Tolkien readily admitted that the concept of Middle-earth was not his own invention. An Old English term for the Dark Age world, it was always assumed that the importance of magic in this world existed only in Tolkien's works; now Brian Bates reveals the truth about this historical culture. Behind the stories we know of Dark Age kings and queens, warriors and battles, lies the hidden history of Middle-earth, a world of magic, mystery and destiny. Fiery dragons were seen to fly across the sky, monsters haunted the marshes and elves fired poisoned arrows. Wizards cast healing spells, wise trees gave blessings and omens foretold the deaths of kings. The very landscape itself was enchanted and the world imbued with a life force. Repressed by a millennium of Christianity, this belief system all but disappeared, leaving only faint traces in folk memory and fairy tales. This text draws on archaeological findings to reconstruct the imaginative world of our past, revealing a culture with insights that may help us understand our own place in the world.
Brian Bates is professor of Psychology and Consciousness at the University of Brighton. He is a leading writer on the spiritual world of the Anglo-Saxon and Norse cultures. His most recent book, co-authored with John Cleese, was The Human Face. He also writes for the Sunday Times, Observer and Express.