Thoughts on the wild, the weird, and the romantic from author Joy Nash

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Joy Nash is a USA Today Bestselling Author and RITA Award Finalist applauded by Booklist for her "tart wit, superbly crafted characters, and sexy, magic-steeped plots."

» Sunday, August 20, 2006

Into the books: Day 4, Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Cawdor Castle

Day Four: Culloden Battlefield, Clava Cairns and Cawdor Castle

***Joy's Book Link***

Clava Cairns is the site of Leanna's Sidhe Sex Magic tour in Immortals: The Awakening. Cawdor Castle is more inspiration for Kalen's castle in the same book.

After a long day of driving from Edinburgh, we stayed at a Bed and Breakfast a few miles east of Inverness, not far from Culloden battlefield. It was Diana Gabaldon's Outlander that first introduced me to the Jacobite rebellion and the horror of Culloden.

In many ways, Culloden is Britain's Gettysburg. Many Scots families had members on both sides of the conflict. The battle was a brutal bloodbath. Also like Gettysburg, there's modern encroachment around the battlefield. The few acres that comprise Culloden and the visitor center has been preserved as moorland, a wild island surrounded now by tame farms, houses and shops. Still, you can imagine how it must have looked in 1746, when the moors extended for miles and miles. An interpretive center has wonderful exhibits and a movie explaining the battle. On the battlefield itself, flags mark the lines of the Scottish and English lines. There are a series of mounded trench graves, each with a single gravestone engraved with the name of the clan whose men are buried below. It's a very somber sight. You feel like you're walking on blood-soaked ground. Which you are. No book link for this site, but here's a pic of the battlefield. The monument in the distance on the left marks the center of the battlefield. You're looking at it from behind the English lines:

Not far from Culloden is a much older monument - Clava Cairns. Clava Cairns is the setting for Leanna's Sidhe Sex Tour in Immortals: The Awakening (8/07).

Clava Cairns is one of the best preserved Bronze Age burial sites in Scotland. There are three large cairns, aligned on a Northeast/Southwest axis with the midwinter sun. The cairns are three large mounds of rocks, enclosed with a ring of larger curb stones. They mark three ancient gravesites. Two of the graves are now open to the sky, and you can walk into the place where the bodies were once interred. Each of the three cairns is surrounded by a ring of standing stones, and some of the stones bear circular markings and gouges of unknown purpose. The site is in a valley, surrounded by large trees.

Clava Cairns was deserted when we got there, which was great, but soon after a busload of British tourists pulled up. I shamelessly eavesdropped on their guide, and heard him tell of one night when he came to the cairns and found a group of Neo-Druids dancing naked among the stones, and doing God-only-knows what else. So I decided my use of the site in The Awakening is entirely appropriate! Here's a pic of the Cairns. You'll have to imagine the frolicking neo-Druids on your own!


Leaving Clava Cairns behind, we drove on to Cawdor Castle. The castle was the home of the Thanes of Cawdor, which was MacBeth's title in the Shakespearean play. The castle couldn't have been the home of any real MacBeth, though, since it was built after the date of the fictional MacBeth. Cawdor is a true fairytale castle, very picturesque, with exquisite gardens all around. It's only open in the summer, as there's an actual dowager countess in residence during the winter. Certain rooms do have a very lived-in look about them, which makes the castle even more appealing. You can almost imagine living there. You and your army of maids, butlers, cooks and gardeners, that is.

I've used Cawdor Castle, especially the interior and the furnishings, as another inspiration for Kalen's castle in The Awakening.

Toward evening, we took a drive into Inverness. Having daylight last until midnight is very handy! Inverness is arranged on either side of the river Ness and is not as picturesque as Edinburgh--the buildings are a mix of old and new. Inverness Castle, which sprawls across a high hill overlooking the river, is very pretty, but we didn't go inside. Mostly we just looked around the shops and had a bite to eat.


Next up: Loch Ness, Urquhart Castle, and Haggis for lunch!


Joy
www.joynash.com

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