by Nancy Lee Badger
When I started to write my Scottish time travel series, I knew I wanted to include a Scottish castle; one that sat high on the cliffs overlooking the ocean. I made the decision to use a fictional castle and based my Castle Ruadh on one of Scotland’s oldest castles.
The Castle of Old Wick was probably built by an earl of Caithness in the 1100s. This makes it one of the oldest castles in Scotland. The simple four-story tower was built when the area was ruled by the kings of Norway who held sway over Caithness and Sutherland, and were also referred to as the Norse Earls of Orkney. The remains of further ranges is found along the promontory, high above. Since my hero’s clan claims they have descended from Vikings, this was a perfect castle to emulate. The ruins are dramatically located on top of steep cliffs overlooking the North Sea which connects to the ocean through the English Channel in the south and the Norwegian Sea in the north. This is exactly what I pictured!
According to my research, the castle has belonged to various owners; the Cheynes and the Sutherland Lord Duffus in the 14th century, and the Oliphants in the 15th century. Besieged and captured by John Sinclair, Master of Caithness, in 1569 , the Sinclairs later bought it then sold it to the Campbells of Glenorchy in the 1670s. They in turn sold it to the Dunbars of Hemprigg who held it until 1910. For my story, I called it simply the red castle. ‘Ruadh’ is Gaelic for red, and I settled the Keith clan inside. I mention the castle when my heroine, Haven MacKay, finds herself in unusual circumstances:
Spying Reid, Haven asked him to accompany her to the stream. The young boy’s face lit up as if she’d offered him the world on a platter. Before he followed, he grabbed a short sword from the weapons pile. Haven smirked.Get the picture? I did some further research and found that the area near the North Sea is comprised of red sandstone, so…why not a red castle? Here is another instance where I refer to the mighty castle:
These actors sure take their parts to heart.
After relieving herself behind a tree, she washed her face and hands in the stream’s icy water. Haven followed Reid back to camp and asked about his injury. He’d shrugged it off as a nuisance.
“I promised my laird I would be hale and hearty by the time we reach Castle Ruadh.”
“If I recall my Gaelic, this means the red castle?”
“Aye. ‘Twas built of red sandstone. A tower, bailey, stables, and village. It overlooks the sea.”
When the boy neglected to explain further, she chalked it up to part of the act.
“As long as Kirkwall Gunn lives, my uncle vows to follow the course. He has need of strong warriors offering allegiance.”Sounds to me that owning a castle does not mean you can defend it. Many clans hired mercenaries. Others, like in my book, formed betrothal contracts where one clan’s leader, or laird, wed a woman from the castle’s people. This contract formed the basis for my story. Here is my heroine’s opinion of her surroundings once they reach the castle:
“Is this true?” Mackenzie asked Fia Keith, turning to face her.
“We are not a wealthy clan, but we do have the finest warriors this side of the Sutherland border,” Kirk explained, “and we pledged to protect the Keith holdings and to leave warriors here to guard Castle Ruadh. Such a deal meant no more war between us. Then I came to my senses.”
Shaggy, orange Highland cows mooed as a mud-spattered boy led them toward a field of high grass. The youngster brandished a stick like a pro. Several dozen sheep munched bright green ferns beside a dirt road. Another road led to the craggy top of a cliff, so she walked toward the sound of the sea.I used a little bit of leeway about the river, but the cliffs are actual monuments that give Wick a brutal existence where several castles loom. Most are barely piles of weathered stone, but one can feel the history.
The keep known as Castle Ruadh stood on a rocky hilltop above the North Sea, not far from the River Wick.
Book Blurb for MY HONORABLE HIGHLANDER
Bumbling present day herbalist, Haven MacKay, gets more than she bargains for when her love spell goes awry, is cast back in time, and meets her true love -- Laird Kirkwall Gunn.
Kirk’s plans go slightly off course when he falls in love with a woman wandering through the Scottish Highlands. After all, he has pledged to marry another, from an enemy clan, in order to end a century-old feud.
Title: MY HONORABLE HIGHLANDER
Book #1 of the Highland Games Through Time Series
Author: Nancy Lee Badger
Genre: Scottish Time Travel
Ebook Price: $4.99 (coming soon in PRINT)
E Book ISBN 9781476417400
Find out more about Nancy Lee Badger here:
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