The Bridge-Builders is a short story written for the anthology Another Six Stories (1959). It follows a Roman fort commander's son who is held hostage by a British chieftain.
The commander of an unnamed Roman army fort in western Britain (north Wales) explains to his wife and son that the local chieftain Kyndylan is obstructing the building of a signal tower and forbids Androphon, his son, to leave the fortress. Nevertheless, Androphon follows their straying hound Math into the hills and is knocked unconscious in the dark. Kyndylan finds him while hunting and takes him hostage, threatening to kill him if necessary to protect the location of the British village. Kyndylan's son Cador takes charge of Androphon, hiding him from Kyndylan when Math leads Androphon's father to the village. Cador brings Androphon out in front of their fathers, and Androphon chooses not to accuse Kyndylan of kidnapping him, allowing the chief and the commander to play along. Androphon asks for permission to hunt wth Cador, and Kyndylan drops the matter of the signal tower.
No historical events are mentioned in the story. Canovium, with which the signal tower is to connect, was occupied from the late 1st century CE to the late 3rd. Deva (Chester), where Androphon and Claudia had lived, was occupied from the late 1st century to the early 5th.
- Androphon, the twelve-year-old son of a Roman army officer and his wife. He has grown up in Deva and Durinum speaking Latin and Lowland British. His hair is red.
- The fort commander, Androphon's father.
- Claudia, Androphon's mother.
- Math, their Hibernian wolfhound
- Kyndylan the Chieftain. Yellow-eyed.
- Cador, Kyndylan's only son. He is tall, red-haired, raw-boned, and thin, and has recently recovered from a life-threatening illness.
- Belu, Kyndylan's red bull
- Anonymous soldiers, townspeople, and villagers
- A frontier fort in the western mountains, "more than a day's march from the next Roman station."
- The lower camp, containing the bath-house, wine shop, women's quarters, marketplace
- Durinum, where Androphon and Claudia previously lived.
- Deva, where they lived in the family quarters outside the fort.
- The Pass of the Wild Cat, above which the signal tower is to be built.
- Canovium, which the tower will communicate with.
- The British village, hidden in the hills.
- A still more hidden location to which Androphon is to be taken.
Historical and literary backgroundEdit
It's likely that the title is a reference to Rudyard Kipling's short story "The Bridge-Builders", in which, unlike Sutcliff's, a literal bridge is built across an Indian river, over the objections of its goddess.
- Another Six Stories, Richard Armstrong (ed.), Basil Blackwell, 1959.
- The Bridge-Builders, Oxford, Blackwell, 1959.
- Short Stories Two, Roger Mansfield (ed.) Schofield and Sims, 1977.