This Hollow Land

Peter Tolhurst

In this absorbing new work, the first of its kind devoted entirely to the county, Peter Tolhurst has unearthed a rich legacy of beliefs and customs once widespread in Norfolk. Evidence of nature worship survives in the lives of Saints Walstan and Withburga, in the Green Man and the Hethel Thorn. There are tales of Hereward the Wake and Tom Hickathrift the Fenland giant, of dragons like the Ludham Worm and an intriguing case of barrow digging from south Norfolk. 

Crumbling cliffs, wayside tracks and underground passages are frequented by an array of restless spirits - white ladies, phantom coaches and blind fiddlers - while Lantern Men haunt the marshes and children go in fear of Hyter Sprites. Black dog legends, a staple of Norfolk folklore, are reconsidered in the context of Dracula and Invasion Literature.    

The nature of witchcraft, Matthew Hopkins and c17 witch mania together with the range of protective magic used to combat the forces of evil are all examined in some detail along with the frog’s bone ritual and horse magic. The author explores the rites of passage; love divination and birth through to the macabre death customs - Snatching the Pillow and Sin Eating - in the Fens.

Calendar customs - Plough Monday, May Day, Harvest time and Hunting the Wren - marked the seasons while Mystery plays, St George’s Day and Mock Mayor processions were once highlights of the year in Norwich. The work of Vaughan Williams and other folksong collectors is celebrated in the context of the postwar revival movement in Norfolk.

Wide ranging, full of new insights and beautifully illustrated with 350 black and white images, This Hollow Land is a vivid exploration of traditional lore and a celebration of the people who kept it alive.

296 pages 
350 B&W illustrations
£20 UK
£24 Europe
£28 rest of World
ISBN 978-0-9954792-5-8