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  • Cat Burial in Iceland July 31, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Cat Burial in Iceland

    This site has long tried to further the place of cats in history: something that typically involves describing the horrible things that humanity has done to felines. However, to date it has all been theoretical: a letter about Shelley’s refined animal cruelty; a Belgian tourist brochure about throwing cats off towers; or spurious but strangely […]

    Mermaid Sighting in Caithness July 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Sighting in Caithness

    Beachcombing is not, to his regret, a mermaid expert: despite occasional forays into Triton’s territory in previous posts. But he suspects that the following is not a particularly well-known mermaid source. It dates to 1809 and was sent by one Ms Mackay, the daughter of a minister no less, and was sent to the Countess […]

    A Celtic Tribe in Kazakhstan? July 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    A Celtic Tribe in Kazakhstan?

    When Beach was still a green blogger – before he had learnt about spiders, search engine optimization and RSI feeds  – he spat out a little post about a group of Celtic hoodlums who, as mercenaries, travelled around the Mediterranean causing havoc everywhere they went. Beach sold this as a Wrong Place post: an example […]

    András Toma: The Forgotten Prisoner July 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    András Toma: The Forgotten Prisoner

    The Second World War was a time of almost universal suffering. But, at least, when Hitler popped a bullet into his head and the Japanese Emperor retired his divinity it all ended? Well, for most of humanity yes. But there were those unlucky souls who ended up far from home with no hope of a […]

    Last European Headhunters July 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Last European Headhunters

    Beachcombing has been trying to keep up with decapitation this summer by looking at late examples of head-hunting. Go back to the Celts, the Germanic tribes and even the Romans and there are several striking examples of head-hunting in Europe well into historic times. Then, of course, if you cross the Atlantic there is scalping: […]

    Fidel Castro is a Jesuit Spy! [sic] July 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fidel Castro is a Jesuit Spy! [sic]

    Beachcombing often speaks of his rusty filing cabinets in which the treasures of a couple of decades of bizarre research have been placed. However, there are also regrets. Sometimes  Beach realizes that he has missed out on two decades harvesting through lack of foresight. An example of this that causes him particular pain is what […]

    The Hare that Killed a Hundred Thousand July 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Hare that Killed a Hundred Thousand

    Beachcombing was much struck by some of the comments concerning his Amazon article about the terrifying warrior women of Benin. Several of the examples given by readers were not though of warrior women per se: but of women war-leaders, which is a fascinating phenomenon and one which is certainly more common. Think Joan of Arc, […]

    Leonardo’s Dream and the Kite July 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Leonardo's Dream and the Kite

    Another case study from the historic dream series. This time the only dream to be recorded from Leonardo da Vinci’s snoozes. The record appears in  a notebook dating to c. 1504 replete with sketches and considerations of flight: This writing in such a distinct manner about the kite seems to be my destiny, because in […]

    Women Warriors of Benin July 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Women Warriors of Benin

    Having tested the limits of masculinity yesterday Beach feels obliged to pay tribute, today, to the fairer sex. He will pass through time to the late nineteenth century and through space to Dahomey (today part of Benin) in Africa where several thousand women formed an important part of the royal army there. Now, of course, […]

    Self Castrators July 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Self Castrators

    Castration is everywhere in history. The Normans did it to the Sicilians, the Afghans to the British, the Italians to their future opera singers and Heloise’s family did it to Abelard: and, goodness, did Abelard have it coming – a father speaks. But there is a more refined category of testicle removal that is not […]

    Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age July 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age

    A remarkable piece of dream engineering from the latter half of the eighteenth century, the creation of the obscure but fascinating Richard Lovell Edgeworth (obit 1817), one of those men cursed to have ideas that his day could not possibly understand or produce: an Anglo-Irish Leonoardo da Vinci though with more circumspection.

    Lost in Shangri-La July 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary

    In May 1945 an American flight over central New Guinea crashed and killed all but three of the twenty four servicemen on board. The three survivors – two men and a woman – found themselves in the midst of a dense jungle miles from home. They managed to parley with the local tribespeople – who […]

    Perpetua’s Death Dream July 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Perpetua's Death Dream

    Beachcombing decided to bring night visions into the day a month ago, opening a new tag on – note the failure to alliterate – Historic Dreams. He offered as a start Lincoln’s prophetic dream of the President’s own death and raised some questions about how prophetic said dream really was. Today, he offers,  instead, a […]

    The Emu War of 1932 July 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Emu War of 1932

    In the aftermath of the First World War different countries wrestled with the problem of how to reintegrate their veterans into society. In Britain houses were built ‘fit for heroes’, in Italy soldiers coming home were invited to beat up socialists and in Australia veterans from that country  were given land to farm. These Australian […]

    Dragons in Swtizerland July 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dragons in Swtizerland

    Dragons may be a thing of the past, but there are some surprisingly recent reports that seem to describe the fiery-breathed ones among us. Take this curious record from the works of Athanasius Kircher (obit 1680), Mundus subterraneus, quo universae denique naturae divitiae (Amsterdam 1664-1668). Where to even begin? In 1619 as I was contemplating […]

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