Caer Ddewin, Brish, Lake Quietus and Gnivil Forest

Caer Ddewin

There is one stone circle in Farynshire, and it sits just outside the territories known collectively as Wild Wolvern Mey.  Caer Ddewin is a squat, flat-topped hill with slippery black flanks covered in wild gorse bushes.  There are secret paths to the top, but those who try to find them without a guide usually end up slipping on the shiny rock and end up impaled on the fierce gorse needles. 

The most famous story relating to the Caer gave it its name, and comes from a time before there ever was a Wild Wolvern Mey.  There are various versions of this tale, but the common threads involve one of the many skirmishes (some historical, some now nothing more than myth and legend) between humans and wolvern.  A pack of wolvern was besieged upon the Caer.  The humans had the Caer surrounded, and used their mage to create a thick fog which descended upon the summitt, until even the humans could not see or find each other.  This was an enchanted fog (it was said) and when the humans eventually broke through the thickets of gorse, torn and bleeding, they saw no wolvern, nor any sign that they had fled, and only nine hunched stones stood upon the Caer.  The wolvern had been turned to stone.

This does not sound very Christmassy so far.  But Christmas Eve is the time when the deepest magic rises up and over the ancient hill and the freezing night air is thick with the feel and taste of it.  The wolvern feel it, and their long, mournful cries echo in the darkness.  It is said that if you stay on the Caer on Christmas Eve you will see the hunched stones stand upright, come to life and frolic in the snow. 

This is definitely no longer true, if ever it was.  What you will see on the night of Christmas Eve is the Dance of the Shadows.  Everyone is invited – presumably even the wolvern, but they have yet to RSVP.

It begins in the early evening when people from the surrounding villages leave their warm homes, the fires crackling low in the hearths, and the Christmas dinners ready to be placed in the ovens the following morning.  They wrap themselves up in scarves and hats and walk out of their villages, into the fields beyond, over the frozen ground, following those with lamps and torches.  As they near Caer Ddewin they meet up with people from other villages, and excited laughter and loud chatter fills the night air.

It is unwise to try and climb the Caer if you do not know the hidden paths that wind through the treacherous gorse and provide a true surface to walk upon over the slippery slopes.  Guides from the villages lead the people safely to the summit (they will also escort them safely back down when they might be a little worse for wear after the festivities).

Lanterns are placed on long poles by each hunched stone to illuminate the flat space at the summit of the Caer.  Small fires are lit around the edge of the stone circle in order to heat up the mulled wine and melt the marshmallows.  Once everyone is comfortably settled on the blankets, rugs and cushions they have brought with them, gloved hands wrapped around mugs of steaming mulled wine, the dancers emerge from behind the stones.

The dancers are dressed in black, and they move like shadows in the warm glow of the lanterns’ light.  They make their way amongst the watching crowds, making the smaller children squeal in delighted terror.  They are fleet of foot and as soon as anyone realises they are beside them they are gone again.  The dancing can last about an hour, and it finishes with a flash of magical lights in which the dancers disappear, just like the ancient wolvern did.  At this every lantern is extinguished, plunging the whole Caer into darkness.

The challenge then is get everyone safely off the Caer and back to the warmth and safety of the village pubs.  To date, nobody has been lost before Christmas morning.


There are Christmas markets in every town and village in Farynshire, and any of them are worth a visit, but if you only have time for one, definitely go to Brish.  It is said that Father Christmas himself visits the market for gift ideas.

Brish is small town nestled in the foothills of the Bloon Peaks, and it is known for its regular snowfall.  The last time Brish had a snowless Christmas market was in 1837.  The townsfolk have a snowman competition in the week before their market, and their efforts line the main road leading into Brish, welcoming the shoppers and visitors with smiles made of coal and carrot. 

A steam-powered engine with tiny wheels and a large chimney stack pulls a small line of carriages through the streets so that people can hop on and off at the stalls they wish to visit.  The stalls line the streets around the small square in the centre of the town, selling locally made products ranging from colourful wooden toys and decorations, to handmade chutneys, cheeses, sausages, wine and ale, to exquisite jewellery (but do not believe any seller who claims that the gems in their jewellery come from wolvern mines) and crafts and stocking fillers.  You should be able to do all of your Christmas shopping here.

Shoppers make their way to the square in the centre of Brish, laden down with their wares, ready for hot food and wine.  A large pit is dug in the centre of the town’s main carpark every year for the hog roast.  A crackling pig, bursting with juices that cause sparks to spit from the fire, slowly revolves over a large open charcoal fire, and visitors line up to claim their piece.  The stalls around the pit offer all the trimmings you could want from roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots, broccoli and parsnips, to hot chestnuts, gingerbread and candied fruits, as well as bubbling fruit wines and hot chocolate.

Choirs sing carols from the doorway of the old stone church at the far end of the square, and hand out decorations for children to place upon the tree in the courtyard. 

The Brish Christmas Market lasts for three days – so make sure you get there in plenty of time!

Lake Quietus

For the months of November through to March Lake Quietus is frozen.  It does not matter what the weather or temperature is like in the rest of the county; even during the rare mild winters where there is no snow except on the tops of the highest mountains in the Daggerrock Range, the lake freezes solid.

People move onto the ice as soon as the water has frozen.  Temporary structures, some three stories high and re-used every year, and streets are set up around the edges (in case of a sudden thaw).  Many people move on to the ice permanently during these months, living in rooms above their shops.  In years gone by there was no limit or rule as to how many or who could claim a spot on the ice.  This led to fights over spaces, the Terrible Crush of 1911, and a lot of corruption. These days there is a strict map that must be adhered to.  There are limited spaces (although it still feels crowded) and applications for a spot are restricted to traders.  The streets of stalls are kept to the periphery of the lake, as the centre is where the entertainment takes place.  The lake attracts thousands of visitors, and is at its most popular just before Christmas.  It is well worth seeing at this time of year, but to avoid the really busy periods try and plan your visit for early morning.

In the days leading up to Christmas there is a carnival atmosphere.  Fairgrounds are set up in the centre of the lake.  At first these were merry-go-rounds and stalls for shooting wooden ducks, but these days they include bumper cars, waltzers, and a rollercoaster that climbs high above the lake and takes its riders in a wild ride over the temporary streets and stalls.  Circus and music shows are put on in the large tent (bring a cushion to protect yourself from the chill).  During the day there is sled racing, curling and ice-skating. 

After Christmas the lake becomes a lot quieter, though some traders take pride in staying right up until the ice starts to finally melt in the spring.

Gnivil Forest

If you happen to be in Gnivil Forest at Christmas time you might notice something strange.

At this time of year most of the forest slumbers.  If there are foresteens amongst the leafless trees they are deeply asleep.

Well, most of them are.

You have to be quiet and patient and careful.  If they know you are there, you will not see them.

Even if you are quiet and patient and careful you might not see them. 

While the oaks, elms, beeches, birches, alders and the other warm-blooded trees sleep, it is the time for the holly, mistletoe, ivy, spruce and fir to come to life.

The best chance of seeing anything is on a clear night when the sky is full of cold white stars.

But it is only if they think nobody is looking that the winter trees light up the dark forest.

Holly berries burn brightly as their dark leaves shimmer with their own internal luminescence.  The mistletoe glows so brightly that it lights the tangled forest paths, each tiny berry a soft halo.  The ivy berries are clusters of darkness that is blacker than the night itself, so dense that they could be holes in reality. 

There are tales that those who have strayed from the forest paths and become lost are guided back by silver dust glittering amongst the needles of the firs and spruces, the only trees in the forest with any green in winter, a sign of life and resilience even in the deepest snows.  Nobody has ever collected any of this dust (though many have sought it), and it seems to only appear to those in need of guidance.  Sometimes, from a distance, an ethereal silver mist can be seen rising from the depths of Gnivil Forest, rising up to the bright stars and dissipating in the cold winter night.  If you run into the forest to try and find where it comes from, you will never find it.  

The foresteens are always elusive, but if you are quiet and patient and careful, and most of all, lucky, you might glimpse them enjoying winter.

Experience Christmas in Sylnmouth, Rookpot and Riversouth

Sylnmouth, Rookpot and Riversouth


Christmas starts in Farynshire in the port of Sylnmouth, specifically in the Sylnmouth Sentinel that has overlooked the port for over two hundred years. 

On the 1st of December every year the Sentinel’s guiding light, historically used to guide ships into the safe waters of Sylnmouth Harbour, turns red and green and sweeps across the boats and pontoons.  Then the fireworks erupt over the city, signalling the start of the festivities. 

Sylnmouth homes have already put up and decorated their trees, and at the lighthouse’s signal everyone switches the Christmas lights on.  This starts in the boats on the water, then the homes that overlook the harbour, and then ripples back from the sea into the suburbs and villages.  And it does not stop on Sylnmouth’s boundary.  Watched from the air, it must look like a wave of light washing out from Sylnmouth across the whole of Farynshire.


Rookpot tor lights up when it gets the relayed signal from the coast. 

The Ayres, one of the oldest Peer Families, decorate all of the city’s streets.  Their own magnificent hall, The View, is festooned with decorations and lights, and adorned fir trees line the drive from the road up to the house.  The View is the centre of the festive party season for the Peer families, and beautiful balls and celebrations are held every night in December.

The Peer families give the first donations to the Doorway Feast that begins as soon as the lights are switched on, and goes on until twelfth night.  Christmas meals are put out for all of the city’s citizens to enjoy in the entrances to the most famous public buildings: The Raven Theatre, The Lilac Beech, The Library, The Museum, the Cathedral, and the Council Chambers, and all the churches.  Everyone donates what they can, and an army of volunteers prepares the meals, taking them to the homes of those who are housebound.  This means that Christmas dinner happens across many nights, but it is different to the dinners everyone enjoys on the 25th because it is held with the community, out in the Squares, or on the church pews, the cold city air filled with the rich smells of roasting meat, hot broth and sizzling vegetables.

If snow falls on the city, the inevitable happens and, despite the City Council’s warning and lines of cones, the most precipitous street in the city, the Steep, becomes an impromptu sled run.  It truly is a Christmas miracle that nobody has been killed during this increasingly popular annual event.  Participants can compete to:

  • Be the Most Intact Sled to Arrive at the Bottom of the Steep
  • Have the Most Father Christmases on Board
  • Have the Most Christmassy Sled

The winners of each category receive a bottle of hot ginger rum and a net of satsumas (and a year’s worth of bragging rights).

          Dameg Square

A giant blue spruce dominates the centre of Dameg Square during the Christmas period.  The tree is chosen from the forests on the mountain of Gwyrddlas in the Bloon Peaks, and transported to the city by train from Hen Ffydd.  It is Rookpot Council’s gift to the city, and it always arrives with small parcels in the branches that anyone can take.  Over the years, people have placed their own homemade presents amongst the tree’s needles for strangers to take.  Dameg Square’s permanent sylvan resident, the bent oak that sits on the edge of the gorge, slumbers at this time of year, oblivious of the baubles, tinsel and lights that have been draped all over it by passers-by.

The dark gothic Cathedral is the focus of Christmas celebrations in the Square.  Thousands of candles make the colours in the stained glass windows blaze brightly at night.  On Christmas Eve the pews are full of Rookpotians singing carols and sharing mince pies and a few glasses of sherry.  At the end of the official service everyone spills out into the streets and the singing continues as people wander home or gather around the trees in the Square with mugs of hot chocolate and coffees (sometimes with an added shot of rum or whisky) from Lacey’s, the most popular and creative coffee shop, open late into the night at this time of year.  Eventually everyone makes their way home before Father Christmas begins his rounds.

          EassenBren Square

It’s pantomime season in The Raven Theatre in EassenBren Square.  There are usually at least three different productions throughout the season, as well as more serious offerings, ranging from family friendly through to definitely not for those with a delicate constitution.  You do not need to go into the Theatre to see a show.  Open air orchestral performances, formal and informal dances are performed on the steps of the theatre, no matter the weather.

Many of the artists’ covered workshops opposite The Lilac Beech are taken over by Christmas projects.  Hundreds of unique decorations can be bought straight from the artist, many of which appear on the fountain or on the trees in Dameg Square. 

In the city’s (probably the county’s) most famous bookshop, The Lilac Beech, shivering visitors pour themselves a mug of wassail from the punch bowl, and then sit in the comfy armchairs in front of the open fire.  The small Christmas tree twinkles with lights, and paper chains loop over and around the bookshelves.  All of the Christmas cards received by the bookshop are strung together and hung from the ceiling beams.  Holly and mistletoe entwine around the wrought iron staircase that links all the floors together.  The shop bustles as people try to find a last minute present, shuffling around the tables piled high with books.  Their purchases are placed in colourful paper bags and tied with string; if you see anyone with such a bag around Rookpot you know they have been to The Lilac Beech.


In Riversouth, Christmas, like everything else, revolves around the Meyrick.

The Meyrick’s Gift is presented to the incumbent Meyrick, and is traditionally from all of the people in Riversouth.  A procession of children make their way up the Zag to the White Palace, and the Meyrick opens the gates and accepts the gift.  Since the mid-nineteenth century the gates have then been left open and the children lead the local people into the White Palace for the Commoners’ Feast.  This is a lavish affair held in the Golden Hall, and it is the only time of year that most people ever get to see inside the White Palace, let alone attend a party paid for by the Meyrick. 

On Christmas day every Riversouth house will find a gift outside their front door, wrapped in blue and white paper and tied with a silver ribbon.  The small silver card is inscribed with the words: From your Meyrick.

The Ocean Frost Ball is the most anticipated event in the Farynshire social calendar.  This invitation-only gala brings together the county’s high society in a glittering event that raises eye-watering amounts of money for various good causes. 

The only limitations placed on the design of the ball is that it must adhere to the Meyrick’s colours of silver and blue.  The best, biggest and most luxuriant white tree is felled from the Meyrick’s personal forest (which is made up of albino versions of oaks, beeches, elms, firs, spruces etc.) and brought to the centre of the Golden Hall where it is embellished with ropes of thin silver loops and chains and bright bejewelled (with real jewels) baubles. 

The guests waltz around the tree to music played by orchestral groups from Farynshire, and the Meyrick’s own hand-picked string quartet leads the way.  Once the dancing is over the guests move outside to the wide terrace that overlooks the ocean.  This terrace sits at the very edge of the White Crag.  A magnificent silver and blue fireworks display entertains the guests, and the rest of Riversouth, and any seafolk that might be passing by. 

After the fireworks is the feast, widely known as the Feast of Farynshire.  A selection of wines is served in crystal glasses: rich ruby root from the vineyards on the distant slopes of Gwyrddlas, sparkling Marwolaeth White, and the slightly salty Pink Prydferth.  The menu is always made up of produce from around Farynshire, and could look something like this:


Smoked salmon from the River Spurtle with fresh dill from the fields of Cheth Aracely

Roasted parsnip soup with fresh cream from the small village of Hessen. 

Main Course

Turkey from Riversouth farms

Sea bass caught from the sea around Riversouth. 

Please help yourself to anything from the mountains of crispy roast potatoes, parsnips, butter-glazed sprouts and broccoli, honeyed carrots, and red cabbage with walnuts and apple (all harvested from the gardens, orchards and fields from across the county).


Rum-soaked Christmas pudding

Spiced apple, smooth ice cream and cranberry port.

After dinner, if the guests are able to, there is more dancing.  For those who are too stuffed to dance there are large fires and hot ginger punch.

For a wilder Christmas, see how they celebrate in Caer Ddewin, Brish. Lake Quietus and Gnivil Forest

Travels through Farynshire: Aracely Cheth

Aracely Cheth is where Aracely Tookley the poet retired to, and it is said he watches over the village even to this day, nearly a hundred and fifty years after he died.  It is unique and remarkable in many other ways as well, particularly with regards to its name: it is the only place in the Riversouth region to be named for someone who was never Meyrick, and it has no Musril in it, nor can it be translated into Musril.

The village nestles behind the Sussen Orchelflilin, and you get to it by walking down a winding earth path with steep banks on either side, which must be fun to sled down during winter.  During summer it is like walking through a cool, green tunnel, as the delicate branches from the smooth-trunked trees (beeches, maybe?) on the banks meet overhead, and narrow beams of dust-filled sunlight filter through.

The path ends in a long wheatfield, and you can see the stubby church tower over the tall plants.  At the other end of the field is the bridge that arches over the mill pond passed the slow-moving water wheel and leads into Aracely Cheth.  The River Spurtle burbles happily amongst the bulrushes and the reeds.

This is the oldest part of the village, the part that Aracely Tookley himself helped designed, probably laid a brick or two for, and allegedly wholly paid for (according to the ledgers in the White Palace archives, anyway).  History is not entirely clear on how a wandering poet, who relied on charity and the goodwill of others to feed and clothe himself, saved enough money to build an entire village, but most suspect that the fact it is in Riversouth is no coincidence.  There are salacious rumours about the poet and the Meyrick that have been the subject of more than one novel.  Historians believe that Aracely Tookley was sponsored in some way by the Meyrick of his time – he certainly enjoyed staying at the White Palace (who wouldn’t?).  And the poet was obviously favoured so much that the strict naming conventions for places in Riversouth were cast aside for him.  Whatever the true relationship between Aracely Tookley and the White Palace, it is likely that Aracely Cheth was paid for from the Meyrick’s bottomless purse.

And if quaint is your thing, it’s worth every penny. 

The rough stone bridge lands in the dusty main street.  Immediately opposite is the pub, The Poet, with a flattering, smiling portrait of Aracely Tookley welcoming everyone to his village.  This is where we were staying the night, and we left our bags in the small guest rooms in the back garden before going for a drink.

In summer the lawn outside the pub is full of tables and people sitting on the grass.  We took our glasses of Riversouth’s own sparkling blush (a pleasant fizzy cider from Aracely Cheth’s own orchards) and sat on a long wooden bench overlooking the River Spurtle.

The River Spurtle winds its slow, peaceful way through the village, long green weeds trailing downstream.  The rising bank across from the pub is where the village’s orchards grow, and when the trees are full of leaves and apples you can just about see the thatched roofs of the cottages amongst the foliage.  A jetty sticks out into the river at the bottom of the hill, and from this a flat-bottomed raft pushed off and drifted across the water.  A large woman stood at one end and occasionally stuck a pole taller than herself into the weeds to guide the raft towards where we sat.

The raft deposited two elderly gentlemen onto the smooth lawn, the steerswoman made sure they were alright, and then she set back off across the Spurtle. 

“Crowded today, Stan.”

“Sunshine always attracts outsiders, Ned.  I’ll get them in; you grab that bench.  These young ‘uns won’t mind shifting up a bit.”

And so we found ourselves sitting next to Ned, a very pleasant gentleman with a bald head and thousands of wrinkles.

He welcomed us to the village and asked where we had come from.  When we said Riversouth he looked like he had a sour sweet stuck between his few remaining teeth.

“Never been there, myself.  Hear it’s big.”

We confirmed that it was, and Ned then went on to boast that he had spent his whole life in Aracely Cheth.

“And just last year I moved across to the Retirement.” He indicated the orchard on the rising hill across the river.

The Retirement, explained Ned, was built at Aracely’s insistence; homes exclusively set aside for the elderly of the village, so that they never need fear homelessness, and could stay in the village for all of their life.  Those born in the village get priority, but it also applies to elderly relatives of any inhabitants of the village.  Nobody can buy the cottages, and the Village Council are responsible for allocating the homes, ensuring that the cottages are looked after and the residents cared for.

Stan returned from The Poet holding a tray with three pints shining like gold in the warm summer sun.  He handed one to Ned and raised the other to Aracely Tookley’s flaking portrait.

“To the poet!” he declared cheerfully.

“To the poet,” agreed Ned.  He drank half of his pint in one glug and sighed appreciatively.  “You have to buy a drink for ‘im,” he said.

“All he ever asked for,” said Stan.

We left Ned and Stan to their bench and wandered around the village.

It is clear that the community is at the centre of Aracely Cheth.  The village folk welcome visitors well enough, though I suspect their warm friendly smiles and generous hospitality are motivated by the custom for the small high street.  It is rare for outsiders to move into the idyllic village because properties hardly ever come on to the market, and it is likely that most of the families who live here can trace their lineage right back to the laying of the first stone of the village.  The village itself has not expanded much beyond its original borders.  I remember reading in an old newspaper in Rookpot Library about recurring rumours about a proposed housing development in the fields surrounding Aracely Cheth.  But every time it looked as though planning permission might be approved, the land is bought up (usually by an anonymous benefactor) and becomes a re-wilding project, or a new or once-thought-extinct creature is suddenly discovered (the elusive Aracely Cheth newt is notorious for setting up home in any field visited by a curious property developer).

And so the village remains Olde Worlde, in a vintage Christmas card kind of way.  Thatched cottages line the streets, their front gardens all neat lawns with beautiful rose borders, fragrant in the summer air.  Some of the outside walls were covered in purple or white flowers, and bees work furiously in their depths.

The high street is also the village square, and it is where you will find the general store, the butcher’s, the bakery, the greengrocer’s, the gallery, and the shop known as The Treasure Trof.  If the villagers need anything that these shops cannot provide they can go to Riversouth (or send someone on their behalf). 

The Treasure Trof attracts visitors by itself. It is said that it is stocked full of items from The White Palace. These can range from gold trinkets, supposedly rare personal items from past Meyricks, to everyday items from the kitchen and gardens. Authenticity is never guaranteed, and you are not supposed to ask how the Trof acquires its stock. The shop has existed for over a hundred years, and most suspect there is some crossover between the family who established the Trof, and own it to this day, the Birchleys, and the Oakleys who have worked as maids, cooks and footmen at The White Palace since the nineteeth century.

We had a look around, and I bought a blue glass knife and fork set that, according to the label attached to them by string, had once been the only things Meyrick the Diviner would eat with. I was sceptical of the story, but kept the label anyway.

We spent some time in the gallery which exhibits local artists from the Riversouth area.  Much like poets, artists find plenty of inspiration in this beautiful part of the county, and the walls of the gallery are full of depictions of the sea, Riversouth, cliffs and countryside.  I bought a small print of a watercolour of The Poet and the water mill.  Felix seemed less impressed and decided not to buy anything.

We wandered back to The Poet for a late dinner.  It was early evening – time, like everything else, meanders at a leisurely pace in Aracely Cheth, where the word rushed is never uttered.

Ned and Stan were long gone, as were most of the other people, and the lawns were cooler and more peaceful. 

The salads are the thing to try in The Poet.  The local fields are rich with a wide variety of produce, and sometimes Aracely Cheth is known as Riversouth’s Kitchen Garden (I’m not sure how pleased the villagers are about this). 

I had a bizarre but delicious bowl called Summer Delights that consisted of grated carrot, peeled and chopped apples, polished radishes, strips of some sort of root that tasted both fiery and earthy, strawberries, gooseberries, something bright green that I suspect came from the river, sweet cherry tomatoes, a selection of beans, and mint, all bathed in a slightly spicy dressing.  Felix’s dish was called Hedgerow, and I thought he was very brave for even ordering it, but it did look unbelievably good in its earthen bowl.  It was mostly green leaves, mixed with blue and delicate blue and purple flowers and a few nuts, and Felix said that there was a mild taste of garlic.

We watched the sun set behind the orchards on the Retirement, casting a pink glow of the river.  As the first stars appeared we left a pint of cider on the table for the poet, and retired to our guest rooms at the back of the pub.

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)

Travels through Farynshire: on the Coastal Path

Farynshire’s Coastal Path runs (as you might expect) alongside the county’s entire coastline. It is a great way to see all of Farynshire’s faces, because it runs from the wild Maw Cauldron, through the beautiful countryside, above Riversouth, and then passed the coastal villages on the wide sands, and right up to lonely Tropsog (Farynshire’s least appealing town, and not a place that will feature in these Travels). One day I will follow in the footsteps of those who have walked the entire route.

But I will have to save it for my retirement. 

We planned on walking the Path from Riversouth to the seaside resort of Tel Yarridge, via the village of Aracely Cheth.  Once at Tel-Yarridge, we could easily have strolled onwards to Tor Calon, where the rest of Felix’s ap Hullin clan live, but he insisted we swing inland up the River Spurtle and then make our way to Oes.  I’m not complaining – that will take us through some of Farynshire’s most stunning countryside, and we’ll get to Tor Calon eventually.

From Riversouth you can easily join the Path across a small bridge that sits at the base of the Zag.  There is no sign, but everyone knows that the shingle you step onto is part of the longest path in Farynshire.  The path is much more gentle than the Zag, meandering up the green sward and onto the clifftop meadows.

The cliffs are known as the Sussen Orchelflilin (rough translation: the Southern Cliffs that overlook the Ocean – but it sounds more melodic in Musril) and they rise up and away from the White Crag, a long white wall behind Riversouth, that continues beyond Meyshore Bay, and ends up sloping down to Tel-Yarridge. 

It is one of the most beautiful stretches of the Path, as it passes through the Bremey Meadows.  The Meadows are not officially a Natural Park, but they do not need to be because they fall under the protection of the Meyrick and the White Palace.  We can thank Aracely Tookley for this.  I do not think he is much known over the Daggerrock Mountains, but he is the county’s most famous poet.  You will see plaques and monuments to him in most towns and villages, because he did not call anywhere home until late in life, and he roamed Farynshire’s roads and highways, accepting hospitality where he was offered it.  The White Palace never refused him a bed, so he understandably spent quite a bit of time in Riversouth.  And he particularly enjoyed wandering in the Bremey Meadows.  His musings on the Meadows are considered some of his most exquisite verse, and his words were so powerful that they persuaded the Meyrick of the time to place the Sussen Orchelflilin under the White Palace’s protection.  Had this not happened they would no doubt now be known by the much less romantic Bremey Housing Estate. 

To be fair, anyone would want to live here, overlooking Riversouth and the wild sea beyond.  It would be glorious.  But it is even more glorious to walk through the wildflower meadows that shiver in the salty winds whipping up from the waves.  I wish we had bought a book that listed all the different kinds of flowers that grow there, but as we didn’t, all I can say is that most of them seemed to be yellow when we were there, and it was like walking through sunlight.  In the summer the meadows are full of people enjoying picnics or sunbathing or just wandering, lost in their thoughts.  There are also hikers, of course, walking determinedly along the Path, a destination in mind, map in hand, backpacks secure.  We were in no rush, so we slowed down and let the power walkers pass us by. 

There are no trees on the cliffs, not even any shrubs, and the only structures are the remains of seven round stone forts situated near the edge.  They are known as the Stones, and they have watched over Riversouth for hundreds of years.  Their true origins are lost in history, which many scholars have found strange considering the White Palace’s fastidious record-keeping.  The Lilac Beech has shelves rammed with books and pamphlets containing theories, arguments and discourse on the origins of the Stones and why they do not appear in any official records.  Some of these tomes are … fanciful, to say the least.  The one I am most convinced by (one of the core texts on the reading list for my Understanding Riversouth and its Places module) is that they were built sometime during the sixth century.  The stone the fort is made of has been dated back at least that far.  The theory also explains the lack of any records because there is a suspicion that the Meyricks in the fifth century were at war with the seafolk, and either the records were destroyed in a battle, or there was no opportunity to keep any.  The theory goes that the Stones were built as lookout stations, manned outposts that could warn the then small settlement of Kelsussen under the White Crag of an impending attack from armies from beneath the waves.

Before anyone gets too excited (like my first year seminar group did) I will point out that there is no archaeological, record of any conflict whatsoever around Riversouth.  Plenty of ancient wrecks and archaeology have been found all along Farynshire’s coastline, and especially in Meyshore Bay, but there is so sign of any war from anything that has been recovered so far. 

Although their purpose may not be specifically seafolk-related, it is likely that the Stones were built as outlook stations, even if it was only to guide ships back into the Bay’s calm waters.  Three of the Stones are now just rockeries overgrown by weeds and flowers; one has only three of its walls standing, its roof has long since caved in; and the two furthest from the White Palace are the most intact.  We went up the one called Norssenhin just because there were fewer picnickers scattered around it.

Someone has thoughtfully wound some rope around the crumbling central column that supports the spiral staircase – I’m not convinced this really makes it safe, but it’s the thought that counts. 

Once you are standing on the weathered battlements you can see the incredible panorama of Meyshore Bay, the White Crag and Riversouth, the ocean beyond, and looking back, the vast shimmering expanse of wildflowers.  You don’t even think about how it came to be there, you’re standing on top of the world, seeing the best of the world.  Of course what you’re really looking for, what everyone looks for, is a glimpse of a seafolken in the waves.  Maybe just a head or two, bobbing above the white surf, or even the flash of a tail as a mermaid dives back into the depths, or maybe possibly even the rare sight of a seafolken leaping right out of the water and performing an acrobatic marvel before disappearing into the ocean with hardly a splash.

We didn’t see any of that.  We stayed for quite a while because I was sure a seafolken would appear at any moment.  If you believe the graffiti carved into the ancient stone the sea is alive with hundreds of seafolk.  There are doodles of mermaids, the names of those who have stood where we were, and dates of seafolk sightings.  The most recent one that I could find was 2014, which gave me hope.  In the end Felix had to insist that we leave if we wanted to make our reservations in Aracely Cheth.  If we had thought about it we would have booked overnight accommodation in Riversouth and stayed on Norssenhin to watch the stars come out, and the city below come alive with illuminations.  Something else I will need to come back to Riversouth for!

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)


Musril is not technically classed as a dead language, but its prospects do not look good.

It is Farynshire’s native language, and it has never been spoken beyond the Daggerrock Mountains in the rest of England.  Even within Farynshire’s borders it is considered a niche language: both English and Welsh are spoken more widely and are generally more prevalent in everyday life. 

Keeping it on life support are the Riversouth Scribe.  The Scribe is situated in the White Palace in the city of the Meyrick, and is a collective of Musril scholars, academics and experts.  The head of the group is also, confusingly, called the Scribe.  The Scribe’s self-defined role is to preserve, defend and promote the integrity of Musril.  Riversouth is the only place where Musril is spoken widely, although even here it is spoken as more of a patois with plenty of English and Welsh in the mix.  Schools in Riversouth teach Musril, but few students opt to carry on learning the language passed secondary school age. 

The spoken language may be on the wane, even within the county’s borders, but written Musril is more widespread, particularly in geographical names: towns, villages, and natural features such as rivers, mountains and woods.  The Scribe in Riversouth has campaigned to have Musril on all road signs in Farynshire, with mixed success.  In the area around Rookpot, English is usually the only language on a sign, unless a place name has Welsh or Musril elements (such as Wessentor or Cwm Purne).  In the mountains, Peaks and foothills all the signs are written in English and Welsh, with a smattering of Musril in Wild Wolvern Mey where Riversouth’s influence was once dominant and now lingers in place names that include the Mey element (Meyvale, Bremey, Mistymey etc.).  In Riversouth itself the signs are written in Musril, with a small English translation included on the most important and life-saving ones. 

Musril’s survival and future may lie in a surprising place.  One of the most interesting revelations that has come from the re-emergence of the wolvern is the confirmation that Musril is spoken by the other Peoples. It appears that Musril is the only language spoken by the wolvern, and it has enabled clear communications between the Bloon Peaks Clan and the expeditions sent from Rookpot to learn about them. The expeditions have brought back many wonderful and intriguing objects (many on display in Rookpot Museum’s Cold Earth Exhibition), and these have included fascinating examples of wolvern Musril writings.

This revelation has had a dramatic impact on the Scribe.  They have believed themselves to be the guardians of the purest form of Musril, forever battling the corrupting influences of the foreign invaders, English and Welsh.  Mischievous and provocative academics in Rookpot University have pointed out that the wolvern version of Musril must be more pure, because it is completely uncontaminated by other languages.  To their credit, once they had gotten over their initial indignation, the Scribe’s curiosity took over, and they sent representatives to join the Museum expeditions to the wolvern clans in the Bloon Peaks both as translators and in order to learn about the wolvern Musril.

There has not yet been conformation that the foresteens or seafolk speak Musril, but Diggers from Rookpot Museum, and academics from Rookpot University, are engaged in research projects to investigate this further.  The implications of the research are very exciting: Musril could be the common language between the Peoples, and it could be the key in reaching out to establish good relations.  It also raises questions, the main one being how can the Peoples speak the same language?

Travels through Farynshire: The White Crag

I suspect that the White Crag is the reason there are so many poets in Riversouth; it has been said that the sight of it stirs the soul.  I’m not a poet, but even I can see that it is beautiful.  It looks like a giant wave, rising up over Meyshore Bay, jutting out into the sea that crashes into the rocks at the bottom of the hundred foot chalk-face.  The White Palace sits right at the top of this cliff, gleaming white but presumably not made out of chalk.  Its gardens sweep back down the slopes of the Crag, and some of these are open to the public.

The Zag starts at the end of the Promenade, winding its steep way up the Crag.  When you start off it’s not too bad: just a nice pleasant slope that’s quite wide and dusty, and there are a few benches on the grass verges where you can sit to watch the sea.  But then the path becomes narrower and steeper as it cuts through head-high gorse bushes.  We had a couple of unpleasant moments in the gorse as we stood aside to let people coming down the Zag passed.  The gorse ends quite abruptly, and it’s best to be prepared when it does, because you are suddenly at the edge of the cliff.

I had not realised how far we had climbed through the gorse, but suddenly we were in a blustering sea breeze, and the open ocean stretched to the horizon in front of us.  When we looked back toward Riversouth, I could not believe how small everything was; the Ferris wheel on the Promenade looked like a toy.  That at least gave me something to focus on, a distraction from the unexpected drop that just opens up right in front of you.  Well, that’s what it feels like anyway.  You don’t actually fall, but I wonder how many did before the inadequate “fence” was put up – a fence that consisted of three parallel wires that would not bear the weight of a falling cushion.

The path twists sharply along the cliff edge, and although it feels precarious walking so close to the brink, you can cling to the wall of grass on your other side.

The path hugs the side of the cliff as it winds its way up the Crag.  It widens out at certain points, and there are benches where you can rest and take in the view.  My favourite part of the Zag is a wildflower rockery where delicate pink and purple flowers grow out of  an old rockfall, carpeting the boulders in delicate blooms.  It looks like someone’s garden, but apparently it is completely natural.

The Zag is a good place to birdwatch, and there are always a few brave souls stationed at various vantage points, usually right on the edge of the cliff, their cameras pointing at the sky.  We heard the screeching of the gulls and kittiwakes from the colonies on the cliff walls, and saw birds hanging in the wind over the waves.

When the path starts to wind away from the cliff edge you know you’re reaching the top – well, as close to the top as the Meyrick will allow the public to get.

The path opens up, there are fewer rocks and wild flowers, and then the first cottages appear.  There is a small village just outside the Palace gates that house whatever support staff the Meyrick needs that do not live in the Palace grounds.  At least, that was their original purpose, but these days one of them is a pub, another a souvenir shop, and the tea shop used to be where the stablehands once lived.

The Ice Parlour is the first place anyone who has climbed the Zag goes too.  Its tiny courtyard sits opposite the Tall Gates, the gold-tipped, white iron gates set in the wall that circumvents the Palace Grounds, protecting the Meyrick from their people.  Every morning the blast of a horn wakes the entire city and signals the opening of the Tall Gates to let tourists wander into the public areas of the Grounds.  We watched the comings and goings whilst sipping on our ice-cream, which is the only way to consume frothcream, Riversouth’s own ice-cream.  It really is the lightest, frothiest ice-cream ever, with a hint of salt in every flavour.  Felix used a straw to devour his pink froth, whereas I was able to drink my blue holly sparkle after it quickly melted under the summer sun.

There is a face in the Tall Gates’ intricately wrought white iron, the smiling face of the Meyrick who opened the gardens to the public, Meyrick the Goodly.  There are debates as to whether she opened the gates due to her generosity and love for her people, or whether it was a more cynical move to silence the anti-Meyrick factions in Riversouth.  It certainly achieved the latter (for a while), and earned her the epithet of Goodly.

The Palace Grounds are immaculate.  There are no “Do Not Walk On The Grass” signs because nobody would dare tread upon the perfect lawns.  The borders are a riot of colour, each divided into regimented solid blocks of one colour, and there is a small plaque beside each one explaining what kinds of flowers it contains.  There is not a weed in sight nor a stone out of place.  The borders lead to the Parade Lawn, a sunken field used for the many ceremonies and events.  Surrounding the field are life-size statues of past Meyricks who supported the local arts in their lifetime.  I think the sculptors were going for dramatic or contemplative for the poses they chose for their illustrious subjects, but Felix thought that Meyrick the Seventh Tall’s expression conveyed that he could permanently smell his own farts.

There are two permanent exhibitions in the Great Sussen Hall, a Gothic building with Meyrick-faced gargoyles looking down from every gutter.

The Scribe of Riversouth is a must-see for any student of Musril (Ammacaedda edit: more info on Musril here).  The Scribe (there is actually one person who carries the title of Scribe, but The Scribe also refers to a whole department of scholars and academics) is seen as the guardian of Farynshire’s language, Musril.  The exhibition contains documents from around the county that show off how widespread the language is, with exhibits ranging from legal documents from Rookpot, diaries from Riversouthern fishermen, elaborate scripture written at the command of Meyricks by past Scribes, to modern road signs.  I think I’ll be spending a lot of time here in my final year, sifting through the documents in the Scribe’s archives.  I haven’t quite decided on my dissertation topic yet, but I know it’s going to revolve around Musril.

The second exhibition is the more popular one because it focuses on the Meyrick.  It is quite a good broad history of the Meyrick, an unbroken line that has lasted for over a thousand years in the White Palace, and who knows how many centuries before that.  A portrait of the current Meyrick welcomes you in, and as you pass the information board the tour guide or pre-recording explains the current duties and expectations of the incumbent.  But most people hurry passed this to the best bit of the exhibition: Nick-Namer’s Corner.

The Nick-Namer is an official and very serious role, for they bestow the epithet upon each Meyrick.  Before the Nick-Namer role it was left to popular opinion to bestow an appellation upon a Meyrick, which is how we ended up with five Meyrick the Shorts, nine Talls, fifteen Goods and three Fleshy-Lips.  But if the Meyrick thought that an official appointment might result in fewer embarrassing epithets they were sadly mistaken.  I particularly enjoy the Nick-Namers who employed a theme, which have resulted in successive Meyricks being named after garden tools (the Spade, the Planter, and the Shears), the condition of their hair (the Balded, the Curly, Bush-head, and Silky-locks), and virtues (the Noble, the Fair, the Magnificent, and the True).  The epithet rarely describes the attributes of the wearer, they are just a useful way of distinguishing between Meyricks.

Everything beyond the Great Sussen Hall is private land that only those who live in the White Palace can enjoy.  You can glimpse the back of the White Palace through the always-closed, ivy-covered gate that blocks your way, but that is as close as you can get.

There is a lovely walk back to the Tall Gates along a low wall right on the edge of the cliff.  The views over the ocean, the still and glittering waters of Meyshore Bay, and the pristine city of Riversouth, are breath-taking.  If you wait long enough you will see dolphins leaping from the waves.  And some believe that if you wait for a really long time you will see seafolk.

When we passed back through the Tall Gates, we got the bus back down the Crag to Riversouth.

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)

Voices of Rookpot 1

water droplets in flowing water
Photo by Chris F on

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 Voices of Rookpot Archive contains personal accounts from everyday Rookpotians.  The oldest example is from the eleventh century, and the most recent are a collection of podcasts from 2020.

One of their completed projects brought together recollections from the 1903 Flood. These diaries, interviews, letters and testimonies formed an exhibition that allowed the public a rare insight into what life was like in Rookpot during this extraordinary period when the city was cut off from the rest of the county.


Below are extracts from some of the sources in the exhibition.



David Ivor Crunn

Lived at 34, Apple Orchard Gardens

Age during the flood: 10

This interview appeared in The County Voice in 1923 during the paper’s coverage of the construction of the new flood defences for Lower Winding Park Estate. 

How many flood survivors have you interviewed?  Did you find any that were opposed to the defence plan?  We know it’s expensive – but if you had seen what we had you would not care about the cost.

I lived with my mum and dad and two sisters in one of the newer streets off Down Lower Winding Street, which was really on the pastures rather than the tor.

We heard the water burst out of the gorge.  It sounded like something had exploded, and we had no idea what it was at first.  There was this constant roaring sound, and we now know that it was the water.  Nobody knew what to do, and I think a lot of people stayed where they were, because although we could all tell there was something very very wrong, we didn’t know where it was coming from.  If we left our homes we might run straight toward whatever it was.

We were lucky because my Aunt Hillie lived above Dameg Square – we were always visiting her.  So mum quickly grabbed what she could, and we all carried something, and we started to walk up the tor.  As soon as we left the house the noise got even louder.  And there were people shouting all over the place, as they moved up the tor.

We had reached Mid-Upper Winding Crescent when the crowd surged forward – people were pushing us from behind.  My dad picked up my little sister, and my big sister grabbed my hand.  The mood had changed from uncertain fear into outright panic.  It was a stampede through the streets, and more and more people joined us, pushing from all sides, crushing us altogether.

My sister and I lost our parents and our little sister for a few streets – that was the most scared I ever was, because we could have been trampled.  We heard people screaming “keep running!” and “the water!”  It was terrifying to hear so many frightened adults.  We found the rest of our family on one of the Upper Lower Winding roads.  For the first time we looked back down the tor at what we were running from.  It was black – just completely black.  The slopes of the tor are usually lit up at night – warm light from lamp-posts and homes.  The slopes below us were utterly devoid of light, and it felt like they were devoid of life, except for the roaring sound.

Instinctively the crowds headed for Dameg Square, the centre of the city, the place everyone goes in times of trouble.  We carried on passed the Square and up to Aunt Hillie’s house, and cried with relief when she opened the door.

We learned about the flood the next day.  Dad took me and my older sister to Upper Lower Winding Arch Crescent, where the water had stopped.  Looking out over the pastures was a shock.  The patchwork of fields and hedges, with the Darkflint snaking its way through the landscape, was now all underwater.  We knew that our house, and everything in it, was gone.  Hundreds of houses on the lower slopes were now underwater, you could just about see rooves and the tops of lamp-posts, but even they sunk below the water further down the slopes.  I tried not to think about the people who had stayed in their homes.

We were lucky, though I don’t think we realised that for quite a while!  We all stayed with Aunt Hillie in her lovely old house, whereas most of the others – the displaced, we were called – were put into the Council Chambers and the Cathedral in Dameg Square, or sent to other halls and churches.

My dad always deals with stress by keeping busy, and he volunteered early on as a salvager, which meant he went out onto the floodwaters to retrieve anything useful.  I was really proud of him – still am – because salvaging was dangerous work, and four people lost their lives.  In the first couple of weeks salvagers rescued eighty more people from the lower slopes who had taken refuge on the rooves of their houses.  My sister and I couldn’t leave the street, especially when Mum became a watcher, so we were relieved when the schools opened in November.  Our school was in the Raven Theatre, which was just the best place – I loved going to school there.  Aunt Hillie opened up her house to be a school and care centre for the young children, which my little sister went to.

Rookpot has always been robust; robustness is in the cobbles, the chimney stacks, the bricks, the walls of the gorge.  It has really bounced back, like we all knew it would.  It helped that everyone living in Rookpot who is over eighteen years old was invited to contribute to the Clean-Up and Forward Planning committees.  The whole community got to decide how the Rookpot Flood Relief Trust should be spent.  And now it’s being used to fund new developments out on the pastures.  We think this is really wonderful, and we support the expansion.

We just think that it is prudent to include flood defences – so we never have to go through anything like 1903 again.  


 Will Bebb

Ninth Councillor

Age during flood: 38

This extract was taken from the transcripts of Rookpot Council’s 1903 Flood Investigative Committee.  Bebb appeared before the Committee on five separate occasions; this extract is taken from the session on managing the initial stages of the crisis.


[Committee Chair]: Could you please state your name for our record, please?

[Will Bebb]: You want me to introduce meself?  Sure, of course.  My name is William Samuel Bebb, and I was the Ninth Councillor of Rookpot in 1903.  I’m Sixth Councillor now.  The Ninth Councillor’s role is traditionally to support the Second Councillor; it is a training position, basically, a good way to break into local politics, get a feel for how things are done, make some contacts.

I’ll say right now that Second Councillor Cafell could not have done more.  I know it’s the First Councillor that’s always lauded for his effective leadership – and I ain’t here to dispute that, he was certainly good at the fancy speeching side of things.  But no one, certainly no one on the Council, worked harder than Second Councillor Merritt Cafell.

[Committee Chair]: I just wanted to start off by clarifying something – you were the one who opened up the Council Chambers to the displaced, were you not?

[Will Bebb]: I was.

[Committee Chair]: Why the Council Chambers?  You must have known the Council would need them.

[Will Bebb]: It was the biggest place I had a key to.  I live off William Tyndale Crescent, and I saw ‘em coming.  They needed somewhere to go, and there was nowhere else I could have taken them.

[Committee Chair]: Did you know at this point what had happened?

[Will Bebb]: The people told us, so we knew there was a flood, but we thought it was a burst water pipe that had flooded a couple of streets; we had no idea as to the true scale of the disaster.

The Second Councillor immediately organised for water pumps and sand bags to be sent to the Lower Windings, so that the floodwaters did not rise further into the city.

He also took over the Library in Dameg Square, because the Chambers was full of people.  The Library became our HQ.

[Committee Chair]: It was Second Councillor Cafell who introduced the Constraints, is that correct?

[Will Bebb]: That’s correct, yes.

[Committee Chair]: There was no Council debate, was there?  The Second Councillor introduced them on his own authority?

[Will Bebb]: There was no time for a debate.  That first day was utter chaos.  The displaced had fled in the early hours of the morning.  When the sun rose, crowds gathered in the Lower Windings – people wanted to see the floodwater, and some folk tried to get back to their flooded homes to rescue belongings, pets or family members they had lost contact with.  I think they finally said the death toll from the night the flood hit was over two hundred people.

[Committee Chair]: They recovered a hundred and twenty four bodies when the waters receded.  Seventy six people were reported missing and their bodies were never found.  So yes, close to two hundred fatalities.

[Will Bebb]: Terrible, just terrible.  We did not know that at the time, of course.  Everything was confusion and panic.  On the 7th of October people started to panic buy from the shops, and then they just started clearing the shelves, looting anything they could carry.  A few houses were broken in to.  All on the first day.

We needed to regain control and establish some order.  So the Second Councillor initiated the Constraints.  He had First Councillor Slarrock’s support.

A cordon was put in place in the Lower Windings so that civilians could not enter the floodwaters.  To stop the looting and the general confusion on the streets people were confined to their homes.  This was later relaxed to give people the freedom of their street.

[Committee Chair]: This all put enormous strain on Rookpot Constabulary.

[Will Bebb]: It did initially.  That’s why the Watchers Corps was set up.  We wanted at least three on every street to ensure people complied with the Constraints.  As it turned out, we got over a thousand volunteers, city-wide, which exceeded our expectations, and took a lot of pressure off the police.  The watchers had no police powers, you understand, but they could stop and report anyone who broke the Constraints.

[Committee Chair]: What were their responsibilities?

[Will Bebb]: They set up the checkpoints, and were the point of contact for everyone in their street.  They drew up inventories of all the food and medical supplies their street had and needed, and they reported to Library HQ.  We did not know how long Rookpot would be cut off, so we needed to do a city-wide stocktake and then ration supplies fairly.

[Committee Chair]: Did the watchers issue the passes?

[Will Bebb]: They did not issue them – Library HQ did that – but they did check everyone’s pass at the checkpoints.

[Committee Chair]: What were the different grades of passes?

[Will Bebb]: There were the free passes, which all Councillors, police officers and health workers had, and these allowed complete freedom of the city.  There were occupation passes for those who had to leave their homes to carry out an important job, like a shopkeeper, the boatmen, various other supply chain or administrative roles – these passes allowed travel between specific points in the city.

[Committee Chair]: We have the list of occupations here.

[Will Bebb]: That’s the final list.  The longer the city was cut off, the more occupations were added.  We ended up with over a hundred, I think.

[Committee Chair]: A hundred and fifty eight.

[Will Bebb]: All essential occupations, I’m sure.  The final grade of passes were called neighbourhood passes, and they were for those who looked after vulnerable people, helping with shopping, cleaning, keeping an eye on them.  Some called them caring passes.

The Constraints were designed manage the situation as best as possible.  They were gradually relaxed as we came to rely on other methods like the ration cards.

[Committee Chair]: When were the boatmen recruited?

[Will Bebb]: As soon as we realised we needed to get word out!  The telephones on the tor were not working – I think an exchange went down in the flood.

It was a bit of a challenge, because there ain’t many boats on the tor!

There were already salvagers who were trying to recover items from the floodwaters.  They had made boats, or things that floated anyway, out of all sorts of things: furniture, outbuildings, anything they could get hold of.  We commandeered the salvagers and organised them into the Rookpot Fleet.

[Committee Chair]: Isn’t “fleet” a bit of a grandiose term?

[Will Bebb]: I don’t think so.  We wouldn’t have survived without them – and I don’t think I’m being overly dramatic in saying that.

The flood waters were difficult to navigate, because there were submerged obstacles and dangers, and the waters were very choppy for the first few weeks.  Real boats would have found conditions a challenge, what we had was a flotilla of cabinets, wardrobes, doors – including the fifteenth century oak doors from the Cathedral – fence panels, beds, and three preserved boarhide coracles from the Museum vaults.  They set up a supply chain across the water, and it was dangerous work.

They were our only contact with the outside world.  The first boat to return informed us that a Rookpot Relief Station had been set up in Cwm Purne, and efforts were coordinated from there to receive donations and support from all over Farynshire.  They had warehouses full of all sorts of supplies for us.  They sent newspapers and radios so we could stay up-to-date with the news.  They were also a mail service, so we could stay in contact with people outside the city.  Small boats had been sent from Riversouth and Sylnmouth and the villages on the coast.  These were the boats we used for the exodus.

The Rookpot Fleet was crewed by a group of very brave volunteers, most of whom had no prior sailing experience.

[Committee Chair]: We know that some of them charged extra for their services.  There have been many trials.

[Will Bebb]: That was a tiny number.  I will not allow the bravery and self-sacrifice of the overwhelming majority to be subsumed by the selfish opportunism of a few individuals – all of whom were brought to justice subsequently.

The fleet kept supplies coming into Rookpot, allowing the Council to relax the Constraints, and ensured communication lines were kept open in both directions.

[Committee Chair]: Thank you, Sixth Councillor.  Your passionate recollection is fascinating, and will be preserved in our records.

[Will Bebb]: Good.  This was an extraordinary experience to live through.  And I will never forget how the city, and the entire county, came together with a real and genuine community spirit.  That’s what got us through.  


 Cyril Orville

A student at Rookpot University

Age during the flood: 18

A volunteer watcher in Red Brick Halls

This interview was carried out in 1968 after the Voices of Rookpot project tracked Cyril down to Auckland, New Zealand, where he emigrated after the Second World War.


I’ve seen some strange things in my time, believe me – but that flood – never seen anything like that!  We could not see an end to the water – it looked like the whole world had flooded, and only Rookpot was left as an island.  There were ducks and swans on submerged rooves or bobbing on top of grey waves.

I was in my first semester at Rookpot University, living in dorms on Wessentor.  It was my first time away from home, and my immediate thoughts were for my family back in Liverpool – was everywhere underwater?  That’s what caused the most anxiety, because we couldn’t find out. All the phone lines were down, and no post could get out or in.  We would not get any word from our families for another two weeks.

The university closed – all classes were cancelled.  I was in Red Brick Halls, which was where the Humanities undergraduates lived.  We all went to the water’s edge in the Lower Wildings as soon as it got light on the first morning.  It was devastating.  All the streets from the train station right to the bottom of the tor were underwater.  At the time we had no idea where it had come from –the assumption was that the Darkflint River had burst its banks, because there had been no recent rain, but nobody could see how it could have held so much water.  I remember in those first days people were worried that more water would come.  We helped build a blockade using all sorts of debris that was brought from all over the city to build a wall right down the middle of Upper Lower Winding Arch Crescent.

The Council were very on the ball, I remember.  It was the next day when someone from Library HQ came round to the dorms and talked to the House Masters.  The assumption was that Rookpot would be cut off for a while, so the priority was to ensure everyone on the tor was kept safe, and that was the point of the Constraints.

We were not allowed out on to the streets until watchers had been recruited.  I signed up immediately, one of three for our dorm.  We were given occupational passes, so we could travel through the city to Library HQ – we had a specific route that we were not allowed to deviate from.  I still remember it now: from Red Brick Crescent, up Second High Street, along Sylnmouth Avenue, through the Dark Cut and into Dameg Square.  Truth be told, I did not really like walking around Rookpot at this time – it felt like a different city.  Rookpot is usually bustling and the empty streets were really creepy.  There were barricades across some roads – barricades!

I think a lot of the incidents the police had to deal with – the fights, those fires, the vandalism – were because of boredom.  I had to stop five of our boys from embarking on a night time excursion – they just wanted to get out for a change of scene.

The call for volunteers kept most people busy.  A few of our lot joined the Fleet.  When the supplies started coming in there were roles in the redistribution offices, sorting out rations for each area of the city.

I remember when the first delivery came from Cwm Purne.  The Rookpot Fleet had been out on the waters for a couple of weeks, we could see their homemade craft in what we called Rookpot Harbour, tethered to chimney pots.  This was the first time a boat from outside came to us.

Everyone gathered at the water’s edge to watch the boat come in.  It was a dinghy from Riversouth with a small sail, and it towed another boat full of boxes that had been donated from people from all over Farynshire.  Nobody outside really knew what we needed yet, so there were medical supplies, boxes of fruit, children’s toys, blankets, a crate of green wine, and seven pallets of mushrooms from Tropsog.  Everyone was so excited.  The crowds carried the boxes up to Library HQ.  I don’t think any of it was stolen either.  Later on supplies had to be escorted up the tor by the police to ensure it all reached HQ for fair redistribution – but everything in that first delivery made it.

I took up a role in the redistribution office for Red Brick Crescent.  Every street had one, a place that would receive the rations and then allocate them to each house.  More and more boats came across the flood plains, and they carried supplies like food and blankets and medical supplies, but the most important thing were the messages and letters from family and others outside of Rookpot.  When those started coming in, the mood in the city definitely lifted.

Do you know what I find really strange?  This is the first time I’ve talked about it properly.  I stayed on to re-start my degree in September ’04, rather than go to another uni back over the mountains.  My parents wanted me to do that.  I wanted to be in Rookpot, to see the re-building and help if I could.  We didn’t really talk about the flood in those years – not like this, not talking about what we went through.  It was all about how to move forward.  How to recover, re-build and help those who had lost so much in the flood.  There was a resolute determination to make things better for everyone.  I haven’t been back to Rookpot in decades, but I hope they’ve still got that.


Llywd Roke

Worked as a boatman

Age during the flood: 45

These excerpts were taken from the court proceedings of The City of Rookpot v Llywd Roke case that concluded in 1905.

[L. Roke]: You should know that everyone was doing it.  I wasn’t doing anything that everyone else wasn’t doing too.  We all saw an opportunity and we took it.

It was just business, a business opportunity.

[A. Whittaker]: In this moment of crisis, you saw a business opportunity?

[L. Roke]: I saw that people were in dire need, and I provided a service – a much-needed service.  And I think I saved a lot of lives too – let me just say that.  Had I not been there, a lot of people would have died – I really believe that.

[A Whittaker]: I believe you started your venture almost immediately?

[L. Roke]: It was complete chaos in that first week.

The people from the Lower Windings, whose houses were now underwater, were completely desperate.  I saw it myself when I was on Upper Lower Winding Arch Crescent, which is where the water reached up to.

There was a young family near the edge of the water.  The woman was completely hysterical, screaming at her husband who was in the water, wading further out to try and rescue what looked like wet rat that was getting dragged further and further away by the current.  Two small children were running up and down, shrieking.  This chap was clearly about to do something stupid like dive into the water.

It was dangerous, alright – so what else could I do?  He could have drowned.

Somebody had to do something.

One of the houses nearby had water inside it, reaching halfway up the stairs, and the front door was hanging off.  So I pulled that door right off and used it as a raft, didn’t I?  Didn’t think twice – just jumped straight on and made off across the water, steering with my hands.

I grabbed the rat, which was the family dog – one of those small, fluffy ones that go all scrawny when they’re wet.

We were both soaked through when we got back to the shore.  The woman snatched the dog off me and squeezed it half to death.  The man shoved two five pound notes into my hands!

[A. Whittaker]: And you took it?

[L. Roke]: He gave me ten pounds!  Called me a hero!  Pays well, being a hero.

‘Course, that’s when the lightbulb went off.  People should pay the salvagers – we was risking our lives for their belongings!  We deserved proper recompense.

People had fled up the tor with nothing they couldn’t carry.  They were desperate to see if anything had survived in their houses, but they often did not have any money on them.  So we would take any valuables they offered.

[A. Whittaker]: You insisted on being paid?

[L. Roke]: I have people to take care of too, you know –got to put food on the table for my wife and boy.

[A. Whittaker]: But you knew it was illegal to take money for salvage?  That was the first decree the Council issued.

[L. Roke]: What were we supposed to do if folk wanted to pay us?  Most times we did not need to ask at all!  They felt we should be fairly compensated for the service we provided.

[A. Whittaker]: I see.  You made your own craft, didn’t you?

[L. Roke]: I did.  I work in construction, see.  The new ticket office in the station?  That was me.  I had the skills and tools to make something substantial – you needed something substantial to safely negotiate the waters – they was rough in those first weeks, and you never knew what was lurking just below the surface.  I adapted the door I used to save the dog.  I used it as a part of my boat – and I realised I needed a lot more material.  I broke apart my garden shed and used that.  Never been much of a sailor, but at least she floated.  Called her Green Betty.

[A. Whittaker]: And that’s what you used when you became a boatman?

[L. Roke]: That’s right.  I signed up with the rest of the salvagers – they recruited all of us.

[A. Whittaker]: Voluntarily?

[L. Roke]: Of course voluntarily.  As soon as they said they were going to take our boats and prosecute us, all the salvagers volunteered.

[A. Whittaker]: “They” being officials from the Second Councillor’s office?

[L. Roke]: That’s right.  Some small skinny guy called Shebb, I think.  They were recruiting a fleet – Rookpot Fleet, they called it, so at least they had a sense of humour!

They made up these complicated plans, but basically the fleet was split into two main groups.  The smaller vessels carried on the salvaging work – trying to recover anything from the flooded streets.  And those of us with more seaworthy craft went further afield – reconnoitring, like.  Eventually we found safe routes through to Cwm Purne.

[A. Whittaker]: You were one of the latter?

[L. Roke]: I was.  But not the farm work.  That was the boats that went to check on the farms that were on the pastures, which were all underwater, of course.  And the work was bloody – sorry, m’lud- awful – recovering loads of animal bodies, mainly.

I already had Green Betty, so I was one of the first to get to Cwm Purne.  The waters reached that far.  Strangest journey, I’ve ever made.  When I looked back I saw Rookpot Tor, which is normal, you know?  You can always see the tor from miles away.  But usually it’s surrounded by the pastures; I was looking at an island, surrounded by a grey sea.

[A. Whittaker]: What were your duties?

[L. Roke]: Green Betty was big enough to carry cargo, so we brought back supplies.  Cwm Purne train station was where all the supplies were deposited, and they had runners, trolleys and carriers to bring the supplies down to whichever makeshift jetty you were moored at and off you went.

[A. Whittaker]: How many trips did you make a day?

[L. Roke]: Once everything was up and running, on a fine day, with good weather, we could easily do ten or so round trips.  On days when it rained, maybe five or six.  There were only a couple of days when we couldn’t get out at all.

[A. Whittaker]: Even when the real boats came from the coast?

[L. Roke]: Excuse me –we had the real boats!  They offered us some of those “proper” boats, but we all stuck with the ones we had made ourselves – we knew they worked for us just fine.

[A. Whittaker]: Say you did ten trips in a day – how many of those did you charge for?

[L. Roke]: *silence*

[A. Whittaker]: Did you understand the question, Mr. Roke?  You have admitted to accepting money when you were salvaging.  But when you were recruited into the Fleet you were paid a stipend, as all the boatmen were.  Despite this regular wage, you also charged for transporting certain cargo.  Is that correct?

[L. Roke]: Look, what you have to understand is that folk wanted to pay us.  They were willing to pay extra for goods off the boats, rather than wait to buy it from the shops, when they usually had to queue for hours anyway to get to empty shelves.

[A. Whittaker]: When the police caught you, you were selling bread from out of your vessel at four times the price it would sell for in the shop.

[L .Roke]: People were willing to pay far more than that, believe me.

[A. Whittaker]: Did you ask for money before you delivered private correspondence?

[L. Roke]: Only to those that could afford it.  Only to the Peer Families – they sent their servants to collect their mail, and the servants always carried money.

[A. Whittaker]: I have a list here of people who said they had to pay you money for private correspondence before you would relinquish it to them.  There are indeed some Peer names: Ayres, Slarrocks, Witherick-Fosters. But there are also non-Peer names like Gudges, Hethersetts and Nalls.  There is even a Ruby Roke here – is she a relative of yours?  Please, don’t interrupt, Mr. Roke.  And even if they were Peers, what you did is still reprehensible, immoral, mercenary, and most pertinently, illegal.  Do you have anything to say in you defence?

[L. Roke]: I was never in it for the money!  I was one of the heroes – I was part of the Fleet!  We saved Rookpot!

[A. Whittaker]: I see.  The prosecution rests.  We are done here. 

Llywd Roke was given the standard sentence for illegal salvaging of two years, and the standard sentence for racketeering of two years, to be served consecutively.

Voices of Rookpot 2

Voices of Rookpot 2

white and black moon with black skies and body of water photography during night time

Owenna Grepe (nee Barner)


District Nurse based in St Agatha’s Hospital

Age during the flood: 23 

This interview was carried out in 1953 as part of Owenna’s granddaughter, Katrin Grepe’s, postgraduate research project, long after Owenna had retired.


I’m originally from Sylnmouth, but I stayed on in Rookpot after I completed my training. I took up a position at St Agatha’s as a district nurse in 1900.

It’s likely that there were unlucky folk whose bodies we’ll never find, God rest their souls.  But there were others we could save.  The waters broke at about five ‘o’clock in the morning, and rose so quickly that people were caught unawares.  In the streets on the lower slopes, water gushed into houses, and the first patients we saw had injuries from being swept into walls, or from objects hitting them.  The wards filled up quickly, and every one of us was called in or kept on for extra shifts.  I would usually not work on the wards, but it was all hands on deck at that time.

I worked half shifts in St. Agatha’s, usually in the mornings, then I’d hop on my bike to do my community rounds.  Everyone who worked in the hospital was given a free pass so we could go anywhere in the city.  Each of us was assigned a grid to look after, and I was given the area between Upper Lower Winding Arch Crescent and Wilberforce Crescent.

I got to know most of the watchers really well on my visits to my regulars.  I had to show my pass at every checkpoint, and they always checked my basket to make sure I wasn’t taking anything but prescribed medical supplies into their street.  One confiscated my lunch!

The Cathedral bells rang out every evening, just to keep everyone’s spirits up.  I did go to one or two services, and the Cathedral was full of people –some of whom lived there!

The Party was the first time we were allowed to have fun and let off steam.  We went to the roof of the hospital and sang and danced until we dropped.  It was a much needed release.  The whole tor came alive in defiant celebration.  There were fireworks so everyone in Cwm Purne could see we were alright and we were not beaten.  Every street made as much noise as they could during the parties – Cwm Purne could probably hear us too!

The exodus was the evacuation of those who had lost their homes, those who were vulnerable, and also some of the hospital patients.  There were limited places on the boats, and the people were carefully selected.  Many wanted to leave, and the police had to keep them away from the exodus boats to stop them clambering on and sinking them.  These people were desperate: some did not see why they had to stay, some thought they could buy their way out, some had family they wanted to return to.  I ensured our patients were settled on their boats before returning to my rounds.  Quite a few people offered me money if I would let them take the patient’s place instead.  There were times when I was on my rounds when occasionally someone would offer me money or jewellery to get them on a transport out, but even if I had had the authority to do that I never would have.

But that was rare.  Mostly what I encountered was a stoic determination to help out their family, friends and neighbours.  Most people could not move freely about the city, so they asked those of us with free passes to take messages to family or friends in other streets. I had to discourage them from giving me food parcels, as the watchers would not have let them leave the street.

I saw the waters begin to recede during November.  Every time it rained, especially if it lasted for a few days, people would get nervous, fearing another surge, but gradually the waters drained away.

But even after the floodwater was gone there was the mud, and then in December there was ice and the snow, so most of us still could not leave.  I finally left on February 23rd, just to go back to Sylnmouth for a few days to see my family.  I came back two weeks later.  There was still a lot to do in Rookpot.

Violet Ayres

Age during the flood: 71 

Violet kept diaries comprised of short entries for over six decades.  These extracts were taken from the 1903 volume.  Violet’s diaries have been kindly donated by the Ayres family to the Voices of Rookpot


6th October 

Never seen anything like this.  The Darkflint has burst its banks.  Rookpot is an island.  Can see waters for miles around.  It’s like the sea has rolled into the middle of the county.  The View not affected, but lower slopes look in a bad way.  Family alright.  Checked with Reynolds re servants: all accounted for. 

7th October 

Arklay Slarrock doing the rounds, just checking all Peers are well.  Said the Council has it hand – suspect this means Cafell – he seems competent.  Arklay decent chap, but not very practical, never took the First Councillor role seriously.  Reynolds taking inventory of the stores and kitchen – see how many days we have.  Must think what we can do. 

8th October 

Went to Dameg Square.  Council have set up HQ in the Library.  Many displaced people.  The lower slopes were hit hard.  Loss of life.  Cafell doing a good job – needs more resources.  Not possible to get through waters on foot, so Cafell wants boats!  In Rookpot!!

Volunteered (Teddy made a fuss) – they need everyone they can get.  Received my pass!  Lots of organising to do.  Might be able to help in other ways too – will talk to Teddy. 

11th October 

Rookpot on emergency footing.  No signs of the flood easing at all.

Volunteering duties include making lists of displaced – names, addresses, losses.  Whole of Library ground floor taken over.  Very impressive organisation, very quick off the mark.  Cafell has opened the Council Chambers to the displaced long term – Arklay not pleased!  Impressed with Cafell – really cares about the city.  Wonder how long Rookpot can be self-sufficient for.

Rookpot Fleet launched.  Sounds like it went well.  Must have been a sight!  Hope it doesn’t sink! 

17th October 

Teddy fuming – thinks Peers should be exempt from having passes and should have freedom of the city!  Disagree (and told him so) – you only get a pass if you are useful.  I have an occupational pass, because I have an occupation.  Told Teddy that being rich is not an occupation.

Visited the Cathedral – people sleeping on the floor and on the pews.  Services carrying on morning and evening. 

23rd October 

Teddy very peeved!  Exerted my authority as Grandma and eldest Ayres to open up the View to the displaced.  Might as well use the sixteen spare bedrooms – each one big enough to house a family, at least temporarily – better than them staying in the cramped conditions in the Council Chambers.  Big operation – rallied the whole family; Reynolds rallied the servants.  Lovely to have a full household!

Took Reynolds and the children to the Cathedral service.  Cathedral completely full – people on streets outside.  Singing filled the streets.  Love hearing the bells every evening. 

25th October 

A member of one of our new families, Peg Hethersett, and our footman, Hughes, have volunteered to be watchers – helping with inventory of the View.

Found Teddy in the smaller wine cellar trying to remove a few bottles – said they shouldn’t be part of the inventory because they’re not ready to drink yet!  Pointed out the hospital could use them for sterilising equipment – didn’t go down well! 

2nd November 

Boats are coming to Rookpot regularly now – who would have thought!  Sent letters to Luella in Riversouth and Dinah somewhere over the mountains – heard nothing back yet – not sure if they got through.  Think a party might cheer people up – will recommend to Cafell and Arklay. 

6th November 

Arklay utterly useless!  Couldn’t make a decision if his life depended on it!  Could not say whether a party would contravene the Constraints.  Seems like our First Councillor is really second in command.

Asked Cafell instead, but he was too busy.  It’s up to me!  Recruited Hughes and Peg to help.  Can’t use rations, so this will have to be about dressing up and music, I think, not food and drink. 

9th November 

Party!  Have to give enormous credit to Peg, Reynolds and Hughes for spreading the word.  Every street in Rookpot came out for a street party!  Biggest party the city has ever seen – fireworks, music, dancing!  Amazing scenes from the View.  Must make an annual event. 

12th November 

Received ration cards.  Teddy furious.  The View is entitled to very little extra, despite the extra families.  Explained that the rations are conservative until the supplies can be guaranteed.  Hughes a marvel – reassured us that we have plenty in storage.  Hughes has worked out our own rationing system.  Only Reynolds, Hughes and Cook allowed in the stores.  Meals prepared every hour for staggered sittings, as there are too many of us to eat together. 

15th November 

Schools opening around the city – surprised it took so long.  Peg escorted the children at the View to the temporary school in Raven Theatre.  Insisted that Honor and Otto go as well, as Bonheddig unreachable (and probably closed).  Teddy objected, but no grandchild of mine is going miss schooling.  Other Peers are sending their children to local schools as well – could be the end of Bonheddig! 

20th November 

Getting used to this new normal.  Days consist of volunteering with whatever needs doing – usually recording rationing, but sometimes coordinating other volunteers.  Boats come in a few times a day – depends on the weather.  The mail is distributed by watchers throughout the week (received letters from Dinah and Luella – they are relieved we are all well).  Dedicated shops receive supplies and open for one day so people can buy their rations. 

22nd November 

Hughes and Reynolds informed me that Teddy had bought “extra rations” from unscrupulous boatmen.  Should inform watchers and police – very tempted. 

24th November 

Anonymously left Teddy’s ill-gotten gains in Library HQ.  Hope they get to the right people – Cafell will make sure.

27th November 

Waters are receding!

Visited Peg’s house in the Lower Windings – there is a lot of damage.  Can’t possibly live there.  Thick mud covers everything.  Nothing left to salvage at all.  Peg devastated.  Told her there and then that we will make this well and whole again.  We will re-build.  We must. 

2nd December 

Met with Arklay and Cafell (Teddy suspicious; insisted on being present).  Asked them to help promote the Rookpot Flood Relief Trust.  Asked the Peer Families to pledge a contribution.  Ayres will double the largest pledge. 

21st December 

Rookpot open for business again!  Relief Trust booming – and in much need.  Cafell organising the Clean Up, then the re-building.  Opportunity for re-design.  Will talk to Arklay. 

22nd January 1904 

Peg and Hughes (first name possibly Frank) announced their engagement!  Have offered the use of the View – Teddy thrilled!

Amos Whittaker (55 at the time of the flood) and Gifford Piper (30 at the time of the flood)

These excerpts were taken from letters written between Amos Whittaker who was trapped in Rookpot by the flood and Gifford Piper who was in Cwm Purne.  They were in the process of establishing the law firm, Whittaker and Piper, and we thank their descendants for making these letters public


 12th October 1903 

Respected Pips,

Hope this note finds you well – hope it finds you full stop!

Have entrusted it to one of the Fleet in more faith than expectation.

By the time you read these words you will know of the exceptional, biblical, events that have befallen Rookpot.

Know that I am perfectly safe and well.  I remain in the office in Dedd Cut.

Will continue to write in hopes you receive these notes.

Yours, Amos 

15th October 1903 

My dear Whit,

So good to hear from you!

I was returning home and alas was halted at Cwm Purne, and here I shall stay for the foreseeable future.  I can see Rookpot from here – a lonely island in an unnatural sea.  A truly strange and unexpected sight.

The first boats arrived from Rookpot this week.  I never suspected I would write such a sentence!  I was amongst the crowds waiting on the water’s edge.  I wish I could accurately describe the otherworldly spectacle of a fleet of boats sailing from the tor.  It was like a scene from a novel.

This Rookpot Fleet will be the city’s lifeline until the waters subside.  They are bringing supplies back to you – and there will be regular shipments.

They are also the only means of communication.  I suspected you would write, and spoke with the boatmen until I found the one with your letter.  I quickly wrote this note so he could take it with him on his return.  I sincerely hope you receive it.

I eagerly await your reply.

Stay safe, my friend.


18th October 1903 

Respected Pips,

I received your letter this morning, my dear chap.

Restrictions have been placed upon our everyday lives here to ensure civil compliance.  We are not allowed to leave our streets unless we have been issued Council issued passes.  Watchers are augmenting the police presence by manning checkpoints on every street.  The watcher for Dedd Cut is a young actuary called Col Drew.  He took an inventory of everything in our premises, mainly interested in food and beverages.  The idea is that each street will share its resources among its residents for as long as possible.  Was not able to contribute much!

The supplies the fleet bring in will help.

The watchers bring the mail for their street, and I instructed young Col to take this letter to a boat with great haste.  It should reach you soon.

Yours, Amos. 

25th October 1903 

My dear Whit,

Received your letter! 

The authorities on this side organise and distribute correspondence, and the bureaucracy inevitably leads to delay.

Have taken a room near this operation.  Was lucky to find space, as Cwm Purne is full to bursting with Rookpotians (like myself) trapped outside the city, those concerned for family and friends on the tor, and assorted interested and curious parties such as journalists and opportunists.

Heard the Cathedral bells over the water – the sound filled my heart.

It probably will not surprise you to learn that this extraordinary predicament has attracted attention from beyond Farynshire’s borders.

This note should be accompanied by a selection of sweetmeats and some bread rolls that I bought from a baker.

Take cafe and stay safe.


1st November 1903 

Respected Pips,

Alas, your note arrived alone.  I questioned young Col most sternly in this matter, but he pleaded ignorance, and I believe him innocent.  I lament the loss of the bread and sweetmeats, but your words are of the greater value and sustenance to me.

This alleged theft is not an isolated occurrence.  I believe our services will be much in demand post clear up, as, according to young Col, the scammers and salvagers are rife.  Young Col mentioned our firm to Library HQ, and I have been receiving legal queries with regards to the petty crimes that have happened during these strange times.  My advisement is to collate the misdemeanours and address them post-flood.

Meanwhile, this restricted existence has become routine very quickly.  I have ample time to read over potential cases.  I have requested many legal tomes from the Library that young Col is only too willing to fetch for me.  I am compiling a list for the firm library when we have the opportunity to establish it.

The Cathedral bells ring out every evening.  It lifts my spirits to know we can both hear them.

Yours, Amos. 

7th November 1903 

My dear Whit,

Appalled though not shocked to hear of theft.  There are constant stories of such scandalous behaviour.

I have placed this note within a sealed tin with half a nettle cake.  Curious to hear if entire contents reach you.

Had similar thoughts to you re taking on future cases.  There are farmers here who lost their properties in the flood and are seeking advice with regards to compensation.  There will be a surfeit of legal wranglings.

Have set up room in Burke and Bartlett – under the Whittaker and Piper name.  Offering legal advice; anticipate increased caseload.  Good to keep working.

Hope to see you soon.


12th November 1903 

Respected Pips,

Nettle cake got through!  Sealed tin effective transportation method.

Intrigued to hear that we have a Cwm Purne branch!  I have complementary good news: Second Councillor Merritt Cafell came calling today, requesting that our firm represents the Council in upcoming City cases.  This could establish the firm as a legal force in Rookpot.

Think a boat should be on the firm crest – too adjacent?

There are rumours within the city that the waters are beginning to recede.  I do not have a pass, so cannot verify.  Any confirmation from your perspective?

I look forward to our reunion very much.

Yours, Amos 

20th November 1903 

My dear Whit,

Apologies for the delay in my response – received your note dated the twelfth only yesterday.

Suspect that this is because the boats have started ferrying people, resulting in chaos on our “docks”.  There is more confusion in distribution and organisation.  They call it an exodus.  Soon those trapped here will be permitted to embark upon a staggered return to Rookpot.

I was tempted to volunteer, but I have work to do here!  Does it sit well with you if I remain here for the foreseeable?

Re the firm crest – had not given this much thought!  You wish to acknowledge the flood’s part in our ascendancy?  I advise caution.

I hope this note reaches you.

Expect to see you and Rookpot soon.


29th November 

Respected Pips,

Chaos here too.  Many people wish to leave, and I understand that the police had to intervene in our “Harbour”.  We have not yet heard that anyone will be allowed into the city – I suspect the Council will exercise caution.

Young Col tells me the waters ebb daily.  Though there are now ice floes to contend with.

Caseload building.  Have advised the Council and courts to batch them in a few weeks.

 Embark on the first ferry you can.

Yours, Amos 

6th December 

My dear Whit,

Packing up here now.

Caseload building this end also.  Enough for twenty plus law firms.

Fear that the water is now too low, so a few ferries leaving in a couple of days. 

Paid to assure passage.

Bringing raisin muffins.

See you this week.


12th December 

Respected Pips,

Will see you very soon.  Prepare for hard work and no rest.

Yours, Amos

Merritt Cafell

Second Councillor

Age at the time of the flood: 49 

Despite his public role, Second Councillor Merritt Cafell rarely gave interviews.  There is only one profile piece on him in The County Voice, written by dogged journalist, Rhys Stone, who managed to get Cafell to talk to him at the ten year commemoration of the flood. 

Stone: Thank you for your time, Mr Cafell. 

Cafell: This will have to be a short interview: I’m fearfully busy. 

Stone: I appreciate that.  Will you be attending the 10 Year Anniversary Commemorations at the View?

 Cafell: No, will you? 

Stone: Definitely.  The Ayres have thrown the doors open – the whole city is invited.  Were you asked to give a speech?  You led the city during this time. 

Cafell: First Councillor Arklay Slarrock led the city.  I believe he is giving a speech tonight. 

Stone: Did Mrs. Violet ask you? 

Cafell: She did.  I think she was being polite.  Mrs. Violet certainly knows how to throw a party. 

Stone: She organised the street parties during the flood, didn’t she?  Do you think they helped with morale? 

Cafell: I suppose that they did.  They also served as a useful distraction; kept everyone busy. 

Stone: Mrs. Violet also set up the Rookpot Flood Relief Trust that is still going to this day.  It would have been impossible to re-build the city without it, wouldn’t it? 

Cafell: Probably.  It would definitely have taken more time.  The Trust ensured we did not have to partner with private construction firms, which would have involved long negotiations, and those firms would have wanted to reap a profit. 

Stone: Didn’t First Councillor Arklay Slarrock want to do that anyway? 

Cafell: Council meetings are public record 

Stone: They are, sir.  You vetoed the idea. 

Cafell: I did.  It would have meant selling the properties back to the displaced, because technically they were new properties.  That was unthinkable. 

Stone: It would have earned the Council much-needed money for other projects 

Cafell: It would have been immoral and wrong. 

Stone: Why have the Council granted planning permission for the new housing developments on the pastures?  Surely in the event of another flood, all of these homes will be doomed? 

Cafell: There won’t be another flood.  ’03 was the result of a specific and unique set of circumstances, and cannot happen again. 

Stone: With respect, sir, how can you be so sure? 

Cafell: We know now that a rockfall in the gorge resulted in the river building up behind it until the pressure grew too great and the dam burst, sending thousands of gallons of water rushing out of the gorge with terrific force.  You can see the ridge in the distance from vantage points on the tor – it circumvents the entire area.  Rookpot tor sits in the centre of a depression, which has resulted in a bountiful farm and pasture area that feeds the city.  When the makeshift dam burst the water was caught in and swirled around this depression, creating an enormous lake.  If the city had been built in the depression it would have been wiped out, like the farms were.  We inspect the gorge every year now, clearing any blockages to ensure that the river flows freely. 

Stone: Thank you, sir. 

Cafell: Have we finished? 

Stone: I suppose so, sir.  Thank you for your time.  I look forward to seeing you at the party. 

Cafell: I really must get back to work.

The full records of all the contributions featured here are accessible to the public in the Voices of Farynshire Archive in Rookpot Museum.

Voices of Rookpot 1

Travels through Farynshire: The Silver Loop

I always feel like I have to be on my best behaviour in Riversouth.  It feels like the people really love their city, and put huge effort into caring for it.  The streets are scrubbed clean and free of rubbish, and baskets of bright flowers hang from every lamppost.  Each house is white-washed and has a different colour roof from its neighbours.  If we had had enough money, we would have taken one of the popular balloon rides over the city and look down on the colour and crowds.  It takes pride in being a welcoming place to visit, and this goes back to the Victorian era when the new railway brought the rest of Farynshire to the seaside for their summer holidays.

I should probably explain a bit about the Meyrick for those of you who don’t live in Farynshire, because there is no Riversouth without the Meyrick.

Riversouth is not a separate city state or anything, but the Meyrick exerts an authority unlike anyone else in Farynshire (even Rookpot Council has to share powers amongst the elected Councillors).  I suppose the Meyrick’s position could be likened to the mayors in some English cities and regions, except that the Meyrick is an unelected, hereditary, lifelong role, so it’s also reminiscent of royalty – especially with the palace.  The White Palace sits high above the city on the White Crag at the southern end of Meyshore Bay, looking out over the ocean.  Meyricks have epitaphs like royalty too, in order to make biographers’ live easier.  They started out with numbers, but got bored around the time of Meyrick CXXIII.  His daughter was known as the Unnumbered, and thereafter an official Nick-Namer was appointed to devise a more imaginative designation system, with decidedly mixed results.

Both Felix and I had been to Riversouth many times before, but as this was our Grand Tour where we had given ourselves licence to act like tourists, so we decided to follow the advice in Meyricks, Musril and Mermaids and ride the Silver Loop.  This is the tram route through and around the city, and it’s the best way to get a flavour of Riversouth in one day.  There are four silver trams that follow each other on a continuous circuit.  You can get on anywhere, but the circuit’s official starting point is the Meygrace Gate at the entrance to the city, and your day ticket allows to you to hop on and off as many times as you like.  Each tram is named for a past Meyrick, and has a plaque on the side with its name and a unique design; the Sea-Rider, the Goodly and the Sabre were already en route, so we jumped on the Curly.

The plaque on the tram depicted a face with a broad grin and red cheeks, framed with black, bushy curls, so I assume that Meyrick the Curly’s only notable achievement was his magnificent hair.

The Meygrace Gate is a formidable wrought-iron structure that looms over the pedestrinised area.  Once through the gate, the tram moves downhill through the Sussenparaw Park, the largest park in a city with many.  In early summer the extensive gardens are filled with roses.  From the moving tram we could see bright reds, delicate violets, rich yellows, bright and soft pinks, and blazing oranges.  The rich, sweet scent from the sculpted trees wafted in through the open windows, making everyone smile.

We left the park via the Old Market Bridge – a wide arched bridge that does not look like it was made for trams, but we rattled across with ease.  Riversouth has quite a few bridges, spanning the two rivers that run through it on their way to the sea.  The River Spurtle is the source of the the city’s fresh water, that you can collect from every fountain and water pipe; we had re-filled our water bottles at the pipe by the Meygrace Gate.  Rookpot’s own river, the Darkflint, also ends up here in Riversouth, though it is much slower down here by the coast than it is in the capital’s gorge (where those who enjoy such things go white water rafting, and often get out alive).

We emerged on to the Promenade via one of the streets between the Victorian terraces.  This is where the guest houses are situated.  We dumped our bags in the blue-washed Waves View and went to explore.

The tree-lined Promenade follows the long curve of Meyshore Bay, starting at the foot of the White Crag, and finishing up by the rocky point that stuck out into the sea at the lonely end of the Bay.  In-between the terraces and the beach there are well-tended gardens, amusement parks and a creaky Victorian fairground.  The shops and boutiques are full of every kind of souvenir, from tacky niknaks through to unique local artworks.  We hopped off opposite the fairground to buy some sticks of rock, before jumping back on the next tram, the Goodly, to take the short trip to the pier.

Riversouth is a very different place in the summer months compared to other times of the year.  This is the time when tourists descend upon the city, packing the streets, the beaches and the pier.  The fairground and the amusement rides are full of families, and the screams from the rollercoasters mingle with the cries from the resident gulls that have grown to monstrous sizes thanks to their addiction to chips, ice-cream and candyfloss.  If you want to see another side to the city, visit in autumn when the tourist attractions are closed and you can often be the only person on the Promenade and visit the lonely, windswept beaches outside of the city.

But you do have to come during the summer months if you want to step on the pier, as it is only open between May and September.  According to Meyricks, Musril and Mermaids Riversouth has two piers, but this is really only technically true.

The Long Pier is one and a half miles long and extends out into the sea at the end of the Promenade farthest from the White Palace.  It has two Victorian pavilions that host numerous shows, cabarets, and other entertainment morning, noon and night during the summer season.  The performances often spill out on to the pier with no prior warning, and audience participation is compulsory – you have been warned.  We got off the tram here, but just admired it from afar.

The Siren Pier sits under the White Crag, and is nothing more than a few rotten timbers that are barely visible above the water when the tide is in, and look like the skeleton of a long-dead creature from the depths when it is out.  There are persistent rumours that it is the remains of a seafolken, but researchers from Rookpot Museum have carried out extensive tests, and it is definitely made from wood (so maybe it’s the remains of a foresteen?  Don’t worry: it’s not).  There are many stories connecting the pier to seafolk: maybe it was a place where bygone Meyricks watched or even spoke with seafolk when they frequented Meyshore Bay, maybe mermaids sat on it to comb their long, blonde hair and sing seductively to sailors.  If they had ever indulged in such well-worn clichés, they don’t any more, as no seafolken has been seen in the Bay within living memory.

It was a day for ice-cream, so we each bought one to eat as we strolled close to the beach, where there were plenty of people sunbathing or playing on the warm sands.  Swimmers, paddlers and inflated toys bobbed close to shore, and further out there were dinghies and small boats on the calm Bay waters.  Beyond the White Crag, in the rougher waters outside of the protected Bay, we caught an occasional glimpse of a larger ship on its way to Sylnmouth further down the coast.  My favourite Meyrick has a statue overlooking the water.  There are numerous statues of past Meyricks striking various dramatic poses on top of plinths or in the middle of gardens throughout the city.  Meyrick the Old became Meyrick at the age of seventy-five, and during her three years on the job, the most important thing she did was to introduce a decree which stated that all dolphins, seals, sharks and whales have right of way in Meyshore Bay.  The decree lasts to this day, and it is not uncommon to see a queue of luxury yachts waiting outside the marinas under the White Crag as a seal passes by.  Her statue sits just above the beach, a permanent smile on her bronze face.

There is something about sea air that makes me hungry, so once we had finished the ice cream, we bought fish and chips from a small stall called Poss and Bucket (poss being Musril for fish; bucket being … a bucket) and made our way to the foot of the White Crag.  There is a bus service to the top, but Felix decided that we should walk up the Zag – the road that winds its way up the vertical cliff, to really appreciate … something – presumably how unfit we were.  At least the chips would keep me going.

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)

Travels through Farynshire: The County Road

The Romans came to Farynshire, built one road, and then left.

The County Road – or Farynshire Way, or the Highway, or the Route – link up the three cities of Farynshire: Rookpot in the centre of the county, and Sylnmouth and Riversouth on the coast.  Newer towns have been built alongside it over the years, and the Rookpot to Sylnmouth railway line runs alongside it.

Because it is the only evidence that the Romans crossed the Daggerrock Mountains, the Road is under constant study and scrutiny by archaeologists and historians.  It is an annual field trip for all first year undergraduates studying Archaeology or History at Rookpot University to take part in the dig along the Road.  I think it was this trip that made me commit to the study of manuscripts and historical documentation for the rest of my time at university (I signed up to the second year module, Musril in Context, as soon as I got back).  Nevertheless, I have fond memories of my obligatory summer trip. 

I’m not sure what the Hangman’d Turnpike is – it consists of a tiny train stop (an earth-banked platform and no actual station), a youth hostel for the Archaeology students, a pub for their lecturers and the veteran archaeologists, a post office, and a car park.  Is that enough to make it a village?  A hamlet? 

The dig itself is two miles away (inching ever closer to the pretty village of Newmey).  I recall very clearly getting up at six thirty every morning in order to trudge along the pleasant, quiet country lanes that are bordered by fields of green crops.  We would then spend all day crouched in a ditch carefully brushing layers of dirt off mud, just like hundreds of first years before us. 

Back then I stayed in the hostel, but one year later I awoke at a respectable hour in one of the small, comfortable back rooms on the top floor of the pub. We had called ahead, but we were the only guests anyway.

The trek from the Turnpike to the dig was much more pleasant than I remembered.  I suspect this is because it was late morning, and it was less of a trek and more of a pleasant stroll.  Also, I was not going to spend eight hours digging under the hot summer sun.

The dig is the oldest in Farynshire.  It was Meredith Roke himself (pioneering Digger from the early twentieth century) who claimed the site for Rookpot Museum and the University, back in 1923.  There is little sign of this longevity at the site itself, which is usually restricted to a maximum of four ditches at any one time.  A section of the original Road itself has been left exposed so that successive classes of students can be compelled to study it.  If any artefacts are discovered they are taken back to Rookpot University for the professionals to study.

The lead archaeologist that we met was Professor Roland Coombes, a Digger from Rookpot Museum.  He was a large exuberant character with a wild mop of white-streaked grey hair, and a red and green checked flannelled shirt flapping over khaki shorts, dirty tools sticking out of the pockets.  His mouth hid behind a rough approximation of a handle-bar moustache.

“A reader of Musril, eh?” he said, almost pulling my arm off when he shook my hand.  “A disappearing skill.  Not much use for it over the mountains, I guess.  Not that many folk from Farynshire choose to learn it either.  Not even all Diggers.”

I doubt I would even have heard of Musril had I not chosen to study History at Rookpot University.  My choices of degree had been limited anyway due to what my Dad called stage fright during my A’levels which had resulted in disappointing grades.  Rookpot University is many things: beautiful, mysterious, the only university in Farynshire, but held in good regard within the wider academic community it is not.  Which means it is quite flexible as to the quality of students they let in.  The horror of exams was one of the reasons I was so keen to have this trip to look forward to after our second year: I needed something beyond the exams to focus on to try and control the panic.   

Professor Coombes was right: it was unusual for anyone outside of Farynshire to study the county’s history, Peoples and language.  Technically that wasn’t what I was studying.  I would leave Rookpot (exam results permitting) with a degree in History Studies.  It was only when you looked closer that you would see that my modules were overwhelmingly Farynshire biased.  I was glad I was learning about Farynshire and its Peoples, and the only place to do that is Rookpot University.  So it all worked out well for me.

All this, I have noticed, has earned me cautious respect from my lecturers and other academics at the University.  I’m not exactly regarded as a native, but my interest in Farynshire and her Peoples has elevated me above the status of “someone from over the mountains”, which is a rare accolade.

Professor Coombes was keen to tell us about his work and the history of the area we were strolling through.  He was a natural lecturer.

“It seems, on the surface of things, that there’s not much going on, Roman-wise, in Farynshire.  They haven’t left much behind for us to go on.”

“Just the one road.”

“So the textbooks would have you believe, yes.”

I had learned throughout my studies that, unless they had written them, most academics thought the textbooks on their area of expertise are wrong.  I waited for Professor Coombes’ correct version of history.

“It is true that they only built one road, but that wasn’t all they left here.  There are quite a few settlements along the Road, and nearer the coast too.  The interesting thing I think is that they were here for such a short, such a finite, period of time.  From what we have discovered so far, it looks like they only stayed until the early 420s.”

“And then what happened?” asked Felix.

Professor Coombes’ moustache stretches across his face when he smiles.  “Exactly!”  He punched Felix in the shoulder, nearly knocking him over.

Investigating why the Romans suddenly packed up and fled back over the mountains will keep the Diggers and academics in Rookpot employed for many years to come.  I am not the only one to suspect it probably had something to do with the other Peoples.  I have spent many an Industrialism and Politics lecture (a subject devised a particularly fiendish sadist – death by dullness) daydreaming about battles between Roman centurions and wolvern warriors.  There is no archaeological evidence for any skirmishes – well, none that have been discovered yet – but that has not hindered the hopeful speculation, written up in many books, on many conspiracy websites, and even featuring in a few prestigious journals.  Any new artefact or theory is immediately subjected to intense academic scrutiny, because everyone hopes it is the missing link that will prove one of the theories correct.  I’m holding out for a buried battlefield somewhere near Wild Wolvern Mey.

We managed to extract ourselves from Professor Coombes’ enthusiastic lectures after a couple of hours.  We walked along the County Road to Newmey, a beautiful little village surrounded by apple and pear orchards.  The pub, The Travellers’ Rest, has a wide and impressive range of perry and cider from the many local breweries.  We had one of each as we shared a giant Root Pie (carrots, turnips, parsnips, onions, celeriac, flavoured with garlic and ginger, topped with mash potato, all encased within a thick, buttery crust). 

We were very close to Riversouth – too close to not visit.  But there was one monument I wanted to visit along the way, and it is within walking distance of Newmey.

Many people think, due to its Celtic connections, Farynshire must have numerous ancient Standing Stones.  In fact, it only has one ring of them: Giddweon, just off the County Road, and they were put up in 1962 by the Meyrick of the time, because he thought Farynshire should have standing stones.  It’s worth a visit.  He brought stones from each range of Peaks in the mountains, there is one stone made of Rookpot’s gorgerock, a couple of white stones from the seas around Riversouth (the same stones from which The White Palace is constructed), and pillars of standstone and limestone to represent the diverse landscapes that make up Farynshire.

It is in the middle of a large field of wildflowers and while I would not describe it as magical exactly, it is surprisingly peaceful.  When we arrived the only other living things were some rabbits chasing each other between the stones, and a group of jackdaws hopping amongst the rough, overgrown grass. 

We made our way back to the County Road and walked toward Riversouth until a bus finally passed us, so we hopped on that. 

By Mabel Govitt (with special permission from Ammaceadda)