I love Cullykhan Bay
Near the village of Pennan in Aberdeenshire, it’s a place that has long been appreciated by people, so it has a rich history. To the left of the sandy and sheltered beach is an impressive promontory.
It’s been home to an Iron Age fort, now vitrified, and a medieval castle. Excavations uncovered Neolithic and Roman finds there too (see Canmore).
From the promontory you can see the Deil’s Lum (meaning devil’s chimney), a cave which is also sometimes called Hell’s Lum. It shoots sea spray with a roar during stormy weather.
It’s a place – promontory, bay and caves – that I write about quite a lot.
In THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR, Isobell, Jasper and Ian have to cross the inside of the Deil’s Lum before following a tunnel to the castle. The tunnel is fictional and so is my description of the interior of the cave, or rather it’s stolen from just around the corner.
As is my way, I have explored every tunnel and cave that is remotely accessible by land at Cullykhan. In we go…
Through to this dark and seagull filled space… and it’s this space that I made my characters traverse, after struggling across it myself, of course!
Isobell, at least, did not enjoy it:
The truth was that caves and tunnels were more fun when told of beside a fireside, in dry clothes with a full belly. The reality of them – the cold, the wet, the dripping and the echoing, and the smell of decay – was only startling. The roof looked as if a huge ogre had wielded a knife inside the cliffs, cutting and carving to his heart’s content, but the idea contained no mirth, nor even any interest. And what lay ahead in this new life of ours?Excerpt from THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR
Climbing to the Cave
Staring at the entrance of the Deil’s Lum from across the divide wasn’t enough for me so I slid down the hill and climbed up into it. This is foolhardy behaviour and not recommended, but I made a short video so you can see the cave without risking life and limb!
Now I’m back in my Iron Age manuscript (published as SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD, October 2022), Cullykhan features much more heavily, and I love that too. Trying to capture the essence of the place in words. I take its great magnificence, its beauty, and swirl them round with terrible, terrible things.
Set in 1st century Scotland, and featuring Cullykhan Bay, SISTERS AT THE EDGE OF THE WORLD includes the battle of Mons Graupius between the Romans and the Caledonian tribes. The book features a neurodiverse main character and some rather complicated romance!
See the press release here
Read the article Roman Aberdeenshire features in author’s new book from Grampian Online.
Taking place mainly in a fictional castle, THE MERMAID AND THE BEAR blends an often overlooked period of history, the Scottish witchcraft accusations, in particular the 1597 Aberdeen witchcraft panic, with a love story.
See the press release here
From the Press and Journal: New book by Fraserburgh author highlights horrific extent of witch trials in Scotland
FIREFLIES AND CHOCOLATE was inspired by the kidnapped children and young people of Aberdeen. The story follows the adventures of Elizabeth Manteith from the castle and her determined efforts to get back home. There’s love. There’s derring-dos on the high seas… And there’s chocolate!
See the publisher’s Press Release here
“Filled with excitement and suspense…” Historical Novel Society
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