The Lewis Chessmen are the focus of my new writing project. Discovered on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, they were sold to the British Museum in the 1831 and the National Museum of Scotland a little later. A recent publication "The Ivory Vikings" by Nancy Marie Brown enticed me to begin writing a series of creative stories following their journey from Iceland, to Lewis and into their current homes. Read more about the research journey in my Blog
and if like me you always want to know more use the attached links to uncover the layers of mystery surrounding these sometimes comical sometimes frightening artifacts.
A family gathers around the still. The whisky they make will help pay their rent.
Did you know?
The term ‘whisky’ derives originally from the Gaelic ‘uisge beatha’, or ‘usquebaugh’, meaning ‘water of life’.
Whisky has been distilled in Scotland for hundreds of years. Although there is some evidence to show that the art of distilling could have been brought to the country by Christian missionary monks it may be that Highland farmers themselves discovered how to distill spirits from their surplus barley.
After the Union of the Parliaments in 1707, English revenue staff crossed the border to begin their lengthy attempts to bring whisky production under control. Ninety years later the excise laws were in such a hopeless state of confusion that no two distilleries were taxed at the same rate. Illicit distilling flourished, the smugglers seeing no good reason for paying for the privilege of making their native drink.
So how is this relevant research? Whisky was used as currency across Scotland including the Isle of Lewis. When the excise tax was imposed corruption became rife and where there is corruption there are winners and losers. I use this dynamic as a plot point fro my 1830's character Mhairi.