Living Lore: The magic of memory

On Ilkley Moor at dawn…and bah’t ‘at

It was with horror that I read an article, a few years back, that highlighted that fewer Yorkshire-folk now know the words to our ‘national anthem’… On Ilkey Moor Bah’t ‘at.  To me,  that was incredibly sad. Not only is it ‘our’ song (and all true Yorkshire-folk will defend our right to our own national anthem…) it is also an important and wonderful bit of folk-teaching in its own right.

The song has travelled the world, but it is doubtful how many know the full story. It tells of a young man who has been courting Mary Jane, up on the moors without a hat. The singer tells him that he is bound to catch his death of cold if he is up there hatless and he will end up being buried. Then the worms will eat him… and the ducks will eat the worms… and we will eat the ducks, this ‘getting our own back’. A perfect illustration of the cycle of life, love and death, taught in a way that is easily understood, remembered and absorbed.

That, and my own vain quest to find the lost folklore of Derbyshire, set me wondering just how much was being lost. Some time ago, I asked if readers would be my guest and share the folklore, folktales and traditions with which they were raised. The idea was to preserve online traditions and tales that are no longer being passed down through families and communities. A few did so, and links to their posts can be found below.

Apparently, I am not the only one concerned with the loss of our folk history… the National Trust is also asking for people to write down their memories of folklore and traditions.

While the Trust is collecting stories from Britain, I would like to extend the invitation to share folklore from around the world. Do share your stories!

LL logoHow did your granny predict the weather? What did your great uncle Albert tell you about the little green men he saw in the woods that night? What strange creature stalks the woods in your area?

So many of these old stories are slipping away for want of being recorded. legendary creatures, odd bits of folklore, folk remedies and charms, and all the old stories that brought our landscape to life…

Tell me a story, share memories of the old ways that are being forgotten. What tips did did Granny teach you? What stories did she tell? Share the folklore of your home. I am not looking for fiction with this feature, but for genuine bits of folklore, old wives tales, folk magic and local legends. Why not share what you know and preserve it for the future?

Email me at and put ‘Living Lore’ in the subject line. All I need is your article, bio and links, along with any of your own images you would like me to include and I’ll do the rest.

Previous posts in this series include:

Marcia Meara: Boojum & Hootin’ Annie

Lyn Horner: Spider Woman

Coyote Tales

Robbie Cheadle: A nursery rhyme with an interesting history

Ichabod Temperance: A Spectral Analysis of Temperance

Bobby Fairfield: A very brief history of an infamous Exmoor family.

The curse of the Babbs

A half-forgotten tale

Teagan Geneviene: Superstitions You Might Find in Atonement Tennessee

You will also find a number of reblogged posts by searching this site for ‘Living Lore Reblog’

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email:
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7 Responses to Living Lore: The magic of memory

  1. How very interesting, Sue. I didn’t know York had its own national anthem. For other less informed people, like me, here is the Youtube Video:

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Alli Templeton says:

    This should be interesting, Sue. Looking forward to more folklore. 🙂


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