Writers, myself included, will often romanticize life in medieval Scotland, with tales of picturesque castles, noble ladies, fearless knights, honest tradesmen and hardworking peasants. In truth, plagues, wars, isolation, unsanitary conditions, feuds with rival clans, crippling taxes, and lack of fresh food and water were just a few of the harsh conditions people faced in their daily lives.
Fortunately, it wasn’t all doom and gloom.
The philosopher’s game, with mathematical tactics relating to ancient warfare; chess; and tables, also known as backgammon, were favorite board games. Hazard, an early incarnation of the dice game craps, and knucklebones, a game of chance, were also favored.
Outdoor activities were clearly a crowd-pleasing form of entertainment. Archery contests were especially popular, as well as horseshoes. The Highland Games, where the strongest and bravest soldiers of Scotland were given the chance to showcase their virility and skills, originated during this time. In addition to contests of wrestling, hammer-throwing and caber-tossing, food and music abounded for all to enjoy.
Robert the Bruce awarded a charter in 1314 to hold the Ceres Games in honor of the brave men of that village who fought with him at the Battle of Bannockburn. Today, the games are still held there each June.
Winter’s end was marked by one of the most anticipated celebrations of the year: May Day. The observance most likely originated with the Romans to honor Flora, the goddess of plants, especially those that bear fruit. This agricultural ritual included gathering wildflowers and green branches, weaving floral garlands, feasting, dancing, and overindulging in drink.
By today’s standards, these leisure activities might not be considered as entertaining as settling in to watch a favorite costume drama. But considering the harsh realities of those bygone days, from castle sieges to back-breaking labor in severe weather conditions.
Scotland, 1335: Marriage between clans is a matter of property and power, rarely love. But the only daughter of Laird McKenna longs for passion—and finds it in a Highlander’s arms . . . .
The unconventional Lady Katherine McKenna has been granted a rare privilege: the right to choose her own husband. It’s a more difficult task than she expected. When at last she agrees to a betrothal, it quickly goes awry, leaving Katherine alone in the wilds . . . and rescued by Laird Lachlan MacTavish. She’s captivated by the proud, brooding chief who shows her such tender care. But with their clans on the brink of war, the honorable Lachlan resists his attraction—until Katherine proclaims to her family that they will wed.
Though stunned by her boldness, Lachlan is intrigued by Katherine’s beauty and spirit, and the MacTavishes will benefit from an alliance with the powerful McKennas. But with family discord, treachery, and deceit in their midst, can they save a marriage that is destined to blossom into incomparable love?
About the Author
Between stints as a corporate financial analyst, marketing consultant and public librarian, Adrienne Basso has parlayed her vivid imagination and desire to tell romantic stories into a twenty-four-year writing career. She has published contemporary, Regency, Victorian, vampire, and Scottish medieval romance novels. She enjoys the challenge of creating stories that emphasize the everlasting power of love and is truly delighted that her characters always achieve the fantasy of living happily ever after. A native New Yorker, Adrienne, her husband and their incomparable dog now live in New Jersey. Visit Adrienne at adriennebasso.net or on the social media platform below.