In researching for “Dragons In the Sky” in regards to the possibility of logical travel by Sholto and Olwen on horseback from the west of France to the border of Illyria/Macedonia during the period of my novel, Iron Age Britain, 4th century BC, I found some really fascinating facts. Not only was it quite possible (and probable) but people have been traversing Europe since the Bronze Age. Way back then people from Chaldea and Troy came as far west as what is now Ireland. The Druids, early Britain’s astronomer-priests, were closely related to the Chaldean Magis and were thought to have first come from the Near East. There’s evidence of the Phoenicians found in Britain with some supposition that early Britons were sea-going Aryan-Phoenicians who later became known as Celts or Kelts. The Mycenaeans also traveled far from home by ship and reputedly there were Mycenaean markings on the great stones of Stonehenge. I read once that one of the first kings of Wales was the 50th son of Priam of Troy but who knows if that is true or not! (some of this information might have come from a book I have in my collection “Tracing Our Ancestors” by Frederick Haberman, a fascinating book which traces British roots to the Near East. I believe he may be a “British Israelite” but he has lots of interesting information in his research.
Pytheas route from Massalia to "Thule"
I’ve also run across Greeks who ended up in Britain and beyond. (The Greeks had a colony at Massalia (Marseilles) in the south of what is now France. Pythagoras had founded a school there and some time between 335-300 BC a Greek scholar/explorer named Pytheas set off from Massalia on a voyage that would take him right up the coast of Britain almost as far as Norway. He visited a considerable part of Britain and is the first person on record to describe the Midnight Sun. He is the first known scientific visitor and reporter of the arctic, polar ice and is one who introduced the idea of distant “Thule”. His account of the tides is the earliest to state that they are caused by the moon.
So, taking into consideration that there were people traveling far distances even hundreds of years before Sholto and Olwen set off, their travels were quite logical. As a matter of fact, looking at life in North American during the 1800’s, people were travelling by canoe, wagon and horse even farther distances than my characters would have travelled across Europe.
Besides their travels and the terrains they would be crossing (for this I looked at google maps and could see the lay of the land along their route), I also did some research on what people they might meet along the way. First there were the Belgae tribes who lived in northern France (Gaul) between the English channel and the west bank of the Rhine. Then there were the Alpine Celts, known as the “Salt People” because they traded in salt, a commodity as valuable as gold in those days. There were also the Italic tribes and the tribes of people living in the area the Danube River. These were fierce warriors who fought against Philip of Macedon and Alexander when he was young. Their languages were apparantly similar so logically Sholto and Olwen wouldn’t have had too much trouble conversing with anyone they met. Once they reached the lands of Illyria, these were different tribal people and from there Olwen meets the Macedonians.
Now that I have their route of travel sorted out I will need to do further research on potions, herbs, witchcraft and spells because Olwen is an acolyte of the Druids and has learned the spells and medicines since she was a child. She would also know how to read the stars to find directions as well as studying other aspects of nature and the seasons. Remember, she’s a captive of this renegade warrior and she has to figure out how to escape!