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.
Stories in the Stars
An Atlas of Constellations
‘Lying on our backs, we look up at the night sky. This is where stories began’ (John Berger). Drawing on folk and literary traditions of many cultures, this book retells some of the myriad myths and legends inspired by the stars. From Andromeda to Vulpecula (the ‘Little Fox’), each constellation’s story is accompanied by an illustration and a celestial map that shows adjacent constellations and the apparent magnitude of each star as seen from Earth. Felt-tip mark on lower trimmed edge.
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).