Dunadd – Scotland

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!

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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.

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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. _DSC0082

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._DSC0080

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.

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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

Beginnings –

A Brief excerpt from the Book of Myrthinus –

Home. After so many lifetimes on this world one would expect me to see it as such yet on evenings like these, when I allow my mind to wander, I see my lost world so clearly the yearning to return becomes overpowering. I feel then some empathy with Dardanos, but it is short-lived, for unchecked, his insanity would have doomed Earth and all that dwell here to the same terrible fate that destroyed our home.

Nothing good comes from dwelling on sad and bitter thoughts, yet as our numbers dwindle, I live in growing fear of finding myself unable to recall the simplest detail of my former world. It was a thriving planet before the impact. Oceans, rivers and lakes teemed with fish. Snowcapped peaks towered above the plains, and giant birds akin to eagles soared for miles across the ranges. Leagues of forest gave home to a myriad of creatures, and insects buzzed across meadows lush with herbs and flowers of vibrant color. It was a beautiful world, and we lived in complete harmony with it. No heavy industry choked the air with fumes. Our land was not plundered for its resources. One could not imagine a more wondrous place, but surpassing all was the might and majesty of those creatures that shared it with us. Dragons! Oh how my heart would soar with the sight of them! Brilliant Red and mighty Gold they would shine in the morning sun, yet in the evening their scales would reflect the muted light of our twin moons in hues of purple, amber and silver.

Dragons! I could fill page after page with tales and descriptions of these strange and powerful beings, but I digress, for that is not my purpose here. Perhaps if time allows then that tale can be told with the detail and richness it deserves, but this history serves a more desperate need. These pages are to explain the course I’ve charted through Earth’s turbulent past, and to serve as a warning to those who will follow me should I fail, for I am old now. Old beyond measure, and the weight of the centuries, and the burdens I’ve carried lay heavy upon me, yet while the threat of Dardanos’s legacy remains, I must strive to stand against it and recruit others to the cause.

So——Dardanos? Who is he, you may wonder? Well, once I counted him closer than any brother.

It was he who had first alerted the elders to the new star that had appeared in our sky. We were an inward-looking people and the path of the stars and planets, while well known, held little interest to us. His discovery was met with little more than mild amusement.

As the years passed, so this “star” grew in brightness, then gradually size. Then, for the first time, our society began to know fear. People talked of an impact that would destroy us all, and the elders became divided. Could we perhaps change the path of this thing we now understood to be a comet? Did we perhaps have nothing to fear and this visitor from the depths of space would pass us by? Or should we, as some demanded, seek a means to flee our doomed world? The latter suggestion was met with complete derision but time would not wait, and the comet grew larger as each month passed, seeming to hang threateningly over us each night, a constant reminder of our impending fate.

Dardanos and I, in secret, fashioned lenses to study in more detail our new star and our neighboring planets, and in Earth we found a possible escape, but how could it be reached? How does one travel such vast and empty distances? The comet was now visible in the daylight sky, and chaos gripped our people. Society inevitably succumbed to the basest human level, and our ordered culture began to tear itself apart. People blamed the elders, violence erupted in the streets; it was a time of darkness and decay.

The art of translocation was well practiced, but never had any of us attempted to move across the void of space. Could it be done? Ancient legends of our people spoke of the founders of our race traveling between worlds at will, but this had become a thing of myth. In desperation, we turned to anything that offered hope for our salvation. Dardanos and I pored over the old texts and crumbling tablets seeking a way to achieve what even to us seemed impossible.

To travel to earth we needed a location that could be visualized. Some would call it a pattern. If we could fashion that location on earth then we could travel between worlds at will. We first determined the spin and rotation of the earth in relation to our planet and the stars. We then looked for a reference point in space common to both worlds, and we chose the constellation Orion. During the spring season the three stars of the belt were bright and easy to spot, and we used these as alignment guides. Our telescopes, while crude, had shown us little more than a blue and white ball. But we worked hard perfecting the art of lens and mirror making, and as the months passed so our view of Earth improved dramatically until before us appeared a world of clouds, of oceans and land.

We made many assumptions. We assumed the oceans of earth would be akin to those of our home, and therefore targeted an area of coastline much like our own, a giant delta where a large river emptied into the sea.

To will ourselves such a large distance would not be possible. No individual would be strong enough, so we built a gate that would open a channel between both worlds. Many great minds bent their wills to holding the gateway open, which was a considerable feat given we had no known target upon which to anchor the other end.

Countless brave people died making the first attempts to cross the void of space and we had no way of knowing what had killed them. Had they arrived in a poisonous inhospitable atmosphere and choked to death? Was our portal misaligned and we had sent people to drown in the seas? Had we failed to create a bridge at all and sent our travelers not to Earth but blinking into nothingness, lost in the endless void of space?

There were so many failed attempts, but it took only one success to establish a bridge. It was slow and dangerous, but one at a time we made the journey. The energy expended to hold the portal open, even for a few minutes, was immense. If we were to save our people we had to find another way.

Earth was lush with vegetation and wildlife, and the different life forms we encountered were a constant surprise to us, but not all life was different! Who would have thought that two worlds harboring such diverse plant and animal life would have also produced creatures that were the same? Crocodiles we had never seen and they filled us with terror, but the hippos were identical to the kuowli of our home—river cows, we called them.

We spent many weeks traveling upstream along the river now known as the Nile, and here we encountered our first humankind. Primitive people yet proud. They looked on us with fear and called us gods, the shining ones, those who bridged the stars, and they gathered in awe as we began construction of the pattern that would act as an anchor between our worlds.

Our alien structures took shape over the coming months, reaching up in perfect alignment to Orion’s belt, with the Nile a mirror of the Milky Way. When complete they were a poor comparison to the structures of home, but given we spent less than a year in their construction, the three great pyramids would serve as a recognizable pattern to begin a mass translocation from our home—the planet Mars…

If you enjoyed this passage then check out To Raise a King available on Amazon.com

Free! To Raise a King (Quick Update)

Hello everyone – this is a quick post to let you know that my novel “To Raise a King” is now available in paperback format:

To Raise a King (The Broken Crown)

To celebrate the launch of the paperback, the kindle edition will be FREE April 4th and 5th only. Don’t miss out! Available here:

To Raise a King (The Broken Crown Book 1)

I’ll be posting a new Scrivener update later this week, and will be starting two new threads:

  • Follow Matt’s journey through Scotland – these posts will include pictures, excerpts from the book, notes of the history, and my own fun experiences as my wife and I traveled through the beauty of Scotland
  • The Book of Myrthinus – those of you familiar with To Raise a King, will have read the excerpts from the Book of Myrthinus that are included as background material to the novel. On these blog pages I will be releasing each excerpt as an individual post, and adding comments to expand on the history

I’m also excited to announce that Book Two is now in production. I aim to release, “To Save a Queen – Book 2 of the Broken Crown” towards the end of the year.

Thank you all for your ongoing support and remember – To get advanced notice for the release of Book 2 – signup to my mailing list

All the best!

Justin

To Raise a King

Well it’s happened! I finally published a book! So what comes next? Write the sequel I guess or one of the many other stories that have been floating around in my head for a decade and more!

This book has been a long journey for me. I began the story years ago sitting in the back of my Aunt’s car as she took us on one of many scenic drives through Scotland. I watched the most amazing scenery drift by my window and thought what an exciting adventure it would be, to just run-away, and survive in that rugged empty landscape. As we wound our way through the twists and turns of Glen Coe I wrote…Matt ran…

I finished that first chapter – handwritten – and decided to write a second. Over the years life continued to get in the way of completing the book. Other stories took shape, and in my spare time they began to be written, yet the more I wrote the more I felt I had betrayed Matt somehow. He had been left buried alive in an old Scottish burial cairn for decades. He was my first character – his story my first novel. I owed it to him to get him out of that dreadful tomb, back into the sunlight and on with a quest that even I didn’t fully understand at the time.

And so, while  other characters and other stories have sat waiting patiently – part one of Matt’s tale has been completed.

You can find it on the Amazon Store –

Enjoy –

Justin