An Excerpt from Out of the Ice


In the Leap year 684 AD, a disciplined and well-armed military force, commanded by king Egfrids’ top ealdorman Berht, sailed out from their settlements on the western edge of Northumbria and made way for a staging post on the Isle of Man. Like their counterparts the Vikings, who would follow their lead a century later, the Anglo-Saxons had death, plunder and pillage on their collective mind. The target on that night was the royal Irish kingdom of Brega at Midhe (Meath) the seat of Irish power. Their oft used methods were highly successful, had always worked perfectly in the past and would be no different this time either. Move fast, use the night shroud of darkness to surprise, unearthly noise to scare and bewilder, and the sword and axe to subdue. Spare no-one, save the hostages, as they could be used as barter later.

When they were sated, the invaders retreated; in their wake, a bare, devastated wasteland as far as the horizon. Smoke from still smoldering fires in the fields and storehouses hung heavy on the air, choking and stinging the eyes of the few remaining survivors. Butchered corpses of both human and animal lay strewn in grotesque indifference where they fell, the royal enclosure breached, sacked and burned, was left in ruin. The headless corpses of the nobles, mutilated in a frenzied orgy of bloodlust, silenced; the royal lifeforce seeping into the earth. The church and monastery, which once sang the praises of both king and creator, reduced to piles of scorched, scattered stones, forlorn. The houses, usually filled with love, laughter and joyous celebration, now razed with violent hatred, a pitiful sight. Everything of value, including surviving livestock, religious artifacts and hostages, the women and children, were then dragged to the Saxon ships for transport to Northumbria…