Dark and Intriguing: The Challenges of Ashmolean’s Spellbound Exhibition

The exhibition “Spellbound: Magic, Ritual & Witchcraft” at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford examines the history of magic over eight centuries, and shows how our ancestors used magical thinking to cope with the unpredictable world around them. Nick Swarbrick reviews the exhibition and the subjects which it explores.

Fishing with the Living and the Dead: The Sáiva Lakes of the Sami

Theodor Kittelsen's drawing Nøkken from 1904.

For the Pre-Christian Sami people who inhabited parts of modern-day Norway, Finland, Sweden, and Russia, fishing was a livelihood.

Piskies, Knockers and Tommyknockers – Cornwall’s Misunderstood Folklore

Wayland Hand (1907-1986) documented American miners making clay effigies of tommyknockers. © Ronald M. James

The Folklore of Cornwall: The Oral Tradition of a Celtic Nation addresses everything from piskies – south west Britain’s fairies – to mermaids, harvest festivals, a corpse visiting his betrothed, and the giants long noted for making the Cornish peninsula their home. And amid all this are the spirits of the mines – knockers together with the tommyknockers, their New World descendants.

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