The Impossible Zoo
An Encylopedia of Fabulous Beasts and Mythical Monsters
Folklore and mythology are full of fantastical creatures that never existed but still exert a powerful hold on our imaginations. This A–Z catalogue of fabulous zoology surveys humanity’s attempts to understand the natural and supernatural worlds through fictitious giant beasts, shape changers and composite monsters, including mermaids, manticores and those (such as the unicorn) that were engendered by misdescriptions of real animals. Off-mint.
Green Lord of the Wild Wood
As well as the 'historical' Robin, John Matthews explores the various manifestations of Robin in folklore and legend, and relates the 'merry men' myths to mummers and morris dancers. From ancient lore, ballads, poems and masques, Robin emerges as a semi-divine embodiment of the mysterious, all-pervading life-force of the land: a Green Man, whose spirit lives on in the stories of his exploits. The book concludes with a substantial collection of Robin Hood ballads.
Warrior and King
King Arthur, long regarded as the leader of oppressed Britons against invading Saxon hordes, emerges from this fresh analysis as a boastful Irish raider who used his battles to carve out a kingdom in western Britain. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, Carleton combines evidence from archaeology, literature and the study of place names to reconstruct the career of the 6th-century ruler, who he suggests was a pagan warlord, and to propose a new location for the renowned Battle of Badon.
The Iliad and the Odyssey
Introducing this edition of Homer’s two epic poems, Michael Dirda writes that ‘few other works ... have so deeply entered our cultural bloodstream’. Here, in their entirely, are Samuel Butler’s prose translations of the exploits of Achilles, Agamemnon and Odysseus and their mortal and immortal adversaries.
A Rum Affair
A True Story of Botanical Fraud
In 1954 Professor John Heslop Harrison published his discovery of several plants on the island of Rum that were found nowhere else in Britain – they had, he claimed, survived the Ice Age. John Raven, a gifted amateur botanist, went to investigate and revealed Harrison’s claim as untrue, but academic botanists closed ranks and Raven’s report was never published. Karl Sabbagh tells the story of the two men and this strange episode of botanical fraud.
An Abominable History
Graham Hoyland, who once found and filmed yeti footprints in Bhutan, investigates our enduring fascination with the ancient legend of this large primate unknown to science. He considers possible explanations for yeti sightings but also delves deeper into the strange world of ‘cryptids’ to ask why we want to believe in the existence of mythical beasts – and what our ‘post-truth’ world can learn from those reports that have been revealed as hoaxes.
The True Origins of the Once and Future King
Adam Ardrey follows up the detective work in his Finding Merlin with this account of his wider investigations into the legend of King Arthur. He reaches the startling conclusion that the historical Arthur came from Scotland, and also presents evidence to suggest that some of the story’s most familiar features – the Round Table, the Sword in the Stone and the Lady of the Lake – have their origins in the landscapes of the Scottish Highlands.
Kings of the Grail
The location and even the very existence of the Holy Grail have been shrouded in mystery for centuries. In this book the authors present the texts of parchment documents recently discovered in Egypt, revealing that the relic passed through the hands of kings and reached the Iberian peninsula in the mid eleventh century, having previously been preserved in Jerusalem. This evidence is combined with material from other sources to identify the Grail as a chalice now kept at León in northern Spain.
The World of King Arthur
The myth of Camelot has been one of the most influential in the western tradition, with Arthur acting as a symbol of Christian rulership, national monarchy and romantic nostalgia. This illustrated survey of its long cultural history begins with the background of post-Roman Britain and follows the development of stories about Arthur and his knights, from medieval art and literature to Wagnerian opera and comic books.
A Brief Guide to Native American Myths and Legends
The world of Native American mythology is inhabited by such fantastical and capricious characters as the shape-shifting trickster Coyote and the mischievous Blue Jay. The seminal study of these sacred tales was written by the Scottish folklorist Lewis Spence in 1914; this updated edition has a new introductory essay, commentary on Native American culture and stories from tribes not covered by Spence, such as the Inuit.
A Field Guide to Fantastical Beasts
A Compendium of Fabulous Creatures, Enchanted Beings and Magical Monsters
Stories of humans transforming into wolves go back to the ancient Greek civilization, and were widely believed in the Middle Ages with werewolf trials taking place in central Europe from the 15th century. From the monsters of classical and Norse myths to the inventions of gothic writers and modern fantasy authors, this compendium profiles the origins and characteristics of a host of supernatural creatures including dragons, goblins, griffins, vampires and unicorns.
The History and Legends of Viking England
After a brief history of the ‘Viking Age’, which saw the movement of peoples from Scandinavia to the British Isles, Eleanor Parker turns to medieval chronicles and legends about the Vikings or ‘Danes’. Although the medieval narratives often portray the Scandinavians as raiders whose purpose was plunder and destruction, Parker’s close study of the stories reveals other motives – including participation in English politics and the need to settle – and she traces the positive Viking contribution to culture and identity in England.
In Search of England's Lost King
Francis Young, himself at the forefront of the search to locate the lost coffin of King Edmund, tells the story of the historical search for the real man behind the legendary East Anglian king killed by the Vikings in 869. The book traces Edmund’s progress from martyred king to England’s national saint in medieval times; and describes current research into Edmund’s burial in the abbey at Bury St Edmunds and the present whereabouts of his mortal remains.
Mabon and the Guardians of Celtic Britain
Hero Myths in the Mabinogion
The synopses and commentaries in this ‘explorative study’ help the reader to unlock the cultural significance and spiritual meanings of the ‘Four Branches’ and ‘Taliesin’, the most ancient myths in the Welsh Mabinogion. Matthews’ interpretations focus on the initiatory pattern of Britain’s inner guardians and the figures of the archetypal liberator Mabon and his mother, Modron the Great Goddess. Revised and updated edition of Mabon and the Mysteries of Britain.
A Brief History of the Amazons
Women Warriors in Myth and History
Ancient Greek myth tells of ferocious female warriors called Amazons who lived near the Black Sea and slaughtered their male children. Could the story reflect a real matriarchal society, or perhaps a women-only religious cult? This book follows the author’s quest for the evidence, not only in ancient texts and artistic depictions but also in archaeological discoveries such as the graves of Iron-Age women buried with arrows, swords and armour.
Animals in Myth, Legend, and Literature
In this great survey of animals and their symbolism, Boria Sax has abandoned biological classification in favour of tradition, linking the animals not only to their natural habitat and habits, but also to human cultural values and practices. The resulting categories range from almost human (apes, monkeys, bears, beavers, porcupines and pigs), through tricksters, musicians, man’s best friends, beasts of burden and tough guys to divinities (owls, eagles, doves and, remarkably, the rhinoceros).
Haunted Places of Dorset
On The Trail of The Paranormal
Rupert Matthews goes on the trail of the paranormal and discovers spooky phenomena across the county, including ghost dancers on the sands of Lulworth Cove, a phantom coffin on the verge of the B3078 and Sir Walter Ralegh haunting his old home at Sherborne.
The Fabled Coast
Legends & Traditions from Around the Shores of Britain & Ireland
Pirates and smugglers, ghost ships and sea serpents, fishermen's prayers and sailors' rituals – the coasts of Britain and Ireland harbour an astonishing variety of legends, customs and superstitions. Area by area, this rich compendium of folklore trawls these shores for tales and traditions, from the lost land of Lyonesse to the mermaid-saint of Antrim, tracing their origins and examining their basis in fact. At once scholarly and compellingly readable, it offers a fascinating journey through the history of these islands. Off-mint.
Precessional Time and the Evolution of Consciousness
How Stories Create the World
This spiritual guide explores how the profound power of stories has given our world meaning and made us human. Exploring how ancient myths, megalithic structures, the formation of language and prehistoric cave art are narratives shaped by sacred proportion, Richard Heath explains that stories enable us to identify the spiritual aspect within the material world and to participate in the evolution of human consciousness.
The Most Amazing Places of Folklore and Legend in Britain
From the Shetland fire festival of Up Helly Aa to the mermaid of Zennor's tale of love and loss, Britain's folklore is deeply rooted in a bygone age when pastoral demands shaped the year, yet many of these centuries-old celebrations are alive and well today. This illustrated guide describes places and events where such traditions can still be experienced, along with maps, directions and a list of festivals by date, to provide everything you need to plan your folklore journey.
From the Gunpowder Plot to the Millennium Bug, all manner of historical mysteries, plots, cover-ups and unexplained phenomena are explored in this colourful survey. The ring-bound file contains not only chapters on assassinations, UFOs and aliens, spies, hoaxes, disputed identities and mysteries surrounding the Titanic and the Bermuda Triangle, but facsimiles of memorabilia including postcards and newspaper front pages.
Knight of the Goddess
Gawain, nephew of King Arthur, was once the most important knight at Arthur’s Court, yet as the popularity of the Arthurian legend grew his character gradually evolved into a womanizing villain. This scholarly study by a leading Arthurian expert explores how this happened over many hundreds of years of British storytelling, and seeks to restore Gawain’s reputation. This American edition was previously published in the UK as Gawain: Knight of the Goddess.
A Brief Guide to the Greek Myths
From the birth of the gods to the aftermath of the Trojan War and Plato's myth of Atlantis, Kershaw tells the stories of Greek mythology and discusses the wide-ranging influence of these tales on western culture. The book's final section surveys the ways in which people have tried to understand and rationalize myths, from antiquity to the present.
Arthur: King of the Britons
From Celtic Hero to Cinema Icon
King Arthur is probably the most popular king in British history, a man whose name is synonymous with courage, chivalry and romanticism. But is he just a myth? Daniel Mersey's 'popular history' considers both Arthurs - the hero of children's stories, literature and folklore and the Arthur of history - and presents a 'biography' of both of them, from their earliest incarnations up to the present day.