The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain

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From the twelve days of Christmas to the Spring traditions of Valentine, Shrovetide, and Easter eggs, through May Day revels and Midsummer fires, and on to the waning of the year, Harvest Home, and Hallowe'en; Ronald Hutton takes us on a fascinating journey through the ritual year in Britain. His comprehensive study covers all the British Isles and the whole sweep of history from the earliest written records to the present day. Great and lesser, ancient and modern, Christian and pagan, all rituals are treated with the same attention. The result is a colourful and absorbing account in which Ronald Hutton illuminates the history of the calendar we live by, and challenges many commonly held assumptions about the customs of the past and the festivals of the present. The Stations of the Sun is the first complete scholarly work to cover the full span of British rituals, challenging the work of specialists from the late Victorian period onwards, reworking our picture of the field thoroughly, and raising issues for historians of every period.

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Review:

a fascinating volume, which any future study of calendar rituals - or of 'pagan residues' in popular culture - will have to take into account. (Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000.)

Students of religion will be impressed by the ample evidence the book provides, not for the survival of pagan religious practices in a Christian era, but for the survival of Catholic practices in a Protestant one. (Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000.)

Well produced and written in a pleasing style, it is a rich source of information about late-medieval calendar customs whose scope extends far beyond the Middle Ages. Stations of the Sun belongs in the reference collection of any college library. (Margaret Cormack, Speculum - A Jnl of Medieval Studies, 2000.)

Hutton attempts in a highly readable text that will serve the scholar and general reader alike to provide the first truly complete survey of the history of communal, seasonal rites and customs. To do this he pieced together vast quantities of raw material ... In this engaging exploration his work will be useful to students of popular culture and literature, folklorists, historians, and even the old-fashioned enthusiast. (Royal W Rhodes, Journal of Ritual Studies 12.2 Winter 1998)

absorbing study (Lorn Macintyre, Glasgow Herald)

a scholarly work meticulously detailing the origins of every traditional holiday or ritual day in Britain's history ... As a historical document, the breadth of detail is gripping, but as an exploration of British beliefs over the millenium about to go forever, it's unmissable. (Flic Everett, Manchester Evening News)

an exhaustive account of the traditions and rituals practised in the British Isles from time immemorial to the present (Sybil Owen, Oxford Times)

Hutton's work is not dry as dust but of a piece with the ever-expanding purlieux of social history. He does not string out paragraphs upon a modicum of fact. Each is fertile with detail ... this elegantly produced and remarkably cheap volume will find an honoured place in the library of every self-respecting New Age caravan that is Glastonbury-bound, and, elsewhere, it will command a sale well beyond the run-up to Christmas once known as Advent. (Christopher Hawtree, The Independent)

The Stations of the Sun is a dedicated, meticulous piece of research. (David Woodthorpe, Plymouth Evening Herald)

scholarly, readable history of British seasonal rituals ... Hutton takes us informatively through "the ritual year", from Christmas to Bonfire Night (Paul Barker, The Times)

About the Author:

Ronald Hutton is Professor of History at the University of Bristol. He is the author of The Rise and Fall of Merry England (OUP 1994) and Charles II: King of England, Scotland, and Ireland (OUP, 1989; OPB,1991).

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9780192854483: Stations Of The Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain

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ISBN 10:  0192854488 ISBN 13:  9780192854483
Publisher: Oxford University Press, 2001
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9780192880451: The Stations of the Sun: History of the Ritual Year in Britain

Oxford..., 1997
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