Tag Archives: Winchester

Questions upon questions for #WIPpet Wednesday

The writing continues to go well, 5200 new words total last week on various projects. I also made some more dents in my goals, and on Monday I started a series of articles on my blog for beginning indie authors. You can read the first one here. In connection with the blog posts about self-publishing, I have also decided to declare Mondays my official marketing day, so that I will finally get back to actually trying to sell my books again. Wish me luck. 🙂

On to WIPpet Wednesday. Today I’m giving you the final section of the scene where Taliesin and Kustennin have been led into Cerdic’s presence, following directly after the excerpt I gave you last week. It’s about 30 sentences, if I counted right, thus 23 + 7 for today’s date:

Kustennin stared at her, wondering where she got her powers. It was clear that Cerdic had none, or else he would not need his daughter’s assistance, so they must come from her Saxon mother. But he knew so little about Saxon religion, magic, culture. He would have to rectify that — it did not do to be ignorant regarding your enemies.
“Are we now free to play our songs in your city, Lord?” Taliesin asked.
Cerdic nodded. “But see to it you sing no more songs of Arthur.”
“I have one of the rebel hero Medraut,” Kustennin said. “Would you like to hear that?”
“You sing songs both of Arthur and Medraut?” Cerdic said, laughing. “Are you not aware they were enemies?”
Taliesin shrugged. “Art is promiscuous. To me they are all stories, Lord.”
Still laughing, Cerdic waved them away. “Go, sing your songs and earn your bread, bard. I think you will find the people of Venta generous.”
“Thank you.” Taliesin bowed, and the rest of them followed suit. “Is there anyone besides Arthur who I should not sing of?”
“No, just Arthur.”
“Very good, Lord.”
They left Cerdic’s hall, and stepped out into the autumn sunshine. Nearby, several city blocks had been cleared of whatever Roman buildings had once stood there, and bearded warriors with Saxon round shields and long spears battled against each other, their grunts and the sounds of their clashing weapons filling the air.
“Do not tarry too long,” Taliesin murmured in his ear.
Kustennin nodded shortly, watching the warriors at practice surreptitiously as he followed the bard with the rest of their party. While part of his mind tallied the number of warriors and analyzed their probable experience and strength, another was still concerned with Nerienda and the mystery of why she had covered for them. Why would she want Kustennin in her debt? Perhaps she had not been a willing pawn in her father’s ambitious schemes after all?

Roman wall in Winchester
Part of the Roman wall in Winchester, with the River Itchen in the foreground

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.

Winchester / Venta

Winchester Castle
Winchester Castle

Originally, I was intending to do Calleva on Sunday, but my train was five minutes late into Basingstoke. That is exactly the amount of time I had to change — five minutes — and by the time I got to the track, the train was gone. The next train to Mortimer, the closest stop to the Roman ruins of Silchester, wouldn’t be leaving for another hour. So I checked the train schedules and saw that there would be a train to Winchester in only fifteen minutes. I changed my plans, and soon I was heading south.

It turned out to be a good thing that I didn’t try to do both in one day. Once I’d walked all the way around the old town of Winchester, my feet were killing me, and I was developing a blister on my little toe.

A blister in Winchester

But Winchester was great. The first place I visited was Winchester Castle, on the hill close to the train station. All that remains of the medieval castle is the hall where the famous “Round Table of King Arthur” hangs.

Winchester Castle
The Great Hall in Winchester Castle

Of course, the impressive decoration has nothing to do with fifth and sixth century Britain and the battles that were being fought against the Saxons and other Germanic tribes (and their allies) at that time. That’s the setting of The Pendragon Chronicles, and not the chivalric version of Arthurian myth created by the writers of the middle ages. The Winchester round table has been dated to the thirteenth century. Although it has nothing to do with the historical figure of Arthur (if he even existed), the round table has everything to do with the Arthurian legends and how significant they had become by the high middle ages. By that time, the Normans were in power in England, and even though they fought the Celtic kingdoms on their fringes, they appropriated a Romano-British hero into their mythology of kingship.

After walking all over the city, I’m pretty sure Chris and I skipped it on our England trip a dozen years ago when we did so many of the other sites of Yseult. I walked along the perimeters of the southern and eastern parts of what was once Venta Belgarum, and it certainly gave me an impression of how big the Roman city had been. In the south-eastern corner, there is still a long stretch of the Roman wall. In The Pendragon Chronicles, I refer to the city as Venta rather than by its full Roman name of “Venta Belgarum.” That’s quite a mouthful, after all. I figure that, much in the same way Sorviodunum became Sarum or Londinium became London, Venta Belgarum was probably shortened to Venta. “Venta” was integrated into the Germanic name for the city, Winchester, whereas “Belgarum” has disappeared — except in names of businesses in Winchester.

Roman wall in Winchester
Part of the Roman wall in Winchester

I also visited Wolvesey Castle, the ruins of the former bishop’s seat. I originally intended to have Cerdic’s seat located there in A Wasted Land, but I might change that. The western edge of the former Roman city, where the medieval castle stood, is much higher in elevation than the eastern, which is next to the river. Cerdic strikes me as the kind of guy who would equate elevation with status. I will have to see if anything is known of what might have stood there in Roman times. Seeing as the site has been continuously occupied for millennia, there has been very little archeological work done in Winchester, and only a few Roman buildings have been excavated, prior to modern construction work.

Wolvesey Castle
Wolvesey Castle

Nonetheless, seeing Winchester was great for giving me a feel of the lay of the land for the scene I’ve been posting recently for WIPpet Wednesdays. Perhaps with my new knowledge, I’ll try a rewrite of one of the scenes and repost, just for sh*ts and giggles.

Aside from details pertinent to the WIP, I also saw lots of half-timbered houses, the cathedral, gardens, and the house where Jane Austen lived in the weeks before she died. A very nice day, even if it didn’t turn out quite as planned.

Winchester Cathedral
Winchester Cathedral

You can see all of my pictures of Winchester here.

Other posts from my research trip:
Indulging in a research trip to England: Salisbury and Amesbury
Stonehenge and Salisbury Cathedral
Old Sarum