The Northern Earth Mysteries Group has been an informal association of neo-antiquarian or ‘earth mysteries’ researchers and enthusiasts, originally set up in 1979 to act as a focus and contact point for ‘new antiquarian’ study in the North of England and Scotland. Its journal, Northern Earth, was the first regional ‘alternative archaeology’ journal in Britain, and is now the world’s oldest journal in the field, publishing its 100th issue in our 25th anniversary year of 2004.
The group has met on an occasional basis for field trips, museum visits, talks and other events, publicising them in Northern Earth. In addition, until the late 1990s the NEMG regularly hosted an ‘annual gathering’, a weekend at which members had the opportunity to meet others in an informal atmosphere; these events took place at Spring Bank Holidays at a location appropriate to the group’s interests in archaeology, folklore and sacred places and landscapes.
From 1981 to 1991, a moot, or conference, was held annually in the autumn, at which members and guests would give presentations of their work. This event is now occasional only, last held in 2004 to mark our 25th year of existence, and not tied to a specific season, due to time and other pressures on the voluntary team. We also support the creation of local groups and aim to encourage and make public local research.
Northern Earth today has a presence on Twitter and Facebook, including the group Northern Earth Walks, an open group for facilitating walks, weekend trips and other gatherings of NE readers.
In 1980, a travelling exhibition was prepared by members, covering a number of areas of research, and toured the North of England until 1982. An exhibition catalogue was produced. It was also involved in the Calderdale Earth Mysteries exhibition, held at the Piece Hall, Halifax, in 1996.
To date, the NEMG. has published a number of booklets including:-
- Earth Mysteries – an Exploratory Introduction, by Brian Larkman and Philip Heselton
- Astrological Geomancy by Patrick McFadzean
- Geomantic Survivals in York, by Ben Fernee
- Skyways and Landmarks Revisited, by Philip Heselton, Jimmy Goddard and Paul Baines
- The Day The Sun Went Out: accounts of the 1927 solar eclipse as seen from Yorkshire and the Pennines by John Billingsley.
- A Laureate’s Landscape: Walks around Ted Hughes’ Mytholmroyd, by John Billingsley
- Folk Tales from Calderdale Vol. 1, by John Billingsley
- Folk Tales from Calderdale Vol. 2: Hood, head & Hag, by John Billingsley
- The Mixenden Treasure: A true tale of magic in 16th-century Yorkshire, by John Billingsley
- Rushes and Ale: A brief history of rushbearing, by Garry Stringfellow
- Astronomy & Measurement in Megalithic Architecture, by Peter Harris
- Spanish Anti-Fascist ‘Prisoners of War’ in Lancashire, 1944-1946, by Richard Cleminson
Our publishing schedule was resumed in 2007 with Folk Tales from Upper Calderdale and A Laureate’s Landscape: walks around Ted Hughes’ Mytholmroyd, both by the current editor, John Billingsley. Further titles are planned. We have also published a black-and-white postcard of Alfred Watkins, photographed with his camera in 1926; copies are still available. Planning is actively underway for an expanded publication schedule.
Journal and NEMG Membership
Membership of the NEMG is by subscription to its journal, Northern Earth, published quarterly in March, June, September and December, in a 36-page A5 format.
Founder members of the NEMG
Participants at our inaugural meeting were Brian Larkman, John Billingsley, Philip Heselton, Phil Rushworth, John Barnatt and Richard Smith (if we’ve forgotten anybody, please let us know!)
Don’t forget to look at the back issues because there are a host of other articles from the catalogue of work to give you an even greater taste of what Northern Earth has to offer.