The map detail of the Irish Sea, Argyll and the Isles, and Strathclyde is from Scotiae Tabula by Abraham Ortelius in his Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (1592-1606). The map, which I have always loved, hangs on the wall in my study—a wonderful visual inspiration as I write.
The isle of Iona sits above the transparent black banner, off the coast of Mull; Dunadd, the hillfort-capitol of the Scots of Dalriada, lies underneath it. The sharp-eyed will also spot Glasgow and Stirling, Dumbarton Rock and Loch Lomond (all featured prominently in the second book in this series, Peregrinatio, coming this fall).
The novel (and series) is deeply-rooted in the physical landscape of Scotland and Ireland, so the cover is particularly apt. Early mediaeval history cannot be comprehended, or written, without a thorough understanding of how landscape dictated human interaction and, thence, politics, and from both, culture. A people were their land, often naming themselves in relation to it. This is an essential connection which perhaps we have forgotten, here in the twenty-first century, in many parts of the West.
In many ways, Scotland, and Ireland, is as much a character in Exile as the two main protagonists, Aedan mac Gabran and St Columba. And here it is, front and center.
As for the stippling of the Irish Sea, which draws the eye? Fitting, since that body of water too plays its role as a character in the story. Rather than a terrifying obstacle, the Irish Sea at this time was a super-highway, providing easy access to all the lands surrounding it, ferrying people and trade and ideas back and forth, fertilizing all. Or, as Columba remarks in Chapter 12 of Exile (while attempting to reassure Aedan that a trek they must undertake up the Great Glen may not, in fact, prove suicidal): “Where there is water, the travelling is easy …”
My thanks to the design team at Createspace for taking my initial design and running with it so beautifully.
In the meantime, preparations for publication move along. Exile should be “live” in June.