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Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain [Paperback]

Ronald Hutton
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
RRP: 12.99
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Book Description

15 Feb 2001
Comprehensive and engaging, this colourful study covers the whole sweep of ritual history from the earliest written records to the present day. From May Day revels and Midsummer fires, to Harvest Home and Hallowe'en, to the twelve days of Christmas, Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain. He challenges many common assumptions about the customs of the past, and debunks many myths surrounding festivals of the present, to illuminate the history of the calendar year we live by today.

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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
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Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks; New Ed edition (15 Feb 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0192854488
  • ISBN-13: 978-0192854483
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 158,996 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

a fascinating volume, which any future study of calendar rituals - or of 'pagan residues' in popular culture - will have to take into account. Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000. Students of religion will be impressed by the ample evidence the book provides, not for the survival of pagan religious practices in a Christian era, but for the survival of Catholic practices in a Protestant one. Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000. Well produced and written in a pleasing style, it is a rich source of information about late-medieval calendar customs whose scope extends far beyond the Middle Ages. Stations of the Sun belongs in the reference collection of any college library. Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000. a tour de force from one of the liveliest and most wide-ranging of practising English historians this unfailingly stimulating, learned and engaging book places a relatively neglected aspect of English social history firmly on the map. Eamon Duffy, TLS

About the Author

Ronald Hutton is Reader in History at the University of Bristol.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
43 of 44 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential history, pacily written. 25 May 2005
Format:Paperback
The definitive history of the british ritual year. From the origins of wassailing to why the English don't celebate St George's day, Hutton leaves no stone unturned in his relentless search for simplicity and truth in an arena that has for so long been dominated by fantasy and wishful thinking. While lacking nothing in academic rigour, Hutton's writing is also pacy and colourful, with occasional glimpses of a mischievous sense of humour. Contrary to previous 'reviewers' who have sought to undermine Hutton's work and peddle their own agendas on the amazon forum, the possibilty that this historian is an active participant in many of the rituals he describes makes his merciless debunking all the more credible. A remarkable piece of work: entirely non-partisan, essential reading for anyone involved in the folk world, essential reading for anyone who lives in Britain.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As a dozen good reviews could not begin to provide a fair account of this book, I shall offer a few key points which caught my attention as introduction only.

At the outset I had hoped for a more 'traditionally' pagan account of the ancient seasonal festivals, their origins and meanings.
I was initially surprised and eventually delighted to find however that although this work is more of an Academic compote of facts and dates and included ongoing assessment of earlier authors often unfounded but sometimes inspirational conjecture than I had anticipated (of Sir James Frazer et al) nevertheless this is a very enjoyable, remarkably researched and admirably objective book-collection of essays.

That much of this morass concerns the developments and impacts of constantly changing traditions due to Christian Reformation and Counter Reformation (certainly comedic at this distance in time), the ongoing process a seminal crucible (reminding me of both grail and cauldron) proved revealing, as the general view of folk traditions and their origins seems to usually favor the more arcane sources, this book by contrast documents only definite evidence, largely that of written records, of church, kirk and council across the land.

With a nod to the Scandinavian Yuil, as well as the Roman Kalendae, we embark on an exploration of the traditions of Christmastide, the Twelve Days, the Rites of Celebration, Purification and of Charity which included the remarkable Clementing, Elementing and Souling, even Thomasing, Gooding, Mumping and Corning (as well as more)regional begging customs, by which means the poor would recant rhymes for contribution of food for a feast of their own.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
By Tim62 VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback
In his third book on folk beliefs and faiths, Ronald Hutton takes a day by day look at the sacred year. The book can be read on its own -- indeed it is excellent as a reference book for answering all those queries generated by the folklore industry and the tourism industry. if you wqant to know about Guy Fawkes at Lewes, May Day at Padstow and lots of others, then this is the book for you. For me what was especially interesting, was the realisation that the myths surrounding the orignins of our festivals, was almost as interesting as the myths contained in the festivals and celebrations themselves. Professor Hutton expertly lays bare the fact that for many of our festivals -- they are not the archaic survival of ancient pagan rites - preserved as folkloric tradtion. In fact many of our festivals, with a few notable exceptions, date no earlier than the middle ages - a decent enough pedigree to be sure -- but definitely not pre-Christian.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Barrow Filled with Riches 18 Oct 2001
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Ronald Hutton is an excellent source of knowledge. I am buying this book as a present for a student of ancient british religions, because it is brilliant, informative and unbiased.
I have had the good fortune to be in the authors company on many occasions, and found him to be a wonderful and spiritual person, as well as being a learned and respected professor, which is why I first bought his work !
I would recommend this book to anybody who is interested in history, culture, early religions, the wheel of our year, or ancient Pagan Britain.
I suspect that my collection of Hutton's work will expand with each new release - Stations of the Sun is a barrow filled with riches!!!
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Matter-of-fact but essential reading 30 Dec 2008
By E. L. Wisty TOP 500 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Written in a somewhat matter-of-fact manner, but sticks entirely to what is historically recorded and thankfully totally avoids any completely speculative "Celtic", New Age-ist or pseudo-pagan kind of associations. (I suspect that the sun rising over Stonehenge on the cover is a daft product of the publishing house's art department and not something Hutton himself would have chosen.)

Thoroughly researched, this is a must read for anyone interested in British history, and very revealing in what large numbers of annual festivals and rituals we have lost forever. In particular, see here just how deeply the Reformation changed British society - it went far, far beyond the dissolution of the monasteries you learn about in school. In many cases we should be truly thankful to have lost them. For example you might think that the once a year kid's Trick or Treat is a pain, but just read here what a huge number of ritualised begging days, with potential consequent nastiness if you didn't cough up, which our ancestors had to put up with. Also, the animal cruelty beggars belief - killing wrens to display on a stick at Christmas, tying up birds to kill by throwing clubs at them and tossing cats in the air at Shrovetide, and so on.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not an OUP printed copy
Nothing wrong with the actual text of the book but I'm not really happy paying publisher's prices for a book that is printed by Amazon. Read more
Published 9 days ago by K9Keith
5.0 out of 5 stars It's Ron Hutton...................
what more is there to say. He is our current genius and expert on all things to do with Britains Pagan past and present. Read more
Published 1 month ago by isismoonchild
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent overview
As someone who is vaguely interested in the calendar of traditional celebrations, this is a fantastic book which I dip into once or twice a month to read up on an upcoming event. Read more
Published 3 months ago by Richard Hill
3.0 out of 5 stars Small print
the print in this book is shocking to say the least, had to send the book back and arrange for kindle edition. However the book is really interesting so I am told
Published 5 months ago by Joanne Berry
4.0 out of 5 stars Sir James Frazer has a lot to answer for...
Even today, the idea that many folk traditions and festivals are the remnants of some pagan pre-Christian Celtic religion, transmogrified and surviving furtively in the... Read more
Published 8 months ago by C. Ball
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and readable
A good one to dip into. Clearly written, with the occasional touch of dry humour. Detailed and continually interesting - I learned a lot.
Published 10 months ago by K. J. Eames
4.0 out of 5 stars Loads of interesting facts!
This book was definitely an eye opener, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in celebrating the seasons in Britain. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Annika
5.0 out of 5 stars The whole story
A fascinating and scholarly review of up to date research, by a distinguished historian. Clearly written. Read more
Published 17 months ago by j.k.radford
3.0 out of 5 stars Not much Sun here
I couldn't see the aim of this book. It is a collection of folk customs arranged (almost) chronologically through the year, presented in about as dull a form as possible. Read more
Published on 4 Feb 2010 by Rumpuscat
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