Beyond its housing estates and identikit high streets there is another Britain. This is the Britain of mist-drenched forests and unpredictable sea-frets: of wraith-like fog banks, druidic mistletoe and peculiar creatures that lurk, half-unseen, in the undergrowth, tantalising and teasing just at the periphery of human vision. How have the remarkably persistent folkloric traditions of the British Isles formed and been formed by the identities and psyches of those who inhabit them? In her sparkling new history, Carolyne Larrington explores the diverse ways in which a myriad of imaginary and fantastical beings has moulded the cultural history of the nation. Fairies, elves and goblins here tread purposefully, sometimes malignly, over an eerie, preternatural landscape that also conceals brownies, selkies, trows, knockers, boggarts, land-wights, Jack o'Lanterns, Barguests, the sinister Nuckleavee, or water-horse, and even Black Shuck: terrifying hell-hound of the Norfolk coast with eyes of burning coal. Focusing on liminal points where the boundaries between this world and that of the supernatural grow thin those marginal tide-banks, saltmarshes, floodplains, moors and rock-pools wherein mystery lies the author shows how mythologies of Mermen, Green men and Wild-men have helped and continue to help human beings deal with such ubiquitous concerns as love and lust, loss and death and continuity and change. Evoking the Wild Hunt, the ghostly bells of Lyonesse and the dread fenlands haunted by Grendel, and ranging the while from Shetland to Jersey and from Ireland to East Anglia, this is a book that will captivate all those who long for the wild places: the mountains and chasms where Gog, Magog and their fellow giants lie in wait."
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