22.5.12

Jim Ferguson Stories - The Bride of King Dyfnwal

Jim Ferguson wrote three short pieces of historical fiction for NothingAboutUs - these were told as stories by the Clyde on 28th April, formed part of the project 'wordbank' (source material for messages sent over the river) and one of the stories was printed in the NothingAboutUs booklet.

At our Main Event a lot of people were asking for copies of these stories to take home, so we're publishing them here so you can continue to enjoy them. The third story was published in our booklet, which you can view online or download.

The Bride of King Dyfnwal – December 975
By Jim Ferguson for Nothing About Us


Yes, it is true that my husband was King of Strathclyde and held court at The Hill of Laws in Govan. He was a strong man, capable of great generosity and also great cruelty. The world had demanded this of him and he rose to the challenges of his day. When we recover his body we will inter him on the Sacred Hill of Laws.

I was far younger than he and he chose me for his bride because of my well known devotion to the Church. I could also say that he was swayed by my fine looks but there were fairer girls than I that he could have chosen.
Besides, Dyfnwal was an intelligent man and foolishness nor the toleration of fools was not in his nature. Toleration of foolishness was not in my nature either. As I stood on the hill top on the day of our wedding I looked down at the river in all its tranquility and I knew that we were blessed by God. The people were in high spirits and trusted their King to protect them. As I watched my suitor approach, a lonely figure, moving boldly through the crowd, I felt protected by the great spirit of Saint Constantine, the founder of our Govan church. How else could a King make his way through the crowd unguarded? What bravery, I thought, and determined in that moment that I would dedicate my life to giving my husband fine sons who would rule Strathclyde well and wisely into future years. The Kingdom would be secure. It would be a Christian place. A happy place. My pig-tails blew in a sudden breeze, the horns sounded loudly and there was Dyfnwal beside me. The Bishop solemnly pronounced us man and wife and the horns sounded again. Great cheers erupted from the crowd. A boy swinging an incense burner led the procession back down the hill. My husband and I followed immediately behind him, then came bishops and churchmen, some of whom I knew not to be as pious as they might have been, they were followed by representatives of other Kingdoms, none of whom could truly be trusted, and then followed our local good men and friends. The crowd was already beginning to take to dancing and drinking. The clouds left the sky and the sun caressed the celebrations with life giving light. I had never felt as happy and secure as at the moment when we stepped down from our Sacred Hill. It was the beginning of life.

We tried to extend the reach of our power into the south. And this was to become a source of great agony for me and my husband. My two eldest sons were captured far from home at Dumnail Raise. They fell into the hands of cruel and vicious Englishmen; this was in the Year of Our Lord 945. My poor boys were violently mutilated and blinded by them. Any merciful, honourable soldiers would have killed them: to blind them and to leave them without the means of obtaining progeny was cruelty beyond that borne by the suffering Christ himself. Such an insult to family and dignity has been difficult to live with. And so now, some thirty years have passed and my husband thought to make Pilgrimage to Rome, to find peace at the centre of Christian power but even this was denied him. The news has just reached us that no sooner had he arrived in Rome than he died: and a harsh wind blows up the river. Today our Sacred Hill is empty.

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