The Lore Of The Land

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0120150907

0120150907

In the first of a five part series examining the enduring relevance of the creatures of British folklore, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington travels to Shropshire to the foot of the mighty Wrekin in search of the most prolific landscape shapers in British folk tales - the giants.

A hill that stands tall above its surroundings, the Wrekin offers panoramic views of eleven counties. Carolyne is joined by local storyteller Amy Douglas who has lived in the shadow of the Wrekin all her life.

Walking up the side of the Wrekin, Amy tells the story of the giant who is said to have formed the hill following an attempt to drown the people of Shrewsbury. When Carolyne reaches the peak she comes across a peculiar rock formation called the Needle's Eye which was said to have been created during a violent struggle between two giants.

As well as shaping the landscape through excessive rage, giants also take on the role of oversized engineers in the folklore of Great Britain. Carolyne reveals that the Anglo Saxons had no tradition of building in stone so the Roman cities fell into disrepair. The Old English poets often remarked on these ruins as the ancient work of giants.

It's not just giants who bring about landscape features, the Devil is said to create standing stones and strange rock formations across the British Isles. In Cornwall, monoliths and stone circles are often associated with King Arthur, who has become a mythical being in our traditional folk tales. Carolyne explains that, in British folklore, these figures become a way of talking about huge processes, about geological time which slowly, but irreversibly leaves its marks on a landscape.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper Production for BBC Radio 4.

0120150907

In the first of a five part series examining the enduring relevance of the creatures of British folklore, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington travels to Shropshire to the foot of the mighty Wrekin in search of the most prolific landscape shapers in British folk tales - the giants.

A hill that stands tall above its surroundings, the Wrekin offers panoramic views of eleven counties. Carolyne is joined by local storyteller Amy Douglas who has lived in the shadow of the Wrekin all her life.

Walking up the side of the Wrekin, Amy tells the story of the giant who is said to have formed the hill following an attempt to drown the people of Shrewsbury. When Carolyne reaches the peak she comes across a peculiar rock formation called the Needle's Eye which was said to have been created during a violent struggle between two giants.

As well as shaping the landscape through excessive rage, giants also take on the role of oversized engineers in the folklore of Great Britain. Carolyne reveals that the Anglo Saxons had no tradition of building in stone so the Roman cities fell into disrepair. The Old English poets often remarked on these ruins as the ancient work of giants.

It's not just giants who bring about landscape features, the Devil is said to create standing stones and strange rock formations across the British Isles. In Cornwall, monoliths and stone circles are often associated with King Arthur, who has become a mythical being in our traditional folk tales. Carolyne explains that, in British folklore, these figures become a way of talking about huge processes, about geological time which slowly, but irreversibly leaves its marks on a landscape.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper Production for BBC Radio 4.

0120150907

In the first of a five part series examining the enduring relevance of the creatures of British folklore, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington travels to Shropshire to the foot of the mighty Wrekin in search of the most prolific landscape shapers in British folk tales - the giants.

A hill that stands tall above its surroundings, the Wrekin offers panoramic views of eleven counties. Carolyne is joined by local storyteller Amy Douglas who has lived in the shadow of the Wrekin all her life.

Walking up the side of the Wrekin, Amy tells the story of the giant who is said to have formed the hill following an attempt to drown the people of Shrewsbury. When Carolyne reaches the peak she comes across a peculiar rock formation called the Needle's Eye which was said to have been created during a violent struggle between two giants.

As well as shaping the landscape through excessive rage, giants also take on the role of oversized engineers in the folklore of Great Britain. Carolyne reveals that the Anglo Saxons had no tradition of building in stone so the Roman cities fell into disrepair. The Old English poets often remarked on these ruins as the ancient work of giants.

It's not just giants who bring about landscape features, the Devil is said to create standing stones and strange rock formations across the British Isles. In Cornwall, monoliths and stone circles are often associated with King Arthur, who has become a mythical being in our traditional folk tales. Carolyne explains that, in British folklore, these figures become a way of talking about huge processes, about geological time which slowly, but irreversibly leaves its marks on a landscape.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper Production for BBC Radio 4.

0220150908

Fresh water is mysterious, springing up in unexpected places and vanishing just as quickly. Fresh water gives life, allows humans to settle and thrive. But it can also be dangerous - life-taking as well as life-giving. As a result, the folkloric creatures and spirits that are said to live within our rivers, streams and ponds are both kindly and threatening.

In the second episode of her five part series exploring the enduring relevance of the creatures of folklore that are traditionally said to have dwelt in the landscape of Great Britain, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington visits Marden in Herefordshire. Walking along the peaceful River Lugg, Carolyne is accompanied by Sophia Kingshill who has a unique area of expertise - mermaids.

Standing by Marden Church, Sophia tells the tale of the Mermaid of Marden who is said to have stolen the church bell and dragged it down to the watery depths of the Lugg. We also hear the tales of mermaids who, when respected, offer pagan healing remedies, but who can be a malevolent force when challenged by the Christian beliefs of those on dry land.

Many folkloric creatures that live in British ponds and rivers appear in cautionary tales designed to keep children away from the water's edge. There's Peg Powler who pulls children to their watery doom and Jenny Greenteeth who lives amongst the weeds.

Carolyne explains that British folklore offers us a gendered imagining of water, feminine, refreshing and nurturing, but there's also horror and danger below the placid surface; the water-hag and her clutching fingers is never too far away.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.

0320150909

0320150909

Dark and foreboding, the dense woodland that once covered so much of Great Britain has always been populated with the creatures of folklore. In the third episode of her five part series exploring the enduring relevance of the folkloric creatures of the British landscape, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington heads into the heart of an ancient forest in Windsor Great Park to seek them out.

Carolyne is joined on her walk by local storyteller and expert on Berkshire folktales, David England. As the pair venture deeper into the forest David tells the tale of Herne the Hunter. Herne is a mysterious figure. Once the king's head huntsman, he is gored to death by a raging stag. Brought back to life by a mysterious sorcerer, but robbed of his skill as a huntsman thanks to the dirty dealings of a horde of jealous hunters, Herne eventually hangs himself from an oak in the Windsor woods. According to local folklore, Herne still rides through Windsor Great Park with a pair of antlers upon his head, accompanied by a hunt made up of all those who wronged him.

This tradition of a 'wild hunt' has roots in earlier folkloric traditions. In the Anglo Saxon world, Woden the storm god leads a host of spectral huntsmen, and in Wales an underworld figure called Gwyn ap Nudd is said to be followed by a hunt that includes a pack of white hounds with red eyes and ears.

Carolyne argues that, while we've lost much of our medieval woodland, the forest still arouses a primeval sense of awe and terror. The woods are where we imagine the terrifying, the alluring and the uncivilised to range freely, inviting us to shed our city identities and return to a more instinctual way of being.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.

0320150909

Dark and foreboding, the dense woodland that once covered so much of Great Britain has always been populated with the creatures of folklore. In the third episode of her five part series exploring the enduring relevance of the folkloric creatures of the British landscape, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington heads into the heart of an ancient forest in Windsor Great Park to seek them out.

Carolyne is joined on her walk by local storyteller and expert on Berkshire folktales, David England. As the pair venture deeper into the forest David tells the tale of Herne the Hunter. Herne is a mysterious figure. Once the king's head huntsman, he is gored to death by a raging stag. Brought back to life by a mysterious sorcerer, but robbed of his skill as a huntsman thanks to the dirty dealings of a horde of jealous hunters, Herne eventually hangs himself from an oak in the Windsor woods. According to local folklore, Herne still rides through Windsor Great Park with a pair of antlers upon his head, accompanied by a hunt made up of all those who wronged him.

This tradition of a 'wild hunt' has roots in earlier folkloric traditions. In the Anglo Saxon world, Woden the storm god leads a host of spectral huntsmen, and in Wales an underworld figure called Gwyn ap Nudd is said to be followed by a hunt that includes a pack of white hounds with red eyes and ears.

Carolyne argues that, while we've lost much of our medieval woodland, the forest still arouses a primeval sense of awe and terror. The woods are where we imagine the terrifying, the alluring and the uncivilised to range freely, inviting us to shed our city identities and return to a more instinctual way of being.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.

0320150909

Dark and foreboding, the dense woodland that once covered so much of Great Britain has always been populated with the creatures of folklore. In the third episode of her five part series exploring the enduring relevance of the folkloric creatures of the British landscape, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington heads into the heart of an ancient forest in Windsor Great Park to seek them out.

Carolyne is joined on her walk by local storyteller and expert on Berkshire folktales, David England. As the pair venture deeper into the forest David tells the tale of Herne the Hunter. Herne is a mysterious figure. Once the king's head huntsman, he is gored to death by a raging stag. Brought back to life by a mysterious sorcerer, but robbed of his skill as a huntsman thanks to the dirty dealings of a horde of jealous hunters, Herne eventually hangs himself from an oak in the Windsor woods. According to local folklore, Herne still rides through Windsor Great Park with a pair of antlers upon his head, accompanied by a hunt made up of all those who wronged him.

This tradition of a 'wild hunt' has roots in earlier folkloric traditions. In the Anglo Saxon world, Woden the storm god leads a host of spectral huntsmen, and in Wales an underworld figure called Gwyn ap Nudd is said to be followed by a hunt that includes a pack of white hounds with red eyes and ears.

Carolyne argues that, while we've lost much of our medieval woodland, the forest still arouses a primeval sense of awe and terror. The woods are where we imagine the terrifying, the alluring and the uncivilised to range freely, inviting us to shed our city identities and return to a more instinctual way of being.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.

0420150910

0420150910

The fourth episode of medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington's series exploring the enduring relevance of the creatures of British folklore. On the Orkney isles, local storyteller Lynn Barbour is on hand to recount folktales filled with the mysterious beings that are said to live in the sea and on the shore.

Gazing out to sea, Carolyne spies a seal in the bay. Lynn explains that grey seals, known locally as selkies, play an important role in Orkney folklore. It is said that selkies shed their skins and come on land in human form. The selkies are known to have relationships with humans, but these often end badly.

Lynn tells the tale of the Selkie of Wastness in which a man steals a selkie maiden's skin and persuades her to become his wife. We also hear the story of the Selkie of Sule Skerry which features a lonely wife forming a relationship with a selkie man in her husband's absence. The couple have a selkie child, but when the husband returns he kills both the child and the selkie man while hunting.

And there are tales of the Sea Trow, with their faces like monkeys made of jellyfish and the Muckle Mester Stoorworm, a great serpent that once spat out its teeth which formed the Orkney isles. With the sea lapping in the background, Lynn describes the Finn-men who live in a watery city down in the depths of the sea and beckon sailors to join them.

Carolyne explains that these local tales examine the boundary between sea and shore. In Orkney, there are possibilities to cross that boundary close at hand, but the stories warn that you do so at your peril.

Transformation, tragedy, desire and despair mark these tales of sea and shore.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.

0420150910

The fourth episode of medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington's series exploring the enduring relevance of the creatures of British folklore. On the Orkney isles, local storyteller Lynn Barbour is on hand to recount folktales filled with the mysterious beings that are said to live in the sea and on the shore.

Gazing out to sea, Carolyne spies a seal in the bay. Lynn explains that grey seals, known locally as selkies, play an important role in Orkney folklore. It is said that selkies shed their skins and come on land in human form. The selkies are known to have relationships with humans, but these often end badly.

Lynn tells the tale of the Selkie of Wastness in which a man steals a selkie maiden's skin and persuades her to become his wife. We also hear the story of the Selkie of Sule Skerry which features a lonely wife forming a relationship with a selkie man in her husband's absence. The couple have a selkie child, but when the husband returns he kills both the child and the selkie man while hunting.

And there are tales of the Sea Trow, with their faces like monkeys made of jellyfish and the Muckle Mester Stoorworm, a great serpent that once spat out its teeth which formed the Orkney isles. With the sea lapping in the background, Lynn describes the Finn-men who live in a watery city down in the depths of the sea and beckon sailors to join them.

Carolyne explains that these local tales examine the boundary between sea and shore. In Orkney, there are possibilities to cross that boundary close at hand, but the stories warn that you do so at your peril.

Transformation, tragedy, desire and despair mark these tales of sea and shore.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.

0520150911

0520150911

In the final episode of her five part series exploring the enduring relevance of the creatures of Great British folklore, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington travels to Hart Hall in Glaisdale, North Yorkshire.

Strolling down towards Hart Hall and its surrounding dairy farm, Carolyne is joined by local storyteller Rose Rylands. Rose explains that Hart Hall features in a local folktale which involves a peculiar creature known as a hob. Hobs are small dwarf like beings, covered in shaggy hair. They're said to have large feet and superhuman strength. According to local folklore, hobs take up residence on certain farms and stay for generations, working in secret to provide assistance to the farmer.

Standing in a barn, surrounded by calves, Rose tells the tale of the hob of Hart Hall who saved a bumper harvest from being ruined by the rain. The farm hands reward the hob with a hemp shirt and a leather belt for his efforts, however this causes grave offence and the hob storms off never to be seen again. Carolyne reveals that, by giving him a gift, the farm hands had inadvertently treated the hob like an employee who gets paid in kind, rather than a spirit who gives his labour for free.

Carolyne and Rose head to Runswick Bay where they creep inside a cave known as the Hob Hole which is said to be the residence of a hob with medicinal powers. For years locals would bring their children to the cave in the hope that the hob would cure them of whooping cough.

Back at Hart Hall we hear tales of other farm spirits such as the Hogboon and the mischievous boggart. Carolyne explains that labour relations and our treatment of people in the workplace are central to these tales.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.

0520150911

In the final episode of her five part series exploring the enduring relevance of the creatures of Great British folklore, medieval literature scholar Dr Carolyne Larrington travels to Hart Hall in Glaisdale, North Yorkshire.

Strolling down towards Hart Hall and its surrounding dairy farm, Carolyne is joined by local storyteller Rose Rylands. Rose explains that Hart Hall features in a local folktale which involves a peculiar creature known as a hob. Hobs are small dwarf like beings, covered in shaggy hair. They're said to have large feet and superhuman strength. According to local folklore, hobs take up residence on certain farms and stay for generations, working in secret to provide assistance to the farmer.

Standing in a barn, surrounded by calves, Rose tells the tale of the hob of Hart Hall who saved a bumper harvest from being ruined by the rain. The farm hands reward the hob with a hemp shirt and a leather belt for his efforts, however this causes grave offence and the hob storms off never to be seen again. Carolyne reveals that, by giving him a gift, the farm hands had inadvertently treated the hob like an employee who gets paid in kind, rather than a spirit who gives his labour for free.

Carolyne and Rose head to Runswick Bay where they creep inside a cave known as the Hob Hole which is said to be the residence of a hob with medicinal powers. For years locals would bring their children to the cave in the hope that the hob would cure them of whooping cough.

Back at Hart Hall we hear tales of other farm spirits such as the Hogboon and the mischievous boggart. Carolyne explains that labour relations and our treatment of people in the workplace are central to these tales.

Producer: Max O'Brien

A Juniper production for BBC Radio 4.