University of Hertfordshire

Professor Owen Davies

Owen Davies

Professor Owen Davies

Postal address:
University of Hertfordshire, Hatfield, Hertfordshire
United Kingdom


I am a member of the History Department at the University of Hertfordshire. To see the staff pages of my History colleagues click here.  I co-founded the University's Heritage Hub with my colleague Dr Sarah Lloyd, who is its Chair. I am also a member of the Centre for Regional and Local History directed by Dr Katrina Navickas, and Heritage for Business directed by Professor Jonathan Morris. Click images below. I am also the founder of the Heritage i-Teams.

About the Centre for Regional and Local History Heritage and history projects  Explore our expertise

Regional and Local History              Heritage Hub                              Heritage for Business


Much of my work concerns the belief in witchcraft, magic, ghosts, and popular medicine from the ancient world to the modern era. This has also led to work on global comparative studies, and interdisciplinary research applying anthropological and biomedical knowledge to historical topics. I also have interests in landscape history, heritage, and public history. 



  The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts  Popular Magic: Cunning-folk in English History   Witchcraft, Magic and Culture, 1736-1951 Murder, Magic, Madness: The Victorian Trials of Dove and the Wizard Ghosts: A Social History Magic: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paganism: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions)   A People Bewitched: Witchcraft and Magic in Nineteenth-Century Somerset (The Paranormal)Product DetailsPalgrave Advances in Witchcraft Historiography Witchcraft Continued: Popular Magic in Modern Europe Beyond the Witch Trials: Witchcraft and Magic in Enlightenment Europe



Recent Publications

Grimoires: A History of Magic BooksAmerica Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft After Salem My most recent major work is: America Bewitched: The Story of Witchcraft after Salem (OUP). This explores the nature and strength of witchcraft beliefs in American society from the eighteenth to the twenty-first century, including detailed accounts of the murder and abuse of suspected witches in European, Native American and African American communities. This follows on from Grimoires: A History of Magic Books (2009), which traces the development of grimoires and the conjurations and spells they contained from ancient Egypt to modern America, and from Europe to the Caribbean and Indian Ocean. It is published by Oxford University Press.


I am currently editing the Oxford Illustrated History of Witchcraft and Magic, co-writing a book with Francesca Matteoni entitled Executing Magic: The Power of Criminal Bodies, and writing a major monograph for OUP, A Supernatural Struggle: Magic, Divination and Faith during the First World War 


Current funded projects

As a Co-Investigator for the AHRC Every Day Lives in War Engagement Centre, I am currently working with a range of non-academic partners to explore aspects of every day life during the First World War, while also exploring more specific aspects of the supernatural and belief. See our website and keep informed on Twitter.

I am also a Co-Investigator on a major Wellcome Trust project, 'Harnessing the Power of the Criminal Corpse', exploring the magical and medical uses of criminal corpses, the healing power of the executioner, and the magic of the gallows. For a free, open access article exploring some of these themes click here.

I recently started a major Leverhulme-funded project with Malcolm Gaskill and Sophie Page entitled, 'Inner Lives: Emotions, Identity, and the Supernatural, 1300-1900'. Click in the image below and see our Twitter feed. My strand, working with Ceri Houlbrook, explores the material culture of domestic magic, and insanity and supernatural belief 1700-1900. See the Concealed Revealed blog and our History Pin site where you can join in the research on ritual objects and marks to protect the home.




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