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Ancestors Isle

(Rousay)

In Dragon Seer, Madoca must travel from her home on Mainland to a nearby island, called Ancestors Isle in the story. This island is Rousay.  You can see where Rousay is by visiting this Map of Orkney. I needed to pick an island where it seemed likely that someone would travel to speak with the dead. In fact, there are ancient burial cairns all over Orkney. What drew me to Rousay was one particular ancient tomb, which I've called the Speaking Place. In real life, this tomb is called Taversoe Tuick. It's one of the most interesting small tombs in Orkney because it's features suggest it might have been in rituals that linked the dead with the living. The previous link takes you to the Taversoe Tuick page on the Orkneyjar website. Notice that there are a number of links for other pages for this tomb near the bottom of the menu on the right hand side. One of these pages explores the idea that this tomb was designed for Communicating with the Dead. Of course, the people who built this tomb lived thousands of years before the 8th century AD, the time when Dragon Seer is set. There's no proof that the Picts had any relationship to these ancient burial sites at all, but I have reasons for making this connection that will be revealed as other books appear.

Here is a photograph that shows Rousay, taken from the site of an ancient stone settlement called the Broch of Gurness. The ruins of the Broch appear in the foreground, and Rousay is across the water. As Madoca sails past the broch on her way to Ancestors Isle, she sees the remains of the stone tower and wonders about the people who lived there. On the site of the Broch of Gurness are the remains of a house from Pictish times, now called "the Shamrock House" because of its shape.  
Rousay as seen from Broch of Gurness, Orkney
 
When Madoca leaves Ancestors Isle, she must make a difficult crossing in a small boat. The photo below shows the exact place where she made this crossing. Beyond the stone walls in the foreground of this picture is a short cliff that leads down to a rough shale landwash.  A 360 degree panorama video on the Medieval North Atlantic site that shows you a bit of the beach. 
Broch of Gurness, Orkney, with Rousay in background.
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