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The Subterranean Kingdom

By Nigel Pennick, published by Capall Bann at £12.95. 248pp. ISBN 186163-073-5 (Reviewed by David Taylor)

Although I would never do it, I have always been interested in the idea of pot-holing. There is some strange allure about exploring secret underground caves. And it’s not just me who thinks so. Nigel Pennick the well-known walking encyclopaedia on all things relating to earth mysteries, details here the history of mankind’s interest in all things subterranean, from the Orphic mystery cults of the classical world to the London underground. Without doubt one of the most well known subterranean is Royston Cave, set deep beneath a busy main road; its walls are adorned with archaic carvings.

Most people have come across one aspect of subterranean, the underground tunnel linking historic sites, like the one at Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire. Although not mentioned in the book, a local example of these unfeasibly long tunnels is said to link Wychbury Hill to a country house some miles away.

Nigel examines these and other folkloric aspects of subterranean, most notably the folklore associated with the London Underground, its ghosts and secret apocalyptic stations ready for the elite. This is a fascinating book. It will open your eyes to the possibility of what may be under your feet.