Magic & Myth Talks

Tickets for all talks £6 each per person to be purchased in advance from the museum.

Scroll down to read the bios of our speakers.

Thursday 20th June 7-9pm Talk by Artist Ethan Pennell – The Magic And Folklore of Dartmoor

Artist Ethan Pennell shares some strange tales of witchcraft, hauntings & the fae featured on his Dartmoor Folklore Map.

Thursday 27th June 7-9pm Talk by Author Tracey Norman – Plants, Poultices And Persecution

Join local author and historian Tracey Norman as she explores some fascinating 17th century remedies. Discover how our ancestors managed range of ailments, from bruises to toothache. What did snails and earthworms have to do with medicine? What did they use calves’ feet for? And what prompted accusations of witchcraft against some people, yet not others?

Tuesday 9th July 7-9pm Talk by Author Mark Norman – Black Dog Folklore

Appearances of ghostly apparitions of black dogs are seen all over the world, but the widest and most recorded range of examples is found in the United Kingdom, where sightings go back as far as 1127 in the written record. Despite this, many people are not aware of the symbol of the Black Dog outside of the most famous literary example – The Hound of the Baskervilles – for which at least some inspiration comes from Dartmoor. This talk will focus on examples of ghostly Black Dogs reported in the South West throughout history and look at how these fit into the overall picture of this particular type of ghost across Britain.

Friday 26th July 7-9pm Talk by Storyteller Helen Bruce – Dewer, The Devil And Old Crockern: The Master Of The Wild Hunt By Many Names

Dartmoor has a fascinatingly dense collection of tales around various leaders of the Wild Hunt, ranging from the cursed Squire Cabell to Old Crockern, the Guardian Spirit of the moor. Join Helen JR Bruce in delving into the various purposes of the hunt, the influence of Christianity on its depiction, and its relevance in the modern protest movement today.

Thursday 1st August 7-9pm Talk by Herbalist Jenny Carden – Plant Medicine and Myth in Devon

This will be a fascinating exploration of the traditional remedies and healing practices which were lost, partly rediscovered and imported from overseas, shaped alongside and occasionally in conflict with ‘modern’ medicine. We’ll ponder questions such as how did plant medicine become viewed as folklore and how does this affect us today? Why did the government ask people in Devon to pick and dry foxgloves in WW1? Why were 19th century Herbalists in Devon almost all Carpenters and shoemakers? And does Dartmoor hold the key to lost medicine practices in its peat?

Tuesday 17th September 7-9pm Talk by Author Mark Norman – Telling The Bees, Folklore Of Rural Craft

Although we live in a modern and industrialised world, vestiges of the ways in which we used to do things can still be found in artisan products, the work of craft practitioners – and in the folklore record. This talk will look at some of the crafts and trades which used to be central to rural life: beekeeping, knitting, spinning, brewing, baking and more – and examine the history, tradition and superstitions associated with them. How did the blacksmith obtain his special talents? When did we start putting knitted items on the top of post boxes? And exactly which way up should you hang a horseshoe when?

Thursday 26th September 7-9pm Talk by Artist Ethan Pennell – The Magic And Folklore Of Dartmoor

Artist Ethan Pennell shares some strange tales of witchcraft, hauntings & the fae featured on his Dartmoor Folklore Map.

Thursday 17th October 7-9pm Talk by Author Tracey Norman – Devon’s Forgotten Witches

Step back in time with local author and historian Tracey Norman as she shares some fascinating examples of Devon’s little-known witchcraft stories. Discover how Exeter treated its accused witches, ponder over the fate of some oxen, and find out what a cup of cocoa has to do with witchcraft…

Our Speakers


Tracey Norman

Tracey Norman is an author and historian. She writes both fiction and non-fiction in several genres. Her book Dark Folklore (co-written with her husband Mark) was published in 2021 by The History Press, and her first full-length novel, the supernatural Gothic adventure Who Is Anna Stenberg? was published in October 2023 by American publisher Liminal Books. Her play WITCH, available as a full-cast audio production, was based on the events in a real witchcraft trial from 1687 and has been used by schools and universities as Theatre in Education. Tracey lives in Devon with her family and a feline trip hazard.

Jenny Carden

Jenny Carden has been working with plant medicine for many years, including training for four years to become a qualified medical herbalist. This includes 500 hours of clinical training and gaining in-depth knowledge of the biochemistry and scientific side of plant medicine. Jenny combines this with a background in archaeology, ecology and a love for the outdoors (the moor in particular) to help people back to better health, with workshops and walks to help explore the natural world around you.

Ethan Pennell

Ethan Pennell is a Devon-based artist and writer, whose practice draws upon environmental issues, folklore and the Occult. He is particularly inspired and frequently haunted by the eldritch tales of Dartmoor, his local stomping ground. Ethan is currently working on an illustrated book about the moor’s folklore. It serves as a companion piece to the recently published Dartmoor Folklore map, a moorland guide to the eldritch world of ghosts, pixies, the Devil, witches, wisht places, legends, strange phenomena and more. Seven years in the making, this map has been a true labour of love.

Mark Norman

Mark Norman is a folklorist and author based in mid-Devon. He is the creator and host of The Folklore Podcast, which is one of the most listened to shows worldwide in the folklore genre with around 2 million downloads across its nine seasons. In 2021, Mark founded The Folklore Library and Archive - a registered charity which aims to collect and preserve valuable folklore material in all formats and make it freely available for everyone. The charity is based in Devon and has loaned a number of items to this year's exhibition at the Museum. Many of Mark's books are available in the Museum shop during the exhibition, including Black Dog Folklore, Telling the Bees and other customs: The folklore of rural craft and Dark Folklore which he co-wrote with his wife Tracey. Mark is the Recorder of Folklore for The Devonshire Association and sits on the Council of The Folklore Society.

Helen Bruce

Helen JR Bruce is an author, folklorist and oral storyteller living on the magical Somerset levels. Her lifelong fascination with Dartmoor has manifested in the Heat of the Hunt trilogy, her lively reworking of folklore set in the modern day. An advocate for Sacred Earth Activism, she sees story as the liminal space between humans and landscape, and as a universal language which allows for communication between the two. She hopes to inspire people and communities to continue sharing stories and finding new stories in their landscapes.