Tag Archives: Gildas

Reconsidering the Anglo-Saxon “Conquest” — and an update

Last week, I mentioned a couple of interesting books I’ve been reading in researching the era of The Pendragon Chronicles, and I had a request for more info. So I will try to provide a brief summary before I continue on to my writing update.

Both books treat the era of the so-called “Dark Ages” in Britain, dark because we have so few written records from the period. One of the few is “The Ruin and Conquest of Britain” by Gildas, a jeremiad written in Latin, which truly does paint a very bleak picture of the era in which he lived. As to the dating, it must have been written before 547 AD, since one of the contemporary tyrants he addresses, Maelgwn, is supposed to have died in a plague which struck Britain in about 547. But Gildas, a monk, had an agenda, to chastize the contemporary kings he addresses, and persuade them to turn away from their sins.

Gildas’s little rant has had a big effect on the way the fifth and sixth centuries are portrayed in history, the time during which Britain transformed from primarily Roman-British to primarily Anglo-Saxon, at least culturally. The two books I’m reading right now argue that Britain wasn’t overrun by invaders during this period, and the transition was less a “conquest” and more a cultural shift. One of the books, Britain AD by Francis Pryor, makes the argument based on archeological evidence, primarily the lack of wholesale destruction an invasion would entail, as well as gradual changes in use of sites that were originally Roman-British so that they began to seem more “Anglo-Saxon” in character. This, he argues, is the pattern seen when there is a change in the ruling elite rather than a wholesale invasion. Makes a lot of sense to me, given all the research I’ve done for previous books in The Pendragon Chronicles. One of my main resources for Yseult and Shadow of Stone, Christopher Snyder’s An Age of Tyrants, also argued for a more gradual change from Roman Britain to Anglo-Saxon England, from an archeological standpoint as well, given how many major Roman cities seemed to have survived far into the fifth century and beyond.

The other book I’m reading now, The Origins of the British by Stephen Oppenheimer, makes a similar argument based on a combination of linguistic evidence and DNA. While I’m not completely convinced yet by his linguistic analysis, his comparisons between genetic markers in England and northern Germany are fascinating. He says there is definitely a genetic divide between the so-called “Celtic fringe” and the rest of England, but he also points out a difference between southern Britain and those areas regarded as “Anglo-Saxon.” Oppenheimer then examines a much longer history of immigration to Britain which has led to these differences — including Iberian, Viking and Norman — as well as Germanic. He argues that all of those waves of immigration contributed in different ways to the genetic differences between eastern and western Britain. He concludes that the “intrusion” (from a genetic standpoint) from traditional Anglo-Saxon areas is only about 5.5% in England.

Fascinating stuff — at least for me. 🙂

Now on to recent progress. Here’s a visual:

Presents

I wrapped all those presents in the last couple of days. And while you may not be able to appreciate it from the side, I like to make my presents pretty, and it took me a while.

Still also working on organizing gifts for friends and family. So I was very surprised when I checked my word counts today, to discover that I’ve managed another 1500 words on Amber’s story since Wednesday, as well as a couple hundred more words in notes and ideas on A Wasted Land. Not too shabby, given all those presents stacked on the shelf! Of course, I would like to be producing more, but Christmas takes its toll. 🙂

And here’s a final pic, just because the sunset today was so pretty, and I probably wouldn’t even have noticed it if one of my granddaughters hadn’t pointed it out, since I was in the wrong part of the room.

Sunset

Hope everyone else is successfully surviving the holiday season!

Back to Shadow of Stone again for #WIPpet Wednesday, and a Nano update – kinda

Yesterday and today, I had to take a break from Nano-ing in order to finish the final editing pass of Shadow of Stone. On my personal list of priorities, it’s more important to me that I make the paperback version of SoS available before Christmas than it is that I “win” Nano. So now I am going through the interior reviewer app provided by CreateSpace to make sure that the formatting really is as good as it looked in my DOC and PDF files. When I made the book of my dad’s memoirs this summer, there was a very odd glitch with several lines written over each other that wasn’t there in my files. So it’s important that I at least glance at each page. With 500+ pages, that takes a while.

I’ve also been a bit slowed down by some additional research that I need to do for A Wasted Land. Some of the settings are ones I haven’t used before. And while I’ve been to Old Sarum on a wonderful research trip I took with my hubby while I was working on Yseult, that’s a very long time ago now, and my memory needs some refreshing.

Old Sarum by John Constable

So right now, I’m only at about 6500 words for the month.

Anyway, since I’m caught up in Shadow of Stone again, you get another excerpt from that this week. After today, I should (mostly) be back to A Wasted Land for the rest of the month. Maybe I will even be able to catch up and get my 50,000 words written!

Today’s date is 11/6, so I am going to chapter 11 to give you 6 paragraphs, from the pov of the boy who will grow up to be St. Gildas:

Every day Gildas spent at the monastery was another day he hated Cador and Kustennin more. The only problem was, he couldn’t hate Cador, because his foster father had probably saved his life. But he wanted to, because Cador was the reason he was in this miserable monastery in the first place.
He would just have to be content with hating Kustennin.
From what he heard, Kustennin was now fighting for Arthur, making a hero of himself. He’d helped take back Dyn Tagell from a traitorous sub-king and the “Sons of Caw,” and now he was earning more praise and glory in battles along the Sabrina Estuary.
While Gildas had spent the last months in a pig sty.
He threw the slops over the fence into the pen, and the pigs began grunting happily at the leftovers. Gildas hated their squealing, the way it went from bass low to hysterical high, hated the way they wallowed in their own offal, hated their smell and their obesity; most of all, he hated that he had to feed them. His life in the villa outside of Lindinis with Cador had not been pleasant, not like his early childhood in Bro Leon with his mother, where his every wish was tended to, sometimes before he even voiced it. At least in Lindinis he had not been lowered to feeding the pigs.
Arthur was the one he should hate, he knew that well enough. But he’d only met Arthur a handful of times, and on those occasions the Dux Bellorum never did anything more than pat Gildas on the shoulder. It was hard to hate someone who had no more feelings for you than a pat.

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. 🙂