.[7] Clanricarde was a territory in Ireland, located in what is now County Galway. This description, found in the introduction to the memoirs, appears to be by the lawyer Thomas O’Sullivane.[8]

Concerning the poetical Seminary or School, from which I was carried away to clear other things that fell in my way, it was open only to such as were descended of Poets and reputed within their Tribes. And so was it with all the Schools of that kind in the Nation, being equal to the Number of Families that followed the said calling. But some more or less frequented for the difference of Professors, Conveniency, with other Reasons, and seldom any come but from remote parts, to be at a distance from Relations and other Acquaintances that might interrupt his Study. The Qualifications first requir’d were reading well, writing the Mother-tongue, and a strong Memory. It was likewise necessary the Place should be in the solitary Recess of a Garden or within a Sept or Enclosure far out of the reach of any Noise, which an Intercourse of People might otherwise occasion. The Structure was a snug, low Hut, and beds in it at convenient Distances, each within a small Apartment without much Furniture of any kind, save only a Table, some Seats, and a Conveniency for Cloaths to hang upon. No Windows to let in the Day, nor any Light at all us’d but that of Candles, and these brought in at a proper Season only. The Students upon thorough Examination being first divided into Classes, wherein a regard was had to every one’s Age, Genius, and teh Schooling ha before, if any at all, or otherwise. The Professors (one or more as there was occasion) gave a Subject suitable to the Capacity of each Class, determining the number of Rhimes, and clearing what was to be chiefly observed therein as to Syllables, Quartans, Concord, Correspondence, Termination and Union, each of which were restrain’d by peculiar Rules. The said Subject (either one or more as aforesaid) having been given over Night, they work’d it apart each by himself upon his own Bed, the whole next Day in the Dark, till at a certain Hour in the Night, Lights being brought in, they committed it to writing. Being afterwards dress’d and come together into a large Room, where the Masters waited, each Scholar gave in his Performance, which being corrected or approv’d of (according as it requir’d) either the same or fresh subjects were given for the next Day. This Part being over, the Students went to their Meal, which was then serv’d up; and so, after some time spent in Conversation and other Diversions, each retir’d to his Rest, to be ready for the Business of the next Morning. Every Saturday and on the Eves of Festival Days they broke up and dispers’d themselves among the Gentlemen and rich Farmers of the Country, by whom they were very well entertain’d and much made of, till they thought fit to take their leaves, in order to re-assume their Study. Nor was the People satisfied with affording this Hospitality alone; they sent in by turns every Week from far and near Liquors and all manner of Provision towards the Subsistence of the Academy, so that the chief Poet was at little or no Charges, but, on the contrary, got very well by it, besides the Presents made him by the Students upon their first coming, which was always at Michaelmas [29 September], and from thence till the 25th of March, during the cold season of the Year only, did that close Study last. At that time the Scholars broke up, and repair’d each to his own Country, with an Attestation of his Behaviour and Capacity from the chief Professor to those that had sent him.

The reason of laying the Study aforesaid in the Dark was doubtless to avoid the Distraction which Light and the variety of Objects represented thereby commonly occasions. This being prevented, the Faculties of the Soul occupied themselves solely upon the Subject in hand, and the Theme given; so that it was soon brought to some Perfection according to the Notions or Capacities of the Students. Yet the course was long and tedious, as we find, and it was six or seven Years before a Mastery or the last Degree was conferred, which you’ll the less admire upon considering the great Difficulty of the Art, the many kinds of their Poems, the Exactness and Nicety to be observ’d in each, which was necessary to render their Numbers soft, and the Harmony agreeable and pleasing to the Ear.

As every Professor, or chief Poet, depended on some Prince or great Lord, that had endowed his Tribe, he was under strict ties to him and Family, as to record in good Metre his Marriages, Births, Deaths, Acquisitions made in war and Peace, Exploits, and other remarkable things relating to the Same. He was likewise bound to offer an Elegy on the Decease of the said Lord, his consort, or any of their children, and a Marriage Song when there should be Occasion. But as to any Epick, or Heroick Verse to be made for any other Lord or Stranger, it was requir’d that at least a Paroemion, or Metre therein, should be upon the Patron, or the Name in general.

The last Part to be done, which was the Action and Pronunciation of the Poem in Presence of the Maecenas, or the principal Person it related to, was perform’d with agreat deal of Ceremony in a Consort of Vocal and Instrumental Musick. The Poet himself said nothing, but directed and took are that everybody else did his Part right. The Bards having first had the Composition from him, got it well by Heart, and now pronounc’d it orderly, keeping even Pace with a Harp, touch’d upon that Occasion; no other musical Instrument being allowed for the said Purpose than this alone, as being Masculin, much sweeter and fuller than any other.[9]

Martin Martin, in his Description of the Western Islands of Scotland (London, 1703), paints a picture of the bardic culture as he encountered it a few decades later, providing in the process a description of bardic training rites. This is one of the last eyewitness accounts of the bardic culture.

The Orators, in their Language called Is-Dane, were in high esteem in these Islands and the Continent, until within these forty years they sat always among the Nobles and Chiefs of Families in the Streah or Circle. Their Houses and little Villages were Sanctuaries, as well as Churches, and they took place before Doctors of Physic. The Orators, after the Druids were extinct, were brought in to preserve the Genealogy of Families and to repeat the same at every Succession of a Chief; and upon the occasion of marriages and Births they made Epithalamiums and Panegyricks, which the Poet or Bard pronounc’d. The Orators by the force of their Eloquence had a powerful ascendant over the greatest men in their time; for if any Orator did but ask the Habit, Arms, Horse, or any other thing belonging to the greatest Man in these Islands, it was readily granted them, sometimes out of respect, and sometimes for fear of being exclaimed against by a Satire, which in those days was roeckon’d a great dishonour; but these Gentlemen becoming insolent, lost ever since both the Profit and Esteem which was formerly due to their Character; for neither their Panegyricks nor Satires are regarded to what they have been ,and they are now allowed but a small salary. I must not omit to relate their way of Study, which is very singular. They shut their Doors and Windows for a Days time, and lie on their backs with a STone upon their Belly, and Plads [sic, plaid?] about their Heads, and their Eyes being cover’d they pump their Brains for Rhetorical Encomium or Panegyrick; and indeed they furnish such a Stile from this Dark Cell as is understood by very few; and if they purchase a couple of Horses as the reward of their Meditation, they think they have done a great Matter. The Poet or Bard had a Title to the Bridegroom’s upper Garb – that is the Plad and Bonnet – but now he is satisfy’d with what the Bridegroom pleases to give him on such occasions.

 

Brennie’s childhood with the hidden Ladies of the Lake had been spent training for life as a well respected Bard/legend keeper.  Her life had changed however with Eric’s turning her and the world had begun to change as well during those times.  She did not know how to change with the world, but realistically she admitted to herself, she had not tried very hard either. Minn was right, she was skairt as Minn so bluntly put it! But, with Minn’s help… she began to find herself again and understand that she could find a way to make a difference in their world.

 

Minn made her realize that it was not Eric’s place to teach her everything, it was up to herself to learn how to adapt and fit in to an ever changing world.  Eric could not teach her how to be herself and be happy with it and it was not Eric’s fault that she was so unhappy with this gift of life he had given her. She learned from Minn how to be strong again, how to be mistress of this Castle and leader of these people.  They worked together to make the Castle liveable, comfortable and filled with life again.

 

Minn explained to her how important it was for the Clan members to feel they were a part of this Castle, and for them to know that they were just as vital and important to the well being and survival of the Clan as the highest members. It was a give and take between all of them, a matter of team work on every level.  After all, what good did it do to be a Clan Chieftan if one had no Clan members left? A clan could lose it’s Chieftan and replace him with someone else but a Chieftan would have a harder time replacing his clan if they all died, or deserted him because he was not a good leader… So, it was important to take care of each other.  One part of that, Minn insisted, was to be able to provide the best care possible to all of their members. She and Brennie worked to ensure that their Castle had a well equipped and well stocked medicinal room and along with that, Minn added to the room with another well stocked storage room for some of the most valuable and in some cases highly dangerous detoctions. This area was a locked portion of the Medicinal or Still room.

 

Still room

The still room is a distillery room found in most great houses, castles or large establishments throughout Europe dating back at least to medieval times. Medicines were prepared, cosmetics  and many home cleaning products created, and home-brewed beer or wine was often made. Herbs and flowers from the kitchen garden and surrounding countryside were preserved for flavoring food[1] and processed into what today we call essential oils, and infused or distilled, or brewed  as required to make rose water, lavender water, tinctures, peppermint-based ointments, soaps, furniture polishes  and a wide variety of medicines.[2] The still room was a working room: part science lab, part infirmary and part kitchen.

Originally, the still room was a very important part of the household. The lady of the house was in charge of the room, and she taught her daughters and wards  some of the skills needed to run their own homes in order to make them more marriageable. As practical skills fell out fashion for high-born women, the still room became the province of poor dependent relations.

 

In the case of the remote Highland Clans and their Clan seat Castles, such as Dunvegan was, it would have been crucial to their survival and that of the Clan to have such a well equipped Still room and a highly trained, skilled healer in their residence.  Minn would have made sure that the Clan members were welcome to use the services of the Castle’s healer and she would have ensured that everyone shared in the growing, harvesting and stocking of the much needed herbs and plants. 

Over view of Medicinal Still room with locked storage area.

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Minn spent a great length of time teaching Brennie her responsibilities as Mistress of the Castle, even though they both knew that as long as Minn was there, she would really be the one in charge. But, as she matter of factly pointed out to Brennie one day, “Well, Lass, someday I won’t be around to keep things running so smoothly and when that time comes you must know what to do.”  They stood in the now finished Still room addition one day discussing this rather depressing subject while Minn took it in stride and continued taking inventory all the while.

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Minn stressed to Brennie how important it was to keep accurate accounting of the items in this locked room. Some of it, such as the wine and some of the food stuffs were highly costly and worth as much or more than their other finer items around the Castle! “It’s not that I be callin the workers or guests here thieves or such but, one never can tell, Can they? Why leave it out and about for them to be tempted with.” She continued on, “Now some of the potions and detoctions be locked away in here for safe keeping, as they could be quite poisonous or even deadly if used in the wrong way. Tis just better and wiser to keep such locked up and make sure you know how much of it we have and how much gets used.”  Minn told her that there were only a very few with keys to this room and she must always be sure she knew of who had those keys, and who was let into the room.  The only ones with keys were Minn, Brennie, and Eric. Even the resident healer would have to ask permission to enter this room.

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As they worked in the storage room, they chatted about other things going on around the area.  Minn was always full of local gossip and stories, and loved to share them.  Brennie usually wasn’t one for gossip but often she found the stories amusing so she listened patiently to Minn.  She did find the stories more interesting now that she was coming to know the area, the Clan members and the history of this place better.  Minn was going on about the Fairie pools and the ancient circle stones near by and how some folks were swearing that the mists were heavier lately. She added that a few of the women insisted that they saw strange people and things near the pools… Minn just laughed and added her own observation on that, “Achhh well, I know that one, Lila… I suspect that she had a few too many nips of that rot gut Whisky she keeps in her pocket!”

 

Minn did grow serious though and warned Brennie, “Those places and stone circles be verra powerful dangerous. They’re ancient and most folks have no knowledge of them or their use any more. A few of the Ladies of the Lake are left who might know but they hide in deep secrecy now and have not been seen in many ages. You best be careful if you go there.”

 

Brennie eyed Minn warily. “Why would I go there? I have no need or reason to venture near the Fairie pools or the Ladies that are left.” Minn nodded her head, gave Brennie a somewhat knowing and suspicious look that said she knew well what Brennie was thinking.  And, Brennie was thinking then in a small hidden space of her heart, of the Ladies who had raised her, trained her… and of whom she felt like she had let down by leaving them so long ago. Even though it had been necessary, her and their lives had depended on her not returning to them then. But, now… Now, perhaps some of them would be left? She was quite sure that these Ladies of the Lake here would know of  the ones who had raised her, would know if they survived yet?

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As quickly as the thought entered her mind, she stamped it down, set it aside and tried to follow the rest of Minn’s chatter. Minn was going on now about the Fairies, and the legends of the stones… how people could travel through them to other places, worlds, or times?  She gave her usual  laugh of  disbelief and disgust. “Such stuff and nonsense, who would believe such things. Why I heard tell of traveling to such a different world as where there be no Vampyres, no Witches, no Fairies… where they chain their babies to their cradles and don’t let them out till they be a child? They canna move their furnishings around just as they wish, they canna build a cellar, they canna design pretty fabrics as they wish… Now, would ye not be hating to live in that world?  Someone even said as one of their tiny villages had a name… something such as a place called Willow Creek?” Minn pointed her finger at Brennie and laughed as she added, “Now do ye not think that even with all of our problems in this world, it’s still not such a bad place to living… You could get too close to those Stones, Lass, and who knows where or when ye might end up.”

 

Brennie tried to laugh with Minn about all of it but her mind was thinking back to those past events that had caused her to end up here in the first place. She hadn’t thought of it in a long time, since shortly after arriving here to live in this remote isolation and safety from some of those early events. Now, as she left the room and Minn, she shook a little with doubt and real fear. Minn thought it all nonsense, but she knew otherwise. She knew that there were ways to travel through time, even though she had tried very hard to forget… and maybe if there were ways to travel through time, there were also ways to travel to other worlds?  That scared her even more and she thought perhaps she should stay far away from those pools and those circles!