- Author: Barbara Erskine
Book online «The Dream Weavers Barbara Erskine (e ink ebook reader txt) 📖». Author Barbara Erskine
THE DREAM WEAVERS
Published by HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd
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London SE1 9GF
First published by HarperCollinsPublishers 2021
Copyright © Barbara Erskine 2021
Cover design by Caroline Young © HarperCollinsPublishers Ltd 2021
Cover photographs © Christophe Dessaigne/Trevllion Images (central image); Shutterstock.com (birds and border)
Barbara Erskine asserts the moral right to be identified as the author of this work.
A catalogue copy of this book is available from the British Library.
This novel is entirely a work of fiction. The names, characters and incidents portrayed in it are the work of the author’s imagination. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events or localities is entirely coincidental.
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Source ISBN: 9780008195861
Ebook Edition © March 2021 ISBN: 9780008195885
wisewoman and house healer
A note on Anglo-Saxon names
The Story Starts
Keep Reading …
About the Author
Also by Barbara Erskine
About the Publisher
A note on Anglo-Saxon names
These have been transcribed in so many ways from the original script which contained letters unfamiliar to us that there are almost as many variations in spelling as there are authors who write about them. I have selected what I personally consider to be the simplest choice.
The main Anglo-Saxon characters in this book are:
Offa (King of Mercia from AD 757–796)
Cynefryth, Offa’s wife, Queen of Mercia
The daughters of Offa:
Ethelfled, in my story is the eldest
Alfrida is the middle daughter
Eadburh (pronounced Edber) is the youngest
Other historical characters in the story:
King Charles of the Franks, who in AD 800 was crowned as Emperor by the Pope and is better known to us as Charlemagne
Beorhtric, King of Wessex AD 786–802
Ethelbert, King of East Anglia d. AD 794
Ethelred I, King of Northumbria, d. AD 796
Nesta, the herb woman, is fictional
Elisedd, Prince of Powys (pronounced Eleezeth) is also fictional, depicted here as the youngest son of the real King of Powys, Cadell ap Brochfael (c. AD 773–808)
Offa also had a son and heir, Ecgfrith, (d. AD 796) who is only mentioned off stage in the story. In a few sources Offa is shown to have had a fourth daughter, Ethelburh. There is little mention of her and some sources suggest she has been conflated or confused with another woman of the same name, who became an abbess at that period. I have not included her in the story.
For more about the real history behind this story see the Author’s Note at the end.
Welsh for Abbot
Welsh for May Day
Welsh for sweetheart, darling
An early Welsh monastic community
Welsh term for a shelter in the high summer pastures
Latin term used by Bede to describe a thegn or prince, next in rank to the king
Old English for poet or bard
Noble retainer of an Anglo-Saxon king
Welsh king or prince’s household or followers (literally family)
Welsh for prince
Council of the Anglo-Saxon kings
The Story Starts
There she was again. Wretched woman! Calling. Endlessly calling.
With a sigh, Simon Armstrong slammed down the lid of his laptop and stood up. His train of thought had vanished. He walked across the room and dragged open the front door. He didn’t expect to see her. So far he hadn’t caught even a glimpse of her, but he had to try. The first time he heard her, he thought it was someone calling their dog out there in the dark, but the more he listened, the more desolate and desperate the cry sounded. He could hardly sit there and ignore it.
The isolated holiday cottage was situated below a high ridge on the border between England and Wales, near part of the overgrown ditch which was all that remained in this part of the world of the famous Offa’s Dyke. The house was small and picturesque, stone-built, with roses climbing over the porch, blessed with every modern convenience, everything he had hoped for when he had booked it online. With its huge, solid but slightly crooked stone chimney, the main front windows, two up and two down, and the blue door with its wooden porch, it resembled a child’s picture of a little house in a fairy story. Outside, an uneven flagged terrace was bounded by a low stone wall and beyond that a lane led up to what must be one of the most stunning views in Britain. From there he could see the Mid Wales hills of the Radnor Forest, the distinctive outline of the Brecon Beacons, the Black Mountains, and behind him, on the English side of the border, the Malvern Hills and eastwards towards the Shropshire Hills.
But no sign of Elise. Whoever, whatever, she was.
He went back indoors, closed the door and with a shiver walked over to the fireplace. Bending to put a match to the kindling piled in the hearth, he stood and watched as the flames raced across the dry twigs and he felt the first warmth. It was springtime at its most beautiful, glorious during the day, but at night a chill descended on the house, reflecting the fact that it was over a thousand feet up on this lonely, wild hillside. But it wasn’t just that making him shiver.
He made it clear to Christine,