Scorched earth!

ccnancyjardineThis post is by Nancy Jardine

I’ve just spent the whole day yesterday at a Facebook launch event for The Taexali Game, my Teen/YA Time Travel Adventure. It was an extremely pleasant and successful day with lots of lovely friends turning up to say hi! By the end of the day my smile was huge- the book was hitting really high ranks on Amazon UK. (Apologies for the time difference with the US and Canada which makes participation on both sides of the pond difficult)

Severus from BBC co uk
Emperor Severus (in the public domain)

The Taexali Game whisks 3 teens back in time to AD 210, in north- east Scotland, during an era when the Ancient Roman Emperor Severus marched approximately 30 thousand soldiers in his legions all the way up Britain. He wasn’t the first Roman commander to do this but he was the last, as far as archaeologists can tell. The northern reaches of ‘Scotland’ were the furthermost western areas of the Roman Empire and those Celts of north Scotland had never properly been subdued. The Caledon and Taexali Celts had never had a constant Roman presence on their lands and they had not become ‘clones’ of Rome- in the way that the peoples of southern Britain had been forced to become.

The policy of the Emperor Severus during that military campaign of AD 208-211 has been disputed for many years but some recent archaeologists have really been challenging the earlier deductions. Shortly before AD 208, the Roman Governor of Britannia who was based in southern ‘England’ had been successfully challenged too many times by those wayward northern Celts who lived well to the north of the Antonine Wall – built to separate the central belt of Scotland and the land north of it. The Governor complained to the Emperor. Severus decided to come to Britannia himself and pay those Celts a lesson – one they’d not forget! (He had other reasons for coming but that’s for another blog post elsewhere).

What the recent archaeological finds are alluding to, and I favour this theory, is that Severus didn’t just want to ‘tame’ the Taexali Celts but he wanted to completely annihilate them. He wanted to wipe them off the Empirical Map.

His ‘scorched earth’ policy was pretty effective by all accounts – and it’s a strategy that’s sadly been employed by aggressors during the almost two thousand years since then. Final Nancy Jardine x 488The Taexali and Caledon Celts were in general terms men of the land – farmers who only took up arms when threatened. If the land itself is razed and all crop stores are destroyed, including the seed needed for the next years new season crop, then starvation results pretty drastically. Do that for two years running, back when trade tended to be extremely minimal between rural areas, and the result is a land depopulated and laid waste. That seems to have been what Severus was intending – according to some recent interpretations backed up by new archaeological techniques on soil traces.

This is quite a serious concept for a Teen/YA novel but it was one which was at the back of my mind when I wrote The Taexali Game. I tried hard to get across the depth of devastation that Severus wreaked yet didn’t want to destroy the image of the resilient nature of the local Taexali Celts in my story. Depressing my younger readers wasn’t my aim – though perhaps educating was. If you set an army of thirty thousand men to destroy the land, a small Celtic settlement of even two hundred inhabitants aren’t going to make much resistant impact in small skirmishes. Scattering to the hills for cover is a much more pragmatic scenario – the most likely way for small groups of Celts to survive and live on to eventually restore the land. You’d have to read the book to tell if I’ve been successful in my aims.


It doesn’t actually take much effort to destroy land if you’re dead set on doing so. A timely parallel might be my own garden.

Yesterday morning as the Facebook event was warming up one side of my driveway looked like this.

A bit overgrown because the devastating outcome on  my driveway was predictable. Of course, some might say that could also be a euphemism for me being too lazy to trim my shrubs this year!

By five pm it looked like this and that only took 2 men; an electric chain saw; a mechanical digger and a pick up truck to remove the debris.


You’re right to say the Romans had no electrical machinery or gas driven vehicles. What they did have were very sharp axes and other cutting tools, a gladius, a sharp pugio (medium sized dagger/knive) and man power in thousands.

If the job on my driveway border has been done properly then nothing will grow again. That’s nearly my intention but not quite. The new house being built by my daughter and S-I-L on what was the back of my property is almost completed and we needed to make our shared driveway one of low maintenance since more cars might potentially be using it. We’ll plant shrubs…but only in large planters!

Writing can be a bit like that clear out. Sometimes a good rake out and restyling is necessary!

If you’re interested in learning more about the novel, or the Rubidium Time Travel Series, please click the link to like the dedicated Facebook page: Facebook Rubidium Time Travel series

Nancy Jardine writes historical romantic adventures; contemporary romantic mysteries and time travel adventure for the Teen/YA market.


THE TAEXALI GAME is available from Amazon outlets in print and ebook formats. It’s still ONLY $1.50/ 99P till  25th May, during launch weekend.

Amazon US
Amazon UK
Amazon Author Page

You can find Nancy Jardine at herBlog  Website  Facebook
Twitter: @nansjar  Pinterest LinkedIn Goodreads
Google+ and other places…


19 thoughts on “Scorched earth!

  1. Nancy,
    I was so bummed I had to work all day yesterday and miss the fun. But I followed along with the posts after I returned home late. I love the concept of this book and think it is a great way to get young people interested in their history. Thanks Doris


  2. I’m not normally a fan of historical fiction, but I am interested in this book. I’m also interested in knowing exactly how you did a Facebook launch party. That sounds like a neat tool.


  3. Hey, Nancy, those shrugs sure look like they could hide a few legionnaires. Lol. Yep, scorched earth has been a strategy of conquerors and empires all the way back to the times of the Old Testament — as well as carrying off the ruling and nobility classes into captivity. During the American Civil War (in 1864), U.S. Grant, commander of Union forces, instructed General Phil Sheridan to eat out Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley so that “crows flying over it will have to carry their own provender.” He burned crops, barns and houses.


    1. Hi Mike- you’re right. Take away the livelihood and what’s left? Negotiations- which did seem to be what happened between the tribes and Rome – to a limited extent – if accounts are to be believed.


  4. Interesting. Seems strange that someone would want to destroy a whole clan, but I know it happens. Thanks for sharing and I hope you launch party went well. I haven’t been on the computer much this week and I missed it. Sorry. Cher’ley


    1. No problem, Cher’ley. It went well, thank you. I made it more of a ‘pop-in event’ and less of a party. 🙂


  5. Good luck with the book, Nancy. Looks like it’s well on it’s way to success. Such an novel plot and the promise of intrigue, kids, time-travel, history, and mystery. Can’t wait to read it! Really enjoyed the post!


    1. Updates to come Abbie about the book and the driveway! Expect ot see some lovely shrubs in pots- at least that’s the plan!


  6. Quite an analogy about destroying a people and destroying the foliage on your driveway! I have trouble destroying anthing, which of course includes bad writing on my part! Your book sounds fascinating and I am very impressed. Congratulations and I wish you great success. Sounds like you will have it.


  7. I, too, congratulate you on your launch, Nancy! A great concept for youth, time travel, and good way to teach them history without them “realizing” they are learning! LOL Continued best wishes to you in your writing and “landscaping!”


  8. Congrats on the book launch, glad it went well. The driveway looks great, now if you could just send those guys over here to take care of my backyard that would be great.


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