“The Little Ice Age” is a central but completely hidden theme in The Lallander. It hides from the reader, just as it hid from the entire world when it was happening. But its effect on the Lallander story is part of the historical record. During what they called “The Seven Ill Years,” approximately twenty percent of the Scottish population died of hunger and disease brought on by a series of failed harvests and a breakdown in trade with Europe during their own struggles with poor harvests and deadly wars.

Over some three hundred years, the average global temperature fell by some 2°C (about 3.5°F), triggering strange weather events, crop failures, a collapse of the old medieval feudal economic system, an increased number of witch trials (blame had to lay somewhere on someone), and the rise of the modern era. People adapted to the “new normal” as their parents and grandparents died with their stories of “how things used to be.” The picture above shows an “Ice Fair,” one way people learned to enjoy themselves despite the bitterly cold weather. In the 16th century, the ever-resourceful Lallanders played their newly developed sport of curling on otherwise useless frozen lochs and ponds.

Nearly every conflict portrayed in The Lallander finds its roots in “The Little Ice Age”, whether it be religious, economic or social, and yet our contemporary world knows almost nothing about it. While Elspeth and the cast of characters in The Lallander suffer through events they cannot understand, I hope their experience, though fictional, will inform us of the scope of change we can expect from our own unprecedented climate crisis. Climate change changes everything.