Charles Thomas - Gathering the Fragments

Gathering the Fragments: The Selected Essays of a Groundbreaking Historian

By Charles Thomas


This selection of work by Professor Charles Thomas, Cornwall’s leading historian until his death in 2016, focuses on the more elusive titles from his long and illustrious career and covers the whole range of his output from folklore and archaeology to military and local history, and from cerealogy to cryptozoology. The book also includes unpublished material, as well as specially composed introductions to each chapter, a full biography and a select bibliography.

Chapters featured include: A Plea for Neutrality (New Cornwall, 1955); Youthful Ventures Into the Realm of Folk Studies - Present-day Charmers in Cornwall (Folk-Lore, 1953), Underground Tunnels at Island Mahee, County Down (Ulster Folklife, 1957), Archaeology and Folk-life Studies (Gwerin, 1960); What Did They Do When it Rained in 1857? (The Scillonian, 1986); Home Thoughts from Abroad (Camborne Wesley Journal, 1948); The Day That Never Came (The Cornish Review, 1968); Camborne Festival Magazine - The Camborne Printing and Stationery Company (1971), The Camborne Students’ Association (1974), Camborne’s War Record, 1914-1919 (1976), The Camborne Volunteer Training Corps in World War One (1983), Carwynnen Quoit (1985); Jottings from Gwithian (The Godrevy Light) - How Far Back Can We Go? (2006), Ladies of Gwithian (2007); Two Funeral Orations (unpublished) - Charles Woolf (1984), Rudolf Glossop (1993); Archaeology and the Mind (unpublished) (1968 inaugural lecture, University of Leicester); The Archaeologist in Fiction (1976); Archaeology, and the Concept of Cornishness (unpublished) (1995 memorial lecture, Cornwall Archaeological Society); A Couple of Reviews - Lost Innocence: Archaeologists as People (Encounter, 1981), The Cairo Trilogy (Literary Review, 2001); An Impromptu Ode - To A.L. Rowse (1997); The Cerealogist - An Archaeologist’s View (1991), Magnetic Anomalies (1991/92); Two Cryptozoological Papers - The “Monster” Episode in Adomnan’s Life of St. Columba (Cryptozoology, 1988), A Black Cat Among the Pictish Beasts? (Pictish Arts Society Journal, 1994).

Professor Charles Thomas CBE DL DLitt FBA FSA was a former President of the Council for British Archaeology, the Society for Medieval Archaeology, the Royal Institution of Cornwall, the Cornwall Archaeological Society, the Cornish Methodist Historical Society and The John Harris Society.

Edited by Chris Bond.

Hardcover : ISBN 9781908878021 ; Paperback : ISBN 9781908878038. 216 pages.

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The hardcover edition is now out of print.

Charles Thomas's Author Page.


"Most of us know of Charles Thomas through his major contributions to our knowledge of the early medieval period. But none of this work, save for two important contributions on cryptozoology, appears in this book. Instead we are treated to a range of material, both published and unpublished, on other matters that have attracted his interest. Cornwall, unsurprisingly, is a major theme but without anything from the journal Cornish Archaeology. Here the pieces are from publications such as The Scillonian, Camborne Festival Magazine and The Godrevy Light. And the range is as eclectic as the sources. Local and military history, folklife, biography, a review of fiction, crop circles, even his previously unpublished inaugural lecture as professor of archaeology at Leicester, all make an appearance. The book concludes with biographical details and a select bibliography. There is much here that you will not have read before, and it’s full of wonderful and unexpected revelations." — David Clarke, British Archaeology 127

"Subtitled The Selected Essays Of A Groundbreaking Historian, it not only pays tribute to the breadth of Cornwall's leading historian's scholarship but is also an anthology in which every one of its two dozen or more pieces burns with the author's love for his native land and emphasises the fact that if anyone deserves to be now wearing the mantle of the late A L Rowse as our "greatest living Cornishman", then it has to be Professor Charles Thomas. As engaging as it is erudite and as rich, this is a book which should be on the menu of any reader with an interest in Cornwall and all things Cornish." — Frank Ruhrmund, Western Morning News