Tasters

Short extracts from Berkshire Folk Tales to whet your appetite to read more

The Raven of Earthly Terror – Battle of Assedoneraven

… The Saxons stand shoulder to shoulder in the shield wall. Their wide, round shields are of lime wood, light and strong and hard to penetrate. Their bossed shields abut, so each man protects himself and the warrior to his left. The ranks behind stand ten deep, so when one man falls there is another to take his place, and another, and another…. The shield wall is an organic engine of death fuelled by the bodies of men. To be in the shield wall is to know absolute horror and terror and utter despair of life and soul…

Witches Buried Alive

… Down the road in one of the villages near Newbury, within the memory of some of the older folk, three witches were ‘buried quick’, or buried alive as you townsfolk would say. They were buried standing, up to their necks, with just their heads above ground, and were left there to die of thirst and starvation, a terrible death you might say…

Queen Emma’s Ordeal By Fire

… When Cnut went to parlay with Emma for a kingdom, expecting her to plead for life and liberty .., he came away with more than he had bargained for. He gained not only the Kingdom of England but also a passionate wife and powerful political ally.

When Emma went to parlay with Cnut, she had in mind an inventive twist to her fortunes: to swap the cockpit of conflict for the marriage bed. She employed all her passionate allure and political guile to seduce her adversary, thereby retaining her political power … and acquiring a worthy lover to share her bed…

The Pleasant History of Thomas of Reading

… Slowly, oh so slowly, the finely balanced best bedroom floor, with the bed upon it, tipped the still sleeping Thomas of Reading into the hot foaming oil in the cauldron beneath. Jarman and his wife swiftly hauled Thomas out of the cauldron with grappling hooks, a look of faint surprise still lingering upon his deep-fried features…