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London Fortean Society presents:

The Haunted Landscape: Witches, Magic and Monsters

Saturday 20th November @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm
Saturday 20th November @ 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

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** This event will be held with an in-person audience at Conway Hall *AND* online, via YouTube Live. Everyone wishing to join this event must register for a ticket in advance, using the “Book Now” link **

The Haunted Landscape awaits you. Join the London Fortean Society and friends for a day of British folklore, cursed paths and dark folklore, giants, basilisks, witches and much more.

Confirmed so far:

Dr Alixe Bovey – Albion’s giants: Gogmagog, Brutus and the conquest of Britain

Geoffrey of Monmouth’s History of the Kings of Britain, completed in the 1130s, opens c. 1200 BC with the tale of the conquest of Britain by a band of Trojan refugees. Led by Brutus, the great-grandson of Aeneas, the Trojans made their way to an uninhabited island known as Albion, but on arrival they discovered that it’s overrun by ferocious giants. Renaming the island Britain after Brutus, they exterminated the giants, and then founded London as the new Troy. Although Geoffrey’s story kills off the giants in just a few lines, they have persisted in the myth and material culture of Britain. This talk explores the remarkable variety of giants in the visual arts – in manuscripts and books, carved into landscapes and as pageant figures – asking how and why they have survived so long and what they reveal about the monstrous origins of the British nation.

Dr Alixe Bovey is a specialist in medieval art history based at the Courtauld Institute of Art, where she is Head of Research

Mark Norman – Dark Folklore

How did our ancestors use the concept of demons to explain sleep paralysis? Is that carving in the porch of your local church really what you think it is? And what’s that tapping noise on the roof of your car..? The fields of folklore have never been more popular – a recent resurgence of interest in traditional beliefs and customs, coupled with morbid curiosities in folk horror, historic witchcraft cases and our superstitious past, have led to an intersection of ideas that is driving people to seek out more information.

A new book from Tracey Norman (author of the acclaimed play WITCH) and Mark Norman (creator of The Folklore Podcast) leads you on an exploration of those less salubrious facets of our past, highlighting those aspects of our cultural beliefs and social history that are less ‘wicker basket’ and more ‘Wicker Man’. This talk examines some of the themes of the book, which will be available to buy on the day.

Tim Flight – Basilisks and Beowulf: Monsters in the Anglo-Saxon World

Drawing on literature and art, theology and a wealth of first-hand evidence, Tim Flight reveals a people huddled at the edge of the known map, using the fantastic and the grotesque as a way of comprehending the world around them.

For the Anglo-Saxons, monsters helped to distinguish the sacred and the profane; they carried God’s message to mankind, exposing His divine hand in creation itself. At the same time, monsters were agents of disorder, seeking to kill people, conquer their lands and challenge what it meant to be human even. Learning about where monsters lived and how they behaved allowed the Anglo-Saxons to understand their place in the world, as well as to apprehend something of the divine plan. It is for these reasons that monsters were at the very centre of the Anglo-Saxon worldview.

Tim Flight obtained a doctorate in Anglo-Saxon Literature from Magdalen College, Oxford, in 2016. Since then, he has been writing full time, and has contributed articles to History Today and BBC History Magazine, among many other publications, His book Basilisks and Beowulf: Monsters in the Anglo-Saxon World will be available on the day.

Jeremy Harte – A Stake in the Landscape: Crossroads Burial in History and Legend

Details to follow.

Syd Moore – Sarah Moore: The Witch of Leigh-on-Sea

Sarah Moore was the subject of a Leigh legend – an evil sea-witch who raised the Great Storm of the Estuary, caused havoc about the town and sank a plethora of boats.  When novelist Syd Moore (possibly no relation) probed further she learned the true story of Sarah Moore.

Syd Moore is the author of the Essex Witch Museum Mysteries (Strange Magic, Strange Sight, Strange Fascination) featuring Rosie Strange, and two previous mystery books, The Drowning Pool and Witch Hunt.


Further speakers/subjects to be announced soon.


** For those joining us online, we will be using YouTube Live. A link to view the event will be sent to ticketholders before the event. **


London Fortean Society

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