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When I started on my second novel, a Saxon peasant family who witnessed the destruction of the Irminsul, a historic pillar sacred to the pagans, were secondary characters. A few months later, they hijacked the plot. Their back story of lost faith and lost freedom captured my attention more than the plot I was working on at the time.

So I started over with the heroine now named Leova and her children, Deorlaf and Sunwynn. And the title that had eluded me revealed itself: The Ashes of Heaven’s Pillar.

In the 21st century, we know about the destruction of pagan holy sites because of medieval Christian writers. But what about the ordinary people who witnessed these events? How did this affect their religious beliefs?

Visit Reading the Past for my post about the role historical fiction plays in portraying history through the eyes of pagans and peasants.

1882 illustration of the destruction of the Irminsul

Heinrich Leutemann’s 1882 illustration of the destruction of the Irminsul (public domain image via Wikimedia Commons).

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