Interested in reading a copy of Plot’s Natural History of Staffordshire (1686)? There doesn’t appear to be a online PDF of this public domain work, but there’s a digital CD fascimile available for a reasonable £12, from Midlands Historical Data. It’s not just about birds and beasts and plants, it also has good deal on folklore and customs. Original copies of the book seem to fetch over £1,500 at auction.
Update, Nov 2017: now available online, The natural history of Stafford-shire by Robert Plot albeit without pictures.
“Star Stones [seen above] were much discussed by the Oxford academic Robert Plot. Plot dutifully, and rather disdainfully, related how the commonfolk thought Star Stones came to be on Earth: “…the Stones [are] some way related to the Celestial Bodies, [and] descend next to such as (by the vulgar at least) are thought to be sent to us from the inferior Heaven, to be generated in the Clouds, and discharged thence in the times of Thunder and violent Showers…”.
Those who have read The Spyders of Burslem, and remember the “aetherstorm” and its curious hail may recognise a similarity. Also a link with one of the themes in the novel.