1996 …2026

Research activity per year

Personal profile


I am a member of the History Department at the University of Hertfordshire. To see the staff pages of my History colleagues click here.  I co-founded the University's Heritage Hub with my colleague Dr Sarah Lloyd, who is its Chair, and I also created the student enterprise initiative Heritage i-Teams.

 Heritage and history projects  Explore our expertise

           Heritage Hub                              Heritage for Business


Much of my work concerns the belief in witchcraft, magic, ghosts, and popular medicine from the ancient world to the modern era. This has also led to work on global comparative studies, and interdisciplinary research applying archaeological, anthropological and biomedical knowledge to historical topics. Most recently, it has led to collaborative work on the reception of electricity in the homes of the poor. I also have interests in landscape history, heritage, and public history. 



  The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts  Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History   Witchcraft, Magic and Culture, 1736-1951 Murder, Magic, Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the Wizard Ghosts: A Social History Magic: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paganism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)   A People Bewitched: Witchcraft and Magic in Nineteenth-Century Somerset (The Paranormal)Product DetailsPalgrave Advances in Witchcraft Historiography Witchcraft Continued: Popular Magic in Modern Europe Beyond the Witch Trials: Witchcraft and Magic in Enlightenment Europe



Further Publications

Grimoires: A History of Magic BooksAmerica Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft after Salem (OUP) explores the nature and strength of witchcraft beliefs in American society from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, including detailed accounts of the murder and abuse of suspected witches in European, Native American and African American communities. This follows on from Grimoires: A History of Magic Books (2009), which traces the development of grimoires and the conjurations and spells they contained from ancient Egypt to modern America, and from Europe to the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. It is published by Oxford University Press.

 Product DetailsProduct Details


In 2017 I finished editing the Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic (2017), and I also published a Wellcome Trust-funded Open Access book with Francesca Matteoni entitled Executing Magic in the Modern Era: Criminal Bodies and the Gallows in Popular Medicine (2017).

In 2018 I completed a new major monograph for OUP, A Supernatural Struggle: Magic, Divination and Faith during the First World War.


A Supernatural War: Magic, Divination, and Faith during the First World War


In the last couple of years I have also finished directing a funded project on the importance of basketry during the First World War I also worked with Dr Ciara Meehan and Dr Ceri Houlbrook on an exhibition and research project about the reception of electricity in Irish and diaspora Irish homes, called Electric Generations 


Electric Generations


Recent funded projects

As a Co-Investigator for the AHRC Every Day Lives in War Engagement Centre, I have been working with a range of non-academic partners to explore aspects of every day life during the First World War, while also exploring more specific aspects of the supernatural and belief. See our website and keep informed on Twitter.


I was also Co-Investigator on a major Wellcome Trust project, 'Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse' (2010-15), exploring the magical and medical uses of criminal corpses, the healing power of the executioner, and the magic of the gallows. The published outputs are freely available by clicking here for the article and the book.


I recently finished the major Leverhulme-funded project led by Malcolm Gaskill, with fellow Co-Investigator Sophie Page, entitled, 'Inner Lives: Emotions, Identity, and the Supernatural, 1300-1900'. Click in the image below and see our Twitter feed. My strand, working with Ceri Houlbrook, explored the material culture of domestic magic, and insanity and supernatural belief 1700-1900. See the Concealed Revealed blog and our History Pin site where you can join in the research on ritual objects and marks to protect the home.





Following on from Inner Lives, as of Spring 2019 I am now co-investigator along with colleague Ceri Houlbrook on a major, new, 3-year AHRC project on witch bottles, led by Nigel Jeffries of the Museum of London Archaeology. For more details click here.


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Collaborations and top research areas from the last five years

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