Prof. Ronald Hutton will reveal a complex and fascinating world rich in magical tradition, in which cunning folk and charmers flourished
Ronald Hutton’s topic this evening consists of beliefs in witchcraft and magic held by ordinary British people in the period between 1740 and 1940, that often lost, neglected and mysterious time between the end of the witch hunts and the appearance of modern Pagan witchcraft. These years have in fact left a huge treasure trove of evidence for the subject, which has recently at last become a focus for sustained study. Those studies reveal a complex and fascinating world rich in magical tradition, in which cunning folk and charmers flourished in every part of the land, overlapping with learned ceremonial magicians, and the fear of malevolent witchcraft still lay heavily over most communities. Ronald Hutton offers a tour of it, proposing answers to the questions of what sort of people became magicians and why; what practical techniques they used; whether they were pagans; how they took up their skills; whether they worked in groups; how much they were persecuted; and what eventually became of their traditions.