Burned at the Stake

My latest production, Pendle Cottage, which is the working title for my Nanowrimo novel, involves a fair amount of witchcraft, herbal remedies and poison. I was a bit disconcerted to find the research books I wanted to buy filed under a big notice ‘Witchcraft’ in Waterstones. I stood there hoping no one would recognise me. I only wanted to identify a couple of herbs and poisons!

I eventually bought ‘Hedgerow Medicine’ by Julie Bruton-Seal and Matthew Seal, Merlin Unwin Books, 2008, ISBN 9781873674994. It has been very helpful. We already had a copy of ‘Herbs and Healing Plants of Britain and Europe’ by Dieter Podlech, Bestsellers, 2001, ISBN 9780261674059 on the bookshelf. I was then lucky enough to come across another book ‘The Women’s Guide to Herbal Medicine’ by Carol Rogers, BCA, 1995, ISBN 9780241133477 in pristine condition for £2 in a charity shop.

This isn’t my first brush with herbs. When I was in my early teens I asked for a patch of my parents’ garden and grew them. I had a little herbal book then, but I lent it to someone and never got it back. I can remember putting lavender seeds into almond oil for my mother to massage onto her arthritic knees and insisting that my father had lemon balm in his tea.

Strange how when you research something, you suddenly notice things which were invisible before. On my walk into town the other day, I saw several ‘weeds’, which could be used in herbal remedies, growing out of the pavement and walls on the way.

I think my fate would have been sealed years ago; I would have been burned at the stake. Maybe I have been several times in past lives. After all I can imagine it very clearly with all of my senses! Or is that just my writer’s imagination?

By Morton S. Gray

Author of romantic suspense novels. http://mortonsgray.com


  1. Hi Morton, I have a great book i got at the poison garden here in scotland… it has all the deadly plants in it. I will look it out and see if you can buy it anywhere else if not I can get you a copy next time im there. It is a great book and the history and stories that go witht he plant are great and real. it only cost £5.00 new, so its no big deal to pick you one up… Im off to look for it and will let you know. xx Heather


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