Personal profile




Ceri Houlbrook is a Lecturer in History and Folklore in the History Group. Her primary research interests are the heritage and material culture of ritual and folklore in the British Isles, from c.1700 to the present day. She completed her PhD at the University of Manchester in 2014, having focused on the archaeology and heritage of the British coin-tree. She published this research in a Palgrave Macmillan monograph:  The Roots of a Ritual: The magic of coin-trees from religion to recreation.


Her interest in contemporary ritual practices extends also to love-locks, on which she has published a monograph with Berghahn: Unlocking the Love-Lock: The history and heritage of a contemporary custom


Ceri joined the University of Hertfordshire in 2015 as a Postdoctoral Researcher on the Inner Lives: Emotions, Identity and the Supernatural, 1300-1900 project, in which she worked with Professor Owen Davies on how anxiety and fear of the supernatural manifested itself materially in the domestic spaces of the 18th-20th centuries. As part of this project, Ceri was co-curator on the Spellbound exhibition at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, and co-wrote Palgrave Macmillan book, with Owen Davies, Building Magic: Ritual and re-enchantment in post-medieval structures


She has also worked on the Electric Generations Project with Owen Davies and Dr Ciara Meehan, curating exhibitions on people's receptions to electricity, which have been held in Dublin, Hatfield, and Manchester.


Ceri is currently a Co-Investigator on the AHRC Bottles Concealed and Revealed Project, working on collaboration with Museum of London Archaeology to explore bottle magic and renegotiate what is understood by the term 'witch bottle'.




Ceri has co-edited a volume on The Materiality of Magic: An artefactual investigation into ritual practices and popular beliefs, published by Oxbow, and Magical Folk: British and Irish Fairies with Gibson Square. She has co-edited a special issue of Material Religion on 'Cataloguing Magic in Museum Contexts', and is currently co-editing a special issue of Peace Review Journal on Folklore.