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The Weird Wolds of Yorkshire: Inside the Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle

The Weird Wolds of Yorkshire: Inside the Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle


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‘Fold upon fold of the encircling hills, piled rich and golden,’ is how the writer (best known for her posthumous 1936 novel South Riding ) Winifred Holtby, described England’s Yorkshire Wolds.

Eighty years on, here’s how a couple of tourist guides currently describe the area: “With hidden valleys, chalk streams and peaceful villages, the Yorkshire Wolds make a refreshing change from city life or a seaside break. It’s a fabulous place to unwind and enjoy the English countryside at its best.”

But, there is also a much darker side to this mysterious countryside.

It is a place where kings built hospices to protect weary travelers from wolves – and werewolves; a place where cloistered monks chronicled the predations of zombies, vampires and aliens; a place dotted with henges, barrows, tumuli and ancient burial mounds that superstitious locals once avoided for fear of encountering the fairy folk who dwelt there.

It was here, in prehistoric times, that the first settlers in this countryside worshipped before stone monoliths, while wearing masks fashioned from the skulls of animals, and where in later times, the county’s squirearchy had their masques disturbed by the screams of an unquiet skull.

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Unmatched by anywhere else in England, the Wold’s many myths and legends also include green-skinned fairy folk, headless ghosts, ancient warlords, miracle-working priests, a disappearing river, an avaricious Queen, a black skeleton, a Parkin-eating dragon, sea serpents, turkeys galore, England’s oldest buildings, shape shifters, enchanted wells, giant monoliths and a grid of ley lines.

The Wolds have a reputation for otherworldly spirits and fairy folk. S.T./ Flickr

Even more strangely, it is also a place associated with some of the greatest heroes and villains of recent pulp, crime and science fiction according to the literary concept devised by science fiction writer Philip Jose Farmer (1918-2009).

And all this was before the peace of the Yorkshire Wolds was disturbed by the crash of a giant meteorite falling from the sky into the center of what I have called the Wold Newton Triangle.

Where is the Wold Newton Triangle?

The western side of the Wold Newton Triangle broadly follows the path of the B1249 road across N E England’s Yorkshire Wolds from Driffield in the south, then down Staxton Hill and on into the Vale of Pickering.

The eastern side of the Triangle is bordered by the North Sea, running the length of the A165 coast road from Gristhorpe and Filey Brigg along to Flamborough Head and Bridlington Bay. The southern and final side of the Triangle runs parallel to the old Woldgate Roman road, which heads out from Bridlington and across what used to be called the East Riding of Yorkshire towards Stamford Bridge and York.

But why should such a place, and a relatively remote and sparsely populated place at that, throughout all its long history, be the location for so much weirdness? Is it merely coincidence or are there other factors at play to make this part of the Yorkshire Wolds a nexus or focus for the arcane, the unusual and the just plain uncanny?

When it comes to possible explanations, two candidates stand out from all the rest: the Ley Lines and the Gypsey Race River.

The Ley Lines

If we accept that ley lines really exist then Rudston, at the heart of the Wolds, is one of the most mystical and magical locations in the country as it is the end point (or primary node) for not one but five ley lines, including one of the country’s three “Basic Alignments.” This is the Rudston to Wardstone Barrow in Dorset ley, which intersects the other two Basic Alignments (the Lands End to Hopton and the Isle of Wight to Isle of Man leys) at the Beckhampton ‘Adam’ Longstone (standing stone) near Avebury.

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Junction of the Yorkshire Wolds Way with the Chalkland Way. Dr Patty McAlpin/Wikimedia Commons

Also radiating out from the monolith is the Rudston to Helvellyn ley, the Rudston to Scilly Isles ley, the Rudston to Prescelly (or Preseli Mountains – the source of the giant bluestones used to construct the inner circle of Stonhenge) in Pembroke ley, and the Rudston to Harwich ley. (Harwich is also on a ley line that runs across to Prescelly and intersects the Rudston to Wardstone ley at the King Stone monolith, part of the Rollright standing stones complex in Oxfordshire. Taken together, these last three ley lines also form the three sides of a triangle with Rudston at the apex which, if you accept the mystical significance of leys, just adds to the aura and power focused on the Rudston monolith.

Rudston Monolith, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. The stone stands almost 26 feet high next to Rudston Parish Church of all Saints. Made form Moor Grit Conglomerate from the Late Neolithic Period. This stone can be found in the Cleveland Hills inland from Whitby. This view to its wide face looking NE. Wikimedia Commons

But there might be another explanation.

The Waters of Woe

Over the centuries the legend has grown up that the Gypsey Race River is a harbinger of evil, only flowing before a major calamity or tumultuous event strikes the land – or “battle, plague or famine” as one old folk saying puts it – earning the stream the reputation of being “the Waters of Woe.”

The Gypsey Race apparently flowed in the years before the famines that accompanied “the Anarchy” of the 12th century civil war between King Stephen and the Empress Matilda, the Black Death, the start of the English Civil War, the execution of King Charles the First, the Restoration of King Charles II, the Great Plague of 1665 and the Fire of London , the landing of Prince William of Orange and the start of the Glorious Revolution, the year of bad harvests in 1861, the Great North Sea Storm of 1888, in the years before the start of both World War One and World War Two, as well as the exceptionally harsh winters of 1947 and 1962, when many Wolds villages were cut off for several days by 12 foot (3.6 meter) deep snowdrifts.

The tumultuous history of the region included the Great Fire of London, 1666.

And, the Gypsey’s appearance in 1795, is said to have been almost simultaneously followed by the Wold Newton meteor crashing to Earth.

Wold Cottage meteorite. A chondrite which fell near Wold Cottage Farm, near Wold Newton in 1795. On display in the Natural History Museum, London. Wikimedia Commons

To download a map of The Wold Newton Triangle please click here: http://www.urbanfantasist.com/wold-newton-triangle-map.html

For more details of the myths, legends and facts of the Wold Newton Triangle visit www.urbanfantasist.com

Featured image: The hauntingly beautiful landscape of the Yorkshire Wolds. What strange history and mysteries lie within? Paul Moon/ Flickr

By Charles Christian


Weird Tales Radio Show

Join lawyer turned award-winning journalist, author and sometime werewolf-hunter Charles Christian for a one-hour feast of folklore, magick and scary tales. If general off-the-wall weirdness is your thing, then the Weird Tales Radio Show has something for everyone, with its radio magazine format designed for all fans of ghosts, geek, magick, folklore, urban myths and witchcraft – but with a focus on fun and strangeness that sets it apart from other paranormal radio shows.

“Described as, "The Today Show of the paranormal and supernatural” and “a fabulously atmospheric and over-flowing with esoteric info-show well loved by the geekiverse” – it was rated as "one of the Top 40 UK podcasts and radio shows you must subscribe and listen to in 2019” – and now you can hear it every week here on KCOR Radio.

Weird Tales Radio Show airs every Thursday at 1 PM Pacific | 4 PM Eastern | 9 PM UK, exclusively on the KCOR Digital Radio Network. Were the weird and the strange come to play for an hour each week.


About the Author

Charles Christian is a barrister and Reuters correspondent turned award-winning technology journalist, newsletter editor, blogger, publisher and science fiction author.

His dystopian sci-fi and urban fantasy stories are Gothic tales for the 21st century – with a sense of humour and a topical twist. His collection of science fiction and urban fantasy short stories, This is the Quickest Way Down, was listed for three national and international book awards. Set mostly in the present day, the eleven stories give everyday existence a gentle nudge into the realms of the weird, the supernatural, the horrific and the surreal. He has also recently published Secret Cargo, a sci fi/steampunk story, Tomorrow's Ghosts and Rip and Burn.

Charles lives in Norfolk with his wife, Jane, three dogs and two horses.

INCLUDES WEREWOLF SIGHTING UPDATE!

‘Hidden valleys, chalk streams and peaceful villages. a fabulous place to unwind and enjoy the English countryside at its best’ is how modern guide books describe the Yorkshire Wolds. But, there is also a much darker side to this part of Yorkshire. If you are fascinated by the weird, the unexplained and the bizarre, join me on this road trip around what I have called the Wold Newton Triangle, where rather odd events have occurred, unmatched anywhere else in Britain.
You will meet werewolves, zombies, vampires, green skinned fairy folk, headless ghosts, screaming skulls, ancient warlords, valiant sea captains battling to the death as volley after volley of cannon fire rake their warships’ decks, miracle-working priests, very eccentric gentry, disappearing rivers, a good Queen and an avaricious Queen, a black skeleton, a Parkin-eating dragon, sea serpents, turkeys galore, England’s oldest buildings, shape shifters, enchanted wells, giant monoliths and a grid of ley lines, as well as a surprising amounts of Quite Interesting Facts. It is also a place associated with some of the greatest heroes and villains of recent pulp, crime and science fiction which may, or may not, be connected to the day a giant meteorite crashed to earth in Yorkshire’s fascinating Wold Newton Triangle. Its a place where fact is weirder than fiction!

Murder! Mayhem! Treason! Adultery!

Set in the Dark Ages, these are shocking true tales of royalty, aristocrats and religious figures behaving very badly indeed. (Truly there is nothing new under the sun!) In fact their lives would not be out of place in today’s reality TV shows or modern politics and the incidents they are involved in… well, truth really is stranger than fiction - even fiction as entertaining as the recent Game of Thrones and Vikings series.

So climb on board as we set off to explore some of the more weird, obscure and WTF corners of English history. These are tales of murder, mayhem, treason, incest and adultery in which we’ll encounter nine saints, eight English kings who met gruesome, premature deaths, five scheming English queens who put the 'sex' back into Wessex, and the mother of all wicked stepmothers. You'll be amazed, or horrified, or appalled. Or all three!

"Totally loved this book – fascinating, full of quirky facts and amazing stories and written with a great sense of humour."

"You had me hooked in the first para of the intro with the boiled egg story."

This collection of 13 science fiction, urban fantasy, horror and dark fantasy stories are set primarily in the present day, or very near future, and give everyday existence a gentle nudge into the realms of the fantastic, the weird, the erotic, the supernatural, the horrific, the arcane and the surreal.

These are stories where a casual sexual encounter can embroil a person in dangerous liaisons with ghosts, aliens or even vengeful gods. Yet also where the bizarre or weird can be found lurking just around the corner, across a cup of cooling mocha in a suburban coffee shop, over a glass of chilled rose wine in a beach side cafe on the Cote d'Azur or in the next message to arrive on your mobile phone.

These stories tread the fine line between the normal and the fantastic, where the unknown lies behind every unopened door and every unread email.

KASTELLORIZON
THE END OF FLIGHT 505
ALREADY GONE
THIS IS THE QUICKEST WAY DOWN
MORE IMPORTANT THAN BABY STENICK
LAST TRAIN HOME
WAITING FOR MY MOCHA TO COOL
CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE GHOST-HUNTER
THE HOT CHICK
A BERETTA FOR AZRAELLA
TAKING TEA WITH THE GENERAL
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND
BY THE STEPS OF VILLEFRANCHE STATION

(The ebook version of This is the Quickest Way Down has two new stories added).

Christian's strength is the abandon with which he brings together the fantastic and the mundane.
Vector

Christian delivers the goods economically, effectively and with immense dignity and compassion. In a nutshell the man can write!”
Dave Kelso-Mitchell, Paraphilia Magazine

Christian's style is sparse and urgent and makes me, for one, wish he would now tackle a crime novel. Norfolk noir anyone?”
Trevor Heaton, EDP Weekend supplement

Christian’s style is far from hard, drawing the reader in with an easygoing narrative, plenty of dialogue and buckets of wry humour. But what I found most was heart.
Wayne Simmons

What I will say is I love the way Christian writes. It is smooth and elegant without being overly literary. Sometimes it feels as though literary authors can be shoving how clever they are down your throat, but Christian eases you along and makes it very difficult to put the book down.
R B Harkess, author


Life Versus Legend

My own interest in King John was piqued by some research I am doing for a book about this history and folklore of South Norfolk, in England, when I looked at the official sign for the market town of Diss. (It is a tradition in East Anglia that villages and towns have elaborately carved signs depicting aspects of their municipal history.)

The Diss town sign shows a lady in a long pink gown, wearing a tall conical headdress (technically a hennin). Standing next to her is a distinguished-looking, bearded gentleman in black medieval garb, offering the woman what appears to be a boiled egg, in an egg-cup!

Signpost in Diss, England. (Photo by author)

The plaque on the sign’s base explains the image shows Matilda, the daughter of Robert Fitzwalter (one of the most important barons during the reign of King John), who rejected the King’s amorous advances, but with dire consequences, as the angry King sent a messenger bearing the gift of “a poisoned potched egg, whereof she died in 1213.” (A potched egg is another name for a boiled egg, rather than a poached one.)

As I discovered, this is an intriguing tale as it reveals how, over the centuries, two entirely separate stories, aided and abetted by some 16th and 17th century playwrights, became intermingled to create an urban myth.

The facts are Sir Robert Fitzwalter did have a daughter called Matilda and, in a statement he made in 1212, he claimed King John had attempted to seduce her. However, several other barons made similar allegations against John – and John is known to have had at least five illegitimate children by different mistresses, all of whom were either the wives or daughters of noblemen. In fact, one baron, upon learning that John had propositioned his wife, hired a prostitute to take her place. In the poorly lit bed chambers of medieval castles, King John apparently was none-the-wiser.

What is clear is Sir Robert was one of the barons challenging King John’s powers: he was one of the signatories of the Magna Carta and he fought against John in the subsequent civil war. However over time Sir Robert and his daughter Matilda became caught up in the legend of Robin Hood so that, by the early 1600s, one play – the not-exactly snappily titled “ The Downfall of Robert, Earl of Huntingdon, afterwards called Robin Hood, with his Love to Chaste Matilda, the Lord Fitzwater’s daughter, afterwards his faire Maid Marian” – depicted Matilda fleeing from King John’s lustful advances, escaping to Sherwood Forest, changing her name, and eventually becoming Robin Hood’s companion Maid Marion .

Illustration from Howard Pyle's The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood. ( Public Domain )

Another play – “ King John and Matilda” in 1628 – sees her constantly falling into the hands of King John, only to escape with her virtue intact. In both plays, however, she is ultimately murdered, a martyr to virtue, by the agents of King John. In one she falls prey to a poisoned glove, while in the other it is a bracelet whose poison had “eaten its way to her bone, and the fiery poison had dried her life blood”.

But where does that leave us with the tale Matilda Fitzwalter of Diss? The clue can be found in the 1628 play, where there is a minor characters called Lady Bruce, the wife of one of the barons opposing King John. She and her young son George are both shown being imprisoned by King John’s men and left to starve to death in a dungeon.

It is at this point that historical fiction overlaps with historical fact - for in real life there was another Matilda in King John’s circle She was Matilda (also known as the Lady of Hay –after Hay-on-Wye) who was married to William de Braose, a powerful baron on the Welsh Borders who, for about ten years, was a favorite of King John. Unfortunately, in 1208 William quarreled with John – one suggestion is that it was over a huge sum of money (5000 marks or £1,750,000/US$2,500,000 in modern values) that William owed the king.

Another suggestion is that Matilda de Braose made indiscreet comments regarding the murder of King John’s nephew Arthur, the Duke of Brittany. Arthur was another member of the Angevin royal family with a claim to the English throne, but in 1203, at the age of 16, he disappeared from the pages of history. At the time he was a prisoner in one of King John’s French castles and it is widely suspected that John himself killed Arthur in a drunken rage and then threw the body into the River Seine .

However, there is an alternative suggestion that he was murdered on John’s orders by William de Braose, which would also explain how his wife Matilda knew of Arthur’s fate.

William, incidentally, did have a track record for this kind of behavior, as in 1175 he perpetrated the so-called Abergavenny Massacre , when he invited three Welsh princes to a Christmas feast and promptly had them all murdered. He subsequently went on to hunt down and kill one of the Welsh prince’s seven-year-old sons.

The surviving ruins of Abergavenny Castle, interior. South East Wales. ( CC BY-SA 2.0 )

Whatever the reason, John demanded that Matilda’s son William be sent to him as a hostage for her husband’s loyalty, and as a surety for his debts. Matilda refused, saying “she would not deliver her children to a king who had murdered his own nephew.” John acted quickly and ruthlessly, leading troops to seize de Braose’s castles and, in 1210, captured both Matilda and her son William. Matilda’s husband, meanwhile, had been declared an outlaw and escaped to France, disguised as a beggar, but he died the following year.

As for Matilda and her son, they were imprisoned in Corfe Castle in Dorset, where they were placed inside a dungeon and left to starve to death.

Corfe Castle within whose dungeon Maud de Braose and her son William were starved to death. ( CC BY-SA 3.0 )

According to one report, the boy died first and his body was found to have had the flesh chewed away where his starving mother had, in her desperation, turned cannibal and been forced to eat her own child! (Although rats are a more likely culprit.)


English Folklore: The Forgotten Death of Mischief Night

In the United Kingdom, nestling midway between the early autumn “Back to School” sales promotions and the consumer spending bonanza that is Christmas, we now have the retail opportunity of Halloween. Fancy dress costumes, pumpkins, plastic skeletons, scary witches’ masks and plenty of sweets to dish out to Trick-or-Treaters.

Each year, Halloween’s approach is also greeted with complaints in the popular press about the “Americanization” of English customs and how Halloween has displaced our traditional mid-autumn Fifth of November / Bonfire Night / Guy Fawkes Night celebrations. Cynics will also point to another agenda at work here, namely that for all its faults Halloween and Trick-or-Treating is a far safer activity for children (and adults for that matter) than the once regular carnage of exploding fireworks and collapsing bonfire-related burns, injuries and fatalities that used to accompany Bonfire Night.

Fascinating as this shift in social customs might be, for me, the more interesting question is whatever happened to Mischief Night?

Growing up in Scarborough, on the Yorkshire coast, in the 1950’s and early 1960’s, I was actively involved in all the buildup for Bonfire Night and going out collecting “A Penny for the Guy” in the days leading up to the 5th November, or Guy Fawkes Night. However for schoolboys (and to a lesser extent for schoolgirls) there was the added frisson on Mischief Night on the 4th November. (We also called it Miggy Night, other variants included Punkie Night, Micky Night and Tick Tack Treat Night.)

For us, Mischief Night was a license to run around the town engaging in minor acts of vandalism and anti-social behavior, such as knocking on doors or ringing doorbells, then running away before they were answered. Sometimes called “Knock, Knock, Ginger,” the key was to run away very fast, less an irate, but speedy, householder was out of the door to give you a clip around the head before you’d made your escape.

Other activities included letting the air out of car tires, filling keyholes with chewing gum (this was the pre-Super Glue age), and dropping lighted fireworks through letterboxes. Then there were the anonymous phone calls to random numbers where we’d take great pleasure in shouting into the handset “Get off the line Mister, there’s a train coming!”

For residents of terraced houses, there was the added delight of discovering that mischief-makers had roped together their and a neighbor’s front doorknobs, so any attempt to open one door was jammed by the other. Combine this with ‘Knock, Knock, Ginger’ and you could have the double the fun but none of the risk as a prankster.

And, there was the old favorite of lifting a front garden gate off its hinges and swapping it for that of another house further down the street. In fact this prank was so popular that local newspapers would advise readers that, along with placing buckets of water beneath letterboxes to catch fireworks, they should remove their front gates and put them somewhere safe and mischief-proof for the duration of the 4th November.

As for the unpopular teacher at school (at the time we still had corporal punishment, spanking with a slipper, or being caned with a stick in those days, so some teachers were really unpopular) their punishment on Mischief Night was to be on the receiving end of a string of taxis arriving at their door at 30 minute intervals throughout the evening to collect a passenger who had never ordered a cab.

Such activities would undoubtedly earn us all ASBOs (anti-social behavior penalty) and criminal records if we were caught doing this today, but we generally managed to stay on the right side of naughty pranks and avoid committing serious vandalism (well at least not really serious vandalism). In fact there was a genuine belief (erroneous as it happens) that the police were not allowed to arrest you on Mischief Night.

And, it wasn’t just in Scarborough as Mischief Night was celebrated across all the Northern counties of Yorkshire, Lancashire, Cheshire, Derbyshire and as far south as Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire. Given the strong Viking heritage of these counties – all part of Danelaw from the mid-eighth to mid tenth centuries – was there a connection with Loki, the Norse trickster god, at work there?

Detail, An illustration of Loki, the notorious Norse trickster god, from an Icelandic 18th century manuscript. Public Domain

In the post-war years of the 1950’s through to the late 1980’s (when it began to be usurped by Halloween) Mischief Night was the “big” night before Bonfire Night, whereas Halloween on the 31st was very much a non-event. The 4th November was even the night we had carved lanterns, called Punkie lanterns (“Give me a candle, Give me a light, If you don’t, You’ll get a fright”) only they were carved out of turnips or swedes, rather than pumpkins.

A traditional turnip Jack-o'-lantern from the early 20th century. (CC BY-SA 3.0)

But, where did it come from?

Although Bonfire Night can be traced back to the early 17th century (in fact it was one of the few public festivities the Puritans didn’t ban during Cromwell’s time) November’s Mischief Night activities were not widely mentioned until the 1850’s. Victorian folklorists suggested its popularity spread from Yorkshire, because Guy Fawkes was born in York and he was up to mischief on the evening of the 4th November, when he was preparing the gunpowder in the undercroft beneath the House of Lords, which is where he was captured.

Painting showing the arrest of Guy Fawkes by the Royalist soldier Sir Thomas Knevet Guy Fawkes (1570-1606) had been attempting to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the attack in 1605. Public Domain

Guy Fawkes Night (or Bonfire Night) is a celebration held in England on November 5th each year to commemorate the capture of Guy Fawkes in the early hours of 5th November 1605, when he was caught preparing a large bomb intended to blow up the House of Lords when King James the First was due to open a session of Parliament later that same day. Fawkes was part of a conspiracy, known as the Gunpowder Plot, in which a small group of dissident Roman Catholics hoped to destroy the Protestant monarchy. (This was the era of the Religious Wars in Europe.) It is traditionally celebrated with bonfires and fireworks parties - the American equivalent would be the Independence Day or 4th of July celebrations. There is a suggestion that Guy Fawkes Night was a Puritan replacement for the older, mid-autumn Samhain fire celebrations.

Spectators gather around a bonfire November 2010, Staffordshire, England. (CC BY 2.0)

However, was is at this point that folklore, custom and tradition took an interesting twist, for the earliest reference of Mischief Night was in 1791, in a school play that appears to have been encouraging children to get up to tricks on “Mischief Night” but here’s that catch: the Mischief Night referred to here was part of the traditional May Day celebrations that took place six months earlier in the year! (In Germany, Mischief Night still takes place on the 1st of May.)

So what happened? Folklore historians suggest that, among many other things, May Day was an important children’s festival and on May Eve, they would make their way around towns and villages carrying garlands, while visiting houses and singing, in the hope of collecting money to spend during the May Day festivities. Add in the May Gosling tradition of playing tricks on people (very much like April Fools jokes a month earlier) plus related rural traditions, such as “bringing in the May” which was being written about (and complained about) as early as 1240 AD, and it is easy to see how this was an earlier manifestation of trick or treating. (A date in the mid-13th century also takes the tradition much closer to the Viking era.)

But, at some point during the first half of the 19th century, as the Industrial Revolution drew the rural workforce away from the countryside and into the factories of the great cities of the North of England, May Day and its associated traditions, including Mischief Night, became less and less relevant. However there was the long established, frequently drunken, riotous and downright dangerous, Guy Fawkes Night celebrations—with their boisterous mass processions, blazing tar barrels, bonfires and fireworks— that by the mid-19th century, local worthies and the gentry (including clergymen, aldermen, town councilors and magistrates, among others) were trying to tame and control up and down the country.

This neutering or gentrification of the near riotous Bonfire Night festivities to comply with the gentile values of Victorian polite society took many different forms, including encouraging formally organized celebrations in parks and public places. Another aspect was the growth of private or family celebrations. And yet another saw the shift away from the more overtly “political” aspects of the celebrations (the mass processions usually culminated in effigies of unpopular politicians being tossed into the bonfires’ flames – this is still a feature of the celebrations in Lewes in Sussex) and a move towards it becoming a festival for children, with their “Penny for the Guy.” And, by the 1850’s, the tradition of trick or treating, and pranking on Mischief Night had also been successfully transplanted from May to the 4th of November.

The Victorians, incidentally, were great ones for taming popular festivities and recasting them in their own image. For example, the Christmas celebrations we now share can be traced back to a whole new set of “traditions” effectively created by Victorians like Prince Albert and Charles Dickens in the UK, and Clement Moore (“’Twas the Night Before Christmas”) in the United States, who helped steer it away from its more anarchic, pagan Yule origins.

But, while Mischief Night may have survived the Industrial Revolution, in being transplanted from May to November as part of the Victorian reinvention of Bonfire Night in the 19th century, its roots were no longer deep enough to survive the commercial onslaught of Halloween. Mischief Night has now withered away to become little more than an historical footnote. Turning to the future, it will be interesting to see if even Bonfire Night survives in its already modified form for many more decades.

Charles Christian is a Norfolk-based writer and journalist. His most recent book is “A travel guide to Yorkshire's Weird Wolds: The Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle” and he can be found at www.UrbanFantasist.com as well as on Twitter at @ChristianUncut

Featured image: The dark streets of Bristol, England. When darkness descended on Mischief Night, children traditionally got up to no good. (George Alexander Ishida Newman, CC BY 2.0)


The Jealous Plague-Bearer of Alnwick

William’s fourth revenant tale is about “a man of evil conduct” who fled from York, on the run from the law, and took refuge in the Northumbrian village of Alnwick. There he married a local woman much younger than himself. Suspecting she might be having an affair with a local youth, one night he hid in the rafters of her bedroom in the hope of catching her and her lover together. He did but unfortunately he then accidentally fell through the ceiling, hitting the floor so hard that he was mortally wounded and died a few days later.

It was then that the trouble began as, within a few days of his funeral, there were reports of his corpse being seen wandering the streets of Alnwick, followed soon after by a fatal outbreak of plague, which everyone attributed to the pestilence being spread by the revenant.

As the death toll from the plague began to rise, two young men resolved to rid the village of the revenant and dug up the corpse in the cemetery. They found the corpse “swollen to an enormous corpulence, with its countenance beyond measure suffused with blood” and its shroud torn to pieces. “Spurred on by wrath” one of the men hacked at the corpse with a spade “out of which incontinently flowed such a stream of blood, that it might have been taken for a leech filled with the blood of many persons.”

They dragged the corpse beyond the village, hacked open the side of the corpse with a blunt spade, then one of them pulled out the revenant’s heart, tore it into pieces then tossed it and the rest of the corpse on to a hastily built funeral pyre. They burned the corpse, after which Alnwick was no longer troubled by either the revenant or the plague.

The 800-year-old skeleton found in Bulgaria stabbed through the chest with iron rod to keep it firmly in its grave. (CC BY-SA 3.0)


From Saxon Sirens to Sacred Orchards - Modern Traditions, Pagan Origins

Every January, in parts of rural England, people still gather to celebrate Wassailing, a tradition with distinctly Pagan origins intended to bless the coming year’s apple crops and protect orchards from evil spirits. It’s an intriguing part of the ongoing connection between the present day and folklore but in this eye-opening presentation, English Dark Ages and Medieval History expert Charles Christian returns to explain how roots of Wassailing stretch back even further. Back to the time when the Roman Empire’s hold on their province of Britannia was collapsing and how, in the years before King Arthur, a Saxon princess seduced a British king and opened the way to an invasion that changed the country forever!

Charles Christian is a professional writer, editor, award-winning journalist and former Reuters correspondent. His recent non-fiction books include A travel guide to Yorkshire’s Weird Wolds: The Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle.

Every January, in parts of rural England, people still gather to celebrate Wassailing, a tradition with distinctly Pagan origins intended to bless the coming year’s apple crops and protect orchards from evil spirits. It’s an intriguing part of the ongoing connection between the present day and folklore but in this eye-opening presentation, English Dark Ages and Medieval History expert Charles Christian returns to explain how roots of Wassailing stretch back even further. Back to the time when the Roman Empire’s hold on their province of Britannia was collapsing and how, in the years before King Arthur, a Saxon princess seduced a British king and opened the way to an invasion that changed the country forever!

Charles Christian is a professional writer, editor, award-winning journalist and former Reuters correspondent. His recent non-fiction books include A travel guide to Yorkshire’s Weird Wolds: The Mysterious Wold Newton Triangle.


Author Updates

‘Hidden valleys, chalk streams and peaceful villages. a fabulous place to unwind and enjoy the English countryside at its best’ is how modern guide books describe the Yorkshire Wolds. But, there is also a much darker side to this part of Yorkshire. If you are fascinated by the weird, the unexplained and the bizarre, join me on this road trip around what I have called the Wold Newton Triangle, where rather odd events have occurred, unmatched anywhere else in Britain.
You will meet werewolves, zombies, vampires, green skinned fairy folk, headless ghosts, screaming skulls, ancient warlords, valiant sea captains battling to the death as volley after volley of cannon fire rake their warships’ decks, miracle-working priests, very eccentric gentry, disappearing rivers, a good Queen and an avaricious Queen, a black skeleton, a Parkin-eating dragon, sea serpents, turkeys galore, England’s oldest buildings, shape shifters, enchanted wells, giant monoliths and a grid of ley lines, as well as a surprising amounts of Quite Interesting Facts. It is also a place associated with some of the greatest heroes and villains of recent pulp, crime and science fiction which may, or may not, be connected to the day a giant meteorite crashed to earth in Yorkshire’s fascinating Wold Newton Triangle. Its a place where fact is weirder than fiction!

This collection of 13 science fiction, urban fantasy, horror and dark fantasy stories are set primarily in the present day, or very near future, and give everyday existence a gentle nudge into the realms of the fantastic, the weird, the erotic, the supernatural, the horrific, the arcane and the surreal.

These are stories where a casual sexual encounter can embroil a person in dangerous liaisons with ghosts, aliens or even vengeful gods. Yet also where the bizarre or weird can be found lurking just around the corner, across a cup of cooling mocha in a suburban coffee shop, over a glass of chilled rose wine in a beach side cafe on the Cote d'Azur or in the next message to arrive on your mobile phone.

These stories tread the fine line between the normal and the fantastic, where the unknown lies behind every unopened door and every unread email.

KASTELLORIZON
THE END OF FLIGHT 505
ALREADY GONE
THIS IS THE QUICKEST WAY DOWN
MORE IMPORTANT THAN BABY STENICK
LAST TRAIN HOME
WAITING FOR MY MOCHA TO COOL
CONFESSIONS OF A TEENAGE GHOST-HUNTER
THE HOT CHICK
A BERETTA FOR AZRAELLA
TAKING TEA WITH THE GENERAL
EMPIRE STATE OF MIND
BY THE STEPS OF VILLEFRANCHE STATION

(The ebook version of This is the Quickest Way Down has two new stories added).

Christian's strength is the abandon with which he brings together the fantastic and the mundane.
Vector

Christian delivers the goods economically, effectively and with immense dignity and compassion. In a nutshell the man can write!”
Dave Kelso-Mitchell, Paraphilia Magazine

Christian's style is sparse and urgent and makes me, for one, wish he would now tackle a crime novel. Norfolk noir anyone?”
Trevor Heaton, EDP Weekend supplement

Christian’s style is far from hard, drawing the reader in with an easygoing narrative, plenty of dialogue and buckets of wry humour. But what I found most was heart.
Wayne Simmons

What I will say is I love the way Christian writes. It is smooth and elegant without being overly literary. Sometimes it feels as though literary authors can be shoving how clever they are down your throat, but Christian eases you along and makes it very difficult to put the book down.
R B Harkess, author


Mysteries and Monsters MysteriesandMonsters

Podcast featuring interviews from the worlds of the Paranormal, Cryptozoology and Fortean themes, published weekly. The world is a possibility if you’ll only try.

Mysteries and Monsters: Episode 128 Bigfoot with Amy Bue

It's a welcome return to the search for Bigfoot with the wonderful Amy Bue. Amy has made a name for herself in the last decade as a diligent, humble and driven researcher in the field of cryptozoology.

Since witnessing a strange creature whilst driving in Ohio ten years ago, Amy has dedicated herself to push the boundaries of her knowledge in the subject.

Amy has brought a refreshing realism to the hunt for Bigfoot, and as a former member of the BFRO, Amy has now both aligned herself as a member of the Olympic Project as well as being the co-founder of Project Zoobook a collaboration of scientists from a variety of disciplines.

We discuss some of Amy's favourite witness encounters, her quest to learn about Bigfoot, her work with the Olympic Project and Project Zoobook, the hunt for Bigfoot and some of the locations on her Bigfoot bucket list.

Amy is wonderful company and I hope you enjoy our conversation as much as I did.

You can email Amy at [email protected]

Our Patreon is now live, with bonus content, early release of the regular show, articles and more.

Join here now for the flat fee of $4 a month which is a bargain!

Don't forget, you can now show your support with our Merchandise shop on Redbubble! Check it out here!

We are also now on Vburl - check us out here:

You can join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Email us at [email protected] with any feedback, guest suggestions or if you'd like to appear.

All artwork by Dean Bestall and the show was produced by Brennan Storr of the Ghost Story Guys.

#Bigfoot #AmyBue #OlympicProject #Sasquatch #Ohio #PacificNorthWest #Alaska #Hunters #Witnesses #BFRO #ProjectZoobook #Cryptids #Cryptozoology #PeterByrne #BritishColombia #ShaneCorson #DavidEllis #Hominids

Mysteries and Monsters: Episode 127 The Possession of Elizabeth Knapp with M R Gorga

Possession is something that for many of us, seems too incredible to contemplate, to outlandish to even consider or maybe to frightening to accept as real.

Throuhgout the ages, such cases often become notorious and many of them have become well known yet one seems to have slipped through the cracks, the case of Elizabeth Knapp.

What makes this case all more suprising is that it was meticilously recorded by the chief witness in the case, the preacher Samuel Willard. Willard was a man who in the autumn of 1671, witnesses one of his servants, Elizabeth Knapp transform from a happy, bright and popular woman to one afflicted by possession.

The case is all the more remarkable because rather than treat Elizabeth as a danger, Willard went out of his way to deal with this case in a balanced, scientific manner, completely against everything we presume. To discuss this case and more is author M R Gorga. His latest book, Demons Among Us covers the Knapp case in great detail with many details not having seen the light of day for almost two centuries.

A big thank you to M.R. for joining me this week.

Our Patreon is now live, with bonus content, early release of the regular show, articles and more.

Join here now for the flat fee of $4 a month which is a bargain!

Don't forget, you can now show your support with our Merchandise shop on Redbubble! Check it out here!

We are also now on Vburl - check us out here:

You can join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Email us at [email protected] with any feedback, guest suggestions or if you'd like to appear.

All artwork by Dean Bestall and the show was produced by Brennan Storr of the Ghost Story Guys.

Mysteries and Monsters is a part of the Straight Up Strange Network

#Demons #Possession #Samuelwillard #massachusetts #Groton #ElizabethKnapp #DemonsAmongUs #Puritan #MRGorga #Salem #Witchcraft #Witches

Mysteries and Monsters: Episode 126 On the Search For Dragons with Richard Freeman

This week, our good friend Richard Freeman re-joins us to discuss the history of Dragons, a creature that has haunted humanity's dreams since time began.

From Asia to Australia, Europe to the America's, tales of Dragons go back centuries, yet even in this modern era, people are incrdibly still claiming to see Dragons.

Richard takes us through the history of Dragons, the different types and the stories that have stood the test of time as well diving in to some of the more modern sightings from China, Russia, Iceland and the USA.

A big thank you to Richard for joining me again.

The CFZ can be found here:

Richard can be contacted via [email protected]

Our Patreon is now live, with bonus content, early release of the regular show, articles and more.

Join here now for the flat fee of $4 a month which is a bargain!

Don't forget, you can now show your support with our Merchandise shop on Redbubble! Check it out here!

We are also now on Vburl - check us out here:

You can join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Email us at [email protected] with any feedback, guest suggestions or if you'd like to appear.

All artwork by Dean Bestall and the show was produced by Brennan Storr of the Ghost Story Guys.

Mysteries and Monsters is a part of the Straight Up Strange Network

#Dragons #China #Japan #England #Russia #Australia #GaryOpit #RexGilroy #Megafauna #USA #CFZ #RichardFreeman #LindaGodfrey

Mysteries and Monsters: Episode 125 Cryptids of New Zealand with Tony Healy

This week, it is a warm welcome back to Australian fortean researcher Tony Heal who takes us a on a globe trotting monster hunt.

Tony opens his files from 50 years of research and investigation to cover a country whose cryptids are hardly known of, New Zealand. Tony takes on the search for tales of the Moehau, the islands own hairy man, the fearsome Taniwha, which inhabits waterways, the towering Moa and the frankly terrifying Haast Eagle, which preyed on the Moa.

We also look into ball lightining, poltergeists, coincidence, Yeti's, Yowies and Black Panthers from across the world in a global monster and mystery hunt.

A massive thank you for Tony discussing many cases from around the world that many of us are probably unaware of.

Paul Cropper's site is here:

Our Patreon is now live, with bonus content, early release of the regular show, articles and more.

Join here now for the flat fee of $4 a month which is a bargain!

Don't forget, you can now show your support with our Merchandise shop on Redbubble! Check it out here!

We are also now on Vburl - check us out here:

You can join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Email us at [email protected] with any feedback, guest suggestions or if you'd like to appear.

All artwork by Dean Bestall and the show was produced by Brennan Storr of the Ghost Story Guys.

Mysteries and Monsters is a part of the Straight Up Strange Network

#NewZealand #Yowie #Yeti #Bigfoot #Sasquatch #Australia #Cryptids #Cryptozoology #TonyHealy #PaulCropper #Moehau #Taniwha #Moa #ABCs #LochNess #BlackPanther #BallLightning #Poltergeists #HaastEagle

Mysteries and Monsters: Episode 124 Morgan Knudsen

It's a warm welcome back to Canadian paranormal researcher, investigator, lecturer and author Morgan Knudsen.

Morgan is well known to anyone who watches Paranormal 911 and Haunted Hospitals on Discovery as well as growing reputation in the field of paranormal research.

With a slant on what can cause a haunting, we discuss a variety of topics in the search for the reality behind hauntings.

Can an existing family dynamic create the right ingredients for a haunting? Can stress make people more susceptible to a haunting? Is it just energy leaking in from another dimension, causing our brain to misinterpret the information we recieve or are they just ghosts?

We discuss Morgan's book "Teaching the Living" which outlines the ideas and scenarios that can lead to what many believe to be hauntings but are they all so easy to explain?

Poltergeists, Wendigos and more are covered in our conversation and it was a pleasure to speak with Morgan again.

You can find Morgan's book here:

Our Patreon is now live, with bonus content, early release of the regular show, articles and more.

Join here now for the flat fee of $4 a month which is a bargain!

Don't forget, you can now show your support with our Merchandise shop on Redbubble! Check it out here!

We are also now on Vburl - check us out here:

You can join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Email us at [email protected] with any feedback, guest suggestions or if you'd like to appear.

All artwork by Dean Bestall and the show was produced by Brennan Storr of the Ghost Story Guys.

Mysteries and Monsters is a part of the Straight Up Strange Network

#MorganKnudsen #Canada #EntitySeeker #Edmonton #Paranormal #Haunting #Haunted #Ghosts #QuantumTheory #Ghost #Spirit #TeachingTheLiving #Wendigo #Poltergeist #WilliamRoll

Mysteries and Monsters: Episode 123 Monsters of the Tar Heel State with David Weatherly

David Weatherly's 5th book in his expanding State Monsters series takes us to one of the original 13 colonies, North Carolina, a state close to David's heart as he grew up here.

The Tar Heel state may not have the reputation of the some the USA's more notable cryptid hotbeds but you only have to mention the infamous case of the Beast of Bladenboro for people to take notice.

What is it about North Carolina that seems to be so favourable to some creature that we seem to have a population of mysterious predators that keep re-appearing every 20 years or so. Whilst the Beast of Bladenboro occurred in the 1950s, other flaps of creatures taking domestic animals has occurred worryingly regularly.

We also look at the numerous Black Panther sightings across the state going back decades as well as looking into North Carolina's most famous Bigfoot, Knobby and discuss some of the witnesses that had some very interesting encounters with a large hairy creature over the last 50 years.

Of course, the Casey Hathaway case is also pondered upon as myself and David wonder just how a 3 year old boy could survive in sub-zero temperatures. Casey of course famously claimed a "bear" looked after him and kept him safe.

We also touch on Michael Green and his footage of what he claimed was a Bigfoot, lured to appear on a thermal, which you can watch here:

A big thank you as always to David for his time, company and conversation.

Our Patreon is now live, with bonus content, early release of the regular show, articles and more.

Join here now for the flat fee of $4 a month which is a bargain!

Don't forget, you can now show your support with our Merchandise shop on Redbubble! Check it out here!

We are also now on Vburl - check us out here:

You can join us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram as well.

You can also subscribe to our YouTube channel!

Email us at [email protected] with any feedback, guest suggestions or if you'd like to appear.

All artwork by Dean Bestall and the show was produced by Brennan Storr of the Ghost Story Guys.

Mysteries and Monsters is a part of the Straight Up Strange Network

#DavidWeatherly #NorthCarolina #USA #TarHeelState #Bigfoot #Sasquatch #TheBeastofBladenboro #Bolivia #Raleigh #Cryptids #Cryptozoology #Monsters #CaseyHathaway #ABCs #BlackPanthers #SamShearon #JoshuaPWarren #MonstersoftheTarHeelState


Watch the video: Secret Britain: Unearthing Our Mysterious Past with Mary-Ann Ochota (July 2022).


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