Bloody 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.
This Halloween I’m giving a series of talks on spooky subjects at various places in Scotland. Zombies, poltergeists, vampires, witchcraft – there’s something for everyone.
1. SUBJECT: SUPERNATURAL SCOTLAND
WHEN: Tuesday 28th October, 7pm
WHERE: ABERFELDY – Breadalbane Campus, Aberfeldy, Perth & Kinross PH15 2DU
DETAILS: A medieval monk describes an outbreak of zombies in the Scottish Borders. A poltergeist case in
Edinburgh ends up in court. The Maggie Wall Witchcraft Monument in Perthshire is a complex fake. A ghost
sighting in Dundee provokes a mini-riot. And hundreds of Glasgow schoolchildren invade a graveyard hunting a
vampire with iron teeth. Based on meticulous original research, prolific author (and highly entertaining speaker) in
this Halloween special Geoff Holder reveals some of the historical and modern mysteries of the Scottish
paranormal experience. Welcome to Supernatural Scotland. It’s stranger than you can imagine.
2. SUBJECT: ZOMBIES FROM HISTORY
WHEN: Thursday 30th October, 7.30pm
WHERE: EDINBURGH – Skeptics in the Pub, Banshee Labyrinth, 29-35 Niddry Street, EH1 1LG (just off the Royal Mile).
DETAILS: It’s the night of the living dead… Zombie culture didn’t start with George Romero. Here be medieval
chroniclers’ sworn-to-be-true tales of the plague-spreading undead, including the pugilistic zombie of Paisley and
the zombie monk of the Scottish Borders; archeological evidence from graveyards of Anglo-Saxon and Romano-
British fear of the walking dead; several ‘Ladies with the Ring’, all supposedly revived in the grave by jewel-stealing gravediggers; the men who were hanged and buried – and then revived; the Cumbrian Crusader whose corpse
was still bleeding 800 years after his death; and the ancient bog body that accidentally solved a modern murder
Warning: contains corpses.
MORE INFO: here
3. SUBJECT: SEX, LIES AND POLTERGEISTS! at the FIRST EVER SCOTTISH PARANORMAL FESTIVAL
WHEN: FRIDAY 31ST OCTOBER, 3.30PM
WHERE: Albert Halls, Albert Place, Dumbarton Road, Stirling FK9 4LA
DETAILS: Activity which has baffled paranormal investigators for centuries. Focusing on Scotland, Geoff will
discuss the earliest recorded Scottish poltergeist, a witchcraft episode from Stirling, and an Aberdeenshire
example kickstarted by young lust.
A canvas of commonsense-defying mysteries that stretches from the year 1635 to the present day.
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.
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
And so: there shall be blood.