True Bits in the book (folklore and history)
The Queen Stone exists.
Bram Stoker's Dracula is a 1992 American gothic
horror film directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola, based on the novel
Dracula by Bram Stoker.
The 9th-century monk Bede placed Mothers’
Night on Christmas Eve. Many modern Heathens observe it the night before the
There are many stories about people being lured into
Elfhame or fairy rings or dances, and losing time. The fines Michael recites
were created by me.
The Bell at Skenfrith existed in 1999.
Obi-Wan Kenobi is a character from the Star Wars
franchise. Michael’s comment is an echo of the famous line, “These aren’t the
droids you’re looking for.”
Box 500 is one of the names for the British intelligence
service responsible for domestic counter-terrorism and counter-espionage
intelligence. Its correct name is the Security Service though it’s commonly
known as MI5.
Broceliande is the name given to Merlin’s forest in
Brittany. According to the French Arthurian folklore, the fairy Vivian (Nimue) met
and imprisoned Merlin there.
In England, birth registration within forty-two days was
enforced in 1874. The name can be changed within the first 12 months.
GP (British acronym) = general (medical) practitioner.
The family doctor.
The story of Loki conceiving Sleipnir is given in the
Prose Edda Gylfaginning 42. Odhin gibes about Loki’s years as a milkmaid
in the Poetic Edda Lokasenna 23.
Katharine Briggs was a great British folklorist and
president of the Folklore Society 1969-1972.
Abduction of human children by the fay is a common motif
of British folklore.
In some Irish mythology, Fin Bheara is named as the high
king of the daoine sidhe. That should make him the ruler of Tír na nÓg.
I borrowed morning prayers from journalism. It was a
phrase used by at least one national newspaper in the UK for its morning
Victor of Aveyron existed. The girl in the room is Genie,
discovered in the US in 1970.
There is a window during which humans find it easier to
learn a language. In 1999 that was assumed to be before age 7. Later research
has extended that timescale.
The Channel 4 programme Feral Children was made in
2006, not 1999. It included the case of Oxana Malaya.
Longleat is an English stately home and the seat of the
Marquess of Bath. Since 1966 it has housed a Safari Park attraction and
specialised in exotic animals.
Like domestic cats, female lynxes are known as queens and
males as toms.
SAD = seasonal affective disorder.
Brownies are a form of hobgoblin – tweaked by Tolkien
into hobbits. ‘Hob’ is also found in folklore.
Ernst Ingmar Bergman (1918–2007) was a Swedish director,
writer, and producer whose work focussed on the human condition.
Chimerism exists in humans and other animals.
In Heathen mythology, Angrboða bore three of Loki’s
children: the giant wolf Fenris, the goddess Hel and the world serpent, Jörmungandr.
The Poetic Edda Lokasenna 40 mentions Loki siring a child on Tyr’s wife.
However, that child was a boy and nothing is known about the wife. I made up
the Isretha Halfwolf.
The Icelandic Eddas portray travelling between the worlds
as physical journeys.
Fairy cattle have red ears in medieval Irish and Welsh
folklore. This extended to dogs and horses.
The yellow brick road comes from 1939 film The Wizard
of Oz based on the book by Frank L Baum.
Ettin (Anglo Saxon) or Jötunn (Old Norse) are
beings that are presented as anything between monsters (such as Grendel in
Beowulf) to the wives and mothers of gods.
The makers of Brisingamen were dwarves. The story of how
Freya obtained Brisingamen from them is related in Sörla þáttr eða Heðins
saga ok Högna found in the Icelandic Flateyjarbók manuscript.
Trolls come from Scandinavian folklore. They are
generally portrayed as extremely stupid. They turn to stone in sunlight.
The River Wye is the fifth-longest river in the UK. She
flows through Wales into the Severn and runs close to the southern border
between England and Wales.
The Severn is the longest river in the UK, flowing
through Wales and west-central England to form the Bristol Channel. She divides
Wales and England. Her Welsh name is Hafren. The Romans called her Sabrina.
Undine is a name coined by Paracelsus in the 17th
century. These days it generally refers to water nymphs, called nixies or necks
in Germanic folklore.
Many shamanic healers (and others) speak of having spirit
guides, which often take the shape of an animal.
In Heathen mythology, Freya had a cloak made of falcon’s
feathers that enabled shapechanging. See Prose Edda Skaldskaparmal 56.
Seven-league boots appear in European folklore. The boot
allows the wearer to travel seven leagues with each step. A league was the
distance someone could walk in an hour. In modern times the distance is fixed
at three miles in the UK.
Thomas the Rhymer was based on a real man living in the
borders of Scotland in the 13th century. He had a reputation as a
prophet which was rumoured to have been given to him by the Queen of Elfhame.
His tale is recorded in Thomas Rhymer (Child Ballad 37). Walter Scott
added a white hind and hart who came to take him back to Elfhame.
Frith is a Heathen cultural concept, from an Old Norse
word. It’s usually translated as peace or safety.
Japan was/is one of the primary sources of a type of wooden
Ah, oui. Mais il y a deux – ah,
pardonnez-moi (French) = Oh, yes. But there are
two – oh, forgive me.
A full moon coincided with the winter solstice in 1999 although
the actual timing was around 7am Wednesday 22nd. The event is rare.
Pourquoi pas blanche pour la naissance? (French) = Why not white for a birth?
Bonne idée (French) = good idea!
In 1999, The Day of the Jackal was the apex of
creating a false identity. There were fewer anti-fraud safeguards at that time.
Mon ami (French) = my friend. Used in a way similar to
slang term bro.
Ginnungagap is taken from Heathen mythology, as is Misthome
The three Great Norns in Heathen mythology are Urdh,
Verdhandi and Skuld. Their names can be rendered as past, present and future.
They tended the World Tree and wyrd. Urdh means ‘wyrd’. More information on the
Norns and the well can be found in the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 15.
In Heathen mythology, births were attended by ordinary
norns, who determined the fate of the newborn child. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning
I made up the tale of Isretha’s children. You can find it
on my website.
The Old Norse word for fetch and a type of female
guardian spirit was the same as the word for the placenta. Scandinavian
folklore imbues the placenta with special abilities. It could be the newborn’s
fetch (a particular sort of familiar spirit) or an ability of the child to
shapeshift. If the mother used a foal’s placenta as a charm to avert pain, it
would result in a male child being a werewolf. A female child would be a mara.
Thor was invoked in the Viking ceremony of child-naming.
Disir (Old Norse, singular dis) are protective female
1999 was the 9th time the winter solstice
coincided with a full moon since 1793. It happened again in 2010 and the next
will be 2094. (Source: Farmer’s Almanac)
Wet the baby’s head (British slang) = celebrate a
baby's birth with a drink, usually alcoholic.
The information about the quality of initial breast milk
The tagging procedure for babies was introduced in the
NHS from 2002. It may have been available in private hospitals before then.
Farmers use the skins of dead lambs to encourage ewes to
Shut the stable door after the horse has bolted
(British idiom) = taking action after the event.
Many Muslim drivers suspend discs inscribed with verses
from the Quran from their rearview mirrors. They look like CDs.
Valerie’s explanation of the grammar of
jinn/jinni/jinniyah is true.
Get on my wick (British idiom) = be annoyed by
Valerie’s jinn clothes are a genuine form of medieval
dress for a woman in Turkey. Bey (lord) is a Turkish masculine form of address
that denotes respect. Bayan (lady) is the feminine.
Islamic hadith (Abu Buhaqi and Al-Tabarani) hold that an
amir or amar is a type of jinn which resides with humans. The other two types
are considered wicked.
Izzy’s views on guest and host honour reflect those found
in Heathen mythology, especially the Eddas.
Ayah (British English) = a loan word from the former
British Empire for a maidservant, nursemaid, or governess.
Only one (of three) types of jinn can fly according to Islamic
Hadith. Folklore gives them the ability to travel instantaneously or more
slowly. Their association with magic carpets may be modern.
The few bridges over the lower reaches of the Severn are
The Valleys in South Wales were an area of heavy coal
mining during the 19th and 20th centuries.
The King's Shropshire Light Infantry existed as an
independent regiment from 1881 until 1968. The 1st Battalion fought
The geography of that part of the Wye gorge is real. The
ferry exists, as does Biblins youth camp and the limestone caves. One is called
King Arthur’s Cave.
The NHS = the UK’s National Health Service.
The information about the King's Shropshire Light
Infantry is true.
Wights (Anglo Saxon) = creature. The word is used
by modern Heathens for the fay. Landwights are fay with an attachment to a
particular piece of land.
In Islamic hadith, the jinn are thought to steal
forbidden knowledge from angels and relate it to fortune-tellers. See Sahih
al-Bukhari 71: 657.
The internet as we know it today didn’t exist in 1999.
Websites were static and most business still conducted via snail mail, phone or
in person. A bank holiday stalled everything.
The 1944 Education Act was a milestone in UK education.
However, it didn’t mention Weres.
The battle for Anzio took place in the first half of
Sam’s information about the UK ages of service at the
start of WWII is true.
The UK declared war on Germany on 3rd
Clearwell Caves exist. They have been mined for iron ore
for over 4000 years.
Dendrochronology exists. Michael’s information about tree
rings is true.
Bell-bottoms came into fashion in 1967.
The information about identical and fraternal twins of
different sexes is true.
The deaths of so many young men in the First World War
meant that many young women never married.
Fred and Rose West were serial killers in Gloucester in
England between 1967 and 1987. West claimed to have buried several bodies in
Immature female pigs are called gilts. So are a certain
type of financial product.
Multimap was the main online maps service in 1999. It was
merged into Bing maps in 2010.
The King’s Shropshire Light Infantry was based in
The tale of Loki borrowing Freya’s falcon cloak to
shapeshift is told in the Prose Edda Skaldskaparmal 56.
A raptor’s eyesight is that good.
The tale of how Tyr lost his hand is told in the Prose
Edda Gylfaginning 34.
In Heathen mythology, Hel is the name of Loki’s daughter
and also of her kingdom. The evil dead and those who die of disease or old age come
to her. See the Prose Edda Gylfaginning 3 and 34.
The influenza (Spanish Flu) pandemic of 1918-1920 killed
hundreds of thousands in the UK. It infected a quarter of the world’s
population and may have resulted in more than 50 million deaths.
Women in England, Wales and Scotland received the vote on
the same terms as men (over the age of 21) in 1928. It wasn’t lowered to 18
Hill House is a B&B on Howle Hill, close to Ross On
Wye. It also appears as the main location in the 9th book of the Wyrdwolf
series: Blood Magic.