The Shieldmaiden’s Honour is done and dusted, ready for release. I’ve moved it a week ahead, so it’ll be available for purchase a week from now. About time, then, to show off the map created for the book.
It’s the coasts of the English Channel and the North Sea this time: the marshes of the Ikens, and the swamps of Frisia, beyond the Empire’s borders – Netherlands and Belgium, from the dunes of Southern Holland to the Charcoal Woods of Wallonia.
Busy day today – finished proof-reading of the final manuscript of “The Shieldmaiden’s Honour“, and reached a one-third point in the first draft of Madron’s last story, “The Shieldmaiden’s Throne” – soon out for pre-order. It’s some two weeks until the “Honour’s” release, so it’s about Ttime for the traditional Locations post.
This time, Madron ventures into lands we haven’t seen yet in the Song of Britain: the muddy, damp, mosquito-infested marshes of Lincolnshire and Holland. Accordingly, the locations are almost all new – at least until we’re back in the more familiar territory of Frankia.
RATH – Ratae Corieltauvorum, Leicester
The capital of the Corieltauvi, as strategically placed then as it is now, in the middle of Roman Britannia. By 5th century, like most cities on the island, declined into near-abandonment.
LINDOCOLN – Lindum Colonia, Lincoln
The seat of a Bishop and a likely capital city of the Flavia province, Lindum Colonia was once one of the four great cities of Roman Britannia. The artificial canal linking it with the sea was one of the greatest feats of Roman engineering, and its remains can be seen to this day.
A landscape ancient already in Roman times, of bog causeways thousands of years old, clumps of trees hiding old forts, and salt pans worked by the slaves of Roman landlords.
FLEVUM CASTRUM – Velsen, Netherlands
Though not named in the book, the fort in the dunes is based on the fairly recently discovered Roman fortress of Flevum. This oddly shaped fortification was first built in Caligula’s times, perhaps as base for the future conquest of Britain, far north from what would later become the Imperial Limes.
One of the two oldest cities in the Netherlands, guarding a crucial crossing over a branch of the Rhine, Nijmegen’s position was as important in the days of the Empire as it would be in 1944 during the ill-fated Market-Garden operation.
TRAIECT – Traiectum ad Mosam, Maastricht, Netherlands
Return for a brief visit to Traiect – suffering even further decline from the last time we’ve been here. Now on a border between Salians and Ripuarian Franks.
Tornac – Tornacum, Tournai, Wallonia
Childeric I was the second and last king to be buried in the Salian Franks’ first capital city, Tornacum. His son Clovis would eventually move his seat of power further south, to Paris – and from there proceed to conquer what would later become France.
It’s two weeks until release of “The Shieldmaiden’s Pride” – the adventures of a young half-Iute girl in eastern Britannia at the fall of the Empire… It’s been a while since I spent such a significant amount of story time in Londin and its immediate neighbourhood. All the familiar places and faces are coming back – some, perhaps, for the last time…? But with so much focus on Britannia Maxima, I can dive into this part of the island in more detail, and visit some regions that until now have only been mentioned in passing.
WERLAM – Verulamium, St. Albans, Hertfordshire
The capital of Catuvellauni, and a city which at times wished to rival Londinium for primacy over the entire province. It grew to renewed prominence when relics of St Alban were ‘found’ here by Germanus of Auxerre, and the modern town grew around the mighty cathedral that holds them.
DORCIC – Dorchester-on-Thames, Oxfordshire
A tentative name, one of the few proposed for the fortified town guarding an important crossing on the upper Thames, future Dorchester’s main claim to fame is that it’s purported to be the original settlement of the Gewisse tribe, who would later come to rule Wessex, and eventually all of England. It boasts some of the earliest Saxon settlement remains outside the coastal areas.
SPINIS – Speen, Berkshire
Now a tiny village in Berkshire, it was once the place where the Ermine Way, the main highway from Corinium to Londinium, met the road from Aquae Sulis.
A confusingly similarly named cluster of settlements in what is now Cambridgeshire, strewn along the road to Lincoln astride the borders of Britannia Maxima and Britannia Secunda.
BELGIAN WENTA – Venta Belgarum, Winchester
Once a capital of the Belgian civitas, it suffered severe decline after the end fo Roman rule – only to be rebuilt as the capital of Wessex, and the heart of Anglo-Saxon England, centuries later.
CLAWSENT – Clausentium, Southampton
We last saw Clawsent when young Ash visited it searching allies against Aelle, in the Saxon Might. It hasn’t changed much since then – still a backwater harbour, dreaming of its ancient glories. It will remain thus until the Saxons build a new market town of Hamtun, on the other side of the estuary – later renamed Southhampton.
LEMAN – Portus Lemanis, Lympne
A Saxon Shore fort, a navy base, and the second largest harbour of ancient Kent after Dover, though the current village of Lympne has little in common with its predecessor except the name.
The three great cities of Western Britannia, surviving the longest against the Saxon onslaught of later centuries. We know they were sometimes grouped together as one powerful cluster, since they are recorded to have all been lost to Ceawlin’s West Saxons after the Battle of Dyrham in 577.
“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 10 days, on Christmas Eve, “The Crown of Iutes” will be released on Kindle. It is time to reveal the main map for the book: Northern Gaul, comprising of the Domain of Gauls, under Syagrius, and the lands of its neighbours – the Franks, the Armoricans and the Goths of Tolosa.
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).
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.
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.
A simple map this time, for a simple, short story – this is Armorica – today’s Brittany – at the end of the 5th century, just as the old, classic Imperial city names from Tabula Peutingeriana change to common tongue ones, as used in Notitia Dignitatum and later texts.
“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?