Thursday, 9 January 2014


I'm out guest blogging at English Historical Fiction Authors today. The topic I have on offer is "Who put the earliest Roman footprint in Scotland?" Hop on over HERE to read my lenghty musings on what I've discovered during my researching. 

Yesterday, I wrote about circumstances and hinted that my domestic situation is likely to change. I'm not revealing the exciting details yet, but I will say that I've been doing a lot of cleaning of cupboards lately. No, I'm not moving house but I do have a lot of clutter. Our study is inhabited by my husband and it's a jumble of computer hardware, scientific tomes, textbooks, sizeable telescope and many, many other books- mostly non-fiction since our fiction is mainly in bookcases upstairs.

My writing is done at my desk in the dining room but the bookcases there are filled with my current research books for Celtic/Roman and Victorian studies (Yes, I have that neglected WIP- my 3 book Family Saga.) My dining room book clutter also includes all my bulging folders of Ancestry information. I have an on-line programme but also have the info in hard copy. 

So, what did I find when I reorganised the study book shelves? A copy of a translation of Tacitus. One that's been around us for nearly 40 years and the one I find the easiest to read/use and have not had it to hand these past couple of years!

Guess where that one is now?

Now it's time to get 'Petty' as in Quintus Petilius Cerialis Caesius Rufus. 'Petty' equates to Cerialis in the following notes.

The following research information is similar to a guest blog I wrote for the launch of AFTER WHORL: BRAN REBORN. This will be added to my notes section tomorrow.

Some names are mentioned in my Celtic Fervour series of novels that are a crucial part of the action and yet as characters they never appear at all, or are only mentioned in a limited role. My friend 'Petty’ is one of those names. 

Cerialis-Wikimedia Commons
In the The Beltane Choice and After Whorl: Bran Reborn - the Roman governor of Britannia plays a ‘behind the scenes’ role. If it were not for the policies of Quintus Petilius Cerialis Caesius Rufus my Brigantes, and the other tribes of the north, would be peaceably farming their lands and only indulging in little bouts of warfare with their neighbours. Governor Cerialis (the name he’s usually referred by), however, is under orders from the Roman Emperor Vespasian. When a campaign of military advance creeps northwards towards mid- Brigantia, my characters are involved in what I've called the Battle of Whorl in The Beltane Choice. 'Petty's’troops triumph at Whorl, though the personal fortunes of the Governor were not always so rosy, since the career of Cerialis had many ups and downs. Another notable name – Gnaeus Julius Agricola - also plays a backstage role in my novels. 

Agricola-Wikimedia Commons
Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour series begins with the battle at Whorl. At this point 'Petty’ is still the Roman Governor of Britannia and his orders still prevail. ‘Petty’ was the Governor of Britannia from approximately A.D.70 to A.D.73/74. Books 1& 2 are during this time period. ‘Petty’ was then probably around the age of 40, this approximation based on the fact that a Roman had to have served in a number of roles before earning such a high status job as Governor of a province. What had 'Petty' done to earn such a prestigious job back in AD70?

Before becoming a provincial Governor a man tended to have served as commander of a legion - a legate. Before becoming a legate it was generally necessary to have served first as a praetor. A praetor was sometimes someone who had practical experience as a ‘commander in the field’, during times of heavy campaigns. Or, a praetor may have been elevated to the role of a public administrator over a large province, though the number of these operating across the Roman Empire varied according to who was emperor. To achieve the position of praetor there was a minimum age of thirty. In the absence of actual documented dating, for the life of someone like Cerialis, the position a man achieved in serving the Roman Empire stands as a good indicator of his minimum age.

Before becoming the Governor of Britannia‘Petty’ had been legate of the Legio IX Hispania, stationed in southern Britain, in AD 60. He therefore had a lot of knowledge of the machinations of the tribes of Britannia. The retreat, and subsequent humiliation, his forces had to make during the uprisings of Queen Boudicca of the Iceni got him no public honour, and he departed for the European mainland when his term of office was over.  However, it seems that he conducted himself well enough in AD 69, with the Legio XIV Roman troops in Germany, sufficient to have the Emperor Vespasian confer the role of Governor of Britannia on him in AD 70. Military honours got you a better job like a Governor but the writings available for the time indicate that Cerialis became a very good General and became a sound military tactitian.

‘Petty’returned to Britannia. One of his first tasks was to suppress the insurgence of Venutius, the former husband of Queen Cartimandua, a Queen of the Brigantes federation of tribes. This part of history has become the particular focus of The Beltane Choice and of After Whorl: Bran Reborn.

‘Petty’ is documented as …“having at once struck terror into their hearts by invading the commonwealth of the Brigantes, which is said to be the most numerous tribe of the whole province: many battles were fought, sometimes bloody battles, and by permanent conquest or by forays he annexed a large portion of the Brigantes.” (Tacitus)

‘Petty’ mainly settled during AD 70 -74 at the garrison at Eboracum (York), which it’s thought he constructed, or that he made improvements to an earlier Roman fort on the site. ‘Petty’ also constructed other encampments in the north of England which evolved into forts that, in some way, have survived to the present day. Dendrochronological evidence is now pointing to Cerialis having established a lot more forts and fortlets in present day Scotland but just how far north he marched with his troops is hard to be sure of.

The plot for After Whorl: Bran Reborn includes the building of some of these Roman forts.

Emperor Septimius Severus -Wikimedia Commons

Have a good day. I'm off to do a bit of childminding now- in between some editing of a novel set a little bit later in AD 210, north-east Scotland, during the time of the Emperor Severus (another very interesting Roman soldier) who came to the area himself! 


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