#FolkloreThursday – how did i miss that? (and the confessions of a folklore fraud)

I’ve been living in a twitter cave or something, as I have managed to completely miss #folkloreThursday. Oh and it’s wonderful, the folklore magpie I am is loving it all. But aside from this post I won’t be joining in – yet… Let me explain the root of my anxiety (as part apology and part explanation!)

I’m always slightly nervous at speaking up at folklory thing – not through any pretention on my part, but more the opposite. I feel a bit of an upstart fraud. Y’know the type, those people who breeze around pretending to be knowledgeable about a subject and are mostly just “empty vessels” as my gran would say. I hope I’m not seen like that – but it’s always a worry of a slightly neurotic person.

I’m not in any way a folklore expert, I’m following the worn path of those who love it but are utterly self-trained in the subject and I’m picking up things as I go along, I started incorporating it into my archaeological research in 2001 while working on a souterrain site in Northern Ireland.

The fairies… the place of full of them the old boy farmer was certain of it. He had been sure long before their dwelling place had been discovered. The folklore indicated where the archaeology was after the remains had been forgotten.

And I loved it. I loved what the stories were telling me about my site, the rituals that people confided in me while I was there because I was happy to listen to their folk beliefs.

From that point on it became a real part of my archaeological life, so much so I was actually on a number of occasions introduced as “the girl who talks about fairies”.

But over the years in academic circles I’ve come up against a lot of criticism and stick for studying folklore. I’ve had my research dismissed, I’ve had it described a pointless.

It’s becoming recognised now as a legitimate piece of material culture and source, and I’m glad to have in my own small way perhaps helped to beat that path, but it wasn’t pleasant at the start of my own academic journey.

More to the point it’s lead me to meet some amazingly interesting people, and I’ve learnt so much about my adopted home in the South-West through it.

But I never call myself a folklorist. As my twitter biog will testify, I am an archaeologist who studies folklore – often probably very badly. It’s the same reason I’ve never dared join the folklore society…

So #FolkloreThurday I’m so glad I’ve found you (and I thank the wonderful folklorist Mark Norman for the tip off on his FB page), but I’ll probably hide in my cave behind this blog for a while 🙂


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