It is always nice to meet someone who shares my passion for the ancient world and it is why I am always delighted to showcase other authors work on my site. Today I am delighted to introduce Graham Clews who made contact with me and told me about his trilogy on Eboracum, set in ancient Roman Britain. I have attached the description to the first novel of the trilogy, ‘The Village’ and underneath Graham has written a few words about the series, and why he felt impelled to write it.
Thomas M D Brooke
From the time Cethen Lamh Fadha and his sharp witted wife Elena see a Roman ship slam into their village dock, to the clash of arms that takes place almost two years later as a result, their life is an uprooted trail of turmoil. Led by a Brigante king who, at times, seems to be an affliction that rivals that of the Romans, the couple find their paths reluctantly crossing that of Gaius Sabinuis Trebonius, senior tribune of the Ninth Hispana Legion.
Gaius himself is no more pleased than Cethen and his wife by their chance encounters. With a sometimes erratic Governor overseeing command of the Ninth, and his own wife doing more harm to his career than good, he finds himself snared in his own tangled web of troubles and intrigue, Gaius’s fate is, nonetheless, firmly tied to that of the Brigante chieftain and his wife, often at great cost to both body and soul.
With historic characters in the background such as the cynical Vellocatus, former shield bearer to Venutius and the man who married the aging king’s divorced wife; and Cartimandua, a pragmatic but very human queen, the story moves quickly. Along the way the reader meets others far less known; Criff, the bard, who subtly keeps his feet in either camp, in more ways than one. Morallta, a Carvetti warrior whose lust for battle and rude distain is matched only by her odd pleasures; Cian, a brother whose brash temperament injures himself more than others; and Titus, the Ninth’s veteran primus pilus, who sometimes should know better, just to mention a few.
A note from the Author, Graham Clews on why he wrote the Eboracum trilogy.
Eboracum is the name for the ancient city of York. It’s where I grew up. It’s where I biked to school on streets first laid down by the Romans. It’s where I walked medieval battlements built atop the ruined walls of the Roman fort. It’s where a school history class might take place in the York museum, itself. The history of York is the history of England, and as I grew older I wanted to write about it; not only about the city, but also the people who lived there.
The Eboracum trilogy covers the first thirty-five years of Roman occupation. Beginning with Eboracum, the Village and ending with Eboracum, Carved in Stone, the series is a saga. It follows the fate of two families: that of the Roman engineer responsible for the original timber fortress, and that of the minor Brigante chieftain, who fled the site. Their story begins in A.D. 71 with the rebellion of Venutius (Book I); it moves to Agricola’s drawn out campaign that ended in the Grampian Mountains circa A.D. 83 (Book II); and concludes with the major uprising of the northern tribes in A.D. 105 (Book III). The three books are populated by every day believable characters to whom we might relate even today—warts and all. People who are simply living in a far harsher time. The background is well researched; the action, including the romance, is hard and convincing; and the story itself is laced with dark humour, the foibles of everyday life, and a down-to-earth realism.
You can buy this novel here
Looks interesting Graham, I see the 9th Legion comes into it. Is it true they’ve been seen in York (apparitions from the knee up, the ground surface being that much higher since)? How much of the preserved Eboracum was there at this time? The cathedral was built on the foundations of the 9th Legion’s HQ, I gather.
Besides the Brigantes I believe the Belgae were in the area, and one other tribe. Catraeth (Catterick) was the heart of a Celtic kingdom that ran between the Tees and Swale. Does that come into your books?
Good luck with the books.
My own era comes around a thousand years later, and touches on fighting and skirmishing with the Normans in Yorkshire (between the Tees and the Humber, coast to Tadcaster), although on Hub-pages I cover from the Romans leaving to the Normans and Angevins. Hopefully I’ll get to York next February for a couple of days of the Jorvik Festival (second home, York).
Bye for now.
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I see you have interest in the Ninth, and yes, the legion comes into all three novels in the series. In fact, one of the primary characters serves respectively as a senior tribune and the legate in the first two novels. I am also intrigued you are aware of the ghost story involving the legion.
The ghosts were seen in 1953 by an 18 year old apprentice called Harry Martindale, in the cellar of York’s medieval Treasurer’s House. The site of this building is directly north of the old HQ, and inside the fortress, just short of where the main street from the north gate intersects the cross street which ran back of the HQ building itself. About 20 foot soldiers were seen, plus another soldier on a horse. Their feet were cut-off at about 18″, but fortuitously there had been an excavation in the cellar down to the original road, where the feet could be seen, right down to a description of the boots. As young Harry left the building in a panic (and saw his doctor on the way home), the old caretaker there apparently commented that he must have seen the ghosts of the soldiers. Unfortunately, nobody seems to have seen them since. And yes, I believe it was in the sixties that the central tower of the cathedral was judged to be potentially unsafe, so the foundation was excavated and reinforced with huge stainless steel rods embedded in concrete. During this reinforcing, the engineers found themselves in the old headquarters building. A few partial wall sections can be seen, and the area is open to visitors.
I see you state that your second home is York, so I am likely describing areas you’ve seen. Nonetheless, if not and you do end up at the site, be sure to attend the daily Evensong in the Minster itself. The experience is positively medieval.
As to the various tribes in the threes books, in East Yorkshire I don’t dig deeper than the Parisii and the Brigante. I use the name Cataractonium for Catterick, as this is what appears on Ordnance Survey Map I used in my research (I found it invaluable for not only the names, but also for the roads and easy-made distance calcs).
Further to my tweet thanking you for the posting, which is very impressive, I’d like to say thanks again for your support, and I look forward to exploring your site further. In the interim, if you are interested, please send me your address and I’ll mail you a copy of the first book in the series: Eboracum, The Fortress.
Hello again Graham,
Being a proper heathen type I’m not one for church services so i’ll pass on the Evensong. I’m more interested in the post-Roman eras, Eoferwic to Richard III, although the Romans certainly put down some serious engineering and architectural roots. I’ve got a page on York on Hub-pages (amongst a few others) that you might be interested in, and a saga series. The RAVENFEAST saga also touches on Eoferwic/Jorvik several times in the five so-far published books in the series
Take a look through the list of pages on: http://hubpages.com/@alancaster149.
The original cathedral housed the tomb of Earl Sigeweard/Siward ‘the Dane’, who also had a howe raised (site near the university south of York) in ‘hedging his bets’ on the afterlife. The cathedral, burnt down when the Normans tried to clear buildings out of the field of vision around their first timber castle. Coppergate was flooded to make way for the moat on the second – also timber – castle in 1068/9. Shire Reeve William Malet was taken hostage by the Danes in 1069 (RAVENFEAST book 5 ‘WAYFARER’), his castellan Gilbert de Ghent was killed in the fighting that led King William to raze much of the North in retribution for them supporting the aetheling Eadgar against him. Lots of research and thumbing through the Peterborough Chronicle and Domesday. I’m booked into a B&B on the Fulford Road for a couple of nights to look in on mid-February’s Jorvik Viking Festival. I don’t know how much of the area was affected by.flooding, but if you like we can meet up during my stay, 16th-18th February and compare notes. The Deiran Angles and Danes used much of Roman York’s buildings (including what became the Earlsburh at the time of Tostig’s earldom – still trying to find a diagram of the building near Marygate, I saw one briefly but lost track of it). See my e-mail address, get in touch with me that way..
Alan R L