Saturday, September 13, 2008


Oh dear, I've already nominated a book of the month and along comes this offering, which really is a contender for book of the year. There's not a lot of Radnorshire interest here, but we can forgive author Richard Suggett, who has not only devoted an entire book to Radnorshire houses, but has also provided fresh insights into the county's history, with his pioneering work on slander cases in the Court of Great Sessions.

The Witch hunting madness which possessed much of England, Scotland and continental Europe largely passed Wales by. Interestingly the same is true of the other Celtic speaking regions including Brittany. Despite the fact that only five Welsh witches were condemned to death between 1594 and 1655, Suggett pulls off quite a coup by revealing the close link between the authors of two anti-witchcraft books and the first of these judicial victims, Gwen vz Elis. If any Welsh film-maker is looking for a plot, well look no further.

There is a great deal more in this book of course: folk beliefs, Catholic survivals, cursing wells and conjurers, as well as the wider historical context. The book is the product of what must surely be years of diligent and inspired research, and it is written in a thoroughly enjoyable and readable way. An outstanding contribution to Welsh history.

No comments: