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2004 EDITION: MYSTICAL ENGLAND

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Our 2004 travels to England’s West Country and Wiltshire yielded a haul of intriguing books and pamphlets concerning the mystical sites and personages of these areas.

Ordering information for each of these publications is included with the descriptions below. Some are available directly from their publisher, others can be tracked down at particular stores. A few are quite old, so finding a copy may require some hunting.

If you are ordering from a UK publisher or bookshop, it is helpful to the bookseller if you send payment in British pounds and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (weights for individual publications are provided for the purpose of estimating postage costs).

To see all the Wonderella recommendations, currently an annual feature of this website, please follow the links here:
2002: The Best of the Independent Press
2003: Summer Reads
2004: Mystical England
2006: The Old Ways Are Best

Click on the cover images for a closer look.

Archaeological Bulletin for the British Isles 1940-1946 - Click to view larger image. Archeological Bulletin for the British Isles 1947 - Click to view larger image.

Archeological Bulletin for the British Isles, 1940–1946 and 1947 editions: These two artifacts of an earlier time were part of a modest binge I indulged in at a secondhand bookshop in Totnes, Devon.

Published by the Council for British Archaeology, the Bulletin was the new incarnation of the Council’s annual index of reports of archeological discoveries from prehistory to 1600. The 96-page inaugural pamphlet is divided into two sections. The first is a county-by-county index of finds, each county’s section divided into eras like “Paleolithinc and Mesolithic,” “Early Iron Age,” “Viking,” and so forth. The second section is a bibliography of 868 oral and printed source-works.

The next year’s edition carries on the work of its predecessor, listing another 95 pages of reports and sources from 1947. It is assumed that the Council went on to publish the Bulletin annually from here on.

The Archeological Bulletin is printed A5 size, or 8.25 x 5.5 inches. Issues average 5 oz. Inquire about price and availability from:

Pedlar’s Pack Books
No.4, The Plains

Totnes, Devon TQ9 5DR
England

Avebury - Click to view larger image.

Avebury: Despite the awful subhead “a genuine magikal places ancient wizdom sorcebook,” [sic] this little booklet provides a welcome and concise introduction to the structures that comprise Britain’s oldest and grandest Neolithic site.

In the book, author Evelyn Francis presents over 40 historical (and a few modern) illustrations of Avebury’s structures and surrounding countryside, taken mainly from William Stukeley’s “Abury, a Temple of the British Druids” and Sir Richard Colt Hoare’s “Ancient Wiltshire.” Each drawing is complemented with a brief lesson about some geologic or mystic aspect of the site (e.g., “The South Circle, What Was Left of It in Stukeley’s Day” or the ley-line exploration “Hidden Currents: Evidence of a Lost Science.”)

Avebury measures 6 x 5 inches and weighs 3.4 ounces, and retails for £4.99. It is often found in bookstores alongside other Wooden Books titles in a handsome display stand. If you’re unable to find it on your own, inquire to:

Wooden Books , Ltd
Walkmill, Cascob
Presteigne, Powys
Wales

The bibliophile in me thinks it would be nice for this book to be reissued casebound, or at least in a larger format (to afford readers a closer look at the illustrations), perhaps without all the mis-spellings on the cover.

The Cereologist No.36 - Click to view larger image. The Circular No.51 - Click to view larger image.

The Cereologist No.36 and The Circular No.51: Where but Southern England would one expect to find crop circle pamphlets? It seems appropriate to review these two together, as the Cereologist originated as an offshoot of the Circular in 1990 and is now re-incoporating itself into its parent publication.

Both series explore classic and new theories behind crop circle formation and significance, including the old saws of alien (or angelic) involvement and bizarre weather patterns. All is balanced with reminders to enthusiastic circlists to remain grounded in earthly explanations whenever possible.

The Cereologist and the Circular are printed A4 size, or 11.5 x 8.25 inches. The issues reviewed here were both 26 pages in length and weighed 3 oz.

Further information on the Cereologist can be found on the magazine's website. For remaining copies of the Cereologist, send your inquiries to:

John Sayer
17 Spindle Road
Norwich
Norfolk NR6 6JR
England

Issues of the Circular are free to members of The Centre for Crop Circle Studies. For a sample copy, please send £4.20 (UK) or £7.00 (US and Canada) to:

The Centre for Crop Circle Studies
George Bishop
12 Tintagel Close, Beacon Heath
Exeter, EX4 9EH
England

Cornish Folk-Lore - Click to view larger image.

Cornish Folk-Lore: This is Tor Mark Press’s 1969 reprint of an 1871 collection of anecodotal legends of Cornwall that originally appeared in a book called Popular Romances of the West of England. A Cornwall publisher, Tor Mark was, at least at the time, quite a prolific producer of local interest pamphlets, judging by the 30 titles advertised inside the front cover of “Cornish Folk-Lore.”

Without much fanfare, the pamphlet begins its 48-page romp of tales of Cornwall’s mythic past. In these stories, which read like W.B. Yeats, shape-shifting spriggans swarm to thwart treasure hunters, fully laden silver banquet tables appear floating in the sea, and Christian saints convert heathens by riding flying stones—to give three typical examples. Magic!

Cornish Folk-Lore is printed digest size, or 8.5 x 5.5 inches, and weighs 4 oz. Inquire about price and availability from:

Pedlar’s Pack Books
No.4, The Plains

Totnes, Devon TQ9 5DR
England

The Devon Historian No.1 - Click to view larger image. The Devon Historian No.2 - Click to view larger image.

The Devon Historian: As he explains in his opening essays of this publication’s inaugural issue, editor Professor W.G. Hoskins founded the Devon Historian to increase communication between the county’s antiquarians and unite their efforts toward a handful of projects. Hoskins is dismayed by the lack of organization and cooperation among his peers, and as such this charmingly produced local-interest pamphlet series provides a wealth of ideas and resources for budding and established scholars of Devon’s past. Upcoming meetings are noted, regional libraries are enumerated, and there is even a very straightforward essay titled “Tasks for Devon Historians,” by Professor W.E. Minchinton. Joyce Youings’s article “Devon’s First Local Historians” profiles three early luminaries of the county’s lore, giving the pamphlet a bit of interesting material for readers who can’t follow the Devon Historian’s task-list.

The second number in the series continues along these lines as the staff and readership of the Devon Historian get down to business with articles on the county’s Domesday records, the history of Devon trade unions, and the regional pottery industry from the 17th through the 19th centuries. Book reviews, a directory of Devon museums, and a useful “Offers of Help” column fill some of this issue’s other pages and show that all Devon’s historians needed was a little encouragement and organization.

The Devon Historian is printed A5 size, or 8 x 5.5 inches. Nos.1 and 2 have 20 and 28 pp., respectively. Issues weigh less than 2 oz. Inquire about price and availability from:

Pedlar’s Pack Books
No.4, The Plains

Totnes, Devon TQ9 5DR
England

Illustrations of Stone Circles, Cromlehs and Other Remains of the Aboriginal Britons in the West of Cornwall - Click to view larger image.

Illustrations of Stone Circles, Cromlehs and Other Remains of the Aboriginal Britons in the West of Cornwall: This impressive reprint of William Cotton’s 1827 treatise on Cornwall stones was issued by Ian McNeil Cooke, whose Men-an-Tol Studio is near the stone formation of the same name. Cooke has taken great care to preserve and present an “as new” copy of Cotton’s rare and enthusiastic original work.

Cotton spends the first two of this publication’s three brief initial chapters recounting theories of the origins of the earliest Britons and of the druidic priesthood that oversaw matters of spiritual and judicial importance. In the third chapter he posits the inspiration and purpose of some of the stone formations found in Britain. Cotton maintains that the structures are temples and sacrificial sites similar to those found in early Biblical passages, thus his theory that the idea of stone circles with central altars was imported from the Middle East.

Most of the remaining 40 pages of Cotton’s book are a gazetteer of eleven circles, “cromlehs” (commonly known as cromlechs or dolmens, these are standing stones with another stone resting atop of them, most likely used as burial chambers), and other formations to be found in Cornwall, complete with accurate engravings that the book’s modern publisher has reproduced beautifully. The publication ends with an essay about some Land’s End barrows excavated in 1826.

This book is printed A4 size, or 11.75 x 8.5 inches, and has 76 pages. It weighs 10 oz. To order, contact Cooke directly at:

Men-an-Tol Studio
Bosullow
Newbridge
Penzance
Cornwall
TR20 8NR
England

Visit the Men-an-Tol Studio website to learn about other publications on offer.

The Modern Antiquarian—A Pre-Millenial Odyssey Through Megalithic Britain: What can a Neolithic neophyte say about The Modern Antiquarian that hasn't already been said? Edited by psychedelic historian and rocker Julian Cope, this hefty, gorgeously produced volume is an essential companion on any trip to see the stones.

Julian takes a wide-eyed view of Britain's pre-Roman history, devoting the first 150 pages of the 438-page volume to his Goddess-worship theories and hypothesizing their effects on the islands' culture and language. At times his etymological riffs are a bit far-fetched, but open-minded readers will enjoy the expansive effect on their imaginations.

The rest of the book is a gazetteer of more than 300 prehistoric sites conveniently arranged by region. Maps, color photographs, history, and Julian's own first-person commentary are beautifully presented for each site.

The highly interactive website Head Heritage provides an online complement to the book and contains recent news items, monthly essays, a forum, photo albums, and web logs.

Admittedly, Jeff and I had a copy of the Modern Antiquarian well before we began our journey, and we always kept it within reach during our travels throughout mystical England in 2004, using it until the binding came apart. We found all we were looking for and more using just it, along with the occasional OS map for particularly well-hidden sites.

The Modern Antiquarian is printed roughly A4 size at 11.25 x 7.8 inches. It weighs just over 4 lbs., but gets lighter with each site you visit.

To obtain a copy, order via the Head Heritage website, ask for it by name at your local bookstore, or send $57.31 (plus shipping) to:

Thorsons
77–85 Fulham Palace Road
Hammersmith, London W6 8JB
England

Northern Earth No.97 - Click to view larger image.

Northern Earth No.97: This terrific 32-page pamphlet offers a mother lode of earth mysteries–related news items from around Britain (this issue didn’t mention anything from Ireland, but past numbers have). The enthusiastic—and sometimes humorous—items are mainly in briefs form, but some well-written long articles (including one 19th century reprint) are included.

If the editors of Northern Earth have kept to their quarterly schedule, then the 100th issue of this fine pamphlet should be available now. Quite an achievement, that.

Northern Earth is printed A5 size, or 8.75 x 5.5 inches. This issue has 32 pages and weighs less than 2 oz. Order yours from:

Northern Earth
10 Jubilee Street
Mytholmroyd
Hebden Bridge
West Yorkshire
HX7 5NP
England

More information (and a complete index of articles) can be found at the Northern Earth website.

The Secrets of the Avebury Stones—Britain’s Greatest Megalithic Temple: Mystical antiquarian Terence Meaden explores the history of England’s largest neolithic site. While Meaden incorporates the usual information about the changing face of Avebury over centuries of reverence and desecration, what he’s truly interested in are Avebury’s changing faces.

Meaden’s theory states that most of the stones in Avebury’s central ring—and many in the outlying structures—are carved (by natural or limited manual means) to show sombre visages at different times during the year. Explorations of the stones’ use in fertility rites are also included. All this is backed up with a wealth of black-and-white and color photographs in this highly recommended book.

The Secrets of Avebury measures 10 x 7.25 inches and weighs 14.7 ounces. For ordering information, please contact:

Frog, Ltd
c/o North Atlantic Books
P.O. Box 12327
Berkeley, Calif. 94712

The Temple No.1 - Click to view larger image.

The Temple No.1: Here we have something even more intriguing than a crop circle pamphlet—a Templar pamphlet! This gem was found in a bookshop in Glastonbury, home of Temple editors Oddvar Olsen and Yuri Leitch. (Leitch left The Temple after the second issue to pursue other projects, including his stunning visual art.)

This inaugural issue features a brief history of the Knights Templar, followed by essays on topics related to the Knights, namely the Holy Grail, Avalon, and “Lady Wisdom” (referring to the feminine side of the godhead).

The Temple is printed A5 size, or 8.25 x 5.5 inches. Several issues have been published since the original printing of No.1 in August 2002.

In October 2005, Temple editor Oddvar Olsen informed Wonderella of the series’ new website. He also mentioned that a compilation of the first six issues of The Temple is in the works and that mail for the series should come to the new address listed here:

The Temple
25 Welsh Court
Charter Way
Wells
Somerset
BA5 2GD
United Kingdom


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