Blackleith, Sutherland and the Picts

This month, The Rose Red Bride is on sale for just 99¢. This is the second book in the Jewels of Kinfairlie series and takes us north from Kinfairlie into Sutherland, the location of Erik’s home of Blackleith – and his stolen legacy. Today, let’s talk a bit about that part of Scotland.

Kyle of Durness, Sutherland, Scotland
9th century map of Scotland

Erik’s home estate of Blackleith is north of Kinfairlie, far north, in the lands allied with the Earl of Sutherland. Sutherland is the peninsula at the top of Scotland, which points toward the North Sea. (The tip of that point is Caithness.) On this 9th century map, all of Scotland north of the Firth of Forth (where Edinburgh is located) is green, indicating that this territory was held by the Picts.

There’s not a lot known about the Picts. They left amazing carved standing stones, and their presence is noted in the records of other peoples from the fifth century or so to the tenth. They are believed to have been Celtic and to have merged with the other Celtic tribes at that time, becoming part of the peoples called “Scots”. We don’t even know what they called themselves: the name Pict comes from the Latin for “painted or tattooed people”, because the Picts loved to color their skin.

The name “Sutherland” comes from the Vikings, who dominated this territory from their jarl in Orkney: it was literally the land south of the court. The Vikings held territories in what is now Scotland from about the 8th century through the 13th. They held longest to the northern and western isles. Their influence remains, though, in the names of towns and territories, and the fair coloring (blond hair and blue eyes) of many inhabitants.

In the Middle Ages, the Scottish kings gradually claimed territory north of Edinburgh and St. Andrews, extending their hold along the eastern coast and west to the Strathclyde. Even by the fifteenth century and the setting of The Rose Red Bride, points north remained wild (as did much of the highlands.) Vivienne would have been certain that she was riding off the edge of the known world when she accompanied Erik north to Blackleith.

If you’re interested in the Picts, you might like my time travel romance Once Upon a Kiss. It’s a reincarnation story and a Sleeping Beauty story, set in the Orkney Islands.


The Rose Red Bride, #2 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix

More cherished than gold are the Jewels of Kinfairlie, and only the worthiest may fight for their love…The Laird of Kinfairlie has unmarried sisters, each a gem in her own right. And he has no choice but to see them all wed in haste.

Like a heroine in an ancient tale, Vivienne waited in the highest chamber of Kinfairlie’s tower for her fated lover. In the darkness he came for her, cloaked and hooded so that she would not see his face. He loved her sweetly, thoroughly…and Vivienne knew she had met her destiny.

But in the morning light, her dream is shattered. Erik Sinclair of Blackleith is no romantic hero but a disinherited warrior who arranged her abduction to regain his own legacy. Outraged by Erik’s insistence that he needs her solely to beget a son, yet ensnared by the passion he awakens, Vivienne realizes that there is more merit in her taciturn spouse than he would admit. Erik is skeptical of her growing faith in his honor and her desire to recapture his stolen birthright…

Little does he suspect that his rare gem of a bride intends to capture his barricaded heart as well.

A Kindle Bestseller

“A beautiful, heart-wrenching, deeply emotional story. Five hearts!”—The Romance Studio

“Claire Delacroix has woven a tale that is a whirlwind of action and betrayal…What a wonderful plot! Throughout this amazing tale, Ms. Delacroix doesn’t let up for a second. There are lighthearted moments and tender love scenes that will delight historical romance lovers everywhere. Five hearts!”—www.loveromances.com

“One of the most fascinating continuing stories I have read in quite a while.”—The Romance Readers Connection

“One of Claire Delacroix’s best stories…Delacroix raises the bar in historical romance writing with the ease of a true professional.”—The NovaScotian

“Claire Delacroix is a shining star of the romance genre. Cleverly original, emotional and fast-paced, full of twists and turns, her books will sweep you right off your feet!”—Julianne Maclean, bestselling author

“Ms. Delacroix keeps the readers wildly entertained as well as enchanted all the way to the end! This reviewer has always loved Ms. Delacroix’s lush storylines, intricate details and has never been disappointed with her books. The Rose Red Bride is one book that will be read over and over again! Five hearts!”—www.loveromances.com

“What better way to begin a story than by providing the reader with a strong, determined hero out to avenge a wrong with a spirited and equally determined woman by his side? The Rose Red Bride is blend of passion, humor, fairy lore and everlasting love. A great read!”—FreshFiction.com

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The Rose Red Bride, #2 of the Jewels of Kinfairlie series of medieval Scottish romances by Claire Delacroix, is available in audio

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