Saturday, November 23, 2019

Avebury Stone Circle



Lunching in the English Heritage café to avoid a particularly heavy downpour, our afternoon was once more to be filled with Neolithic treasure, this time from 2,850-2,200BC. Avebury henge is the largest stone circle in Britain (another record-breaker!) that encircles part of the village of Avebury. Once comprising 100 stones, this outer circle encloses two smaller stone henges surrounded by deep ditches. Again, it was marvellous to be able to walk among these structures and touch the surfaces, wondering at their past.


The interior ditch is immense, perhaps at least 30-40 feet deep and at least that wide. One of the henges is within the ditch and had oak trees lining its outer edge, as well as henge stones inside. The sacred trees of the ancient Druids, we wondered who had planted the majestic flora. It continued to rain heavily as we walked round and round the henges, passing through gates and across main roads, up and over narrow pathways through clusters of trees.




The enormity of the task in erecting these magnificent stones over such a vast area is breath-taking. And the spirituality of the place is soothing, especially when bad weather keeps the hordes away and you have the stones almost to yourselves. We hardly spoke as we meandered through the circles, all gripped by a serenity. You could almost sense the footsteps of older, ancient visitors as the sodden grass enveloped our boots.




Finally, on our second day, we visited Stonehenge…




FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]




E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Silbury Hill



Standing 30 metres tall and 160 metres wide, it has been estimated that it took 4 million hours and half a million tonnes of chalk to build Silbury Hill. It is another record-breaker; the largest artificial prehistoric mound in Europe, constructed around 2,470-2,350BC.

It’s astonishing to stand beside it, though bizarre to simply find it lurking in a field and beyond a basic gate. Many theories abound as to the uses of the hill, which at one time was surrounded by ditches as the reconstruction drawing below indicates. No, one conclusion has yet been drawn as to what happened at Silbury Hill and this gives it an air of elusiveness. You can ‘feel’ its secrets hovering around you like invisible spirits as you stand and gawp at the enormity of it.

woman versus mound

You cannot climb it for it is fenced off from the public, but it is possible to stand within a couple of metres of the base. There is a fairly visible spiral ridge climbing up around the hill, similar to the Tor at Glastonbury, though on a smaller scale. My companions and I wondered whether it had once been possible to walk clockwise up the hill to perhaps an altar raised on the top. With so many burial mounds in the surrounding area, could it have been an access platform to become closer to sky gods during funerary rituals? We shall never know.



A reconstruction drawing showing Silbury Hill under construction, surrounded by a massive ditch
© Historic England (illustration by Judith Dobie)


Later that day we drove on to the village of Avebury…




FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]





E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Saturday, September 28, 2019

West Kennet Longbarrow




Meditators on the mound
In 2016 I spent a marvellous weekend in Wiltshire with my sister and her friend. The three of us were looking forward to a couple of days without the children and some social and spiritual replenishment. We found both, as well as plenty of exercise. We were off to burial sites and stone circles nestled amidst rolling countryside and open skies. Before we’d barely unpacked our bags at the guest house (after mentioning we were there to see Avebury and Stonehenge), the owner asked us if we were going to see West Kennet Longbarrow. Apparently, it was only ‘over the hill’ from where we were staying. We dutifully dropped our bags in our rooms and headed straight back out with the idea that it would build us up to walking around Avebury. It did indeed!




West Kennet Longbarrow is “one of the largest, most impressive and most accessible Neolithic chambered tombs in Britain” [English Heritage] dating from 3,000-2,600BC. That is certainly true, for as we drove round a curve in the road Silbury Hill leapt into view, which is opposite the barrow. We dashed into a layby and parked. Access seemed to be through a stile and into a field planted with a cereal crop. After a steep climb through the field we reached the brow of the hill and the barrow was before us. It stands 10.5 feet high, 82 feet wide and 328 feet long! It would originally have been a real eye-catching landmark covered in bare chalk, but today it’s turfed over and the side ditches almost filled in by generations of ploughing. Inside, four burial chambers would have held cremations and partial remains of at least 46 male and female deceased of varying ages. Grave goods of pottery, beads, stone implements and a dagger have been found.


windswept author at the entrance stone
detail of thistle growing in a notch in the entrance stone
The entrance is guarded by a massive Saracen stone, filled with curious holes. I assumed these were either used for poles when moving the stone, or were perhaps holes made for offerings, for minute objects persisted in some here, as well as at Avebury stone circle. I am immensely claustrophobic, but with assistance from my two companions, I managed to enter the tomb and walk a few metres into the cool, dark interior. Contrary to what I imagined I might feel, it was intensely calm and restful. Back outside, the view is amazing. You can turn in any direction and see other burial mounds on the landscape, as well as the striking Silbury Hill, which was our next conquest...



FACTS: COURTESY OF ENGLISH HERITAGE WEBSITE [link]




E S MOXON has had a lifelong passion for history and writing. A childhood filled with family visits to ancient burial sites and stone circles fuelled her imagination. Inspired by classic medieval tales and Norse sagas, Elaine imagined herself inhabiting these Dark Ages and exploring the landscapes in her mind and continues to do so through her novels. The first in her ‘Wolf Spear Saga’ series is ‘WULFSUNA’ and books two and three will be out soon. When not lost in pages of the past, she lives in the Midlands with her family and their chocolate Labrador.

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
They come to honour a Warrior-Lord’s dream,
An ancient saga weaving their destiny,
But a treacherous rival threatens their fate.
The Wolf Sons are coming.
WULFSUNA

Monday, May 20, 2019

Hygge: the new Mead Hall


Hall of Hygge!

I’ve been embracing Hygge, the Danish art of ‘being’ and ‘sharing’, and it got me thinking. This isn’t a new craze that’s never been tried before. This is something the Danish have been perfecting for hundreds of years. It’s something the human race has been practising for thousands of years. It’s simply a case of switching off from all the external distractions of life in our current world and curling up with those you love. It’s about downtime without artificial lights or modern technologies that interrupt us all the while. It’s time to switch off your smartphones, or in the case of our ancestors, leave the swords outside.
'If I can just thread this needle...'

Some may argue that television is the modern equivalent to the tales of Scops or Skalds in the Mead Halls, except instead of listening to oral stories of brave heroes we are eagerly watching people dance or bake their way to glory. Here in the Moxon household we’ve had candles and fairy lights on and the whole tribe has been curled up on a sofa surrounded by cushions and blankets. There’s been reading, board games and knitting. I’ve almost completed a knitted tunic that I began in the spring, hoping to wear it for winter. This is now taking shape and I may still have the weather to wear it in. It made me think of Medieval women combing raw wool as they sit by the fire.
Get the tea on!

Surprisingly, or not, all this Hyggelig behaviour spurred my writer’s brain into action. I’ve had plot ideas, promotional ideas and thoughts of exciting twists in future novels. We’ve planned holidays and daytrips or taken 40 winks, sent into slumber by the warmth of the dog beside us (not with the candles burning mind you!). The communal ‘downtime’ not only liberated us from modern society, but liberated our imaginations. It is easy to see how productive this socially engaging enclosure is and would have been to our ancestors in the Mead Halls. Campaigns could be formed and strategized; community disputes discussed and settled; plans passed for building and crop growing.
Time for adventure
Like a warrior whittling runes into a bone comb, dreaming of heroic ventures as he warms his toes by the hearth, so we have been busy making and plotting in our own 21st Century way. There is a saying that ‘the old ones are the best’ and I think the Danes know this very well. Hygge is an old tradition and is still the best way to live, tapping into our past as we move into the future. Here's to exciting adventures and some literary 'a-viking' across the oceans of the writer's page!


BE CANDLE SAFE – NEVER LEAVE A BURNING FLAME UNATTENDED


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Elaine writes Historical Fiction as E S Moxon and is currently editing the second novel in the 'Wolf Spear Saga' series, writing the third instalment, as well as a set of Old English tales and several novellas. You can keep up to date with her publishing progress on her website.
Available as e-Book, Paperback & Hardback (AmazonBook Depository & more)
Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
An ancient saga is weaving their destiny.
A treacherous rival threatens their fate.
A Seer's magic may be all that can save them.
WULFSUNA







Tuesday, March 12, 2019

REVIEW: The Path to Horn Cottage - Prudence S Thomas




This debut in the 'Cunning Folk Mystery' series, set in an alternate version of Lancashire in Medieval times, is an intriguing read and an excellent adventure thriller.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Plot Proppers


I wanted to lend some time and thought to those characters often-used and quickly forgotten within fiction. They are the all-important bit-players who swim in and out of scenes, often perhaps without having received much consideration at the time, but who later prove to have been pivotal. They are the ‘plot proppers’ – those minor roles that can be utilised so neatly to prop-up a scene, play a key role in progressing plot or support the main characters.

pieces of the whole
They are oft times unsung heroes or heroines the reader does not always recall in great detail. However, without them, our protagonists would not learn important information to progress through the written landscape. The antagonists would fail to learn details of the hero’s/heroine’s next move. So often we talk about our main characters. I wanted to dedicate some space to the plot-proppers and ask you to share some examples of your own.
 
the unwritten landscape
Two characters, in particular, spring to my mind as I write this. The first is named ‘Hig’ from my first Wolf Spear Saga ‘WULFSUNA’. He appears briefly at the start as a young Angle warrior who is a boy given a man’s task. We never see him again in this novel, but he may one day be resurrected to play a part in my forthcoming sequel, Wolf Spear Saga 2!


Another plot-propper from ‘WULFSUNA’ in Trunhild. He epitomises his entire tribe and is a symbol of all the differences between them and the Germanic Wolf Sons they reunite with. His whole existence during the novel serves as a lesson to my hero Wulfgar, which in turn shapes his character progression.


·         Do you have plot-proppers?


·         Who are they and how do they affect your storyline?


·         Do you feel plot-proppers are necessary?


~  ~  ~

Blood, betrayal and brotherhood.
An ancient saga is weaving their destiny.
A treacherous rival threatens their fate.
A Seer's magic may be all that can save them.

WULFSUNA








Saturday, January 26, 2019

Existing Offline


The Guilt Machine

It’s been a long time coming, but I’ve finally found the bravery within myself to admit that life is not all about technology. In fact, as a writer of history (albeit fiction) I should have seen the light sooner. We all existed before it was here, and we will all exist after it has died and gone the way of the Dodo. There will remain, however, those who will declare in voices rife with panic, “How can you exist without it?”. How can I exist offline? I’ll tell you…

Because I’ve done it.

 ~ ~ ~