3 July 2016

Guest Post ~ A Pitchfork Rebellion in Dark Age Cornwall, by Mary Anne Yarde


Novella Available on Amazon UK and Amazon US

When the devil wanted to destroy the world he would do so with fire. Alden du Lac knew this for a fact, because the devil had come to Cerniw. Alden may have driven the man who tortured him from his lands, but he can do nothing to drive him from his dreams.

Despite is's obscurity, the Dark Ages is one of the most significant periods in British History. So much happened. The Roman's who had ruled this province from AD 43 until c. 410, up and left. The Anglo-Saxons invaded and they drove the Celtic inhabitants to Scotland, Wales and Cornwall. England, as we know it today, was born during this period. And, of course, this was the time of one of the greatest heroes in English history. Arthur.

Was ever there a myth that captured the imagination quite like the stories of King Arthur and his knights?  I grew up near Glastonbury. There used to be a sign if you entered Glastonbury on the Wells Road that said:


It was magical. It is a magical place where such stories can be believed. Of course, Glastonbury is just one of many places associated with Arthur. Today, I want to take a look at Cornwall. Cornwall has embraced the Arthurian legend and made it her own.

Cornwall was the home of King Mark – the cuckolded king in the legend of Tristan and Isolde. Cornwall is also where you will find Tintagel Castle, which thanks to Geoffrey Monmouth and his great work The History of the Kings Britain, is now associated with King Arthur.

My novella, The Pitchfork Rebellion, is set in the year 496 AD in Cerniw (Cornwall) and part of a series called The Du Lac Chronicles, which is a post-King Arthur, historical fantasy. I spent many hours researching not only the legends of Arthur but also the land that he is associated with. Arthur's story can take you on quite a journey. England, Scotland, Wales and Brittany all claim him as their own. But as I wanted to centre my story around the Saxon King, Cerdic of Wessex, I decided to keep to the South of England - In particular Wessex and Cornwall, with a quick trip across the Channel to Brittany. 

Cornwall has a very interesting past and in the Dark Ages, she is very much her own kingdom, separated from the rest of Britain, not only by her language, Cornish, but by an independent spirit that refused to bow down to imposed authority. Regardless of where the threat was coming from, she wasn't going down without a fight. For an example let’s look what happened when the Roman’s came. The Roman occupation of Cornwall is very intriguing. It has been suggested that the Roman's stopped at Devon. There are a few milestone and evidence of Roman occupation in Cornwall, but not on the scale of the rest of the county. But it doesn't stop there. Cornwall was the last kingdom in the South to hold out against the Saxon's as well. 

Why? What made Cornwall different?

There are many reasons, but I think trade had a lot to do with it. The Cornish could be independent because they knew what they were doing when it came to commerce. They had trade agreements with Brittany, Wales and Ireland. Cornwall had something everyone wanted. Tin. The history of mining for tin goes way back, and one thing they were good at was mining for it. Silver has also been found in Cornwall. The land is rich with treasure for those who know where to look. And trade means money, and money means they could afford the arms to defend their kingdom.

Cornwall did eventually fall under the control of Dumnonii (Devon), possibly due to a plague that hit during this time. But Dumnonii had an ambitious neighbour, and it was only a matter of time before they too bowed down to the Saxon aggressor.

I am fascinated by the Saxon invasion, in particular, Cerdic of Wessex and his journey to being crowned High King. While other kingdoms fell by the wayside and became incorporated into the Wessex realm, Cornwell held her ground. Cerdic landed in Hampshire in c.495. By 419, Cerdic had conquered the south of England, with the exception of Cornwall. It wasn't until the Battle of Hingston Down, in 838, when Cornwall lost her independence to Wessex – they repelled the Saxons for over 400 years. Now, that is impressive.

What bravery, what spirit this little kingdom had. The stories of Hadrian's Wall and Scottish rebellion is renowned, but we forget about Cornwall. I wanted to incorporate this spirit of independence into my story. They would not be ruled.

In The Pitchfork Rebellion, Alden du Lac, son of Lancelot, has just won his kingdom, Cerniw, back from Cerdic of Wessex and now he has to take stock, bring his country back together under his leadership, and rebuild a stronger and greater kingdom that could stand against another invasion. But things are never easy, and Alden faces many challenges from both home and abroad before he can settle back into leadership. I hope I have brought to the attention this great nation, which wasn't afraid to take a stand against what it believed in. Cornwall is the epitome of the word – Freedom!

The next book in the series, The Du Lac Devil, is due out later this year. I will be taking my readers across the sea and back to Brittany, where things are never what they seem.

Mary Anne Yarde
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About the Author

Mary Anne Yarde grew up in the southwest of England, surrounded and influenced by centuries of history and mythology. Glastonbury—the fabled Isle of Avalon—was a mere fifteen-minute drive from her home, and tales of King Arthur and his knights were part of her childhood. At nineteen, she married her childhood sweetheart and began a bachelor of arts in history at Cardiff University, only to have her studies interrupted by the arrival of her first child. She would later return to higher education, studying equine science at Warwickshire College. Horses and history remain two of her major passions. Mary Anne Yarde keeps busy raising four children and helping run a successful family business. She has many skills but has never mastered cooking—so if you ever drop by, she (and her family) would appreciate some tasty treats or a meal out! Find our more at http://www.maryanneyarde.blogspot.co.uk/ and find her on Twitter @maryanneyarde.

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