Friday, 29 April 2016

Jack Harrington (The Belgae Torc)

This is a brief introduction to Jack Harrington.  He is one of the main characters who features throughout all three novels in The Torc Trilogy.  

I deliberately avoided including a name for Jack Harrington’s organisation, I focused mainly on the salvage side of the business and the security forces that he employs. 

Jacks business enterprises are huge, based in the United States, the head office is situated in New York but I chose not to become too involved with the details of this.  He is mainly concerned with searching out and retrieving treasures from crashed aircraft and sunken ships, and in The Belgae Torc, he uses his survey ship The Sea Quest to begin a salvage operation on a ship lost in the Bay of Biscay.

Survey ship; The Sea Quest

The Hudson Bay was a ship carrying treasure plundered from Europe during World War Two and the Belgae Torc appears on the inventory.
It is at this point that Orlagh and Jack are thrown together as she is sent to help identify the lost treasures from the Hudson Bay.  

Jack uses remotely operated underwater vehicles, (ROV) to help him locate and salvage items from the seabed.  They are used extensively throughout the salvage process in this novel. 

ROV being deployed over the side of the ship

ROV on its way to the bottom

ROV working on the bottom with its manipulator arms deployed

One of his favourite and most valued vehicles is the Sikorsky S92 helicopter.  He loves to fly this aircraft and it features heavily in The Belgae Torc.  This story covers a huge area in the Mediterranean so this helicopter proved a useful tool. 

Sikorsky S92 helicopter

Map showing the area where much of the book was set.  The Bay of Biscay where the Hudson Bay was discovered and the coast of Portugal close to Porto. 

The coast of Morocco is where the fictional islands of Gog and Magog were situated.
Gibraltar also featured briefly.

The Belgae Torc is book one in The Torc Trilogy.
The Gordian Knot is book two.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

The starting point

Introduction to the word ‘Celt’

The word ‘Celt’ comes from the Greek word Keltoi and seems to have been a convenient label used by the Victorians to describe Bronze and Iron Age people.

These ancient people would not have heard of the word so would certainly not have referred to themselves as being Celtic.

A brief history

The Belgae were an ancient tribe situated in Somerset in the south of England.  I chose to use this location in my novel, The Belgae Torc, as the place where Sir Geoffrey Knowles discovered the torc in the 1920’s.
The Belgae were also established in Europe in the area that is now known as Belgium.

Early development of the book

I wanted to use this period in history as a starting point in The Belgae Torc.  The moment I came up with the idea of a golden torc, I realised that I would have to do some research and include a chapter or two from this period at the introduction stage of the book.  Little did I realise that it would develop into something more than simply a couple of chapters in fact, it remained a focus throughout all three novels.

Life in the Iron Age

These people were very highly developed, their farming methods were becoming established, they lived in communities feeding off each other’s strengths and skills, but they still had to protect themselves from attack.  The Romans had not yet arrived in my book, but fighting and raiding amongst tribes was frequent.
I had my village surrounded by a simple ditch and palisade made of timber which had to be maintained and re-enforced when an attack was expected.

Roundhouses made from wattle and daub panels fixed to wooden frames made for a weatherproof structure which was roofed by thatch made from grasses gathered locally.  A hole to allow smoke to escape from central fireplaces was incorporated into the design.  When researching I discovered that in very dry conditions, fire was always a hazard from unattended cooking fires.  I used this in the book; a roundhouse suffered damage during a ‘boozy’ celebration.

One of the larger houses that was probably too old and dilapidated to be used as a dwelling was turned into a forge where basic metalwork was carried out.  It was here that the Belgae Torc was made. 


My characters painted their bodies and decorated their hair as described in the book, but also the rough woollen clothes were highlighted.  A kind of tartan was woven on frames and made into trousers for the men and dresses for the women.  This coarse wool was hard wearing and kept out the chill of the winter months.

The men preferred to go into battle bare-chested or naked, displaying the swirling and colourful tattoos that were popular at the time.  The Roman’s would eventually find this practice of skin decorating and naked combat barbaric and heathen.

I enjoyed writing about this period in history.  Although it was very brief, about 10% of book one, it provides a sound foundation from which the rest of the story was developed. 

Wednesday, 20 April 2016


The main characters of The Belgae Torc

When I decided to write the Belgae Torc, I knew that history was going to play a huge part in the plot so I wanted a strong central female character that would play an important role in bringing the past and the present together.  It was then that I started to put together a character profile. 
At this point I had no name only an image of a woman that became clearer as I put my ideas down on paper.  I don’t like to describe my characters too graphically, I much prefer to give a hint of their appearance and leave it up to the reader to decide how they look. 
This character however was quite distinctive so I decided to portray her as having a head of thick red hair, emerald green eyes, of average height and in her early thirties. 
Her life revolved around the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin where she was employed as an active archaeologist and historian who lectured from time to time on her subject of the Iron Age.
I chose an Irish character because of my family connection with Ireland and having visited the museum some years ago, I was amazed at the Iron Age artefacts on display there. 

Influenced by a song

I still had no name, but my character continued to develop becoming stronger by the day.   It was whilst listening to a CD of an Irish band that the name came about.  The chorus of the song featured the words ‘All Again’ repeated over and over then as the rhythm and the splendid Irish accents influenced my imagination the name Orlagh Gairne was born.
Mostly my character names are created spontaneously.  I don’t often have to give much thought to them as they seem to appear at the right time.

Jack Harrington

Jack Harrington sounded like a good solid name for my American character.  Jack is a self made man with very good contacts.  Jack, you might say is the hero of the book.
I have tried to keep his character as normal as possible, he is not a man with superhuman powers, but he does have considerable resources at his disposal.  He surrounds himself with strong characters and is a well respected member of a team.  He would not be able to achieve what he does if it wasn’t for those working to support him.  He is very much aware of this, teamwork is very important to Jack.

Paul Seymour

Captain Paul Seymour is Jack’s oldest and most respected friend and together they have shared many adventures.   Paul enjoys a senior position in Jack’s organisation.  I wanted to portray Paul as a cautious character who would always consider the risks.  Paul, although a very brave man, is deeply affected by events especially if they involve loss of life.

Roz Stacey

Roz Stacey is another strong female character.  Her struggle to assert herself in a male dominated world has a negative effect on her and she finds it difficult to relate to those around her.  She is a solitary character who is very good at her job often much to the criticism of others.  She is misunderstood by her peers and as a result is treated as an outcast. 
Roz does not appear in The Gordian Knot, the second book in the trilogy because of her terrible experiences in the Belgae Torc.  She decides to take up a less active role in one of Jack’s companies in New York.  She does however return in the third book where she becomes an invaluable member of the team.

Jerry Knowles

Jerry Knowles is the Grandson of Sir Geoffrey Knowles, the famous archaeologist who discovers the Belgae Torc in Somerset in the 1920’s.
Jerry is a mature student studying at Trinity in Dublin.  He meets Orlagh for the first time at the museum where she is giving a talk on Life in Ireland in the Iron Age.  Their relationship develops from there.
I wanted Jerry to be a ‘down to earth’ character whose scepticism keeps Orlagh’s more fanciful ideas in check.  Jerry prefers to find a logical answer to strange problems. 
Jerry is extremely intelligent and is completely different to Jack Harrington.  They have great respect for each other and Jack finds his input invaluable but Jerry always seems to remain on the periphery of Jack’s team.

There are many other characters in the Belgae Torc who should deserve a mention.  Janet May, Razor, Kylie, and Wings Wallace to name a few, but I will leave it up to you to make up your own minds about them.

Friday, 8 April 2016

The Torc

The Belgae Torc

The Belgae Torc is a fictional torc made from twisted strands of gold.  The finials were symbolic and featured Epona, the protector of horses, ponies, donkeys and mules.  She was also a goddess of fertility.  A moon gazing hare is featured.  Also linked to fertility the hare sits between Belanos, the sun god and the moon and forms a physical link which joins the two finials together.  I have taken a few liberties with the creation of The Belgae Torc.  I can only hope that the description of the forge and the processes used to create the torc was available at the time.  

The Moon Hare

Belenos the Sun God


A neck ornament consisting of a band of twisted metal, worn especially by the ancient Gauls and Britons.


The word comes from Latin-Torquis or Torquero meaning to twist; because of the twisted shape of the ring.  Typically, neck rings that open at the front when worn are called ‘Torcs’ and those that open at the back; ‘Collars’.

Torcs were made from single or multiple intertwined metal rods or ‘ropes’ of twisted wire, usually gold or bronze, less often silver, iron or other metals. 
Elaborate examples used a variety of techniques but complex decoration was usually begun by casting and then working by further methods.  There are several types of rigid gold and sometimes bronze necklaces and collars of the late European Bronze Age, from around 1200 BC, many of which are classed as ‘Torcs’.  They are mostly thin strips of gold twisted together to form a spiral which is then shaped and decorated with finials of intricately shaped animal heads or symbolic shapes.

Depictions of the gods and goddesses of Celtic mythology sometimes show them wearing or carrying torcs.  The god Cernunnos is often shown wearing a torc around his neck, with torcs hanging from his antlers or held in his hand.  


The Belgae Torc is the key that features throughout the three books that make up 'The Torc Trilogy'.   All of the characters are bound up in some way with the torc and this makes it a powerful focal point.  

The third and final book in the series is about to be proofread and hopefully published in June.