Morning folks! We’re back on ‘home turf’ this week, with Nancy Jardine taking us on, she says, a devilish walk… I’m intrigued…
A devilish walk? Well…only a little!
Thank you, Jennifer- it’s lovely to join your Sunday Sojourns. Today, I thought we’d take a trip from the present to the past and visit a place that’s very important to me.
The destination is Bennachie (pronounced BEN-A-CHEE where the ch sounds like the Scottish ch as in loch) a range of hills in Aberdeenshire, north east Scotland. The most important summit of Bennachie is Mither Tap. Mither Tap (hill of the breast) is traditionally named so because the peak resembles a prominent nipple. Though Mither Tap isn’t actually the highest at 1699ft, it’s the one which catches the eye from many perspectives since Bennachie is surrounded by fairly flat plains.
You can reach the summit of Mither Tap fairly quickly. I used to do the return trip in a little over an hour on the quickest route, though today…we can be more leisurely. Got stout boots on? Your jacket and backpack? That’s great! You can’t be too sure of the weather on Scottish hills, even fairly low ones.
Follow me up the Maiden Causeway, the steep trail into the forested foothills that creates lovely dappling shade on a sunny day. Legend says the track was built by the devil to win a maiden’s hand but…that’s a devilish story for another day.
Above the tree line the climb isn’t so steep. As we catch our breath, we’ll pass Hosies’ Well “the water that rises in Hosie’s Well is nothing but Hosie’s tears”
Hosie fought bravely in the Battle of Harlaw in 1411 but the poor lad’s reward was a broken heart. He was buried on the slopes of Mither Tap but… that’s a story for another day, as well. Poignant? Yes. Devilish? No.
The climb gets steeper again as we approach the dramatic tor that’s the summit of Mither Tap. We need to clamber up the grey granite scree that cascades from the peak, the tumbled down remains of an ancient Iron Age hillfort. No one knows when the fort may have been built, or even when it fell into ruin, but… I have a story for that another day, too.
Resting our butts on the foundations of the fort, right up here on the peak, the view is awesome! The winds blow hard up here, even on the sunniest day, but scrunch up your eyes and look to the east. The panorama of patchwork fields reaches all the way to the twinkling blue of the North Sea. Circle around to the west and the high peaks of the Grampian Mountains poke up splendidly, an endless mass of heights that seems to have no end. The north and south views are equally stunning, the main A 96 trunk route bisecting the gently undulating farmland, sometimes bypassing the north-east towns along the way.
But for now, focus on a point just across from the foothills of Mither Tap. Do you see the summits of three low hills over there, with a plateau between? That’s Durno. In AD 84, that whole area of 58 hectares (144 acres) was the site of the largest Ancient Roman Marching Camp in northern Scotland. Just imagine General Agricola’s 25,000 Roman soldiers forming up—century by century, cohort by cohort, and legion by legion, their gleaming armour glinting in the sunshine. In serried rows, with neat blocks of shield colours: Auxiliaries and Legionaries. Ready to do battle!
…Against 30,000 Celtic warriors who are ranged on the lower slopes of Mither Tap, right beneath us.
For many historians, Mither Tap is the prime contender for the site of the Battle of Mons Graupius. According to the Ancient Roman historian, Cornelius Tacitus, on the foothills of a hill like Mither Tap the forces of General Agricola went into pitched battle with Caledonian allies led by a charismatic figure named Calgacus (the Swordsman).
I’m entirely biased and DO believe that Bennachie was the site of confrontation between amassed Celtic warriors and the forces of Rome, though the subject is always fervently debated by the experts. You can read about my battle at Beinn na Ciche in Book 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series—After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks. Book 4, my current writing, begins near Bennachie with the aftermath of the battle being the hot topic!
p.s. my time travel novel for teens—The Taexali Game—is also set near Bennachie, though the date is AD 210 when Ancient Roman Emperor Severus marched 30,000 troops back to teach those naughty Celtic tribes another lesson!…AND Those stories referred above ‘for another day’— devilish or poignant— can be read on my own blog Nancy’s Novels – https://nancyjardine.blogspot.com
Bio: Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures (Celtic Fervour Series); contemporary mystery thrillers (Take Me Now, Monogamy Twist, Topaz Eyes-finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE 2014); & time-travel historical adventure for Teen readers (Rubidium Time Travel Series). A retired primary teacher, she now ‘officially’ plays with her toddler grandkids a few long days a week and enjoys what life throws her way. The rest of her time vanishes in a round of: writing; marketing her novels-paperback and ebooks; reading; reviewing novels read; historical and ancestry research; blogging; gardening; procrastinating on Facebook; and occasionally watching TV series or films. Daytime naps just don’t happen!
You can find her at these places:
Blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk Website: http://nancyjardineauthor.com/ Twitter @nansjar Facebook: http://on.fb.me/XeQdkG and http://on.fb.me/1Kaeh5G (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email: email@example.com
Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos: http://viewauthor.at/mybooksandnewspagehere
Novels are available in print and/or ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; W. H. Smith.com; Waterstones.com; Smashwords; and various other ebook stores.