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Surviving Decapitation January 31, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Surviving Decapitation

Beachcombing was traumatised in early childhood by seeing his father execute several hens on a Pennine farm. Even now he smells the metallic tang of their blood and sees the mess of heads and bodies and the feathers sticking everywhere. (Honestly, Mrs B won’t even let the younger Beachcombings watch SOS Nanny, what was Beachcombing […]

Human Health c. 8000 BC January 30, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
Human Health c. 8000 BC

We are told by catastrophists – many with years of state subsidised education behind them – that the present generation of children and teenagers will be the first in the west for two centuries to live shorter lives than their parents. The revolution in medical care that meant that the baby-boomers were able to eat […]

Human Sacrifice and the Athenians January 29, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Human Sacrifice and the Athenians

  Human sacrifice does survive in literate cultures – the Aztecs, various medieval Indian states… But in Europe, at least, it melted away at about the time of the first extensive surviving texts. The result is that Greeks or Romans or Gaels or Germanic types rarely end up putting a knife into a sacrificial victim: […]

The Werewolf Faith in Nineteenth-Century France January 28, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Werewolf Faith in Nineteenth-Century France

  Since beginning this blog eight months ago Beachcombing has had various itches including elephants, Atlantis (to be continued), birds and lightning. But none has bitten so deeply as the werewolf. Indeed, Beachcombing has sketched out another ten posts on the men and women who were furry on the inside. He even, damn it, started vaguely jotting […]

Review: Night Climbers of Cambridge January 27, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Review: Night Climbers of Cambridge

[Note: Beachcombing apologises for any emails he’s not answered but the local internet provider has been down again for the last week: and he only has a couple of minutes with term beginning to rush in and put up posts at work. As soon as service returns he’ll be writing.] Another classic from the vaults […]

Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell? January 26, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Irish Werewolf Cub-Scouts from Hell?

Irish werewolf cub-scouts from hell… Sounds like a bad slasher film doesn’t it? But actually Beachcombing is about to introduce a genuine all singing, all dancing early medieval Irish institution. His first reading is from the  Annals of Ulster for AD 847 ‘the sack of the island of Loch Muinremair by Mael Sechnaill [Irish High King] […]

The Werewolf of Temesa January 25, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Werewolf of Temesa

A painfully short post tonight but Tiny Miss B is screaming next to the keyboard, Mrs B is out looking for a school for the elder daughter and Little Miss B is making the au pair’s life an inferno downstairs. So in dereliction of parental duty another part of the soon-to-end werewolf series: let’s hope […]

The Allendale Wolf January 24, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Allendale Wolf

As this has been the season of the werewolf Beachcombing thought that today he would introduce the last English wolf, for yes, unfortunately the British Isles no longer have any of the howling ones. The conventional answer – and Beachcombing, in happier days, planned a book on British Dodos – is that the last English […]

A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria January 23, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
A Pillar and an Archer in Medieval Alexandria

  Ancient pillars survive even when associated buildings collapse. Many Greco-Roman pillars, indeed, are still standing today: a testimony to the durability of early Mediterranean civilisation. The medieval dwarfs looking back at the achievements of the classical world often got excited by pillars. Pillars were probably in part responsible for causing an early English poet […]

Image: Holy Adowa! January 22, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Image: Holy Adowa!

Memo to any budding generals: never invade Russia in the winter, never start a land war in Asia and, most relevant for today, never presume to colonise Ethiopia…Italy unfortunately never learnt this lesson. In 1935 the Italian invasion would mark the beginning of the end for Mussolini’s regime. While in 1896 an Italian attack ended in […]

Review: The Codex Seraphinianus January 21, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Review: The Codex Seraphinianus

Luigi Serafini, Codex Seraphinianus (numerous editions…) Beachcombing has Ricardo R. to thank for an introduction to the Codex Seraphinianus, a guide to another world. First published in 1981, a copy from the original series now runs at about 8000 dollars. Beachcombing, who is a bit strapped for cash, did the barbaric thing and read it in […]

Beethoven and the Fire from Heaven January 20, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Beethoven and the Fire from Heaven

Beachcombing recently offered three posts on the subject of lightning, trying to dig up some occasions when a bolt has changed, however modestly, the course of human history. Beachcombing must confess though to being slightly disappointed that lightning has not done more for (or against) humanity: any other lightning offers – drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

Silly Sieg Heils January 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Silly Sieg Heils

The Nazi and ‘Roman’ Salute have been traditional signs of the extra-parliamentary right since the 1920s. Claims have been made that these salutations are more hygenic, more beautiful and also of shorter duration than the handshake. Well, Beachcombing is certainly no fan of palming… However, he finds – memories of the Great Dictator? – the […]

A Roman Werewolf and a Dinner Tale January 18, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
A Roman Werewolf and a Dinner Tale

Beachcombing still has the werewolf itch and it will not be exorcised unless he manages to spit out the story of Niceros the Freedman. The tale appears in Petronius’ Satyricon, the incomplete and bawdy Roman road novel that is best know today for its description of a Roman feast – where, in fact, this story is told. […]

Irish hang-women January 17, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Irish hang-women

Richard Clark in his remarkable Capital Punishment in Britain has a story that has been buzzing around and around in Beachcombing’s head for the last six months. In his chapter on hang-men RC notes, in a final short section, that ‘Ireland allowed women to be involved with executions and two were’. He records a female assistant executioner who […]

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