(Presseportal openBroadcast) - 1100 years ago, an Anglo-Saxon woman is killed after a life of struggle attempting to reclaim the Kingdom of the East Angles from pagan invaders. This is not the end of her story.
Tales of a local saint of royal blood, a mystic monk who yearned to be a hermit but was made an abbot, a princess and a belligerent woman who died in battle, are told, embellished and entwined over the centuries – and roundly dismissed by modern academics.
Then from beneath a village church in the east of England, the body of a woman is discovered; the gash in her skull witnessing the violence of her death. Not a simple burial but one adorned with rich pagan and Christian ornaments, jewels and weapons. On a gold clasp containing a rock crystal, a few enigmatic letters are scratched poorly, as if the writer is desperate to record a final message before being overtaken by disaster.
Archaeologist, Adam Newport, thinks he has stumbled upon the find of a lifetime. The dead woman toys with him, giving a glimpse of her story – a few lines, an excerpt, a confusing, half-blurred image. He tries to interpret them, as we would a road sign through a rain-spattered windscreen. But there is no GPS to the past.
Under Lynden Church connects the past, the present, and the centuries that separate them. In the past – Emma, daughter of a local headman, and Sigbert, a monk on a religious mission from a nearby kingdom, both escape from Viking attacks. They find their way to the Fens – a strange land of swamps and meres, where demons are believed to live – where they join the struggle to reclaim their homeland. But treachery and a clash of beliefs prove a greater enemy.
In the present – Adam might want to solve an ancient murder mystery but others have been enticed by the rich heirlooms in the grave and will stop at nothing – even murder – to get their hands on them. Adam is taken to the edge of sanity and he spends the rest of his life trying to understand the strange happenings after he discovered the woman’s body.
Under Lynden Church combines historical fiction and murder mystery. Thoroughly researched and set in the years following the killing of the last historical King of the East Angles in 869-70AD, it tells of a time when death sped over the wild Northern Sea in Viking longships and hammered the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England.
Who is the woman under Lynden Church?
Meet the Author:
Lindsay Jacob lives and works in Canberra, Australia, but comes from a village in Eastern England. A branch of his family has lived in this same village since at least the early 1500s. The author returns regularly to the area to soak up the sense of walking in the history of his own family and the passing centuries. These trips have helped him research the period of his novel meticulously.
He has written successfully for all of his adult life but for others – speeches and other material in the public and private sectors. Now, in his first novel, Lindsay combines his passions for writing and history. He plunges into a desperate struggle against invasion to tell a story of crisis, confusion of beliefs, survival and love – and how one man tried to tell the story of these events and became part of it. Lindsay is married and he and his wife have three children.
Welcome to Under Lynden Church, the title I’ve given to my first novel. I have always been fascinated that the remnants of distant past lives can be discovered beneath our feet – human remains and the objects they used. I have a particular affinity with the Anglo-Saxon period, once called the ‘Dark Ages’ compared to the preceding Roman period, but now increasingly recognised as the formative period when England was born.
Sometimes we must search for these remains; sometimes the earth gives them up as a serendipitous gift. Their former owners prodding our toes as we walk over them; catching our attention; smiling as we stoop to pick up their long-lost belonging or saddened that we will come across evidence of their brutal death. More often than not the dead toy with us, giving us a glimpse of a past story – a few lines, an excerpt, a confusing image of words half-blurred. We peer, trying to interpret them, as we would a road sign through a rain-spattered windscreen. We gather other evidence from history, written records, buildings, the landscape and increasingly use science to unlock hidden secrets. We try to make sense of what we have found. Yet, there is no GPS to the past. That’s most of the fun, where the detective work and the storytelling play their part.
There are a few places where more of the past is preserved. I especially love old English country churches. To close the creaking door and stand alone, smelling the damp scent of the past on cold, winter days. Ghosts, I am certain, must smell like this. To be sure, old churches have had their share of dramatic changes; through the Reformation, Civil War and Victorian restoration, but beneath their tiled floors what might the past have kept safe? Who is knocking at our soles? Hence the idea of the book and the title.
I have a close connection to the village I came from and to the surrounding region of the Fens and East Anglia, even though I now live on the other side of the world. This region is the setting of the story and I return every year. When I was young, I sometimes felt that the whole history of my village had somehow occurred during my lifetime – that I had personal memories from every century. Unfortunately, as I grew older and came to understand mortality and chronology, I lost that sense of mystery. However, I replaced it with a deep desire to understand more of the past, including my family’s past, and past beliefs and myths. A branch of my family has lived in this same village since at least the early 1500s – although I only found out in the past few years. The earliest record I have found is a mention of my ancestor in a manor court roll from the reign of Henry VIII – and I continue to search for evidence of more distant links.
As I walk through the landscape of my youth, reflecting on the signs left by past generations, I can feel the value of the view of Indigenous Australians that the land is sacred and it owns us, rather than us owning it. I hope that I have imbued Under Lynden Church with this intoxicating sense of walking in a sacred landscape. Where the struggles, toil, beliefs, sadness and joys of past lives have left their mark for us to find, try to understand and to bring to life.
I have researched the subject matter of my book as carefully as possible. It is thoroughly grounded in what we know of the period when the Vikings invaded the Kingdom of the East Angles. At times, it may appear to drift into fantasy but this reflects the beliefs of the time. For example, Edmund, the last Anglo-Saxon King of the East Angles, came from the Wuffinga royal dynasty – ‘Kin of the Wolf’. There are folk tales of miraculous connections between Edmund and wolves. So, I have constructed other similar stories to try to walk closer to the minds and hearts of at least some Anglo-Saxons.
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