Scottish author A J Proudfoot's debut historical novel draws on his own fascinating family history

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'Rise of the First Wessex King' is a historical fiction novel which follows the life of East Lothian author A J Proudfoot's earliest known ancestor, traced back over 1500 years of his family history. The novel highlights the Romano-British origins of the great Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex. 'Rise of the First Wessex King is due to be published on the 28th July 2024 by The Book Guild.

When the Saxons, invited to settle in Britannia by King Wyrtgeorn, brutally murder the father and brother of Ceredig, the second son of a fifth century Romano-British chieftain, he flees the land of his birth.

While the Saxons expand their control over Britannia, Ceredig grows up in Armorica, learning the ways of the Gewisse, and ultimately taking command of this elite force of warriors, who had remained loyal to his father, Elisedd.

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Despite ruling as a chieftain in Armorica, Ceredig remains determined to return to his homeland, avenge his father and brother’s murder, and finally reclaim the lands his father had once ruled in southern Britannia.

Rise of the First Wessex King CoverRise of the First Wessex King Cover
Rise of the First Wessex King Cover

After over forty years in exile, Ceredig, his son and a force of Gewisse warriors return to Britannia, joining a large army of Britons who are preparing to take on the Saxons in battle at Badonbyrg.

What happens next will go down in history…

Alex (A J) Proudfoot lives in Musselburgh, near Edinburgh. He started his career as an accountant, working in the brewing, publishing and financial sectors, before qualifying as a chartered marketer, working at the University of Edinburgh for over twenty years.

After retiring in 2018, Alex spent his free time studying his Proudfoot family history. He traced his ancestors through Annandale in Dumfriesshire and Co. Meath in Ireland, back to the first man to bear the Proudfoot surname, an early 12th century sheriff of London, called Gilbert Prúdfot, the son of a Norman merchant who brought his family to England after the Conquest. Further research through Gilbert’s Anglo-Saxon wife’s family led back to fifth century Britannia, after the Roman withdrawal, and a mysterious chieftain called ‘Cerdic’, who founded the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex.

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Author: A J ProudfootAuthor: A J Proudfoot
Author: A J Proudfoot

Alex explains: “I was intrigued why this important figure in English history has been largely ignored by historians, so I set out to find out more about the life of Cerdic, or Ceredig to give him his likely Brythonic name. I felt compelled to use what I have learned to tell the story about my earliest known ancestor and his crucial role in Anglo-Saxon history, based on actual events in ‘Dark Age’ Britain.”

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