Dr DuLac series Book 3
A haunting medieval time-slip
When Dr Viv DuLac, medievalist and academic, finds a mysterious runic inscription on a Rune Stone in the graveyard of her husband’s village church, she unwittingly sets off a chain of circumstances that disturb their quiet lives in ways she never expected. Once again, she feels the echoes of the past resonate through time and into the present. Can she unlock the secrets of the runes in the life of the 6th century Lady Vivianne and in Viv’s own life? Lives of the past and present intertwine alarmingly as Viv desperately tries to save them both, without changing the course of history.
This is an extract from the opening of my book, The Rune Stone, where Dr Viv and Rev Rory have made a strange discovery in the churchyard …
Viv ran her fingers across the rough stone of the Saxon cross. It felt so cold and damp. She frowned. There was something about this carving, something that was bothering her. She held up her mobile to the side of the figure carved in relief on its face and compared the two images. She’d spent an hour on her computer while Rory was out, searching websites for the likeness, which she thought she recognised, and finally found a photo of the ancient Repton Stone that was now safely in the city museum. Holding it up against their own Saxon cross it was obvious that the images were so similar that it could hardly be a coincidence.
The other Derbyshire cross, the stone found in a pit outside the eastern window of the crypt of the Anglo-Saxon church of St Wyaston’s at Repton, was said to bear the image of Aethelbold, the eighth century Mercian king. She guessed it made sense that Aethelbold would have his image in other churches around this part of the county as a mark of his power, a sign of obeisance to him, a tribute. And, after all, Repton was not that far away, even in Anglo-Saxon times. Mercia, and particularly Repton as its capital, was such an important centre of the eighth century world in terms of religion and therefore also politics, that its influence would have been felt across the region. Yes, it all made perfect sense when you thought about it.
Viv traced the contours of the warrior king with the shield held aloft in his left hand and what looked like the broad seax in his right, ready to fight. He wore the same short, pleated tunic that Aethelbold wore, and there was something else, something across his torso, in front of his belt. A sword, maybe, or another seax? She reached for her reading glasses in her bag and peered more closely, running her fingers over the figure set in relief on the stone shaft, and over the runes above and below the carving.
What did the symbols mean? What were they saying to her? As she stroked them and quested gently with her fingertips, she imagined that they were calling out to her. As she listened to those ancient voices echoing in her head, she felt as though something was guiding her hand, and she touched something unexpected.
She paused, hesitating, then ran her fingers over the figure again, disbelieving. Tiny flakes of colour splintered off onto her hand. There was something painted beneath the image that looked so like Aethelbold.
It was another figure, hidden beneath.
Thank you, Julia Ibbotson and Rachel’s Random Resources
About the author
Julia Ibbotson is fascinated by the medieval world and the concept of time. She sees her author brand as a historical fiction writer of romantic mysteries that are evocative of time and place, well-researched and uplifting page-turners. Her current series focuses on early medieval time-slip/dual-time mysteries. Julia read English at Keele University, England, specialising in medieval language/ literature/ history, and has a PhD in socio-linguistics. After a turbulent time in Ghana, West Africa, she became a school teacher, then a university academic and researcher. Her break as an author came soon after she joined the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme in 2015, with a three-book deal from Lume Books (Endeavour) for a trilogy (Drumbeats) set in Ghana in the 1960s. She has published three other books, including A Shape on the Air, an Anglo-Saxon timeslip mystery, and its two sequels The Dragon Tree and The Rune Stone. Her work in progress is the first of a new series of Anglo-Saxon mysteries (Daughter of Mercia) where echoes of the past resonate across the centuries. Her books will appeal to fans of Barbara Erskine, Pamela Hartshorne, Susanna Kearsley, and Christina Courtenay. Her readers say: ‘Julia’s books captured my imagination’, ‘beautiful story-telling’, ‘evocative and well-paced storylines’, ‘brilliant and fascinating’ and ‘I just couldn’t put it down’.
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