I have a special guest today, my friend Nancy Jardine. She’s just released a new book and she’s here to tell us all about it. Nancy?
Hello. I’m delighted to visit today just after the launch of After Whorl: Donning Double Cloaks (25th March 2014), the 3rd book in my Celtic Fervour Series of Historical Romantic Adventures. I’ve been blogging about lots of different topics on my mini blog launch tour but haven’t yet talked about something that seems to inspire a lot of interest and that’s ‘Men in Uniform’. Romance readers know the uniform can cover up a lot of sins but can also be a huge enhancement to an already hunky guy.
In my historical romantic adventures, set in Britannia of AD 71 -84, I have two main sorts of men. I’m writing about the strapping Celtic warriors and their opponents on the field – the Roman legionary and auxiliary soldiers.
What would my Celtic warrior uniform look like? Oh, now that’s very easy to describe since they didn’t have one! The Roman and Greek historians who left us some written evidence about the warriors of Celtic tribes – especially in mainland Europe – claim that going naked into battle was the preferred style. If you count the tattooing that was said to be common, some might just say the warriors were unclothed but well adorned. Ahem…
My Celtic warriors in the series live in what would be called modern day northern England and Scotland. I’m Scottish myself and know what our weather is like, so I truly can’t quite imagine the warriors presenting themselves for battle as naked as the day they were born- that image draws forth far too many cold bits and …goose bumps! What I imagine as being more common for the northern reaches of Britannia back in AD 71-84 would be partial dress. The normal clothing for Celtic males was a pair of loose trousers, braccae, which were simply held up at the waist with a rope belt and tied in tight at the calves with leather thongs which would have prevented ‘flapping’ of the cloth. The loose tunics they usually wore above- a simply joined rectangle of material- would maybe have been left off in battle. Trousers – yes; tunic– no; long sword- definitely and shield too!
My Roman tribune, on the other hand, would have worn uniform every day. The ceremonial aspects to the tribune’s uniform would perhaps have only been worn at specific times but it is a recorded fact that legionary and auxiliary soldiers always wore their uniform and had to be responsible for the upkeep of it. Loss of any parts, or damage to anything clothing, meant replacement by the individual soldier. If a Roman soldier had to buy a new piece of uniform or kit then it was deducted from their annual salary. It’s easy to see how daunting and hugely impressive a legion of soldiers (4000+) marching towards you must have been. Their shiny breastplates might have dazzled or deafened, and the rest of their gear would have looked awesome.
Book 3 continues the tales of: Celtic warrior Brennus, who turns spy to gain information about Roman infiltration of the northern lands; and Ineda, a young Celtic woman who is taken as a slave by Gaius Livanus Valerius, a Roman tribune of the
XX Legion. Whether Ineda likes or hates, Gaius she is impressed by his appearance when he is in uniform. When she is forced to spend a long time at the garrison fortresses of Viroconium Cornoviorum and Deva, she learns very quickly to interpret the rank of the Roman soldiers by the uniform. It’s probably no surprise that she’d much rather be surrounded by half- naked Celts!
Nancy Jardine lives in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, in an area that’s steeped in ancient standing stones, tombs, ruined castles and fantastic Scots Baronial architecture. A lover of all things Scottish, her homeland creeps into her writing as does her fascination with history- Celtic/ Roman Britain in particular- though keeping herself updated is a constant battle, since history is being rewritten almost every week as new archaeological discoveries are made. Writing time is shared with regular grandchild minding duties, tending her large garden, ancestry research and leisure reading. She is currently writing a family saga based mainly in Scotland, and Book 4 of her Celtic Fervour series. Topaz Eyes (Crooked Cat Publishing) an ancestral-based mystery, is a finalist for THE PEOPLE’S BOOK PRIZE Fiction 2014. After Whorl: Bran Reborn – Book 2 of her Celtic Fervour Series (Crooked Cat Publishing) has been accepted for THE WALTER SCOTT PRIZE FOR HISTORICAL FICTION 2014
Pursued by Rome.
AD73 Northern Britannia
After King Venutius’ defeat, Brennus of Garrigill – known as Bran – maintains a spy network monitoring Roman activity in Brigantia. Relative peace reigns till AD 78 when Roman Governor Agricola marches his legions to the far north. Brennus is always one step ahead of the Roman Army as he seeks the Caledon Celt who will lead all tribes in battle against Rome.
Ineda of Marske treks northwards with her master, Tribune Valerius, who is responsible for supplying Agricola’s northern campaigns. At Inchtuthil Roman Fort Ineda flees seeking fellow Brigantes congregating on the foothills of Beinn na Ciche.
Will the battle against the Romans bring Ineda and Brennus together again?
Gaius was furious, the urge to lash out with his fists immense. A fight with Agricola would go a long way to improve his temper as he barged into his tented quarters.
“We are breaking off from the main legion.”
Ineda gaped at him, curiosity rising in her gaze as he stripped off his breastplate and let it slip with a noisy clank to the ground, not his usual practice since he was extremely careful of his armour. Shrugging and writhing his shoulders to free them from the weight of the metal he strutted around the small space inside the tent as he yanked off his tunic, the smell of his own sweat strong at his nostrils. The day had been long and difficult, his tension at odds the whole time. He balled the garment in his hands. Dropping it would be too easy, so instead he sent it sailing onto the leather door flap where it made contact with a resounding smack before slithering to the ground. He wanted to rant but knew that a poor choice since it would awaken Dubv whose small cot was behind a low partition at the side of the tent.
Ineda went to the small bed and tucked the blanket around Dubv. She did not even attempt to lift his discarded uniform and only looked a tiny bit wary as he strutted around the restricted interior. She knew well how to avoid confrontation with him; though he guessed she was probably itching to know what was angering him so much. She always wanted to know everything. Her eventual words were soft into the heavy silence, treading as warily as her eyes.
It was rare that Gaius felt so angry he could not speak. Agricola had often made changes to plans which had disappointed and annoyed him but they had never made him livid like those he had just received.
“You are returning to Eboracum?”
“No, Ineda. Not Eboracum. Agricola has decided that I need to remain at the old fortress near Easg when the column arrives there on the morrow.”
You can read about Nancy’s first century Celts and Romans in her Celtic Fervour Series.
I know I’m intrigued. I can only imagine the research involved. Thanks for sharing your new book and your men in uniform with us, Nancy!
Nancy Jardine’s novels can be found in paperback and ebook formats from: Amazon UK author page Amazon US author page Crooked Cat Bookstore; Waterstones; Barnes & Noble; Smashwords; W. H. Smith; and other book retailers.
Nancy can be found at the following places: Blog, Website, Facebook, Goodreads, About Me, LinkedIn, Twitter @nansjar, & Google+ So get out there and check it out!