"Interesting and unique book...Highly recommended" The Cauldron
"excellently researched and well recommended" Celtic Connections
"...rivetting...once I'd started reading it, I could not put it down...it had everything...well thought out and well written...a superb reference book" Time Between Times
An air of mystery has always surrounded the crudely carved stone heads found at prehistoric sites, on churches and on farmhouses all over the British Isles. Long known as 'Celtic heads', John Billingsley explains why this is a mistaken term as he puts them in a context extending from some of the earliest prehistoric remains to the folk traditions of nineteenth-century and even modern Britain. From the skulls in Celtic sacred sites to the stone heads on farmhouses in West Yorkshire, a common theme can be discerned - the widespread human belief in the head as the seat of the soul, the source of our communication with the Otherworld. 'A Stony Gaze' presents the history of the severed head tradition from prehistory to the present. The close association between these severed head images and the world of the supernatural and divine is explored using examples from Celtic literature and later folklore to assist the quest for the meaning of this uncompromising symbol. The archaic carved heads of Britain look to our world, and to the Otherworld. This book is the most complete investigation of the severed head motif yet published. John Billingsley removes this topic from the narrow archaeological, Celtic or pagan confines that previous writers have emphasised and places it in a broader setting of widespread folk tradition that interrelates all venues for the appearance of the severed head image.
ISBN 1898307 717
Telephone Orders: 01823401528