Bardskull

By Martin Shaw

A powerful fusion of memoir and myth by one of the great modern storytellers.

Autobiography | Poetry
55% funded
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$40  + shipping
35 pledges

First Edition Hardback

A first edition hardback (320 pages), decorated endpapers, head and tail bands, ribbon marker, with specially designed bookmark available exclusively from Unbound.

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  • E-book
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$70  + shipping
4 pledges

Two Skulls

Two first edition hardbacks so you can share Martin’s journey with a fellow traveller.

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  • 2 x E-books
  • 2 x Bookmarks
  • 2 x names listed as a subscriber at the back of the book
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$75  + shipping
12 pledges

Audiobook

A first edition hardback signed by Martin plus an audiobook of Martin reading the book (unabridged, with musical interludes).

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  • Ebook
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$85  + shipping
12 pledges

Skull T-shirt

A first edition hardback signed by Martin, plus a limited edition black 100% cotton t-shirt, featuring Martin’s ‘Bardskull’ drawing, available exclusively from Unbound. Available in S, M, L, XL (size to be specified in post check-out email closer to the time of dispatch).
LIMITED TO 50

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  • Ebook
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$130  + shipping
4 pledges

Bardskull Prints

A first edition hardback signed by Martin plus your choice of one of four signed A4 machine prints – 'Bardskull Man'; 'Become the Tale of Your Name'; 'Seven Swans'; 'Old Kytna'. (Print to be specified in post check-out email closer to the time of dispatch).
LIMITED TO 25 PER PRINT

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  • Ebook
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$225  + shipping
1 pledge

Bardskull Merch Bundle

A first edition hardback signed by Martin plus limited edition t-shirt, cider tankard, postcards and bookmark.

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  • Ebook
  • Your name listed as a subscriber at the back of the book
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$240  + shipping
1 pledge

Dartmoor Launch Party

Two first edition hardbacks signed by Martin, plus two tickets to a real life launch featuring readings, music and cider in a Dartmoor venue. Date and address TBC (does not include travel). 
LIMITED TO 30

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  • 2 x Ebooks
  • 2 x Bookmarks
  • 2 x names listed as a subscriber at the back of the book
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$2,250  + shipping

Patron

Your name on a dedicated page at the front of the book, personally thanked by Martin.
ONLY THREE AVAILABLE

PLUS:

  • 10 x E-books
  • 10 x First Edition Hardbacks, signed by Martin
  • 10 x Bookmarks
  • 1 x Manuscript page
  • 4 x Launch party tickets
  • 1 x Bardskull merch bundle
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Sold out!

$900  + shipping
3 pledges

Story Divining

Martin will curate a story just for you and tell it. Nothing pre-planned or selected by Google but through the improvisational magic of conversation. You and he talk for a few minutes and he'll locate the fairy tale hidden within the chat. When the moment is right he'll tell it for you. 45 mins to an hour.
ONLY THREE AVAILABLE

PLUS:

  • Ebook
  • Signed First Edition Hardback
  • Bookmark
  • Your name listed as a subscriber at the back of the book

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I defy you to look at a river and not see your fast escaping life.

Bardskull is the record of three journeys made by Martin Shaw, the celebrated storyteller and interpreter of myth, in the year before he turned fifty.

It is unlike anything he has written before. This is not a book about myth or story. It is a sequence of incantations and a series of battles.

For each of the three journeys, he walks alone into a forest in the heart of Dartmoor and waits.

I will sit under the hazel and sing my calling songs and see what comes. I am not gambling for crescendo, climax, coda. I’m just going to keep turning up.

No dreamcatchers, no showy wafts of Tibetan scents. No Green Man figurines. There’s just a middle-aged guy visiting a place, over and over. Shuffling in and out.

What arrives are stories – fragments of myth and folk tale that he has carried within him for decades: the deep myths of Dartmoor itself, tales from distant family members, Arthurian legend, folk tales from India, Persia, Lapland, the Caucasus and Siberia.

But these stories and their tellers don’t arrive as the bearers of solace or easy wisdom. They come to challenge, to undermine, to sow doubt.

There are so few handrails when we really get into the spirit-forest, so few. All the furies just bang into one another.

But gradually, the nighttime pummellings of his dreams and the daytime wrestling with memories and stories resolve themselves. By the end of the book, he has crawled back into deep time when Devon was an ocean floor, when the places we call England, Europe and Ireland were one. He has arrived at a place before and after story.

Underneath every single person in the world is a cave filled with unimaginable wonder.

Bardskull can be read as a fable, as a memoir, as autofiction, as an attempt to undomesticate myth.

It is all those things, but it doesn’t come from nowhere. It takes its place inside a tradition that connects Blake’s The Marriage of Heaven and Hell to D.H. Lawrence’s Apocalypse; Ted Hughes’s Moortown Diary to Geoffrey Hill’s Mercian Hymns; Angela Carter’s The Bloody Chamber to Sharon Olds’ Stag’s Leap and Captain Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica to Nick Cave’s Sick Bag Songs.

It is a magnificent, unclassifiable work of the imagination.

Wonder is the world, without compare

Through feral tales and poetic exegesis, Martin Shaw makes you re-see the world.
DAVID KEENAN (author of Monument Maker)

Shaw encourages and illuminates the mythic in our own lives. He is a modern-day bard. MADELINE MILLER (author of The Song of Achilles)

In his hands language works as it is supposed to do and almost never does. His words seep straight out of the hill.   CHARLES FOSTER (author of Being a Human)

Terrifically strange and thrilling. MELISSA HARRISON (author of All Among the Barley)

Shaw is a one off: his work is urgent and necessary PAUL KINGSNORTH (author of The Wake)

A true master. Martin Shaw is one of the very greatest storytellers we have.  
ROBERT BLY (author of Iron John)

His work combines a magnificence of soul with a deft acuity of intellect… I am in awe. 
 JAY GRIFFITHS (author of Wild: An Elemental Journey)

 

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  • Martin Shaw avatar

    Martin Shaw

    Martin Shaw is a writer, storyteller and teacher who lives on Dartmoor.  He founded the Oral Tradition and Mythic Life courses at Stanford University, and is director of the Westcountry School of Myth in the UK.


    He is the author of the award-winning Mythteller trilogy: A Branch from the Lightning Tree, Snowy Tower and Scatterlings.  Recent books include Smokehole, Courting the Wild Twin  (both published by Chelsea Green), All Those Barbarians, Wolf Milk, Cinderbiter (with Tony Hoagland) and his Lorca translations, Courting the Dawn (with Stephan Harding).


    Dr Shaw has introduced thousands of people to mythology and how it penetrates modern life. For twenty years, he has been a wilderness rites of passage guide, working with at-risk youth, the sick, returning veterans and many women and men seeking a deeper life.


     

  • BARDSKULL

    The uproar in your hand I could never have predicted. Never corralled, sweet talked or defended myself against. I walked out one summer morning and barely ceased till St Georges Day of the next year. These accounts come from a place, Holne Chase, on Dartmoor in the far west of Britain.

    It would be chicanery to tell you this has been crafted for your pleasure. It hasn’t. It would be a fiction to tell you I have absolute purchase on the encounter. When I dare pick the book up it seems like an extended incantation, at other times a series of battles. It often frightens me.

    These are words from the rough, from the stomp. Things hurtled through me, old things,

    And I tried to be convivial to such a battering of séance. I am not the same.

     

     

     

     

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