Saturday, 13 May 2017

Roe deer or Red Deer? A Bambi question!

Happy Saturday to you!

When I’m writing there are all sorts of distractions that come along. Questions pop into my head which need clarification.
In my ongoing current writing, my character Enya is stealthily moving across a landscape that’s flooded by General Agricola’s Roman legionary and auxiliary troops. It’s the month of October, AD 84, and approximately a half moon after a major battle confrontation at Beinn na Ciche (my version of Mons Graupius in # 3 of my Celtic Fervour Series). 

Enya is travelling in a west-north-westerly direction from the sands of Baile Mheadhain on the north east coast of Scotland towards Tap O’Noth where she’s learned there’s a congregation of Celtic survivors of the battle. Those warriors at Tap O’Noth just might have some good information for her.

Along with her friends, Nith and Feargus, she reaches her destination and is welcomed by the local warriors. Food isn’t often plentiful but their hosts have killed a deer which is nicely roasted by the time Enya and her friends climb up to their camp at the ancient hillfort of Tap O’Noth.

My distractions today have been…
  1. What kind of deer would most likely have been killed at this time of year in that locale, almost two thousand years ago?
  2. Was Tap O’Noth hillfort already ruined by then or was it inhabited during the time of this first Roman infiltration of the area? 
The first question is easier to decide since I’ve learned that only the Red deer and Roe deer would have been indigenous in the early first century AD. I’ve had to imagine what the landscape would have been like back then for the other books in my series so when writing # 4 of the series I have my own impression of the terrain.

Tap O’Noth is the remnants of an ancient iron age hillfort which had at least two known occupations from the identification of two different building phases.

Today, some parts of the lower slopes of the Hill O’Noth, which lies below Tap O’Noth, are covered in maintained planned forestry with cultivated fields on the valley floor. Two thousand years ago, I imagine there would have been some stands of ancient Caledonian woodlands above a few cultivated Celtic strip fields on the valley floors around the base of the hill but there would also have been uncultivated sphagnum mosses and damp areas. Above the natural tree line the hillside, I imagine, would have been heather clad, possible a little ferny, but otherwise fairly barren of vegetation.

If a deer had been killed, which type would it most likely have been?  
Wikimedia Commons

Roe deer only stand around 70 cm high at the shoulder. Red deer are much larger at around 110-120 cm at the shoulder. During October the rutting and mating season is over for both species and both types of animal tend to be solitary. If it was a Roe doe, she would not be giving birth till the following year- typically January - similarly for the Red hind.

Roe deer are fond of moist grass, their preferred habitat a woodland one, so I’ve decided that’s the species I’ll use.

There will maybe be more to follow soon on both Roe deer and on Tap O’Noth.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my blog. Please pop your thoughts about this post in the comment box. :-)