Sunday, 14 June 2015

Sartorial elegance? Maybe not......

Happy Sunday everyone!

The sun really is shining outside, though it’s still fresh enough to need some sort of arm cover protection against the slightly gusting wind. At around 10°C, it could be called a typical late spring or early summer temperature.

From Wikimedia commons
This led me to think about what I’ve written about in my time travel novel- THE TAEXALI GAME- regarding the clothing worn in my part of Scotland (Aberdeenshire) in AD 210. Although I’ve not specifically mentioned the date my three time travelling characters ‘arrive’ at the Celtic hillfort of Balbath - Aran, Brian and Fianna are present at a Beltane ceremony soon after. Beltane is the 1st May so the weather conditions could be very like they are for me today on the 14th June- the weather being fairly interchangeable across the months of April through September.

When my time trio are whisked back in time, they find themselves wearing some interesting clothes. Part of their task list is to find out which era they have travelled back to and a good indication of that is in the clothing they find themselves wearing.

What did I have to fuel my imagination as a writer regarding their clothing?  Not all that much, really. I've some books about Celts for the younger readers written in the 1990s and they tend to be illustrated in the style of Angus McBride whose illustrations were credited with having particular attention to 'known' detail paid in them. I've also read as much as possible of recent interpretive ideas from recent archaeological studies adn used that knowledge to create the clothing for myb characters.

Here’s a little snippet from The Taexali Game to whet the appetite: 
(The images below are for The Beltane Choice, Bk 1 of my Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures for the general adult market, set in AD 71, but I imagine the clothing would not be much changed by AD 210. )

“What on earth’s happened to us?” Fianna squeaked. “Look at you two.”
Instead of ragged jeans and thin T-shirt, Brian wore a faded red tunic with baggy mucky-yellow trousers underneath. Aran looked down. He was even more gaudily dressed.
“Cool clothes, Aran, I love the checks.” Fianna giggled at his elegance.
 A dull brown tunic covered his chest and breeches of brown and green checks clad his legs. Draped around his shoulders a long cloak hung to just below his knees. Brian’s cloak was roughly woven dark-grey wool that tied round his neck with a woollen cord, but his was different. It was newer looking wool of a dark mossy green colour. It was a finer weave with a large, ornate gold brooch fastening it in place at his right shoulder.
“Very fancy.” Brian laughed as he pointed to the brooch.
Fianna’s dress was a simply joined pale lilac rectangle of material with openings for her head and arms to slip through, reaching half way down her calves, drawn in at the waist by a twisted rope, the knotted ends dangling down from the middle.
“Look, you two. I’ve got a real knife.” She whooped as she pulled it free of a stiff leather sheath that was threaded through her belt but in her enthusiasm, it got caught on her cloak. “Eugh! How come my cloak’s the yucky one?” She stopped complaining pretty quickly though, when she realised the blade had ripped a fine slice in the coarse wool. “Friggin’ heck! It’s really sharp. Watch you don’t lose a finger.” Using her knife she pointed to Brian’s before sheathing it.
My drawing for Lorcan in The Beltane Choice
Fianna’s cloak was much longer. It almost reached the ground, was made of a cow-pat-brown weave and looked like a coarse potato sack.
He and Brian had sheathed knives, and all three of them had a leather bag which dangled from a cord angled across their chests, but the most magnificent thing of all was the metal band around each of their throats. He peered down. Around his neck was a heavy circlet of dark gold formed like a twisted rope. Brian wore a dull thin silver band, but Fianna’s was a tubular bronze choker.
She whistled before she slid her fingers across her neck ring. “Get a look at these. Have you two noticed they match our armbands?”
He hadn’t, but she was right.
“Hey, Aran. You look really cool. Fierce and much more grown up. I’m not sure about the dried whitish clabber, but your hair spikes on the top are brilliant, and the rest hanging wildly down past your shoulders is…” Fianna’s face was a picture, seeming short of the exact words she was looking for, tact not something she was noted for. “It’s tangled like a bird’s nest but your tattoo’s brilliant.”
“I’ve got a tattoo?” He quizzed both of the twins, looking at all the bare parts of his body that he could see. “Where?”
“It’s on your forehead.” Fianna reached up to rub it with her finger, to see if it would wear away. He wasn’t keen on her getting so close to his nose as she peered at it. “It could be an animal of some sort, like a fat sheep or maybe a pig?”
“Have I got one?” Brian’s question was hopeful.
“Nope.” He scrutinised Brian’s forehead thoroughly, rubbing off a fair amount of mud with his fingers. “Nothing but dirt.”
My drawing of Nara in The Beltane Choice
Fianna touched the coarse material of her clothing, and then felt the finer material of his tunic. “Okay, smarty pants, so when and where do you think we might be?”
“I guess we’ll find out soon enough.” His wide I’m-really-enjoying-this sort of grin slipped free. A sudden flutter of birds caught his attention as they swooped over on the far side of the clearing, startled by the strident squeal of an animal in the distance—either in pain, or not particularly happy with something. “Have you noticed these on the ground?” At his feet were two spears: one shaft quite crudely made.
When Fianna picked it up a splinter pierced her skin. “Ow!” She yelped again and threw it down in disgust. “That shaft is way too jagged.” She sucked a fine bead of blood from her finger and stepped clear of the weapon.
Aran lifted the other spear. Drawing his arm back, he pretended a throw. It fit him quite well, a bit like the javelin he’d been practising with at athletics, but with a super-sharp looking tip. “I like it. It’s got pretty good balance.”
He peered at Brian’s feet when his mate cautiously lifted the spear Fianna had tossed down. Like his own feet, they were encased in leather shoes like bags roughly fitted by pulled laces of leather. The spear looked quite heavy as Brian mimicked his movements, but since Brian had never been much good at throwing a ball, never mind a sharp spear, it was gingerly laid down again, keeping well clear of his toes.
“Where do you think we fit on the historical time line?” Fianna asked.

If I can ever find the time, I'd love to create (or better still get a real artist) some illustrations of Aran Brian and Fianna in The Taexali Game!  


Buy the Taexali Game from Amazon:


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