Someone recently asked me if there were other novels by Rosemary Sutcliff set in the Bronze Age , apart from Warrior Scarlet. This set me thinking. Helped by a livejournal posting I came across a while back, and based on my own reading (some of it too long ago), I came up with this list—exceluding the re-tellings such as Beowulf. I imagine regular readers here can improve it? Anything missing?
Bronze and Iron Age
The Chief’s Daughter
Sun Horse, Moon Horse
The Flowers of Adonis
The Truce of the Games (A Crown of Wild Olive)
Song for a Dark Queen
The Capricorn Bracelet
The Eagle of the Ninth
The Mark of the Horse Lord
A Circlet of Oak Leaves
The Silver Branch
The Dark Ages
The Lantern Bearers
Sword at Sunset
The Sword and the Circle
The Light Beyond the Forest
The Road to Camlann
The Shining Company
The Shield Ring
The Witch’s Brat
Elizabethan and 16th century
The Armourer’s House
The Queen Elizabeth Story
Lady In Waiting
English Civil War and 17th century
The Rider of the White Horse
Blood and Sand
Three years ago Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic historical novel The Eagle of the Ninth inspired one blogger to go exploring!
The Roman History Reading Group’s first read for 2010 is Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Eagle of the Ninth, part of which is set in Calleva Atrebatum. As it’s quite near where my parents live, I set out one cold and frosty morning to have a look at what remains of Calleva Atrebatum today. The remains are near the village of Silchester, not far from Reading.
Calleva Atrebatum means something like “the Atrebates’ town in the woods” (not that different from Silchester!). The Atrebates were a Celtic tribe living in this area, with links to a tribe of the same name living in Gaul. Although the town itself has disappeared, its walls are still standing. It took me about 2 hours to walk the circuit of 2.8 km, but that was with lots of stops for photographs. The shape is roughly speaking a diamond with the top point at the North.
- North east wall
Find the whole article and all the photographs on his blog here.
Historian and broadcaster Michael Wood has been musing about whether the time Britain slid into chaos at the end of the Roman Empire is also a distant mirror of our present crises. (Thank you Janet Webb for alerting me). He concludes a fascinating article:
Well, the fall of Rome serves to remind us that complex societies can, and do, break down. There is rarely one reason. Rather, there are multiple causes that come together in a perfect storm, as they did around 400AD.
But in time society recovers, for societies after all are made by people, and one guesses that the ones that recover quickest are the ones which are most adaptive, and perhaps too the ones with the strongest sense of identity and history – the strongest sense of “group feeling”.
Source: BBC News – Viewpoint: The time Britain slid into chaos.
This article about how historians’ perceptions of the ‘legendary figure’ have changed over recent times is behind a pay wall: I am trying to access it. Meanwhile…
Forty years ago both scholarly histories and historical novels had a common view of Arthur: as a historical warrior, whose leadership enabled his people, the native inhabitants of post-Roman Britain, to halt the advancing tide of Anglo-Saxon conquest for about half a century. Nobody was exactly sure when this was, because it had been in the obscure period between 410 and 550, which has left almost no contemporary documents. Nonetheless, there was general agreement that Arthur had flourished somewhere in that time and had been the greatest British personality in it, establishing a fame which laid the basis for the later, more romantic and fantastic, medieval Arthurian legend.
This happy consensus had mostly been produced by the new discipline of archaeology, which had excavated some of the main sites associated with Arthur in that later and fully-developed legend, such as his birthplace at Tintagel and Cadbury Castle in Somerset, which local tradition held had been his court of Camelot. In each case, amid great publicity, spectacular remains had been found of occupation by wealthy people at just the right period. For many, this was enough to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the legend was rooted in historical truth and books such as Geoffrey Ashe’s The Quest for Arthur’s Britain and Leslie Alcock’s Arthur’s Britain carried this message to a wide readership. It was taken up by historians, who now felt encouraged to reconstruct a story for the years around 500 by combining the meagre early medieval sources with a wealth of much more dubious data from later periods; this approach was epitomised by John Morris’s fat, exciting book, The Age of Arthur . The interest stirred up by scholars resulted in a flood of historical fiction in the 1960s and 1970s. Most was produced by Englishmen, though Englishwomen such as Rosemary Sutcliff and Mary Stewart were among the most prominent authors. All treated Arthur as a historical character in a post-Roman setting, with realistic British landscapes and careful use of historical and archaeological data.
Source: Signposts: King Arthur | History Today.
A review of Rosemary Sutcliff’s novel The Flower of Adonis, historical fiction for adults, said
The Flower of Adonis is an excellent grown-up novel on the theme of Alcibiades, if the Peloponnesian War and Athens in the fifth century BC interests you. As for Eagle of the Ninth, I became (briefly) an archaeologist partly because of the book. All I know about Roman toilet behaviour I learned from her at the age of 12!