Title: Defenders of Mai-Dun - A Story of the Roman Assault on Maiden Castle
Author: David Macpherson
RRP: £5.99
Publication date: Dec 2010
Format: 198 x 130 mm
Number of pages: 152
Illustrations: 7

ISBN: 9781906651-084

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Based on real facts and places, this story brings to life the Roman invasion of Dorset in AD 43 and the struggle with the Celts. It follows the fortunes of a young orphan boy called Conn, who lives on Mai-dun (Maiden Castle), and Julius, an inexperienced Tribune in the Roman army. General Vespasian and his Second Legion sweep along the south coast, from Chichester to Weymouth, blowing through the land of the Durotriges like a fierce wind. Julius and Conn’s lives are intertwined with a compelling inevitability. The adventure concludes with the Roman assault on the Celtic settlement of Mai-dun and the establishment of Durnovaria (Dorchester).

     Historical and archaeological evidence is carefully woven into the story, adding to the realism, making it particularly enjoyable for those with an interest in local history. It will make any visit to Maiden Castle a more thought-provoking experience.


What Reviewers have said:

David’s dramatic tale, based around one of Britain’s finest prehistoric sites, brings to life the most recent archaeological evidence surrounding Europe’s largest hillfort and will engage readers of all ages.
Alistair Chisholm,
Town Crier of Dorchester and local Blue Badge Tourist Guide

Defenders of Mai-Dun is an excellent book, both for young and old, and I thoroughly recommend it to everyone. It is interesting historically and fun to read. It enables you to visualise what living on Maiden Castle would have been like and if you haven't ever been to the Iron Age Fort it will compel you to go there to witness it for yourself.
5-Star Amazon Review, 11 Dec 2010

Congratulations to David Macpherson on the publication of his book and to his publishers Tim and Julie Musk of Roving Press, for arranging a very original book-launch at Dorchester Museum in the presence of the Mayor and Town-Crier. I was impressed by the publications of Roving Press, and by the owners' sensible approach to local publishing and to distribution on a modest scale. It's very effective.’
Jim Potts (OBE), author

Click HERE to read a feature on David and his book for the Western Daily Press.
Tina Rowe, Western Daily Press

Book Launch

Fantastic to have such great support and words of encouragement from Cllr Leslie Philips, Mayor of Dorchester, his wife Vonty, and of course Alistair Chisholm, Town Crier. Thanks to the Dorset County Museum for hosting the event. Pippa at the Museum and Luke at the Cranborne Ancient Technology Centre  loaned us some wonderful artefacts and display items that really added some interest and gave visitors a great feel for what was in the book.

A few photos from the book launch at the Dorset County Museum:


About the Author

David Macpherson read history at Cambridge and completed his teacher training at Bristol University. Before starting his career as a teacher, he spent 18 months working in Nepal as a volunteer for the UNHCR (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) with Tibetan refugees. This gave him a life-long love of the Tibetan people and Nepal. He has recently completed a novel about a Tibetan nomad family’s escape from the Chinese army in 1959 and their subsequent journey over the Himalayas to find sanctuary in Pokhara, Nepal. The book called
Nomad has not yet been published.
     After 10 years as a history teacher in Scotland and England, David went back to Nepal as Director of the British Nepal Medical Trust, helping with tuberculosis and leprosy control in the Eastern Region. He then taught history in Cheltenham for a further 5 years before becoming a Headmaster for 20 years until retiring to Dorset.

     Defenders of Mai-dun is the first book David has had published. Maiden Castle and the conflicting and scanty evidence of how the hillfort fell to the Romans after AD 43 fascinated him. He researched the subject extensively in the Dorset History Centre and the County Museum in Dorchester. Little is known about the Celts of Dorset, a tribe called the Durotriges. David’s book tries accurately to follow the archaeological research of Sir Mortimer Wheeler and Niall Sharples on Maiden Castle by creating characters to fill in details of the likely story. The character of Vespasian, one of Rome’s greatest emperors, is well known in history, though there are few details about his time in Dorset. Defenders of Mai-dun gives a picture of his impact in the southwest.
      David has just completed a second novel set in the southwest about the dramatic effects on one local farming family of Monmouth’s Rebellion in 1685 and the Bloody Assizes in Dorchester. He hopes the book will be published soon. His next project is a novel about smuggling in the 18th century along the coast between Lulworth and Abbotsbury, which he is currently researching.

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Interesting Links

Alan Sorrell RWS Artist (1904-1974) - Early (1930's) illustrations of Maiden Castle:
Click HERE for more.

Dorset County Museum, Dorchester
Including the skeleton found with a baliista bolt in his spine, as described in the book.

Cranborne Ancient Technology Centre


New Barn Field Centre, Bradford Peverell
Residential and day visits for schools and groups, plus a pottery.

Character for hire
Celtic Man (Duncan Rust)

Potential activities include:
Dyeing cloth
Slingshot lessons
Preparation of a poultice
Thumb pots from wet clay
Felt making from carded sheep wool
Grinding wheat grain, making dough and baking bread
Torc making from twisted wire
Roman vs Celt mock battle
Making butter
Celtic meal

Hooke Court Studies Centre, Beaminster