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The King of Denmark

During the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries (especially during the turbulent reigns of Henry VIII and Charles I) there was a national obsession with prophesy. Cryptic pamphlets were published and cryptic rhymes spoken that foretold the destiny of nations. Attributed to Merlin or Mother Shipton, they spoke a riddling language involving strange creatures and surreal circumstances. Sceptics of the time dubbed them ‘cock and bull stories’. The term has lingered even if the prophesies have been forgotten. Merlin, whose strange prophecies were published in 1652, seems to have been obsessed with the north Norfolk coast, particularly Weybourne. Perhaps this isn’t surprising as the unusually steep shingle bank there provides easy landing for invaders. The Vikings are said to have beached there, and the sea front was fortified against invasion at the time of the Spanish Armada, the Napoleonic Wars and the Second World War. This is an excerpt from one of his prophecies. Branksbrim is Brancaster.

Reclaimed Welsh slate measuring 1625mm x 570mm