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This subject is written on a topic in the real world and reflects factual information. This subject contains information from the Expanded Cthulhu Mythos, and not based on H.P. Lovecraft's works directly. "Cement Surroundings" is a short story in the Cthulhu Mythos genre by Brian Lumley. Written in June 1967, it was first published in Arkham House's 1969 collection Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. It was later incorporated into Lumley's first novel, The Burrowers Beneath.


An author reads his archaeologist uncle's notes and realizes that his uncle was done away with by subterranean horrors--and worries that he will be next.


Sir Amery Wendy-Smith: An "antiquarian and archaeologist," noted for his "foresight and inquisitiveness" and "strange wanderings to foreign lands." He "deciphered or translated...a handful of decaying, centuried shards known in archaeological circles as the G’harne Fragments," then discovered the site of G'harne itself. The discovery left him with an intense fear of underground spaces and a "sudden fascination for seismography." While prior to his G'harne expedition, he was "straight and strong, for a man his age, with jet hair and a constant smile," afterwards he had "a pronounced stoop and had lost a lot of weight. His hair had greyed and his smile had become rare and nervous." He disappears in September 1933 when his cottage on the Yorkshire moors collapses.

Paul Wendy-Smith: Sir Amery's nephew, an author by profession. His account of the Chthonian threat, pieced together from his uncle's notes, is mistaken by police for a fiction writer's fantasy. He disappears in October 1933 when his home is similarly destroyed.


The story introduces G'harne, a lost pre-human city somewhere in Africa. The location is othewise unspecified ("I did not wish to know—not even remotely—the whereabouts of dead G’harne," the narrator Paul Wendy-Smith notes), but the tendency of Cthonians to travel in straight lines suggests a West African location.

G'harne is "a legendary city which Sir Amery believed had existed centuries before the foundations were cut for the pyramids.... Man’s primal ancestors were not yet conceived when G’harne’s towering ramparts first reared their monolithic sculptings to pre-dawn skies." Sir Amery refers to it as “a buried land where Shudde-M’ell broods and bubbles, plotting the destruction of the human race and the release from his watery prison of Great Cthulhu…”

Most of the story takes place in Yorkshire, where Sir Amery had a cottage that his nephew Paul came to stay at near the town of Radcar. (Radcar also features in Lumley's story "The Sister City.") It's noted as the home of the Radcar Recorder newspaper, whose sub-editor Mr. McKinnen is said to be "particularly helpful."

The cottage is also said to be "nearby" to Marske; a motorist who witnesses its destruction speeds into Marske to report it. Paul takes a new house "on the outskirts" of Marske in order to be close if his uncle should reappear--but this house too is destroyed.

There are two villages named Marske in Yorkshire: one in Richmondshire near the center line of the island,[1] and the other, known as Marske-by-the-Sea, on the North Sea shore.[2] Marske-by-the-Sea is near the real-world town of Redcar; it's tempting to imagine that Radcar is Lumley's spelling for Redcar, but the pattern of tremors noted in the story (leading from Tenterden in Kent through Ramsey in Huntingdonshire to Goole in Yorkshire) points to the interior Marske as the one intended, and to Radcar as a fictional location.

Sir Amery's notes refer to other locations as foci of eldritch activity--particularly Avebury in Wiltshire, the location of ancient stone circles.[3] Sir Amery also remarks, "You’d be surprised what lurks beneath the surface of some of those peaceful Cotswold hills"--an apparent reference to the Severn Valley setting of Ramsey Campbell's early Mythos tales.


Main article: Chthonian

The main significance of "Cement Surroundings" to the Cthulhu Mythos is probably the introduction of the creatures later known as Chthonians--they are not named in the story--and their leader, Shudde-M'ell. They are depicted in the story as huge, ancient subterranean creatures, capable of burrowing underground at great speed. They are described as "wormy, vampirish things from the cesspools of time."

Publication History[]

After its appearance in Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos and its incorporation into The Burrowers Beneath, "Cement Surroundings" was not reprinted on its own until Chaosium's Lumley tribute Singers of Strange Songs: A Celebration of Brian Lumley in 1997. It was then included in Lumley's collection Haggopian and Other Stories (Subterranean Press, 2008).


  1. Wikipedia, "Marske, Richmonshire."
  2. Wikipedia, "Marske-by-the-Sea."
  3. English Heritage, "Avebury."