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Alba – Getting There

Firming lots of things up now with a clear idea of what I can deliver and when. Following the fairly recent image outline I’m just going to map out the next stage. Snappier titling will be applied at completion.

In time for Christmas/ Yule/ midwinter festival of choice:

  • Alba – Digital tapestry of the world and history of the North Atlantic with a short commentary. (Colour)
  • Alba – Expanded gazetteer/ setting focusing on key periods. (Colour)
  • Alba – Myth and Mystery. (Colour)
  • Alba – Quizzes and Puzzles. (Colour)
  • Alba – Treasure Hunt. (Colour)

An explanation of who these might well appeal to will follow at a later, but soon, stage.

After Christmas:

  • Valkyrie – jeopardy-based, illustrated solo adventure book set in Alba. (Colour)
  • Treasure – Cards of the Stars – solo/ team adventures using stripped down rules. (Colour)
  • Atlantic RPG – d20, clone, crisp and packed with Vikings, Pictish Knights, Celtic Monks, . . . (Colour/ B&W)
  • Atlantic Adventure Builder – templates for d20 adventures. (Colour/ B&W)
  • Atlantic Panoramas – digital landscape images. (Colour)

Along the way:

  • Digital Rights for image re-use.

I’ve held off trying any kind of crowdsourcing – to be quite sure I would be in a position to deliver. There’s months of work there, but I have the digital assets, drafts are at advanced stages and I can start delivering a large chunk of content within weeks. What will funding allow – better, faster production values along with a wider range of format options.

Is Kickstarter the place for me – it would be fun to have a bash, but it’s out of workflow/ working a separate social media campaign. Patreon is the plan – with the usual inexpensive for anything paid – plus by some distance the shiniest presentation I’ve managed so far.

Cost will also be low, as I’m sticking to digital at this stage. It dramatically reduces the chances of any complications and the images are at their best on a decent screen. I shudder to think what the cost of printing the digital tapestry in colour would be. In addition, if there are any corrections or more images to add there’s no big deal involved.

Why the return to d20 in there – been playing again and there do appear to be a few areas where novelty could be added which didn’t crop up before. Within that the intention is to keep it thin enough to run a print version separately when the rest is in place. If I get my act together there’s no reason I shouldn’t be ahead of schedule. So much done compared to what needs done – but it never feels like that at the knitting stage.

The Thrice Slain King (Web)

Visits to the Thrice Slain King notes with all the images in place were breaking the site, so they’re sitting in the PDF. For convenience/ easy access to the links I’ve stuck a text version on a new page. The PDF download is linked from there too.

To recap:

The Thrice Slain King is a set of notes prepared as a series of blog posts during early 2104. They concern the steady disappearance of large areas of Scottish and British history or archaeology.

The notes do not try to arrive at firm or fixed answers to many of the areas where history has been reshaped through myth or propaganda. However, the content does raise a lot of questions, which seem to open up options for putting ourselves closer to the understandings of ancient cultures and for building more authentic narratives.

Topics covered include:

• Ancient Orkney
• Pictish Sculptures
• Sacral Kingship
• The Stone of Destiny
• The Celtic Church
• Scotland’s Standing Stones
• The Gaelic Otherworld
• Grail and Ark symbolism

Extensive linking to a wide variety of sources and sites, (each to be considered on its own merits or otherwise), makes the notes useful for exploring many neglected areas of Scottish history – without need for consideration of the notes themselves.

Kilmartin GlenKilmartin Glen – where Scotland’s standing stones serve as scratching posts

The forthright foreword has been included, as someone needs to jump up and down a bit. The monuments of the high civilisations of Early Medieval, Iron Age,  Bronze Age and Neolithic Scotland are quite definitely wearing away. Worse than that – this extends over much of Britain where work on a handful of glamour sites masks the gradual, but inevitable, deterioration of the remains of the original indigenous cultures.

Whatever else can or can’t be done there is no excuse for failing to ensure the digital capture of monuments and inscriptions that still underpin our tourism, history and creative industries.

And the page again.


For a mate to have a look at – wip images, but time is of the essence. The images are composite – so they are accurate representations of multiple angles combined into one. You’d need to be an eagle flying over and in front of the standing stones to get the angle on the first one. The second image maps the moon against video footage and is accurate apart from the apparent depth of the foreground relative to the female figure.

The tell in terms of the labeling of the reclining female figure within the landscape is maybe in the scorn heaped on a figure to the point where she becomes a caricature. In this case the over zealous efforts of early monks and/ or later revisionists righteously editing the past.

In Scottish myth the Cailleach Bheur personifies winter and gives birth to the gods and goddesses. Through the association with winter her name is typically translated as ‘Old Hag’ across numerous websites – but she was more than an old crone. Her role can/ should be seen as comparable to Thor’s mother Jord or the Greek’s Gaia – both personifications of the Earth.

Thistle Games

Cailleach na Mointeach from Callanish – from left: knee – thigh – breast – face

Equally, she can be understood as the destructive aspect of the triple goddess/ es of Scottish and Irish myth, which are familiar from within Celtic-influenced, or dispersed, culture. But hold on again; that was all about birth – death – rebirth; and places her as part of a cycle instead of as some sort of one dimensional witch figure.

And, eh, wait another minute, the Cailleach was here way before the Celts existed or went wandering around during the Atlantic Bronze Age. She participates in the display of the Lunar Standstill at Callanish on Lewis, which places her – in terms of monuments – back beyond 3,000BC with the ‘Atlantic Culture’.

Thistle GamesMajor Lunar Standstill at Callanish with the moon sinking towards the face of Cailleach na Mointeach

It seems more likely such a figure would be respected and spoken of more along the positive lines of the recent ‘Sleeping Beauty’ tag applied by some at Callanish – if likely more in terms of a respected ‘priestess’.

Which appears to be how it was. In pre-modern Gaelic the title clearly translates as the Veiled One and the form or function is that of a spiritualised or ‘wise’ woman. We meet her again and again over 5,000 years and, as the feminine ‘Veiled One’ or ‘Veiled Lady’, she may re-emerge in the figure of the Virgin Mary upon the Picts’ Hilton Stone.

The term Mointeach added at Callanish also yields more information in so far as the current usage/ adaptation to ‘Old Woman/ Hag or Lady of the Moors’ is using a generic Germanic term to loosely label understanding of highland terrain. It’s proving hard to get it quite right conceptually, but roughly translated – Lady wise in the flowers of the peatlands might be closer to the meaning prior to the overwriting of later systems of belief.

More about the ‘Celtic’ Cailleach, (through the Christian monks’ lens), a couple of posts down, as she was mentioned concerning/ is the original Halloween. (While the monks’ fought against what they understood as paganism a darker or ‘Old Hag’ concept may retain a distant echo of the darker side to some of the concoctions offered as remedies. Seeking the advice of a wise woman could save your life by applying an antiseptic to a wound, but the side effects might amount to poisoning).