as you recall, the whole point of my “Finding Forgotten Inspiration” videos is to get ideas for my writing. So the obvious question after watching the video on Bath is “what inspirations did I get?” I list two below. I also tell you my next destination, due next weekend perhaps.
Layers of stories
The first and foremost is that humans tell stories and layer them. It’s very like archaeology.
The first story we have is obviously the springs being associated with the Celtic goddess Sulis. The Romans then came along and decided to associate Sulis with their goddess Minerva. This was convenient and intended to bond the two cultures.
Over a thousand years later Geoffrey of Monmouth (died 1155) wrote about Bath in his Historia regum Britanniae. His book was supposedly translated from a â€œvery old book in the British tongueâ€ brought by Walter, archdeacon of Oxford, from Brittany. According to this in 863BC a King called Bladud founded Bath after being cured of leprosy by mud there.Â Obviously this is a story and not truth (a lot of reasons why that I am not going into here).
The Victorian age created the entire faux-Roman look to the place, with Roman-style statues and the like. They did this to cultivate the Roman “essence”, telling a visual story to visitors.
Then by the time I had visited the modern Western museum approach had taken over. Objects are grouped and displayed by similarity. Written explanations are felt to be necessary. Even small handsets can be hired to listen toÂ narrative accounts of each object and place. This includes searches for meaning. Hence the goddess “Sulis”. Her name sounds like Old Irish sÃºil meaning “eye” orÂ “gap” and so linguists assume a possible relationship with proto-European words for “sun”.
And somewhere, under all these stories, lies the truth.
As a writer, IÂ can give this kind of layering to places to evoke a sense of place. When comparing two of my favourite fantasy writers, Steven Erikson to George R R Martin, I feel the former does this better. Perhaps that is why I prefer his books. So I feel inspired to create such layersÂ in my notes. Maybe something will come of them.
Associated with the above is the idea that the meaning or purpose of things are forgotten. One thing I clearly recall of that visit to bath in 1997: when I first saw that round stone head on the wall I thought it was a Green Man (an old fertility symbol). I was wrong. And archaeologists argue about whether it is a male Gorgon (not something I recall being mentioned in mythology as far as I can recall) or a sea god of some variety.
Already in Tempting in Shade (my eventual novel) I have something like that – an object with a forgotten purpose. However I feel inspired to play more on this and rewrite the scenes where this object exists.
I will examine footage of my 1997 visit to Venice. I have a few hours to pare down to something meaningful :)