Ah, summertime. The 1st May is celebrated in the British Isles as May Day, with many parts of the holiday traceable back to the Celtic festival of Beltane. This of course gives the green light for all sorts of wacky and dangerous activities up and down the country. Learn about a few of them in this article that I have written for The Spooky Isles.
“As I walked on and the eerie crunch, crunch sounded behind me I was seized with terror and took to my heels, staggering blindly among the bounders for four or five miles nearly down to Rothiemurchus Forest. Whatever you make of it I do not know, but there is something very queer about the top of Ben MacDhui and I will not go back there again by myself I know.”
Something terrifying is said to traipse around the lonely peak of Ben MacDhui and the Cairngorms in Scotland. Read about “Am Fear Liath Mòr” (The Big Grey Man) in this article.
A lesser-known tradition of May Day comes from the Isle of Anglesey and North Wales; crogi gwr gwellt. It involves making a corn dolly in the shape of a man, and hanging it near the home of a sweetheart in order to be rid of a love rival. Learn more about the folklore of this confrontational craft, and how to make your own.
Castell Coch is located near Caerphilly in South Wales. It’s an amazing little place; if you ever visit the castle, it really feels as if you’ve walked into a fairy tale. When I was asked to write about a castle for May’s issue of Celtic Guide, this was an easy choice for me!
Commissioned by a wealthy Victorian, it is one of the finest examples in Britain of the Romantic Gothic style, complete with Arts and Crafts furnishings, and Pre-Raphaelite art. Find out more in this month’s Celtic Guide, which is available as a free pdf download, and also as hard copy on Amazon.
Director of upcoming comedy-horror, The Snarling, Pablo Raybould has had a diverse and fascinating career on both sides of the camera. He talks to me about his new film, the impressive celebrity cast, and the challenges of filming on a budget. You can read it in full on The Spooky Isles.
On 23rd April, the people of England celebrate St. George’s Day. National hero and patron saint, he was a Christian martyr. Whilst most of us are familiar with dragon-slaying legends, the important story of a man saying no to genocide seems to have been forgotten when he was made a figure-head of the Order of the Garter. Find out more about this man, who was said to be born in Turkey – or was it Coventry? The Enigma of Saint George.
Worcester, located in central England, is a beautiful city, steeped in history. The cathedral rises majestically alongside the River Severn, and throughout the town, many historic buildings still survive. From castle walls to Georgian townhouses, the tomb of King John to the Civil War history, Worcester has plenty to offer the visitor with a keen interest in the past. No place sums up the story of the city better than Tudor House, a beautiful little museum located a short walk away from the Cathedral. One of Worcester’s best kept secrets, entry is free. Read more about this museum and start planning your visit!
The British Museum is home to many treasures, including this, the Brooch of Aedwen. It is one of only two of this style found in the UK, and is dated to the Anglo-Saxon period. What makes this special though, is the curse, and cryptic rune etching on the back of the disc. It would seem that the curse may have worked!
It’s “Creepy Kids Week” at The Spooky Isles. I’ve had the pleasure of submitting a folk tale from Herefordshire, England, which tells of a changeling child and the trouble it caused for its chosen mother. You can find it here.
If you enjoy Norse mythology, then you’ve likely heard of their seidkonas and volur using magic to help tip the tide of battle. Featuring in many sagas, these folk skilled in witchcraft, charming, and influencing the threads of fate are fascinating to read about.
What we don’t see very often, is accounts of these sorceresses from the people that were fighting against them. Let alone, the locals using magic of their own against these Norse invaders.
The Norse King’s Sorcerous Daughter is one such story, from Scotland, and tells about how magic was used to fend off viking invaders that were wreaking havoc along the west coast.