“The Shieldmaiden’s Pride” – Book One of the new trilogy, The Song of Madron – is now in the final editing and proofreading stages, with the release scheduled for July 1st – but I can’t wait to show off the maps that will be in the book. Keen-eyed readers will recognise I used one of the earliest maps from Saxon Might as base for this one, but with added detail and some changes in political geography in the 25 years since the period of that book.
In “The Shieldmaiden’s Pride”, the story returns to mainland Britain, as seen by the natives of this land. The characters journey through the island, from hillfort to fortress, from town to villa – so it’s a good moment to run through some of the real-life villas of Roman Britain that have popped up throughout the series so far, and that will appear in the next book.
THE SAXON SPEARS:
ARIMINUM – Beddington Park, London
QUINTUS NATALIUS’s VILLA – Crofton, Orpington
THE SAXON KNIVES:
WORTIMER’S VILLA IN ROBRIWIS – Cobham Park, Kent
Rhedwyn ruled a settlement of Iutes and Britons here for a while, when the villa‘s grounds were confiscated during Wortimer’s brief exile.
CATUAR’S VILLA IN NEW PORT – Brighton, Sussex
A small villa to which the Regin Comes moved from his palace in Bignor as his wealth and importance diminished. Later, Rex Aelle took it for residence, when setting up the South Saxon capital in New Port.
THE SAXON MIGHT:
EADGITH’S VILLA – Newport, Isle of Wight
The half-ruined villa on Wecta, from which Eadgith ruled the small Iute colony.
THE CROWN OF THE IUTES:
MUTUANTON VILLA – Barcombe Mills, Sussex
The white-washed palace on the hill near Mutuanton, where Aelle kept the Briton nobles hostage.
MUTUANTON ISLAND VILLA – Beddingham Sussex
The ruined villa in the marshes, where the Saxon force kept in check the Briton army on the hill fort.
THE SHIELDMAIDEN’S PRIDE:
SOUTH SHORE VILLA – Southwark, London
Recently discovered near the London Bridge, I used this lavish mansio as basis for the South Shore ‘entertainment’ villa.
PUBLIAN’S VILLA – Rutland, near Peterborough
DORCIC PRAETOR’S VILLA – Wittenham Clumps, Dorchester-on-Thames
Another villa only mentioned in the story – the Praetor of Dorcic prefers to live here, in the remains of a hill fort across the river from the town he governs.
Yes, it’s that time of the pre-publishing cycle when I write a post about all the locations used in the upcoming book, The Crown of the Iutes.
A large part of the Crown takes place in the already familiar corner of Britannia – Londin, Cantiaca, the land of the Regins. But the central story takes our heroes, and the reader, back to Gaul – and to the new, to them, lands beyond the River Liger (Loire).
AURELIANUM – Cenabum, Orléans
PICTAWIS – Limonum, Poitiers
CAINO – Cainon, Chinon
Nothing remains of the Roman castrum built on the shores of the Vienne, where now a medieval castle rises upon the grey cliffs. In 5th century, Mexme, a disciple of St Martin’s, established a hermitage here, which soon expanded into a monastery around which the new town grew.
ANDECAWA – Iuliomagus, Angers
NAMNETES – Condevincum, Nantes
ALET – Aletum, St. Malo
DOL – Deols, Chateauroux
An ancient ford, with a small village and a temple attached, would have likely remained anonymous until the establishment of the medieval abbey if it wasn’t for the battle fought between Euric’s Goths and Riothamus’s “Britons”, part of the tumultuous events of 470-472, the final Roman attempt of securing Gaul.
BREDANNA – La Brenne Marsh
(no, this isn’t about the politics 🙂 )
There’s Sussex, Essex, Wessex and Middlesex. There’s East Angles, split into Northern Folk and Southern Folk – and, once, there were even Middle Angles. There are counties and kingdoms with such undoubtedly English names as Surrey and Mercia. Why, then, in the middle of all this Germanic toponymy, is Kent not called something like “Jutland” or “East Jutia”?
Etymology will tell us that the name “Kent” comes from the Briton word for “edge” or “corner”, which in turn gave the name to the Iron Age tribe of Cantii. In Latin, it was variously rendered as Cantia, Cantium or Cantiacum. The Germanic settlers called it Centrige and Kentland. But etymology is not the same as explanation. After all, Sussex is not called “Reginland”. Essex is not “Trinovantia”. Norfolk is not “Ikenware”.
Something happened in Cantium that was different from everywhere else. The myths and what little history we have written about the beginnings of “Anglo-Saxon” settlement in Britannia tell us that it all started there – with Hengist and Horsa, and his Jutes landing on the Isle of Thanet. It’s a convenient legend, but we know there is some truth in it. More, probably, than in the legends of Aella and his son Cissa conquering the southern provinces with his three ceol-fuls of Saxon warriors, or in the muddled origins of the Western Saxons, jumping about from the Welsh marches to Winchester and Salisbury with little regard to geography and chronology.
My books are a fiction, based on guesswork. Until we find some ancient copy of the lost Chronicles of the Kingdom of Kent, all we have to go on are those less precise tools of a Dark Age historian: myths, archaeology, toponymies and etymologies. After all, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle was written in Wessex, hundreds of miles away and centuries after whatever events in Kent made it keep its Briton name when all the land around it took new names from the Saxons. It is a wonder that any rumour of what happened made it to the chronicle, even if only in form of a brief snippet of a legend of Wortigern and the two brothers.
That there was no “invasion” we know from archeological record. No great battles as described by the chroniclers, and no brutal conquest, wiping out entire native population. But I’d like to think there was something more to Kent’s good fortune. I’d like to think – and it is what I propose in my books – that Kent was a unique experiment in the early history of England. That in Kent, the Germanic settlers and the Briton natives not only lived side by side in peace, but dealt with the difficulties of that age of chaos together, that they shared the burden of the time of upheaval that ravaged the rest of Britannia, and the Empire beyond. That the reason why Christianity was welcomed first, and with such ease, in Kent – while other Anglian and Saxon kingdoms resisted and sometimes reverted to paganry – was because the Romano-Britons of Kent, the native Christian population, were not subdued and quashed by their new rulers, and did not turn to imitate them with the same eagerness as those under the Saxon rule. That they were allowed to live and rule in their towns even as the Jutes settled the countryside around them, allowed to keep their Latin names, with only small modifications to accomodate the Jute tongue: Dover for Dubris, Lympne for Leman, Rochester for (Du)Robrivae Castrum – and their capital, a Burgh of the Cants. Compare that with what little remained of the old names in the land of Saxons: gone is Noviomagus Reginorum (Chichester), no trace remains of Anderitum (Pevensey) – and we can barely guess whether their main harbour of Novus Portus was at Brighton or Shoreham. And, most importantly, unlike any other tribal pagus in southern Britannia, they were allowed to keep their ancient name: the Land of Cant.
It is, I repeat, only a guess; a neat setting for a work of fiction. But I feel like it’s as decent explanation as any for why, to this day, the most south-easterly county of England is called Kent, rather than, say, Jutrey. And at the very least, it makes for a good story.
“The Wrath…” takes place in Armorica, Isles of Scilly and what is now known as Wales. It’s in Wales that most military action happens, with armies moving from fort to fort and ships going from port to port, so the one new map drawn for this book is one of Wales – or Western Britannia Prima.
Incidentally, this is my second novel that is partly set in Wales – so did my first book, the Shadow of Black Wings, and even the map was somewhat similar, if a fantasy version. I can’t tell myself if it’s just a curious coincidence or is there something special about Wales that makes me go back to it time and time again?
It’s time for another of the “locations” post – I like to think of my books as much as a travelogue as action novels, and the travels of my characters in Book 5 take them to the very north-western edges of the Empire: from Armorica to Northern Wales.
“The Wrath of the Iutes” is released on July 1st – pre-order now!
ROTOMAG – Rotomagus, Rouen
A major harbour on the River Seine, once the second most important city in Gallia Lugdunensis, now capital of Normandy.
REDONES – Condate Redonum, Roazhon, Rennes
Worgium – Vorgium, Karaez, Carhaix
Cair Wortigern – Craig Gwrtheyrn
The Forks – Tre’r Ceiri
An enormous, spectacular hill fort on Llyn Peninsula, used up to 5th century. The valley below, Nant Gwrtheyrn, is another place associated with Vortigern, who is said to have been buried somewhere in the area.
Hrodha’s Fort – Caer Gybi, Holyhead
A small Roman fortlet at the very end of the Mona road – the last harbour before Hibernia, the Edge of the Empire.
Silurian Isca – Isca Augusta, Caerleon
It’s that time again – the premiere of the new volume is fast approaching, and the first marker of the book being ready for release is the map is now done.
There’s only one map this time – but one that shows more of the ancient world than any of the maps before – all of late Roman Gaul and Germania north of Augusta Treverorum.
This should tell you how much greater the scope of the story has become – the interests of Iutes are no longer confined to Britannia, they now enter into the power plays of the late Empire
In “The Blood of the Iutes” the action moves from Britannia to northern Gaul and Germania, introducing a slew of new locations in what is now Belgium, northern France and western Germany.
TORNAC – Tornacum, Tournai
One of the oldest towns in Belgium, the first capital of the Salian Franks.
TRAIECT – Trajectum ad Mosam, Maastricht
Ancient crossing town on the Meuse River.
AKE – Aquae Grani, Aachen
Hot springs resort town, popular with the Legionnaires stationed at the Rhine. Later, capital of the Frankish Empire.
COLN – Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, Cologne
Capital of the Germania Inferior province, the greatest city on the Roman Rhine.
TOLBIAC – Tolbiacum, Zulpich
A small crossroads town, with roads leading to every corner of Gaul. Place of many famous battles.
ICORIG – Icorgium, Junkerath
A small fortress, guarding an important pass into the Eifel Mountains.
TREVIR – Augusta Treverorum, Trier
The capital of all Gaul, seat of the Emperors.
1. CPNRB – Celtic Personal Names of Roman Britain.
The database of all Briton names confirmed in sources and found in inscriptions in the Roman period, from 1st to 5th century AD. Divided by period, location, tribe. Invaluable for coming up with real-sounding secondary characters.
2. DARMC – Digital Atlas of Roman and Medieval Civilizations.
This one has everything. Roman roads, settlements – named and unnamed, bridges, passes, temples, fortresses, villas… the most comprehensive map of Ancient Rome on the internet.
3. ORBIS – Stanford Geospatial Network Model of the Roman World.
Calculator of distances and travel times for the Roman Empire. Google Maps for Ancient Rome, using main roads and sea routes.
4. PASE – Prosopograhy of Anglo-Saxon England.
Similar to 1., a database of names but this time for the Anglo-Saxons. Covers all of Middle Ages, divided by locations, periods, occupations and more.
5. Rural Settlement of Roman Britain. Another detailed map of every archaeological find from Roman Britain.
An even more detailed map of Roman archaelogy than 2., but dedicated solely to Britain, rather than all of Empire. Down to single coin finds.
6. Omnes Viae: Google Maps for Tabula Peutingeriana
Similar to the ORBIS map, but using data only from Tabula Peutingeriana, the only remaining map of the Late Roman Empire. Also has the viewer of the Tabula reconstruction.