All posts tagged: history

Shropshire Witches – Witchcraft In The Early Modern Era

Researching witchcraft in Shropshire is similar to panning for gold when the river has run dry. These days, there is a wealth of information regarding the ‘European Witch Crazes’ of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, but Shropshire is rarely mentioned. Even when Shropshire does come up, it’s for no more than a sentence or two. This lack of history can perhaps be accredited to the narrowness of the field of study. Between 1563 and 1736, less than 500 executions were carried out for the crime of witchcraft in England.1 Europe on the other hand saw 100,000 individuals tried and less than 50,000 put to death.2 Accusations of witchcraft also rarely saw just one person implicated, resulting in numerous ‘suspects’ popping up once once the accused was questions. This resulted in localised pockets of witches being discovered in certain towns and villages, rather than nationwide witch hunts. It should perhaps reassure Salopians that there is so little to find regarding the history of witches in our county, and that the ‘historical accounts’ we do have are …

The Madness of Inspiration

It’s a sentence dropped in passing, just a side-note to the conversation, or a jotting blotted in the margin, only really half a thought.   Yet it opens the earth beneath you, hooks in under your fingernails, drags you to dimly lit, dusty corners, both imaginary and real.   It doesn’t care that no one wrote it, or if someone did then they lost it, or passed it into a safe place too good given the hindsight.   It’s dug a home in the meat of you. Demanded your eyes, you tongue, your head. Drew a line between now and then as translucent as spider silk.   Now you only have to find it. I’m working on a new poetry collection at the moment which I think I’ll probably name ‘Women, Water, and Witches’. The inspiration for it stems from the folklore surrounding women and water in Shropshire. This has led to me spending evenings researching Sea Witches, Jenny/Ginny Greenteeth, witch trials in Shropshire (there’s almost nothing in any source I’ve checked so far), then …

The Butcher’s Poleaxe – #VEDay

Somewhere there is a poleaxe, your sweat worked into the staff from unbroken nights, where the pig must not squeal. Milk bottle spectacles but no flame or light catching in the glass reflection. All of it done in the silence that cannot be broken, unlike the rules you’re cleaving with each precise blow.   Hands returned to steering wheel, on dark lanes winding home, nose to windscreen foot light on the accelerator, you mouth curled in prayer. May they not come back this way with the fat bulbs unsown on London, or Crewe, or elsewhere deemed vital. May they not discard their leftovers on these field tonight. Let the silence be unbroken. VE Day 2020 Not long ago my mother told me about the poleaxe my great-grandfather kept in the garage. He used it during the Second World War to slaughter pigs, as it was more effective at killing them quickly before there was chance for them to make any sound. This was during rationing, when there were limitations on the slaughter of livestock. My …

Leftovers #DVersePoetics

If I was my mother, and you were a horse, I would not wrap the lead into my fist as we walk the track with their ruined nissan huts patch up by ivy, so we can’t see through the hollow sockets of broken windows to the emptiness inside, always emptiness inside, and always me with a fist of lead to draw you closer to heel in case the emptiness is not what it seems.

Back To The Start… #DVersePoets

So it started with a broken laptop. Or maybe it started with your brother, pointing you towards a target, that wasn’t me by any means, but I was somewhere on the other side of it. Or maybe it started with an offer made to my Grandfather, which he passed onto my mother and her new husband. Or maybe it started with a newspaper ad, Welshmen need not apply. Or maybe it started in Ireland, with a broken engagement and a ferry ticket. Or maybe we are so far from the start there is no point loosing myself on the path back to it. The sun rose again, and the weather changed its tune but that’s not the start.

Bard On Blore Heath – #DVersePoetics

One paragraph for all the lost bodies, somewhere still beneath dirt and grass and the slow trundle of grazing cattle meandering, one fence line to another.   Musket balls get plucked up on odd days, rolled across a palm like a marble, dropped into a Tupperware tub, they outlasted the bones and flesh.   A field with five hundred years to forget yet the calf gets sick with lead loses its eyesight to a pellet from a gun fired half a century before.   History reaches past its paragraph of three thousand nameless men. Another misery of litter leftover once the war was done. Following tonight’s theme of smoke and mirrors, and feeling like the older you get, the less you actually know, I started thinking about how we learn about the history of warfare in schools. There’s a disconnect between the modern day and its wars, and battles such as the one at Bloor Heath* in Staffordshire where around three thousand men are thought to have died in the fighting. It’s easy to look …

Poems Of Power – A Poetry Link-Up

Last Monday I threw out the idea for a weekly poetry link-up where you write a poem based on a line from another blogger’s work. I can’t speak for everyone, but I often find inspiration in some of the fantastic pieces here on WordPress and I know we have all probably had that moment where you read something and find yourself thinking ‘I really wish I was the one who’d written that.’ So once again I’m inviting you to go onto your reader, hunt through the poetry tag, and find a line that sparks inspiration in you. Make sure to credit the original writer in your post and revel in the wonder that is the fantastic mass of poetry at our fingertips. For me this week, it’s the following line that’s caught my eye. Viaducts were built by the conquerors Auf Wiedersehen by cirque de la nuit Please make sure to check out the poem it came from in full, it’s a fantastic piece that I fell in love with immediately. The poem just seems to …

Mother Time

There were hieroglyphics on her parchment teeth that jangled in the breeze she breathed into dead languages still stuck beneath her tongue. Forgotten goddesses sheltered in her mouth, ancient secrets hung as pearls from earlobes and tombstone nails that peeled history apart layer by layer to see if she could spot the differences in each repetition.  

Lost And Forgotten

Beyond the brook, in the woods, there are huts. Grey, empty eyed, with crumbling mouths, scattered, separated, almost forgotten. They sit alone, abandoned and abused, besieged by pine and birch. Ignored by walkers, they wait for soldiers, long from war and as they fall, the scavengers come, to strip away any worth until all that’s left, are empty shells, and broken bones slowly rusting into the earth. I’m writing about home again tonight. Dotted around my parent’s farm are a number of old army huts that I knew were once part of an RAF base, but were crumbling away to ruin. It turns out that my parents farm was partially built on an army base that was constructed in 1915 and served a fair few purposes over the years, including a prisoner of war camp at one point. My first few driving lessons actually took place on two of the three runways that made up the airfield, one on our neighbour’s land and one that runs along the edge of my parent’s farm. If you’re …