Yesterday, I took a lovely coach trip to Inverness, the Capital of the Highlands in Scotland – at least that’s what it’s often unofficially named. My trip wasn’t a social one; it was another type of learning curve for me.
An advert in one of my FaceBook groups, a few weeks ago, about a conference entitled “Moving beyond the Frontier” – the impact and legacy left by the Ancient Roman Empire on the Moray Firth area – was way too good an opportunity for me to pass up on. Readers of this blog who know me, know that I’m a geek when it comes to Roman Scotland history.
It’s a 3 hour drive for me (make that 6 hour return trip) but I chose to go by coach instead. Some might call me a cheapskate, and they might be correct because the Scottish Government have issued me with a special ‘bus pass’ that gives me FREE bus travel throughout Scotland (but I’m not going to tell you how old I am to get that concession). The coach ride was flawless, comfortable, and it meant I wasn’t too tired for the 5 hour duration of the conference.
Inverness is a fine city to visit at any time and has a history of long standing. The earliest settlements are thought to date back to well before the 6th century AD, long before AD 565 when the Pictish King Brude, is said to have had a visit from St. Columba. This was at Brude’s vitrified fort stronghold at Craig Phadrig which was nestled high on the hill above the River Ness. (The hotel in the photo is named after Columba but is on the opposite side of the River Ness)
Another claim to fame about Inverness (‘inver’ means the mouth of the river) is the connection to Shakespeare. But wait! Someone might cry “Isn’t Shakespeare very English rather than Scottish?” The answer would be that Shakespeare used many popular folk tales from all over the known world as the basis of his plays. The Inverness connection is Shakespeare’s tragedy- Macbeth. The story goes this way…In the 11th century AD, the Gaelic King Macbeth killed King Duncan, the local Mormaer of Moray and Ross at his castle on the site of Auld (old) Castlehill in Inverness and deadly dire deeds ensued. (I’ve written about the Mormaers of northeast Scotland in a different post in July 2015)
Inverness is a small city, one of the 7 official cities in Scotland, and its old town can easily be covered by foot. It has many other historic buildings including the present castle on the hill above the river which only dates back to 1836, though there have been many earlier forms of the castle since the 11th century. Inverness Castle is currently not open to the public since it’s the Sheriff Court (Justiciary) …and I, for one, have no wish to be summoned there, even if it is a handsome building.
But, back to my purpose in visiting Inverness. I’m currently writing Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures. The action of my novel moves from my own local area of near Aberdeen to further north, to where Inverness sits on the Moray Firth.
The time is AD 84 and there has just been a huge battle between my Celtic warriors and the legions of the Roman Empire. After the battle, some of the legions’ soldiers march on further north to the Moray Firth.
The focus was on what happened to the local people AFTER the invasion of Romans and that was just as good!
Dr. Fraser Hunter ( I really recommend this video of a TV programme he did a couple of years ago) was an excellent speaker who clarified some niggly things I didn’t quite understand about the Roman occupation of northeast Scotland. The other speakers who gave broad overviews of archaeological illustration and conservation of artefacts were very good, too.
Having snatched a few hours sleep after an exciting day, I’m now still tired but I’m heading off to one of my Craft Fairs to sell more of my books. Later I’ll be ploughing on with that WIP of Book 4 which is taking me ages to write. 😉
Have a lovely weekend!
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