I started writing this as a short story but it took on a life of its own and grew and grew, finally reaching its end at over 13,000 words. This makes it a literary hybrid – too long for a short story, and too short for a novella. However, it does qualify as a Kindle Short, defined as: “compelling ideas expressed at their natural length.” I’ll take it! Furthermore, I’m starting to feel my way into a generational series of shorts, as I‘m increasingly drawn to the patchy history of this period in English history. The Romans left and the Angles, Saxons, Jutes, Scotti and Picts invaded, precipitating a bloody and destructive slide into a Dark Age. This, therefore, is part one of the Light in the Dark Ages series.
The early part of the Dark Ages is a period of myths and legends, most notably King Arthur and his knights. It is the realm of archaeologists and sleuth-historians looking for clues to what actually happened during the time before the commencement of The Anglo-Saxon Chronicles, a written record dating from the reign of King Alfred (871-899). This makes it rich territory for historical fiction writers, who can build fanciful tales around the few known facts, events and characters. From the 900s, the Dark Ages became less dark and more grey as European Kings came under the influence of the Roman Catholic Church; learning and record-keeping improved, although it remained a period of wars, grinding poverty and pestilence until the fifteenth century.
The idea for this story came to me during a visit to the site of what was once the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum in Hampshire, south of Reading. The site, maintained by English Heritage, is a square patch of grass surrounded by the remnants of an earth bank. The Romans defeated the local Celtic/Briton tribe, the Atrebates, and built their town on the site of the existing settlement from around 50 AD. The Romans clearly wanted to keep the locals ‘on side’ and so named their new fortified town after the tribal name of their new subjects, perhaps hinting at a desire for conciliation, assimilation and cooperation – a theme that resonates with our own age of one-world multi-culturalism (rubbing uncomfortably against the forces of tribalism). One day, around 440 AD, the Roman garrison packed up and marched away, leaving those remaining to organise and defend themselves. Was this liberation or abandonment?
Download now from amazon kindle for just £0.99 / $0.99
available worldwide from all amazon territories…