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  • Ancient Britons Killing Roman Elephants? June 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Ancient Britons Killing Roman Elephants?

                      In 43 AD, the Romans finally – after decades of flip-flopping – decide to conquer Britain. The British-Celtic tribes in the island would, however, be confronted not only by a professional Roman army that was about 50,000 strong. The Romans decided to also bring some war elephants […]

    Marchers on the Moon June 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Marchers on the Moon

                        Beachcombing has previously enjoyed picking over the Victorians’ and their telescope-fuelled speculations about intelligences on nearby planets. Today though he offers up not a Victorian astronomer but an early twentieth-century newspaper clipper: Charles Fort (1874-1932) who flirted with the idea of life on the moon (and, indeed, […]

    Language Confusion in Vinland June 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Language Confusion in Vinland

            Most people, when they think of Vikings, think of men with rakish pointy hats and anger management issues. Beachcombing thinks, instead, of rare manuscripts being burnt, ‘drowned’ or thrown down monkly toilets – he detests the northern philistines.  However, one aspect of Viking life has long interested Beachcombing and that is their habit of […]

    Unluckiest in History June 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Unluckiest in History

                        Beachcombing has had one of those extraordinarily bad days where everything went wrong from birdsong onwards: broken computers, screaming infants, rude emails, income tax threats, temperamental car, vomiting wife (don’t ask)… In celebration of this he thought that he would muse on the unluckiest person in history: a […]

    Celts in Ancient Sicily June 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Celts in Ancient Sicily

    Beachcombing has luxuriated for too long in the modern world. Indeed the last time he visited antiquity was in the company of some Indian merchants a long week ago. So he rushes back today to the clean, glistening marble of the ancients. The following passage comes from G.T. Griffith’s The Mercenaries of the Hellenistic World (London […]

    Hitler’s Class-Mate June 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Hitler’s Class-Mate

            Beachcombing has five files on Hitler and will soon have to start on a sixth. The moustached one was, after all, a whirlpool in history dragging the strange, coincidental, bizarre and outrageous into his cursed depths. A favourite curiosity is examined in Kimberley Cornish’s  The Jew of Linz: Wittgenstein, Hitler and […]

    Victorian Venus Spokes June 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Venus Spokes

                        Beachcombing has had a gratifying amount of correspondence over his recent article on Martian Vegetation. He thought then that he would call into cause another planet, Venus and the great Percival Lowell (1855-1916) who wrote on both planets in works including Mars and Its Canals […]

    Outrageous British Street Names June 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Outrageous British Street Names

              Be warned! This entry in Beachcombing’s encyclopaedia of the damned is not about British streets that happen to sound rude: Booty Lane (York), Percy’s Passage (London) etc etc etc. Rather it is about British street names that reflect our ancestors’ remarkable lack of embarrassment about the toilet and the bedroom and […]

    Victorian sewer pigs June 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian sewer pigs

              Beachcombing has a natural and commendable enmity towards sociology. Sociologists are the foes of history and must be resisted on the beaches, in the city and in the hills. (It does not help that his father-in-law is of that profession.) But he finds some of the nineteenth-century proto-sociologists intriguing and […]

    American Indians in Roman Europe? June 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    American Indians in Roman Europe?

                    Beachcombing always enjoys attempts by Euro-Asia-Africa’s various ethnic factions to claim the discovery of the New World. Put even a gingerly query into a search engine and you will soon find that, over the years, the Basques, the Welsh, the Babylonians, the Israelis, the Bantu and just […]

    Orgies in Victorian Skipton! June 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Orgies in Victorian Skipton!

            Walter White (1811-1893) wrote about his journeys around the British Isles and Continental Europe in such classics as Holidays in Tyrol and Eastern England: from the Thames to the Humber. He was perhaps not the most exciting travel writer being rather prone to detail. But that very ability to give details […]

    Longbow at Dunkirk June 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Longbow at Dunkirk

                        Donald Featherstone’s The Bowmen of England was written in 1968 and read by Beachcombing 7 long years ago. He is ashamed to say though – and this reflects badly on him rather than on the author – that the only thing he can remember is […]

    Victorian Will o’ the Wisp June 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Will o’ the Wisp

              Beachcombing is in a Victorian country mood this week – the kind that comes and goes. It should be no surprise then that he’s decided to give a short extract from one of his favourite Victorian country books, the autobiography of John Wilkes, a gamekeeper based (for much of his professional […]

    Vegetation on Mars June 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Vegetation on Mars

                    Mars has a long history of befuddling human minds. Think of Giovanni Schiaparelli mapping out the ‘canals’ of that planet. Poor Perceval Lowell wrecking his scientific reputation with such publications as Mars as the Abode of Life. Nevermind all those hopped up Americans taking to the streets […]

    Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ June 1, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Circumnavigating Africa six centuries before Christ

            Beachcombing can barely take down M. Cary and E.H. Warmington’s The Ancient Explorers without a tremble of excitement running through his body, such treasures are to be found there. One of his favourite sections is their dissection of Herodotus 4, 42-43, a passage where the Greek historian describes, with requisite scepticism, a […]

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