Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Getting Started

'But, for the time being, here we all are,/Back in the moderate Aristotelian city/of darning and the eight-fifteen, where Euclid's geometry/and Newton's mechanics would account for our experience,/and the kitchen table exists because I scrub it. . .The Time Being is, in a sense, the most trying time of all.' (W.H. Auden, 'For the Time Being')

My agent has advised me that writing a blog would help to sell my books.  I am sceptical, but suppose that it wouldn't hurt to blether on for a little while once a week or so.

Here I am, then, at the new year, soaking wet at Ravenglass Roman Bathhouse, having walked across the moor in the rain.  Ravenglass, for those who don't know it, is on the Irish Sea, on the western edge of the Lake District.  The Romans built a string of forts down the coast from Hadrian's Wall, presumably to defend against raids by the barbarian Irish.  Ravenglass fort is nothing but ditches and mounds in a green field, but the bathhouse stands, as you can see, taller than head-height.  It owes its preservation to being used as a barn (I think) throughout the Middle Ages.  (Many of the best preserved Greek and Roman ruins are intact because of similar degradations.)  I imagine the Roman auxiliaries shedding their armour with a sigh of relief as they made their way into the steam room; alas, I had another trudge and a train ride before a chance to get warm again.

I've written two books set in Roman Britain, mostly near the Wall, so the promise of Roman fortifications does unfailingly drag me out of my way, even in the rain.  At present, though, I'm struggling with the 17th C.  I don't have any immediate intention of revisiting the period, but the old stones still make my heart beat faster.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Gillian. I for one am glad your agent encouraged you to write a blog! I am an aspiring historical novelist and found this site because of the absolute write water cooler. I just purchased Island of Ghosts and am looking forward to reading it.