Wednesday, 23 October 2019

Meet the Ocelots- Bran Reborn!

 Bran Reborn? Who is Bran?

It’s my turn today on the Ocelot Blog to introduce you to some more Ocelot Press fiction! Since I can’t directly reblog to this page from a Wordpress site, this is the core of it with a more of the historical detail added on below.

To answer my own question above I need to separate the Fiction…some Historical Facts of A.D. 69-71…and give an Outline of the Events that come before Bran is reborn!

After Whorl: Bran Reborn is the second book of my historical fiction Celtic Fervour Saga Series. Zoom back to A.D. 71, to the territorial area of the Brigantes Federation of tribes.

The After Whorl part of the title refers to the Battle at Whorl which takes place during the last part of Book 1 of the series, The Beltane Choice.  At Whorl, my Brigante warrior clan from the Hillfort of Garrigill fight against the Ancient Roman Legio IX and Legio II Adiutrix – led by General Q. Petilius Cerialis, the Governor of Britannia and commander of all of the Roman Legions stationed in Britain – and Gnaeus Iulius  Agricola Commander of the Legio XX.  During the battle at Whorl many Late-Iron Age warriors are killed, many are injured and some remains are never retrieved from the battlefield. Brennus of Garrigill doesn’t return and is presumed dead!

Fact: (with a good dose of interpretation!)
A lot was happening in A.D. 68/ 69. Across the Roman Empire there were dire rumblings and a very nasty civil war raged amongst different commanders of legions in different area of the Roman Empire. This time was later referred to as the Year of the Four Emperors (I’ve written about this elsewhere in this blog) when one after another took charge of the throne but didn’t last. After Nero’s death, Galba grasped power, followed by Otho, then Vitellius, and finally Vespasian took firm control after which Vespasian reigned as emperor for around ten years.

The possibility of less firm control across Britannia in A.D. 68, probably spurred King Venutius to finally act more forcefully against his former wife Cartimandua in Brigantia, discord also having rumbled there for some years prior to A.D. 68. But, as well as fighting against Cartimandua’s loyal followers, at least some of Venutius’ confrontations also included soldiers of the Roman Empire.

Ancient Roman writers like Cornelius Tacitus wrote that Roman soldiers of General Cerialis engaged in pitched battles against the followers of Venutius, King of the Brigantes in Brigantia. The exact dates of these full-on battles are not known but it’s likely they occurred between the years of A.D. 69 and 71 for the following reasons.

Till c. A.D. 68, Queen Cartimandua had had ‘Client Queen’ status with the Roman Empire, a situation which had probably lasted for more than a decade. It’s thought that in exchange for bribes from the Roman Empire, Cartimandua restrained her warriors from attacking encroaching Roman forts and installations in the south of Brigantia during her ‘Client Kingdom’ status. That situation was not to last, though, because having divorced her husband Venutius, Cartimandua found herself fighting against rebel forces across Brigantia led by Venutius. Cornelius Tacitus recorded that the Ancient Roman Army came to Cartimandua’s aid during one such battle against Venutius and she had to be spirited away from the battlefield.

It seems that this unstable political turmoil in Brigantia gave the Roman army a good excuse to intervene on her behalf. However, in approximately A.D. 69, the records for Cartimandua cease, perhaps meaning she died during one of the civil war skirmishes against Venutius, or she was secreted away by the Roman Army for a subsequent time. I’ve read references that she perhaps then spent the remainder of her life in the safety of obscurity; possibly even in Rome itself as it wasn’t unknown for Rome to harbour exiled persons of high status from Britannia.

By c. A.D. 71, King Venutius also fades into obscurity possibly because he was no longer in a position to gather sufficient men to have further pitched battles with Rome. Or maybe it was because the situation in Rome had stabilised under the new Emperor Vespasian who assumed the throne in A.D. 69 after the Roman Empire’s own tumultuous civil war and Venutius cut his losses and disappeared. However, another likely scenario is that Venutius was killed during one of the battles which raged in Brigantia.

There is sufficient archaeological evidence to show that around the A.D. 69-71 period there was a significant expansion in Roman fort building throughout southern and central Brigantia, which was a considerable geographical area. More evidence is being uncovered giving credence to the fact that under General Cerialis that expansion of Roman domination also covered parts of north Brigantia and maybe even into what is now Southern Scotland.

After Whorl: Bran Reborn locations cover rugged Cumbrian hill country; flatter landscapes near Eboracum (York); coastal north-west England (Deva/ Chester); and Shropshire where the fourth largest Roman city in Britain was located (Viroconium Cornoviorum/ Wroxeter).

  • My clan warriors are entirely fictional characters.
  • Garrigill, a village in Cumbria, is an ideal location for a Late Iron Age (Celtic) hillfort.
  • An Ancient Roman temporary camp was sited at the nearby town of Alston.
  • Gnaeus Iulius Agricola, as Commander of the Legio XX (a genuine historical figure who plays a large role later in the series), campaigned in the area c. A.D. 71
  • In Book 1, my Garrigill warriors fight against the legions of General Cerialis and Commander Agricola at a place called Whorl.
  • The village of Whorlton is in County Durham and topographically is an ideal site for a Celtic/Roman battle. 
  • General Q. Petilius Cerialis, the Governor of Britannia and commander of all of the Roman Legions stationed in Britain (also a genuine historical figure) engaged in battles against the Brigantes Federation of tribes in Brigantia in approximately A.D. 71.

  • Brennus, younger brother of main character Lorcan of Garrigill of Book 1 doesn’t come home after the Battle at Whorl and is presumed dead! However, since I really loved creating Brennus, and since he’s such a lovely man, I couldn’t possibly let him die. Brennus becomes the main male character in Books 2 and 3, though lives for some years under the alias of… Bran of Witton.

  • After Whorl: Bran Reborn (Book 2) begins with Meaghan, an elderly healer, ensuring that Brennus survives the battlegrounds of Whorl but it’s a hard-won task. When thrashing around a raging temperature, Brennus imagines himself being cooled down by the cascading waters of the waterfall near the hillfort of Garrigill.

Fact: This image is the authentic waterfall named Ashgill Force near the village of Garrigill.

  • Visibly maimed, Brennus can’t resume duties as tribal champion and instructor of the younger warriors at Garrigill. How could he with part of one hand lopped off, a dragging leg, and having lost the sight of one eye?
  • He lets Meaghan believe his name is Bran, and as Bran he forges out a new life for himself. Brennus’ original sunny personality becomes deeply buried. Bran is dour, bitter and hard to live with! In modern terminology, the man is suffering from something akin to PTSD.
  • Bran dons the mantle of a spy aided by Ineda, Meaghan’s granddaughter. Their spying careers develop with ease but their romantic entanglement is sluggish! And… in the nature of a family saga, there are many pitfalls and highly dangerous encounters with the Roman invaders before a happy ending is eventually reached for both of them…but that doesn’t happen till Book 3 After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks!

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed creating all of my Celtic Fervour Saga characters but I have a real soft spot for my lovely Brennus of Garrigill aka Bran of Witton. I’m hoping that (if you’ve not already read my series) you’ll join the list of other readers who enjoy Brennus’ transformations!

Here are a few useful sites, references used when choosing sites and information to use in my series.

Happy Reading. 


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