Interview with Stephen Rutt

Stephen Rutt is a writer and amateur naturalist, specialising in creative non-fiction prose and birds. He won the Saltire Society’s first book award, as well as a Roger Deakin award for his debut book, The Seafarers. His second book, Winteringwas one of The Times’s best nature books of the year for 2019. 

Stephen Rutt

Stephen’s most recent book is The Eternal Season: Ghosts of summers past, present and future, which has been described as combining ‘lyrical meditations on the abundant beauty of British summer with measured, poignant and vital reminders of the unsettling effects of global warming’. The book charts the many ways in which the season is becoming deranged by a changed and changing climate: the wrong birds singing at the wrong time; August days as cold as February; the creeping disturbances that we may not notice while nature still has some voice. It is both ‘a celebration of summer and a warning of the unravelling of this beautiful web of abundant life’. 

Folk Horror Revival has a strong affinity for the natural world and is a committed supporter of the Wildlife Trusts. In light of this and noting the distinct whisper of hauntology associated with The Eternal Season, John Pilgrim took the opportunity to ask Stephen a few questions about his writing and what inspires him.

The Eternal Season ~ Stephen Rutt

FHR: What were you hoping to achieve when you started to write The Eternal Season – and how did this turn out by the time of publication? 

SR: I wanted to write a sort of almanac. I have a bit of an obsession with old almanacs, I scour charity shops and second hand bookshops for them, most from authors I’ve never heard of. Observations of historic wildlife are fascinating to me, partly for how they’re framed but also for what they found: they seem like a great starting point for trying to work out where we’re at currently. Often the most banal passages illustrate how far things have changed. And then as the ideas for this sort-of almanac of summer were settling in my head in the autumn of 2019, I was reminded by the incredible exuberance of hawthorn berries that year that to take a selective timespan of nature is or can be misleading. There are no neat cuts to be made: it really can only be contemplated properly in the whole. This isn’t new, this was my re-realising the truth of John Muir’s seeing nature as a universe of hitches. And then I wanted to explore, taking those old almanacs as a starting point, the way that seasonal writing hasn’t really properly responded to the anthropocene. 

Almanacs present a vision of nature as a place of ordered happenings, a fixed schedule of emergences and migrations, which may well once have been true, but nowadays isn’t. Hence I had to begin on the Solway Firth, as storm tides threatened natterjack toad habitat, then in Liverpool where a blackcap – a common summer migrant warbler – had been spending the winter in my friend’s mahonia. This in particular is an increasing phenomenon that has actually led to blackcaps that winter here beginning to evolve differences from those that spend the winter in the Mediterranean. That destabilising was something I had planned to trace out… all the way until March, when lockdown hit, I was marooned in Bedfordshire instead of Dumfries and Galloway, and my planned research trips lay in tatters. The book benefitted from it though. It meant the rare stuff was out and I was refocused on the everyday, the common place and what was at hand in the fields and woods around, which were nothing special. I still found special things of course – and to return to those old almanacs, what they found and what I couldn’t, well that began to haunt me. By the end of the summer, when I was able to return to Scotland, I found that this had completely shaped my thinking.

As I turned to think about the role of climate change in all this more directly (it is woven everywhere of course) at the end of the book, I began to be a bit more hopeful. All I have as a naturalist is my observations. I am not alone. There are myriad naturalists observing, calculating, noticing the changes, expanding our knowledge of nature and what’s changing. That, I think, is where hope lies most of all. The absolute dedication and belief of conservationists thrills and inspires me.

FHR: The Eternal Summer can be seen as a hauntological meditation on summers past, present and future. Our memories of summers past shaping our sense of loss of summers yet to be. Different conceptions of the future are now playing out. Some are dark, yet others offer hope. As the American philosopher and baseball coach Yogi Berra has observed with great insight ‘the future ain’t what it used to be’. A sense of nature’s abundance slipping away is probably much more part of a younger generation’s experience and future anticipation – although of course The Silent Spring was published in 1962. How did writing the book help you to grapple with these sorts of issues?

SR: Nature is full of hauntings and full of the haunted too. Some of these on a basic, emotional level, some requiring a bit of knowledge. I’m still of a younger generation and I’ve grown up with the idea of loss in nature. Birding has been my obsession for half my life and in that time it seems like the narrative arc of it has headed inevitably (irretrievably?) towards loss. Not just loss as in absence but a loss of abundance. I don’t know if I agree that there’s a sense of abundance slipping away, because to me it slipped away before my time. For some of the haunting presences in the countryside, I need to educate and remind myself of it, like a snag that I can’t quite move beyond: it may be pretty but where are the turtle doves, and when did they disappear from here? 

I should say also that there is obviously still abundance in the countryside, and these are things worth celebrating. Often though these tend to be new species, spreading in response to a changing climate, conservation work or habitat creation. Which is great, but I worry it can hide what’s happening. It’s only normal to be distracted by something new. It’s easier to focus on presence than absence, even if absence has a way of being naggingly, insistently present. I was left with hope, though, on finishing the book, which surprised me. There’s an incredible seam of hope that runs through conservation to Greta Thunberg and the school strikers for future, people like me who grew up never needing to learn about climate change because it’s just always been there as the great impending threat. 

We have people doing inspiring things on every level, from the borderless world of the climate to looking after incredibly tiny, niche species. For us in-between, noticing and witnessing the species we find, the landscapes we see, the changes happening and how we talk about it: that’s a pretty good place for us to start. That’s what I wanted to say in the book. I offer no solutions and no answers, just an attempt at thinking and understanding.

FHR: Can you say a bit about your interest in folklore and why you draw on this? If you’d like to do a third and final one that would be ‘What projects have you recently been involved and is there anything in the pipeline which we should watch out for? Answers can be really brief if you wish as you’ve given great detailed answers to the first two questions.

SR: Folklore is fascinating. One of my guiding principles is that as birders, ecologists, naturalists, whatever, that we like biodiversity. I like a cultural biodiversity too. It’s never just the science, or the folklore, or my experience of nature in my narratives. Everyone’s experience of nature is valid and folklore is another expression of that. Where it interacts with science or experience: that’s gold. Also, when I was a teenage birder it wasn’t something I spoke about (except for online, forums and social medium were a godsend then). It was very easy to feel alone in my interest at that age. I’m always looking back, wanting to know the deep history of human interest in wildlife too, deeper than Gilbert White and organised birding. We’ve always looked at animals and thought things. I love that. I long to know what the Pictish thought about birds. 

FHR: What other nature writers do you admire?

SR:  Kathleen Jamie is the contemporary I most look up to. Her essays are something else: clear and thoughtful and wild and with an unparalleled way with words. I was an undergraduate when she became professor of poetry at Stirling. I was too shy to take her classes. As someone who is only capable at prose, I’m in awe of those who can master it and do poetry and criticism too. Recently I’ve been reading novels again. My literary diet has been nature heavy over the past decade and sometimes there’s just a comfort in being swept along in a plot-rich novel. I’ve been reading Le Carre’s A Perfect Spy and the way he gets the details without being overbearing is perfect. I’ve been reading a lot of Graham Greene too. Olga Tokarczuk’s Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead is the perfect dark nature novel. 

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead ~ Olga Tokarczuk

FHR: What projects have you recently been involved and is there anything in the pipeline which we should watch out for?

SR: Wigtown book festival will be publishing my latest project soon: a short manuscript about life and literature of saltmarsh, called The Saltmarsh Library. I’ve been jointly running walks across Wigtown Bay, out to the mud and creek dipping with Elizabeth Tindal for this year’s festival. It’s the most amazing, magic place. Because of the timing of the project, conceived in the first lockdown and finished in the second (here, it was the third for England), I really delved into what place means and how we interact and think about it, and what it means to be there in a habitat that is well described in ecology textbooks, yet is also nothing like that in real life. After that: just ideas, and no time to make anything of them yet. But always keep an eye on my social media.

Programme for 2019 Wigtown Book Festival

Twitter: @steverutt  Instagram:  



FHR Winter Ghosts 2021 running times

Just a few days until Winter Ghosts 2021 event: FHR’S got Wyrms this weekend on Saturday 27th of November in the Met Ballroom, Whitby

Tickets are still available for £13.00 and can be bought from

Here is a rough running order for the day:

13:00 – 13:30 Sarah Caldwell Steel ‘Bewitched: A jewellery addicts guide to enchantment’

13:35 – 14:15 Doc Rowe ‘Be there Dragons, Dying or Devine Gods in our Sacred Groves…?’

14:20 – 14:50 Shrouded Republic Performance piece on ‘The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies’

14:55 – 15:55 Richard Freeman ‘Dragons: More than a myth?’

16:00 -17:00 Hazelsong Theatre ‘Wyrms and Dragons of the Northlands’

17:00 – 19:00 Break for food and sound checks

19:00 Chris Lambert of Soulless Party ‘March of the Meadow Hags’

19:45 – 20:30 Everyday Dust

20:45 – 21:30 Nathalie Stern & The Noize Choir

21:45 Attrition

More info on all the acts can be found here:

In addition to this, on Sunday from 13:00-16:45 at Flowergate Hall is Winter Ghosts 2021: We have Wyrms Ghost Stories, a collection of original and published Ghost Stories being read all for the price of piece of cake!

Also the art exhibition at Flowergate Hall will be running until the 28th of November. More information about the art exhibition can be found in the following article:

We hope you can make it!

Whitby: Winter Ghosts

Wandering the weird in the North Country, Borders & Pennines

Whitby: North Yorkshire

On the 27th and 28th November 2021 Folk Horror Revival will again host a Winter Ghosts event at the Metropole Ballroom in the haunting coastal town of Whitby (Tickets available HERE)
In addition to the beguiling talks and bewitching music that will delight your senses, Whitby too is both a beautiful and strange place to visit especially in winter when the streets are not mobbed with people … well not live ones anyway.

Join me now whilst I reminisce on just one haunting eve I spent at Whitby and tell a winter’s tale of some of the North Sea town’s haunted history.

Following the proceedings of the first Winter’s Ghost event several years ago, I stayed over for an extra night in The Stoker Room of the weird and wonderful La Rosa hotel, a place (and room) I had previously spent a great Yule break with…

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Folk Horror Revival Presents Winter Ghosts 2021.

Saturday line up.

Solitaire International | Solitaire & Jewellery Magazine- GJEPC India

Sarah Caldwell Steele – Proprietor of The Ebor Jetworks, Gemologist, Jewellery Designer and expert in all things Jet from its chemistry, through its history to its folklore

The Doc Rowe interview: "I've gone to places and missed the ceremony by 19  years because they only do it every 20 years and I'd got the date wrong" -  Jon Wilks

Dr Rowe – Folk lore expert. Dr ‘Doc’ Rowe has been documenting British Cultural tradition for nearly sixty years using video, film and photography as well as audio. His unique collection of contemporary and historical material on the traditional culture of the British Isles and Ireland is now housed in Whitby. The strength of the collection lies in its ongoing ‘serial’ fieldwork and regular contact with communities where individual events flourish – hence the material is at once wide-ranging, first hand and constantly updated. A long-term council member of the Folklore Society and Oral History Society, he regularly broadcasts on aspects of folklore and tradition he has also written a number of books and his photographs are regularly published. A teacher, photographer, broadcaster and performer, one major inspiration stems from working with Charles Parker in Radio documentary from the early sixties and in later theatre productions. . As well as a number of one-man exhibitions, he joined artists Alan Kane and Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller in a British Council travelling exhibition ‘Folk Archive: Contemporary Popular Art from the UK’ [2005 and still touring internationally]; he contributed to ‘British Folk Art’ [Tate Britain, 2014] and, more recently, ‘Lore – the Living Archive’ is an Arts Council funded travelling exhibition that curated material from the archive alongside contemporary artists who drew creative inspiration from the archive itself.

Shrouded Republic – A performance piece inspired by Rev. Robert Kirk of Aberfoyle author of “The Secret Commonwealth: A Study in Folklore and Psychical Research.” Project Lono is a collaborative collective of musicians and poets experimenting with audio scapes that blend verse, storytelling, song, music and live and recorded sound effects. The Shrouded Republic has been created by Bob Beagrie, Sara Dennis, Kev Howard, Peter Lagan, John Dunleavy and SJ Forth.

THE DRAGONS OF ALBION by Richard Freeman - The Archaeology and Metal  Detecting Magazine

Richard Freeman – Herpetologist, Cryptozoologist and leading expert all things Dragon.

Richard Freeman is a former zookeeper who has worked with over 400 species of animal and has a special interest in crocodiles. He is a full-time cryptozoologist and is the Zoological Director of The Centre for Fortean Zoology, the world’s only professional organization dedicated to searching for unknown species. He has searched for cryptids n five continents and has investigated creatures such as the yeti, the Tasmanian wolf, the orang-pendek, the giant anaconda, the Mongolian deathworm the almasty, the ninki-nanka, the gul and many others. He is currently planing a series of trips in search of giant,man-eating crocodiles. He has lectured widely on cryptozoology at venues such as The Natural History Museum and the Grant Museum of Zoology. He has written a number of books on cryptozoology and folklore as well as horror fiction. His interest in strange creatures stems from a love of classic Doctor Who.

Adventures in Cryptozoology

Hazelsong Theatre – Talk on John McKinnell with attendant, vaguely tame Wyrm or two. Tales of Wyrms and Dragons have woven their way through the folklore of the North of England and of the borders for generations. Drawing upon a multitude of sources Andy Bates and Linda Richardson will explore these stories and their origins and will track them to their roots in Norse, Anglo Saxon and Celtic literature and iconography Andy and Linda will be accompanied in their presentation by an imposing and unpredictable Wyrm of significant sinuousness.Andy Bates is an archaeologist, a craftsman, a musician, a puppet maker, a writer and performer. He has walked the hills of Northumberland, its fields and its river valleys for decades. He has listened to the voices of wind and water telling their stories and those of folk long gone and those still vital. He has delved into its earth and has witnessed its cradling of the bones of the ancestors. He dug at the Bowl Hole. For Andy and for the troupe, rock cut spirals and waterfalls are songs waiting to be sung.

Chris Lambert of The Soulless Party.
A solo piece from the wordsmith and wanderer of The Black Meadow. A mystical place that lies within the wilds of Yorkshire. Author of the Wyrd Kalendar, Chris will fright and delight with his dramatic and immersive storytelling.
Chris is part of the soundscape collective The Soulless Party which also features Kev Oyston.

Stream Everyday Dust music | Listen to songs, albums, playlists for free on  SoundCloud

Everyday Dust. Electronic musician using synthesizers and mosstronics to soundtrack strange stories.

Music | Nathalie Stern

Nathalie Stern. Of Swedish origin but now living in Newcastle, Nathalie served her apprenticeship in guitar-based bands such as Candysuck and Lake Me, before looking to traditional Swedish folk roots and more experimental sounds for her debut solo album ‘Firetales’ in 2010.


ATTRITION are pioneers in a darker electronica…Carving out a unique slice of the creative underground for over two decades, fueled by a succession of critically acclaimed albums…selling over 50,000 to date…the band has toured all Europe and North America, Mexico and Asia, appeared at major festivals and had their music included on a number of film soundtracks….
Formed in 1980 by Martin Bowes and Julia Waller in Coventry, England, influenced by a mix of punk ideology and experimental art aesthetics, they emerged as part of the early ’80’s UK Industrial scene alongside contemporaries Test Department, Coil, Legendary Pink dots, In The Nursery, Portion Control et al.
Their music is an undefinable marriage of dark and light…of futures and pasts…probing unexplored sonic landscapes with an eclectic marriage of experimental and traditional sound, of electronics and acoustics, of male and female….

Art Exhibition at Flowergate Hall from 30 Oct, please note that all pieces exhibited will be for sale. More information about the art exhibition can be found in the following article.

Sunday – Ghost story readings at Flowergate Hall.

Tickets are £13.00 and can be bought from

In search of Wyrms and other Beasties Art Exhibition.

May be an image of 1 person and text that says "Folk Horror Revival presents W yrms and other beasties exhibition )n))"

This event is the opening night and meet and greet of the artists of Wyrms and Other Beasties Art Exhibiton of FHR Winter Ghosts 2021 Symposium. The date is SATURDAY, 30 OCTOBER 2021 FROM 19:00-23:45. It is being held at Flowergate Hall, Whitby, United Kingdom. The exhibition runs up until November 28th.

In search of Wyrms and other Beasties! This the opening night and meet and greet the artists of the selling art exhibition associated with our FHR Winter Ghosts 2021 Symposium We Have Wyrms! There also maybe the odd admin lurking about too!We would love to see you.

May be a black-and-white image of one or more people and outdoors
Our very own Cobweb.

Please may I introduce Cobweb Mehers, artist and FHR admin. Cobweb lives in a little house at the edge of the world with his wife Kt and their cats Tiamat and Baal. He claims to have been sculpting and painting for as long as he can remember, but it’s been longer than that. For many years he concentrated on creating artifacts based around mythical and historical themes for @eolithdesigns. His sculptures inspired by prehistoric art were sold in conjunction with the British Museum’s Ice Age art exhibition in 2013 and included a recreation of The Swimming Reindeer especially created for the event. His work has also appeared in the Severin Films horror anthology, The Theatre Bizarre, and he continues to work with Finnish director Lauri Löytökoski. Cobweb’s involvement with the Folk Horror Revival movement over the past few years has taken his more recent work down a different path. He returned to painting and started work on a new collection called Beyond the fields we know, which is inspired by the history, folklore, and landscape of the North Pennines. In 2019 these 13 paintings made up his first solo exhibition. He likes to immerse himself in the strange and beautiful world on his doorstep, spending cold nights and sunny days wandering the North Pennines in the company of fairies, witches, and lost gods. Many of his pieces begin life using the technique of automatic drawing to bypass the rational and form a more instinctive relationship with the landscape. These initial raw responses to the places visited are then expanded upon with a mixture of traditional and digital painting. He hopes to capture and recreate those rare glimpses of the world at the edges of our vision and beyond the fields we know.

May be art of indoor

Next we have our 3D artist, have you seen her Witch Hares? Jane Barnett was taught to embroider by her grandmother, and has been stitching and making art since she was a little girl. Her interest in mythology, magic and folklore led to her taking a degree in anthropology and art, and ever since she has combined all of these interests together. After a career working as an education officer in museums and galleries, Jane became a tattoo studio owner and artist. Ill health unfortunately meant she could not continue on this path, but gave her instead, the time and opportunity to concentrate on her own art practice. Jane has sold her work in galleries in Brittany and Wales (were she formally lived), and internationally, but is now back in her home territory of Yorkshire working under the title of Brigante Textile Arts. Jane hopes that textiles and fibre arts will eventually be recognized as a valid medium for artistic expression. She is also passionate about recycling, and tries to make art from second hand or found materials, including floorboards. For this reason, she can often be found hanging around charity shops, skips, beaches, in woods or abandoned buildings. Her favourite place to be however, is on the moors…..usually accompanied by her partner and dogs. Her favourite things include a good full moon, storms and the smell of wood smoke.

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Next we have for your delectation the scarily talented Laura Jeacock! Laura Jeacock is a trained scientist, but left academia in 2018 to focus her energies on creating art. Her work to date includes devotional paintings of Deity, as well as witchcraft and nature inspired pieces of artwork. She likes to work with pencil, pen and ink, watercolours and acrylics – from illustrative to realistic, and usually incorporates some magical, pagan or spiritual element. Nature is her muse! Her art has been published in academic journals dedicated to Goddess studies, as well as in Nature journal. She has previously exhibited her work at the Season’s of the Witch exhibition, alongside fellow witch artists, in Edinburgh and Alloa. She is one of the founding members of the art collective Oak and Ash and Thorn, who create art from a shared deep feeling for the themes of nature and magic, and are working towards their second online exhibition. She currently lives in Edinburgh, with her partner and menagerie of familiars. When she not creating she can be found out in the wilds of Scotland, practicing yoga, or buried in an esoteric book. You can find her lurking in various corners of the internet – here is a good place to start:

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We now would like to introduce you to the amazing Valerie Herron, who is contributing all the way from the USA!!! Valerie Herron is a Pacific Northwest-based illustrator of the mythological, the macabre, and the absurd. She received her BFA in Illustration at Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, OR. Valerie has created art for numerous publications, including The Steel Clan Saga by T. Thorn Coyle, Night Walk by Aeryn Rudel, as well as two Lovecraft anthologies – The Book of Starry Wisdom and The Book of the Three Gates – by Strix Publishing. Valerie has created art and content for multiple entertainment media enterprises such as RiffTrax, Faerieworlds, Privateer Press, and Pacific NorthWEIRD. Outside of her creative practice she spends her time listening to music and podcasts, being out in nature, playing with her animals, writing, reading, gaming, and exploring a myriad of sorcerous activities. Please go and give her art page some FHR love – The Art of Valerie Herron.

Skulls and Sheets (Kelda Sproston) is a teacher by day and hobby artist at night. She has been entranced by the Welsh festive mumming tradition of the Mari Lwyd. The mari lwyd (grey mare) is a symbol of transition and has a huge impact in her life. Through using inspirations from nature, artwork or patterns the mari lwyd is able to display a message of hope all year now. Kelda creates her pictures using either watercolours or digitally.

(My apologies for missing Kelda in the first submission of this post- Paul.)

Lastly we have Debra Snow. In her own words. I am primarily a landscape oil painter based in Whitby, North Yorkshire, although I also produce drawings in metalpoint, charcoal and pen and ink. My paintings are usually intricate or decorative, are sensitive to mood and light, reflecting my feelings towards what I am painting.​I love nature and ecology and have a keen interest in preserving species and environment, this interest leads me to other areas; the science of the natural world, folklore, poetry and literature. I like the human element in these interests, the stories and knowledge that people share. I do not profess to be any kind of expert in these fields, more that they spark my interest and allow me to imagine stories and feelings surrounding the subject. I like my imagination to go off on its own, without worrying too much about specific details, I want my paintings to go on and tell their own story.

(Again, my apologies for missing Debra in the original post. – Paul.)

KT Mehers.

Treasury of Folklore: Woodlands & Forests: Wild Gods, World Trees and Werewolves by Dee Dee Chainey & Willow Winsham – Book Review

Following in the footsteps of the Treasury of Folklore: Seas & Rivers: Sirens Selkies and Ghost Ships (Reviewed Here ) folklorists extraordinaire Dee Dee Chainey and Willow Winsham (the masterminds behind the #FolkloreThursday social media phenomenon) take us by the hand now like babes in the wood and lead us … er … into the woods! But fear not, you could find no better guides to alert us to the wonders and the woes of this strange sylvan kingdom.

Within its pages, upon the paper that came from the woods itself, we are introduced to many amazing arboreal creatures and woodland wanderers from forests the world over. Some of them heroes and heroines like Vasilisa the Beautiful, a fair maiden who braved the cold Birch forests of old Russia and encountered one of folk horror’s favourite supernatural witches – the iron-toothed crone, Baba Yaga, and Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack of the North American timber lands & his loyal companion the blue-haired moose, Babe. We encounter strange creatures such as the timid Squonk which upon capture would dissolve into nothing in a flood of tears and the human-faced tree dogs of China – the Penghou. We meet gods and demi-gods and elemental spirits of the wild woods – the Leshy, Hamadryads, Herne the Hunter, the Moss People and many many more. We encounter those denizens of dark woods for centuries – the bears and the wolves, yet these bears and wolves may be more than we dreamed and may disturbingly be more like us than we’d dare to imagine.
And we hear the lore of the trees themselves from the Dragon’s Blood Trees of Yemen to the ancient funereal Yews of Britain; from the sacred Banyan trees of India to the giant old Cedars of Canada.

The book is illustrated throughout by the charming block-print style illustrations of Joe McLaren. Images both dark and strange but with a quirky humour to them, which will likely appeal to readers of a wide age-range. Again as with the Seas and Rivers volume, some adult subject matter is touched upon but with parents’ own discretion and judgement I could see this book being popular with both themselves and their kids. I know I would have loved these Treasury books as a youngster. Furthermore I remember years ago when I was doing Tree Warden training at an agricultural college one of the tutors asked the class what it is we liked or indeed loved about trees and forests. I had numerous reasons, their role in the environment and natural habitat, their look both as pleasing landscape and for their interesting aesthetic from the point of an artist, their smell, their ambience and I also mentioned their role in folklore. At the end of the class another student approached me and asked if I could recommend any books that featured the folklore of trees and had Dee Dee and Willow’s book been available then I know it would have been top of the list. It is a great introductory book to the topic, yet it is also so diverse and so widely researched that all followers of folklore no matter how seasoned will find something unfamiliar or of further intrigue within this beguiling little book. I myself was rather bemused to encounter Tió de Nadal, within these pages. If unfamiliar with this bizarre Yule Log of Catalan tradition, then I’ll say no more and let you discover this rather odd custom for yourself within this fantastic book.
Woodlands & Forests makes an excellent companion both visually and content wise to the Seas & Rivers volume and also Dee Dee’s earlier A Treasury of British Folklore.
It would make a great little present for a loved one or for yourself for Halloween or a great stocking filler for Christmas … but maybe not put it in the same stocking as Tió de Nadal !!

Treasury of Folklore: Woodlands & Forests: Wild Gods, World Trees and Werewolves.
Dee Dee Chainey & Willow Winsham
Batsford. 2021. Hb. Illus. 192pgs.

Review by Andy Paciorek

Podcast Spotlight: The Silt Verses.


Those ghosts in the machine really wont leave my computer. It must be warm and inviting in there. On the positive side of things though it means I have had more time to sift through the tidal wave of podcasts to find something unsettling to recommend.

I would take a guess that most of us reading this know of a bizarre podcast called I Am In Eskew. If you havent then stop reading and go give it a listen. It is mental. The Silt Verses is created by the same people, Eskew Productions, who are John Ware and Muna Hussen. The show follows two characters, Carpenter and Faulkner, as they travel the length of a river in search of their deity and his lost followers. It is a world in which god’s are easily manifest and have flourished in the backwaters of America and have become intertwined into the everday life of the population and authority has had to step in to control the worship. The makers describe the show as a Folk Horror audio drama and so far I would not disagree. I am three episodes in and the themes of ritual and sacrifice is interwoven deeply into the fabric of each episode.

Unlike many other audio drama podcasts I have listened to the Silt Verses has episodes that clock in at anywhere between 40 to 60 minutes. The production value is really high quality and the voice acting is the same. Lots of effort has been put into these and it really shows as the episodes begin subtle world building that you will hardly even notice until the scene is over. You then question why you thought sacrificing a stranger on the river bank to appease its deity sounded like normal practice. It is high strangeness in a very familiar and comfortable place.

It has great reviews too, with even the BBC singing its praise, so when you have a moment find them on whatever platform you listen to podcasts on and give them a subscribe. Thanks.

Baal Hill Wood & Wolsingham Holy Well

Wandering the weird in the North Country, Borders & Pennines

Baal Hill Wood. Wolsingham. County Durham.

Despite its evocative name, Baal Hill Wood is not named in tribute to the Levantine god of biblical times, but perhaps refers to the old term ‘bale’ meaning a fire or beacon, or it could refer to a baal pit, an old industrial term which here may relate to the local lead smelting industry. Whether its name is sacred or profane, does not take away from the wood and its surrounding area’s history and atmosphere.

In the 14th Century the wood was the property of the Prince Bishops of Durham, but has passed through several hands since and is now under the care of Durham Wildlife Trust. Within the wood is an ancient Oak tree (400+ years old) known as The Bishop’s Oak.

The wood lies between a complex of expensive housing (in an area locally referred to as Hollywood because of its grandeur…

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Gibbet Hills

Northumbria Ghost~Lore Society ~ a new project from Folk Horror Revival creator Andy Paciorek introduces the new blog with a visit to a very strange place … Gibbet Hills ( which some people may recognise from the cover of the first edition of our Folk Horror Revival: Corpse Roads book)