We know what happens to the body when we die, but what happens to the soul? The answer may remain a great unknown, but the question has shaped centuries of tradition, folklore and religious belief. In this vivid history of the macabre, Carl Watkins goes in search of the ancient customs, local characters and compelling tales that illuminate how people over the years have come to terms with our ultimate fate. He discovers what a small Norfolk church has to tell us about the apocalypse; why the greatest minds of the seventeenth century were embroiled in debate over the phantom Drummer of Tedworth; and how a nineteenth-century Welsh Druid completely changed the national view of cremation. The result is an enthralling journey into Britain's past, from medieval hauntings on the Yorkshire moors and eccentric memorials on the Cornish coast to seances in Victorian kitchens and gallows tales from a Bristol gaol. Impeccably researched and elegantly told, The Undiscovered Country ventures beyond the veil to bring the dead back to life.
Born and bred in Warwickshire, Carl Watkins read history at Cambridge, where he is now lecturer in medieval history and a fellow of Magdalene College. He writes about belief and has published on the history of ghosts, the afterlife, saints and folklore. His first book, History and the Supernatural in Medieval England, was published by CUP in 2007, and he has contributed to a forthcoming Cambridge history of medieval England. He has also appeared on Radio 3's Night Waves, in a number of programmes for Radio 4's series The Long View and on a number of television documentaries. He lives in Cambridge.