Folklore Studies Gone Wrong: S. A. Swaffington’s The Supernatural World of the Anglo-Saxons

SwaffsaxonsNow and again I’ve posted on this blog about creatures of folklore, like the Dullahan and Jimmy Squarefoot. One of the things I found frustrating when researching them was how sloppy a lot of the writing available online was. Yes, we’re talking about creatures that don’t actually exist, but there’s a world of difference between documenting authentic folklore from the past and simply making things up on the spot.

The most galling thing is when this shoddy research escapes from wiki articles and makes it into actual books that purport to be authoritative. I’ve recently been reading a book by S. A. Swaffington called The Supernatural World of the Anglo-Saxons: Gods, Folklore and the Pagan Roots of Christmas and Halloween, and it’s a prime example of folklore studies gone wrong.

At first, I considered going easy on the book: it’s a self-published work by an obscure author, after all. But then I looked at its Amazon page and saw a fairly substantial number of ratings, more than half of which gave it five stars. Clearly, there are people being suckered by this terrible piece of work, so I felt it was time someone stepped in and helped prevent any of this tosh from contaminating future scholarship.

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