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  • Mysterious Death on Iona, 1929 January 31, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Mysterious Death on Iona, 1929

    17 November 1929 a woman died in mysterious circumstances on the island of Iona in Scotland. She was named Marie Emily Fornario though she more normally went by the name Netta Fornario or simply Mac. Netta, as we’ll call her here, was involved in the occult movements of the day including the Alpha et Omega […]

    Miskito: A Forgotten Early Modern Kingdom January 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Miskito: A Forgotten Early Modern Kingdom

    ***Dedicated to Alan*** A very long trivia question. Where in the world would an early modern traveller have found an Episcopalian non-European kingdom with monarchs with English names, many of whom died by violence, whose tax base depended on raiding neighbouring territories and which survived the best part of three hundred years? No idea? Well, […]

    Inuit as an Unlikely Source for Medieval Charts January 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Inuit as an Unlikely Source for Medieval Charts

    Could you draw a perfect, to scale map of the area that you live? Close your eyes, consider the fields, the rivers and streets and then give it a go. After you’ve spent ten minutes with some coloured crayons compare your effort with a professionally produced map, contours and all. The chances are that you […]

    Review: Running with the Fairies January 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Review: Running with the Fairies

    Scholarly fairy books are rare indeed: they average at about one every four years. Not many at all when you think that a score of volumes on Vietnam are published each month. This infrequency means that it is always extremely exciting when a new member of the fairy family shuffles onto the stage. So, with […]

    Post-Mortem Occult Discovery January 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Post-Mortem Occult Discovery

    Don Giovanni dei Medici (obit 1621) was the son of the first Medici Count of Tuscany. He had, however, the very great misfortune  to be born illegitimate and though acknowledged by his father, he was never in the Medici’s inner circle. It might have been this sidelining that led Don Giovanni dei Medici to become […]

    Wanted Balkan King! January 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Wanted Balkan King!

    A question. What modern European country asked a cricketer, the son of a Sultan, a German prince, a circus acrobat and a Gaelic-speaking Scot to be their monarch within ten short years? The answer is, of course, Albania. A tiny Adriatic power to the north of Greece, Albania has a history that you wouldn’t wish […]

    I’ve Been In This House Before… January 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    I've Been In This House Before...

    There is a rare subsection of Forteana where a sensitive woman (at least in all the examples we know) visits a mystery house in dreams and then, after a long period of nightly wandering, finds herself, amazed, at the front door of her dream house on a random visit to the countryside: again the examples […]

    Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia! January 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval
    Love Goddess #6: All Hail Northumberlandia!

    ***Dedicated to Invisible*** Part of humanity’s long flirtation with the landscape has been the idea that a given locality is a woman. While not universal this repeats itself in many religious systems and sometimes has even made its way into the modern world through placenames. So, in Britain hill, mountain and spur names frequently refer […]

    Wiccans and Fairy Shamans: Priority? January 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Wiccans and Fairy Shamans: Priority?

    In the last thirty years there have been growing numbers of men and women who have expressed a belief in fairies: for a minority of these communion with fairies has come to take on the outlines of a of religious system. We even read of ‘fairy shamanism’ and special ‘congresses’ where believers experiment with contact […]

    In Search of Exotic Blood in Europe, 1000-1900 January 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    In Search of Exotic Blood in Europe, 1000-1900

    DNA gets all over the place. We have looked before at some ‘freak’ examples from the Middle Ages, including Amerindian blood in medieval Iceland and Indian DNA in eleventh century England. But after dethroning Britain’s only Indian Prime Minister the other day Beach decided to go after easier prey, namely Europeans from 1000-1900 who had […]

    Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts January 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts

    The Ness of Brodgar is one of the most impressive Neolithic sites in Britain and, indeed, in Europe. It includes a series of massive buildings that have been interpreted as mausolea or temples and that would have taken modern stone masons years to put together: without metal tools it must have taken the Neolithic Orcardians […]

    Forgotten Kingdom: The Bird-Shit Island January 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Forgotten Kingdom: The Bird-Shit Island

    Nauru is a small island (about eight square miles) half way between Hawaii and New Zealand made largely of bird droppings. If that does not sound particularly promising consider two further points. First, that its European discoverer named it Pleasant Island in 1798: it was once extraordinarily beautiful. And second that the bird droppings can […]

    Burning Libraries: Episode Four of the Lost Planet January 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Burning Libraries: Episode Four of the Lost Planet

    Dr Who, which began being aired in 1963, was Britain’s attempt to join the science fiction race. Though less famous than Star Trek, which it preceded by three years, a comparison tells you a lot about the differences between the two countries in the 1960s: the gung ho US and demoralised post-war Britain. Star Trek […]

    The Mysterious End of the Western Settlement January 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Mysterious End of the Western Settlement

    Imagine a Mary Celeste incident – an empty apparently abandoned ship – but extended instead to an entire land. At least one such account comes down to us and that is the abandonment of the Western Settlement in Greenland, one of the most mysterious events in European – or is it North American? – history. […]

    Image: Old New Meets New Old January 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Old New Meets New Old

    ***Flu day*** Queen Elizabeth is fifty-seven years older than she was when the photograph above was taken (4 April 1955): Churchill, meanwhile, has been in the grave for forty seven years. However, this image has an energy that altogether belies its age. After all, here, in a single snap, are the two most important Britons […]

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