102 episodes

Bi-weekly narratives on the unsolved and the unexplained, mysteries, historical true crime, touches of the paranormal and cultural peculiarities.

Dark Historie‪s‬ Ben Cutmore

    • History
    • 4.9 • 621 Ratings

Bi-weekly narratives on the unsolved and the unexplained, mysteries, historical true crime, touches of the paranormal and cultural peculiarities.

    Haunted Bones: Screaming Skulls

    Haunted Bones: Screaming Skulls

     

    Haunted human remains are a trope popular in modern horror, from the twisted ivory puppet in the House on Haunted Hill to the skeletal corpses, floating in the swimming pool of Poltergeist, human bones have long held a place of fear, worship and power throughout history and cultures, eventually manifesting within the horror genre of the 20th Century. At the time of the English Civil War, the whisperings of an emergent folk tradition seeded its place in the popular imagination, when stories of skulls with seemingly supernatural powers began to seep from the large, rural manor houses throughout Britain. Screaming Skulls, as they became known, were kept in farm houses, rectories and family estates both for protection and through fear of what might happen if they were mistreated, a situation which sent stories spinning through the local vicinity.
     
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    SOURCES
     


    Hutchinson, John (1809) Hutchinson’s Tour Through The High Peak of Derbyshire. J. Wilson, Macclesfield, UK.
     


    Laycock, Samuel (1863) An Address to Dickie. The Ashton Weekly Reporter and Stalybridge and Dukinfield Chronicle, Saturday 18 July, 1863, p.4.
     


    Ingram, John H. (1897) The Haunted Homes and Family Traditions of Great Britain. Gibbing & Co. LTD, London, UK.
     


    Collinson, John. (1791) HIstory and Antiquities of the County of Somerset, Vol II. R. Crutwell, Bath, UK
     


    Udal, John S. (1910) Concerning the legend of the skull of Bettiscombe manor. Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society Volume 31, 1910. UK
     


    Chilton Cantelo and Ashington Parish Website. 2021. Home - Chilton Cantelo and Ashington Parish Website. [online] Available at: [Accessed 2 February 2021].
     


    Clarke, David (1999) The head cult: tradition and folklore surrounding the symbol of the severed human head in the British Isles. University of Sheffield, UK.
     


    Underwood, Peter (1988) Ghosts of Dorset. Bossiney Books, UK
     


    Bord, Janet (2009) Screaming Skulls: Haunting Headbones or Ghostly Guardians? Paranormal Magazine, Issue 37, July 2009.
     

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    For extended show notes, including maps, links and scripts, head over to darkhistories.com
    Support the show by using our link when you sign up to Audible: http://audibletrial.com/darkhistories or visit our Patreon for bonus episodes and Early Access: https://www.patreon.com/darkhistories
    Connect with us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/darkhistoriespodcast
    Or find us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/darkhistories
    & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dark_histories/
    Or you can contact us directly via email at contact@darkhistories.com
    or via voicemail on: (415) 286-5072
    or join our Discord community: https://discord.gg/cmGcBFf
    The Dark Histories Butterfly was drawn by Courtney, who you can find on Instagram @bewildereye
    Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017
    Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that. 
     

    • 58 min
    The Homunculus: From Science Fact to Gothic Fiction

    The Homunculus: From Science Fact to Gothic Fiction

     

    With a long and winding path through history from ancient times, to the renaissance and beyond, Alchemy was a vast subject with a multitude of practitioners, from the legendary and mythical to established medical gentry and scholarly clergy. In fact and fiction, they were men and women obsessed by the magical bending of the laws of nature to their will, creating gold, the elixir of life, stones that shone like the sun or offered immortality. Another sect of the sprawling tradition, however, found its interest in a far stranger creation, that of the homunculus, or “the little man”. Their writings can today be seen as some of the strangest works to exist in the history of scientific advancement and have far more in line with the publications of Gothic Horror that would eventually follow, centuries later.
     


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    SOURCES


     
    Maxwell-Stuart, P.G (2012) The Chemical Choir: A History of Alchemy. Continuum International Publishing, London, UK.


     
    Lindsay, Jack (1970) The origins of alchemy in Graeco-Roman Egypt. Barnes & Noble, NY, USA.


     
    Saif, Liana (2016) The Cows and the Bees: Arabic Sources and Parallels for Pseudo-Plato's Liber Vaccae (Kitab al-Nawamis). Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 2016, pp. 1-47(47). Warburg Institute, University of London, UK.


     
    Van Der Lugt, Maaike (2009) Abominable Mixtures: The Liber Vaccae in the Medieval West, or the Dangers and Attractions of Natural Magic. Traditio: Studies in Ancient and Medieval History, Thought, and Religion, Vol. 64 (2009), pp. 229-277. Cambridge University Press, UK


     
    Newman, William R. (2005) Promethean Ambitions: Alchemy and the Quest to Perfect Nature. University of Chicago Press, USA.


     
    Grafton, Anthony. Siraisi, Nancy (1999) Natural particulars: nature and the disciplines in Renaissance Europe. MIT Press, USA.


     
    Besetzny, Emil (1873) Die Sphinx Freimaurerisches Taschenbuch. L. Rosner, Vienna.
     

    ----------
    For extended show notes, including maps, links and scripts, head over to darkhistories.com
    Support the show by using our link when you sign up to Audible: http://audibletrial.com/darkhistories or visit our Patreon for bonus episodes and Early Access: https://www.patreon.com/darkhistories
    Connect with us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/darkhistoriespodcast
    Or find us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/darkhistories
    & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dark_histories/
    Or you can contact us directly via email at contact@darkhistories.com
    or via voicemail on: (415) 286-5072
    or join our Discord community: https://discord.gg/cmGcBFf
    The Dark Histories Butterfly was drawn by Courtney, who you can find on Instagram @bewildereye
    Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017
    Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that. 
     

    • 49 min
    William Dove & The Wizard

    William Dove & The Wizard

    The mid 19th Century newspaper headlines saw no shortage of cases involving poison. Unsurprisingly, given the relative ease of obtaining such deadly materials, a long narrative of death, whether by accident or design, formed throughout the period and still today the Victorian period is often characterised as something of a heyday for poisons and poisoners. From time to time, salacious stories of a murderer utilising these violent compounds broke out and captured the public's attention, stacking up a list of names of cold, calculated criminality. In 1855, William Doves name was added to the list after he killed his wife, Doves name drew attention over many of his fellow poisoners, however, when it was uncovered that he had killed her after taking advice from a local wizard, had sold his soul to the devil at a young age and later went on to write a letter to the Prince of Darkness in his own blood, inviting him to collect on his side of the bargain.
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    SOURCES
    The Leicester Journal (1856) Execution of William Dove. The Leicester Journal, Friday 15th August, 1856. 
    Sheffield Daily Telegraph (1856) The poisoning of a Lady By Strychnine, At Leeds. Sheffield Daily Telegraph, Thursday 13th March, 1856.
    The Morning Post (1856) Serious Charge Of Slow Poisoning From Strychnine, At Leeds. The Morning post, Monday 10th March, 1856. 
    Davies, Owen (2005) Murder, Magic & Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the Wizard. Pearson Education Limited, UK
    Davies, Owen (2008) Cunning-Folk in England and Wales during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries. Rural History, Volume 8, Issue 1, April 1997, pp. 91 - 107
    Davies, Owen (2007) Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History. Hambledon Continuum, UK     
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    If you'd like to send in a submission for the Christmas Campfire episode this year as I mentioned at the start of the episode, the email address to send to is: social@darkhistories.com
    For extended show notes, including maps, links and scripts, head over to darkhistories.com
    Support the show by using our link when you sign up to Audible: http://audibletrial.com/darkhistories or visit our Patreon for bonus episodes and Early Access: https://www.patreon.com/darkhistories
    Connect with us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/darkhistoriespodcast
    Or find us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/darkhistories
    & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dark_histories/
    Or you can contact us directly via email at contact@darkhistories.com
    or via voicemail on: (415) 286-5072
    or join our Discord community: https://discord.gg/cmGcBFf
    The Dark Histories Butterfly was drawn by Courtney, who you can find on Instagram @bewildereye
    Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017
    Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that. 
             

    • 1 hr 11 min
    Christmas Campfire 2020 (Part 2)

    Christmas Campfire 2020 (Part 2)

    Heya! I hope you had a great Christmas and are relaxing and taking it easy before the New Year. Here's the second part to this years Christmas Campfire. I messed up the timing a little bit and so this episode is not as long as I thought it was going to be, but it was nice to have it in two parts anyhow! I hope you enjoy it, here's to 2021 and a much better year than the mess that was 2020!

    • 16 min
    Christmas Campfire 2020 (Part 1)

    Christmas Campfire 2020 (Part 1)

    Merry Christmas everyone! It wouldn't be Christmas in 2020 if it wasn't at least a bit of a cock-up right?! Half way through recording this episode, the heart of my recording setup completely gave up on me and crapped out, so I had to re-record it the only way I had available, which means the audio quality is a little diminished, though I think I did a reasonable job on it in the end. Hopefully you'll not find it too bad!
    Anyway, enough of all that, here's the Christmas Campfire, or at least, the first part! The second part will be out in a few days, to help ease the boredom between Christmas and New Year where we're all feeling a bit fat, a bit sleepy and nothing much is happening! I hope you enjoy it, I hope you have a wonderful holiday, take care!

    • 44 min
    Loup-Garou: Witches, Cannibalism & The Werewolves of France

    Loup-Garou: Witches, Cannibalism & The Werewolves of France

    From Salem to East Anglia, Bordeaux to the black forest of Germany, it seems there is no end of infamous witch trials that took place in history, spanning hundreds of years and thousands of miles. Somewhat less well known are the many hundreds of werewolf trials that took place alongside them and with such a degree of crossover, that made them ultimately, synonymous with the occult world of demons and the Devil, with witchcraft and the sabbath. Whilst witches may have been feared for the damage they could cause to the crops, or the corruption they could sew within their communities, werewolves were feared on a far more primal level. Their danger came not from their insidious scheming, but their brutal ferocity, attacking, maiming and devouring the flesh of anyone who might find themselves alone on a dusty path at the wrong time. A predator, stalking in the shadows, werewolves struck fear into the rural communities of France for over two hundred years and whilst they may be considered hard to believe now, for many, they were once as real as the blood stains they left on the ground.
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    SOURCES
    Elspeth, Whitney (2007) “On the Inconstancy of Witches: Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges et demons (1612)”. Renaissance Quarterly, Renaissance Society of America, Volume 60, Number 4, Winter 2007, pp. 1405-1406, USA
    De Lancre, Pierre (2012) “On the Inconstancy of Witches: Pierre de Lancre's Tableau de l'inconstance des mauvais anges et demons”, Paris, France
    De Blecourt, Willem (2015) “Werewolf Histories (Palgrave Historical Studies in Witchcraft & Magic)”, Palgrave Macmillan, London, UK
    Baring-Gould, Sabine (1865) “The Book of Were-Wolves.” Smith, Elder & Co., London, UK
    Danjou, F. (1839) “Archives curieuses de l'histoire de France depuis Louis XI jusqu'à Louis XVIII, ou Collection de pièces rares et intéressantes. Publiées d'après les textes conservés à la Bibliothèque Royale, et accompagnées de notices et d'éclaircissemens; ouvrage destiné à servir de complément aus collections Guizot, Buchon, Petitot et Leber., ser.1 v.8 1836.”, Paris, France
    Evans, Hilary & Bartholomew, Robert. (2009) “Outbreak! The Encyclopedia of Extraordinary Social Behaviour”, Anomalist Books, New York, USA
    Rosenstock, Harvey A. Vincent, Kenneth R. (1977) “A Case of Lycanthropy”, The American Journal of Psychiatry, 134(10), 1147–1149. USA
    ----------
    If you'd like to send in a submission for the Christmas Campfire episode this year as I mentioned at the start of the episode, the email address to send to is: social@darkhistories.com
    For extended show notes, including maps, links and scripts, head over to darkhistories.com
    Support the show by using our link when you sign up to Audible: http://audibletrial.com/darkhistories or visit our Patreon for bonus episodes and Early Access: https://www.patreon.com/darkhistories
    Connect with us on Facebook: http://facebook.com/darkhistoriespodcast
    Or find us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/darkhistories
    & Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dark_histories/
    Or you can contact us directly via email at contact@darkhistories.com
    or via voicemail on: (415) 286-5072
    or join our Discord community: https://discord.gg/cmGcBFf
    The Dark Histories Butterfly was drawn by Courtney, who you can find on Instagram @bewildereye
    Music was recorded by me © Ben Cutmore 2017
    Other Outro music was Paul Whiteman & his orchestra with Mildred Bailey - All of me (1931). It's out of copyright now, but if you're interested, that was that. 

    • 59 min

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5
621 Ratings

621 Ratings

Colwrightj ,

Wonderful Storytelling

This podcast is such a great mix of historical information, amazing research and writing, and a really fabulous host! A great choice for mystery, true crime and paranormal listeners.

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Can’t get enough

Ben is great and really does his homework. I can’t recommend it enough.

Big John Lapeer ,

The absolute best

This podcast is a special find and a smashing, solidly produced triumph for anyone with a passion for historical stories of the macabre, the fantastical, or the outré.
Ben’s thorough research, his natural script writing, and disarming narration clearly sets his hard work in this genre a full measure beyond his competition.

If you’ve found yourself needing to quickly move on from other shows with either manic, goofy hosts, or those hyper-focused on the overtly grotesque aspects of crime, you should give Dark Histories a try. Ben’s even, measured, vocal delivery is much more akin to the classic suspense radio shows of days gone by—he keeps it classy. The audio is never saturated with weird special effects that cheapen the impact of the tales and the post-show discussions are always heartfelt, interesting, and welcoming to the listener.

Dark Histories is a true relief for anyone who just wants to hear the unbelievable facts concerning all these intriguing and often times forgotten stories, without having them feel like some endless, poorly orchestrated, zany halloween party.

I have been listening for years at this point and Dark Histories is one of the most honestly entertaining podcasts I have ever heard. I can’t really say enough good things about it.

Click subscribe—you won’t be sorry.

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