Arthurian Romances

The World Pertaining to King Arthur


History and Legend

Liberty, A Must Read Historical Novel by Kim Iverson Headlee



TITLE – Liberty, second edion AUTHOR – Kim Iverson Headlee
GENRE – Historical Romance (ancient Rome) PUBLICATION DATE – Dec. 2014
LENGTH (Pages/# Words) – 462 pages/118K words
PUBLISHER – Pendragon Cove Press
COVER ARTIST – Natasha Brown


They hailed her “Liberty,” but she was free only to obey—or die.

Betrayed by her father and sold as payment of a Roman tax debt to fight in Londinium’s arena, gladiatrix-slave Rhyddes feels like a wild beast in a gilded cage. Celc warrior blood flows in her veins, but Roman masters own her body. She clings to her vow that no man shall claim her soul, though Marcus Calpurnius Aquila, son of the Roman governor, makes her yearn for a love she believes impossible.

Groomed to follow in his father’s footsteps and trapped in a polically advantageous betrothal, Aquila prefers the purity of combat on the amphitheater sands to the sinister intrigues of imperial polics, and the raw power and athlec grace of the flame-haired Libertas to the adoring deference of Rome’s noblewomen.

When a plot to overthrow Caesar ensnares them as pawns in the dark design, Aquila must choose between the Celc slave who has won his heart and the empire to which they both owe allegiance. Knowing the opposite of obedience is death, the only liberty

offered to any slave, Rhyddes must embrace her arena name—and the love of a man willing to sacrifice everything to forge a future with her.


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Liberty - Book CoverEXCERPT

FINGERS CRAMPING AND shoulders aching from having wielded the pitchfork all day, Rhyddes ferch Rudd tossed another load of hay onto the wagon. Sweat trickled down her back, making the lash marks sng. Marks inflicted by her father, Rudd, the day before because eighteen summers of anguish had goaded her into speaking her mind.

Physical pain couldn’t compare with the ache wringing her heart.

She slid a glance toward the author of her mood. He stood a few paces away, leaning upon his pitchfork’s handle in the loaded wagon’s shade to escape the July heat as he conversed with her oldest brother, Eoghan. She couldn’t discern their words, but their camaraderie spoke volumes her envy didn’t want to hear.

Her father’s gaze met hers, and he lowered his eyebrows. “Back to work, Rhyddes!” On Rudd’s lips, her name sounded like an insult.

In a sense, it was.

Her name in the Celc tongue meant “freedom,” but the horse hitched to the hay wagon enjoyed more freedom than she did. Her tribe, the Votadini, had been conquered by the thieving Romans, who demanded provisions for their troops, fodder for their mounts, women for their beds, and coin to fill the purses of every Roman who wasn’t a soldier.

If those condions weren’t bad enough, for all the kindness her father had demonstrated during her first two decades, Rhyddes may as well have been born a slave.

She scooped up more hay. Resentment-fired anger sent wisps flying everywhere, much of it sailing over the wagon rather than landing upon it.

“Hey, mind what you’re doing!”

Owen, her closest brother in age and in spirit, emerged from the wagon’s far side, hay prickling his hair and tunic like a porcupine. Rhyddes couldn’t suppress her laugh. “’Tis an improvement. Just wait ll the village lasses see you.”

“Village lasses, hah!” Sporng a wicked grin, Owen snatched up a golden fisul, flung it at her, and dived for her legs.

They landed in the fragrant hay and began vying for the upper hand, cackling like a pair of witless hens. When Owen thought he’d prevailed, Rhyddes twisted and rolled from underneath him. Her fresh welts stung, but she refused to let that deter her. He lost his balance and fell backward. She pounced, planng a knee on his chest and pinning his wrists to the ground over his head.

Victory’s sweetness lasted but a moment. Fingers dug into her shoulders, and she felt herself hauled to her feet and spun around. Owen’s face contorted to chagrin as he scrambled up.

“Didn’t get enough of the lash yestermorn, eh, girl?” Rudd, his broad hands clamped around her upper arms, gave her a teeth-raling shake.

When she didn’t respond, he released her and rounded on Owen. “As for you—”

“Da, please, no!” Rhyddes stopped herself. Well she knew the fulity of pleading with Rudd. Sll, for Owen’s sake, she had to try. Her father’s scowl dared her to connue. She swallowed the lump that had formed in her throat. “’Twas not Owen’s fault. I—” Sweat freshened the sng on her back, and she winced. “The fault is naught but mine.”

“Aye, that I can well believe.” Rudd grasped each sibling by an arm and strode across the hayfield toward the family’s lodge. “Owen can watch you take his lashes as well as yours. We’ll see if that won’t mend his ways.” The thin linen of her ankle-length tunic failed to shield her from his fingers, which had to be leaving bruises. Rhyddes gried her teeth. Rudd seemed disappointed. “I doubt anything in this world or the next will make you mend yours.”

“You don’t want me to change. You’d lose your excuse to beat me.” Sheer impernence, she knew, but she no longer cared.

“I need no excuses, girl.”

The back of his hand collided with her cheek. Pain splintered into a thousand needles across her face. She reeled and dropped to her hands and knees, her hair obscuring her vision in a copper cascade. Hay pricked her palms. Owen would have helped her rise, but their father restrained him. Owen blistered the ground with his glare, not daring to direct it at Rudd for fear of earning the same punishment.

Not that Rhyddes could blame him.

Rudd yanked her up, cocked a fist… and froze. “Raiders!”

Rhyddes whirled about. Picts were charging from the north to converge upon their selement, the bale cries growing louder under the merciless aernoon sun. One of the storage buildings had already been set ablaze, its roof thatch marring the sky with thick black smoke.

Rudd shed his shock and sprinted for the living compound, calling his children by name to help him defend their home: Eoghan, Ian, Bloeddwyn, Arden, Dinas, Gwydion, Owen.

Every child except Rhyddes.

She ran to the wagon, unhitched the horse, found her pitchfork, scrambled onto the animal’s back, and kicked him into a jolng canter. The stench of smoke strengthened with each stride. Her mount pinned back his ears and wrestled her for control of the bit, but she bent the frightened horse to her will. She understood how he felt.

As they loped past the cow byre, a Pict leaped at them, knocking Rhyddes from the horse’s back. The ground jarred the pitchfork from her grasp. The horse galloped toward the pastures as Rhyddes fumbled for her dagger. Although her brothers had taught her how to wield it in a fight, unl now she’d used it only to ease dying animals from this

But the accursed blade wouldn’t come free of the hilt.

Sword alo, the Pict closed on her.

Time distorted, assaulng Rhyddes with her aacker’s every detail: lime-spiked hair, weird blue symbols smothering the face and arms, long sharp sword, ebony leather boots and leggings, breastplate tooled to fit female curves . . .


The warrior-woman’s sword began its descent.

From the corner of her eye Rhyddes saw her pitchfork. Grunng, she rolled toward it, praying to avoid her aacker’s blow.

Her le arm stung where the sword grazed it, but she snagged her pitchfork and scrambled to her feet. Unexpected eagerness flooded her veins.

As the Pict freed her weapon from where it had embedded in the ground, Rhyddes aimed the pitchfork and lunged. The nes hooked the warrior-woman’s sword, and Rhyddes twisted with all her strength. The Pict yelped as the sword ripped from her hand to go flying over the sty’s fence. Squealing in alarm, the sow lumbered for cover, trying to wedge her bulk under the trough.

With a savage scream, the warrior-woman whipped out a dagger and charged. Rhyddes reversed the pitchfork and jammed its bu into the Pict’s gut, under the breastplate’s boom edge, robbing her of breath. She reversed it again and caught the raider under the chin with the pitchfork’s nes. As the woman staggered backward, flailing her arms and flashing the red punctures that marred her white neck, Rhyddes struck hard and knocked her down.

The warrior-woman looked heavier by at least two stone, but Rhyddes pinned her chest with her knee. She dropped the pitchfork and grasped her dagger, yanking it free. Grabbing a fisul of limed hair, she wrestled the woman’s head to one side to expose her neck.

The Pict bucked and twisted, trying to break Rhyddes’s grip. ’Twas not much different than wrestling a fever-mad calf.

Rhyddes’s de slice ended the threat.

Blood spurted from the woman’s neck in sickening pulses.

Rhyddes stood, panng, her stomach churning with the magnitude of what she’d done. ’Twas no suffering animal she’d killed—and it could have been her lying there, pumping her lifeblood into the mud.

Bile seared her throat, making her gag. Pain lanced her stomach. Bent double, she retched out the remains of her morning meal, spaering the corpse.

Aer sping out the last bier mouthful and wiping her lips with the back of her hand, she drew a deep breath and straightened. As she turned a slow circle, her senses taking in the sights and sounds and stench of the devastaon surrounding her, she wished she had not prevailed.

The news grew worse as she sprinted toward the lodge.

Of her seven brothers, the Picts had le Ian and Gwydion dead, her father and Owen wounded, the lodge and three outbuildings torched. She ran a fingerp over the crusted blood of her scratch, and she couldn’t suppress a surge of guilt.

Mayhap, she thought through the blinding tears as she ran to help what was le of her family, ’twould have been beer had she died in the Pict’s stead.

The surviving raiders were galloping toward the tree line with half the cale. The remaining stock lay sffening in the fields, already aracng carrion birds.

Three days later, the disaster aracted scavengers of an altogether different sort.


Liberty is a captivating novel with so many variables that make it a true masterpiece. Our main character Rhyddes, which translates to mean Freedom daughter of Red (thus Liberty), is sold off to the Romans due to a tax debt. Here she must fight in the Gladiator arena. Fortunately Rhyddes fights well, it’s that ancient Celtic warrior blood that runs through her veins that makes her fierce. Although Rhyddes is plagued with captivation and yearning for the Roman governor’s son, Aquila. He too is irresistibly drawn to Rhyddes and vows to renounce his wealth and power for her. The charm of this novel kept me intrigued from the start. The savagery, ferocity coupled with the longing and purity of true love makes Liberty a captivating must read!



I am Rhyddes ferch Rudd, which in your tongue means Freedom daughter of Red. The blood of ancient Celc warriors flows in my veins, though I am a farmer’s daughter by the circumstance of my birth. My life spans much of the reign of the Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius, one of a very few men ever to claim that tle who did not abuse his power for personal gain—but I care not who rules and who dies in this gods-cursed empire.

More than anything—even more than my freedom—I yearn to be my lover Aquila’s equal. As a foreign slave in an empire where cizenship stands paramount, where an arena fighter such as I can only be considered the equal of other gladiators, actors, undertakers, and whores, this goal seems impossibly remote. Although Aquila is the son of a powerful Roman, he has declared that he would renounce his aristocrac status, wealth, and power for me, but I cannot in good conscience allow him to destroy himself on my account.

And yet the gods have granted the impossible to other mortals. I pray that I am worthy to receive such a boon from them, for surely divine assistance is the only way for Aquila and I to bridge the vast social chasm that separates us from enjoying a future together.


Mornings Journey - Author Photo AUTHOR BIO

Kim Headlee lives on a farm in southwestern Virginia with her family, cats, goats, and assorted wildlife. People & creatures come and go, but the cave and the 250-year-old house ruins—the laer having been occupied as recently as the mid-20th century—seem to be scking around for a while yet.

Kim is a Seale nave (when she used to live in the Metro DC area, she loved telling people she was from “the other Washington”) and a direct descendent of tweneth-century Russian nobility. Her grandmother was a childhood friend of the doomed Grand Duchess Anastasia, and the romanc yet tragic story of how Lydia escaped Communist Russia with the aid of her American husband will most certainly one day fuel one of Kim’s novels. Another novel in the queue will involve her husband’s ancestor, the seventh-century proto-Viking king of the Swedish colony in Russia.

For the me being, however, Kim has plenty of work to do in creang her projected 8-book Arthurian series, The Dragon’s Dove Chronicles, and other novels under her new imprint, Pendragon Cove Press.





– 5 e-copies of Liberty – 10 note cards
– 1 autographed print copy of Liberty

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Cadbury Castle- Arthur’s Camelot?

CADBURY CASTLE: King Arthur’s Camelot?
Excerpted from “The Traveller’s Guide To Arthurian Britain” by Geoffrey Ashe

Cadbury Castle is the best known and most interesting of the reputed sites of Camelot. A hill-fort beside South Cadbury, down a small road which leaves the A303 at Chapel Cross, 1 1/2 miles east of Sparkford.
The road passes through South Cadbury village and, a short distance beyond the church, comes to the foot of the only path up the hill. This is marked by a notice-board. There is a small parking space, and a much larger one farther on. The path climbs gently to a gate in a wall, and then more steeply through woods, till it emerges in she enclosure on top. After rain it is apt to be muddy and slippery.

Cadbury is an isolated hill of limestone and sandstone. The summit is about 500 feet above sea-level, with a wide view of central Somerset, including the Tor at Glastonbury 12 miles away, and, in clear weather, Brent Knoll beyond. It has four lines of bank-and-ditch defence. For most of the way round they are densely wooded, and, in spring, full of bluebells and primroses. Wherever the trees have grown, as they have in the place where the path goes up, the banks have crumbled and lost shape. But towards their south-east bend – reached by turning left when you enter the enclosure – they come out into the open, and you can look down and see them as they once were all round the hill, a formidable system. They surround a defended area of l 8 acres, rising to a long, level central plateau. A break at the south-west above another village, Sutton Montis, is the original gateway.

The first known author to refer to Cadbury as Camelot is John Leland in 1542. He says: “At the very south end of the church of South-Cadbyri standeth Camallate, sometime a famous town or castle . . . The people can tell nothing there but that they have heard Arthur much resorted to Camalat.” Skeptics have argued that there was no real local tradition, or perhaps a vague tradition of Arthur only, and that the evocative name is a guess of Leland’s prompted by the villages of Queen Camel and West Camel not far away. Yet he speaks of Camelot without any discussion as a recognized fact, and his spelling with an a instead of o in the last syllable may echo a local pronunciation. This can be heard today; the a is sounded as in “father”. It may have some bearing on the case that the first printed edition of a work by the classical geographer Ptolemy, which Leland could have read, notes a place called “Camuludanum” in this part of Britain.

Whatever the people of the neighbourhood were saying in 1542, they have certainly cherished Arthurian lore since then. Cadbury hill has its version of the cave-legend, which, in fact, can be documented earlier than any other, as far back as the sixteenth century. Arthur lies asleep in a cavern closed by iron gates, or maybe golden ones. Sometimes they open so that the fortunate wanderer can glimpse him inside. A party of Victorian archaeologists were asked by an old man if they meant to dig up the king. A well on the left of the path as you go up it is Arthur’s Well, and the highest part of the hill is Arthur’s Palace, a phrase on record as early as 1586. On Midsummer Eve, or Midsummer Night, or Christmas Eve (opinions differ, and some say it is only every seventh year), Arthur and his knights ride over the hilltop and down through the ancient gateway, and their horses drink at a spring beside Sutton Montis church. Whether or not they can be seen, their hoof beats can be heard. Below the hill are traces of an old track running towards Glastonbury, called Arthur’s Lane or Hunting Causeway, where a noise of spectral riders and hounds goes past on winter nights.

One theory about the name “Cadbury” is that this itself is a link with Arthur, because it means “Cadwy’s Fort”, and we find Arthur as the colleague, perhaps early in his career, of a prince named Cadwy at Dunster. He could have taken over Cadbury through some arrangement with its owner. But the derivation is dubious, and so is the argument, if only because there are other Cadburys.

The word “castle” suggests a medieval fortress with towers and battlements. The same warning applies here as at Liddington and elsewhere: Cadbury never had a castle like that. The fortified hill itself was the castle. Since nothing was ever here like the Camelot of romance (which, moreover, has no real geography), in what sense could Cadbury deserve the name? Solely in the sense of having been Arthur’s headquarters and principal citadel, the far-off reality underlying the fiction. But that in itself is an impressive thing to be, and the nearby “Camel” place names suggest how traditions of the Cadbury area might have helped to shape a name for the dream-city remotely recalling it.

Antiquarian writers from Leland on simply call Cadbury “Camelot” (variously spelled) without drawing such distinctions, and speak of Roman coins and fragments of buildings. No such fragments were left when the Rev. James Bennett, Rector of South Cadbury, carried out the first small excavation. In a paper published in 1890 he told how he had cut a trench through the top rampart, and judged that it was built up in layers over a long time. We now know that this was correct. On the plateau he dug down to a pit in the bedrock with scraps of pottery in it, and half a quern. The pit had a large flat stone at the bottom. A workman who was helping thought this covered a manhole leading down to the cave, but when they lifted it they found only another large flat stone. In 1913, H. St. George Gray excavated again, chiefly near the south-west entrance, finding objects which showed that people were on the hill in the late Iron Age just before the Roman conquest.

The crucial step from an Arthurian point of view did not come till the middle 1950s. Part of the enclosure was ploughed, and a local archaeologist, Mrs. Mary Harfield, picked up the flints and potsherds which appeared on the surface in the upturned soil. Among these Dr Ralegh Radford recognized pottery of the type he had found at Tintagel, which proved that somebody had lived here at about the time of Arthur, and most likely a “somebody” of wealth and standing who could import luxury goods. The interest thus aroused led to the formation of the Camelot Research Committee, which carried out large-scale excavations in 1966 – 70 under the direction of Leslie Alcock.

The results were copious. It became clear that British Celts of the Iron Age had not only built the earthwork defenses, but reconstructed the top bank several times, as Bennett suspected. A village flourished on the plateau for hundreds of years. Then the Romans stormed Cadbury and evicted the survivors, resettling them at the foot of the hill so that they could not make it a strong point in any future rebellion. During most of the Roman period the enclosure was empty. However, a temple may have been built during a pagan revival which is known to have spread through Britain in the fourth century AD. After that comes a phase of total obscurity, and after that, the Arthurian period. For this the archaeological haul was richer than anyone had expected, or dared to predict.

In a central and commanding position, on the high part of the hill called Arthur’s Palace, the foundations of a timber hall came to light. It was 63 feet by 34. Its walls were marked by post-holes cut in the bedrock. A trench running across it, closer to one end than the other, showed where a partition had divided it into large and small rooms. In outline it resembled the hall at Castle Dore, but there were grounds for inferring more skillful workmanship, quality rather than size. In this building the chief warriors would have assembled, feasted, listened to minstrels, planned campaigns. A smaller building close by could have been the kitchen, and others may also have belonged to an Arthurian complex, though it was only with the hall that dating was certain.

At the south-west entry were the remains of a gatehouse of the same period. A cobbled road ten feet wide climbed into the enclosure. It passed through double doors into a nearly square wooden tower, and out through similar doors the other side. All this, of course, has now been buried again and only the gap in the bank is visible, far shallower than it was.

Most important of all was the discovery which was made in that bank, the three-quarter-mile perimeter of the hill. Cuts through it in several places, now refilled like the entrance, revealed a cross-section like a layer cake, with strata one above another showing how the ram art had been rebuilt at various times over the centuries. In Arthurian times it had been rebuilt grandiosely. On top of the earth at that level was a dry stone bank or wall 16 feet thick. Gaps where ancient timber had rotted marked the places where massive posts had upheld a breastwork on the outside, protecting men who stood on the wall. Beams had run across, binding the structure together and supporting a platform, and perhaps, at intervals, wooden watch towers.

This defensive system surrounding the hill made an impression in keeping with the period. The wall itself, with its timber bracing and superstructure, was very like what the British Celts were building before the Roman conquest. It incorporated fragments of Roman masonry, salvaged from derelict buildings, but it was strictly a national piece of work. On the other hand the gatehouse had Roman touches. When Arthurian Cadbury was formed, Britain’s heritage of Roman architecture was seemingly almost forgotten, but not quite. By the later fifth century that might well have been the state of affairs.

Cadbury Castle: artist’s reconstruction of the Arthurian timber hall, with roof cut away to show the internal framework. Nothing was found with Arthur’s name on it, and it would have been foolish to hope for that. What the project did prove was that Cadbury was reoccupied by the right sort of person, at approximately the right time. A leader with uncommon resources took possession of this vacant hill-fort and refortified it on a colossal scale. He was (as somebody phrased it during the excavations) an Arthur-type figure, if no more. At the centre he set up at least one fair-sized building and probably several smaller ones. He may have had others; even in 1970 after five seasons of digging, only a fraction of the site had been opened up. But quite possibly his soldiers used tents or huts leaving no lasting traces. When they were at Cadbury, their encampment held fully 1,000 men, plus ancillary staff, followers and families. During the campaign season the base may have been looked after by a garrison only. But it may have been a regional centre of government with a permanent civilian establishment.

The point about Cadbury-Camelot is not only that this hill-fort was converted into a vast citadel at the right time, but that there is no other known instance in ex-Roman Britain of such a thing having happened. A number of hill-forts were reoccupied, but simply as protected places of residence for a household. The areas resettled within their ramparts were much smaller; none became a base for substantial forces; and while, in a few, a little feeble wall- building was carried out, none acquired a new fortification remotely like the stone-and-timber rampart of Cadbury, with its gatehouse and implied use of the whole 18-acre enclosure. It is hard to believe that when Leland called this place “Camelot” he was merely guessing, rather than drawing on a valid tradition. A mere guess would have been most unlikely to pick on the one known place throughout Britain with the right characteristics. Even a modern archaeologist could not have made such a guess, simply by looking at the hill, with any confidence of being correct.

The Camelot Research Committee, of course, turned up material of value and interest covering a far longer stretch of time than the brief Arthurian period. Some of it still had an indirect bearing on the Arthurian Legend itself, or on stories related to it.

For instance, at the south-east bend of the uppermost rampart, a human skeleton was found. It was the skeleton of a young man rammed head-down into a pit, his knees drawn up to his chin. Fresh rampart-building had been done on top of him. The bones showed no physical defect, and the likeliest explanation is that this was a human sacrifice, performed for divine strengthening of the wall in a pre-Roman phase of its reconstruction. That calls to mind the tale of Vortigern’s stronghold and the Druids’ advice about sprinkling its foundation with a boy’s blood. Whoever first told that story knew something of pagan Celtic customs, and rituals which might have survived on the wild fringes of fifth-century Britain.

Again, one surprising outcome of the excavations was the discovery of evidence that the Iron Age village was not stormed by the Romans, its people were not deported, till a considerable time after this part of Britain was officially conquered. It was a centre for some last stand,’some unchronicled resistance. Historians have nothing to say about this. But the Roman poet Juvenal speaks briefly of a British leader named Arviragus who would have been known or at least remembered in about AD 80 – 90 for causing trouble. Now in accounts of the Grail-bearer Joseph of Arimathea and his coming to Glastonbury, he and his companions are said to have been granted land there in AD 63 by a local king not subject to Rome. In some versions this king is named, and his name is Arviragus . Could that detail show a hazy awareness of traditions about a real person, a British Hereward the Wake who maintained a miniature kingdom in the hills and marshes of central Somerset, till the conquerors moved in on his strongest hill and dispersed its inhabitants?

While the archaeologists left the cave-legend alone, their project may have shed accidental light on it. There is no cave now. In such cases there seldom is. But a visitor who knew the hill well pointed out a place in the scarp on the south side of the central plateau, where a metal rod could be thrust horizontally far into the soil without hitting bedrock. Possibly a recess once existed there, and was filled in by crumbling, leaving a folk-memory which exaggerated its size and depth.

Lastly – though this was no part of the project – an amateur group which took an interest in it tested the “beacon” theory by building a large fire on the summit and posting observers on Glastonbury Tor, who reported that when the fire was lit after dark, they could easily see it across the low-lying country between.


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