The Traditional Festivals of Britain, Their history, origins and character, with Professor Ron Hutton

How has the passage of the year been celebrated over the millennia, what has remained constant, what has changed?


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His television appearances, his many books and academic honours, have made Professor Hutton a household name. In this talk he will explore the diverse, complex and dynamic heritage of Britain and tell us how this heritage has left its mark on our seasonal festivals. How has the passage of the year been celebrated over the millennia, what has remained constant, what has changed?

Britain has long been a meeting place of peoples and cultures: Gaelic, Brythonic, Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, Christianities of various kinds, the older religions – all have made their impact on the celebrations that mark our year. Professor Hutton will look at the different festivals: the honouring of deities and saints, the powers of nature and the elements; the blessing, protection of people, homes, crop and animals; celebration; sex & death..

In the process Professor Hutton will pose a number of questions: how many festivals were there in ancient Britain and how do they relate to festivals in other parts of the ancient world? What difference did Christianity make to the ritual year? And why have the spring and autumn equinoxes not been mentioned in the list above?

Finally, has anything really fundamentally changed in the observation of the cycle of annual festivals since the onset of modernity?

Britain has long been a meeting place of peoples and cultures: Gaelic, Brythonic, Anglo-Saxon, Scandinavian, Christianities of various kinds, the older religions – all have made their impact on the celebrations that mark our year. Professor Hutton will look at the different festivals: the honouring of deities and saints, the powers of nature and the elements; the blessing, protection of people, homes, crop and animals; celebration; sex & death..

In the process Professor Hutton will pose a number of questions: how many festivals were there in ancient Britain and how do they relate to festivals in other parts of the ancient world? What difference did Christianity make to the ritual year? And why have the spring and autumn equinoxes not been mentioned in the list above?

Finally, has anything really fundamentally changed in the observation of the cycle of annual festivals since the onset of modernity?


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Ronald Hutton

Ron is Professor of History at the University of Bristol, and a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Antiquaries, the Learned Society of Wales, and the British Academy.

He has published fifteen books, including the bestseller Pagan Britain. See also... Stations Of The Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain -- The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft -- Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain -- Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination. (click for his Amazon bookpage)

He is a familiar contributor to radio and television programmes such as Neil Oliver's Sacred Wonders of Britain and Time Team, and has written and presented a number of documentaries, including a series for Radio Four and one for the Discovery Channel.

He has degrees from Cambridge and Oxford and was formerly a Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford, before moving to Bristol in 1981.




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2016Martin Keeley