JS Dunn Interviews Cian from Bending the Boyne
Ireland’s First Gold Rush: Bending The Boyne
Circa 2200 BCE: Changes rocking the Continent reach Eire with the dawning Bronze Age. Marauders invade the island seeking copper and gold. The young astronomer Boann and the enigmatic Cian need all their wits and courage to save their people and their great Boyne mounds, when long bronze knives challenge the peaceful native starwatchers. Tensions on Eire between new and old cultures ultimately explode. What emerges from the rubble of battle are the legends of Ireland s beginnings in a totally new light.
Jsd: Cian, you lived in my head for well over a decade, slowly taking shape as I read archaeology and astronomy and archaeo-linguistics, even genetics of the Isles. I traveled everywhere from Orkney to the Pyrenees. You, and your great love interest, Boann, and the starwatchers, would not leave me alone until all your story had been put into modern words. It is awe-inspiring to meet you at last! Also you are very handsome; in my era we would compare you with Sean Connery or Colin Firth. Genetically; you are R1b1b2, or, M269.
Cian: Thank you—I think!
Jsd: There’s that droll Gaelic wit. Or proto-Gaelic. You’re very welcome. I know you’re the man of few words but we have to plow this field, lad, then you can go back to making bronze sky disks* and starwatching. [*image of Nebra sky disk could be used here]
Cian: Yes. I follow the white river of stars that lead north to Boann…
Jsd: Sorry to have reminded you of Boann, but could you tell us how the two of you were separated?
Cian: Sure, wasn’t it the intruders—foreigners calling themselves Invaders and looking for copper and gold they were, on Eriu. We watched the intruders rip open the land in the southwest of Eriu and pull out copper. Poured the sun from melted rock, so they did. Making metal from rock was a revelation and seemed like magic. Our enthusiasm waned when their fever swept over the island. A fever for the metals, and a deadly sickness. And the intruders swept in at the Boyne, our power center on the east coast. Someone must have told them where the beating heart of Eriu waited, undefended.
Jsd: Had your people not ever made war?
Cian: We had but that was long before. In my youth, all the tribes got along. There aren’t any masses of violent burials, unlike on the Continent or over on Big East [ ed: the UK ] We weren’t making war until the invaders came, the rough men with long knives. It wasn’t the best of men who got on little more than a breadboard and voyaged on the ocean. And their horses! We were not warriors and had not had horses. —And our women had equal say in things on our councils of elders.— Suddenly we had stubborn, fierce guests who would not leave Eriu: the intruders. They respected only force, violence.
Jsd: How did you fend off the Invaders at the Boyne?
Cian: At first, we distracted them to keep them away from our great mounds where the carved boulders hold so much of our knowledge. The Invaders foolishly thought the mounds held gold. They wanted to rip the mounds apart. Sure, there is gold in the mounds: our knowledge and not cold metal. I blended into their camp for a time. Began to learn their language and ways. The leader Elcmar soon took a dislike to me and banished me to the southwest, to learn mining he said but I knew he’d sooner see me dead. Eventually he put me on a boat that went very far south.
Jsd: And what of Boann?
Cian: I almost went mad to think of Boann. Fortunately, she has many strengths. She survived. It broke my heart, but one of the ways she survived was by marrying Elcmar. But I knew whose child she carried. To this day there are lines of poetry about Boann’s child Aengus Og, Aengus the Young, in ancient text:
It was then they made the sun stand still
to the end of nine months—strange the tale—
warming the noble ether
in the roof of the perfect firmament.
From: Metrical Dindshenchas
I realized that bronze and courage weren’t enough to defeat the Invaders. On the Continent, the Invaders had won the battle. People had changed from peaceful to warrior ways, and they were becoming slaves to metal. Someone had to beat the Invaders at their own game. That person would be me.
Jsd: How did you do that, lad?
Cian: That would be telling! I immersed myself, learned their ways. It took many years, and many voyages. To see how it all happened, read the novel.
Jsd: Immersed, yes! Your story kept me writing notes at night after hiking all day; running to catch trains in Spain like the one between southern Galicia and Bilbao and Donostia in Basque country. Breaking my foot in a prehistoric copper mine. Tracking down gold artifacts. Learning to pour a bronze sword in Cornwall. Yes, your story kept me immersed for years. Probably the best years of my life, and I thank you.
And it’s a good story that weaves astronomy and interesting bits of prehistory, to immerse the reader in the Atlantic Bronze Age. There are hints of the 1916 Rising, and embedded references to Irish authors as well.
Many thanks to HI for allowing Cian and I to appear on the blog. —J.S. Dunn
Link: Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BendingTheBoyne/
S. Dunn resided in Ireland during the past decade, and from there pursued Bronze Age culture, megaliths, and marine trade along the Atlantic coasts of Spain, France, Orkney, Wales, Cornwall, and Ireland.
View two Bronze Age Items via the links below:
Nebra sky disk: