In Rosemary Sutcliff’s The Shield Ring England is now under Norman rule, but hidden high among the Cumbrian fells is one last Viking stronghold. Into it comes the five-year-old Saxon girl Frytha, saved by her father’s shepherd Grim after her family farm has been torched and her family murdered by the Normans.
Here she meets another orphan, Bjorn, and over the years the two become inseparable. When William the Conqueror’s son William II marches north through Lakeland to confront the Scots, the Norsemen send a peace envoy, who is cruelly tortured and murdered by the Normans. It’s clear William is determined to take this final tactical outpost, but Bjorn, disguised as a travelling harper and secretly accompanied by Frytha, enters the enemy camp and after a terrifying ordeal brings back vital information which gives the advantage to the Norsemen.
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