Research? Or sheer indulgence?


This post is by Nancy Jardine.

Tomorrow, I’m embarking on a journey part of which was roughly trod by the Ancient Roman Armies of General Agricola in AD 83/84, and of the Roman Emperor Severus in AD 210, when they came to explore my part of north-east Scotland.

inverurie to kyle of lochalsh

The route shown on the map follows the current rail line from Aberdeen on the east coast of Scotland to Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast. I’ll be making a return journey by train from Inverurie all the way to Kyle of Lochalsh—though how far the Ancient Romans marched beyond Inverness is still anyone’s guess.

Archaeologists have confirmed evidence of Ancient Roman Marching Camps at regular intervals from Aberdeen to Inverness. These camps lie roughly along the same route as the railway, some being only a few miles from the rail lines. Between Inverurie and about 16 miles south of Elgin (the angle change on the map above) the camps were large enough to shelter upwards of 20,000 men. After that ‘angle change’ (Camps of Muiryfold and Auchinhove) the Roman camp sizes get smaller, meaning they sheltered fewer and fewer Roman soldiers, as they progressed along the coast of the Moray Firth towards Inverness. Why they got smaller is open to conjecture and I’m having a lot of fun writing my version of the advances of Agricola’s forces in Book 4 of my Celtic Fervour Series of historical adventures.

CFS wordsCurrent archaeological digs are underway to find out if there’s any evidence of further Roman Camps beyond Inverness and I’m very keen to hear the updates of these because it might be important when I eventually get around to writing Book 5!



I’ve driven the same route to Inverness and beyond many times, since the main trunk road (A 96) also roughly follows the rail lines, but naturally I’ve not been able to appreciate the landscape in the way that I hope to do tomorrow. From the comfort of the train, I’m really looking forward to seeing the terrain in a more detailed way and doing a bit of imagining of what it was like some 2000 years ago – during the eras of my historical novels. Now, you might be asking yourself -Why isn’t she just taking the train to Inverness? Why go all the way to the west coast?

SRPS Maroon Mark 1 coaches

Tomorrow’s train journey isn’t on just a regular service train. I’ll be journeying in a vintage railway carriage that’s probably almost as old as I am!

In Scotland, like many other countries, we have many heritage societies. One of them is the Scottish Railway Preservation Society. This was formed in 1961 at a time when many rural railway services were being axed by the government and the enthusiasts who formed the society were determined to preserve as much of Scottish railway history as they could. By the mid-1970s, my husband and I were enjoying the society’s special tours all over Scotland, some of which were steam hauled on shorter routes and some by diesel engines for longer treks.

Tomorrow’s special tour will use a restored diesel engine and the restored carriages will be Maroon Mark 1 stock, which were probably built in the 1950s. The return journey is expected to take approximately 12 hours with a stop at Kyle of Lochalsh of 1 ½ hours. Just enough time to stretch our legs and have a wee wander, though it might include a coffee stop since the inevitable Scottish rain is forecast for the west coast!  I’m looking forward to having an elegant lunch and dinner on the train as we ply forth and back along the spectacular Kyle Line – named as ‘One of the Great Railway Journeys of the World’ passing moorlands, mountains, rivers and lochs.

More about SRPS HERE if you’d like to see some more images.

I’ll also be having a wee read since I’ve just stocked up my kindle with new books. My publisher, Crooked Cat, has a SUMMER SALE going on this weekend (7-10th July) All Crooked Cat ebooks are 99c/99p across the Amazon network  – including my own, so if you fancy reading about the Romans who trod that pathway noted above, you can get my Celtic Fervour Series for less than $3! Or if you’d like to try my stand alone mysteries you can get them for the same price if you’re really quick! Just click the link HERE to reach my amazon page or type in Crooked Cat on Amazon to choose from around 150 multi-genre titles.

all cc books

Have you ever taken a rail journey like the one above – for pleasure and more? 

Whatever your weekend is like- happy reading!

Nancy Jardine also writes time travel historical for Middle Grade so if you know any good readers of approximately 10 years and above they can enjoy an ebook version of The Taexali Game for only $1.99!


Nancy finds all historical eras totally fascinating: research a delightful procrastination! Her week is taken up with grandchild-minding, gardening, reading, writing and blogging. Catching up with historical programmes or TV series and watching the news is a luxury – as are social events with friends and family but she does a creative job to squeeze them in.   Twitter @nansjar  Facebook: and (for The Rubidium time Travel Novels.) email:

Amazon Author page for books and to view book trailer videos:

Most novels are available in print and ebook formats from Amazon, Barnes and Noble; NOOK; KOBO; W. H.;; Smashwords; TESCO Blinkboxbooks; and various other ebook stores.










17 thoughts on “Research? Or sheer indulgence?

  1. Nancy,

    What a wonderful experience this will be. Love train travel, even though I get motion sickness. I wonder if the topographic details have changed since that time long ago. I also look forward to what the archeologist find. Let us know.

    All I can say is, thank goodness for historic societies. They are saving the stories and equipment/houses that are part of who we are. Also, I’ll have to get the rest of the series for future reading. Thank you. Doris


    1. Thank you, Doris! I travel well on all transport though it often makes me a ‘dozy head’. The landscape probably hasn’t changed all that much except for areas of forestation that’s man-planted during the last couple of centuries, and maybe the course of rivers which might have made slightly different meanders. In general the countryside is flat or gently rolling hills. I’m hoping to see enough detail since I don’t expect the train will be travelling all that fast.


  2. Sounds like a great adventure! I haven’t traveled on a train since about 1960! I was a student nurse, traveling about 200 miles to spend a weekend with a friend. Felt very grown-up and on an adventure. Do love riding a train. And you will be imagining scenes of adventure while you travel I’m betting. I just purchased The Beltane Choice so will experience some of your imagination too.


    1. That’s great! – Thank you, Neva. You’ll find that TBC is set in the borders between what is now Scotland and England- a different sort of rugged landscape to that north of Inverness but equally as interesting as the areas I’m travelling to.


    1. Mike- I cringe when I see something described as vintage, as in from the 1950s onwards… We’re just spring chickens when all is said and done! 😉 I’m looking forward to having no internet and just enjoying the scenery!


    1. Thanks, Abbie. I’m back now and it was a great trip- and the rain was sort of ‘warmish’ so not a bother, except that my photos are a bit murky.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. How exciting for you, Nancy! I love hearing about your travels!! I’ve never ridden a train, at least not for a long distance, but both my parents have in decades past and they each enjoyed their adventures. One day I’d like to give train travel a try. I hope your trip was rewarding!


    1. It was fun, Kate, educational and above all relaxing. Once on the train you just sit and watch the scenery and …read!


  4. I love trains and your trip sounds fun! I’ve only been on short train rides from Orange County to downtown L.A. when I was little. I hope you had a great time and got lots of reading and research done!


    1. It’s amazingly easy to just sit back and enjoy the ride, Sarah. I’ve now written 2 reviews of the books I read on the train. One was a short novella and I finsihed it, the other was one I’d already read most of and I finished that, too. And that was after the rain started to obscure the view! I love long train or coach rides but I do need to be ‘doing’ something as well.


  5. I would give anything to have joined you on that trip! I love train travel and to have a whole collection of books to read would just make it completely perfect.


  6. Nancy, I think you have a Nomad’s spirit. You get to go to so many interesting places. Last year was the first time I spend very much time on a train. Maybe a little too much. We were getting tired of riding by the time we got back, but we got to see many Eagles in their natural habitat. We really enjoyed it. Cher’ley


  7. A few years after we moved to West Virginia we took a scenic train ride called the Eagle Train. It meanders through the countryside and along a river. Just a year later Hubby and a friend canoed the river and I joined them the following year. The lure of Bald Eagles nesting in the area lured us back there several times.

    My brother in law is a train buff and we took a family vacation to Cass West Virginia a few years ago. We rode the famous( well, famous in these parts) Cass Scenic railroad, stayed in rustic cabins and explored the countryside.


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