The Picts and the Martyrs
|Cover artist||Arthur Ransome|
|Series||Swallows and Amazons|
|Media type||Print (Hardcover & Paperback)|
|ISBN||978-1-56792-430-5 (David R. Godine, Publisher: paperback, 2010)|
|Preceded by||Missee Lee|
|Followed by||Great Northern?|
The Picts and the Martyrs is the eleventh book in Arthur Ransome's Swallows and Amazons series of children's books. It was published in 1943. This is the last completed book set in the Lake District and features the Blackett sisters, the Amazons and the Callum siblings, Dick and Dorothea, known as the Ds. Ransome's most native character, the Great Aunt also features prominently as do many aspects of Lakeland life. The Dog's Home is based on a small stone hut built in the woods above Coniston Water close to Ransome's then residence.
The Ds have been invited to stay at Beckfoot at the start of the summer holidays while Mrs Blackett has been sent on a cruise for her health. However, when Great Aunt Maria finds out that the Blackett girls have been left at home, she decides to come and take care of them. She is unaware of the Ds' visit. Nancy Blackett insists that the Ds' holiday will not be spoiled and that they will learn to sail the Scarab, a dinghy their father has bought for them. So they move out to the Dog's Home, a small hut in the woods, and become secretive Picts while the Blacketts are martyrs to the Great Aunt.
Despite the Great Aunt's attempts to civilize the Amazon pirates, they manage to accomplish a number of adventures while the Great Aunt suspects they are seeing the Swallows. Near the end of her visit, the Great Aunt goes missing and there is a hue and cry and search for her. The Ds find her despite being the only people who shouldn't meet her. They deliver the GA back to Beckfoot in time to catch her train – managing to avoid revealing their identities to her and slipping away before they can be questioned – while Nancy manages to save the Great Aunt some embarrassment for which she gets praised in a letter to her mother.