Thursday, 16 July 2020



Some days you find out that the world is nothing like what you think it is.

An archaeologist named Tamara working near Hadrian’s Wall is approached by a very annoyed-looking, silver-haired woman with an incomprehensible message: The game is moving on, the time has come to play a hand, and Tamara is on point. Time to find the Necessary Arthur and get down to business!



Tamara Tafika often came to the Sheepstones in summer, late in the long evenings, as the sun was sliding down all red into the west. The stone circle wasn’t much, as stone circles went, nothing to rival Stonehenge or Avebury. There were only seven stones in all, and none were actually standing, the most upright of them leaning drunkenly at a sixty degree angle, the others all long since succumbed to the horizontal.

The stones weren’t that big either, the largest only five feet long and about two feet wide. They were limestone, brought a great distance in Bronze Age terms. A 1980s study had shown they likely came from western Yorkshire to their resting place here, just north of Hadrian’s Wall. They had been roughly worked to give them some shape, but otherwise left undecorated.

Tamara liked to sit on the smallest stone and watch the sun slip away. It was a time for quiet contemplation, an escape from the pressure of her completed but not yet awarded PhD from the School of History, Classics and Archaeology at Newcastle University; and the usually greater or at least more annoying pressure from the undergraduate students she tutored.

Consequently she was a little annoyed this valuable time of solitude might be disturbed when she heard the swish and crackle of someone coming through the ferns that grew so thickly on the hillside, almost obscuring the track up from the layby off the road. She had parked her own car there, but she hadn’t heard any traffic since.