Monday, August 28, 2017

Blog Tour: The Bones of Our Fathers by Elin Gregory. Includes Guest Post & Giveaway

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We are thrilled to welcome Elin Gregory to Sinfully today as she celebrates the release of her latest book The Bones of Our Fathers. Go check it out and don’t forget to enter the giveaway.

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Historical overload Рhow we get blas̩

When I'm at work at the museum, every so often someone says to me "You really live in beautiful country" and I agree. This is the most gorgeous place to live, even if it is a bit of a backwater. More rarely someone says, "Hang on – the castle is built on the site of a Roman fort? How cool is that?" and I'm reminded to look a little deeper, beyond the surface beauty of the town, nestled alongside the river surrounded by hills. This is what you might call an 'old' landscape and we have evidence to show that it has been inhabited for eleven thousand years, though there may have been people here long before that who left no trace.
Check out the numbers on the map. Apologies for their density. A lot has happened over the years.
1. Mesolithic flints approx. 11,000 years old

2. Neolithic pottery maybe 6,000 years old

3. Ancient trackways tended to contour along the sides of hills avoiding the windy heights and the boggy bottoms, nobody knows how old these are but they were probably used by Mesolithic hunters following animal tracks

4. Celtic field systems that only show up in low sunlight or in melting snow, anything from 4,000 years old to early medieval. Each little plot was cultivated by one family. It was a system that worked well so it endured for millennia.

5. One perfect Bronze Age flint arrowhead [3,000 years old] was found here during building work

6. Probably a hill fort, but only a little one. Probably Iron Age. We don't know – yet. But say 2,500 years old

7. Roman fort, approx. 70CE. This one was manned by auxiliary cavalrymen. We have bits of their mail armour and horse harness in the museum.

8. Roman burial ground, 70CE – approx. 200CE

9. Roman roads – we have evidence for several. Built from 70CE onwards, many are still under the asphalt of our modern roads.

10. After the Romans left the people seem to have avoided the fort and moved to villages some distance away but alongside the Roman roads. The fort fell to ruins.

11. The first castle – a Motte and Bailey type with wooden buildings. We have been able to date it to 1083 CE because the owner was minting coins and we have the first evidence of the name of the place – the coin is proudly marked "Fani". My daughter claims it's also the first evidence for the town being at the arse end of nowhere.

12. St John's Church founded c 1090

13. St Mary's Priory founded c 1120 by a man who became the lover of an Empress.

14. In 1175 a massacre took place at the castle when the Norman baron invited Welsh lords to dinner and killed them all.

15. In 1349 the town was struck hard by the Black Death, losing a 3rd of the population. We think this is the burial ground.

16. The execution site just outside castle. In 1401 an armed insurrection took place when 3 local men were due to be hanged. Longbow men killed the Constable of the castle and freed the prisoners.

17. In 1402 Wales was in the midst of Owain Glyndwr's armed uprising against English rule. Sympathisers let his Welsh soldiers in through a postern gate at the end of this road which is marked as Traitor's Lane on the old maps.

18. By the 16th century, nobody wanted castles so ours was in ruins. The owner, George Neville had other things on his mind – "in 1506 he fell into serious trouble for keeping an illegal private army, being fined the immense amount of 100,000 pounds and subjected to a travel ban." I think he was lucky to keep his head. FYI I tried to work out the equivalent of that £100,000 in today's money and the sum is just ridiculous. Just add 2 cell phone numbers together and you might be close.

19. During the Civil War, King Charles I visited the town on either 18 or 19th July 1645 and ordered the castle to be destroyed – slighted – to deny its use to the enemy. The enemy didn't care, took it back and re-manned it.

20. During the 17th century there was a lot of religious intolerance. Officially the country was Protestant, but the town had always had a very strong faith in Roman Catholicism. It was dangerous to be a Catholic so people worshipped in secret. One of the places was a concealed chapel in the attic of Gunter Mansion where services were conducted by Fr David Lewis.

21. Now a mobile phone shop, this building used to be the Lion Inn. Fr David Lewis was imprisoned here before his trial and execution in 1679

22. Non-conformist chapel built in 1692 – one of first in Wales .

23. In the 18th century the Industrial Revolution roared into being. Although this is an agricultural area it had good road links and a navigable river, later a canal. There was also a pony powered tramway that took coal and iron across country from the Welsh Valleys to the Midlands. Here is where it crossed the river.

24. In the 1840s the railways expanded all across the country, replacing the pony trams. GWR and LNWR railway lines joined at a huge goods yard where coal, timber, and cotton was taken from the docks at Cardiff and Newport to the northern mill towns and coal, iron, steel and tinplate to the manufactories in the Midlands. In the 1850s this was the biggest goods yard in the WORLD!

25. Railways take a lot of people to maintain them and the old town cramped within the medieval walls was too small. From 1870 onwards huge numbers of houses were built, mostly of local purple and green sandstone with yellow brick trimmings. I live in one that was built in 1890.

26. Bailey Park was donated to the town by Crawshay Bailey, one of the Ironmaster, who made so much money from his workers that he had a crisis of conscience at the end of his life and the words "God Forgive Me" inscribed on his tombstone. It's mentioned at this point in the timeline because it was here that the first aircraft seen in the town was flown in May 1910 – a monoplane flown by J Radley of Bedford who sustained a height of 30 feet for over one hundred yards!

27. War memorial for local lads killed in Great War. Most of them joined the 3rd Monmouthshire Regiment, arriving on the Western Front on Feb 14th 1915. Most were dead by the end of May. More joined up, went for training and arrived just in time for Passchendaele. Of the first bunch of officers to go only one survived the war, the enlisted men didn't fare much better.

28. Maindiff Court – now a mental hospital, then a military hospital – where from June 1942 Rudolf Hess was imprisoned until he went for trial at Nuremberg in 1945.

29. Market Hall – in 1943 the town council received a request from the War Office to use the Market Hall to store Spitfires, of which they had a surplus. The Council politely but firmly turned them down

30. Post-War austerity had eased a little and in the 1950s it was decided to smarten up the town. As part of the process, which was still going on in the 1970s, many Medieval and Tudor buildings were demolished.

31. Town Hall – where the Beatles played in 1962. Since the booking was made and the fee agreed prior to Love Me Do getting into the charts they performed for the very reasonable price of £25, especially bearing in mind that John Lennon had to be helicoptered in to get there in time.

32. Scarring left on the grass by the National Eisteddfod held in August 2016 and visited by 130,000 people.

33. Development of cattle market. It's always tragic when a market town loses its cattle market and the fight over this has drawn out for decades. One of the big problems is that the site is on a direct line between the Roman fort and the burial ground and we think it may be bisected by a Roman road. Since it's about the right distance from the fort we also think it may be the site of the very first town – a Roman vicus where the soldiers families lived. Unfortunately the developers have rigged huge screens so it's impossible to see inside and we haven't been able to find out which archaeological body is overseeing the site. We're just keeping our fingers crossed that we were wrong.

So the story will continue – with a bit of luck, barring nuclear war and asteroid hits – and I hope the museum will continue to collect the little bits and pieces that tell the history of the town.

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The Bones of Our Fathers

Elin Gregory 

Copy of Copy of BOOF 400 x 600Publisher ~ Manifold Press

Published ~ 1st August 2017

Genre ~  Contemporary Gay Romance

Rating5 Stars

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Synopsis

Malcolm Bright, brand new museum curator in a small Welsh Border town, is a little lonely until – acting as emergency archaeological consultant on a new housing development – he crosses the path of Rob Escley, aka Dirty Rob, who makes Mal’s earth move in more ways than one.

Then Rob discovers something wonderful, and together they must combat greedy developers and a treasure hunter determined to get his hands on the find. Are desperate measures justified to save the bones of our fathers? Will Dirty Rob live up to his reputation? Do museum curators really do it meticulously?

Answers must be found for the sake of Mal’s future, his happiness and his heart.

::: CHERYL’S REVIEW :::

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Meet Elin Gregory

Elin Gregory lives in South Wales and works in a museum in a castle built on the edge of a Roman Fort! She reckons that's a pretty cool job.

Elin usually writes on historical subjects, and enjoys weaving the weird and wonderful facts she comes across in her research into her plots. She likes her heroes hard as nails but capable of tenderness when circumstances allow. Often they are in danger, frequently they have to make hard choices, but happy endings are always assured.

Current works in progress include one set during the Great War, another in WW2, one set in the Dark Ages and a series of contemporary romances set in a small town on the Welsh border.

WEBSITE | FACEBOOK | TWITTER | BLOG

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