Who’s Guarding the Wall?

2022 marks the 1,900th anniversary of the Emperor Hadrian’s visit to Britannia and the start of the northern frontier upgrade from earth and bank defence to stone wall. The Wall marks the fall back line beyond which no raids by Caledonian tribes would be tolerated. But more than that, it was a grand imperial statement that boasted of the might of the Roman Empire that came with a statement of intent: “You’d better get used to us as we’re here to stay.”

But the life of Hadrian’s Wall as a frontier barrier lasted for only another 280 years, abandoned by Rome around the year 410 – the year Rome itself was sacked by the Visigoths.

I visited Hadrian’s Wall in September 2020 and was inspired to write my own story of frontier life in the heyday of the Roman Empire, choosing the final days of Emperor Marcus Aurelius, who died in the year 180 C.E. My hero is Centurion Gaius Atticianus of the VI Legion, a real figure whose name is engraved on an altar stone excavated at Whitley Castle – once the Roman fort of Epiacum. I have imagined his story and struggle to survive in the harsh Northumbrian climate. I also wanted to showcase the work of archaeologists in uncovering and breathing new life into our understanding of Roman Britain, so I settled on a dual timeline story that flips from a contemporary tale to the life of Gaius in alternating chapters.

Legion Reenactor outside a reconstructed wooden fort

Guardians at the Wall is a dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall in which archaeologists uncover artefacts that connect them to the life of a Roman centurion in second century Britannia.

Available to buy from Amazon worldwide in Kindle, paperback, hardback and to read on Kindle Unlimited:

GUARDIANS AT THE WALL http://mybook.to/guardiansatthewall

The Guardians at the Wall

Who Were the Guardians at the Wall?

My 2021 novel, Guardians at the Wall, is a work of fiction, inspired by an inscription on a Roman artefact discovered in 1803 at Whitley Castle in Cumbria, once the Roman fort of Epiacum. Following a visit to five Hadrian’s Wall museums located at fort sites in 2020, I became so intrigued by the work of archaeologists to uncover and piece together a narrative of how the Roman occupiers lived that I resolved to write my novel as a dual timeline with an archaeology story intertwined with the story of a Roman soldier during the occupation.

The main character in the contemporary thread is archaeology student Noah Jessop. In Noah’s presentation, he refers to three mentions he found of Centurion Gaius Atticianus. Of these three, two are fictitious and the true one is the dedication on an altar stone. In the Roman Inscriptions of Britain archives, there is an entry for an altar pedestal stone inscription, dedicated to the god Hercules. The translation reads:
‘To the god Hercules
Gaius Vitellius Atticianus
centurion of the Sixth Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis’

This altar stone (sketch from http://www.romaninscriptionsofbritain.org) now resides at the Higgins Art Gallery and Museum in Bedford.
From this, I’ve taken my character, Gaius Vitellius Atticianus of the VI Legion Victrix Pia Fidelis (‘the victorious, loyal and faithful Sixth Legion’), and imagined his story, including the invented burial of a payroll chest. One real event is included in the narrative; the burning down of Corbridge/Coria town in 180 or 181, thought to have been in an attack by Caledonian raiders from north of Hadrian’s Wall. 180 is also the year that Emperor Marcus Aurelius died – memorable depicted in the opening scenes of the movie, ‘Gladiator’. Two of my named Roman officers are also real, plucked from mentions in inscriptions on monuments or in surviving records, namely Legate of the VI Legion, Claudius Hieronymianus (between 190-212 C.E. – I liked the name so I placed him in office as a young political appointee, nine years earlier); and Tribune Publius Helvius Pertinax (VI Legion, 170s). Great names that deserve to live on. Further reading revealed that Pertinax retired to Rome after a long career as a provincial administrator, only to be persuaded out of retirement in the wake of the murder of Emperor Commodus by the Praetorian Guard. His short reign was the first three months of 193. He was murdered in turn and replaced by another candidate in the tumultuous Year of the Five Emperors.

My story of Noah and the archaeologists is fiction, although the settings are real. Both the Vindolanda Trust and English Heritage are registered trusts under UK law, and manage functioning museums situated at the sites of part-excavated Roman ruins. English Heritage manage many sites on Hadrian’s Wall, including the fascinating Corbridge Roman Town, Housesteads (near the much-photographed Sycamore Gap), and the beautifully located Chesters fort, baths and Victorian era museum in the grounds of the Clayton family estate.

Andrew Birley at the Vindolanda dig site

The Vindolanda Trust has an ongoing archaeological dig, started in the 1930s by owner Eric Birley, and continued by his son, Robin, who in 1973 oversaw the discovery of the Vindolanda tablets. Vindolanda remains with the Birley family beyond 1970 when the Vindolanda Trust was founded, with Dr Andrew Birley as the current Chief Executive Officer. Many wonderous finds, including the tablets, can be seen in the onsite museum. Because peat contains very little oxygen, organic materials like wood, leather and textiles do not rot. They can survive for thousands of years, preserved by the stable anoxic chemistry of the soil.

Tim Walker at Arbeia replica commanding officer’s villa

I visited these places in September 2020, between Covid-19 lockdowns, and the idea for this story came to me shortly after, whilst I was blogging about my visits. I saw for myself the Gladiator drinking bowl or tankard (passed around by Gaius and his mates in chapter two and featured in miniature on the book cover) and was awe-struck by the Vindolanda tablets and the details of the inscriptions on the information cards. The whole museum is fascinating, as are the grounds. I was extremely grateful to escape the confines of my home for three glorious days in the fresh, Northumberland air. In January 2021, whilst in the midst of writing, I enjoyed watching Robson Green’s television series, Walking Hadrian’s Wall. I note that Mr Green is a Patron of the Vindolanda Trust, and his visit to meet with his ‘old mate’, Andrew Birley, was both fascinating and timely.

The novel’s title, Guardians at the Wall, came to me once I’d sketched out the plots of each timeline strand. The Roman and auxilliary soldiers stood guard at the Wall for over 200 years, but the current generation of guardians are the archaeologists, curators and historians who strive to expose the past and make it live on in public consciousness – a part of our history and cultural identity. In the novel I talk of a Combined Universities dig at Vindolanda. This is made up. There are no combined universities digs that I know of, but there are archaeology degree courses offered by Durham and Newcastle Universities, with fieldwork practicals.

Bronze Bust of the Emperor Hadrian at Segedunum Museum

The novel’s action is set at Hadrian’s Wall, one of Britain’s World Heritage sites. When finished, Hadrian’s wall stretched 117 km (73 imperial miles) from sea to sea. It stood about 5 meters (15 ft.) high and 3 meters (10 ft.) wide. The core consisted of packed earth and clay and the sides were faced with blocks of stone. There may have been intermittent platforms on top of some stretches of the wall between watchtowers and mile forts, where auxiliary sentries kept watchful eyes on the north lands. The wall was a highly visible symbol of the Roman Empire’s might and prodigious activity at the peak of its power and dominance. Now, barely 10% of Hadrian’s Wall remains in place, and its stone blocks have been pilfered over the centuries to build dry stone walls, buildings and even an entire village of over 300 dwellings called ‘Wall’.

2022 is a big anniversary year for Hadrian’s Wall, marking 1,900 years since the Emperor Hadrian ordered its construction during his visit in 122 C.E. At the time of writing, the Hadrian’s Wall Partnership Group are planning a number of events to mark the anniversary. Year-long activities based at or near Hadrian’s Wall, including online events, can be found listed at the Hadrian’s Wall Country website.

Guardians at the Wall is a 90,000 word novel available from Amazon in the following formats:

KINDLE PAPERBACK HARDBACK KINDLE UNLIMITED

Guardians at the Wall

Guardians at the Wall has now been proof-read, beta-read and copyedited, and will be finalised in early May ahead of a planned 1st June launch. It might be released earlier if ready – I’m looking at Friday 28th May as a possible early release date.
I’m in the process of arranging book blog appearances in June. I’ve decided to not go wide and just put it out as an Amazon exclusive in Kindle e-book, paperback and Kindle Unlimited.

Every independent author needs favourable reviews to entice casual browsers to make a purchase decision, so if you are defined interested in reading and reviewing it on Amazon (and/or Goodreads) please email me to request a pdf (for ipad); epub (for Kobo reader) or mobi file (for Kindle) so you can get started.

Guardians at the Wall blurb:
A group of archaeology students in northern England scrape at the soil near Hadrian’s Wall, once a barrier that divided Roman Britannia from wild Caledonian tribes.

Twenty-year-old Noah makes an intriguing find, but hasn’t anticipated becoming the object of desire in a developing love triangle in the isolated academic community at Vindolanda. He is living his best life, but must learn to prioritise in a race against time to solve an astounding ancient riddle, and an artefact theft, as he comes to realise his future career prospects depend on it.

In the same place, 1,800 years earlier, Commander of the Watch, Centurion Gaius Atticianus, hungover and unaware of the bloody conflicts that will soon challenge him, is rattled by the hoot of an owl, a bad omen.
These are the protagonists whose lives brush together in the alternating strands of this dual timeline historical novel, one trying to get himself noticed and the other trying to stay intact as he approaches retirement.
How will the breathless battles fought by a Roman officer influence the fortunes of a twenty-first century archaeology dirt rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by his gaming mates and the attentions of two very different women, work out who to trust?
Find out in Tim Walker’s thrilling historical dual timeline novel, Guardians at the Wall.

May Day Book Blog

This is UK author Tim Walker’s monthly newsletter. It can include any of the following: author news, book launches, guest author profiles, book reviews, flash fiction and poetry.
Are you an author or a poet? If so, then please contact me for a guest author or poet’s corner slot in a future newsletter: timwalker1666@gmail.com

SOCIAL MEDIA
F O L L O W on F A C E B O O K
F O L L O W on T W I T T E R
F O L L O W on I N S T A G R A M

AUTHOR NEWS
In my own news, my new dual timeline historical novel, Guardians at the Wall, has been proof-read, beta-read and copyedited, and will be finalised in early May ahead of a planned 1st June launch. I intend to put the e-book on Amazon Kindle for pre-ordering from 14th May, when the official cover reveal promotion will commence. The paperback and Kindle e-book will be ‘live’ on Amazon from 1st June, although it may be available on Kindle Unlimited before the end of May.
Every independent author needs favourable reviews to entice casual browsers to make a purchase decision. So, should you pre-order the e-book (at the discounted price) from Amazon and wish to start reading right away, please email me to request a pdf (for ipad); epub (for Kobo reader) or mobi file (for Kindle) so you can get started.

Guardians at the Wall blurb:
A group of archaeology students in northern England scrape at the soil near Hadrian’s Wall, once a barrier that divided Roman Britannia from wild Caledonian tribes.

Twenty-year-old Noah makes an intriguing find, but hasn’t anticipated becoming the object of desire in a developing love triangle in the isolated academic community at Vindolanda. He is living his best life, but must learn to prioritise in a race against time to solve an astounding ancient riddle, and an artefact theft, as he comes to realise his future career prospects depend on it.

In the same place, 1,800 years earlier, Commander of the Watch, Centurion Gaius Atticianus, hungover and unaware of the bloody conflicts that will soon challenge him, is rattled by the hoot of an owl, a bad omen.
These are the protagonists whose lives brush together in the alternating strands of this dual timeline historical novel, one trying to get himself noticed and the other trying to stay intact as he approaches retirement.
How will the breathless battles fought by a Roman officer influence the fortunes of a twenty-first century archaeology dirt rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by his gaming mates and the attentions of two very different women, work out who to trust?
Find out in Tim Walker’s thrilling historical dual timeline novel, Guardians at the Wall.

This month’s guest author is S.J. Martin.  

I have had an abiding love of history from an early age. This interest not only influenced my academic choices at university but also my life choices and careers.

I spent several years with my trowel in the world of archaeology before finding my forte as a storyteller in the guise of a history teacher. I wanted to encourage young people to find that same interest in history that had enlivened my life.

I always wanted to write historical fiction. The opportunity came when I left education; I then gleefully re-entered the world of engaging and fascinating historical research into the background of some of my favourite historical periods. There are so many stories still waiting to be told, and my first series of books on ‘The Breton Horse Warriors’ proved to be one of them.

The Breton Lords, such as my fictional Luc De Malvais, played a significant role in the Battle of Hastings and helped to give William the Conqueror a decisive win. They were one of the most exciting troops of cavalry and swordmasters in Western Europe.
I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I have enjoyed writing them.
Author website

Book Blurb:
It is 1071, in an England now harshly ruled and occupied by the Normans. Peace is a distant memory for the Saxon people as rebellions and retribution ravage the land and decimate the population.
Luc De Malvais is the leader of the famed Breton Horse Warriors, a legend in battle, a feared and ruthless swordsman who has spent months quelling the rebellions in Northumberland.

He suddenly finds himself in the eye of the storm in northern England when Alain Rufus orders him to manage and control a large rebel area around Ravensworth. However, it is not long before he is experiencing the full violence of the maelstrom that breaks around his head.

He faces the most dangerous challenges of his life when he finds unexpected forbidden love with a beautiful rebel but encounters a savage and merciless enemy. This brutal Saxon leader intends to take revenge against these invaders. Full of hatred and rage, he resolves not only to drive out the Normans and destroy Malvais, but he wants to make the Horse Warrior suffer before taking both his life and the woman he loves.

Tim Walker’s review of Ravensworth:
A northern village awaits the arrival of the feared Norman conquerors five years on from Hastings. The scene is set for this thrilling tale of love, hate and reconciliation in Ravensworth and the surrounding countryside. The author’s background as an historian shows through in the believable evocation of early Norman England, with their customs and laws being imposed on their new subjects. New Lord of the Manor, Breton Luc de Malvais, falls for the charms of a local beauty, but this leads to many complications that test them both to their limits. A well-researched and written novel that promises much for the unfolding series. Highly recommended.
Amazon book link

This month sees the return of Rick Warren aka Lyrick.

My name is Rick Warren and I enjoy writing stories and poems, mainly for my own enjoyment and as a way of trying to make sense of the world. 

Having stopped work in 2019 to attempt a thriller, (way harder than I imagined), I’m now writing and compiling poems and stories, hopefully putting out a book by the end of the year, to follow on from my first collection of poems “The Path to Redemption” which I self-published on Amazon under my pen name Lyrick.

I have always enjoyed the brevity and concise nature of poems, with their ability to distil sometimes complex thoughts and issues into a succinct and manageable format. Sometimes funny, sometimes not, the process of using fewer words to say more is challenging and one I really enjoy. 
You can see some of my work on my website 
Order your copy of Path to Redemption

Searching the Attic

I wish I’d taken more time to remember the little things, 
Youthful adventures lost, memories unmade sting, 
Small paper cuts of loss,
Disruptions of time and space,
Meaningful moments disappeared, only to reappear, replaced,
With static,
Buried beneath clutter,
In the attic,
Of my mind,

Forgotten phrases, unkind rhymes,
‘neath waves both dark and deep, 
Shipwrecked cargoes of unbound dreams, 
Lay hidden and asleep, 
Undisturbed on mapless shores, 
Beyond a compass’ perceptions reach
We are in no sense, innocent,
As we lay upon this beach

Treasure beyond comprehension… are we brave enough to fight?
To search our past for reasons as to why we hid the light
That once illuminated reason, to why we feel so lost,
Choices, once taken freely, come with a fearful cost,
Have we courage enough to search through our emotional detritus,
What awaits the foolish soul, what demons hide inside us,
Are we willing to awaken, the guardians of memory,
That deny and protect us from our sanity/insanity?
Forge swords of inquisition to fight and learn the truth
Prepare ourselves for battle with the shadows of our youth

Do we really want to remember everything?
Are we prepared for the consequences of all we have done and have ever been?
Sometimes things are hidden for a reason…
Where do we look for answers when questions are all we see?
Past life dreams becoming realities illusion
Caught between cliffs of clarity and confusion  
Between sky and sea, between ice and fire,
Who can escape what they truly desire?

Lyrick 2021

A Fresh Look at King Arthur

Arthur Rex Brittonum… a novel of Arthur.
Kindle/paperback- http://mybook.to/ArthurRex
ibook/kobo/nook/other-
https://books2read.com/Arthur-Rex-Brittonum

A story of an imagined, historical Arthur, freed of the glitz and glamour of the Camelot legend.
No round table – instead Arthur hosts his councils of tribal chiefs in ‘Arthur’s Roundel’, the Roman ampitheatre at Caerleon.
No Holy Grail – instead the pre-Christian search for the Treasures of Britain, and an encounter with the ‘talking’ Head of Bran.
Arthur is accompanied by Welsh folklore (pre-Medieval) knights, Bedwyr, Kay, Lucan and the sons of Gawain – Agravane, Mador, and Gaheris, who all belong to the earliest incarnations of the Arthurian legend.
Arthur’s peers are ‘real’ historical tribal kings and chiefs of the late 5th/early 6th centuries, including, Meirchion Gul; Owain Ddantgwyn; Cadwallon; Geraint; Vortipor; Cyngar and Caradog.
Arthur’s enemies are names plucked from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle – Cerdic; Octha (son of Hengist); Icel King of the Angles, and, for a bit of fun, Beowulf, the legendary Angle warrior and slayer of monsters.
Father (later Saint) Asaph is Arthur’s chaplain, and literary monk, Gildas, appears as a dour novice.

King Arthur Revealed

E-book Promotion!
To mark the launch of Arthur Rex Brittonum on 1st June, its two preceding books covering Arthur’s childhood (Uther’s Destiny) and youth (Arthur Dux Bellorum), have been discounted to just 99c/99p each this week!So indulge yourself with three novels covering the imagined life of Arthur for less than $5 or £4…
Uther’s Destiny: http://mybook.to/Uther
https://books2read.com/Uther
Arthur Dux Bellorum: http://mybook.to/Arthur
https://books2read.com/ArthurDuxBellorum
Arthur Rex Brittonum: http://mybook.to/ArthurRex
https://books2read.com/Arthur-Rex-Brittonum

Available in #kindle #ibooks #kobo #nook #scribd #tolino #biblioteca #hoopla #vivlio #overdrive #bakerandtaylor #barnesandnoble

Heartwarming Christmas Anthology

I’m thrilled and honoured to have my holiday story, El Dorado, featured in this soon-to-be bestseller!  Holiday Heartwarmers came together after a shout-out to authors from around the World in a FaceBook Author Group, and the fifteen ‘best’ stories, set at Christmas time, were selected by Editor, Sunanda Chatterjee.

holiday-heartwarmers-cover

Immerse yourself in this eclectic collection of short stories featuring authors from around the world. Travel to different places with them as they enjoy an unexpected journey back home to reunite with family and take a chartered flight to the North Pole. Shiver with the cold and anxiety as their loved ones get stranded in a snow storm in Alaska or share the amazement of gazing at the spectacular views during a hike to Machu Picchu. Explore the Indian subcontinent by train, share an unforgettable vacation in Cyprus or venture into Afghanistan in the midst of war.

Holidays are a time of sharing and can take many forms. These stories explore the issues of family dynamics, reflections on life, and finding the true meaning of love and acceptance. They also show that sometimes, it is just as important to let go of old feelings and old memories.

This collection of short stories is sure to warm your heart and light the spirit of Christmas

Changes Made to Futuristic Novel

I’ve taken on board some useful feedback following the release of my first novel, Devil Gate Dawn, in April 2016, and as a result have made a few changes:

  • The cover has been changed to have a shadow figure standing at the gate
  • The quote on the front has been changed to, ‘Mild-mannered George must face his nemesis’
  • The start of chapter one now has George reflecting on an accident at work, indicating that such traumatic moments contributed to his decision to take early retirement.  Other work-related inner thoughts have been added through the early chapters, showing he is still haunted by past events.  These reflections stop when new events come to dominate his thoughts and actions.

DevilGateDawnModifiedCover_Aug_2016All in all, I’m proud of my achievement in pasting together this story from blogs and new material, and am thankful for the input of my copyeditor, Sinead Fitzgibbon, in helping to shape it into a structured story with sub-plots and suitably developed support characters.

George battles his way through problems with a calm, stoic approach, often bewildered by the extreme methods and actions of others.  In many ways, his pragmatic approach has mirrored my own problems with battling health issues whilst writing it.

I’ve made notes for a follow-up, and have pored over the 10,000 words of my abandoned novel, The Langley Leopard (submitted to the Richard and Judy novel competition three years ago!) that preceded this one, looking to salvage bits.

I’ve temporarily dropped the price to 99p and equivalent in other currencies to attract new readers.

In the meantime, I’m immersed in the mid-fifth century, ploughing on with researching and writing my next historical fiction novel, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans.

http://hyperurl.co/ii7gpl

Thames Valley Tales – Free Promo

Contemporary tales that echo the rich history of the flowing heart of England…

Thames Valley Tales is a collection of 15 short stories written by myself between 2013-2015 and first self-published on Amazon Kindle in July 2105.  To coincide with my presentation on Self-Publishing at Slough Library today (Thursday 2nd June 2016), and to demonstrate the ‘free promotion’ option on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP),  I have made the book a FREE download for today and Friday 3rd June…so what are you waiting for?

Please download, read, and leave a review, nominating your favourite stories…

UK: http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B011PQHJUQ

USA: http://amazon.com/dp/B011PQHJUQ

Thames Valley Tales promo masthead

What’s your Favourite Movie?

Social media can be a wonderful thing for connecting people with similar interests, ideas and goals.  Recently, whilst publicising the release of my novel, Devil Gate Dawn, on FaceBook, Twitter and Goodreads, I was contacted by some friendly folk in the USA with an offer of an author interview.  naturally, I said YES!