I’ve been working on my Hild novel for a year now. She is twelve. I have 75,000 words. (To put that in context, most novels are around 100,000.) If you believe Bede’s suspicious symmetry, she lived to the ripe old age of 66–so this is turning into a huge project, much, much bigger than I’d anticipated. I’m enjoying it enormously.
Right now in the narrative Hild is about to witness the assassination attempt by Cwichelm’s man (yes, I know his name, but don’t want to give it away to my primary–non-historian–reader, who reads this blog). She’s met Paulinus, and heard James the Deacon lead his first group of half-trained choristers in plain chant (the only suitable venue was the ruined basilica at York, stripped of all furnishings to improve the acoustics). Æthelburh is pregnant. I’ve gone against received wisdom and have already married Hereswith off to Æthelric (also known, it seems, as Egric to his North Folk, where he rules as prince while Eorpwald is king proper of the East Angles).
One thing that I find I’m fudging, though, is the issue of where Hild sleeps. She’s with Edwin, so she travels from vill to vill: York, Bebbanburh, Sancton, Goodmanham, Barton perhaps, somewhere near the Derwent perhaps–I’m positing a new vill built upon some Roman remains near Stamford Bridge–and so on. I’ve done a little reading on the archaeology of as many of these places as I can and, well, it’s not helpful.
If Hild were a warrior-type, a gesith, no problem: she’d bed down in the mead hall with all her fellow sword swingers. But where does a royal relative, a 12-year-old girl, sleep? Looking at the Yeavering evidence I’m tempted to say there was a family hall, or women’s hall, not far from the main hall, and Hild could sleep there safely. At other places I’ve imagined a women’s quarters screened off from the main hall but in the same building. I’ve pictured her with a real bed, which comes to pieces, in a pinch, for travel. But I’m aware that I’ve taken this notion from funerary practice and it may be inaccurate for daily life.
Anyway, I’m punting here. I’d love to hear some educated opinions (or total guesswork; it’s all welcome) on the matter. Are there good sources anyone can recommend? (Preferably online, but I’ll take print if that’s all there is.)
As always, thanks in advance for your help. I know I’m always asking for stuff, so…is there anything I can do for you in return? Anything of my process/progress you’re curious about?