Since Alard had died over a thousand years before things had not
changed very much in the district. Many babies had been born but
in hard winters most of them died from cold and hunger. Life was
hard and men and women were old by the age of 25 and very few lived
longer than 40 years. The population had grown very slowly and now
there were several permanent villages in the area (with 20 or 30
people in each place.)
Yani lived in a small village down on the flat land at the foot
of the hill where the Alard's camp had been. Now there was little
remaining but a filled in ditch and a small bank running round the
top of the hill.
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The design of her home had changed little in 2000 years. Walls
were stone and roof was wood, thatch, branches. The roof was held
up by a central post. Away from the entrance was the fire pit and
on a raised ledge was a sleeping area for the whole family.
Privacy was an unknown idea. Almost everything was done in full
view of the rest of the family or village.
Yani was doing two jobs at once. She was sitting in her mothers
round hut watching a pot of stew into which she dropped hot pebbles
from the fire every few minutes to cook the meat. At the same time
she was spinning thread.
Early that morning she had cut some stinging nettles and after
stripping off the leaves she had beaten the stems to separate the
fibres. After spinning the fibres into thread she would weave the
thread on a loom to make cloth. Longer lasting cloth could be made
from sheep's wool, but nettle linen was strong enough to use for
Image - Changes.jpg
Her mother was cleaning an animal skin. She was using her old flint
tools along with a brand new bronze knife with which she was very
She had received the knife yesterday from traders who had arrived
in the village from across the sea to the south. They carried bronze
goods made in Britain to sell locally and in foreign parts and from
abroad they brought back beads and other goods which they then sold
A warrior who guarded the traders carried a shining bronze sword
in his belt, along with a short dagger in a wooden sheath. In his
hand he carried a spear with a bronze head. He wore a long cloak
shaped like a capital D, and closed at the neck with a bronze pin.
When the traders left that morning one of their group stayed in
the village and Yani soon discovered that he was a bronze maker
or smith. She quickly found out about him because her brother Yark
became his assistant and helped work the fire and mix the tin and
copper from which the bronze was made.
Yark learned how to blow the fire with bellows to make it hotter
and then pour the liquid metal into moulds in the shape of an axe,
sword, spear point etc. Some of these products were for the villagers
whilst the rest were to sell to traders. The whole village had benefited
from the smith settling down with them as they now saw many more
traders who came to buy his bronze goods.
This brought more news and a larger selection of goods for them
to buy and it also gave them a ready market for spare food.
The bronze tools were much easier to use than those made from flint.
They were lighter in weight and the edges did not chip away as quickly
as did the flint. The new tools made tree cutting easier and the
villagers quickly extended the cleared land to grow more corn and
barley to sell to their visitors. It also made Yark's work easier
as he had to chop wood for the smithy fire.
The next group of traders who came were from Langdale but they
only had the old fashioned flint tools and so it was the poorer
members of the village who wanted to trade. The chief traders said
it was not worth coming so far to sell only a few axes and they
would not come back next year. They would concentrate on the centre
of England where a little forest clearing had started.
On the way south they had slept in the Bear Cave where their ancestor
had recovered from his mauling a thousand years before.
The area had a few tiny villages now, on the edge of heath lands
where crops would grow, but life was very hard and not many people
were prepared for all the hard work needed to clear the dense forest
and so the population remained small.
On the journey the traders had rested each night where they could.
In a few places they were able to stay with their customers in a
variety of huts and houses. Some of these were very primitive made
from leaves and grasses but most were partly constructed of stone
with a grass or turf roof on top.