The Holy City of Talibar in North Estalia
Talibar dates back to the Bronze Age, perhaps even the late Stone Age, with major remodelling in the Iron Age. It is an ancient hill fort near Ploybart and Craglin Castle in the far north, but it has always been sacred to the goddess Lott (and her consort Thud) and has for centuries been the major 'seminary' for the traditional retro-orthodox religion of Estalia. It is still an extremely primitive and harsh place, in spite of some 'improvements' over the years. There are never any more than about 50 inhabitants; the major sustenance is based on domesticated mountain goats -- milk, cheese, meat, and clothing (and tools, also, using the bones and horns -- use of metal is frowned upon by the truly religious). There is a small tower house to the south, Fladgate Tower, protecting the road between Talibar and Craglin Castle.
Description. This is a fairly basic dry-stone-wall fort of the type found all over Europe in the Bronze and Iron Ages; much of it was pointed with mortar in the middle ages, but otherwise little has changed. (However, note one major improvement, which was the insertion of an open clay-lined sewer with drains along the inner side of the wall.) The 'town' is built on a hill overlooking the gorge of a tributary of the River Lin and is surrounded on the other sides by a deep rock-cut ditch. The dry-stone curtain wall is about six feet thick, at some places nearly eight, and there are two entrances of a rather simple pattern protected by curvatures in the wall, small guard cells, and nearby housing for troops. The parapet is reached by stairways on both sides of the gates, its average height being less than 18 feet. Some minor improvements were made in the middle ages, such as the insertion of some arrow loops and the rebuilding with mortar and ashlar of the main garrison quarters on both sides of the south gate, including raising the height of the round tower to three stories, making it the tallest building on the site. A square tower was also added to flank the gateway. The interior contains 13 round houses, which are structurally pretty much the same as they were when built -- one central room about twelve feet in diameter with a conical thatched roof (with a hole in it for ventilation and release of smoke from the hearth in the middle of the floor), some alcoves, and at most two narrow windows one of which has a garderobe drain. The 'secular' area consists of the eight houses and guardroom by the west gate and north of the goat paddock. The others, along the east side, are for the clergy. Eating took place in the common mess hall, which was also a 'pub' (traditional Estalian religion put no strictures on alcohol, rather the reverse), serviced by a communal kitchen and the large granary for supplies. There are/were outlying buildings, such as a brewhouse, a stable, and a vegetable garden, in a stockaded outer ward stretched out along the edge of the gorge to the west. The rest of the compound is religious in nature and is described below.
The 'Holy' Town. As a religious center, Talibar dates back to the origins of the Lott/Thud binary. At the north side of the town is a small but very ornate double temple, much rebuilt and redecorated, on ancient foundations. The temples of Lott and Thud are entered from a central rotunda with a wooden skylit dome. To the west of the temple is the seminary for retro-orthodox Thud-m'Lotts, a very fundamentalist sect. There are never more than six students, and the resident docent, at any one time. This seminary contains two student houses (Thud and Lott, of course), a library, the docent or high priest's house, a lecture hall, and a porter's lodge. There are two 20-foot tall dolmens or standing stones just outside the south gate -- these are the oldest surviving manmade objects at the site, apart from the altar statue of Lott that was carved from meteoric ironstone some 5000 years ago.