Happy New Year to all, and special thanks to everyone who reviewed my books in 2016!
This book, compiled in 1939 when there were still plenty of people to be found in New England who’d lived through the 1800s, is a great resource. As you’d expect, many ballads are included, ranging from the comic to the tragic to the comically tragic. Some of the ‘standard’ folk songs, like ‘The Elfin Knight’ and ‘Frog Would A-Wooing Go’, appear in this collection with different verses I’ve never seen anywhere else.
But there’s a lot more to this compendium. Sea chanteys (with notes on which chantey went along with which specific shipboard task), ‘kissing games’, and even fiddle tunes and dances. I didn’t know the difference between a ‘line’ or ‘contra’ dance and a quadrille (square dance) before reading this book, but now I do! And I didn’t realize that lumberjacks had their own tale-telling and musical tradition–although, if you think about it, how could they not?
There’s a section with short biographies of the singers and callers, and notes about their family history, that is well worth reading as well.
In short, this book is a cultural treasure, a snapshot of a time when old traditions, though waning, still survived in an unbroken line–as opposed to being revived, as they are today (or so I hope).
Well, obviously I didn’t do enough research before I wrote Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head. In the story, I have King Edward making a royal visit to Nottingham Castle, annoying the Sheriff no end. Now I find, through an article in Archaeology Today, that Edward probably would have hung at The King’s Houses instead. This was a royal complex at the edge of Sherwood Forest that was something like a cross between a country club and a convention center. It featured (of course) a large hunting park, as well as a private pond stocked with fish for those inconvenient fast days. A great place if you were an aristocrat, but as far as Robin, or any of the local villagers were concerned, it would have been a case of “there goes the neighborhood.”
Today nothing remains but a few tottering, ruined walls. I can’t find anything on the Archaeology Today site about this, but you can read all about it here. Note that this brochure calls the site “King John’s Palace”, but the text shows that it was very much in use during the period I’ve placed my Robin Hood story, the early to mid 1300s.
If you follow the link above, you may even find out what a “caracute” was.
Moving over to Nottingham, I found an amazing 2013 Gizmodo article from a link at Archaeology Today. It turns out that Nottingham sits over a network of sandstone caves, many or most of them artificial. They range from beer cellars used by local pubs to one nasty oubliette where, legend has it, Robin himself was once imprisoned. Sometimes the caves are connected by tunnels or labyrinths. It occurs to me that they might have offered a handy way to get in and out of Nottingham unseen…which may be how Robin wound up making his escape!
The article about Nottingham’s underground world can be found here.
This is the work of two talented sisters from the Netherlands. An improvement on my own unaided efforts, to put it mildly. The new cover will be available on Amazon within the next week or two!
I’m participating in The Virtual Book Fair! The event is live November 12-21. For more information, check out the event on Facebook here.
I’m Eric Tanafon. Thanks for visiting! I’m an eccentric, reclusive author with a large family, living in genteel poverty in New England.
Robin Hood: Wolf’s Head reveals, for the first time, the true nature of Robin’s band of merry….men?
Be warned, for Here There Be…
Creatures of darkness, not all alike. Kings without crowns, knights who left their shining armor behind. Witches, hermits, berserkers, and other honest outlaws. Ballads sung to the lute and spells spoken by moonlight.
Stories within stories, a Thousand and One Sherwoodian Nights.
And in the end…redemption.
Scavenger Hunt Number: 10
Find more booths to visit here!