© Walter Jardine 2018

The Start of It All

My wife and I were holidaying in Scotland. In a tourist shop, I heard some music over the shop’s PA system. It sounded Scottish but it wasn’t familiar to me. A member of the shop’s staff told me that they were playing a CD called “Sons of Somerled”: new songs by Steve McDonald. I bought it. Click the Play button on the player to hear the kind of music that was playing in the shop.

Steve McDonald

This is Steve; he’s really the one who set me on the path to writing a novel about someone that I had never heard of. Born in New Zealand, his career has been in writing and performing music, initially as a member of rock groups then as a solo artist. He has written for TV dramas and documentaries and, since the early 1990s, has developed an interest in his ancestry and produced a number of Celtic-themed albums. He travelled to Scotland to research his clan’s history. The result was The Sons of Somerled CD, a collection of hauntingly beautiful music, telling of Somerled and his clan’s struggle against the Vikings. The CD also includes a couple of traditional Scottish songs to which his rich, powerful voice gives a new depth of emotion. His music has proved popular, enabling him to perform to Scottish Societies all around the world. Click on Steve’s picture to go to his website and find out more.

The Book - A Wolf In the Belly

After listening to the CD over and over again, I became completely captivated by the story that Steve tells in his songs. He had woken the Scottish blood in me that had lain dormant for most of m y life, I wondered why little seems to be known about Somerled outside a few dedicated historians - and members of the MacDonald clan. The songs inspired me to find out more about the man called Somerled, and early Scottish history: Who were the Gaels? Where did they come from? What was the “clan system”? Why did the clans object to the introduction of feudalism by the kings of Scotland?

What was it really all about?

What was really going on in Scotland in the 12th century? While writing the book, I realised that there was something else going on besides Somerled’s efforts to get his clan’s lands back and restore the Gaels’ traditional way of life. Scotland was “going feudal”. The Scottish kings were effectively stripping the people of their ancient land rights, freedom of movement and, through their clan leaders, the right to choose who their future national leader would be; rights they had enjoyed for over a thousand years - and they were using Norman nobles imported from England to enforce the changes. One of the knights brought in was Walter fitz Alain, third son of a Breton knight. He was to play a major role in Scotland’s affairs, and Somerled’s life. Somerled and Walter influenced Scottish and British life for centuries to come!
“Live on My Warrior Son”
Play Me
I looked for books that tell Somerled’s story and the only one I could find was, I felt, a disappointment in that it did not do this hero justice. I decided that it was down to me to research his life and write the book. If you thought William Wallace’s fight for freedom against the English in 1297-1305 (see the book and film “Braveheart”) was a good story, then you’ll love Somerled. Over a hundred years before Wallace, Somerled fought to drive out the Vikings that had been occupying the west of Scotland for 350 years! At the same time, the Normans were gaining influence in Scotland, thanks to the preference that the Scottish king had for the Norman way of doing things.
© Walter Jardine 2018

The Start of It All

My wife and I were holidaying in Scotland. In a tourist shop, I heard some music over the shop’s PA system. It sounded Scottish but it wasn’t familiar to me. A member of the shop’s staff told me that they were playing a CD called “Sons of Somerled”: new songs by Steve McDonald. I bought it. Click the Play button on the player to hear the kind of music that was playing in the shop.

Steve McDonald

This is Steve; he’s really the one who set me on the path to writing a novel about someone that I had never heard of. Born in New Zealand, his career has been in writing and performing music, initially as a member of rock groups then as a solo artist. He has written for TV dramas and documentaries and, since the early 1990s, has developed an interest in his ancestry and produced a number of Celtic- themed albums. He travelled to Scotland to research his clan’s history. The result was The Sons of Somerled CD, a collection of hauntingly beautiful music, telling of Somerled and his clan’s struggle against the Vikings. The CD also includes a couple of traditional Scottish songs to which his rich, powerful voice gives a new depth of emotion. His music has proved popular, enabling him to perform to Scottish Societies all around the world. Click on Steve’s picture to go to his website and find out more.

The Book - A Wolf In the Belly

After listening to the CD over and over again, I became completely captivated by the story that Steve tells in his songs. He had woken the Scottish blood in me that had lain dormant for most of m y life, I wondered why little seems to be known about Somerled outside a few dedicated historians - and members of the MacDonald clan. The songs inspired me to find out more about the man called Somerled, and early Scottish history: Who were the Gaels? Where did they come from? What was the “clan system”? Why did the clans object to the introduction of feudalism by the kings of Scotland?

What was it really all about?

What was really going on in Scotland in the 12th century? While writing the book, I realised that there was something else going on besides Somerled’s efforts to get his clan’s lands back and restore the Gaels’ traditional way of life. Scotland was “going feudal”. The Scottish kings were effectively stripping the people of their ancient land rights, freedom of movement and, through their clan leaders, the right to choose who their future national leader would be; rights they had enjoyed for over a thousand years - and they were using Norman nobles imported from England to enforce the changes. One of the knights brought in was Walter fitz Alain, third son of a Breton knight. He was to play a major role in Scotland’s affairs, and Somerled’s life. Somerled and Walter influenced Scottish and British life for centuries to come!
“Live on My Warrior Son”
Play Me
I looked for books that tell Somerled’s story and the only one I could find was, I felt, a disappointment in that it did not do this hero justice. I decided that it was down to me to research his life and write the book. If you thought William Wallace’s fight for freedom against the English in 1297-1305 (see the book and film “Braveheart”) was a good story, then you’ll love Somerled. Over a hundred years before Wallace, Somerled fought to drive out the Vikings that had been occupying the west of Scotland for 350 years! At the same time, the Normans were gaining influence in Scotland, thanks to the preference that the Scottish king had for the Norman way of doing things.

Walter Jardine

Somerled

The Start

Walter Jardine

Somerled

The Start