Thursday, April 3, 2008

Tapestry of the Boar by Nigel Tranter

A glimpse of medieval Scotland (ca 1160) can be seen through the fictional work by Nigel Tranter, Tapestry of the Boar. As one of the characters, Margaret Olifard, stated, "All Scots ought to know a great deal more about their ancestors....” . As someone with several Scots ancestors, I concur.

A review of Tapestry of the Boar at supplies a nice overview of the novel. A partial list of characters listed in the book include:

Hugh de Swinton: Second son of the Sheriff of the Merse, or Berwickshire
Duncan: Illegitimate son of the sheriff
Sir Ernulf de Swinton: Chief of the Name, uncle of above
Cospatrick de Swinton: Sheriff
Cospatrick, Earl of March: Distant kinsman and powerful noble
Sir Osbert Olifard: Thane of Arbuthnott and the Mearns
Margaret Olifard: Daughter and heiress of above

A genealogy of the principal character, Hugh de Swinton, later Arbuthnott (upon his marriage to Margaret Olifard, who was an only child, Hugh took not the Olifard name, but the name of the area or estate of Sir Olifard) can be seen here.

Hugh de Swinton was knighted by King Malcolm primarily due to his invaluable scouting services to the King while containing rebellious Scottish earls. The novel explains Hugh's later role in escorting the King's sister, Ada, to Holland for her marriage to Count Floris III.

The novel mention the saga of Lady Finella who allegedly murdered Kenneth II. It was a story completely unknown to me when I started reading the Tapestry of the Boar.

Another interesting historical reference was made in the book by Margaret Olifard regarded the Picts. “The young woman appeared to be something of an authority on the mysterious Picts, or Cruithne, as she declared that they should really be called, pict or pictori being merely a name the Roman invaders had given them because they had a pictorial rather than a written language, using symbols instead of letters. Cruithne meant wheat-growers, which was significant, she asserted, in that it revealed that they were a settled , land-cultivating people, not barbaric nomads as many assumed—and their cultivation in more than the soil."

Since there's a vast amount of Scotland's history unknown to me, a timeline of Scotland's history is linked here.

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