Saturday, 4 July 2015

York it is!

Happy Saturday to you!

This post is, in part, duplicated today at my 'every second Saturday' Writing, Wranglers and Warriors Blog.   Here you'll find more details about fantastic places to visit in York, England.

I'm heading off next week on a round trip of approximately 700 miles to go to a Crooked Cat Publishing Seminar (Crooked Cat being my publisher).

I’ve been to fantastic Crooked Cat author get-togethers twice before  for purely social reasons—that point where ‘author friends’ via the internet, especially via Facebook, become ‘real’ colleagues. Those party events were great fun but this time it’s down to more ‘serious’ business. Crooked Cat authors who are attending will be enjoying a day long conference/ seminar. I’m hoping to learn a lot about making my books sell a whole lot better than at present.  We’ll see how that pans out!

The venue for this seminar is also huge draw for me. The Edinburgh meeting in 2013 was followed by London in 2014, but this 2015 venue is York, England. I absolutely love to visit York. I have many favourite places world wide and York is definitely one of them. It’s a city that’s very dear to my heart since its origins go back to Roman times and those readers of this blog who know me, know that I’ve become a bit obsessed with Roman Britain.  
I first visited the wonderful city of York around 1975. Subsequent visits over the decades have seen me make return visits to the many tourist visitor centres but I also love to go to new attractions as well. York is famous for its Roman Wall, which can still be walked along, but it’s equally famous for its Viking and Medieval history. The Yorvik Centre (Viking York) has changed a little over the decades since its opening but the experience remains much the same. It’s one of those experiences where the tourist senses the sights, smells and -  yes - almost a taste in the mouth sensation of Viking York. But York isn’t only about those time periods. A walk around York will give you an architectural experience that is indicative of all historical eras from Viking onwards to the twenty first century.

There’s the fantastic National Railway Museum for railway enthusiasts -  one of the places I went to back in 1999 for research purposes when I wrote my first non-fiction book for use in local Aberdeenshire schools (Scotland). 

The topic of the book was on the history of the Inverurie Locomotive Works (approx 1899-1969). You might well ask why did I journey so far to York to see old engines and carriages when I was doing a project based in Scotland? Why not go to the Glasgow Transport Museum? Well, actually, I visited there too. Only 6 locomotive engines were built in the Inverurie works but many famous engines which chugged the railways of Great Britain were repaired or refinished at Inverurie—a few examples of which were in the York Railway Museum.

York Minster is a fantastic church to visit, even for the non-religious like me. The majestic building is equally as impressive as many churches I’ve visited in mainland Europe: the history of its construction being a fantastic read. The present building was begun around 1230 but wasn’t completed till 1472. That’s a long time to create a building but standing beneath the facade you can see just how much it was worth it.

Every time I return to York, I try to take in whatever is new on Roman York. I wholeheartedly agree that many tourist attractions can trivialise real historical data but I like to separate my historical research from the theatrical attractions that are designed to encourage people to enjoy history more than they otherwise would. The best of the attractions have a neat blend of good sound historical facts, presented in an entertaining way.

Some visitors may not like the Roman ghost tour/walk but I found it an enjoyable experience. I don’t get bored easily if a guide is telling me useful information- though some might if they really expect ‘spooks’ to appear. On my Roman ghost tour in York what was most memorable was being down in some cellars, a few levels below street level, and being told that some visitors sensed ghost horses, ancient Roman ones accompanied by a lone legionary soldier, walking alongside them. Of course what they were purportedly seeing was only the upper halves of the beasts and man because down to the hoof level meant it was below the cobblestone floor of the cellar we were walking on. York is a city that has been successively built upon, layer after historical layer, over the two thousand years of its occupation. 

When I wrote Book 2 of my Celtic Fervour Series—After Whorl: Bran Reborn—I researched York back in Roman times of AD 71. The difficulty there was that there isn’t much data available since the Romans were only just invading the area around AD 71, or perhaps a little earlier, but they built no permanent structures and traces of temporary encampments are yet to be discovered. My own walk along the Roman Wall was memorable but I couldn’t write about that because it wasn’t built till much later than AD 71.   

What I had to do was imagine what the land around York was like back in AD 71 and describe my ‘view’ of what my characters—Brennus and Ineda—were seeing as they spied on the Roman Camp down by the River Ouse. I hope I was successful in my description but only a read of the book will prove that!

This link is to an earlier post I wrote on this blog about Roman York/ Eboracum  with much more detail.

Enjoy the weekend-4th of July festivities or not.

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