by Glen James Brown
published 6 June 2024
The City of Durham, 1434. Out of a storm, an aging minstrel arrives at the cathedral to entertain the city’s most powerful men.
Mother Naked is his name, and the story he’s come to tell is the Legend of the Fell Wraith: the gruesome ‘walking ghost’ some say slaughtered the nearby village of Segerston forty years earlier.
But is this monster only a myth, born from the dim minds of toiling peasants? Or does the Wraith – and do the murders – have roots in real events suffered by those fated to a lifetime of labour? As Mother Naked weaves the strands of the mystery – of class, religion, art, and ale – it starts to seem as though the chilling truth might be closer to his privileged audience than they could ever imagine.
Taking its inspiration from a single payment entered into Durham’s Cathedral rolls, ‘Modyr Nakett’ was the lowest-paid performer in over 200 years of records. Set against the traumatic shadow of the Black Death and the Peasant’s Revolt, Mother Naked speaks back from the margins in a fury of imaginative recuperation.