Picture it and Write: Traces

by joetwo

Hi there! This is my offering for this week’s picture it and write for Ermilia’s blog here. Once again the picture is not mine, I only use it for inspiration. Anyway, Enjoy.

It was a boon to the town, the actions not of the supposedly conscientious town planners and managers but rather of one plucky archaeologist and a historian convinced of his colleagues mistakes. They would work for years but finally get their validation.

It rested on an old legend of a battle between a demonic host and the angelic forces of the god. There were a number of versions, all somewhat similar. Differing only in location and the name of the local herdsman/farmhand who witnessed the fight and was inspired to eventually become King, Prophet etc. Most historians considered it just a legend, one of those eternal tales concerning the battle waged within one’s soul. But our guy was convinced that there was more to it.

It started with an ancient catalogue sent to the rector of a university detailing the collection of manuscripts held in the library of a lord’s castle. There was one document that got the historian’s attention. It was called Ae Dyscryption ouf thee battyl beetwin thee dymons oo thee north and owur King’s Godly howst. The date it was supposedly held was in the right time frame to be our battle but, unfortunately, the castle burned down with all its treasures not long after the inventory was collated. It was back to square one.

He combed dusty archives in castles and abbeys across the country. There was no single source, but slowly a picture began to emerge. There had been a battle, quite a large one, against a  large number of Norsemen by the forces of a local petty king by a river in the outskirts of our town. The king was severely outnumbered according to the annals but was able to successfully defend his lands and send the invaders packing. This was one of their first major defeats and was considered something of a miracles. While annals closer to the battle would mention scarce details in passing, over time the battle took on increasing mythical dimensions becoming more and more like the battle of legend. Our historian tried to present his work at conferences and meetings but try as he might his colleagues failed to accepted the admittedly meagre evidence he had. “You need more.” They told him “We cannot take this one faith.”

Meanwhile; due to the inexorable march of progress, the town council sought to build fine new offices on a bend in the river with great views of the city centre. Understandably; there was some objection to this and a small grass roots wanted to protect it. One of these was our archaeologist who had wanted for years to investigate the mounds that had been a source of many local tales in the town. Council experts maintained that they were slag piles from the industrial revolution but the archaeologist swore that there was historical evidence that some were older than that. The fight lasted a long while. In the end the council relented and allowed a quick survey prior to building work commencing.

The first two mounds that were dug into sadly turned up nothing but Victorian slag. There were jeers, actual jeers from the council workers supervising but withing a few short minutes of digging into the largest mound, there were arrow heads, the head of a spear and one human bone.

It was a treasure trove, archaeologically speaking. There were bodies and artifacts almost all the way down. It looked like a mass grave, where soldiers from some long forgotten battle were sequestered.  Some were buried in the armour of Norsemen while others, the heavier plate of the local culture. That was only one mound. Two more were packed with soldiers like that one and a fourth, Much smaller than the others contained a single, very important occupant. A Norse king, slain on that field with so many of his countrymen.

While the archaeologist knew that something big had happened there, he had no historical event to link it to. That was until he read of this historian’s quest in the paper. He only had to read a few details to realise that his site and the battle of legend was one in the same. He took his phone and called the historian, then the world.

It was a sensation. People from all over the world, came to see the sight of the battle between the invaders and valiant defenders. The council, knowing a sea change when the saw one, knew enough to cancel the building work and instead opened a visitor’s centre and museum, the profits from which helped to finance an better office closer to city hall. Everybody won.

The archaeologist and historian were vindicated. The investigation of legend showed up a reality of even greater grandeur. Perhaps this is the way with all legends. All the tales of heroes and god may be unravelled to produce a kernal of amazing truth, if only you look hard enough.

Perhaps you should.