If you think historical fiction from the dark ages and early medieval period is all about swords, axes and fighting then Peter Orchard's short story proves that this doesn't have to be the case. The Cross of St. Mary's is a subtle tale about real people and their needs and beliefs in Anglo-Saxon England. There is conflict and tension, but the over-riding motivation of the principal characters is their reputation among their peers in village society. Whether they are an Irish craftsmen, a rich farmer and his wife, the local thegn, or a smith, honour and standing is seen to be what counts. Peter Orchard brings out this theme beautifully and subtly in this short story. As well as getting inside the mind of the Anglo-Saxons he also gives us moments of description that illustrations the anachronisms of the period - such as a stone from a Roman legionary's tomb that is placed upside down in a haphazard way to form part of the new church.
The Cross of St. Mary's is well worth a read.