“It is said that his birth was marked by earthquakes, tidal waves, tornadoes, firestorms, the explosion of three neighbouring stars and, shortly afterwards, by the issuing of over six and three quarter million writs for damages from all the major landowners in his Galactic sector. However, the only person by whom this is said is Beeblebrox himself” (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams).

As an example of how myths can start, this is a reasonably good, if exaggerated, example. And, being about birth, I feel it somehow appropriate for this, the first post in a series based around folklore and legends. I am, for this series at least, The Writer. However, what I prefer being called is Richard Tann-Watson. That is, after all, my name.

My role at the museum is, as a reader may have guessed, as a writer of blog posts about the folklore of the local area. Now, some of you may be asking how this is relevant to the work of a museum. To answer simply, a lot of early (and a large amount of later) history is tied up with folklore. The myths, legends, and songs which were sung and stories which were told hundreds of years ago have passed down through the oral tradition to us today. Many of these tell us both what the common man enjoyed hearing about, as well as telling us how they lived and worked (as, for instance, in mining and sea shanties). They can also be inextricably linked with certain events and places, as with the ancient stories surrounding the foundation of Dale Abbey. Many legends are still believed to be true today, even with no evidence to suggest they were real, as with the stories of Robin Hood, or even the popular 19th Century figure of Ned Ludd. There will be several more examples of these in the coming months.

The way this idea has been developed is in conjunction with my own work. I am a writer of science fiction and fantasy, which involves taking a lot of the folklore I am going to be talking about and building it into my own worlds and futures. Through this, I am also currently studying on an MA in English Literature, looking in particular at how folklore is used in fantasy. I am also, as a hobby, a folk singer, so my particular emphasis is on traditional songs.