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The Ritual Year


Since prehistory, rituals have marked the progress of the year in the British Isles. In this seminar we will examine the development of these rituals.

Seminar Question

Compare and contrast the development of four festivals across the British Isles. [Choose a festival for spring, summer, autumn, and winter].

Required Reading

Brand, John, Observations on Popular Antiquities: Chiefly Illustrating the Origin of our Vulgar Customs, Ceremonies and Superstitions, ed. Henry Ellis, 2 vols (London, 1813), Vol. 1.

Hutton, Ronald, The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain (Oxford, 2001)

Roud, Steve, The English Year: A Month-by-Month Guide to the Nation's Customs and Festivals, from May Day to Mischief Night (Harmondsworth, 2008), Introduction.

Further Reading

Bennett, Margaret, ed., Scottish Customs: From the Cradle to the Grave (Edinburgh, 1992)

Evans, E. Estyn, Irish Folk Ways (1957; rept. New York, 2000)

Hannant, Sara, Mummers, Maypoles and Milkmaids: A Journey Through the English Ritual Year (London, 2011)

Hole, Christina, A Dictionary of British Folk Customs (Oxford, 1995)

Kingshill, Sophia, and Jennifer Westwood, The Fabled Coast: Legends and Traditions from Around the Shores of Britain and Ireland (London, 2014)

Lindahl, Carl, John McNamara and John Lindow, eds, Medieval Folklore: An Encyclopedia of Myths, Legends, Tales, Beliefs, and Customs, 2 vols (Oxford, 2000)

Muir, Edward, Ritual in Early Modern Europe, 2nd ed. (Cambridge, 2005)

Ó hÓgáin, Dáithí, The Lore of Ireland: An Encyclopaedia of Myth, Legend and Romance (Woodbridge, 2006)

Owen, Trefor M., Welsh Folk Customs (Cardiff, 1959)

Simpson, Jacqueline, and Steve Roud, A Dictionary of English Folklore (Oxford, 2003)

Westwood, Jennifer, and Jacqueline Simpson, The Lore of the Land: A Guide to England's Legends, from Spring-Heeled Jack to the Witches of Warboys (Harmondsworth, 2005)

Westwood, Jennifer, and Sophia Kingshill, The Lore of Scotland: A Guide to Scottish Legends (London, 2009)

The RC School Maypole, Chipping Campden

St Catherine's School Maypole, Chipping Campden. Image: Chipping Campden History Society