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In my story, The Kelpie King, my protagonist Jack Perry follows a strangely dressed girl into a castle ruin and emerged to find himself in a Pictish village around the time of the introduction of Christianity.

Aberlemno, Angus.

Aberlemno, Angus.

Wow, what an undertaking reader. Sometimes, often, I wonder what on earth was I thinking when I decided to do this. But, I love the story, and love researching the Picts. There is so much to learn, but I find it absolutely fascinating. The trouble is knowing when enough is enough.

So I’ve started with iron age Scotland and the end of the Picts. We know the Picts used and re-used old fortresses.

I’ve been to Sydney to collect and read a book called “The problem of the Picts” edited by TF Wainwright. Photocopied “Picts” by Anna Ritchie.

My research into the Picts and their lives had to begin with where and how they lived, hence the brochs.

Interior of Dun Troddan

Interior of Dun Troddan

Imagine sailing into a wide bay and seeing a huge dark stone round tower on a cliff top. The structure stands about ten metre high and almost as wide. What would this say to those approaching the land.

To me it would say they were strong, intelligent and protected. Powerful and astute.

Dun Troddan

Dun Troddan

Drystone buildings of this size are something to behold, the precision of the stones, the smooth sloping circular walls that were built side by side to form a double skinned structure with stairways spiralling up between the  two walls are a sight to behold. I stood inside those walls and imagined. I climbed to the top. This reader, is something worthy of  note as I am very very afraid of heights. I am known to not even stand on a chair! Dave took photos of me on the top of Dun Beag on Skye because he could not believe I would ignore my fears and climb to examine every angle and detail I could on these magnificent structures.

Entrance

Entrance

The broch has a small entrance with quite a long low tunnel to duck through, one one side there is usually a small chamber, known as a guard chamber. The tunnel opens up into a wide open floor that usually had a hearth in the centre and often a well of some kind too. The inhabitants could stay safely inside for extended periods in both times of bad weather or attack. An opening on the far side would lead to another chamber built into the wall and a stone staircase curving up inside the wall. The stone steps had the dual role of tying the inner and outer walls together.

Guards chamber

Guards chamber

 

Cross section of the inner and outer walls

Cross section of the inner and outer walls

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Steps and upper floor of the chamber between the walls

Examining just a few of the brochs at close quarters was something I’m not likely to ever forget, and I can’t wait to begin writing about Jack and his take on prehistoric life.

 

Are you interested in history? Have you ever, like me, found yourself caught up in imagining what it would be like to have lived in a different era? Please share, I like to know I’m not alone.