Investigating The Legends of the Carrs as published in Folk-Lore in 1891
For the past six years I have been carrying out research to attempt to validate the Legends of the Cars1 a collection of tales submitted to Folklore in 1891 as having been collected in the Carrs of North Lincolnshire from local people.These stories are today used by artists, writers and storytellers, wishing to evoke the flatland and beliefs of the past, and one of them (The Dead Moon) was even formed a core part of Radio 4's On Mardle Fen (Series 5 -2 According to Ditcher) when it was described as "an ancient fenland story."
Despite the fact that the origins have recently been questioned by F J Norton, Neil Philip and Jeremy Harte, to date they have never been thoroughly investigated.
I have examined the historical, geographical and social context which inspired the Legends and have validated the folkloric content and the dialect as being predominantly from North Lincolnshire and South Yorkshire. I have also found that the stories contain a wealth of clues which indicate that they are oral rather than literary tales, such as framing devices, asides to the listener, repetitions, poetic devices and simple, rather than complex sentences.
Marie Clothilde Balfour, who submitted the Legends to Folk-Lore, lived in Redbourne between 1887 and 1889. She was born in Scotland and was a first cousin of Robert Louis Stevenson. My thesis argues that as the Legends are so firmly linked to the Lincolnshire Carrs, it is unlikely that Balfour composed them, however they must have been composed by a person or people within the Carrs, at some time between the seventeenth and mid-nineteenth century.
By clicking on the links in the categories to the right you can find out about
- an outline summary of my research to date
- a short summary of the sources I have consulted
- a list of the Legends and the places where they and their adaptations can be found plus links to summaries of each of the Legends (found by clicking on each link in the categories list)
- current news about the research
1: The spelling of 'Cars' is as recorded by M.C.Balfour though the modern spelling is 'Carrs.'