Image credit: P L Chadwick.Speaking of wibbly-wobbly borders, Wales isnt a visitable place in Valhalla, yet Ubisoft clearly wanted to bring some Welsh impact into the video game – and selected border counties like Shropshire (where you fight Welsh King Rhodri the Great) and Gloucestershire as suitable places to do so. Maen Ceti, the Neolithic burial ground also known as Arthurs Stone near Swansea, has actually in some way snuck into the north-western corner of Valhallas Gloucestershire. Eivor observes the similarities in between pagan idols and Saint Kenhelm – and undoubtedly, scholars have suggested the process of conversion was alleviated by the resemblance between pagan polytheism and the many Christian saints.Anyway, back to the Welsh connection: Valhallas Gloucestershire seems to likewise have a number of referrals to Arthurian legend, including Arthurs Stone, a mention of Daughters of Nimue, and a world event called Lady of the Lake. And if youre looking for an even more direct link: Modron, a name used in the Gloucestershire story arc, also appears in Welsh Arthurian literature (Modron significance “magnificent mother”, a suitable name for her function in Valhalla).
Eivor observes the resemblances between pagan idols and Saint Kenhelm – and certainly, scholars have actually recommended the procedure of conversion was reduced by the similarity in between pagan polytheism and the lots of Christian saints.Anyway, back to the Welsh connection: Valhallas Gloucestershire appears to likewise have a variety of recommendations to Arthurian legend, including Arthurs Stone, a mention of Daughters of Nimue, and a world event called Lady of the Lake. Arthurian recommendations can be found somewhere else in the game, however I like to think Ubisofts placement of numerous Arthurian references near the Welsh border is deliberate. Wales has some strong ties to Arthurian legend: the Welsh poem Y Gododdin consists of the earliest recognized referral to King Arthur, while Merlin was originally a figure in middle ages Welsh legend called Myrddin Wyllt. Theres a whole list of Welsh places said to be connected to King Arthur – choose. And if youre looking for a much more direct link: Modron, a name utilized in the Gloucestershire story arc, also appears in Welsh Arthurian literature (Modron meaning “magnificent mom”, an appropriate name for her role in Valhalla).
Cleeve Hill can be seen in the foreground, and the bigger hills behind are the Malverns. Although the Malverns are not actually named in Valhalla, it promises Ubisoft chose to merely squidge the geography together.
Fair play to Ubisoft for discovering an even more complex, Old English-inspired spelling of Gloucestershire. I did not understand that was possible.
Please take pleasure in these Bela snaps.Yet the most beautifully-realised part of Gloucestershire, to my mind, is nearly certainly the Forest of Dean. The name is a recommendation to the mining of ochre at the website (used as a pigment), something which began in the Forest over 4500 years ago, although Valhallas cavern residents appear more preoccupied with pagan rituals.
After composing my first post about the hobbit home and ring Easter egg in Valhallas Gloucestershire, naturally, I found several more references to the ring; one note directly resolving the disappearance of the Ring of Silvianus (which, in genuine life, was ultimately discovered in Silchester).
In truth, the primary theme of Gloucestershires story arc is the stress between Christianity and those clinging to Celtic pagan beliefs. Mercia was one of the kingdoms most resistant to the intro of Christianity, just officially ending up being Christian in 655 with the death of pagan King Penda, which might explain why Ubisoft utilized Gloucestershire to explore this style. Tewdwrs quest to stamp out paganism might have been a little unneeded in 873 ADVERTISEMENT, however, as by the mid-700s Christian texts thought about paganism to be largely defunct beyond some remaining superstitions and customizeds, with no reference of any staying cults. Theres likewise little proof that pagans ever sacrificed humans in a wicker male beyond some a little dodgy Greco-Roman accounts (most likely meant to present pagans as barbaric), so it seems Ubisoft probably hammed this up a fair bit.
Ubisofts representation of Gloucestershire is far from traditionally precise, but I doubt that was ever Ubisofts objective. Its more a patchwork quilt of real history, folklore and geographical functions from the area, with the colours overemphasized for remarkable effect. Because method its a little like its source product, the pseudo-historical accounts that emerged in the early middle ages duration to provide Britain its own legends, which connected reality and fiction together to create a compelling and romanticised story. I truly do enjoy the regional information. Through investigating even one county in Valhalla I discovered a remarkable amount about my regional history, and its something I d suggest to gamers curious about their own counties. When it comes to me, Im all too happy with Ubisofts analysis of Gloucestershire as a mysterious land full of merriment and cider. Just dont ask me for any wonderful treatments – you may get more than you anticipated.
I dont understand whats going on with the rivers, but Valhallas Gloucester definitely shares a comparable summary to this map of possible functions in 1000 AD. Credit to British History Online for the map.Where Ubisoft really does push the realms of reality is Gloucestershires broader geography, which often feels oddly concertinaed, with some landmarks missing out on entirely.
While I at first discovered it difficult to recognise anything from the post-industrialisation Gloucester I understand, I found a map approximating the city limitations around 1000 AD – the closest I might get to Valhallas 873 AD setting – and there are an unexpected amount of resemblances. The all-important bridge over the Severn resulting in Westgate street shows up, together with the positioning of the docks in the south, and a church called St Kenhelms is close to the site of modern-day Gloucestershire Cathedral (where an abbey committed to Saint Peter was established around 679 ADVERTISEMENT). Its recognisably Gloucester … a minimum of from thousand-year-old price quotes.
When it comes to Gloucestershires geographical lacks, Ubisoft seems to offset these in other methods, most noticeably by generating local folklore. In Valhalla you can find a location called Sabrinas Spring, which refers to folklore surrounding the (absent) river Severn. The story goes that the goddess of the river, known as Hafren in Welsh (or latinised as Sabrina), was drowned as a young lady in vengeance for an affair between her mother and dad. Her stepmother wanted all to bear in mind her dads infidelity, however rather the river was called after Sabrina, making her immortal. A win for Sabrina, I think?
If you reside in London, New York or another global city, youre most likely used to the idea of your city being represented in big-budget media. If youre from Gloucestershire, the closest things get is Hot Fuzz. The county is frequently used as a filming place, its seldom the focus of the spotlight, and the list of video games set in Gloucestershire is … rather sparse. All of which meant I was shocked to discover that Gloucestershire is not just visitable in Assassins Creed: Valhalla, however that it boasts its own storyline.
Image credit: P L Chadwick.Speaking of wibbly-wobbly borders, Wales isnt a visitable area in Valhalla, yet Ubisoft clearly wanted to bring some Welsh impact into the game – and selected border counties like Shropshire (where you fight Welsh King Rhodri the Great) and Gloucestershire as ideal places to do so. Maen Ceti, the Neolithic burial ground likewise known as Arthurs Stone near Swansea, has actually in some way snuck into the north-western corner of Valhallas Gloucestershire. To be fair, Gloucestershire is only thought to have actually originated as a shire in the 10th century, so perhaps we can forgive Ubisoft for having some somewhat odd geography for the sake of dividing the game into neat areas.
All of this ties together, I believe, in a presentation of Gloucestershire as a liminal and fantastical land. Perhaps just the Welsh understand the trick to crossing.
Gloucestershire (or “Glowecestrescire” as its called in Valhalla) is a relatively high-level location in the Kingdom of Mercia, and the story arc unlocks after a particularly difficult chapter in the video game. The county is provided as a bit of a rural backwater, with Eivor making numerous blunt remarks to this impact.
Looking beyond the areas, the Welsh connection is certainly a wider theme in Gloucestershire, as the story features a Welsh lady in the kind of Gunnars fiancé Brigid, while characters caution of Y Ladi Wen (a Welsh phantom that translates to The Woman in White). Welsh love spoons are spread around, and Eivor takes part in the tradition of Mari Lwyd – which basically involves visiting neighbouring homes with a scary hobby-horse. Its bundled in with a number of other traditions in Valhallas version of Samhain, the Gaelic festival that eventually became modern-day Halloween after merging with the Christian event of All Saints Day. It seems Ubisoft took several liberties here – Mari Lwyd is also referred to as hoodening, a similar practice from Kent, and Samhain itself actually stem in Ireland. Essentially, its a big pagan melting pot.
While not present, the town of Winchcombe gets name-dropped in various notes and letters in Valhalla and likewise gets the folklore treatment. The in-game locations called St. Kenhelm refer to the legend of Saint Kenelm: a Mercian kings son who died in 819AD when he was murdered on the orders of his older sister, who desired the throne. News of the young boys death was apparently transported to the Pope by a heavenly dove, and monks from Winchcombe were told to discover the body. When the monks brought the body back from the Clent hills, they paused near Winchcombe and a revitalizing spring appeared from the ground where they struck their staffs. The boy was buried at Winchcombe Abbey, and the well ended up being a holy website for pilgrims – possibly describing why Ubisoft chose to name a waterfall and church after the boy-saint in Valhalla.
With little else to do throughout lockdown, I recently walked up Cleeve Hill to find the Neolithic long barrow Belas Knap, a 5500-year-old burial website, and another named place in Valhalla. Having actually now visited myself in-person, I can say Ubisofts variation is seriously persuading. Valhallas version does appear to have some treasure remaining, nevertheless … which is hidden inside the not-so-false portal.
Having actually matured in the location, I wondered to see exactly how my home had been represented. How real would it be to real history? Would it still feel like Gloucestershire? How do you even squash most of England into a video game? I loaded up my Viking gear and set sail for the in-game county, eager to learn a little about Gloucestershires history along the method through my own research. What I discovered was a slightly hodge-podge version of Gloucestershire that – surprise – isnt always historically accurate. It also feels wonderfully transcendent, complete of folklore and charming referrals to the region. Its likewise quite Welsh. More notably, it in some way feels like home.
Despite all this, I could still acknowledge the Severn Valley and think at specific landmarks. The inaccessible mountains in the west likely represent the Welsh Brecon Beacons, and the large round hills look suspiciously like the Malverns, particularly provided the next hills because instructions are the Shropshire Stiperstones. The absence of my hometown of Cheltenham was barely surprising – it was still only a town at the time – however I was happy to discover one of my regional walking paths, Cleeve Hill, which honestly hasnt changed a lot from the 9th century.
After composing my first short article about the hobbit house and ring Easter egg in Valhallas Gloucestershire, naturally, I found a number of more recommendations to the ring; one note directly attending to the disappearance of the Ring of Silvianus (which, in genuine life, was eventually found in Silchester). The placement of the note suggests Valhallas Temple of Ceres is the same website Tolkien worked on in the Forest of Dean, and its in-game placement makes geographical sense – although I discovered little in the ruins to connect it to the Celtic deity Nodens.
For Valhallas setting of 873 AD, this would have been a fair evaluation. Gloucester also feels more noticeably Roman than numerous other cities in Valhalla, showing its past as the essential Roman fortress and colonia of Glevum.
And thats before Ive even pointed out Gloucestershires lots of J.R.R. Tolkien references, a topic on which Ive currently composed a short article, so heres a quick wrap-up. As a teacher of Anglo-Saxon, in 1928 Tolkien worked on a historical dig at a Romano-Celtic temple in the Forest of Dean. The concept of little hobbits living underground likely derived from the Anglo Saxon belief that the Roman temple was in fact made by dwarves, perhaps offering Tolkien inspiration for Hobbiton.