The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys
A truly indispensable book to anyone with a passing interest in folklore, legend and myth. Drawing on centuries of recorded folklore, Westwood pools together the nation's myths, broken down into counties and thus making it a perfect travelling companion.
Delving into pieces of lore that are often forgotten by what is today a more transient, urban populace, Westwood shines a corner into local peculiarities while weaving them into larger themes. Thus, while spectral black dogs are often highly specific to locality they also share common traits and touch on other corners of folklore. Another good example of this is the recurrent belief that standing stones or hill figures come to life at particular parts of the year.
Given the scope and remit of the book, Westwood has little to offer those interested in more contemporary expressions of popular belief such as urban legends. As such, this is perhaps a specialist book not pitched at the general reader, but more at people interested in local history.
Again, as Westwood covers the entire country and thus relies on earlier compendiums, it is inevitable that many pieces of local folklore aren't covered. If you are looking for more information about folklore in your own area, then a more specific title could be found locally - although probably produced independently.
Nonetheless, a comprehensive, insightful and deeply pleasurable book which belongs on the shelf of anyone interested in mystery and myth.
Paul Carpenter: 2014-09-16