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Ronald Hutton (born 1954) is a professor of History at the University of Bristolmarker, author, and occasional commentator on Britishmarker television and radio. His specialties are the 17th century and the history of paganism in the British Islesmarker. In July 2009 he was appointed a Commissioner of English Heritage.


Early life

Hutton was born at Ootacamundmarker in Indiamarker to a colonial family. His mother considered herself to be a "Pagan", and it is partially for this reason that he has written various books on the subject.

Hutton attended Ilford County High Schoolmarker in the 1960s and 1970s, going on to win a scholarship to study history at Pembroke College, Cambridgemarker. From Cambridge, he went on to study at Oxford Universitymarker, where he held a fellowship at Magdalen College.


In 1981, Hutton moved to the University of Bristolmarker where he became reader of History. Hutton's areas of specialization include the history of the British Islesmarker in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially on the Reformation, Civil Wars, Restoration and Charles II. He has also written on ancient and medieval paganism and magic, and on witchcraft beliefs and shamanism.


Hutton's books can be divided into those about 17th century Britain, and those about paganism and folk customs in Britain.

17th century Britain

In his What If the Gunpowder Plot Had Succeeded?, Hutton has considered what might have happened if the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 had succeeded in its aims of the death of King James I and the destruction of the House of Lordsmarker. He concluded that the violence of the act would have resulted in an even more severe backlash against suspected Catholics than was caused by its failure, as most Englishmen were loyal to the monarchy, despite differing religious convictions. England could very well have become a more "Puritan absolute monarchy", rather than following the path of parliamentary and civil reform.

Paganism and Folklore

His first book on paganism, The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles dealt with paganism in the prehistoric, Celtic paganism, Roman paganism and Anglo-Saxon paganism, as well as looking briefly at the effect on folklore and neopaganism.

His book Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft examined the development of Wicca and the context in which it formed. He questioned many assumptions about its development and argued that many of the claimed connections to longstanding hidden pagan traditions are questionable at best. However, he also argued for its importance as a genuine new religious movement. It has been described by Wiccan Frederic Lamond as "an authority on the history of Gardnerian Wicca".

After studying the history of Wicca, Hutton went on to look at the history of Druidry, both historical and neopagan. His first book on the subject, The Druids, was published in 2007. Part of this material was given as the first lecture of the Mount Haemus Award series. Hutton's latest book, which is also about Druidry, entitled Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain, was released in May 2009. Hutton has described this as the academic and heavyweight counterpart to his earlier book.


16th & 17th Century

  • Charles the Second, King of England, Scotland and Ireland, (1989), ISBN 0-19-822911-9
  • The British Republic 1649-1660, (2000), ISBN 0-333-91324-8
  • The Rise and Fall of Merry England: The Ritual Year 1400-1700, (2001), ISBN 0-19-285447-X
  • Debates in Stuart History, (2004), ISBN 1-4039-3589-0

Paganism and Magic

  • The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles: Their Nature and Legacy, (1993), ISBN 0-631-18946-7, an overview of all the pagan peoples of pre-Christian Britain and Ireland.
  • The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, (1996), ISBN 0-19-285448-8
  • The Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft, (1999), ISBN 0-19-285449-6, a history of the neopagan religion of Wicca.
  • Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination, (2001), ISBN 1-85285-324-7, a look at Siberian shamanism.
  • Witches, Druids and King Arthur, (2003), ISBN 1-85285-397-2, a collection of essays on various topics.
  • The Druids: A History, (2007), ISBN 978-1-85285-533-8, a history of the Druids, from the historical Celtic priests to the Neo-druidry of the 20th century.
  • Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain (2009), a more in-depth history of the Druids.


Reviews and assessment

Academic reviews

  • Barry Collett, Review of Stations of the Sun, Sixteenth Century Journal, 29/1 (1998): 241-243.
  • Christopher W. Marsh, Review of Stations of the Sun, Journal of Ecclesiastical History, 50 (1999): 133-135.
  • Jonathan Roper, Review of Shamans, Folklore, April 2005,
  • Chas S. Clifton, Review of Witches, Druids and King Arthur, The Pomegranate: The International Journal of Pagan Studies, 7/1 (2005): 101-103.
  • History Today review by Christopher Chippindale of The Pagan Religions Of The Ancient British Isles (1992)
  • Hill, Dr. J. D. (2004) A Reply to Ronald Hutton’s Commentary ‘What did Happen to Lindow Man?’ TLS Jan 30th. Sent to The Times Literary Supplement 7 February 2004. (Hutton's original article available here)

Other reviews


  1. The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles, Ronald Hutton, inner dust jacket author bio
  2. Fifty Years of Wicca, Frederic Lamond, 2004, Green Magic press, page 64-65
  3. The Independant
  4. The Independent
  5. Institute of Historical Research | The national centre for history

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