Author shines a light on a mystery of Dark Ages

Author Simon Heywood
Author Simon Heywood
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AN EXPERT in folklore is shedding light on a little-known Dark Ages legend in a new book that also includes the tale of a bloody battle set in South Yorkshire.

Simon Heywood, aged 44, who lives in Dronfield, has uncovered the story of Vortigern, a Saxon warrior and ‘dodgy friend’ of King Arthur’s uncle.

The Legend of Vortigern, published this month by The History Press, tells the tale of a noble man who tries to wrestle power by recruiting fighters from abroad. But the soliders soon turn on him, forcing him to flee to Wales.

The book, set around 400AD, features a battle scene between Hengist - a Saxon general and enemy of Vortigern - and the Celts at Conisbrough Castle, near Doncaster. According to the folklore, Hengist was caught by the Celts, executed, and buried in a grave near the castle.

Mr Heywood, who lived in Sheffield for 19 years after studying for a postgraduate degree in folklore at Sheffield University, said: “It’s a thrilling story in any case, but finding a local link was the cherry on the cake. It’s bringing the story back home.

“This is my first book to be published. I really enjoyed writing an account of Vortigern’s life and discovering more about this period of history as well as the local area.”

Mr Heywood, who is a lecturer of creative writing at Derby University, will be signing copies of his book in Sheffield on May 4 at Waterstones on Orchard Square between noon and 2pm.