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Warriors: Past to Present – A writer’s reference, and a writing challenge – Part 1 – Huscarl 1066

Huscarl Battle of Hastings 1066

Huscarl Battle of Hastings 1066

The amazing photographer, Thom Atkinson has recently published what he calls ‘Soldiers Inventories’ on his website. It’s annoyingly close to a book/documentary that I was putting a pitch together for (although I still shall!) and the photography is gorgeous.

This is a fabulous resource for budding authors who want to write either historical fiction, historical fantasy or fantasy of any sort. As such, I thought I would share a photograph a week, with the added challenge that you also get to write a story about the man (or woman if fantasy) who got to wear the gear and use it in anger.

The challenge today, is to write about a Huscarl in King Harold’s army of 1066. What you have to remember is that the Anglo-Saxons had already marched North to fight a Viking army at Stamford Bridge against Harald Hardrada.

Not only did they have to march 185 miles, they had to do so in four days. FOUR. DAYS.

Three days after a pretty horrific  battle, in which the Vikings had their arses well and truly kicked (only 27 ships out of the original 300 were needed to return the survivors), the Normans invaded in the south and the Saxons had to turn about and hurry down.

The battle at Stamford and Hastings cause so many casualties in the ruling class of the Anglo-Saxons that it was difficult for the Anglo-Saxons to resist their new Norman lords; there were literally no leaders with standing to rally around.

So, how about writing a story about a Huscarl or Thegn having to march north in what were pretty awful conditions (September, in England, on mud roads), fight a full-on battle and then return south to fight the Normans (who were also a branch of Vikings). Or, if you want to write a fantasy, how about they don’t have to fight the Vikings and so are fresh to fight the Normans. If the Vikings hadn’t attacked, then Edwin of Mercia’s army would also be intact.

Suitable character names can be found here – http://www.behindthename.com/names/usage/anglo-saxon

Have a lot of fun.


About mattsylvester

Father of two beautiful daughters and married to the beautiful Karen, Matthew has been reading and writing fantasy and science fiction since he first read the Hobbit at the age of 7.


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