Sounds like the game Clue, but is more of a riddle than a who-done-it.
I have posited that a 19 year old Aldred is reading the Old English Consolation of Philosophy, a translation of Boethius’ treatise attributed to King Alfred, while sitting at or near the Battle of Brunanburh in 937, a battle I am choosing to locate in Lancashire, north of the Ribble Estuary following Tim Clarkson’s suggestive lead. This places the battle in proximity to Cumbrian sites where Aldred might be.
Earlier I accidentally confused Heversham, the monastery at the eastern end of Morecambe Bay–that Abbot Tilred (Aldred’s uncle in my story) managed until he fled to Northumbria with Aldred’s parents–and Heysham, the monastery on the southern side of Morecambe Bay.
Heysham, which I neglected to visit last summer despite the urgings of Dan Elsworth, has tenth century artifacts and a prominent site on a headland (see also this blogspot on Cumbrian churches). [I may get there next summer when I am in Leeds, Dan.]
So I have started writing my story with Aldred at Heysham, having traveled there on a book pilgrimage through various and sundry Cumbrian church sites. He finds it abandoned and picks up the Old English Boethius tucked away in a cupboard, but meanwhile he has encountered a cousin who is with the Strathclyde fyrd preparing to join forces with Constantine and Anlaf for the Battle known as Brunanburh. Aldred is “held” by his cousin for safekeeping and thus finds himself at the battle site reading Boethius. I may have him later taken by Athelstan during which his possession of the Boethius translated by the Wessex King’s grandfather Alfred plays a role in his release.
Anyway, I am running into some practical issues and need advice. Two so far:
Aldred’s cousin’s name. I am positing that Aldred’s father Alfred, son of Brihtwulf, had a sister named Byrhtgifu who married a Cumbrian warrior from north of Carlisle, and thus associated with the Scots power of Constantine. Is the name Donnel, son of Owen (and Byrhtgifu), a likely enough name without actually identifying him with a known character?
View from Heysham. The church was positioned on a headland, so would someone standing on the cliff be able to see ships in Morecambe Bay? I am having Anlaf land somewhere there. Google Earth panorama doesn’t give me much in the way of a 360 degree view to know whether they would be able to see ships or the movement of a large warband along roads. I am guessing 20 miles as the crow flies from Heysham southwest to the putative site of the battle.
Any thoughts from those on the ground?