The Reach of the Meyrick: the Rise of Riversouth

Rookpot Museum is home to countless archives, stories and finds from all over Farynshire.  Since its conversion from a glassworks factory in 1762 to the magnificent building standing today, its mission has been to explore, explain and share the rich history of our county and its Peoples.  To this end, we thought we would highlight some of the splendid and fascinating exhibitions the Museum has held over the years.

The Reach of the Meyrick was a once in a lifetime opportunity to get close to the truth and myth of the family who has shaped Farynshire more than any other. 

This is an exhibition that allows you to get up and close and personal with history as it is unearthed and reclaimed by Diggers and academics.    

The Museum had been given unprecedented access to the archives in The White Palace.  We are indebted to Aderyn Tooking, the White Palace Scribe, who granted extensive access to the Palace Archives and curated this exhibition across both cities.  We also thank Professor Efra Foster from Rookpot Museum for devising, coordinating and overseeing this vast project.

The focus of the exhibition is how the Meyrick’s influence spread out from Riversouth throughout Farynshire, with a particular focus on Wild Wolvern Mey, and then receded back again, leaving plenty of evidence of their presence in their wake.

This is the largest exhibition ever put on by the Museum – you might need to spread your visit over a few days!

The Rise of Riversouth

The Meyrick and the region of Riversouth have been part of each other since the dawn of history.

This part of the exhibition uses recent archaeological evidence and current projects to reveal new insights into this region, and how the first Meyricks established their dominance.

Explore the Dig (the White Palace, Riversouth)

By making use of the latest archaeological techniques and technology, Diggers from Rookpot Museum have begun exploring the early history of the White Crag upon which sits the White Palace of the Meyricks.  This is the first time the Meyrick has given permission for archaeological exploration in the grounds of the Palace, which has allowed us to trace the story of the Crag from its prehistoric settlements to its current splendour and influence.

The project is likely to take years to fully explore the secrets hidden within the White Crag, and these live and open excavations are part of the exhibition.  You can take a tour around the site, and speak to the Diggers as they work.  There are opportunities to take part in the dig itself, uncover a piece of history, and see some of the extraordinary fines that have already been unearthed.

The History of the White Crag (Rookpot Museum, Rookpot) 

The Diggers’ finds have been brought back to the Rookpot Museum so that they can be catalogued, preserved and studied.  The most impressive and revelatory of these have been put on display.

The earliest settlement on the White Crag dates from over 8,000 years ago.  Fragments of early seacraft, probably coracles, have been discovered, and it is thought that they were used on the calm waters of the gentle bay beneath the Crag.  From this time onwards, the White Crag’s natural resources gave early settlers the security and confidence to come together, build homes, raise families and develop their societies. 

It looked like these early people often clashed, as there is evidence of tribes fighting all over the Crag.  It is not uncommon for fossil hunters to find arrowheads, smooth missile stones, and even the occasional axe head around Meyshore Bay and Sussen Orchelflilin

At some point one of the tribes conquered the Crag’s summit and built a palisade around their community.  You can see artists’ reconstructions of the firstly timber, and later stone, walls in the exhibition.  Behind this stood what is known as the Hill Fort, which some historians claim is an early ancestor to the White Palace.  The community that lived here thrived behind their high walls. 

This was the site of the first Mint in Farynshire.  One of the most exciting finds during the excavations was a hoard of coins from this Mint, with the earliest dating from the eighth century.  Coins struck from the Riversouth Mint were used throughout the county for hundreds of years, and finds have been unearthed as far afield as the Daggerrock Mountains, Tropsog and Cwm Purne.  The Old Mint now stands on the original site, a wonderful little tea room in the public grounds of the Palace.  One of the coins in the hoard bore the name Myrreck in an old form of Musril, and is on display in the Museum. 

The success of the Mint enriched the Myrrecks (who soon after changed their name to Meyrick), who invested their wealth in developing the community on the White Crag.  The first permanent structure was a dark castle with a round tower, and the ruins can be seen within the grounds of the White Palace.  When the early Meyricks discovered how to dig the white rock out of the Crag itself the building did not stop for hundreds of years.  The founding stone of the White Palace has not yet been discovered, but experts think it was laid under the current Wessen Tower in the early eleventh century.  From then on each Meyrick used the Palace to show off their opulence and power by adding more and more magnificent architecture.  The building projects continued until the nineteenth century whereupon the attention of the Meyricks and their vast wealth turned to industrialism.  The Palace you see today, shining bright atop the Crag, has not changed much since that time.  Meyricks have modernised the interior, and there are always ongoing maintenance projects, but you can see in old paintings and then photographs and early film that the main structure remains the same.

The City (the Meyshore Tour, Riversouth)

Today both the region (boundary markers can be found on the Crag, over the cliffs of Sussen Orchelflilin in the village of Aracely Cheth, beyond the Crag on Hewmey, and in the fields that lead to Tel-Yarridge) and the city have the same name.  Those outside of the region are usually referring to the city when they speak of Riversouth, whereas those within the boundary marks refer to the large urban area around Meyshore Bay as the city.  But before it was a city it was simply known as Meyshore, and it was the beginning of the Meyrick’s influence over the wider region. 

In the written records in the Palace Archive and Rookpot Museum Meyshore is the first place name in Farynshire that includes the mey that is now so common throughout the county.  There are signs of early settlements around the Bay, and soil analysis has revealed that many of them were burned to the ground.  It is likely that these settlements were absorbed into one, large community.

Once Meyshore had been established it grew quickly.  It is the perfect place for a community to thrive.  It sits between the ocean and the Sussen Orchelflilin, with the White Crag to the south and the rocky cliffs to the north, and the Rivers Spurtle and Darkflint end their journeys through Farynshire here, providing a plentiful and reliable supply of fresh water. 

The first town of Meyshore was planned in advance before a single stone was laid.  What would shortly become the Promenade on the shoreline was the starting point, and from here straight streets were constructed up the slopes under the cliffs, until a network of narrow roads, avenues and thoroughfares spread parallel to the Bay.  Unfortunately the plans for this new town have not been found in The Palace Archives.  There are later schematics that map the streets and parks, and it is assumed that these were copied from the lost original.  These are fascinating in and of themselves as they very clearly show, stage by stage, how Meyshore grew into Riversouth, but it would have been a true insight into an early genius to see the idea and shape of the town before it had even been built.

There are two main theories for the creation of Meyshore.  Since the Bronze Age, traders wishing to sell their wares would trek up the Crag to The White Palace.  This was where the Meyrick’s people – fishers, blacksmiths, millers, tailors, carpenters etc. – lived and worked with their families.  The community grew to large for the Palace grounds, and were re-located to their town.  Meyshore attracted more trade than the Crag had done because it was easier to get to.  The Meyrick stayed in the White Palace, overlooking the ever-expanding town of loyal citizens.

We know the exact time that Meyshore became Riversouth.  In Volume 45 of the Year One thousand and Ninety Two of the Chronicle of the Scribe, it is written (in Musril):

The Meyrick has designated the city Riversouth.

That is all there is.  It is the first time that the area is known as a city, and as soon as it received that accolade Meyrick the Lonely changed the name.  The new Grand Hall had been completed in this year: a formidable grey and white square tower at the far end of the Bay, and it is possible the name change deliberately coincided with this.  Of course, the new city was not known as Riversouth but its Musril name, Kelsussen.  Much like today, the Meyrick encouraged the use of Kelsussen, but it was the English name that took hold and became widespread.

The best way to experience the history of Riversouth is to take the Meyshore Tour.  Specifically designed for this exhibition, you will start at The White Palace so you can see the early maps of the town, and then travel down the Crag to the Promenade.  Your expert guide will show you all the historical secrets hidden all over the city.  You will need a whole day for this one, but don’t worry – there are plenty of planned teashop stops along the way, and you will finish the day by attending an elegant meal in the Grand Hall.

This is certainly not the end of the Meyrick and Riversouth’s history.  We have not even mentioned the Peoples yet …

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