Highlighting Historical Romance with Ruth A. Casie on ghosts and Caerlaverock Castle history and intrigue
“It pulls at my heart with its beauty and purpose. It represents all I hold dear in a person, if that’s possible, heart, soul and strength.”Laura Reynolds, The Maxwell Ghost
I knew I found the right setting for my medieval ghost story when I saw a picture of Caerlaverock Castle.
Reading the castle’s history fascinated me. I came away understanding why the Maxwell family fought to hold it and why their enemies had to destroy it.
Caerlaverock Castle is a moated castle on the southern coast of Scotland in the Dumfries. The unique equilateral triangular design and beauty of the castle, from the way it’s sited to its rich history, made it the perfect setting for my stories, The Maxwell Ghost and The Highlander’s English Woman.
The earliest mention of Caerlaverock is the 1160s, when the lands were granted to the monks of Holm Cultram Abbey. Sixty years later the lands were granted to Sir John Maxwell by Alexander II of Scotland.
The Maxwell family has owned the castle ever since, but not without some intrigue and adventure. The clan leader changed allegiances from Scotland to England several times which resulted in sieges, destruction and much rebuilding.
John Maxwell began construction of the first castle close to Solway Firth. A traditional square design with a moat and a north facing bridge, the building was one of the earliest stone castles built in Scotland. Archeologists believe that this castle was never completed, but rather abandoned. Built on clay the wood pilings were not able to bear the weight of the structure. In addition, the structure couldn’t be kept dry or comfortable. Today, the foundations and part of a wooden enclosure around it is all that remains.
Construction on the new (present) castle, on a solid rock outcropping was completed in the 1270s. The castle’s first occupant was Herbert Maxwell, nephew of Sir John Maxwell.
In July 1300 Edward I attacked Caerlaverock with 87 knights and 3,000 men. Eustace Maxwell, the clan chief repelled the English several times. In the end, the garrison surrendered. King Edward was astounded that only sixty men held his army off.
The Maxwells changed their allegiance several times. In 1312 Eustace gave his support to Robert the Bruce. The English king captured the castle in 1337. The Scots took it back in 1355. In 1567, the Maxwells supported Mary, Queen of Scots and in 1570 Caerlaverock was once again under siege by the English. The Earl of Sussex led the English forces. They demolished part of the castle.
In 1634, religious turmoil turned against the Catholic Maxwells. In 1640 the Protestant Covenanter army attacked Caerlaverock for thirteen weeks forcing the castle to surrender. The south wall and tower were demolished, and the castle was never repaired or reoccupied.
The castle passed by inheritance to the Herries family and to the Duke of Norforlk. While currently owned by Lady Mary Mumford’s sister Baroness Herries, since 1946 the castle has been operated and managed by Historic Scotland. The castle remains the ancestral home of the Maxwell family.
The Maxwell Ghost is part of the collection, Historical Serenade – Seven Tales of Romance
About the Book
Their destinies are intertwined with hidden passions and a love that will last for eternity.
The Maxwell’s Caerlaverock Castle, on the Scottish border is in an uproar. Traitors, deception, murders and ghosts run rampant. The crops have failed, and the granaries set ablaze. Rumors fly when servants Evan and his bride-to-be, Angel are found murdered and Evan’s ghost haunts the castle. Did Evan kill Angel then take his own life? Sonia, a young cook is sure everyone has it wrong. The ghost haunts the castle seeking justice. She will move heaven and earth to get to the truth, but she is helpless.
Laura Reynolds travels from England to her cousin, The Maxwell’s castle to put Evan’s ghost to rest. She has one week to complete the task or Evan’s ghost is doomed to haunt the castle forever. The Maxwell, while he loves his cousin, doubts her sorceress ways and has more important issues at hand, a traitor in their midst.
Jamie Maxwell Collins has finished his service to The Maxwell and eager for his promised farm. While long-time friends with Laura, he has little patience for her sorcery, but in order to get his farm The Maxwell requires Jamie protect and help her. Will Sonia’s information tip the scales and help them find the true murderer and bring justice to Evan and Angel? Will Sonia’s insight help Laura and Jamie realize their destinies are intertwined with hidden passions? All is in jeopardy when Laura becomes the murderer’s next target. Jamie will find he needs more than ghostly assistance to save Laura and realize they have a love that will last for eternity.
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He and Laura were targets in the swift moving water. He needed to get farther downstream, away from the marshland. He cursed himself for worrying about her propriety rather than her safety.
The sound of splashing from upriver grew closer.
“Wrap your arms around my waist and try not to lose your seat.”
They reached the far bank and raced along the river, the raiders not far behind.
“You need to let me down,” she yelled at him in the wind. “You can go faster without me.”
“Keep down,” he said between clenched teeth and pulled his sword. They raced on, the land a blur as they flew by.
The spray of water from his horse’s pounding hooves turned into small clouds of dust as they came out of the marshland into the meadow. His horse couldn’t maintain this speed much longer. They reached the area where the river dog-legged to the right. A dense fog hung low in the forest. Jamie let loose his battle cry then veered into the woods.
They raced on. Out of the mist his men charged and dashed past them set to do battle with the reivers close behind them.
Jamie and Laura raced on. Laura glanced over his shoulder.
“Rider behind us.” Jamie urged his horse on faster. If they didn’t stop soon, the poor animal would collapse.
Another glance. The man was gaining ground. Think, she told herself. Sunlight bounced off Jamie’s sword. Could it work? It had to.
“Put your sword on your left shoulder then make a quick half-turn to your left and face the rider. Don’t stop, charge,” Laura said as she lay as close to his horse as possible to give Jamie more room to maneuver.
“Don’t look. It’s not going to be a pretty sight.”
She closed her eyes tight.
Jamie followed her instructions. The sound of the horse’s hooves echoed in her head as he completed the maneuver and his horse sprang forward. With the full weight of the charging horse behind his sword, he hit the raider in the chest. The man fell to the ground. His disembodied head rolled somewhere in the mist.
Jamie turned his horse again and continued into the woods. Laura sat up. The trees sped by. She began to panic at the tall hedge row that loomed in front of them.
Their direction didn’t waver. Rather than slow down, the animal gathered speed. Jamie crushed her in front of him and held her head against his chest.
“I won’t let anything happen to you. Hold me.”
The sensation of flying through the air frightened and exhilarated her at the same time. For a moment, her heart stopped. How they landed without the horse falling or them being thrown was beyond her, but they did.
The horse slowed to a halt, lathered and blowing hard. His men were soon with them.
About the Author
RUTH A. CASIE is a USA Today bestselling author of historical swashbuckling action-adventures and contemporary romance with enough action to keep you turning pages. Her stories feature strong women and the men who deserve them, endearing flaws and all. She lives in New Jersey with her hero, three empty bedrooms and a growing number of incomplete counted cross-stitch projects. Before she found her voice, she was a speech therapist (pun intended), client liaison for a corrugated manufacturer, and vice president at an international bank where she was a product/ marketing manager, but her favorite job is the one she’s doing now—writing romance. She hopes her stories become your favorite adventures. For more information, please visit RuthACasie.com or visit her on Facebook, @RuthACasie, Twitter, @RuthACasie, Instagram RuthACasie, or Pinterest RuthACasie.
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