Gardening carpenter takes up pen as latest tool

Author Richard Yeo with his new book "Hadrian's Trader".
Author Richard Yeo with his new book "Hadrian's Trader".

Berwickshire-based gardener and carpenter Richard Yeo has written his first novel.

The retired naval officer, who lives near Coldingham, will be signing copies of ‘Hadrian’s Trader’ at the Slightly Foxed book stall he used to own in Berwick and at the town’s W H Smiths on Friday. And he will be at Galashiels’ W H Smiths between 10am and noon the following Saturday (July 6).

The story of Lucius, a young Roman Centurion, based at Trimontium, near Melrose is published tomorrow (June 28) and sees Lucius fall in love with Aithne, daughter of a Celtic chieftain who commands the hill fort on Eildon North. They marry but she dies in childbirth and Lucius then works for Hadrian, becoming the great leader’s eyes and ears.

Richard said: “Fifty-five years ago I heard a dramatisation of Rosemary Sutcliffe’s ‘Eagle of the Ninth’ on Childrens’ Hour and became captivated by Roman Britain. Many years later I stood in Trimontium Fort, pivotal to the plot of Sutcliffe’s romance. I looked around from the Eildons to the Tweed and all the summer landscape in between and imagined what it must have been like to be a Roman soldier here, two thousand years before.”

A navigation specialist, Richard was in the navy for 21 years before retiring in 1987 and training and working for six years as a thatcher in Devon and Cornwall. He then studied for three years and spent a year from 2003-04 in New Zealand working on organic farms. He moved to Berwick-upon-Tweed and was a volunteer gardener at Lindisfarne for five years and started the Slightly Foxed second-hand book stall in the town, which he sold two years ago. He is also a carpenter, creating items for the garden, such as pergolas, and farms, such as sheep troughs. He is at work on his second novel.

Published by Roundfire Books, Hadrian’s Trader is available in most Borders bookshops and online.