Coming Soon to Paperback

Very excited to let you all know that The Northumbrian Saga will soon be available in paperback form through Amazon.com I really wanted this to have been finished last November in time for the 1150th Anniversary of the first recorded … Continue reading

I’m still here! A quick update on my absense

Hi everyone.

It has been too long since I have been on here talking to you all. I wish I could say that I am back with many more posts and a new book, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. Since we last saw each other a lot has happened, more than I thought would happen. To keep a very long story short, I had to leave my day job as a contractor in the mining industry as work began to dry up, which led me to sadly selling my house and understandably trying to deal with a lot of stress and emotional turmoil. on top of that I have also unfortunately lost a much loved cousin at the beginning of the year. He died at an early age to cancer, his second battle with this horrible disease.

On a brighter note however, I have since moved to the country near to where I grew up, first moving in with a very good friend and her family, and now into a rental by myself… and my dog! Yes, I now have a little cavoodle called Pepper who keeps me company and I don’t know what I would do without her. I was never able to have her before when I was working such unreliable shifts away from home for extended periods of time. Now that I have left my job I have that stability. I have also decided to work for myself as well which is taking up all my time at the moment. Needless to say I have been a very busy person.

But what does that mean for my writing and The Northumbrian Saga which is supposed to be a series?

All I can say is that I have not given up! I still think of my writing all the time and I am hopeful that once I have set myself up a little more, I can get back into it. I have no timeline, I cant even tell you it will be sooner rather than later. I can only say that iI really want to get back to it soon, time willing!

I hope you are all well in your own lives. Every now and then I visit this site and I know you guys are still visiting which I really appreciate. I’m glad that even though I am unable to post as much as I once did, some of you are still finding something of use on here.

All the best of health and happiness to you all. Until I write again, hopefully with some better news!

A H Gray

Historical Figure Profile: Eadwulf of Bamburgh

The Northumbrian Saga follows the life of Aethelwin, a fictional niece of King Osbert of Northumbria and Aelle the usurper of the Northumbrian throne. Whilst these two men were real figures in Northumbrian history, there is one more member of … Continue reading

Hamwic, Anglo-Saxon predecessor of Southampton

Today, Southampton is a modern port city of a quarter of a million inhabitants. Before the mid 9th century however, Southampton did not exist. Originally, a Roman fort often called Clausentum lay on the east side of the Itchen. After … Continue reading

Wic wic is wich? The Anglo-Saxon trading settlement

The most prominent type of settlement associated with trading activities in the Anglo-saxon period was the Wic, an Anglo-Saxon loan word from the Latin Vicus meaning a dwelling, farm, hamlet, or subsidiary settlements. The Wics were communities very similar to those found in rural areas with the distinction of servicing trade and industry.

Most communities began as self sufficient, growing enough food to feed only themselves, making cloth only for themselves, making tools and weapons only for themselves. Once society began moving towards a more organised and structured way of life where tasks could be shared amongst a few, a surplus could be created. This surplus, whether in food or other desirable materials, could then be traded with neighbours for something that your community might not be able to produce.

Some communities became well known for a specific commodity or craftsmanship and people would travel further afield to acquire this resource. With more people coming into this one centre for a particular commodity some clever people realised that it would make sense to try and sell their wares at this centre also. Wic’s then were centres of trade and industry which were known locations where people either came to sell their produce, or came because that town was the centre for a specialised commodity (such as honey or a particular cheese or ale) or because there was a high concentration of tradesmen there (metalworking, boneworking, woodworking, textile production, leatherworking, pottery).

The centres that did best were also located along rivers, seaports or at a crossroads. Some famous examples are Hamwic (Southampton), Ipswich, London (Lundenwic) and of course York (Eorforwic). Notice how they all have wic/wich at the end of their Anglo-saxon names?

Trade

As part of my plans of outlining aspects of early medieval life I was going to write a post on Trade. In The Northumbrian Saga, Leodgar and Aethelwin are both traders of Anglo-Saxon Northumbria and with the invasion of the Vikings comes a whole new orbit of trade and trade partners, including Thorstein. As usual I ended up with more information than I knew what to do with and when I re-read my notes that I had made from the amazing Regia Anglorum site, I realised that I would be saying pretty much the same thing. So instead of plagiarising and copying word for word what has already been written, I have added a short extract with a link for further information. It really is a great site so check it out.

In the early middle ages, as in other periods of history, trade was an important part of life. If a farmer had a surplus of livestock or produce, he would take it to the nearest market and exchange it for any one of the many things that would be needed around the farm: iron, salt, lead, hone and building stone, wine, fish, flax, antler, etc.. Common sense shows us that many commodities were unavailable on the ‘average’ estate, whether it was in Britain, Ireland or Scandinavia. Some of these things could only be found in a few areas. A class of professionals soon appeared who would carry these commodities from their place of origin to the markets – the merchants.

Some of the commodities traded in the early middle ages did not have to travel far, for example fish. Most had to make a longer journey, such as the iron mined in Kent and the Forest of Dean, the lead mined in Bristol, or the salt obtained from pans in Droitwich and Cheshire. More ‘exotic’ items came from overseas, including quern-stones from the Rhineland that have been found in York…

For more of this article, go here.

Lindisfarne, Holy island of the north: Part 2

Welcome to Part two of the history of Lindisfarne. If you have missed the first part in which Lindisfarne was founded and became a religious, cultural and scholarly mecca, you can read the article here. Unfortunately for Lindisfarne, its rise … Continue reading