Bernard Cornwell’s book of 9th century England summarizes the nature of the Winter and now a still damp snappingly cold Spring. Life in Britain’s Danelaw was harsh, brutal and short. The Death of Kings is set in the Winter woods of Wessex as Danes and Saxons vie for the upper hand in a land infested with warlords, robbers, and bandits. Travel is dangerous. Which religious faith you honor can be an invitation to pillaging. And everywhere there are woods and forests hiding more than wolves.
It is with this medieval spirit I took a walk through Trent Hill forests on a dank, cold damp Spring day. My morning walk brought on an overcast day after a sharp cold night with a touch of full winter snow storm. So my daily exercise trek would take me into the woods, up a sharp slope and off the beaten trails. and suddenly, here was the forest trails and disappearing paths of Cornwell’s Wessex which had trammeled before me the previous evening. The craggy steps and pitch winds confronting Finian and Lord Uhtred were now to be scaled in cold Trent Hills hillsides.
And it did not take long for the forest paths to disappear. The chill damp winds to cut to the bone. And an already overcast drabness to echo with Ravens caws and Woodpecker stutters while whip winds lashed about. Truly one could easily time travel back to the Anglo-Saxon era – and feel cold and danger in your bones.
Thus a touch of Christian sunshine which helped to guide a much meandering walk home – yes heart felt and welcome as Cornwell’s early England was conjured up with imaginative force this barely Spring day.