Hello friends! Sorry I’ve been absent for so long. Life really has a habit of getting in the way sometimes but I’m back and happy to be connecting with you all again.
In this post I plan to start a new series that will share with you a recent journey my wife and I took to Scotland, following the path of Matt – the hero of To Raise a King.
Scotland is without doubt one of my favorite places. It is to me a magical country rich in history, and I find myself inspired to write with every visit. There are so many heroes, so many tales of love and tragedy wrapped up in the tapestry of Scotland that I find myself constantly longing to return.
So – let me tell you a little about Dunadd!
Dunadd is situated at the southern end of Kilmartin Glen. Anyone visiting Scotland with a penchant for history, and mystery should make every effort to visit this enthralling place. The first thing Lisa (my wife) and I noticed was how unlike any Scottish Glen Kilmartin is! It lacks the grandeur of Glen Coe, Glen Nevis and Clova, enclosed by hills, rather than impassable peaks. It also lacks the prettiness that can be attributed to other noble Glens, such as Trool, Affric, and Tilt.
But what Dunadd has in abundance is atmosphere. An almost featureless plane – The Great Moss – stretches for miles between the gentle forested slopes that enclose it, and this area is richly populated with Stone circles, burial mounds, and stone age relics.
Park in the little parking lot at the base of the hill and take the short but strenuous hike to the top of the fort and you will be standing in the footsteps of kings, standing at the birthplace of a Nation.
Lisa and I made this pilgrimage in rain and howling winds, but loved every second of it. What amazed us about this place was the lack of fanfare and celebration marking what some would argue should be hallowed ground.
A few simple boards tell the story as you climb to the top of Dunadd hill. Protected behind a shield of plastic, they don’t stand proudly anchored in stone, or iron, but have been placed flat on the ground, for only those willing to seek them out to find.
The Kings of Dal Riata ruled from here, and the Pictish people of the area called these men of the Isles Scoti – invaders. Their decedents became the founders of Scotland, and overtime their influence spread from this unassuming glen to encompass all the north.
Archaeological digs at this site have unearthed many treasures of the 6th, 7th and 8th centuries and Dunadd is attributed as one of the most important ensembles of any medieval site in Scotland.
While one could argue there is little to see here – no castle, no jewels, no towering battlements or statues, no priceless works of art, Dunadd is a place you visit not to see – but to feel. You can smell the history in the air, taste the tears of the past in the rain, and when the golden rays of the sun break through the clouds above you can sense the richness in the land and the love and joy of its people.
Stand atop Dunadd hill and picture around you a once lively citadel, a vast stone wall, enclosing the dwelling place for the lords of this land. Look a little further afield and imagine the small township of Dunadd protected by the fort above, nestled behind the sinuous bends of the River Add. Nothing remains of it today.
North of Dunadd hill you can drive, or hike, through a vale full of standing stones, their purpose long forgotten. Ancient burial mounds dot the valley floor. Stand here in the early morning light, and watch the mists drift from the boggy land around you like long lost spirits of the dead, rising from their stony mounds.
It is here that Matt’s quest truly begins in “To Raise a King“. Here he is first confronted with the horrors of war and finds he must infiltrate Dunadd castle in search of one of the fragments of the Broken Crown:
The mournful group worked in silence until the first body was identified. A stricken wife fell to her knees, clutching at her dress and crying into the night. Children gathered around her, their heartbroken sobs shaking their little bodies. More wails and moans of grief filled the night as those who had clung to the brief hope their man still lived were confronted with the awful reality of death.
Matt’s journey will take him north to the burial mound of a king, and you can trace his path today. Just as this landscape marks the birth of a nation, so it marks the birth of a new beginning for Matt. While his story will take him across the breadth of Scotland, it is here, in Kilmartin Glen, where he will throw away the last vestiges of an innocent childhood, were he will confront the awful terror of kill or be killed, and it is here he will meet the girl who will capture his heart.
“I killed him.” Matt said. He felt dirty, ashamed. “I—I killed him!” He knew with sickening regret that he would probably have to kill again if he were ever to defeat Aldivon. He suddenly wanted to quit. Lying back on the grass he let the scalding tears flow, blurring the stars above, aware that with each tear ran the last of his childhood, the last of his innocence.
In my follow up post to this I will tell you how this glen also holds a key to a legend known around the world, but far removed from Kilmartin. It is from this glen that a certain young man named Artur is descended, and it is my belief that this young man is none other than the legendary King – Arthur of Camelot!
Thanks for reading – and if you would like advance notice for the sequel of “To Raise a King” then please join my Mailing List