book background the woe waters

My first novel 'The Woe Waters' is set amongst the ancient chalk uplands of the Marlborough Downs in the English county of Wiltshire. The area is blessed with some of the finest prehistoric monuments in the world, such as Avebury and Silbury Hill (pictured below).

Silbury Hill

It is home to hundreds of tumuli and megalithic monuments and has produced some of the most spectacular archaeological finds to grace any museum in Britain.

The area of the North Wessex Downs includes not only the Marlborough Downs but also the beautiful Vale of Pewsey (this is a link to a BBC video from 1984, but things have changed little there since then). The Vale is where The Woe Waters Dr David Barbrook lives in his painstakingly renovated timber-framed house.

Devizes Market Cross

D.I. Sally Treen is based in the lovely old market town of Devizes. Though it’s much more to Clare Hills and David’s taste than Sally’s Wiltshire Museum can also be found in Devizes. It houses one of the most spectacular Bronze Age collections in the country. The Bronze Age gold-work found by Gerald Hart in his excavation of the Hungerbourne barrow cemetery is based on real finds made at Wilsford in Wiltshire. These finds include a golden sun disc also housed in the Museum. Another gold and amber sun disc identical to the one in The Woe Waters was found in the Manton Barrow on the Marlborough Downs.

For archaeologists like Clare and David the study of death and burial practices can provide a wealth of information about ancient peoples. The Archaeology of Death and Burial provides an accessible introduction to this study. To a trained osteo-archaeologist like The Woe Waters’ Jo Granski cremated human remains also have a story to tell. The Analysis of Burned Human Remains is on her bookshelves.

Archaeologists not only study ancient burials and cremation they often try to replicate them. This photo is from an in-depth article (download the pdf here) on prehistoric burial practices and includes details of an experimental pyre just like the one Gerald Hart planned in The Woe Waters.

Experimental pyre