Heart of Albion







Illustration by Ian Brown      Illustration by Ian Brown

Publishing frighteningly good books since 1989

Heart of Albion, Syringa Cottage, Chapel Street, Orston, Nottingham, NG13 9NL
telephone 01949 850631

new PDF


Bob Trubshaw


Identifying the Earliest Churches in Nottinghamshire evaluates fifteen 'candidates' for the earliest churches in Nottinghamshire, some of which have not previously been considered. Many are at places suitable for waterborne trade, which is consistent with Leicestershire and Wiltshire.

An Appendix to this study explores how the 'Great Sacred Grove' there may have remained regionally or perhaps nationally important until the death of Penda in 655. The conversion of Mercia in 656 seems to have been preplanned and swift with the consequence that there may have been more continuity from pre-conversion sites to early churches than is typical for the most of England.

Published July 2024 as Volume Eight of The Twilight Age. Available as a free PDF download only.

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second edition

Mercia MacDermott with photographs by Ruth Wylie


From reviews of the first edition:
'A friendly and intriguing work of architectural scholarship.'
The Guardian

Explore Green Men is the first detailed study of the history of this motif for 25 years. Dr MacDermott's research follows the Green Man back from the previous earliest known examples into its hitherto unrecognised origins in India about 2,300 years ago.

The book starts by discussing the 'paganisation' of Green Men in recent decades, then follows backwards through the Victorian Gothic Revival, Baroque, Rococco and Italianate revivals, to their heyday in the Gothic and the supposed origins in the Romanesque. As part of this discussion there is background information on the cultural changes that affected how Green Men were regarded. The author also discusses the comparisons that have been made with Cernunnus, Robin Hood, Jack-in-the-Green, woodwoses, Baphomet, Al Khidr and Bulgarian peperuda. She also investigates which pagan god Green Men supposedly represent.

First published in 2006. Available only as a free PDF download

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Ruminations from Elsewhere

Bob Trubshaw

Ruminations from Elsewhere cover

Ruminations from Elsewhere brings together thirteen articles written between 2015 and 2019 which draw attention to specific aspects of academic research relating to places, place-names, landscapes and 'sacred sites'. In hindsight these fairly concise articles are not really thirteen different 'ruminations'. But, rather, thirteen 'facets' of one underlying (but barely-stated) Big Rumination.

Available as a free PDF.

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Leicestershire and Rutland's Holy Wells

Bob Trubshaw

Leicestershire and Rutland's Holy Wells cover

Back in 1990 one of the very first Heart of Albion publications was a booklet on the holy wells of Leicestershire and Rutland. And 35 years later I have 'revisited' the same topic. Much has changed, thanks to the painstaking work of Barrie Cox chasing down 'lost' field names throughout the counties. And the wells themselves have changed over the decades. Available as a free PDF.

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An Index of Leicestershire Lore

Bob Trubshaw

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Back in 2004 Heart of Albion published a book called Leicestershire Legends Retold by Black Annis. It's available as a free PDF.

As part of the preparation of that book Bob Trubshaw re-read every previously-published source for Leicestershire folklore. As many of these books were published without an index he typed out brief notes. Slightly confusingly they are in order of location. So effectively a gazetteer of local lore. This has been made available as a free PDF as it may be of use to other researchers and authors. There are separate sections – one on 'lore' and one on ghosts – followed by a bibliography.

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Swithland Slate Headstones

David Lea

Swithland Slate Headstone   Swithland Slate headstone   Swithland Slate headstone

Although not a Heart of Albion publication, we are most happy to promote David Lea's detailed study of Swithland Slate headstones. The photographs are, frankly, amazing. Nowt wrong with the background information and discussion either!

David has corrected a few minor errors, added more examples and expanded the information on the geological context.

The PDF can be downloaded for free: Swithland Slate Headstones but please note it's nearly 70Mbytes so maybe slow on less-than-ideal web connections.

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Understanding Leicestershire and Rutland Place-Names

Jill Bourne


We take for granted the names we use for places. Yet these names are a valuable part of our cultural heritage, providing a detailed insight into the early history of the region. Place-names reveal the otherwise lost voices of our forebears who settled here.

Understanding Leicestershire and Rutland Place-names analyses the whole range of place-names which occur in Leicestershire and Rutland, most of which were coined between 1,000 and 1,500 years ago. These place-names describe, often in fine detail, the landscape, geology, rivers, buildings, flora, fauna, boundaries, meeting places, roads and track-ways. This book also looks at the distribution of the names, the languages from which they are derived, the successive waves of conquerors and migrants who fought and settled here, and the society they created.

Jill Bourne was an historian, archaeologist and museum professional who specialised in the area of place-name studies and landscape history for over 20 years. She died in 2021.

First published 2003. Now available as a free-to-download PDF.

Sapcote and the First World War

Sapcote Heritage Group

Sapcote cover

This is the third book published in collaboration with the Sapcote Heritage Group and brings together what is known of Sapcote around the time of the First World War.

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Little-known Leicestershire and Rutland

Bob Trubshaw

This guide book to the counties' holy wells, standing stones, ancient crosses and medieval carvings started life in 1995 and was revised in 2010. As it is now out of print I have uploaded a free PDF version.

Not just books and e-books but now videos too!

HOAP ident

'HOAP' was once an acronym for 'Heart of Albion Press' – although the 'Press' was dropped around twenty years ago. Now it is an acronym for 'Heart of Albion Productions'.

YouTube ident

The 'tag line' of Bob Trubshaw's channel is 'the past as never before'.

So far there is about sixty videos. They aim is to offer new insights into local history, with an emphasis on Leicestershire and adjoining counties plus an occasional foray into Wiltshire. All based on over forty years researching history, archaeology, place-names, geology and much more.

If you would like updates when the videos appear then click YouTube's 'Subscribe' button.

How Place-Names Grow: A handbook of toponymy

Jeremy Harte

How Place-Names Grow cover

This book is for anyone who has ever wondered how places get their names.

How Place-Names Grow reveals the subtle language behind the names on maps and how they have evolved over thousands of years. The erudite aspects of name-studies are brought to life in a landscape of wolves and wildcats, gold and kings, mock beggars and giddy fools. Comprehensive but accessible, the author traces all the ways in which we create, change, move, imitate and translate names. He reveals names' historic value and explains how to avoid the many pitfalls when studying them.

How Place-Names Grow is the starting point for anyone who wants to more fully understand place-name dictionaries.

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The prelims and initial eleven pages are available as a free PDF.

Sapcote – more snapshots in time

Keith Hextall

Sapcote cover

Sapcote: some snapshots in time was published in September 2021. This second volume Sapcote: more snapshots in time features streets not included in the first, such as Bassett Lane, Stanton Road and also the old Church School, work in agriculture and quarrying, Brown's buses plus celebrations and carnivals. Together these reveal much about the life and times of Sapcote's residents about fifty to a hundred years ago.

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Cleft from the Hills

Alex Hando

The 'Great Pit' in Swithland Woods. (Photo by John Darch.)

Alex Hando's extended essay Cleft from the Hills explains why the slate industry of Blaenau Ffestiniog was more successful than the Charnwood Forest quarries.

This essay is an excellent 'companion' to David Lea's detailed study of Swithland Slate headstones and Bob Trubshaw's investigations of Charnwood slate gravestones in Northamptonshire and Lincolnshire as evidence of 'return loads' along trade routes. See www.hoap.co.uk/barrowby/charnwood_slates.htm and the associated YouTube video.

Holy Wells in Britain: 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.

Originally published 2008. Now available only as a free PDF.

Cures and Curses: 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.

Originally published 2006. Now available only as a free PDF.

Explore Fairy Traditions

Jeremy Harte


Winner of the Folklore Society's Katharine Briggs Award 2005

We are not alone. In the shadows of our countryside there lives a fairy race, older than humans, and not necessarily friendly to them. For hundreds of years, men and women have told stories about the strange people, beautiful as starlight, fierce as wolves, and heartless as ice. These are not tales for children. They reveal the fairies as a passionate, proud, brutal people.

Eexplore Fairy Traditions draws on legends, ballads and testimony from throughout Britain and Ireland to reveal what the fairies were really like. It looks at changelings, brownies, demon lovers, the fairy host, and abduction into the Otherworld. Stories and motifs are followed down the centuries to reveal the changing nature of fairy lore, as it was told to famous figures like W.B. Yeats and Sir Walter Scott. All the research is based on primary sources and many errors about fairy tradition are laid to rest.

Jeremy Harte combines folklore scholarship with a lively style to show what the presence of fairies meant to people's lives. Like their human counterparts, the secret people could kill as well as heal. They knew marriage, seduction, rape and divorce; they adored some children and rejected others. If we are frightened of the fairies, it may be because their world offers an uncomfortable mirror of our own.

First published in 2004. Now available only as a free PDF.

The PDF includes a seven page update summarising fairy literature published between 2004 and 2022.

Research in Geomancy
Readings in Sacred Space 1995–1999

Jeremy Harte

Research in Geomancy 1995–1999 is a continuation of Research in Geomancy 1990–1994 (first published in 1997 and revised in 1999). Both are now available as free downloads.

Think of these two works as annotated bibliographies of a wide-range of 1990s publications relating to 'Geomancy' or 'Earth Mysteries' or 'Neo-Antiquarianism'. Both have very insightful introductions.

download RIG 1995–1999 for free

download RIG 1990–1994 for free

Isaac Watts and His Family

John Hamilton

Isaac Watts vies with John Wesley as the most important English-speaking religious leader of the eighteenth century. He wrote prolifically on a wide variety of subjects, though he is now best remembered for his hymns. Much has been written about him and his writings and continues to be right up to the present day. But this has come from those who shared his faith and his religious fervour.

This short biography looks at him as a man of his times and, while giving due weight to his religion, examines him and especially his family – both parents and siblings – in the light of the political, social and economic circumstances of his life. In particular it corrects the false picture previous biographers have given about his businessman father and the family's position as leading citizens of their home town of Southampton.

The author also looks at Watts's longer term legacy and the celebrity that outlasted him for a hundred years and more.

Download Isaac Watts and His Family for free.

John has also given permission for his five previous publications to be made available as free PDFs, along with an autobiography by his wife describing growing up on the Danish island of Bornholm before and during the German and Russian occupations in the 1940s.

Although ostensibly family history, John's training as an historian ensures that he situates his antecedents in their life and times. Indeed several of them are so illustrious as to be key to their life and times. For example, Glad for God includes an account of the career of Edward Tenney Bousfield. During 45 years working for J. & F. Howard of Bedford, he was at the forefront of the development of agricultural equipment internationally, making major though unacknowledged contributions in many areas including both steam ploughing and sheaf-binding reapers.

If you are thinking of writing up your family history then John's thorough research and abilities to construct narratives are exemplary.

More details here.

Shuckland – Weird tales, ghosts, folklore and legends from East Anglia's Waveney valley

Charles Christian

Shuckland cover

The Waveney valley is full of history. Along with the ruined castles, soaring church towers and attractive market towns there are many legends and much folklore – some ancient, some relatively modern – as to give the place an air of intriguing weirdness.

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Sapcote – some snapshots in time

Keith Hextall

Sapcote cover

These 'snapshots' include old maps and photographs which reveal the history of the growth of Sapcote, especially the buildings – many of which have since been demolished or greatly modified.

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People and Places of the Wolds

edited by Bob Trubshaw

People and Places of the Wolds cover

There is much to discover about the villages of Burton on the Wolds, Cotes, Hoton, Prestwold, Walton on the Wolds and Wymeswold. This collection of essays and biographies starts with pagan Anglo-Saxon settlers and continues to within living memory. Or least living memory for the contributors, if not everyone living in the Wolds now.

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Ironstone Quarries of Leicestershire

Bob Trubshaw

Not a book but a 40 minute YouTube video from Heart of Albion Productions: Ironstone Quarries of Leicestershire.

These once-extensive quarries were active between the 1870s and 1970s but few traces survive. In this video Bob Trubshaw summarises and updates the detailed research Eric Tonks published in the 1990s, shortly before his death.

Links to over forty YouTube videos mostly about aspects of Leicstershire and Rutland history can be found on Bob Trubshaw's YouTube Channel.

Saints and Sinners in Dark Age England

Charles Christian

Saints and Sinners cover

There are already a number of quite dense PDF booklets about Anglo-Saxon England to download for free from the Heart of Albion website. This is not another one. Well it's a PDF booklet about Anglo-Saxon England to download for free. But it's not 'dense'. Indeed, the Introduction claims to 'put the sex back into Wessex'. Allow the author to describe:

    Although I've always enjoyed history (even the dull, dry stuff – and some of it can be drier than an Egyptian mummy's wrappings) what really intrigues me are those weird, almost surreal moments that leave you shaking your head in disbelief wondering "Whatever were they thinking?"
    For this brief publication, I have collected five tales taking us from misty years following the collapse of Roman rule in England – a time when it is hard to distinguish between history, myth and legend – through until the arrival of the Normans when, after over 600 years of almost constant instability, some kind of normality returned to English life.
    So climb on board as we set off to explore five of the more weird, obscure and WTF corners of English history.

Saints and Sinners in Dark Age England can be downloaded for free.

Published jointly by Urban Fantasist and Heart of Albion.

Sir Julien Kahn at Stanford Hall and
a View from the Co-operative College

David Lazell

Sir Julien Kahn at Stanford Hall cover   Spectacular at Stanford Hall cover

Another of Heart of Albion's earliest booklets is now available as a free PDF. When this was first published in 1993 Stanford Hall (the one on the Leicestershire-Nottinghamshire border, not the one on the Leicestershire-Northamptonshire border!) was still in use as the International Co-operative College. And Sir Julien Kahn's impressive 'makeover' had been merely fifty years before. Now, after a 300 million transformation Stanford Hall has become the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre.

Sir Julien Kahn at Stanford Hall and a View from the Co-operative College can be downloaded for free.

Several of David Lazell's other booklets have also been republished as PDFs, including Spectacular at Stanford Hall, a precursor to Sir Julien Kahn at Stanford Hall and a View from the Co-operative College which contains some recollections not in the later publication.

Download Spectacular at Stanford Hall for FREE (3 megabyte PDF)

Download Sound of the Shawm – Recollections of East Leake and other kindly places nearby for FREE (6 megabyte PDF). (The link to the 1986 film about Charlie Firth is here www.macearchive.org/films/central-news-east-11081986-mini-museum.)

Download The Fairy Gift and other ways to find Lost Laughter – Faith in Fairies and other discoveries of green spirituality for FREE (6 megabyte PDF)

Download Rose Fyleman: Nottingham's ambassador from Fairyland– A salute to her verse and stories about fairies and remarkable circumstances for FREE (3.5 megabyte PDF)

Tales from the Railway
The life and times of the Whittlecreek and
Eaton St Torpid Heritage Railway and the Queen Alexandra Arts Centre

something somewhat contrary to usual Heart of Albion fare

Tales from the Railway cover   Tales from the Emporium cover

Welcome to the tales from an imaginary heritage railway in the top left-hand corner of Norfolk with rolling stock inspired by Rowland Emett's cartoons of the 1940s and 50s.

Tales from the Railway can be downloaded for free
as can a sequel Tales from the Emporium.

Medieval Carvings in Colour

Medieval Carvings in Colour cover

Although we are accustomed to seeing Romanesque and later medieval carvings as bare stone, this is not how they would have been envisaged by their makers and patrons. Before the nineteenth century Gothic Revival such sculpture would have been painted, often in ways which now might seem rather garish. Medieval Carvings in Colour is a response to requests for information about how Romanesque and later medieval carvings would originally have been painted.

Medieval Carvings in Colour can be downloaded for free.

Thinking About Places

Thinking About Places cover

Thinking About Places pivots around Bob Trubshaw's observation that "… because we spend our lives in a variety of different types of places means we are about as oblivious to the nuances of 'theory of place' as a fish is to the water it swims in."

Thinking About Places can be downloaded for free.

Around Foxton

One of Heart of Albion's earliest booklets – Around Foxton: Memories of an Edwardian childhood by Sarah Dallaston – is now available as a free PDF. Anyone who knows Foxton Locks in south Leicestershire will be intrigued by this account of life there a century ago.

The Twilight Age series

A series of free PDF books shedding new light on the 'Dark Ages'.

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other free downloads


Heart of Albion Press was founded in 1989 by Bob Trubshaw to publish Leicestershire and Rutland local history. By the mid-1990s titles had diversified into archaeology and mythology. In September 2002 Heart of Albion launched Explore Books, a series of books providing accessible overviews of the latest academic thinking relating to folklore, mythology and social history. In June 2004 a further imprint, Alternative Albion was launched to promote titles with more overtly counter-culture interest.

Why 'Heart of Albion'?

The term 'Heart of Albion' was apparently first used by Paul Devereux in 1975 in the title of two articles about Leicestershire (a heart-shaped county situated just above the middle of England) written for The Ley Hunter magazine. Back in 1989 when Heart of Albion Press was founded with the intention of publishing titles about Leicestershire local history this metaphor seemed particularly appropriate, especially as Wymeswold (where Heart of Albion was founded) is situated in the 'cleft' of the heart shape.

Why 'Alternative Albion'?

The name 'Alternative Albion' draws upon the use of Albion as an ancient poetic name for pre-Roman Britain. As early as the 1st century AD Pliny wrote: Albion ipsi nomen fuit cum Britanniae vocarentur omnes. This has long been thought to derive from the Latin albus ('white') as a reference to the colour of the chalk cliffs on the south coast. However recent research suggests there was a 'Celtic' (strictly 'British') word stem albio- which meant 'the land, the country'. This survives in the modern Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland, 'Alba'.

Albion became personified as a primaeval giant who roamed Britain. G.K. Chesteron recognised this 'elemental and emblematic giant' in the poetry of Chaucer, 'with our native hills for his bones and our native forests for his beard.… a single figure outlined against the sea and a great face staring at the sky.' Albion also features in the poetry of William Blake, suggesting an English utopia. In Jerusalem he wrote 'All things begin and end in Albion's ancient, Druid rocky shore'.

In 1974 a group of London-based activists created the idea of a network of independent collectives and communities under the name Albion Free State, loosely based on the Dutch 'Orange Free State' movement founded in 1970. George McKay in Senseless Acts of Beauty (Verso 1996) considers that Albion is the alternative Britain to that of industrialism, privilege and over-mighty government; ideas that seem to be increasingly relevant in the early 21st century than they were in the 1970s.

For more Albion-related associations see the Wikipedia entry for 'Albion'.

If you would like to receive an email when Heart of Albion publish new titles then please email with the subject line 'Join HOAP update list'. Let us know if you have specific interests e.g. local history; folklore; mythology. Heart of Albion Press does not sell or share any information you send.

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www.hoap.co.uk - albion@indigogroup.co.uk   Heart of Albion Press Syringa Cottage, Chapel Street, Orston, Nottingham, NG13 9NL telephone 01949 850631