Main image based on OS 1957 Physical image downloaded under CC-BY-NC-SA and heavily modified. Click through to a larger image.

Image description: Black and white map of early sixth-century Wales. Inset in the top right corner is an outline of Britain, with a section of south and west Wales boxed in black. The rest of the map is an expansion of that box, a relief map showing hills, valleys, and rivers. There are several places labelled, and each place is represented by a small black and white drawing: a cave, a horse, a bittern, a tree, a fortified gate. Two sets of dotted lines with arrows indicate travel routes.

I haven’t got around to making a key yet, but the black arrows represent Peretur’s solo journey near the beginning of her story, and the white arrows show her second, more harrowing race to save someone she loves. In terms of scale, the whole thing covers about a hundred miles of from east to west and sixty or so north to south. The cave is about 1,700′ above sea level in the Twyi forest.

The insets are a mix of original work and adaptations of things in the pubic domain—such as the cave, and this tree by Constable.

Cheerfully borrowed from Constable

The horse is one I drew for Menewood (the Hild sequel) for when and if I ever get around to doing a big beautiful high-res map with art. (I love doing maps; I’m doing lots and lots of them in a variety of styles. Closer to the time I’ll share a few, but most are very practical—they help me work out things like logistics, travel times, and battles—so there’s been no room for pretty bits.)

Bony but not really

Those of you who know anything about horses will probably see immediately that this is a mare—because Hild’s horse in the last half of Menewood is a dun mare.

In Spear, though, Peretur’s horse is a bony gelding—rescued from mistreatment—called, well, Bony. Under Peretur’s care, of course, he doesn’t stay bony, so I thought, Eh, why not? and made one drawing do for two horses. Those of you who do know something about horses, just pretend you don’t, and at some point a) I’ll remake the dun mare to look more like the mare I actually wrote about and b) do another horse that’s more like Bony. But don’t, y’know, hold your breath…

The bittern is also destined as a map icon for Menewood. In its current iteration it looks to be in a bit of an altered state—it’s the eyes, which I’ll fix at some point, maybe (but as there’s no rush, don’t hold your breath)—but I find I’m getting used to the staring. So we’ll see.

I see you

Drawing a representation of Caer Leon (now, oddly enough, called Caerleon) took some thought. The Romans built a legionary fortress there—one of only three in Britain—and called it Isca Augusta. It was an important place, home base for a couple of centuries—on and off—of Legio II Augusta (one of the four original conquering legions), and was rebuilt more than once. This means at some point or points it would have had masonry walls. However, nothing lasts forever, and by the time of Spear (let’s say around 530 CE) what remained of those walls (if anything) would be several centuries old. Brick crumbles, stone falls (and is stolen by enterprising folk to improve their own buildings) so by the time the sixth century rolls around, the walls would have been largely transformed. For the icon, then, I used a combination of a stone gatehouse—gatehouses often stand longer than anything else—with reinforced wooden gate and topped by a wooden palisade. I have no idea if it’s even remotely authentic for the time and place because that wasn’t important for the story so I chose not to spend time on a relatively obscure detail.

Similarly, the icon for Caer Gloiu is a cleaned up photo of a carving dug up from Roman-era Gloucester, and altered just a little to represent what people of Peretur’s time may have seen lying about in the rubble and/or still adorning a crumbling entryway or temple. I’m sorry to say I can’t remember what or who it’s supposed to portray, or even if they were a deity or a real person—and, again, I didn’t get too persnickety because, well, not important in the overall scheme of things. And there’s only so much research that makes sense in service of a story based on myth and legend.

Most of the research I used in Spear was encountered while researching Menewood—particularly linguistic and military theories. So despite it being a fantasy, there’s a fair amount of background historical accuracy. I’ll talk more about that another time. For now, enjoy the map!