King Minos and the Minotaur remain shrouded in mystery and mythology, yet evidence of a Bronze Age ‘Bull Cult’ at the Minoan palaces abounds. Were bulls merely for entertainment or did they have a deeper significance?
‘Lady burglars’ – as they were primly named by the late-Victorian press – had an almost mythical status. That nocturnal robberies were committed by women was often too much to countenance.
There are many ways to visit Ruritania, although the country doesn’t exist. Anthony Hope’s bucolic kingdom – replete with chocolate-box royalty and swashbuckling adventure – has a long cultural history.
Historical facts about the Druids are few, yet this very lack of tangible evidence has allowed their image to be reworked and appropriated by the English, Irish, Scots and Welsh for over 500 years.
One in every four soldiers surrendered at some point during the American Civil War. It was an honourable way of accepting defeat – provided it was done under the right circumstances.
No other creature has embodied so many attributes: magic spirit, vermin, guardian of holy men, symbol of mother India, an incarnation of evil yet also its vanquisher.
The much-vaunted 'special relationship' between Britain and the United States obscures another history of rivalry and suspicion between the two allies.
Do you want to dance? As the 19th century wore on, the Victorians certainly did, requiring new venues in which to mix music and movement, whether a pub or a palace.
In the late 1800s, a new church promised to reshape human bodies into a redeemed race, transcending biology and ethnicity. Inhabitants of the dirty, sick slums of the world’s recently industrialised cities were increasingly drawn to the call of Zion.
Norse travellers reached every corner of the known world, but they were not tourists. The ‘racially pure’ Vikings of stereotype were, in fact, cultural chameleons adopting local habits, languages and religions.