Tag Archives: Cannibals

In which the Author publishes his 31st book, ‘Bloody British History’…

Bloody History of Britain coverBloody British History, my 31st book, has just been published. It’s a sanguinary canter through some of the

more gruesome aspects of British history, with an eye to not merely the murderous and macabre, but also to

the strange and, at times, surreal. Delve within the illustrated pages and you will learn of prehistoric cannibals using skulls as drinking cups, discover how to boil a poisoner to death, understand the technique of chemical warfare during medieval sea battles, and learn more about the use of cheese as an instrument of torture than you ever wanted to know.

With a full cast including Ancient Britons, Romans, Barbarians, Anglo-Saxons, Vikings, Normans, Pirates,

Jacobites and invading Frenchmen, Bloody British History relates some of the most famous episodes in the

history of the British Isles from unfamiliar perspectives. The sight of the largest ship in the Spanish Armada

keeling over with blood pouring from its scuppers. The giant Viking at Stamford Bridge finally defeated by a

spear thrust to the testicles from below the bridge he was defending. William the Conqueror turning the North of England into an uninhabited wasteland. The Scots inventing the concentration camp. Roman SEALs

conducting amphibious warfare. Witchcraft in Westminster politics. Not the six wives, but the Six Executions of Henry VIII. And how not to assassinate Queen Victoria.

Featuring walk-on parts from all manner of unpleasant characters from Richard the Lionheart and Bloody

Mary to Jack the Ripper and Hitler’s Gestapo, Bloody British History does what it says on the can.

There will, indeed, be blood.

The book is published by The History Press and is available through all the usual retail channels, including the country’s hard-pressed but indispensable brick-and-mortar bookshops.

In which the Author proofs his next book: Bloody British History…

Bloody British History is my next non-fiction book for The History Press. It deals exclusively with the sanguinary

moments in British history, from prehistoric cannibals and the reality of  Iron Age warfare to First World War

Zeppelin raids and the Gestapo’s detailed plans for ‘rationalising’ an occupied Britain in 1940.

Along the way you will encounter bloody massacres, revolting peasants, battles at sea and on land, foul murders,

royal executions, piracy in the English Channel, and a multitude of inventive punishments. There are also

explorations of the tactics of Roman Special Forces, how to boil people to death, and a medieval case of sex, lies and witchcraft.

William the Conqueror, Richard the Lionheart, Mary, Queen of Scots and the seven putative assassins of Queen

Victoria all get a look-in as well. Other episodes instruct you how to use medieval chemical weapons to blind your opponents, why the Wars of the Roses were like the longest football match ever, and the use of cheese as an

instrument of torture.

Yes, cheese.

One of the key moments between an author delivering the manuscript and the book actually being published is the revising of the proofs. These are the pages of the book printed out on double-sided A3 pages. The author combs

through the proofs, correcting any typos, formatting errors, incorrect image captions and so on. I’ve just completed this stage, and it’s a pleasure to see my prose matched with full-colour images on every page – not to mention

liberal splashes of graphic designer gore.

Here’s a preview of the cover, which may change a little between now and publication. Bloody British History will

be published in September. Bloody History of Britain cover

And so: there shall be blood.

In which the author guests on the Leith FM radio show The S-Files…

On Wednesday 31st August I’ll be the guest on The S-Files, a community radio show broadcasting out of Leith, Edinburgh, with a remit that runs “from the paranormal to psychics, myth to magic, ghosts and much much more.” Presented by Ewan Irvine, the show runs from 10pm to midnight. If you’re in the Edinburgh area you can listen live on 98.8 FM. Elsewhere, pick the show up live online at http://www.leithfm.co.uk/listen. Expect me to discuss bodysnatching, hauntings, and other Scottish mysteries.

In which, as you do, the author podcasts on medieval cannibal children…

“Sawney Bean, Christie Cleek and other Scottish Cannibals”, the next episode of my “Fortean Freak Out” podcast, is now online here, here.

Based on an episode investigated in Paranormal Dundee, I investigate the relationship between authentic history, legend and hoax in the stories of the Scottish cannibals Sawney Bean and Christie Cleek – and come to the conclusion that a source story may be the little-known tale of a cannibal child allegedly executed in Dundee in the 15th century. It is (cough) a piece of folklore you can really get your teeth into.

In which the author broadcasts on International Paranormal Investigators Radio…


Over the night of Wednesday/Thursday the 29th/30th June I’ll be yabbering away on IPI-Radio, the net-based radio show run by the fine folk at International Paranormal Investigators. More details at www.ipi-radio.info. Things kick off at midnight UK time, which is early evening for the audience in the USA and Canada. I suspect Paranormal Glasgow will be discussed, along with much else relating to the rational analysis of alleged paranormal phenomena.

The live event is fully interactive, with listeners/viewers sending in questions via chat and webcams. So if you want to ask me about vampires with iron teeth, miraculous fasters, the cabinet-maker who channelled Hafod, Prince of Persia (and companion of Jesus), big cats, the Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument or anything else from my casebook, come along to www.ipi-radio.info/ipi-live-video/ for live chat across two continents. Apparently electronical technology is involved, including something the youth of today call ‘the internet’. We’re living in the future, I tell you.

Cannibals! Vampires! Giant Korean Centipedes!

I’ve just returned from the Annual Conference of the Folklore Society, which took place at the University of Worcester.

With ‘Childlore and the Folklore of Childhood’ as its theme, the event turned up a truly diverse and fascinating set of talks. As a result I now know an awful lot more about Lithuanian horror stories, fairy changelings, the Evil Eye, and, yes, giant Korean centipedes. I love my job.

The organisers put my talk on just before lunch, although happily it appears no-one was put off their food by my tales of the cannibal children of old Dundee town.

The entire event was well organised by Mikel Koven and Caroline Oates, the company was agreeable and joyous, and the collective meals splendid and filled with talk of supernatural guardians, djinns, Japanese subcultures, witchcraft and urban legends. Did I say I love my job?

One of the participants, playwork researcher Marc Armitage, has blogged his thoughts on the conference at www.marc-armitage.eu, while Jeremy Harte’s fulsome conference report is on the Folklore Society’s site www.folklore-society.com.