True Bits in the book (folklore and history)
The 17th-century civil war in Britain was won
by the Royalists. The monarchy was restored with Charles II in 1660.
A canine nose is that sharp.
In Anglo Saxon, a moot was a place people met to
arbitrate and conduct local business.
In Anglo Saxon England, a thane (thegn in Anglo Saxon)
was a noble below the rank of ealdorman.
Brownie is the Scots name for a type of fay that crops up
widely in European folklore – the house dweller that tidies the house, milks
the cows and mends clothes or shoes. Hobbits are from this group.
Selkies are from Scots/Icelandic/Faroese/Irish folklore.
They are much like the Scandinavian swan maiden in that they need their skin to
The daoine sídhe are the Irish equivalent of elves.
In British and Irish folklore the fay use glamour to make
In Heathen mythology, there are nine worlds – the main
ones being for gods, elves, ettins (a form of nature spirit) and humans.
The idea that silver is harmful to Weres is relatively
recent. It probably began in the 19th century.
Mara is the Old Norse for malevolent night spirits. The
Anglo Saxon word mare gives us our modern English nightmare.
In Heathen mythology, Loki fathered a child on the wife
of Tyr (= Tiw). See the Poetic Edda Lokasenna 40. However, the child was
a son and the wife is not named.
The Old Norse word for fetch (a supernatural part of a
person) and a type of female guardian spirit was the same as the word for the
placenta. I’ve played with this to produce the founding myth of wyrdwolves.
In Heathen mythology, north and down is the direction of
Hel’s kingdom. See the Prose Edda Gyfaginning 49.
Lawspeaker was the title of the top legal office
in Scandinavian countries, from around the 10th century until the 13th
to 14th centuries. A lawspeaker memorised and recited the law. In
Iceland, the Lawspeaker was also an arbiter. I’ve changed the role to that of a
Seelie/Unseelie is from Scottish folklore. The Seelie
Court ruled the ‘good’ elves. I invented the Unseelie Synod.
Bogles are a type of Scots and Northumbrian fay.
In Irish mythology and folklore, a geas was an obligation
or prohibition magically imposed on a person.
Geas (plural geasa) is from Irish and Welsh folklore.
It’s a taboo or an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.
Standing over a supine canid is an act of canine
Prat (British slang) = idiot.
Droit du seigneur refers to a supposed legal right in
medieval Europe of feudal lords to deflower maidens on their wedding night.
In Jewish folklore, a golem is an animated
anthropomorphic being created from inanimate matter.
The representation of the UK employment tribunal
procedure and pre-hearing negotiations is accurate for 1999.
Saywife is my play on the pronunciation of the word
seiðkona (Old Norse = female magic worker). I’ve changed the role to that of a healer.
Solicitors can become barristers in the English legal
What Michael says about drug development is true.
I updated several features of Anglo Saxon social
organisation for Izzy’s world. The original for eldormen was ealdormen – high
nobility in 9th to 11th century England. A Thing was an assembly. An Althing
was a primary governmental assembly of the state in pagan Iceland. Witan or
Witenagemot was an assembly of the ruling class in Anglo Saxon England from
before the 7th century until the 11th century. Its function was to advise the
York was the capital of the Anglo Saxon kingdom of
Northumbria. It was an important city in the Danelaw – a Viking kingdom that
roughly lay to the north of a line drawn between London and Chester, during
most of 9th to 11th centuries.
Ambrose was one of the names of Merlin.
In Heathen mythology, a fetch (Old Norse fylgja/Anglo Saxon
fæcce) is a supernatural part of a person. It generally took the shape of an
Wight (Anglo Saxon) = creature. In modern Heathenry,
the word is applied to nature spirits.
In Heathen mythology, Muspelheim (Old Norse = Firehome)
is one of the Nine Worlds.
In the Heathen religion, Winter Nights was one of the
"three greatest blessings of the year" mentioned in the Ynglinga
saga. The historical festival marked the beginning of winter and involved
sacrifices to the elves and the dísir.
Ulfhednar/ulfhedinn (Old Norse: plural/singular) are from
Heathen mythology. They were berserkers who changed into wolves rather than
Disir (Old Norse) are protective female ancestors. I have
created the werewolf version from a mix of ‘black dog’ folklore.
Wish Hounds are a variant of the common folklore motif of
Black Dogs, from Devon & Cornwall.
In Heathen mythology, Yggdrasil is the tree that houses
the nine worlds.
Tír na nÓg is one of the names of the Otherworld in Irish
Gabriel’s Hounds/Ratchets are Black Dogs from northern
The Wild Hunt appears in folklore in various European
countries with various leaders, including Herne the Hunter (England) and Odhin.
Herne is regarded by many modern pagans as an avatar of Cernunnos.
A normal lynx can leap two metres straight upwards.
In Welsh mythology, the Cŵn Annwn are the hounds of
The Indian Scout 101 is a motorcycle built in the first
half of the 20th century. It was popular for Wall of Death stunt
A gift for a gift is a modern Heathen maxim based
on pre-Christian religious values.
There is a place called Ellwood in the Forest of Dean.
The name may mean old wood or elder wood.
Fennel is one of the herbs in the 10th century Anglo
Saxon medicinal charm The Nine Herbs Charm.
Nixie is a Germanic name for an undine or water spirit.
The history of the Forest of Dean is true.
Myrddin Emrys is the Welsh equivalent of Merlinus
Ambrosius. What Sam says about the history and names of Merlin is true.
Geoffrey of Monmouth was a 12th-century British
cleric. His imaginative bestseller The History of the Kings of Britain shaped
the legends of Merlin and King Arthur.
Merlin stood on a rock in Broceliande to make rain
according to Breton folklore.
Elizabeth I had a court magician called Dr Dee.
In Anglo Saxon, a mot (pronounced moot) was an assembly.
A leah = lea or open space. I put them together for a pack meeting place.
Harrow comes from an Anglo Saxon word meaning a place
dedicated to the gods.
Dog pawprints aren’t individually identifiable in the way
The tale about Loki can be found in the Prose Edda, Skaldskaparmal
Wyrd is a Heathen concept related to fate.
Brief (British slang) = lawyer, especially a
But, as it is, we have the wolf by the ear, and we can
neither hold him, nor safely let him go. Justice is in one scale, and
self-preservation in the other. (Thomas Jefferson, 1820)
Revenons à nos moutons (French idiom) = let us
return to our sheep (=subject). It became a popular English idiom.
In Heathen mythology, orlog is related to wyrd. It can be
expressed as the total of everything that has made someone the person they are.
WPC = woman police officer (British police forces until 1998).
In Heathen mythology, the Hag of Ironwood is Angrboða, an
ettin who gives birth to three of Loki’s children. See the Poetic Edda Voluspa
40-41 and Prose Edda Gylfaginning 34.
The Chase Hotel in Ross on Wye existed at the time of
writing, though I’ve enhanced parts of it.
In 1999, all-region DVD players were either not available
or else well out of the price range of most consumers.
The ram-headed snake is part of Celtic iconography. It
appears with various gods though is most closely associated with Cernunnos. It
seems to be a symbol of regeneration and fertility.
Loki sired Fenris, who bit off Tyr’s hand in response to
betrayal. The story is in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning 34.
In Irish mythology and folklore, Finbheara is variously
described as the king of the Connacht fairies or King of the Dead. He and his
wife live in Cnoc Meadha (= Knockma). He had a reputation for kidnapping human women.
The therapeutic index exists. What Declan says about
clinical trials is true.
Modern Herefordshire is roughly equivalent to the Anglo
Saxon kingdom of Magonsætan.
A variety of Heathen myths are alluded to in the
description of the chair. These are related in detail in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
In Heathen mythology, Hel is the name of a goddess and
her kingdom. She is Loki’s daughter. Ettins are powerful beings who fight the
gods in Asgard or intermarry with them. Norns are older than the gods and tend
the world tree, Yggdrasil.
According to folklore, the fay are averse to iron.
What is now Herefordshire and part of Worcestershire was
the Anglo Saxon sub-kingdom of Magonsætan and Hwicce. I’ve rendered this as Manston
In Heathen mythology, Freya wears a cloak of feathers and
Brisingamen, which may be a gold necklace or girdle.
Anglo Saxon England and Heathen Scandinavia removed the
protection of the law from someone for particular offences. Without protection,
they could be killed with impunity. In Scandinavia, there were two different
types of outlawry, one temporary and the other permanent.
The Tuatha De Danann are the ancient gods of Ireland.
The Mothers (Latin: Roman: Matronae) were female
deities venerated in Northwestern Europe from the first to the fifth century.
Bede (a 9th-century monk) recorded that the eve of Yule was
celebrated in the UK as Mothers’ Night.
Nether Hel is my rendition of Niflhel (Old Norse)
= Foggy Hel. It is mentioned in both the Poetic and the Prose Eddas. In Gylfaginning
3 it is described as a realm beyond Hel to which the wicked are sent.
In Heathen mythology, Freya and her brother are
associated with boars.
In Heathen mythology, the gods tried to prevent Ragnarok
by binding the great wolf, Fenris. Tiw/Tyr was the only god willing to place
his hand in Fenris’ mouth, as a pledge of honour. He lost the hand. The story
is in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning 34.
‘halefast and frithgiven’ is my mashup of Anglo Saxon and
modern English. ‘hale’ means whole or healthy, fast is joined together (as in
fastened) and frith conveys peace and security.
The Midgard (Midearth) serpent was another child of
Loki’s – a massive serpent that spanned the earth.
There is a lost tale in Heathen mythology about Loki
taking the shape of a seal. The story is alluded to in the Prose Edda Skaldskaparmal
Unusually among the gods of Heathen mythology, Loki
doesn’t bear arms.
Michael’s memories are drawn from the British and French myths
about Merlin. The references are to the tales of Vortigern, Vivienne/Nimue, The
Lady of the Lake, Merlin’s imprisonment and Arthurian tales of Camelot.
There is evidence from early medieval texts that Heathen
cultures used ceremonial rings for swearing oaths.
Weregold is my rendition of wergild: the price of
restitution for harm to people or property in early medieval Heathen societies.
This was embodied in early English law.
Kel-Tec manufactured a plastic gun in 1999.
Landwight is a modern Heathen term for nature spirits
tied to the land. Wight is derived from an Anglo Saxon word for creature.
Cotswold Lions exist. So do sheep badgers in the Forest
The Gundestrup Cauldron is an ancient artefact famous for
its image of Cernunnos.