True Bits in the book (folklore and history)
Bogles are a type of Scots and Northumbrian fay. I’ve drawn from Katharine Briggs’ description of them.
Izzy uses three exclamations: Ragnarok, North and down, and gods and ancestors. In the Heathen mythology, Ragnarok is the end of the world, while ‘gods and ancestors’ are focuses of reverence.
In Hermod’s ride to Hel, in the Prose Edda (Gyfaginning 49) Hermod is told the road to Hel lies down and to the north.
Geas (plural geasa ) is from Irish and Welsh folklore. It’s a taboo or an obligation or prohibition magically imposed on a person.
‘Lawspeaker’ was the title of the top legal office in Scandinavian countries, from around the 10th century until 13th to 14th centuries. After that, although the office remained in some countries, its duties altered. It derives from the need for this person to memorise and recite the law. In Iceland, the Lawspeaker was also an arbiter.
I stole ‘birthright’ from the Society of Friends, as a concept for someone born into something.
Following the defeat of Cromwell’s Roundheads, royalty was reinstated in England in the shape of Charles II – who changed many things in the country.
A canine nose really is that sharp.
In Anglo Saxon England, a thane (thegn in Anglo Saxon) was a noble below the rank of ealdorman.
Brownie is the Scots name for popular 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. They are generally below normal human height.
Selkies are a Scots/Icelandic/Faroese/Irish type of fay, very like the Scandinavian swan maiden in that they need their skin to transform into a seal.
The Daoine Sídhe are the Irish equivalent of elves.
In the pre-Christian Germanic/Scandinavian/English religion (the modern version is called Heathenry), there were nine worlds – the main ones being for gods, elves, ettins and humans.
In popular culture, silver is regarded as harmful to Weres.
Mara is the Old Norse for malevolent night spirits. The Anglo Saxon ‘mare’ gives us our modern English ‘nightmare’. I’ve tweaked that to produce my version.
In the Lokasenna in the Poetic Edda, Loki taunts Tyr (the Norse equivalent of the English god Tiw) with the claim that he fathered a son on Tiw’s wife. The wife is not named and there is no mention of werewolves
The Old Norse word for fetch and a type of female guardian spirit was the same as the word for placenta. All were ‘followers’ – attendant spirits. I’ve played with this to produce the founding myth of wyrdwolves.
A fetch (ON fylgja/Anglo Saxon fæcce) is an ancient Heathen concept. It’s a part of the person but also stands outside of them. They generally took the shape of an animal.
Seelie and Unseelie is a Scots concept of splitting the fay into good and bad.
In Anglo Saxon, a moot was a place people met to arbitrate and conduct local business.
The representation of AWE is based on real trade union work.
There is a legal concept of ‘reasonable belief’ in UK employment law, which has the effect described.
Golems are from Jewish folklore.
The representation of tribunal procedure and pre-hearing negotiations is accurate to English practice in 1999.
‘Saywife’ is my modernisation of the pre-Christian Heathen role of seiðkona. It’s play on the pronunciation of the word. However, I’ve changed it from an enchanter/seeress to healer.
It is possible for solicitors to become barristers in the English legal system. However, it’s rare.
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, although meaning shifted after the 10th century. It survived in other Heathen cultures, notably Iceland, which also had an Althing – the primary governmental assembly of the state. 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 king.
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,
Ulfhednar/ulfhedinn (Old Norse: plural/singular) are from Heathen mythology. They were berserkers who changed into wolves, rather than bears.
Disir (Old Norse) are female ancestors. They have nothing to do with Wish Hounds in folklore.
Wish Hounds are a variant of the common folklore motif of black dogs, from Devon & Cornwall.
Tir Na Nog is one of the names of the otherworld in Irish mythology.
The Wild Hunt appears in folklore in various European countries with various leaders, including Herne the Hunter (England), Frau Holda (Germany) and Odhin. Herne is regarded by many modern pagans as an avatar of Cernunnos.
The Cŵn Annwn are the hounds of the underworld, in Welsh mythology. Their cries were said to grow softer the closer they came.
A normal lynx can leap two metres straight upwards. I’ve scaled that up for Sam.
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 Nine Herbs Charm.
Geoffrey of Monmouth, in his runaway and very unreliable)
bestseller Historia Regum Britanniae gives Merlin’s name as Merlinus Ambrosius.
Nixie or neck is the 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 real. Including the reason why Geoffrey of Monmouth changed the name to Merlin.
Elizabeth I had a court magician called Dr Dee.
Broceliande is Merlin’s forest in Brittany. On the map it’s called le forêt de Paimpont but everyone in and around Brittany knows it as Broceliande.
‘Landwight’ is a modern Heathen term for nature spirits tied to the land. ‘Wight’ is a rendition of an Anglo Saxon word for ‘creature’ that modern Heathens tend to use only to refer to the fay.
Dog pawprints aren’t individually identifiable in the way fingerprints are.
The tale about Loki can be found in the Prose Edda, Skáldskaparmál 35.
Wyrd is a Heathen concept related to fate.
Revenons à nos moutons as ‘let us return to the matter under discussion’ is a French idiom that migrated into popular English.
Jefferson Paine wrote a popular pamphlet called Common Sense proclaiming America’s role as an asylum for liberty.
Orlog is a concept from the Heathen religion and ancient texts, related to wyrd. It can be expressed as the sum total of everything that has made someone the person they are.
At the time this book was written, Hereford Police Station was actually in Gaol Street, Hereford.
The Chase Hotel in Ross on Wye exists, though I’ve enhanced parts of it.
Back in 1999, most DVD players were regional specific. It took another few years for all-region players to be common.
Silvanus, a Roman god similar in nature to Cernunnos, was associated with the borders between domesticated and wild land.
Loki sired Fenris, who bit off Tyr’s hand in response to betrayal. The whole story can be found in the Prose Edda, Gylfaginning 34.
Sessrumnir is recorded in the prose Edda as the name of Freya’s hall.
Finbheara is variously described as king of the Connacht fairies, king of the Daoine Sidhe or King of the Dead. He and his wife lived in Cnoc Meadha (also spelled Knockmagha, Knockma, or Knock Ma), a hill west of Tuam, County Galway,
in Ireland. He had a reputation for kidnapping human women.
The therapeutic index exists. All descriptions in the book of the process of developing a new drug in 1999 is true.
Aconbury – like other places mentioned in the book – exists.
Modern Herefordshire is roughly the Anglo Saxon kingdom of Magonsætan.
A variety of Heathen myths are mentioned in the description of the chair. Hel is the name of a kingdom and also its ruler: the goddess Hel, a daughter of Loki. Ettins, or jotun, are powerful beings who are either fighting the gods in Asgard or marrying them. Muspelheim (Firehome is a direct translation) is one of the Nine Worlds. Norns are older than the gods and tend the world tree, Yggdrasil.
According to folklore, the fay are averse to iron.
Anglo Saxon England and 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.
Brisingamen is a famous piece of jewellery that Freya wears.
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 (9th century monk) recorded that the eve of Yule was celebrated in the UK as “Mothers’ Night”.
‘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 Midgarth 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 to fight with another of the gods. The story is alluded to in
the Prose Edda Skáldskaparmál 8.
Unusually among the gods of Heathen mythology, Loki doesn’t seem to bear arms. Although included in Asgard among the gods, his parents were ettins.
Michael’s memories are all drawn from the British & French myths about Merlin. The references are to the tales of Vortigern, Vivienne/Nimue, The Lady of the Lake, the Old North tales of Myrddin Wyllt and Lailoken, Merlin’s imprisonment and Arthurian tales of Camelot.
The idea of the ‘named’ packs is derived from the Church of England, where diocesan bishops sign their first name followed by the name of their diocese.
What is now Herefordshire and part of Worcestershire was the Anglo Saxon sub-kingdom of Magonset and Hwicce. As place names corrupt over time, I’ve rendered this as Manston and Wich by 21st century.
I didn’t make up plastic guns. Any guns mentioned by Declan actually existed in 1999.