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

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

Guardians at the Wall


My new book, Guardians at the Wall, is due out on 1st June. It’s a dual timeline historical novel, set at Hadrian’s Wall. The main protagonist is Noah Jessop, a student undergraduate on a dig, who digs up a carved stone goddess. His professor, Maggie Wilde, identifies it as Brigantia, the protector of the local tribe, the Brigantes. This is the first of a few objects that connect the contemporary story to the historical account of Centurion Gaius Atticianus, in second century Britannia, that runs parallel through the novel.

I’ll share some of Professor Maggie Wilde’s research into the goddess Brigantia with you. The name of the tribe, ‘Brigante’ means ‘the high ones’, suggesting they were a dominant tribe over lesser neighbours, and Brigantia fulfils the function of being the high goddess over all others, the great protector of her people. The Romans recognised this and were keen to co-opt her into their belief system, twinning her with various deities including Minerva, Fortuna and Caelestis, the latter a North African moon goddess who was also co-opted by the Romans, from whom we get the word ‘celestial’.

Whilst the archaeologists are looking for meaning in their finds, Gaius is gifted the goddess statuette and presents it to his wife, Aria. Her reaction surprises him, as she is from a southern tribe and regards the Brigantes and their deities as foreign. She reminds her husband that their household is watched over by the water goddess of her people, Sulis, twinned with Minerva, and she won’t countenance having a rival deity in the house. Incidentally, the Roman name for the city of Bath was Aquae Sulis – ‘the waters of Sulis’.

This was too much for Gaius, who stalked off for a warming bath after a hard day in the saddle splitting enemy skulls. Aria picked her moment, one night, to return the offending goddess to her people.

The picture shows a stone altar carving of the goddess Brigantia, here twinned with the Roman goddess, Caelestis, that can be found in the Museum of Scotland.
(picture source: pinterest board)

Hadrian’s Wall Mystery Novel

RESEARCHING MY NEXT BOOK

I have recently completed the first draft of my next novel – Guardians at the Wall. This is dual timeline historical novel set at Hadrian’s Wall. It was inspired by a visit to a number of Roman sites and museums close to Hadrian’s Wall in September 2020. This is very much my Winter 20/21 novel, and it has helped keep me sane through this trying Covid-19 lockdown.
I have set the launch date for 1st June, and intend to reveal the cover in my 1st April newsletter. The book blurb is a work in progress, but this is the current version:

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 2,000-year-old riddle, and an artefact theft, as if his career depends on it, because it does.

In the same place, in the year 180 C.E., 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 will 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 mud rat? Can naive Noah, distracted by 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.

I have tried to link the contemporary and historical strands of my story through objects and through themes, such as trust, loyalty, societal attitudes and locations. One object that fascinated Noah that is on display in the Vindolanda museum, is fragment of a glass drinking tankard with a hand-painted colour frieze around it depicting gladiators fighting (pictured). In my historical story, Gaius and his mates drink a toast to Saturn on the eve of the Saturnalia festival, downing the ale poured by a serving girl and passing it on to the next in their circle, each having to tell a story of bravery in battle. To think that Roman legionaries over 1,800 years ago would have drunk from this tankard in the tavern outside the walls of Vindolanda fort is amazing to me.
Here is what the Vindolanda guidebook says about this incredible discovery:

“A long strip building, situated just outside the west gate of the fort, was the Vindolanda tavern. here the people of Vindolanda would have been able to enjoy locally brewed beer and wines from across the Empire and hot food. The front of the building, facing onto the street was where the common room or bar was situated. Its ceiling was held up by pillars to provide an open social area, with a small kitchen set behind to supply meals to travellers and patrons. You can imagine this would have been a noisy and smelly room, on of the focal social points of Vindolanda in the 3rd century.

When excavated, the tavern produced the highest concentration of drinking vessels from the site. One of those vessels is a fragment of the beautifully painted gladiator glass cup (now in the museum). The tavern owners had planned for their future by burying 270 coins below the floor of the kitchen. Unfortunately for them they never had the chance to spend the money as it remained hidden until excavators located the hoard in the 1977 excavation. It is likely that some of the money, which you can now see on display in the Vindolanda museum, was used to buy a round or two of beer in the tavern, almost 1,800 years ago.”

Here’s an extract from Guardians at the Wall. It is the scene where Gaius Atticianus, Officer of the Watch, meets auxiliary soldier, Amborix, on the battlements at Vindolanda in 180 C.E. on a cold winter’s night:

“Thank you, sir – although I have been told something different,” Amborix replied, also turning to watch the shimmering lights. He was only a few months at the Wall, and had already spent his meagre wages on woollen socks and a thick tunic he wore day and night. He watched in silence as the mysterious wave of light added in new colours – red, blue, violet and yellow – as it climbed into the night sky. “This is a strange land,” he added, throwing a stone in the direction of a hoot from an owl, “and a cursed one. Our protector, Sol Invictus, will only rise from his slumber for a few short hours.”

Gaius decided to ignore his insolence and let him prattle on. His head still throbbed from the beer he had drunk with his unit at the tavern that afternoon to celebrate the start of the feast of Saturnalia. They had sacrificed a goat to Saturn and had roasted the meat on a spit beside the tavern. Now he regretted the last two toasts, but grinned at the memory of drunken tales of bravery on their last posting in the wild lands north of the Wall. A glass tankard depicting colourful gladiators fighting for their lives had been passed around his carousing mates – each making a toast and downing the contents as a serving girl stood by ready to re-fill it from a pitcher.

“It is indeed a strange and wild land, but you will see in the coming weeks that Sol Invictus will gain more hours and Artemis will sulk in her hall. The long days of summer will come to give me more time with my horses.” He adjusted his shoulder guard and turned to the youth. “In Rome they say this is an empire without end, but here we are, boy, at the wild edge of Empire, hemmed in by the Wall.”

Arthur, King of the Britons – book review

BLACK BOOKS BLOG

#BOOKREVIEW ARTHUR REX BRITTONUM BY TIM WALKER @TIMWALKER1666

Posted by blackbooks2017

Today I am reviewing book 5 of Tim Walker’s Light in the Dark Ages called Arthur Rex Brittonum

ABOUT THE BOOK

From the decay of post-Roman Britain, Arthur seeks to unite a troubled land

Arthur Rex Brittonum (‘King of the Britons’) is an action-packed telling of the King Arthur story rooted in historical accounts that predate the familiar Camelot legend. 

Britain in the early sixth century has reverted to tribal lands, where chiefs settle old scores with neighbours whilst eyeing with trepidation the invaders who menace the shore in search of plunder and settlement.

Arthur, only son of the late King Uther, has been crowned King of the Britons by the northern chiefs and must now persuade their counterparts in the south and west to embrace him. Will his bid to lead their combined army against the Saxon threat succeed? He arrives in Powys buoyed by popular acclaim at home, a king, husband and father – but can he sustain his efforts in unfamiliar territory?  It is a treacherous and winding road that ultimately leads him to a winner-takes-all clash at the citadel of Mount Badon.

Tim Walker’s Arthur Rex Brittonum picks up the thread from the earlier life of Arthur in 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, but it can be read as a standalone novel.

Fans of Bernard Cornwell, Conn Iggulden and Mathew Harffy will enjoy Walker’s A Light in the Dark Ages series and its newest addition – Arthur Rex Brittonum.

MY REVIEW

This is book 5 in Tim’s Light in the Dark Ages series, which follows Britain in the 6th Century after the Romans had abandoned Britain and turmoil started before Arthur came along to try and Reunite the land.

As with the previous books this one is really well written and immersed me in the action start from the start.

Throughout the book there are adventures, journeys throughout the very well described land and some epic battles as Arthur tries to prove to the rest of Britain that he is the king who can bring peace to the land.

If you thought you knew everything there was to know about the legend of Arthur then think again as this bring more depth to his legendary character

Overall it is yet another great book by Tim and I have loved reading them all and learning about the early centuries of Great Britain.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

AUTHOR PROFILE – TIM WALKER

Tim Walker is an independent author living near Windsor in the UK. He grew up in Liverpool where he began his working life as a trainee reporter on a local newspaper. He then studied for and attained a degree in Communication studies and moved to London where he worked in the newspaper publishing industry for ten years before relocating to Zambia where, following a period of voluntary work with VSO, he set up his own marketing and publishing business.

Tim at an old Iron Age hillfort on the Ridgeway

His creative writing journey began in earnest in 2013, as a therapeutic activity whilst undergoing and recovering from cancer treatment. He began writing an historical fiction series, A Light in the Dark Ages, in 2014, following a visit to the near-by site of a former Roman town. The aim of the series is to connect the end of Roman Britain to elements of the Arthurian legend, presenting an imagined history of Britain in the fifth and early sixth centuries.

His new book, published in June 2020, is Arthur, Rex Brittonum, a re-imagining of the story of King Arthur (book five in the series). It follows on from 2019’s Arthur Dux Bellorum, the story of young Arthur (book four in the series), that received recognition from two sources in 2019 – One Stop Fiction Book of the Month in April, and an honourable mention in the Coffee Pot Book Club Book of the Year (Historical Fiction) Awards. The series starts with Abandoned (second edition, 2018); followed by Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (2017); and book three, Uther’s Destiny (2018). Series book covers are designed by Canadian graphic artist, Cathy Walker. Tim is self-published under his brand name, timwalkerwrites.

Tim has also written two books of short stories, Thames Valley Tales (2015), and Postcards from London (2017); a dystopian thriller, Devil Gate Dawn (2016); Perverse (verse and short fiction, 2020); and two children’s books, co-authored with his daughter, Cathy – The Adventures of Charly Holmes (2017) and Charly & The Superheroes (2018) with a third in the pipeline – Charly in Space.

Find out more about the author at – http://www.timwalkerwrites.co.uk 

Author Website: http://timwalkerwrites.co.uk 

Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/timwalker1666 

Amazon Author Page: http://Author.to/TimWalkerWrites

Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/TimWalkerWrites

Twitter: http://twitter.com/timwalker1666

Abandoned

3 THOUGHTS ON “#BOOKREVIEW ARTHUR REX BRITTONUM BY TIM WALKER @TIMWALKER1666

  1. TIMWALKER1666Thanks Dimon – another great review! Glad you’ve enjoyed the series 😀Liked by youREPLY
  2. TIMWALKER1666oops… SimonLiked by youREPLY
  3. Pingback: #BookReview Arthur Rex Brittonum by Tim Walker @Timwalker1666 – Tim Walker

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I’m very new to blogging so please bear with me and hopefully it will pick up and be brilliant. I will review all the books I read on here as well as hopefully some author interviews and other interesting book related things so enjoy and if you want me to include your book or someone else’s then please let me know

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Who Was Ambrosius?

This article has been written to provide background information to the release of a new historical fiction novel, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans, by Tim Walker. Download the e-book from Amazon here:-

http://amazon.com/dp/B06X9S7XQ7

http://amazon.co.uk/dp/B06X9S7XQ7

ambrosius-final-kindle-coverAmbrosius Aurelianus, to give him his full name, was a high king of the Britons in the early Dark Ages, some time after the exit of the Romans in the year 410. The exact dates of his reign, chronological details and physical evidence remain scant, and we must rely on the written accounts of three monks – Gildas (c. 650), Nennius (c.750) and Bede (c. 790), as well as the more fantastical History of the Kings of Briton by Geoffrey of Monmouth (c. 1140). The Britons shared a culture and language with similar Celtic tribes across northern Europe, a language similar to modern day Welsh.

The closest in time of the surviving accounts of events in the fifth century come from the gloomy On the Ruin of Britain by Welsh monk Gildas, written around the year 550. Here is what he said about Ambrosius:

The poor remnants of our nation… that they might not be brought to utter destruction, took arms under the conduct of Ambrosius Aurelianus, a modest man, who of all the Roman nation was then alone in the confusion of this troubled period by chance left alive.

britannia-fifth-century-mapThe Roman legions marched away between 409-410 never to return, and the Britons were left to defend themselves from various ‘barbarian’ raiders – the Angles, Saxons and Jutes from modern day Denmark and northern Germany, are not deemed to be invaders because they were employed to fight by an early high king named Vortigern (quite possibly a continuation of a tactic employed previously by the Romans). They clearly developed ambitions to settle having seen how green and pleasant England’s countryside was in comparison to their own salty marshes. They were also under pressure in their lands from other barbarian tribes pushing westwards.

Geoffrey of Monmouth is responsible for popularizing the legend of King Arthur and his knights, although there are earlier mentions of Arthur in the writings of Nennius in the eighth century. He more or less has a fifth century line-up of kings of Britain, starting with Constantine, who ‘wore the purple’, presumably as a provincial governor, and who was quickly murdered by ‘cruel and sly’ Vortigern. Vortigern is then defeated by Ambrosius Aurelianus and his brother Uther Pendragon. Uther then succeeds Aurelius, and is in turn succeeded by his son Arthur, with much sorcery from Merlin thrown into the mix. All of this is unproven in terms of hard archaeological facts. What happened where and when and who were the key players remain unanswered questions.

Taking up the story of Ambrosius from Geoffrey of Monmouth, we find the sons of Constantine, Ambrosius and Uther, arriving in Britain from Gaul with an army to confront Vortigern. He was already unpopular with the people for his brutal acts, constant wars and for employing Saxons to fight in his mercenary army:

As soon as news of his [Ambrosius’s] coming was divulged, the Britons, who had been dispersed by their great calamities, met together from all parts… having assembled together the clergy, they anointed Ambrosius king, and paid him the customary homage.

The brothers defeat Vortigern in battle and pursue him to his fortress, called Genoreu, where their attempt to burn him out results in his death. Ambrosius is then the unchallenged high king of the Britons, and ready to form resistance to the spread of the Saxon, Angle and Jute colonists, under brothers Hengist and Horsa.

Therefore, the Saxons, in fear of him, retired beyond the Humber, and in those parts did fortify the cities and towns… this was good news to Ambrosius, who augmented his army and made an expeditious march towards the north.

ambrosius_aurelianus_by_popiusGeoffrey goes on to describe the two armies meeting in battle on a field called Maisbeli, though to be somewhere in South Yorkshire. Again, a date and exact location of this battle is unknown. Another major battle in the late fifth century between the Britons and the Saxons often mentioned is Badon Hill, but again where this is and on what date it happened, and who commanded the Briton army – Ambrosius, Uther or Arthur – remains unknown.

It is widely thought that Geoffrey of Monmouth had supplemented the written sources of information he could muster with a fanciful imagination, perhaps also setting down folk legends that had been passed by word of mouth for generations. It is a masterful work, and all the more tantalising for the sparseness of other historical evidence of those misty days after the Romans departed and before Saxon kingdoms were established.

In my historical fiction series, I have woven a family saga – the Pendragons – taken from the writings of Gildas, Nennius and Geoffrey, surmising that if King Arthur was a real military leader who may have died around the year 537 at the Battle of Camlann (as mentioned in two sources), then there is 127 years of mayhem leading up to this point from the date of the Roman’s departure. My guesswork is that Vortigern ruled some time from 410-440, followed by Ambrosius, perhaps 440-470, then Uther from 470-500 and Arthur from 500-537. This is a conjectural framework for my storytelling in my three-part series, A Light in the Dark Ages.

Part one, Abandoned! tells the story of Marcus Aquilius, a half-Roman half-Briton auxiliary cavalry commander who is left behind by accident in 410 when his legion marches away from the town of Calleva Atrebatum (modern day Silchester in Hampshire). He organizes the defence of his town from a roving Saxon army, as they revert to Briton tribal leadership, and Marcus adopts his mother’s name – Pendragon.

Part two, Ambrosius: Last of the Romans (just released) is the story of Ambrosius Aurelianus, who returns to Britain in 440 as an experienced soldier to confront high king Vortigern over the murder of his father. He finds Marcus in Calleva, who, as an elder of the town, guides him through the murky political waters of tribal jealousies and divisions. In time he becomes king, that much is already told, but what happens to him, and how does the succession pass to his brother Uther?

Part three – Uther’s Destiny, is a work in progress. Together, they build up to the coming of Arthur, a story too well known to be re-told with any conviction. I choose to end with Arthur as a boy, and his destiny stretching before him. He is the intended Light in the Dark Ages; but having read about the exploits of Ambrosius Aurelianus, the Divine One, I’m now of a mind to give him the title.