Explore Books
is an imprint of
Heart of Albion Press


Heart of Albion launched Explore Books back in September 2002. The aim of the series is to provide accessible overviews of the latest academic thinking relating to folklore and mythology. These books look specifically at how folklore and mythology form a major, if usually unrecognised, part of modern day popular culture. Whereas the majority of books on folklore and mythology published for the general public mostly reiterate ideas and approaches that were dropped by academics in the 1970s, the Explore Books series reveals that more sophisticated and exciting ideas now prevail.



Revised and expanded second edition

Mercia MacDermott with photographs by Ruth Wylie

From reviews of the first edition:
'A friendly and intriguing work of architectural scholarship.'
The Guardian

'The enigmatic silence of the Green Man has been broken in the last decade by a flood of books, with a new study coming out pretty much every year since 1990. Most of them were lavishly illustrated, which is just as well, since much of the commentary was nonsense. [Explore Green Men] features new photographs from Ruth Wylie's superb archive, and it has a text which makes sense. Mercia MacDermott comes to this myth-laden territory with a cool head…  '
Jeremy Harte 3rd Stone

A must-have future classic!
David Taylor White Dragon

Explore Green Men is the first detailed study of the history of this motif for 25 years. Dr MacDermott's research follows the Green Man back from the previous earliest known examples into its hitherto unrecognised origins in India about 2,300 years ago.

The book starts by discussing the 'paganisation' of Green Men in recent decades, then follows backwards through the Victorian Gothic Revival, Baroque, Rococco and Italianate revivals, to their heyday in the Gothic and the supposed origins in the Romanesque. As part of this discussion there is background information on the cultural changes that affected how Green Men were regarded. The author also discusses the comparisons that have been made with Cernunnus, Robin Hood, Jack-in-the-Green, woodwoses, Baphomet, Al Khidr and Bulgarian peperuda. She also investigates which pagan god Green Men supposedly represent.

The second edition contains a summary of independent confirmation of the links with Asia together with nine more illustrations.

Explore Green Men is illustrated with 118 photographs and drawings, mostly of Green Men who have never before showed their faces in books.

This book will appeal to all with an interest in Green Men and to art historians looking for a reliable study of this fascinating decorative motif.

Published by Explore Books, an imprint of Heart of Albion Press.
ISBN 978 1 872883 946. 2006.
demy 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 212 + x pages, 109 b&w photographs, 8 line drawings, 1 map, paperback




Bob Trubshaw

'A howling success, which plugs a big and obvious gap'
Professor Ronald Hutton

"Highly Recommended" by the Folklore Society's Katharine Briggs Folklore Award 2003

There have been fascinating developments in the study of folklore in the last twenty-or-so years, but few books about British folklore and folk customs reflect these exciting new approaches. As a result there is a huge gap between scholarly approaches to folklore studies and 'popular beliefs' about the character and history of British folklore. Explore Folklore is the first book to bridge that gap, and to show how much 'folklore' there is in modern day Britain.

Explore Folklore shows there is much more to folklore than morris dancing and fifty-something folksingers! The rituals of 'what we do on our holidays', funerals, stag nights and 'lingerie parties' are all full of 'unselfconsious' folk customs. Indeed, folklore is something that is integral to all our lives it is so intrinsic we do not think of it as being 'folklore'.

The implicit ideas underlying folk lore and customs are also explored. There might appear to be little in common between people who touch wood for luck (a 'tradition' invented in the last 200 years) and legends about people who believe they have been abducted and subjected to intimate body examinations by aliens. Yet, in their varying ways, these and other 'folk beliefs' reflect the wide spectrum of belief and disbelief in what is easily dismissed as 'superstition'.

Explore Folklore provides a lively introduction to the study of most genres of British folklore, presenting the more contentious and profound ideas in a readily accessible manner.

Published by Explore Books, an imprint of Heart of Albion Press.
ISBN 978 1872 883 601. 2002.
demy 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 196 xii pages, 4 b&w photos, 4 line drawings, paperback


Reviews of Explore Folklore

Excerpts from Explore Folklore can be found at Foamy Custard, a Web site for folklore, mythology, cultural studies and related disciplines. Look for an overview of folklore theory, problems with popular perceptions of folklore and contemporary lore and legend.




edited by Bob Trubshaw

The folklore of phantom black dogs is known throughout the British Isles. From the Black Shuck of East Anglia to the Moody Dhoo of the Isle of Man there are tales of huge spectral hounds 'darker than the night sky' with eyes 'glowing red as burning coals'.

The phantom black dog of British and Irish folklore, which often forewarns of death, is part of a world-wide belief that dogs are sensitive to spirits and the approach of death, and keep watch over the dead and dying. North European and Scandinavian myths dating back to the Iron Age depict dogs as corpse eaters and the guardians of the roads to Hell. Medieval folklore includes a variety of 'Devil dogs' and spectral hounds. Above all, the way people have thought about such ghostly creatures has steadily evolved.

In the last hundred years East Anglia and Dorset have received the greatest attention from folklorists interested in such canine apparitions. This book includes a detailed study of the lore in Norfolk, showing how oral tales become interwoven with published accounts and the heritage of historic places.

But are phantom black dogs nothing more than myths and tales? There is also an assessment of the psychology of phantom black dog sightings. Another chapter quotes emails from various people in America and Canada who have been terrified by phantom black dogs without any prior awareness of such folklore.

The concluding part of this book is a comprehensive annotated bibliography of phantom black dog literature, including listings by geographical area.

This book will appeal to all those interested in folklore, the paranormal and fortean phenomena.

Contributors: Jeremy Harte, Simon Sherwood, Alby Stone, Bob Trubshaw and Jennifer Westwood.

Paul Sieveking Fortean Times

'I think this must be the best entry in the Explore series I have seen so far…  '
Aeronwy Dafies Monomyth Supplement

'…  a very important contribution to the literature…  highly recommended.'
Andrew Bates Silver Wheel

'This is an excellent work and is very highly recommended.'
Michael Howard The Cauldron

Published by Explore Books, an imprint of Heart of Albion Press.
ISBN 978 1872 883 786. 2005.
demy 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 152 + viii pages, 10 b&w half-tones, paperback



Winner of the
Folklore Society's
Katharine Briggs Award



Jeremy Harte

Winner of the Folklore Society's Katharine Briggs Award 2005   More details… 

We are not alone. In the shadows of our countryside there lives a fairy race, older than humans, and not necessarily friendly to them. For hundreds of years, men and women have told stories about the strange people, beautiful as starlight, fierce as wolves, and heartless as ice. These are not tales for children. They reveal the fairies as a passionate, proud, brutal people.

Eexplore Fairy Traditions draws on legends, ballads and testimony from throughout Britain and Ireland to reveal what the fairies were really like. It looks at changelings, brownies, demon lovers, the fairy host, and abduction into the Otherworld. Stories and motifs are followed down the centuries to reveal the changing nature of fairy lore, as it was told to famous figures like W.B. Yeats and Sir Walter Scott. All the research is based on primary sources and many errors about fairy tradition are laid to rest.

Jeremy Harte combines folklore scholarship with a lively style to show what the presence of fairies meant to people's lives. Like their human counterparts, the secret people could kill as well as heal. They knew marriage, seduction, rape and divorce; they adored some children and rejected others. If we are frightened of the fairies, it may be because their world offers an uncomfortable mirror of our own.

'…  the best modern book written on the British and Irish fairy traditions…  '
'Beach' Top Ten Fairy Books

'…  this is the best and most insightful book on fairies generally available… '
John Billingsley Northern Earth

'An erudite and well-referenced guide…  9/10'
Paul Sieveking Fortean Times

'Explore Fairy Traditions is an excellent introduction to the folklore of fairies, and I would highly recommend it.'
Paul Mason Silver Wheel

'If you really want to know about fairies, good bad and gremlins, then this book is for you.'
Francis Cameron Pentacle

'Explore Fairy Traditions is a very good book, both an entertaining read and useful source of information. [… ] newcomers to the subject will be impressed…  [and] An excellent primer that has much to recommend it to more advanced students of the field…  Highly recommended.'
D J Tyrer Monomyth

Published by Explore Books, an imprint of Heart of Albion Press.
ISBN 978 1872 883 618. 2004.
demy 8vo (215 x 138 mm), 171 + vi pages, 6 line drawings, paperback


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