Heart of Albion







Jeremy Harte

What happens if you track down the earliest known reference to every holy well in England? The vivid traditions of these sites, many of them hitherto unknown, cast a new light on whether holy wells were taken over from pagan precursors, and what the Reformation meant for sacred landscapes. Colourful tales of saints, sprites and charlatans reveal the lively side of medieval popular religion.

With this book the study of English holy wells moves out of the realms of romanticism and myth-making into the light of history. Jeremy Harte draws on maps, miracles, legends and landscapes to present his detailed discussions in a readable and often witty manner.

Jeremy Harte is a folklorist with a particular interest in sacred places and supernatural encounters. His other books include Explore Fairy Traditions, Cuckoo Pounds and Singing Barrows, The Green Man, Research in Geomancy and Alternative Approaches to Folklore. He is curator of Bourne Hall Museum in Surrey.

'…  an invaluable source of information and a damn good read. 9/10'
Janet Bord Fortean Times
'The value of English Holy Wells as an authoritative publication is threefold. Firstly it is a gazetteer of sources and their recording over the centuries and as such is a prime reference point for anyone wishing to locate and conduct further research on particular sites. The bibliography in particular gives students of Holy Wells a substantial guide with regard to source material. Secondly through distribution analysis, clarity is given to regional variations and origins although in spite of the substantial database of over 900 sites, sub samples are inevitably in danger of falling below levels where significance is indicative rather than totally reliable. Thirdly this publication debunks many theories that have been postulated over time about individual sites and general history of Holy Wells and as such sets a new standard and framework for scholarly research into the subject.'
Dr Bruce Osborne Spas Research Fellowship See full review
'It is difficult to exaggerate the service Jeremy Harte has done the study of hydrolatry in English Holy Wells.'
James Rattue author of The Living Stream See full review
'…  recommended reading for anyone who has an over-romantic, New Agey view of holy wells.'
The Hedgewytch
'Very highly recommended' Mike Howard The Cauldron
'Highly recommended' Jerry Bird Merry Meet

English Holy Wells comprises three volumes. Volume One is supplied with a CD-ROM of Volumes Two and Three to make the complete work available at an affordable price.

Volume One (includes CD-ROM of Volumes Two and Three): ISBN 978-1-905646-10-4, 245 x 175 mm, 168 + xvi pages, 24 b&w line drawings, paperback, 2008. £14.95
N.B. Volumes Two and Three are no longer available as print copies.



A guide

Janet Bord

The secrets of Britain's most evocative sacred sites

Holy wells were once widespread throughout Britain. They were often dedicated to local saints and were important features in the medieval sacred landscape. Over many centuries, pilgrims sought the healing powers of their waters, and many left votive offerings in the form of bent pins, coins and rags.

Interest in this aspect of our sacred heritage has been growing since the publication of Janet Bord's first book on holy wells over twenty years ago. Many holy wells have now been restored, and the modern visitor may still experience a quiet communion with the spirit of the place, and come away spiritually uplifted.

For this book Janet Bord has sought out three hundred of the surviving holy wells of England, Wales and Scotland that are most rewarding to visit, and she recounts their histories and traditions in the light of current historical research.

Holy Wells in Britain is the first guidebook to British holy wells to draw upon the extensive research of recent decades. Up-to-date practical information for visitors is also provided to inspire readers to seek out these evocative sacred sites for themselves.

This guide is a companion to Janet Bord's recent book, Cures and Curses: Ritual and cult at holy wells and Jeremy Harte's book English Holy Wells: A sourcebook.

'This is a splendidly presented and illustrated book…  and is a very worthwhile addition to the burgeoning literature on this fascinating aspect of our history and folklore. Recommended'
Jerry Bird Merry Meet

Another lovely and fascinating book for those of us drawn to wells and watery sources generally. Broken down into Wales, Scotland, or regions of England, the book features a selection of over three hundred especially rewarding to visit wells. There are many black and white photographs, directions, and Ordnance Survey references. The book features an excellent index and details of the author's sources, paper and web-based.
There's a sense of wonder throughout, of tapping into something old and mysterious in our heritage. It was almost lost, but the last few decades have seen a revival of interest in such wells. This book forms a part of our increasing knowledge base about them and encourages us to get to know them more. I am inspired to visit more wells, especially those local to me, and to begin to really get to know them much better than I do now.
A useful and stimulating reference book that is a pleasure to read.
Hawthorn Druid Network

ISBN 978-1-905646-09-8 April 2008
245 x 175 mm, 226 + xii pages, 179 b&w photos, 5 line drawings, paperback.




Ritual and cult at holy wells

Janet Bord

Understanding the mysteries of sacred springs

Why are some wells said to be miraculously created by saints? Why are the rituals associated with them sometimes about divination or cursing? What evidence is there for the water curing illnesses? Do the wells have guardians? If so, are they humans, fairies, or even dragons? Is there treasure hidden there? What should be left there – rags, pins, coins, pebbles or even votive offerings?

Until recently the answers had been almost entirely forgotten. However a revival of interest in holy wells started in 1985 with the publication of Janet and Colin Bord's book Sacred Waters and in recent years research has gathered pace. In this entirely new book Janet brings together the latest understanding of such lore as 75 topic-by- topic descriptions, including their links to pre-Christian practices. There is also a list of 25 recommended wells to visit. The 135 illustrations include historic photographs of wells and rituals.

Cures and Curses provides an enticing overview for those looking for an introduction to holy wells and a source of reliable but little- known information for those already seduced by the allure of sacred springs.

Janet Bord lives in North Wales, where she and her husband Colin run the Fortean Picture Library. They have written more than 20 books on folklore and mysteries since their first successful joint venture, Mysterious Britain (1972).

The book contains not only a plethora of illustrations, but also a very full bibliography, referring to many unusual items. But Janet Bord's style is blessedly unacademic. All in all, like the author's other books, this is a synthesis of imagination, poetry and scholarship, a must-have-read for all interested in the ancient traditions of these islands. Peter Costello Irish Catholic

'Charming and comprehensive dip into well folklore' Richard Alexander Fortean Times

'…  an invaluable book.' Carl Merry Facts and Fiction

'Highly recommended.' Michael Howard The Cauldron

'A wealth of material has been gathered here, and it has been well digested before being compiled into this book. It is a very useful reference book for those of us who are interested in the water element in general and in wells in particular. I found it both inspirational and interesting [… ] an excellent book'
Hawthorn The Druid Network

This is an excellent book, consisting of seventy-five short essays (in alphabetical order) discussing different aspects of Holy Wells, from Ampullae to Witches, looking at topics such as Dragons, Healing, and Rituals along the way. It is satisfyingly well researched and easy to use - many of the essays are cross-referenced, full details are provided of sources and there is a good index. It is well illustrated, too, with photos and drawings on most pages.
The essays explore both historical and current day responses to wells, considering how they have changed. Clouties, or rags, are, for example, are now more frequently left at wells as compared to twenty years ago. Nowadays, people are less likely to leave pieces of fabric ripped from their clothing, but do still tend to leave clothes or coins or (increasingly, it seems) other items. Our purpose in leaving these items has shifted as well- the author suggesting that whereas in the past it arose from a desire to seek a cure for an ailment, it has changed into the making of an offering to the spirit of the place. We may no longer hope that holy wells will cure our problems, but do wish to respond to the atmosphere and energy of the wells with honour and respect.
The author does not just cite beliefs about wells uncritically, being unafraid to say when there is no evidence for stories about a particular well. She argues, for example, that there is no real evidence that Holy Wells predated the Romans coming to Britain.
A wealth of material has been gathered here, and it has been well digested before being compiled into this book. It is a very useful reference book for those of us who are interested in the water element in general and in wells in particular. I found it both inspirational and interesting. The author well conveys her enthusiasm and love for wells. The book's format means that it can be just dipped into and read in small self-contained chunks.
The final section of the book lists twenty-five Holy Wells that the author recommends visiting in England and Wales - here each is accompanied by a photo. The addition of a map would have been an added bonus. I have felt stimulated to visit some of those which are closer to me very soon.
Hawthorn on Amazon.co.uk

ISBN 978-1-872883-953. 2006.
245 x 175 mm, 191+ viii, 100 b&w photographs, 35 line drawings, paperback.




DAYS AND RITES: Popular customs of the Church

Mark Lewis

People go to church to worship and, as is often quipped, to be 'hatched, matched and dispatched'. Yet these quintessential rites have been adapted in all sorts of ways by parishioners and clergy up and down the country, while a great number of 'blessings' and other services that are quite specific to individual churches are performed annually. Collectively, they create a rich variety of traditions, many of which are only known about locally.

Some of these liturgical traditions have survived unbroken over many centuries, others have been revived after a break during the twentieth century – while yet more continue to be invented. Some of these more recent traditions – such as Harvest Festivals and Christingle – are now so ubiquitous that many churchgoers are unaware of a time when they were not part of the yearly cycle of customs.

By drawing together, for the first time, detailed information about these popular customs of the church, Mark Lewis hopes to stimulate further interest, research and recording of these remarkable events.

download a sample chapter of Days and Rites

ISBN 978-1-905646-23-4 April 2013
245 x 175 mm, 195 + viii pages, 59 b&w photos and 3 line drawings; paperback.






Merrily Harpur

In the past twenty years every county in Britain, from Caithness to Cornwall, has had recurrent sightings of 'big cats' – described as being like pumas or panthers. These anomalous big cats sightings are now running at an estimated 1,200 a year.

Farmers, gamekeepers, ornithologists, policemen and even parents on the school run have all been thrilled – or terrified – to see what they assume is a big cat escaped from a zoo. Yet these big cats are neither escapees from zoos nor, as this book conclusively argues, the descendants of pets released into the countryside by their owners in 1976 when the Dangerous Wild Animals Act made it too expensive to keep big cats.

The questions therefore remain, what are they and where have they come from? With the orthodox explanations overturned, Merrily Harpur searches for clues in the cultures of other times and places. She discovers our mystery felines have been with us for longer than we imagine, and throws unexpected light on the way Western civilisation looks at the world.

Mystery Big Cats is the first serious and comprehensive book on the subject. From the drama of eyewitnesses' verbatim accounts to the excitement of new perspectives and insights into a strange and often terrifying experience – it gets to grips with what is now the commonest encounter with the unknown in Britain.

Merrily Harpur is a cartoonist and writer. She has published three books: The Nightmares of Dream Topping, Unheard of Ambridge and Pig Overboard. She divides her time between Dorset and Ireland, where she founded the Strokestown International Poetry Festival. More information at www.harpur.org

'…  this is a great book, a rare, ready-made fortean classic. 9/10'
John Michell Fortean Times

Merrily Harpur '…  leads the reader on an unusual, intriguing and often amusing journey.'
Penelope Bennett The Oldie

'Highly recommended'
Michael Howard The Cauldron

'This book leaves the reader in no doubt that ABCs are real enough, but what is real? The scope of the inquiry here is learned, exhaustive and entertaining, non-academic and easily digestible [… ] Brilliantly evoked, enchantingly explained.'
Paul Screeton Folklore Frontiers

'This is a publication that is all things: informative, insightful, thought-provoking, and written by someone who has a keen appreciation, awareness and knowledge of her subject matter. [… ] This is a truly excellent piece of work that does not shy away from controversy…  '
From Nick Redfern's online review

ISBN 978 1872 883 922. 2006.
245 x 175 mm, 242 + viii pages, 55 b&w photographs, paperback




The psychology of Celtic myths

Brendan McMahon

Childhood, adolescence, courtship and death. Personal identity and madness. These are the key themes of many myths in traditional Celtic literatures. Although written many centuries ago, their narratives still reflect and define our essential humanity.

Many Celtic tales of exile and loss anticipate modem dilemmas of alienation but offer ways of understanding such difficulties without pathologising them. Individuals are seen in their social context and, in contrast, madness is identified with loneliness and isolation. The traditional stories describe how appropriate narratives help restore integrity and identity. These life-cycle narratives and concepts of identity are more complex and less fixed than psychoanalytic narratives which, by comparison, seem contrived or impoverished.

Psychotherapy assists people to construct a narrative which makes sense of their lives. However psychoanalysis too often relies on outdated and limited assumptions. By learning from the poets who created the Celtic myths, therapists can help their patients develop more appropriate personal narratives.

However this is not a book written only for psychotherapists. The stories considered here speak to all of us. McMahon helps us to fully understand these life cycle narratives and thereby helps us to understand ourselves. We need these myths now more than ever before.

Brendan McMahon is a practising psychotherapist in Derbyshire who has written many articles and papers on therapy and Celtic myth. He is also a poet and university teacher.

'I loved this book, with no reservations. I loved the discussion, the focus on myth and the author's ability to look at Freud in particular with a critical eye.'
Geoff Brennan Mental Health

ISBN 978 1872 883 885. 2006.
Demy 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 102 + viii pages, 5 specially commissioned illustrations from Ian Brown, paperback




Trespassing on railway weirdness

Paul Screeton

This is a book about railways such as has never been told before. Wonders and blunders, supernatural experiences, ritual customs, and a wealth of weird tales that sound as if they might be true. But surely they aren't? Or are they?

A lifelong interest in both trains and folklore, a willingness to sit sharing a pint or three with fellow enthusiasts, plus the practised ear of a professional journalist. All these have given Paul Screeton the unique ability to collect and write about this wonderful web of weirdness and ever-evolving lore.

Crossing the Line provides a wealth of tales to make even the delays on a train journey enjoyable. Then take an active role in keeping these tales alive by recounting the more perturbing ones to fellow passengers or unsuspecting 'gricers'… 

Curiosity about railway folklore has created chapters ranging from ghosts and fairies to prophecy and inspiration; commuters' trials; crimes by the Krays, Great Train Robbery and mythical 'Maniac on the Platform'; legends surrounding locos and the strategic steam reserve; fortean phenomena; trainspotters and pedants; traditional folklore and contemporary legends.

The result is entertaining and erudite, broad and iconoclastic, scholarly but frequently nicely naughty. The range is stunningly eclectic and the style easy, evocative and witty.

As Hunter S. Thompson liked saying, 'buy the ticket, take the ride.'

Paul Screeton is a prolific writer and editor. He re-founded The Ley Hunter magazine in 1969 and in 1974 wrote Quicksilver Heritage, a pioneering overview of 'earth mysteries'. He currently edits Folklore Frontiers which he founded in 1985. For many years Paul combined working for the Hartlepool Mail with his interest in railways, contemporary folklore and local pubs.

'This is a book such as has never been written before. [… ] For those seeking a railway book with a difference, this is it. It's surprisingly thought-provoking.' The Railway Magazine

'…  a surprisingly good book, weird but rather wonderful.' Mike Amos Northern Echo

'…  a truly fascinating book for everyone, not just railway enthusiasts.' D.J. Tyrer The Supplement

'A book for people who didn't know they liked railway books. 8/10'
Fortean Times

'lively, wide-ranging, well-delivered and idiosyncratic in the most positive sense – well worth the price of the ticket.'
Mick Goss Folklore Frontiers

ISBN 978-1-872883-96-0. 2006.
245 x 175 mm, 210 + vi pages, 13 b&w photos, 3 line drawings, paperback.




Prehistory and popular imagination

Bob Trubshaw

Sacred Places asks why certain types of prehistoric places are thought of as sacred, and explores how the physical presence of such sacred sites is less important than what these places signify. So this is not another guide book to sacred places but instead provides a unique and thought-provoking guide to the mental worlds – the mindscapes – in which we have created the idea of prehistoric sacred places.

Recurring throughout this book is the idea that we continually create and re-create our ideas about the past, about landscapes, and the places within those landscapes that we regard as sacred. For example, although such concepts as 'nature', 'landscape', 'countryside', 'rural' and the contrast between profane and sacred are all part of our everyday thinking, in this book Bob Trubshaw shows they are all modern cultural constructions which act as the 'unseen' foundations on which we construct more complex myths about places.

Key chapters look at how earth mysteries, modern paganism and other alternative approaches to sacred places developed in recent decades, and also outline the recent dramatic changes within academic archaeology. Is there now a 'middle way' between academic and alternative approaches which recognises that what we know about the past is far less significant than what we believe about the past?

Bob Trubshaw has been actively involved with academic and alternative approaches to archaeology for most of the last twenty years. In 1996 he founded At the Edge magazine to popularise new interpretations of past and place.

Watch an interview with Bob Trubshaw about Sacred Places on YouTube. Filmed at Megalithomania 2012, Glastonbury UK by Pentos TV.

'Sacred Places …  is a very valuable addition to the small body of thoughtful work on the spiritual landscapes of Great Britain and therefore recommended reading.'
Nigel Pennick Silver Wheel

'One of the best books in the field I have ever read.'
D J Tyrer Monomyth Supplement read more of this review

'Altogether a very worthwhile book with some genuinely original insights… '
Jerry Bird Merry Meet

'I recommend it to anyone interested in archaeology, popular culture, contemporary mythology or "alternative archaeology".' 8/10
Richard Alexander Fortean Times

'This finely-constructed and very informative text is for all Pagans who give time and space to positively thinking about our relationships with the sacredness of our prehistoric landscapes.'
Five pentacles
Francis Cameron Pentacle

'Highly recommended.'
Michael Howard The Cauldron

See Richard Alexander's online review of Sacred Places

ISBN 978 1872 883 670. 2005.
245 x 175 mm, 203 + xiv pages, 43 b&w illustrations and 7 line drawings, paperback




The significance of foot- and hand-prints and other imprints
left by early men, giants, heroes, devils, saints, animals,
ghosts, witches, fairies and monsters

Janet Bord

Shortlisted for the Folklore Society Katharine Briggs Award 2005

From the earliest humans to the present day, there has always been a compulsion to 'leave one's mark': early cave art includes thousands of hand outlines, while many churches in Britain have foot outlines inscribed in lead and stone. These two extremes span almost 30,000 years during which time all kinds of persons, real and legendary, have left visible traces of themselves. But 30,000 years ago seems almost recent, when compared with the finding of some (admittedly controversial) fossilized human footprints in rocks apparently contemporary with dinosaur footprints that are tens of millions of years old.

Most of the footprints – and hand-prints, knee-prints, and impressions of other body parts – are clearly not real, having allegedly been impressed into rocks around the world by such high-profile figures as the Buddha, Vishnu, Jesus Christ, and the Virgin Mary, as well as a vast panoply of saints, whose footprint traces and associated stories occupy two chapters. Their horses also left hoof-prints, and other animals are represented too. Not surprisingly, the ubiquitous Devil has a whole chapter to himself – but giants, villains and heroes, such as King Arthur, also feature strongly. Witches, fairies, ghosts and assorted spirits have made their mark: there are many modern instances of phantom hand- and foot-prints, the latter often bloodstained and indelible. Modern mysterious footprints are rarely graven in stone, but are rather more ephemeral, being left on the earth by monsters such as Bigfoot, or aliens who have briefly stepped out of their spacecraft. All these tales, old and new, may have some deeper meaning, and there is a chapter on the significance of footprints, as revealed in customs and folklore.

Hundreds of imprints are described in this book, which concludes with location details for more than 100 imprint sites all around the world.

'[This] is a tremendous source-book, which…  also has plenty of stories, full bibliographies, and many wise comments on issues of interpretation. It is an engrossing read, and the photographs are marvellous.'
Daithi O hOgain Folklore

'A delightful exploration of a truly mysterious subject.  9 out of 10'
Bob Rickard Fortean Times

'…  a very interesting read, well-researched, well-written and lavishly illustrated and I have really enjoyed reading it!'
A.J. Veldmeijer www.PalArch.nl

'Fascinating stuff and highly recommended.'
Mike Howard The Cauldron

'…  a good and wide-ranging first step into investigating the significance of the foot imprint.'
John Billingsley Northern Earth

ISBN 978 1872 883 731. 2004.
245 x 175 mm, 263 + x pages, 112 b&w photos, 26 line drawings, paperback.



One of Heart of Albion's
best selling titles


5th edition with Old English reader

Bill Griffiths

One of Heart of Albion's best selling titles!

This dictionary contains some 3,500 of the commonest words in Old English. Beginners will be able to translate simple passages of prose and verse from the rich variety of Old English texts. Advanced students will find it a rapid reference aid.

Words are listed by order of the consonants they contain, rather than by the usual strict alphabetical order of all letters in the word. The variation in Old English in stressed vowels at different times and in different dialects, plus many variants of spellings, can make it tricky to look up words in conventional Old English dictionaries as you are repeatedly referred to another entry. This problem is largely eliminated here and the user should find this dictionary offers an easy and speedy way to locate Old English words.

For the fifth edition the Introduction has been fully revised and a selection of representative Old English texts included. These will start you on the path of appreciating a very special literature and the way the language works.

ISBN 978 1872 883 854. 2005.
A5, 108 + viii pages, paperback.
SPECIAL OFFER! Usually £9.95 but only £7.95 if ordered as a result of visiting this on-line site (quote 'on-line offer' when ordering).



North European creation mythologies

Alby Stone

In isolation the pre-Christian north European creation myths appear fragmented and confused, but a thematic cohesion is apparent when they are taken as a whole and compared to their counterparts in Vedic India, ancient Greece and Rome, medieval Ireland, ancient and medieval Iran, and so on. From this arises a wider significance that would not otherwise be apparent.

This wider significance includes the recognition of a distinctive social structure, formally defined in the institutions, myths and religion. The myths of creation have a pivotal r le in the construction of this system. A vast and complex mythical scenario describes the spontaneous generation and subsequent dismemberment of a primal humanoid being and the manufacture of the features of the cosmos from parts of his body.

As a system, it is nearly all-encompassing: it gives form and meaning to the social structure, both the human and the divine; to the features and phenomena that constitute the physical world and its surroundings; to the sacrifices and observances involved in nearly all the major religious themes; to the beliefs underlying the early stirrings of science and medicine; and to the theory and practice of magic.

The first stirrings of Western rationalism were founded on the poetry of these creation myths, thanks largely to the reiteration of archaic principles in the works of Plato and Aristotle. Like the Big Bang so dear to modern astrophysics, the north European cosmological myths have echoes that can still be detected today.

Ymir's Flesh gathers together the distorted fragments of this mythology and provides an original and inspiring insight into the complex inter-weaving of mythological themes.

Reviews of Ymir's Flesh:

'Alby writes in a clear way about a complex subject, injecting an occasional glimpse of humour. For anyone interested in Germanic mythology, Indo-European culture and shamanism this book is an essential addition to your reading lists.' White Dragon

'Fascinating seems too simple a word to describe this book; yet it is, and partly because it has a style that makes the content easy to read - no small achievement with densely interwoven material like this. Northern Earth

'The scope of research and analysis in the book would at first appear to beckon an extremely dense read, however the style and verve of the text does much to enliven the highly involved subject matter.' 3rd Stone

'Alby Stone write in clear and concise English, with a minimum of jargon and an occasional twinkle of humour.' Withowinde

'This is a major study of mythic themes in Northern European paganism and it is highly recommended.' The Cauldron

'[a] marvellous book with its panoply of reflections . . . ' Talking Stick

ISBN 978 1872 883 458. 1997, A5, 240 pages including index, full-page illustrations by David Taylor, paperback.


What you need to know – and do – before drinking mead

Beatrice Walditch
Illustrated by David Taylor

Mead is the oldest-known alcoholic drink and familiar to a great many traditional societies throughout the world. For Druids it is the appropriate ritual offering to the ancestors. In medieval legends it is the source of poetic inspiration. In the British Isles mead-making may go back as far as five thousand years ago, to the time of the prehistoric henges.

Every bottle of mead is part of this unbroken tradition. So, as Beatrice Walditch explains, You Don't Just Drink It! In this informative yet light-hearted book she tells you what you need to know – and do – before drinking mead. She also includes recipes and practical advice for brewing mead, based on her own experience.

Above all, You Don't Just Drink It! reveals why sharing a bottle of mead with friends needs to be done at the full moon…

ISBN 978-1-905646-24-1 November 2012
Demi 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 73 + iv pages, 18 b&w photos, 4 line drawings, plus vignettes, paperback.






free to download PDFs


The Twilight Age Volume One

Bob Trubshaw

Considerable new scholarship in recent decades has shed much light on Anglo-Saxon England. In this pioneering study Bob Trubshaw approaches the history and archaeology of the era from the perspective of the underlying worldviews – the ideas that are 'taken for granted' in a society rather than consciously chosen.

By looking at the linguistic and iconographical evidence for these worldviews he shows that there is a surprising continuity from the pre-Christian era until about the tenth century. This viewpoint provides a new way of thinking about both early Christianity in Britain and the religion which it – to some extent – superseded.

First published September 2013; substantially revised January 2016. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download Continuity of Worldviews in Anglo-Saxon England for FREE (2.4 megabyte PDF)



Continuity from paganism in early Christianity

The Twilight Age Volume Two

Bob Trubshaw

Modern Western ideas about souls, spirits and deities are seemingly materialistic and rational. Yet, when looked at closely, these seemingly-secular ideas rather too clearly betray their origins in Christian doctrines. By looking closely at ethnographical parallels together with recent 'Dark Age' scholarship Bob Trubshaw starts to strip away these more recent ideas. This begins to reveal how pre-Christian Anglo-Saxons might have thought about the differences between souls and spirits – and the similarities of spirits and deities.

First published January 2012; substantially revised January 2016. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download Souls, Spirits and Deities for FREE (4 megabyte PDF)




The Twilight Age Volume Three

Bob Trubshaw

Continuity of Anglo-Saxon Iconography is an attempt to understand what pre-conversion 'idols' – the weohs and stapols might have looked like. More especially, this study aims to establish what the meaning and significance of these carvings might have been, based in large part on evidence from early Christian stone crosses.

In the process this study sheds light on the way these motifs would have been understood by people at the time – which is not necessarily how such imagery came to be regarded a few centuries later.

As none of the wooden weohs and stapols have survived there is, clearly, considerable speculation involved. However these suggestions fit within a plausible 'underlying' worldview established in the first two volumes of The Twilight Age. The fifth volume of this series looks in more detail at the locations of such carvings.

Published January 2016. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download Continuity of Anglo-Saxon Iconography for FREE (5 megabyte PDF)



A topographical comparison of seventh and eighth century land use in Leicestershire and Wiltshire

The Twilight Age Volume Four

Bob Trubshaw

Although contemporary documentary sources for the earliest churches are now non-existent, and the archaeological evidence scant, in contrast the topography of their locations is usually little changed, and offers hitherto-ignored insights.

All such early churches favour waterside locations, often quite dramatic ones in loops or on cliffs. This pioneering investigation looks in detail at Leicestershire and Wiltshire and reveals that the earliest churches favour the upper reaches, often at places on trade routes and with fords. In these counties there seems to have been one such early church for every upper valley. In contrast in Sussex, Surrey and Radnorshire the early churches, while still favouring river banks, but not located in the upper reaches. Only in the valleys of the Thames and other large rivers are these early churches predominately situated at confluences. The reasons for these regional differences are consistent with the topography and agricultural potential of these regions.

The possible significance of the loops and 'S'-bends is also explored, bringing in dragon legends and their Anglo-Saxon precursors, the wyrmas.

Download Minsters and Valleys for FREE (7 megabyte PDF)




A cosmological and topographical view of hohs and hlaws

The Twilight Age Volume Five

Bob Trubshaw

There are three recognised Old English words for shrines. Neither hoh nor hlaw are among them as these words have so far been thought to simply describe specific-shaped hills and burial mounds. This study looks beyond these accepted interpretations and provides substantial evidence that hohs were shrines to boundary-defending deities, and hlaws should be thought of as shrines to ancestors. Not only are they both shrines, but ancestors could be thought of as boundary-defenders too. And hohs look like giant-sized hlaws. And all this overlapping complexity makes even more sense when looked at from the perspective of the underlying worldviews set out in early volumes making up The Twilight Age series.

revised January 2018 with many more examples, especially in Leicestershire and Rutland

Download Rethinking Anglo-Saxon Shrines for FREE (3 megabyte PDF)





Bob Trubshaw

with an appendix by Wade Tarzia

Before maps were commonplace people had been getting from place to place successfully for many millennia. How did they find their way? In this innovative study Bob Trubshaw looks at how place-names may have sufficiently descriptive to have acted as route markers. He then looks at how legends could be used to create mnemonics to remember places in the correct order. Perhaps not too surprisingly there is direct evidence for such 'narrative cartography' in the records of Anglo-Saxon England.

An appendix by Wade Tarzia looks at place-lore in early Irish literature, especially in the Táin Bó Cúailnge or 'The Cattle-raid of Cooley'.

How the Anglo-Saxons Found Their Way develops ideas first published in Bob Trubshaw's book Singing Up the Country.

Published February 2012. Revised and published as Volume Six of The Twlight Age March 2016. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download How Anglo-Saxons Found Their Way for FREE (1.7 megabyte PDF)



Six Hills and Vernemetum, Leicestershire

Bob Trubshaw

Little is known about the Roman small town on the Leicestershire:Nottinghamshire borders except its name: Vernemetum. This means the 'Great or Especially Sacred Grove' and tells us there was a regionally – or perhaps even nationally – important Iron Age ritual site in the vicinity.

In trying to understand more about this Iron Age site Bob Trubshaw also looks at the likely Anglo-Saxon successor, the hundred moot site at Six Hills a mile or so to the south.

This detailed look at these places is based on current academic research combined with twenty-five years of fieldwork and personal research. By looking closely at these places he also helps us to understand more clearly Anglo-Saxon ritual sites elsewhere.

The Especially Sacred Grove both draws upon and supercedes Bob Trubshaw's previous publications about Six Hills and the Leicestershire Wolds.

Published March 2012. Revised and published as Volume Seven of The Twlight Age March 2016. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download The Especially Sacred Grove for FREE (3 megabyte PDF)



A concise overview

Bob Trubshaw

On the face of things medieval pilgrimage seems straightforward. People set out, usually along well-established routes, to visit the shrines of saints. The significance of the saints were retold in legends. The routes themselves linked together secondary shrines, suitable resting places and hostelries, and as such would have their own 'legends' – both secular and sacred.

Everything about pilgrimage was about recalling previous events and people, emphasising their meaning and significance for people who were making the pilgrimage. In consequence little about pilgrimage is straightforward. Instead we should think of a great complexity of interwoven ideas.

In England pilgrimage was effectively killed off in the late 1530s when Henry VIII destroyed all the shrines which had been the pilgrims' destinations. However a combination of circumstances led to revival during the twentieth century and pilgrimage is once again part of both religious practice in England, straddling denominations and faiths.

A substantial number of academics have looked at many aspects of medieval Christian pilgrimage and also at traditional pilgrimages by followers of other major faiths. A few academics have also taken an interest in modern Christian pilgrimage. The published research covers a surprisingly broad range of specialisms and, inevitably, older ideas and assumptions are challenged by more recent thinking. This overview attempts to summarise this academic interest, focussing mostly on pilgrimage in England. Inevitably most of the attention is devoted to how pilgrimage develops and the heyday in the twelfth to fourteenth centuries.

Download Pilgrimage in England: A concise overview for FREE (1.3 megabyte PDF)





Bob Trubshaw

Bob Trubshaw has been researching dream incubation temples since the mid-1990s. This latest 'instalment' of his studies is in two parts. The first attempts to offer an overview of the known history and archaeology of places associated with dream incubation. The second part is more speculative, looking at the geology of dream incubation temples in Britain and the Mediterranean and to what extent this might make them places most suited to 'inspiring' dreams.

Revised April 2017.

Download Dream Incubation for FREE (3 megabyte PDF)




An introduction to Beowulf's adversary

Bill Griffiths

In the days before TV screens mediated between man and animal, no encounter inspired more terror than coming eyeball-to-eyeball with a dragon. Its fiery, poisonous, crushing power seemed to guarantee victory.

Yet, paradoxically, no real or imagined creature could be more inactive or peacable. The dragon's primary role was to guard underground treasure and as such was pictured as a large earth-bound snake. Only slowly did the dragon evolve into an air-born, fiery symbol of aggression, a war-banner and national symbol.

Meet the Dragon is a study of how that evolution came about. Central to the development is the major role of the dragon in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.

This PDF edition of Meet the Dragon was prepared in 2015 by kind permission of Bill's literary executor, Joanne Harman. Several typing mistakes and inconsistencies with punctuation in the printed edition have been amended. However the wording and pagination remains the same as the 1996 booklet.

Download Meet the Dragon for FREE (1 megabyte PDF)





Beatrice Walditch

In Enchantment is All About Us Beatrice Walditch reveals that much of the what we often think of a real in the modern world is an enchantment woven by profit-driven businesses and nefarious politicians. Drawing upon a wide range of traditional worldviews, she sets out ways of mentally 'banishing' such pervasive enchantments and empowering the reader to create their own enchantments. Many of the suggestions develop and weave together ideas discussed in her previous books.

Enchantment is All About Us is the fifth book in the Living in a Magical World series. These books will challenge you to recognise the traditional magic still alive in modern society, and empower you with a variety of skills and insights.

download Enchantment is All About Us for FREE (5 megabyte PDF)





Beatrice Walditch

In Everything is Change Beatrice Walditch shows how contemporary ideas of an ever-emergent cosmos are also part of the traditional worldview in places as far apart as Greece and China. This understanding of how the world works is in complete contrast to Christian concepts and the various successors – including supposedly secular science as well as modern paganism.

Seeing the world as ever-emergent provides a clearer understanding of divination and enchantment as they were practised in northern Europe before Christianity. It also stimulates new ways of thinking about modern day life, including how our self-identities are also in a continual state of renewal and creation.

Everything is Change is the fourth book in the Living in a Magical World series. These books will challenge you to recoergnise the traditional magic still alive in modern society, and empower you with a variety of skills and insights.

download Everythting is Change for FREE (6.5 megabyte PDF)





Beatrice Walditch

In almost every traditional culture throughout the world, including Europe until comparatively recent times, there have been ways of 'honouring' at least some of the dead, those who were regarded as key founders and ancestors. Learning from the Ancestors shows how such traditional ways of thinking – and doing – are of benefit in the modern Western world.

Beatrice Walditch mostly explores the ancestors of England, although also shows how similar ideas and concepts are found elsewhere in Britain and beyond. She explains how 'listening' and learning from the ancestors should be done in a ritual manner, not necessarily in ways which would be appropriate in other situations.

Learning from the Ancestors is the third book in the Living in a Magical World series. These books will challenge you to recognise the traditional magic still alive in modern society, and empower you with a variety of skills and insights.

download Learning from the Ancestors for FREE (3 megabyte PDF)





Beatrice Walditch

Knowing Your Guardians provides advice and inspiration to help understand the various ways of thinking about protective guardians. Beatrice Walditch mostly explores the traditional 'spirits of place' in Britain, although also shows how similar ideas and concepts are found elsewhere in Europe and beyond. She shows how these guardians have long been thought to have a 'potency' or 'luck'. The final sections of the book explain how to make amulets and 'charge' them so that they act as personal guardians.

This is the second book in the Living in a Magical World series. These books will challenge you to recognise the traditional magic still alive in modern society, and empower you with a variety of skills and insights.

download Knowing Your Guardians for FREE (6 megabyte PDF)





Beatrice Walditch

Listening to the Stones teaches you to 'listen' – with all your senses – to revered places. Beatrice Walditch uses the prehistoric henge and stone circles at Avebury as her main examples, but wants you to explore and 'listen' to sacred sites near to where you live.

This is the first book in the Living in a Magical World series. These books will challenge you to recognise the traditional magic still alive in modern society, and empower you with a variety of skills and insights.

"…  a book to recommend to those who are newly interested in our ancient places, and with some interesting suggestions for those who have been to many sites already, and who may be in need of finding ways to enlarge their experiences."
Ros Briagha Northern Earth

download Listening to the Stones for FREE (7 megabyte PDF)




Runes and Clog Almanacs

S.W. Partington

This unique account of 'clog almanacs' and runic inscriptions was first published as one chapter of The Danes in Lancashire and Yorkshire, published by Sherratt and Hughes in 1909. This was S.W. Partington's only published book. His interpretation fails to distinguish between runes used in Scandinavia and England from the unrelated symbols used on the perpetual almanacs inscribed in wood and somewhat derogatorily termed 'clog almanacs'. However the information on understanding the symbols on these almanacs is not readily available elsewhere so I have prepared this PDF version. Howver treat all Partington's attributions for these signs with moderate amounts of caution, and do not take his interpretations of runes and other symbols to be more than pioneering.

Download Runes and Clog Almanacs for FREE (1 megabyte PDF)





compiled by Beatrice Walditch

Sometime in the early 1990s Beatrice Walditch compiled various translations and interpretations of the Anglo-Saxon rune poems into a personal 'work book'. Only three copies were ever printed and two of those are lost, presumed destroyed. However the final copy has been scanned and made available as a free PDF. Beatrice makes no claims for this being a definite book about runes, but offers it for those who might want to make a first acquaintance or simply be inspired by the ideas and worldview which it offers.

And, no, the title is not a spelling mistoke – 'bok' is Old English for 'book'.

Download Runebok for FREE (1.3 megabyte PDF)




MOTHERS' UNION BANNERS: A neglected British 'folk art'

Bob Trubshaw

In Explore Folklore Bob Trubshaw includes a chapter on British folk art, noting how little this has been studied compared to, say, American folk arts and crafts. Sadly a decade later, despite a handful of projects, this is still broadly true.

Mothers' Union Banners: A neglected British 'folk art' is provisional publication encouraging people to document the Mothers' Union banners which can be found in most parish churches, and discover how they fit into the broader social history of the Church of England, the Arts and Crafts Movement and women's suffrage. While some are commissioned from specialist ecclesiastical needlework providers, most were designed and made by the members of the Mothers' Union branch. They seem to make up a body of work where 'folkloric transmission' dominates the designs and motifs.

Published June 2014. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download Mothers' Union Banners: A neglected British 'folk art' for FREE (1 megabyte PDF)




BEYOND THE HENGE: Exploring Avebury's World Heritage Site

Bob Trubshaw

The Neolithic henge and stone circle at Avebury are well-known to many people. But few visitors explore the other prehistoric sites nearby in the World Heritage Site. Beyond the Henge is a guide to four different walks of between one and six miles which take in all the significant surviving archaeological sites. Three of the walks focus on the Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments while the fourth walk explores Avebury's Anglo-Saxon and medieval origins.

Along the way Bob Trubshaw introduces ideas about the changing lifestyles and beliefs of the prehistoric people who built the monuments. The variety of such ideas currently being proposed by prehistorians are presented using a unique conversational style of writing.

Join Bob Trubshaw and his fictional friend Simon as they set forth from the henge to its precursors on Windmill Hill and West Kennett long barrow, then to later monuments such as Silbury Hill. And afterwards visit where the pagan Anglo-Saxons celebrated their rituals – and the first evidence for Christianity in the parish.

ISBN 978-1-905646-22-7 September 2012
Royal 8vo (213 x 138 mm), 146 + xiii pages, 75 b&w photos, 4 line drawings, 6 maps, paperback.


'If ancient stone-circles are your thing, not one to miss!' Nicholas Redfern Read all Nicholas Redfern's review

'a happy, jargon-free and eminently accessible guidebook' Geoff Ward Read all Geoff Ward's review

  'This is an excellent guide to the landscape of Avebury. The instructions for movement are clear and precise and the dialogue format stops if from becoming a dry description of the route. It can be recommended to anyone with an interest in the area…  '
Mike Haigh Northern Earth




SINGING UP THE COUNTRY: The songlines of Avebury and beyond

Bob Trubshaw

Singing Up the Country reveals that Bob Trubshaw has been researching a surprising variety of different topics since his last book six years ago. From Anglo-Saxon place-names to early Greek philosophy – and much in between – he creates an interwoven approach to the prehistoric landscape, creating a 'mindscape' that someone in Neolithic Britain might just recognise. This is a mindscape where sound, swans and rivers help us to understand the megalithic monuments.

Continuing from where scholarship usually stops and using instead the approaches of storytelling, the final chapter weaves this wide variety of ideas together as a 'songline' for the Avebury landscape. This re-mythologising of the land follows two 'dreamtime' ancestors along the Kennet valley to the precursors of Avebury henge and Silbury Hill.

Few writers have Bob Trubshaw's breadth of knowledge combined with a mythopoetic ability to construct a modern day story that re-enchants the landscape. Singing Up the Country will be an inspiration to all those interested in prehistory, mythology or the Neolithic monuments of the World Heritage Site at Avebury.

Watch the start of a talk by Bob Trubshaw about Singing Up the Country on YouTube. Filmed at Megalithomania 2012, Glastonbury UK by Pentos TV.

'This is a book with enormous appeal for anyone with an interest in prehistory, megalithic sites, mythology and folklore, and indeed for anyone who enjoys the countryside, and who can recognise the mystery and magic it holds in its secret past. Highly recommended'
Jerry Bird Merry Meet

'This is a fascinating book written from an unusual perspective.'
The Hedgewytch

'Trubshaw writes with practised and confident ease. His entertaining and sometimes jocular style makes for very easy reading; the experience is rather like sitting in a comfortable pub with a pint, listening to a seasoned storyteller.'
Steve Marshall Fortean Times

'Bob answers questions I’d never even thought of asking, yet throughout he is at pains to point out that his theory is only that, a theory. Refreshingly, he doesn’t claim to have all the answers, but he does make you think about the ones he offers for consideration.'
Runemage The Megalithic Portal. See complete review.

'Bob Trubshaw is back in print with a new book with an overall aim to inspire us to widen the way we think about the past, particularly the Neolithic monuments of the Avebury landscape.'
Hobgoblin The Ancient Art of Enchanting the Landscape. See complete review.

'This is a book that will appeal greatly to anyone with an interest in prehistory, mythology, and the Avebury area in particular, which goes beyond the standard academic tracts into a feel for the spirit of place and a veneration for the ethos of our distant forebears.'
Geoff Ward Suite 101 reviews See complete review.

ISBN 978-1-905646-21-0 September 2011
245 x 175 mm, 189 + xiv pages, 64 b&w photos, 29 line drawings, paperback.




The metaphysical relocation of self in ritual narratives

Bob Trubshaw

Literature as diverse as Old English poems and the tales of Scottish Travellers uses the first-person to give a voice, and personality, to a diverse range of non-human artefacts. By using this device for the metaphysical relocation of self, the author's identity may become conflated with the artefact – or even a deity.

Although the direct evidence is lacking, plausibly this use of the first-person was used by Scandinavian seeresses before the Christian era. Their rites included something unmentionably 'bawdy'. Could this have been the original 'vagina monologues'? If so, this might account for the distinctive so-called 'sheela na gig' carvings on Romanesque churches.

This essay is intended to be both an investigation of Anglo-Saxon worldviews and also to offer inspiration for modern day rituals.

Published September 2013. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download Through the Eye of the Skull: The metaphysical relocation of self in ritual narratives for FREE (1.5 megabyte PDF)



The curious continuity between early Chinese Taoism and early Greek philosophy

Bob Trubshaw

For the last thirty or more years Bob Trubshaw has been deeply influenced by the worldview of Chinese Taoism. Although Taoism has been a major part of Chinese culture for over two millennia, and as such is one of the more important world religions, Western awareness of Taoism is mostly through distorted and over-popularised interpretations. Fortunately, in recent years new scholarship has shed more light on exactly what early Taoists living nearly 2,500 years ago were thinking. Intriguingly these seem to be very similar to ideas being put forward at almost the same time by pre-Socratic Greek philosophers such as Heraclitus. By looking at well-established trade routes there was almost certainly contact between ancient Greece and China, via the Middle East and India.

The opening chapters of The Process of Reality look in detail at this curious continuity that defies a simple explanation of 'East meets West' and instead suggests roots going back well into prehistory. The final chapters consider what 'reality' looks like when seen from a Taoist rather than Western perspective. And this is not simply an academic exercise as Bob Trubshaw also discusses how, for him, it is also a 'lived experience' of 'emergent creativity' pervaded by something known to the Chinese as ch'i and to medieval clergy as potentia.

Published July 2012. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download The Process of Reality for FREE (3.5 megabyte PDF)




Bob Trubshaw

Creating the Paranormal brings together recent cognitive science with the 'social uses' of the paranormal, especially the way in which encounters are retold. To all intents and purposes such narratives are how must of us are aware of the paranormal – and all of us create the meaning and significance of such stories.

Someone who 'believes in ghosts' as well as someone who sceptically dismisses them are equally imposing prior assumptions onto a diverse spectrum of anomalous experiences. In Creating the Paranormal Bob Trubshaw challenges every easy dismissal of anomalous phenomena and makes us question more deeply what it is we think was experienced.

Published April 2012. Available as a free PDF download only.

Download Creating the Paranormal for FREE (1.4 megabyte PDF)




Simon Burchell

Phantom black dogs are a surprisingly frequent aspect of Latin American folklore. They are called by widely differing names, although often known simply as the Perro Negro, the Black Dog. Almost always considered either an incarnation of the Devil or a shape-changing sorcerer, such Black Dogs are invariably regarded as evil. However this rich tradition of phantom black dogs in Latin America has not been available in English until now.

Although phantom black dogs have until now been thought of as a British or north European phenomenon, they exist across the entire length and breadth of the Americas. Much has been written upon the presumed European origin of the legend but such ideas do not explain how a highland Maya girl can meet a typical shape-changing black dog at a Guatemalan crossroads. Phantom Black Dogs in Latin America reveals that these apparitions, much like poltergeists, are a global phenomenon. In this short work Simon Burchell raises some profound questions about paranormal experiences and the origins of the folklore which supposedly 'explains' them.

Originally published as a booklet in 2007. Since September 2012 available as a free PDF download only.

Download Phantom Black Dogs in Latin America for FREE (2.3 megabyte PDF)

See also Simon Burchell's update to Phantom Black Dogs in Latin America: Phantom Black Dogs in Prehispanic Mexico (free PDF download}



Folklore and myth in the age of blogs

Bob Trubshaw

Why is a stag night or an office in-joke as good an example of folklore as morris dancing or a fairy tale? Why does the rhetoric of eco-politics seem like the recycling of myths dating back well over 2,000 years? How often have American presidents imitated Hollywood action movies? How do the mass media successfully construct the 'deep structures' of modern society?

Apart from a few people in universities studying folklore or mythology these questions may seem strange. In this booklet Bob Trubshaw suggests that, far from being strange, folklore and mythology – at least as understood by academics – are key to understanding the processes by which we create our all-encompassing 'social reality'.

At a time when Western 'social reality' is increasingly contrived by the vested interests of global commerce, and shaped by the media magnates within that cartel, the folkloric transmission of ideas via emails, blogs and personal Web pages has increasing importance. The ability to consciously recognise the way myths – or, more accurately, 'mythic fragments' – are used by the media is also key to understanding how 'spin' attempts to delude us all.

This short booklet does not claim to offer a detailed understanding of the construction of social reality. Instead it suggests some fruitful directions for further thinking. The result is both enlightening and empowering.

'A fascinating and thought-provoking read.' Mike Howard The Cauldron

Download Horn Dance or Stag Night? for FREE (330k PDF)




Bob Trubshaw

How to Write and Publish Local and Family History Successfully guides even complete novices through all the stages needed to produce and promote books, booklets, magazines, CD-ROMs and Web sites on local and family history. For those who are not novices the information will also act as a checklist for producing professional-looking publications.

Topics include:

  • good writing style
  • design and typesetting
  • preparing illustrations for reproduction
  • estimating costs and cover price
  • preparing publicity
  • selling to shops
  • creating effective Web sites and CD-ROMs

It all adds up to 280 large format (245 x 175 mm) pages of advice, references, useful addresses, tips and hints.

All the information is based on Bob Trubshaw's fifteen years of experience publishing local and family history books, booklets, magazines, CD-ROMs and Web sites. In the last 15 years he has written and self-published 16 books and booklets; compiled and published two local history CD-ROMs; edited and published over 60 books, booklets and electronic publications for other authors; and edited nearly 50 issues of quarterly and annual magazines.

This book supersedes the well-received 1999 book How to Write and Publish Local History.

'This should be on the desk of all carrying out local research, so that they know what to do with it once it has been written up.'
Aubrey Stevenson Leicestershire Archaeological and Historical Society Newsletter

'Here's a book that satisfies a real need, magnificently. [… ] a well-organised guide, using simple language [… ] I have often fielded phone calls from would-be authors and publishers and wished that I could recommend just one book capable of answering all their queries. Now I can.'
Peter Watson Family Tree Magazine

'For any would-be publisher of a family history this book would be invaluable.'
Monica Mukherji Family History Monthly

'An invaluable work which deserves to be bought by any local or family historian who shares his research and opinions with others.'
Robert Howard Local History Magazine

Reviews of How to Write and Publish Local History

Download the prelims and opening chapter of How to Write and Publish Local History for free (0.3 Mbyte PDF)

ISBN 978 1872 883 595. 2005.
245 x 175 mm, 262 + xviii pages, 32 b&w illustrations, paperback


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