Getting my research into my writing: Old Sarum

Not quite as much progress on the writing front last week as the week before, with a total of 3800 new words. It’s still more than I had been shooting for at the beginning of the round. Besides, my progress is steady, and that’s good. A friend was visiting from out of town on the weekend, and under those circumstances, I don’t even try to make time for writing.

I’ve also finally managed to start tackling some of my marketing goals. I uploaded new versions of Yseult and Shadow of Stone with the maps in the front, and raised the prices in preparation for a new marketing strategy for the series. (I will eventually devote a complete post to that.)

On to WIPpet Wednesday. This week, we return to Celemon. She and Kustennin are inspecting defensive sites on the border to Cerdic’s lands with an eye to location and infrastructure. The expedition to Venta (Winchester) made it clear that Cerdic is increasing his fighting forces and probably not content with what he has already conquered. This scene takes place in Old Sarum, one of the places I visited on my recent trip to England.

Old Sarum
What Sarum might have looked like at the time of A Wasted Land

Today I give you 7 paragraphs for the 7th month of the year:

“From these ramparts, you can see nearly five miles to the east, the direction from which an attack would most likely come,” Kustennin said. “That would give us time to bring the livestock to safety.”
Celemon inspected the small fort and barracks within the ramparts, many of which stood empty. “How far is it from here to Venta?”
“About half the distance it is to Lindinis. Perhaps a day’s forced march, less on horseback.”
“It’s a wonder Sarum wasn’t taken in the recent wars.”
“Cerdic was more interested in taking rich cities. And Medraut more interested in taking Dumnonia.”
She nodded and turned to gaze out over the plains and rolling hills to the east, in the direction of Venta, now Cerdic’s self-declared capital. How long would it be before speaking of the recent wars no longer hurt so much?
Celemon leaned her forearms on the chest-high wooden defenses at the top of the earthworks, thinking about the father she’d lost, and the future she’d lost soon thereafter, when she’d dissolved her betrothal to Aurelius. She’d never bothered to contemplate the fate of an unmarried woman in their society until that fate had been thrown into her lap. Many women in her position chose a religious life — or at least refuge with the church — but Celemon had never been much prone to study and prayer, preferring fields and creeks to stone walls, and the back of a horse to a humble walk with head bowed. Nor had she ever learned a trade. Women of her status ran households, they did not sell and barter goods at market.

Old Sarum
The view from Old Sarum

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

8 thoughts on “Getting my research into my writing: Old Sarum”

  1. Ah, Celemon…what to do, what to do? A cloudy future is still a future. One she’ll likely be happier in than the one she gave up. I hope.

  2. I like this line because it’s so true of many things: “How long would it be before speaking of the recent wars no longer hurt so much?” Sounds like Celemon has a lot to deal with at the moment.

  3. You create a wonderful sense of time and place. This is only the second WIPpet of yours I’ve read, but really enjoying them so far!

  4. I’m trying to sort through the WIPpets to remember details. Isn’t she the Master of Horse? Or ends up the Master of Horse? Or maybe I’m mixing up characters (or even WIPs). What I’m wondering right now, though, was how often women could make the jump from whatever to selling things in the market. Logically, it seems like it would be the fallback: No male relatives + no prospective husbands = find something to sell. Also how old is she? Has she reached her majority yet? Or is there some uncle somewhere hanging on to what she might have inherited? I love how much history you incorporate into this story. 🙂

    1. Although there is little that’s certain about fifth and sixth century Britain, the sources I’ve decided to use say that women reached the “age of choice” at the age of 14 and men at 17. Celemon is over 21 now, and many of the men of her age and class died in the recent wars. Yes, she had become Kustennin’s Master of Horse, and she is about to thank him — this excerpt ends at the introspection that leads to her spontaneous expression of gratitude.

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