jump to navigation
  • Beachcombed 33 March 1, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed , trackback

    magpie on beach

    Dear Readers, Today Beach went out for his early morning walk and saw a magpie flying with twigs to a nest: spring is here, vitamin D levels are set to spike and the daffodils are fighting their way through the snow.Just another eight weeks and term is over and Beach can get to the serious business of trying to deal with his email backlogue. Before we get to the most important ten thousand words of the month, here are two sets of links. First, some of the best off-world reads from this month on general matters and second the best new history articles (preferably with a bizarre twist) with thanks to Adrian.

    Red and Blues: LK writes: ‘I seem to remember, when I read about this on Strategy Page that the copout was that the whole exercise was supposed to be about the proper procedures for staffwork, and not about the situation itself. See this piece by James Dunningan. If you want some real good stuff about Wargames (political\military\recreational) just contact Jim, or read his books, several of whom are available on the net. LK also remembers two wargaming stories: The invasion of Russia (Barbarossa) was wargamed at the German Army HQ, under the command (or supervision) of General Paulus (he of Stalingrad fame). He concluded that the whole plan was not feasable, because after four weeks (or something) the army would outrun its supply tail, and the distances involved, as well as the different rail width used by the russians) would make resupply very difficult, if not impossible. Of course GROFAZ (GROsster Feldherr Aller Zeiten, greatest commander of all times i.e. Hitler) did not see it that way, and ordered the invasion to go ahead anyway. And the other one apparantly took place on the night of 5th to 6th of June 1944. The german army, or corps HQ in the Cotentin was conducting a command exercice and then the para’s dropped. The commander in charge made the decision on the spot that the exercise should continue (because all relevant sub-commanders were there anyway) and that the umpires would now use the “live” data as training enemy, which enabled the corps HQ to come up with at least a semi-coherent battleplan, which was then implemented in the following hours.’ AB has this one that deserves to be developed:  The only great war game story I was hitherto aware of was War Plan Red which was a plot by the US to invade the British Empire via incursions into Canada as late as the 1930s and which they basically used to shake down Britain for access to our commonwealth markets and resources at massive reductions somewhat along the lines of a Ron Villain saying “Aw this Canada’s a very nice looking piece of schmutter…kind o’ fragile an’ vulnerable looking too though…and then there’s that Rusky mob across the way and y’know they can’t be trusted…and well y’wouldn’t wan’o see such a nice piece of real estate like this gettin’ involved in any accidents like being invaded now would y’u?” Thanks AB and LK!!!

    Writings of Fornario: A few treasures. Invisible writes in with this record from the British Library Memories of the Deep: Four sea idylls written by M. Fornario, author Gertrude Bracey, London: Boosey & Co, 1917. Invisible also gives this quotation from a contemporary newspaper that gives you some idea of the screwed up family that Netta found herself in: Otautau Standard and Wallace County Chronicle, Volume V, Issue 214, 8 June 1909, Page 7. The will has just been proved of Mr. Thomas Pratt Ling, of Bracondale, Dorking, tea merchant, in which he left £12,000 upon trust for his granddaughter, Marie Nora Emily Edith Fornario, provided that she shall remain under the guardianship of his son George or other person approved by his trustees and shall not forsake the English Protestant Faith, or marry a person not of that Faith, or marry a first cousin on either her father’s or her mother’s side, under penalty of losing one-half of her interest in this sum, and he also provided that the income should be paid to her in the United Kingdom, unless for a cause to be certified by medical certificate, or other cause to be approved by his trustees, she shall not be in the United Kingdom.’ Wade sends in this link from the New Society of the Golden Dawn in Bradford: We have recently spent a lot of time going through old records. In doing so we have found a lot of true facts about Occultist Netta Fornario who is usually senasationalised for her apparently strange death on the tourist island of Iona in November 1929. As we have done all the research, we lay claim to being FIRST with this new information which up until April 2010 was never before published and much of which was available only by physically going through many old archived records.’ It sounds promising and here there are some hints as to what they may have found.  Wade continues: I also saw a UK Census record on Ancestry.com referencing Marie Fornario born about 1897 in Egypt but residence in London at the time of the census. Long talk given by Garreth Knight in 2006 mentions Netta as named Outer Guardian of a co-masonic lodge in 1921(?). Good link with more background information than I’ve seen elsewhere. Thanks Invisible and Wade and those who sent in contact details for Ron!

    Richard III: Documentary maker and author Christopher Hale writes: ‘I had the misfortune long ago to work on a dull BBC series called ‘Meet the Ancestors’ – which always climaxed with the presenter unveiling the face of the excavated ‘ancestor’ – hence the ‘meet’ part. But what was the meat of the meet? One had to be famous or infamous, as R3 is I suppose, to make this moment at all compelling. Oh so that’s what Attila the Hun looked like? As to the anonymous relics MtA dug up – one just thought – oh, that person looked like — a person!  R3 didn’t look much like Laurence Olivier. The R3 bust was similarly anti climactic. The face was uninteresting compared to the spinal bones. You put your finger on the problem. The reconstructed faces are abstracts – stripped of the wear and tear of personal experience. Imagine a facial recon of WH Auden! You can read whatever you want into R3’s face – because it is merely a sketch of a human being.’  Next up is TB who writes: First , the whole story is truly fantastic : I presume you have seen the Channel 4 programme about it ? I hope you can , even in Italy . Mad Ricardian enthusiast lady pays for excavation in carpark (and please believe me , I live in York , have met lots of them over many years, and they are a little mad. Nice, but mad . They resemble nothing so much as a religious cult , having reinvented R as a truly perfect medieval Prince). They open the hole, and there he is. Bang on , first time . She being a True Believer , the look on her face when his crookback becomes apparent, not to say bleeding obvious, is quite the best moment of an otherwise overlong and tedious programme. The reconstruction : Caroline Wilkinson , she of Dundee, does an entirely plausible job on the computer. She has been doing such things for years , for a whole series of archaeology programmes. But all of her reconstructions look somewhat like herself. : she has a rather striking face, with a short upper lip .This syndrome, which plagues all artists ( including me ) , needs a name.   Perhaps you can think one up…. Which supports your point about such reconstructions : they are largely subjective, however impressive the software.’ Finally, the Count: Regarding your comments about the not particularly menacing reconstructed face of Richard III, several things occur to me. Firstly, any face recreated in this way is automatically going to be in repose, so you’re seeing Richard at his most tranquil, as he might have looked in a peaceful sleep. Few people have such frightful faces that they appear forbidding in that condition! Secondly, where on earth do you get the idea that you can instantly identify a villain because he looks like one? (Apart from Jimmy Saville, obviously – did anybody ever really like that guy and not find him incredibly creepy?) Obviously people like Hitler are most often photographed in full rhetorical mode ranting at a crowd, usually dressed in uniforms of their own design (as Billy Connolly pointed out, when your leader starts designing his own uniforms, you know you’re in serious trouble). But in pictures where he’s kissing babies or relaxing with his beloved dogs, he looks quite pleasant, if you ignore all the swastikas and the fact that he’s Hitler. George Orwell wrote an essay on the fact that if you didn’t know who Hitler was, you wouldn’t worry about him in the slightest. Stalin didn’t look particularly threatening either. I remember a news item just after the collapse of the Soviet Union about a reporter sent to do a human interest story about the first gay bar in St Petersburg. At a loss as to how to proceed, he decided that before going in, he’d assess how the locals were reacting to it by sitting on a bench across the road and observing the reactions of pedestrians (by the way, it wasn’t one of those hard-core gay bars that you can’t see into – it was a very tame one with the usual big pub windows). He noticed that the younger people glanced at it with mild curiosity or ignored it completely, but absolutely everybody older than about fifty did a huge double take and seemed genuinely disturbed, hurrying past with averted eyes or crossing the road to avoid it, even though nothing the slightest bit explicit was going on. After a while the pfennig dropped – most of the gay blokes had those moustaches that nowadays you have to have if you’re gay, but can’t have if you’re straight unless you’re Burt Reynolds. So everyone old enough to remember the bad old days was seeing a pub full of Stalins. Anyway, you’ve probably seen this before, but it seems that in the thirties some of Hitler’s detractors refused to accept that he hadn’t been visibly monstrous from birth, and published the notorious (but rather funny) Evil Nazi Baby photo!  AB adds: Beach that looks about as much like Richard III as you’d look like you if your sprog said “Dad I’ve just freed up a load o’ space on the laptop by deleting that big file called ‘Bizarre History Blogs Feb through Dec 2013”. I’ve long been following this research since first encountering it reading Gorky Park. The Russian guy who first developed it based his methods on years of painstakingly replacing the subcutaneous tissue of skulls of executed criminals with plasticine ‘veins’ ‘muscle’ etc and then testing how close he got to the original by comparing the finished result with photos. What they currently do though’s the same as most of what passes for Science these days namely use algorithms based on theory to fill in 70% of the substrate then slap a face on top chosen from a bank of selected portraits with the result even if the skull’s clearly that of an Australian Aborigine and even the 70% substrate fails to contadict this if they decide it’s unlikely Aborigines could ever’ve reached South America but perfectly reasonable to believe mysterious superintelligent mystic boat people could’ve plonked a load o’ Inuits there then the skull gets an Inuit’s chops. I’ve also noticed they always add in extra beauty or ugliness goodness or evilness sluttiness or virginality etc according to what’s more or less likely to draw the attention of the press. Thanks AB, TB,Chris and the Count!

    Death on Iona: ANL writes: More than anything else, I think that what you have here is a medical mystery: “When she arrived she was in anything but robust health”. The blackened (oxidized) silver jewellery indicates highly acidic sweat, which in turn indicates acidosis, an excessive amount of acid in the blood. Among many other things, metabolic acidosis can be caused by coeliac disease or a liver problem. If untreated, acidosis can lead to an acute confusional state in which patients may experience disorientation, agitation and hallucinations: “she began to speak of visions that she had seen in the heavens, and of messages received from the spirit world…….that faraway look they had seen in her eyes now denoted either madness or something diabolical.” I rest my case.’ AB has an explanation for the green ray which is very revealing: Beach in case your natural scholastic tendencies haven’t already unearthed the solution to the Green Ray or somebody else hasn’t already beaten me to the punch let me inform you it’s supposedly the region of wavelengths of energy on which the fairy universe specificaly operates. Why even the likes of Don Juan Matus were wary of it’s supposedly because in essence green energy’s also the frequency of the vegetational universe so you’re essentially dealing with entities who may at times resemble human beings but actually have little understanding and often completely no sympathy for animal kind and if anything’re as the emissaries of the plant kingdom dedicated to tempting animal kind to cross the threshold of vegetational existence where the assimilation and merging of such non-plant energies with their own can supposedly lead to interesting possibilities such as the Venus fly catcher. The peculiar thing though’s Iona’s supposedly derived from the same root as Yew and therefore associated more with the red end of the spectrum which’d suggest the island was strongly associated with cthonic powers supposedly making things more clearcut between the parties and less open to confusion or deception but Marie Emily’s fate suggests differently. Then KR who revisits some of this material. A few thoughts I had on this: 1. Perhaps Samuel Mathers took revenge for his wife after her death? 2. Why does no one ever wonder if the islanders themselves, or someone of them, or some group of them, decided to get rid of this strange (to them) woman, who might have been seen as a witch? Could some, or someone of them, have thought she was committing sacrilege by practicing her beliefs at their ancient sacred places? Couldn’t this, protection of the native islanders, be a reason why there was inadequate investigation? Perhaps “they” carved the cross nearby, re-sanctifying the area following the “witch-killing.” 3. She had “dreamy eyes” and odd ill spells and times of staying for hours on end in her room. She had a sudden great fear that she must leave, then was ok to stay. Could she have been epileptic, primarily of the petit-mal trance type? Some have an aura before an attack, which is a kind of warning sensation. Some have mostly petit-mal seizures, meaning that they seem to lose consciousness of their surroundings for small amounts of time, but don’t go into obvious convulsions. (Flickering lights, some were said to be seen on the island, sometimes bring on a seizure.) Later on in life, this can change to grand-mal. If she had petit-mal seizures, her physician-father might have considered committing her to an asylum, then the medically-proper thing to do to epileptics, which would have given her good reason to run away, and stay away from him. Her grandfather was insistent that she remain under the care of her brother, or a husband: he could have been simply old-fashioned and traditional regarding “woman’s place” in society, but he also could have been concerned about her odd trance-states. She, on the other hand, might have combined her occult research with hope for a cure:there is a “curative well” on the island. Suppose she took a dip in the well, something she could only do in the middle of the night to keep from being seen by islanders? Thus the nudity. If she had a grand-mal convulsion after wandering in the dark trying to get back to her lodgings afterward, she could have died from that, plus exposure. A superstitious islander, or islanders, seeing a nude woman wandering in a black cape might have some reason to think her a witch. Perhaps the “strange man” was an islander in the garb of a monk, doing what he thought was necessary to rid the holy isle of a witch? 🙂 I should write a novel…I have no reason to suspect epilepsy, except that it would explain a few of the unexplained details: her oddness/ deliberate seclusions/dreaminess, her grandfather’s will, her father’s estrangement, her “sudden feeling that she needed to escape” or something bad might happen (aura) her change of mind (either the aura left, or she seized without witnesses and recovered,) her self-imposed inability to go far from her lodgings routinely, her night wandering and nudity (seeking and bathing in the healing well.) Her dabbling in occult things might have been begun in an understandable effort to see her difference (as someone who “tranced out”) as something positive, and purposeful, not an illness. Keeping company with persons who believed in falling into trance states for occult purposes, would give her a group of fellows who would not panic when she did it. A group less likely to insist upon incarcerating her where medical “experts” would regularly fry her brain or put a hole in her skull.  Not that she didn’t come to believe in her powers herself: after all, SHE really DID “trance-out” and “mind travel” to somewhere else (lights were on, nobody home) they probably only pretended: she likely could tell the difference. It is possible that after her first grand-mal seizure, she left, escaping before anyone made the connection to “fits” instead of “deep and mystic dangerous trance” to seek refuge, solitude, and healing whilst pursuing her interest in fairy-lore. Okay, enough. My imagination, as you see, is quite vivid. Was she epileptic? We will never know. Also, ph affects silver. Epileptics often have acidic skin ph, which will turn silver jewelry black. Of course, people whose skin is mildly acidic for other reasons, and also some lotions and creams and cosmetics, will also cause silver to quickly blacken and tarnish. Dampness and chloride (salty water and moist seaside air) can also rapidly tarnish silver. Not that odd really.’ Thanks AB, KR and ANL!

    Zombie in Berwick: Bob and the Count send in the Latin. This is an old edition and some bit read badly… Be warned. ‘In aquilonalibus quoque Angliae partibus aliud non dissimile & aeque prodigiosum eodem tempore nouimus accidisse. Est vicus nobilis ad hostium Tuidi fluminis qui Berewic dicitur de jure Regis Scottorum. Ibi quidam vir pecuniosus, sed pessimus, ut postea plenius claruit, post fata sepultus, operatione, ut creditur,Sathanas, noctibus egrediebatur ex tumulo,& canum,cum ingenti latratu, prosequente turba huc illucque ferebatur, & multo cunctis accolis terrore incusso, ante lucem tumulo reddebatur. Cumque hoc per dies fieret plurimos, & nullus iam auderet post vesperum foris inveniri, dum omnes exitialis monstri formidarent occursum: quidnam agendum esset, necessarium inter se maiores simul & mediocres habuere tractatum, metuentes scilicet simpliciores ex ipsis, si forte negligentius ageretur, ab exanimi prodigio maturius siigillari; prudentiores vero caute reputantes, ne forte tardante remedio ex crebro pestiferi cadaueris circumactu infectus corruptusque aer, morbos & mortes gigneret plurimorum: quod utique praecavendum crebris in re consimili clarebat exemplis. Conduxerunt itaque decem iuuenes audacia insignes, qui corpus insandum effoderent, & membratim exectum redigerent in combustionem & cibum. Quod & factum est & cessauit quassatio. Nam & ipsum monstrum, dum circumferretur a Sathana, sicut dictum est, quibusdam forte obvium dixisse perhibetur, quod eo incombusto populus requiem habiturus non esset. Eo ergo combusto data quidem videbatur populo requies: sed exorta consequenter lues maiorem illius populi partem absumpiit. Nusquam enim alibi tam dire desaeviit, cum in cunctis ipso tempore extiterit Angliae finibus generalis, ut fuo loco plenius exponetur.’ Chris from Haunted Ohio Books writes in: I think that there is a very real sense that the “zombie” is being controlled by the Devil. Although the essay is primarily about post-mortem absolution, Herbert Thurston, S.J., discusses several walking dead stories by William of Newburgh and quotes Leo Allatius and John Nesteutes about how the Devil animates corpses in “Brucolaccas: A Study of Mediaeval Ghost Lore.”  I regret that I don’t have the originals, but here are some salient passages from Father Thurston’s article: From Leo Allatius’ tract, De Quorundam Graecorum Opinationibus, a form of zombie or vampire, the Burcolacca: After describing the appearance of these corpses, he says, “Into this hideous carcase the devilenters and hatches evil against unfortunate mortals. For often under the covering of this body sallying forth from the tomb and ravaging the city and other populous places, especially by night, he comes to any house he chooses and knocking at the door, the man calls out in loud tones to some one of the inmates. If he answers it is all over with him, and he dies the very day after. If he answer not, then he is safe. Hence it arises that in that island all the inhabitants, whenever anyone calls to them at night, make no answer the first time, for if the call comes a second time, then they know that it is not Burcolacca, but somebody else. And this plague, they say, is such a scourge to man that, even in the daytime and even at noontide itself, it not only comes to their houses, but it accosts passers-by in the fields and on the highways and in the enclosures of their vineyards, and makes an end of them sometimes by the simple horror of the sight, without even speaking to them or touching them. If those who behold the monster speak to it, the spectre disappears, but he who spoke is a dead man. The people, therefore, when they see many dying all around them without any pestilence or other visible cause, suspecting the true reason, open the tombs in which any recently deceased persons may be buried, sometimes at once, sometimes after an interval, and there they find a corpse incorrupt and distended. They drag it from the tomb, and then the priests say prayers and they throw the body upon a burning pile, and before their supplications are well over, the body begins to fall to pieces, and all that remains is burnt and reduced to ashes. And this from the Nomocanon, attributed to John the Faster: It is not possible that a dead man should become a Broucolaccas [sic], as they call it. But it may happen that the devil, wishing to delude men into committing unlawful deeds that so they may incur the anger of God, performs these marvels, and works upon the imagination of people to make them believe that they meet in the night-time certain persons whom they once knew and lived with. And accordingly they dream that they have seen some spectre, occasionally it may even be in the street, and they see him walking or standing, and not only that, but he throttles men sometimes. Oh, wretched folly! Does a dead man walk abroad, and slay the living? God forbid. None the less men get excited, and off they rush to the grave, and they dig up the earth to look at the body. And since they have not proper faith, the devil transforms himself and he puts on the body of that dead man like a garment, and that dead man who had lain so long in the grave appears to them as if it had flesh and blood and nails and hair. Then, seeing this by their deluded imagination, these miserable men rush headlong into evil. They heap up logs, they light a fire, they burn the body and utterly destroy it, and in their blindness they do not perceive that in that terrible second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ they are preparing punishment for themselves in that inextinguishable fire where they will burn forever. . . . Know then that if ever there be found such acorpse, which is, as we have said, the work of the devil, let the priests be called, and let them sing invocations to the Mother of God, let there be a short purification with holy water; then let Mass be celebrated, let the all-holy Virgin be exalted for the succour of all, and let commemorations of the departed be made with [cakes]. After that, read over the body the exorcisms of St. Basil the Great, and two of those for baptism, sprinkle the people with the holy water and pour what remains over the corpse,and then from that corpse, by God’s grace, the devil will straightway take flight. As for the “whirlings” of the Berwick “zombie, exempla are full of stories of the devil or demons catching up humans and flying with them. For example, in Caesarius of Heisterbach’s Dialogue on Miracles, we find in Book V (Of Demons) Chapter XXVII, a story of how the Devil can make a man fly: “Of the lay-brother Theodoric, who was carried by the devil from the city of Lubeck.” One of our lay-brothers, Theodoric of Soest, told me that when he was a young man, a friend of his promised to make love to a certain girl in Lubeck on his behalf. He gained the assent of the young woman, but when Theodoric hoped to win her, his friend showed that he had been making a mock of him, and had wooed her for himself. When Theodoric learnt of this he was very angry and cried: “The devil who brought me here will be able to take me away again.” Immediately upon this invitation the devil appeared, picked up the man and lifted him into the air, and carrying him away from the town, set him down in an out of the way place by the shore of a certain lake, and then said to him: “If you had not in some fashion made the sign of the cross, I should have killed you just now”; for when he was carried off he had crossed himself, though very slightly and imperfectly. When let go by the demon, he fell so heavily that he lay senseless on the ground vomiting blood. At last, regaining a little of his strength, he crawled on hands and knees to the water, washed his face and drank a little, and then with great toil, reached his lodging. When he entered the house, as soon as the light met his eyes, he fell again into a fainting fit. They summoned the priest, who read over him the first chapter of S. John’s gospel, and fortified him against the attacks of the devil with prayer. For a whole year he suffered so much from trembling in all his limbs that he could not hold a cup in his hand to drink from it. He used to tell how when the devil carried him away and held him tightly in his arms, he could see the church of S. Nicholas and all the buildings of the city standing out clearly in the bright light of the moon. You have an almost similar story in the eleventh chapter of the third book, which tells of Henry, also a citizen of Soest, whom the devil snatched up from the market place at night, and after carrying him beyond the monastery of S. Patroclus, set him down in a field. So baleful and so poisonous is the nature of demons, that men are often injured by the mere sight of them. Later in the same book we find a story of a gambler dragged through a roof by the Devil “so roughly, that his bowels were torn out by the broken tiles.” [Chapter XXXIV Of the knight Thiemon, whose bowels were torn out by the devil after playing dice with him.] There are several other similar stories about men being carried into the air, so obviously it was a known talent of the Evil One. Latin. Thanks Count and Bob and Chris!

    Boggart: Chris from Haunted Ohio Books sends in this link: ‘A site with a nice collection of boggart stories.’  And some great Lancashire material. ‘And the Clegg Hall boggarts–confusing and ambiguous: In Roby and Wilkinson’s suggestive work on Lancashire Legends, to which we are indebted for some of the traditions in this volume, is an account of the Clegg Hall tragedy. The story, as given in the work just referred to, is as follows: “Clegg Hall, about two miles N.E. from Rochdale, stands on the only estate within the parish of Whalley which still continues in the local family name. On this site was the old house built by Bernulf de Clegg and Quenilda his wife, as early as the reign of Stephen. Not a vestige of it remains. The present comparatively modern erection was built by Theophilus Ashton, of Rochdale, a lawyer, and one of the Ashtons of Little Clegg, about the year 1620. After many changes of occupants, it is now in part used as a country ale-house; other portions are inhabited by the labouring classes, who find employment in that populous manufacturing district. It is the property of the Fentons, by purchase from the late John Entwisle, Esq., of Foxholes. “To Clegg Hall, or rather what was once the site of that ancient house, tradition points through the dim vista of past ages as the scene of an unnatural and cruel tragedy. It was in the square, low, dark mansion, built in the reign of Stephen, that this crime is said to have been perpetrated,—one of those half-timbered houses, called ‘post-and-petrel,’ having huge main timbers, crooks, &c, the interstices being wattled and filled with a compost of clay and chopped straw. Of this rude and primitive architecture were the houses of the English gentry in former ages. Here, then, was that horrible deed perpetrated which gave rise to the stories yet extant relating to the ‘ Clegg Hall boggarts.’ The prevailing tradition is not exact as to the date of its occurrence; but it is said that some time about the thirteenth or fourteenth century, a tragedy resembling that of the ‘ Babes in the Wood’ was perpetrated here. A wicked uncle destroyed the lawful heirs of Clegg Hall and estates—two orphan children that were left to his care—by throwing them over a balcony into the moat, in order that he might seize on their inheritance. Ever afterwards—so the story goes—the house was the reputed haunt of a troubled and angry spirit, until means were taken for its removal, or rather expulsion. “Of course, this ‘boggart,'” says Mr. Wilkinson, “could not be the manes of the murdered children, or it would have been seen as a plurality of spirits; but was, in all likelihood, the wretched ghost of the ruffianly relative, whose double crime would not let him rest in the peace of the grave. Even after the original house was almost wholly pulled down, and that of A.d. 1620 erected on its site, the ‘boggart’ still haunted the ancient spot, and its occasional visitations were the source of the great alarm and annoyance to which the inmates were subjected. From these slight materials, Mr. Roby has woven one of those fictions, full of romantic incident, which have rendered his Traditions of Lancashire* so famous. We have taken such facts only,” concludes Mr. Wilkinson, “as seem really traditionary [sic], recommending the lovers of the marvellous to the work just cited for a very entertaining tale on this subject.” [[footnote*] “It is only just to state,” remarks Mr. Wilkinson, “that the story of  the ‘Clegg Hall Boggart’ was communicated to Mr. Roby by Mr. William Nuttall, of Rochdale, author of Le Voyageur, and the composer of a ballad on the tradition. In this ballad, entitled ‘Sir Roland and the Clegg Hall Boggart,’ Mr. Nuttall makes Sir Roland murder the children in bed with a dagger. Remorse eventually drove him mad, and he died raving during a violent storm. The Hall was ever after haunted by the children’s ghosts, and also by demons, till St. Antonea (St Anthony) with a relic from the Virgin’s shrine, exorcised and laid the evil spirits.”] To this meagre if suggestive account of a popular story, may be added, that in a curious manuscript volume, now, or recently, the property of Dr. Charles Clay, of Manchester, Mr. Nuttall notes that “many ridiculous tales were told of the two boggarts of Clegg Hall, by the country people.” That there were two, all local accounts would seem to testify. “At one time,” proceeds Mr. Nuttall, “they (the country people) unceasingly importuned a pious monk in the neighbourhood to exorcise or ‘lay the ghosts,’ to which request he consented. Having provided himself with a variety of charms and spells, he boldly entered on his undertaking, and in a few hours brought the ghosts to a parley. They demanded, as a condition of future quiet (the sacrifice of) a body and a soul. The spectators (who could not see the ghosts), on being informed of their desire, were petrified, none being willing to become the victim. The cunning monk told the tremblers: ‘Bring me the body of a cock, and the sole of a shoe.’ This being done, the spirits were forbidden to ‘revisit the pale glimpses of the moon’ till the whole of the sacrifice was consumed. Thus ended the first laying of the Clegg Hall boggarts.” Unfortunately, the plan of laying the ghosts adopted by the wily priest has not proved; permanently successful; whether the “sacrifice” has been wholly consumed, or the fact that the spirit of the demand not being truly acceded to is the cause, is, of course, unknown, but, for some reason or other, the two ghosts continue to walk, and the belief in their appearance is as complete and as general as ever. The haunted homes and family traditions of Great Britain, Volume 1, John Henry Ingram. Then Chris offers this: Mumby, near Alford. The Farmer and the Boggart.— ‘T boggart, a squat hairy man, strong as a six-year-old horse, and with arms almost as long as tackle poles, comes to a farmer who has just taken a bit of land, and declares that he is the proper owner, and the farmer must quit. The farmer proposes an appeal to the law, but boggart will have naught to do wi’ law, which has never yet done him justice, and suggests that they should share the produce equally. “Very well,” says the farmer, “wilt thou tek what grows above ground, or what grows beneath ground? Only, moind, thou mun stick to what thou sattles; oi doant want no back-reckunnings after.” He arranges to take what grows above ground, and the farmer promptly sets potatoes. Of course, when the boggart comes at harvest time to claim his share he gets nothing but the haulms and twitch, and is in a sore taking. At last, however, he agrees to take all that grows beneath ground for next season, whereupon the farmer sows wheat, and when boggart comes round at t’ backend, the man gets corn and straw, and naught is left for boggart but the stubble. Boggart then insists that next year wheat should be sown again, and that they should mow together, each taking what he mows. The farmer consults the local wise man, and studs boggart’s ‘falls’ with thin iron rods, which wear down boggart’s strength in cutting and take all the edge of his scythe. So boggart stops to whet, and boggart stops to rest, but the farmer mows steadily on till at last the boggart throws down his scythe in despair and says, “Ye may tek t’ mucky owd land an’ all ‘ats on it; I wean’t hev no more to do wi’ it.” And off he goes and nivver comes back no more, leastways not after no land, but awms aboot t’ delves, an’ skears loane foaks o’ noights; an’ if thou leaves thy dinner or thy tools about, ofttimes he meks off wi’ ’em.’ Examples of printed folk-lore concerning Lincolnshire, By Eliza Gutch, M. G. W. Peacock 1908. And finally a strange haunted boggart. Thanks as always Chris!

    Italy’s Little Languages: Judith from Zenobia writes in with a small correction:  I thought something was odd with this post on Ladino.  Wikipedia warns us against  your error most sternly: “Ladino should not be confused with the Ladin language, which is related to the Swiss Romansh and Friulian languages and is mostly spoken in the Dolomite Mountains of Northern Italy.” Ladino is (properly speaking) a Judeo-Spanish dialect or language (if you are feeling expansive) that derived from the Castilian spoken by the Jews expelled from Spain at the end of the 15th century.  It is now, for all practical purposes, dead as a doornail but it was once spoken quite widely — not least in the Greece and by the Jewish community of Thessaloniki.’ Yikes, I was misled by Italian here that doesn’t make the distinction between Ladin and Ladino: and does it ever hurt when Wikipedia slaps your hand. Then Stephen D adds: You might also note: Molise Croatian, or Slavomolisano, a variety of Croatian spoken by small numbers in a few hill villages (Italian names Montemitro, Acquaviva Collecroce, San Felice del Molise: recognisably transformed into the Croatian names Mundimitar, Živavoda Kruč, Štifilić) in the province of Campobasso, well down on the east coast . The language came over from Dalmatia with refugees from the Ottoman Turks. Gardiol, spoken in the far south, in the Calabrian village of Guardia Piemontese. This is a displaced version of Vivaroaupenc, a northeastern dialect of the Occitan language from southern France and northwest Italy. Gardiol was brought to Calabria by Waldensian fugitives, heretics from the Alpine valleys, same bunch as the slaughtered saints whose bones lie scattered, etc.  Some, anticipating slaughter by a century or more, fled to Calabria: they were safe till 1561, when the local capo massacred a couple of thousand as intolerable heretics. The survivors became Catholic but kept their language. I expect some long-established Italian families still speak Yiddish or Romany between themselves, but those hardly count.’ Finally LTM puts the survival of these little tongues in perspective. They all somehow made it through Fascism: Speaking dialects was made illegal under Mussolini and remained so (in Sicily anyway) until the fifties.  Sicilian was the most spoken non-Italian language in Italy. “The unification of Italy in 1861 brought about sweeping social and economic reforms. Amazingly, only 2.5 percent of Italy’s population could speak standard Italian at the time of unification. Mandatory schooling and the proliferation of mass communication and mass transit had an enormous impact on the formation of modern standard Italian. Local dialects, characterized as the language of the uneducated, began to fall out of favour in the decades following unification. As Benito Mussolini and his Fascist party rose to power in the early part of the twentieth century, the push toward a common language intensified. With the goal of solidifying his control over the Italian population, Mussolini outlawed the public use of Italian dialects. Modern standard Italian was by now firmly established as the sole official language of the Italian state and its people>” Thanks Judith, LTM and Stephen and long may the little languages of Italy thrive!

    Viking Zombie: Diana writes in: Could the story of Glam the Viking zombie possibly be an incident like the infamous  true survival case of Hugh Glass, who was thought dead by his companions, but crawled for 6 weeks to reach the Cheyenne river and then rafted to Fort Kiowa? Honestly I couldn’t remember his name, just the story but I wikipedia’d it.  Thanks Diana!

    British Occultists: Steve T writes in with this: Found some splendidly over the top conspiracy theories concerning Crowley (who else) and the rumour that he was up to good/no good on the south coast; “Sefton Delmer the black propaganda and psyops leader, confirmed that 33rd degree masons Churchill and Aleister Crowley were involved in wartime sacrifices at the devils chimney on the south coast.”  Interestingly, another name that crops up here is; “Soviet spy Eugene Ivanov was just one who documented Churchill’s alcoholism and mental instability, all now in G.R.U archives.” Ivanov’s involvement with Churchill and that most dastardly of Doctors, Stephen Ward came later, but Churchill was a ‘patient’ of Ward’s and although the internet now only links SW with pimping and spying, there are those who believe he was quite a practitioner of the dark arts. Michael Bentine certainly comes right out and says it in “Doors of The Mind”. Anyway, lots more delicious ‘Eyes Wide Shut‘ type stuff here, but you will need the tin-foil hat!’ Thanks Steve!

    Hitler and Sex: First a complaint. Ed writes in:  Perhaps you didn’t mean it this way, but your post on Hitler’s sex life seems pretty cruel to asexuals.  It sounds as if you’re describing his supposed asexuality as having a “sad little, cold-fish personality” and even suggesting it (that is, his asexuality, exemplified by, or causing, his lack of Bavarian hay-field romps) was responsible for his being, well, Hitler.  That really doesn’t seem fair to asexuals.’ This was certainly not my intention though I agree that given how I wrote the post this conclusion is a fair one. For me Churchill (for all his faults) had a warm, humane personality and was very likely asexual. He is the proof that asexuality does not go hand in hand with cruelty. My comment about the romps in 1910s Bavaria meanwhile were really just part of that old game: if we could change something about Hitler, just thrown one little change into his works at an early age, perhaps everything would have turned out differently. I can assure Ed then that I did not mean to put asexuals in the doghouse: though unfortunately I can see why he came to that conclusion. Apologies, Ed, for that lack of clarity.  The great Mike Dash writes in giving us permission to quote from an article of his on the question of Hitler having one testicle or a deformed penis: The truth is that almost no-one who survived the war could say for certain what Hitler’s genitals looked like. The dictator was pathologically reluctant to let even his own personal doctors examine him intimately – in fact this reluctance is the main reason many people suspect he must have had some sort of deformity. According to David Irving, the controversial right-wing historian and author of The Secret Diaries of Hitler’s Doctor (London: Grafton Books, 1990), Hitler’s principal doctor, Theo Morrell, conducted many examinations of the rest of the Nazi warlord’s body (reporting he had no hair on his chest or back, had poor teeth and was bothered by a furred tongue), but was never allowed to go ‘further south’. On one occasion, when Hitler was asked to consent to an enema to relieve the symptoms of hepatitis, the Fuhrer refused to let his doctor slip a tube up his arse, and retired to a locked toilet to try to administer it himself. If Hitler did have some sort of deformity, though, it may not have made him incapable of getting it up. Most Nazis in Hitler’s inner circle believed he did have sex with Eva Braun, though only very occasionally (the couple generally slept in separate beds). However, another Nazi doctor, Professor Doktor Hanskarl von Hasselbach, testified in 1951: ‘Hitler had an extreme disinclination to let people see his body. Even I never saw him completely unclothed, let alone checked him over in that state.’ Hasselbach went on to confirm that even members of the Nazi hierarchy suspected their Fuhrer’s motives for this excessive modesty, but all he could offer was: ‘Probably his former manservant Emil Maurice could give some information as to whether his sex organs were deformed; he dropped hints when we were in captivity.’ Borky writes in with this thought: His early female depictions suggest to me a certain schoolboyish fascination with tastefully sized non-Hindenburgesque dimensioned melons but no one ever accused him of being cunt struck.  He also seems to’ve suffered from the same hang up a lot of ‘spiritually minded’ people have the less sex you have the more holy you become as well as the Gandhiesque idea penetration especially accompanied by ejaculation confers potency on the woman withholding confers her power on him. Finally Mary-of-the-Homeland writes in:  We’ll never know for sure will we. Then there’s Hitler the syphylitic very convincingly argued in _Pox: Genius, Madness, and the Mysteries of Syphylis_ by Deborah Hayden. Ms. Hayden draws from AH’s autobiography ‘my struggle’ numerous expressions of disgust with sex and an obsession with -syphylis!’ Thanks Ed (for his patience), Mary, Mike and Borky!!!

    Magpie Parliament: PB now writes in with the detailed entry from his journal! The numbered part is his attempt to explain things from his bird library. ‘This is what happened 9/1/2013: I was coming off the hill, down through the marginal farmland below the moor on the eastern fringe of the Manchester conurbation. It was murky and foggy, and, as I got past the farm near the top of a housing estate, I could hear the noisy repetitive chattering noise of a fracas of magpies. When I got there I could see a few crows and jackdaws were in attendance, watching, bouncing around in nearby trees and bushes as they watched the magpies gathered in a group of big hawthorns. The noise stopped as I came into view, and they all flew off into the gloom further down the hill. I followed the noise and caught up with them near an unsurfaced country park car park surrounded by rough open ground, bushes and a hedge. I slowed down this time, approached carefully, and watching through some hawthorn, had a good view with binns from c. 50/60 yards, of what followed: two magpies were on the ground in the middle of the car park, apparently fighting, jumping up at each other, jabbing each other with their beaks; about a dozen other magpies were watching intently from the bushes around the edge of the car park; the two adversaries continued to jump up off the ground, but were now jabbing at each other with their feet; one was pushed down onto the ground and lay on its back while the dominant one stood on it and pecked at it with its beak; the weaker one pushed back with its feet, and succeeded in pushing the aggressor off; for about twenty seconds they flew at each other again leading with their feet, fluttering higher than before, up to about human adult waist height; their feet seemed to become entangled; they fell back down to the ground, each then standing and bouncing around; they both then flew up onto a fence, alighted side by side, for a spot of flapping and preening. Neither of them seemed to be hurt. There was no sign of any blood .The magpies, including the combatants, and the attendant crows and jackdaws, then  all flew off, together, into the gloom. Or was the ‘loser’ of the fight being chased? The incident had taken three, perhaps four minutes, and I’d been quite spell bound. You just never know what you’re going to see!  But what was happening? I’ve been going through my books and I can’t find mention of a ‘Magpie Parliament’ as I thought I would. But I’ve got mixed up – confused again! It turns out the word ‘parliament’ is associated with Rooks. People have witnessed occasions where two or three or four Rooks have been surrounded by 30-40 Rooks in a circle. After a few minutes the encircling birds have attacked and killed the ones in the middle – as if it had been a ‘trial and execution’. (Birds Britannica  p 416). However, I’ve found several possible explanations – apparently there are different theories: 1) Magpies can gather at a food source or to mob a predator – I once saw a sparrowhawk take its feral pigeon kill into a tree whereupon several magpies landed all around it in the tree, cackling on, apparently trying to make it drop the prey. One even pulled the raptor’s tail! However there was no food involved on the occasion described above. 2) This gathering happened at about 11.30am, so it was nothing to do with the pre-roost assemblies that occur during winter afternoons ahead of dusk. 3) Or does it relate to their pre-breeding ceremonial gatherings. I have a note in one book from a 1990 Radio4 programme to the effect that young, first time breeders use these gatherings to find a mate, though it’s not stated whether it’s the male or the female that does the choosing. 3) Ceremonial                  gatherings of 8-10, or up to 50 birds occur between December & April and these have given rise to considerable speculation. The birds noisily chase each other around. One suggestion is that this represents “different stages in territory acquisition by immature birds, including taking territory by force.” The immature birds get attacked by the older birds. (Tim Birkhead p 364 in the BTO 1986 Winter Atlas) But the event described above seemed to be between just two individuals, with the others acting as onlookers. 4) Vol 8 of Birds of the Western Paleartic, p 63 refers to a dominance hierarchy amongst non-breeders. Was the magpie fight, if not about leadership, then about position in the heirarchy of the local flock of the immatures/non-breeders? [By pure coincidence – how’s this for a tangent? – I’d been thinking about another species, as I’d begun reading The Clockwork Orange. Near the beginning there is a passage when the gang are in a caff, where the leader says “There has to be a leader. Discipline there has to be. Right?…. I… have been in charge long now. We are all droogs, but someone has to be in charge. Right? Right?” And a page further on, “I leaned across Georgie, who was between me and horrible Dim, and fisted Dim skorry on the rot…. ‘What did you do that for?’ he said in his ignorant way….. ‘For being a bastard with no manners and not the dook of an idea how to comport yourself publicwise, O my brother.’ “]  5) Perhaps there is more recent research? Incidentally, far from making it a fruitless morning, the foggy conditions enabled me to get closer to the magpies than I probably would have been able to. If the visability had been better, then the magpies would probably seen me more clearly and flown off – as they did when I first arrived along the path from the fields wondering what was going on. Higher up the hill the fog helped me get close to two lots of Fieldfares feeding on the pasture, which was great as I was helping with the winter thrush surveys. Also I was only about 70 yards from a pair of Buzzards sitting, apparently as a pair, on adjacent fence posts. I suspect they’re part of their continued spread out from Wales, across Cheshire and now up around the eastern side of the city. So it had been a terrific morning – in spite of the discouraging weather!’ Then comes Alison: I thought I’d write and mention that I once saw something that looked like a magpie wake or funeral. I live in Edmonton, AB (Canada) and we have many magpies in the city. I used to live next to a park where they nested and was frequently woken in the early morning hours by their squawking. They have particular agitated squawks when, for instance, a cat is roaming about. One morning I was woken by the most raucous squawking I’d heard. The only thing equal to it was once when a cat had actually managed to nab one of them. I finally got out of bed to see what the racket was about. Right below my window was a patch of grass outlined with a short metal fence. On the fence were perched between five and eight magpies and lying on the grass was a dead one. It didn’t appear to have died violently. It was just lying there. (It was right after West Nile got here and there were a number of dead crows and magpies that summer.) The other magpies were chattering and squawking to each other and to the dead one. One by one they would fly or walk up to it and squawk away very earnestly at it (they didn’t touch it). Then they’d return to their place and talk amongst themselves a bit more. Then another one would approach the dead one and squawk at it for a while. It went on for at least 10 minutes that I was watching and probably longer considering how long I ignored them to start with. Then they all eventually flew away. One of the most fascinating things I’ve ever seen. Diana writes in with this: ‘I was an environmental educator for over 15 years and crows (and ravens) are some of my absolutely most favorite birds. A murder of crows is just a term for a flock of crows. Ravens come to eat the flesh of dead things, but the crows usually come to eat the maggots off dead things.   Supposedly, murder victims have be be found by paying attention to where these birds gather. Crow beaks aren’t very strong for ripping flesh. Although I’ve been stabbed at by captive crows, they never broke the skin. Not sure though, they could have been “pulling their punches”.  One of the 2 “education” crows I cared for (animals that had been injured, rehabbed but were unreleasable and used in presentations to children) had taught himself to say “hello” so who can say whether he meant to hurt when he pecked? Also, at least in the U.S., crows have a very poor reputation for supposedly eating corn (maize) in the fields. Again, it’s actually their fondness for insects like corn borers that caused this misconception. ‘ Bob S. writes in: I have heard many stories of gatherings of rooks or crows, or occasionally other birds or animals (see Living Wonders by R.M.J [Bob] Rickard and Paul Seiveking (1982) for two relevant chapters ‘Animal Courts and Councils’ and ‘Wakes and Funerals’ p. 150-153). I have found some references to groups of magpies gathering in numbers, which certainly seem to me to be unusual these days, and one of a “clumping” of magpies together that seems very strange.Magpies congregate in considerable numbers, sometimes from twenty to thirty in a flock. Probably the want of wood keeps them together as a precautionary measure; and they have a scout, like the crow, who looks out for danger while his companions are feeding. They are wild, and take long flights on being disturbed. Edward Jesse Gleanings in Natural History (1842), p. 74‘When eighteen years old, or thereabouts, I met with something of the same kind [birds clustering together]: there was a difference, indeed, in the birds, for on this occasion they were magpies—not birds of song, but of noise. I went out with my brother, now in the navy, one fine moonlight winter night, to shoot wood-pigeons in a neighbouring plantation. The wind was high, and we expected to find them in a sheltered place, where the soil was deep, and the spruce firs had grown high. As I went cowering along, looking through the branches between me and the moon, I saw what seemed as large as a well-filled knapsack, fixed on the top of a long slender ash tree, which had struggled up in spite of the firs, which you know grow very rapidly. I pointed it out to my brother, and, seizing the shaft of the tree, shook it violently, when, if one magpie fell to the ground, there were not less than twenty dropped in a lump at my feet. Away they flew scream­ing in all directions. One only remained on the spot which they occupied on the tree, and I shot it, and so settled what kind of birds had been huddled together to avoid the cold. I looked at them before I shook them down for a minute’s space or more, and could see neither heads nor feet; it seemed a bundle of old clouts or feathers.’ (Account of Mr Alan Cunningham, quoted by Edward Jesse in Gleanings in Natural History (1842),  p. 231-2. At this season the magpies, which usually live stealthily apart in pairs, may sometimes be seen in small flocks, as though assembling for migration; but food rather than travel is the object of their gathering. The Countryside (ed. E. Kay Robinson) Vol. 3 p.298 (16 October 1906).Thanks Diana, Bob, PB and thanks Alison!

    Frobisher’s Missing Five: Stephen D brings up a question here that confused me but that I was too worried about bringing up because, well, to be frank I thought that it might be obvious to everyone else. One question: if people were trying to build a ship on desolate treeless Baffin Island, where were they going to find timber? Only explanation I can think of: they weren’t trying to build a new ship. They had a ship that was so damaged as to be unseaworthy, and they were trying to create a seaworthy vessel from its timbers, reducing its size so as to have material to spare. But if that’s what they were doing, they can’t have been Frobisher’s men with their small boat.’ Stephen D adds a little more: ‘Even more plausible explanation: they had two vessels. One was in  a poor state but could be mended, the other was past repair. The therefore dug a slipway long enough to get both of them completely out of the water (which they had to do to get at the keel and lower timbers of the one, and repair the parts below the waterline in the other), hauled them both out, demolished the worse one at the top of the slipway, rebuilt the better and (if they had any sense) loaded it with any leftover timber for fuel. That would explain why they dug a hundred-foor slipway, which is far longer than anyone would need for a reasonable sized ship (even Victory is only 185 feet long). What then became of the ship? If the Inuit are right, and the sailors died of cold, then what Inuit could resist plundering such a treasure-store of wood, cordage and metal?’ The slight problem with this was that, to the best of our knowledge, there was only the one boat. Perhaps they really did patch up using some driftwood? Thanks Stephen!

    Dr Who: William writes in: A much more extreme case than what happened at the BBC was the fate of the shows broadcast on the DuMont Network.  The DuMont Network was one of America’s first TV networks, operating from 1946 to 1956.  In the Seventies, virtually the entire programming library of the DuMont Network was dumped in the Upper New York Bay (resulting in not a burning library but a drowning library (and here). In contrast to the BBC, which produced (and destroyed) beloved classics like Dr. Who, no one seems to care about or even remember the shows of the DuMont Network. Thanks William!

    Inuit in Orkney: First up is an old friend of this blog and an expert of the north, Leif:  The term ‘Finnmen’ could mean several different things, depending on the local dialect. In most of Scandinavia, it referred to people from Finland, In the Orkneys, the term referred to a fairy race, similar to the Norse huldrefolk. In North Norway ‘Finn’ used to refer to the Sami, who are of course very real.  Norway’s most northern province is called ‘Finnmark’. There, the term was common until the beginning of the 19th century (see the discussion in Buch, below– including the ‘reason’ the term fell out of use). Traditionally, these ‘Finns’ were associated with sorcery. Among other things, Finns could be ‘wind sellers’– who for a price could conjure winds favorable to sailors.  Quite possibly, the ‘Finnmen’ of Orkney and the Shetlands were a memory of the Sami, handed down from the times their ancestors lived in Norway. The Orkney Finns were also associated with magic–living under the sea or on vanishing islands, and spiriting away Christian folk. (Web reference: the folktales are worth reading). Of course, none of this explains the sightings you mention. But the term ‘Finnmen’ indicates that the Reverend Wallace associated the sightings with a phantasmagorical race.’ And here is the a longer reference from Leif:   von Buch, Leopold (author). Black, John (translator). Travels through Norway and Lapland during the years 1806, 1807, 1808. London. Henry Colburn, British and foreign public library. 1814. (available through google books. ) To this parish several hundred Laplanders settled in the interior of the Tysfiord also belong; but the Laplanders who descend from Sweden in summer are looked upon as strangers, and not included in the enumeration of the inhabitants of Lodingen. They belong to the Swedish Pastorates of Gellivara and Jockmock, both in Luleo-Lappmarck. They generally cross, the mountains about the 14th of April, and draw downwards towards the water. When they approach the sea-shore, the rein deer run in crowds to the Fiord, and immediately drink the salt water with great eagerness. This is believed by the Laplanders to be necessary for the health of their rein deer; but notwithstanding the pleasure which they find in it, these animals never drink this water more than once. The Laplanders then drive them upwards towards the mountains and upland vallies not inhabited by the Norwegians; and as the summer advances, and the snow melts, they ascend higher and higher up the mountains. By St. Oluf’s day, in the middle of August, they again leave these regions, hover for a few weeks on the borders, and bury themselves at last, in harvest, in the woods which surround the church and clergyman’s house of the pastorate. They preserve the principal part of their property, however, at their winter station, as winter is in general more convenient to transport themselves and baggage on Skyer and Pulker*, when vallies and hills are levelled, and lakes and marshes are firm. Hence every father of a family generally possesses a small building in the neighbourhood of the church, in which he deposits, during summer his valuable goods and. his winter implements. It may be easily conceived, therefore, that they consider their journey over the mountains as a real absence from their home, and consider themselves as only resident where they pass their winter, in the same manner as the citizen who passes four or five months of the year at his country-house near town looks upon himself as then absent, and does not believe himself at home again till he gets to his house in town. Those men who thus cross the mountains are called in Norway Laplanders (Lappen), probably because they are so called in Sweden ; for it appears highly singular to a stranger, that in all Norway no Laplanders are known. The people who receive this appellation from the rest of the world are called Finns (Tinner) by the Norwegians ; not in one small district alone, but from Roraas (the southernmost point inhabited by Laplanders) up to the North Cape. Moreover, as far back as the most ancient accounts go, this custom has always prevailed; and the inhabitants of the north side of the Kiolen mountains, from the White Sea down to Drontheim, have never been named Laplanders by any writer of the country, or any foreign writers who have followed them. Should we suppose therefore that the Swedish name is new, and was not used in ancient times ? This is not possible, however ; for Fundinn Noregur, an old Saga, in whom Schwinning and Suhm place great reliance, relates that Norr on his passage from Finland to Drontheim was obliged to combat the Laplanders to the north of the Bothnian gulph.* So this name was not known in the old poems from which the Saga is believed to be composed, still it was known in the twelfth century, the age of the supposed author. It has not therefore been invented in Sweden; for in that time the Swedes did not ascend as high as Lapland. Both appellations are unknown to the people themselves. It is certain, however, that if we cannot trace the origin of the custom, it creates a great deal of embarrassment when we speak of the same people, differing among themselves in no respect, under two different names. Two nations thus receive the common name of Finns, which at present, at least, have nothing in common with each other. It is an error, although affirmed by Schi6nning,j- that in Norway thoss of the nation who dwell by the sea are only called Finns, and that all those among the mountains are called Laplanders ; for those who live on the mountains of Drontheim, at Roraas, and in Nummedalen, are not called Laplanders, but Finns, although they never come near the sea; and the inhabitants of Kautokeino are metamorphosed, from Swedish Laplanders, which they were formerly, to Norwegian Finns. All the Finns are Norwegian subjects, and all the Laplanders belong to Sweden. But where the people are spoken of in general, it is no longer now allowed to call them Finns. The active and industrious inhabitants of the great principality of Finland, who have an equal right and prescription to use this name, would with reason feel a repugnance to be thrown into the same class with Laplanders. Next is JB who writes: I do not know if this is a possibility but could the Little Ice Age have anything to do with the Inuit sightings? Since the Little Ice Age pushed the Norse out of Greenland could it not have displaced some Inuit as well?’ I’m no expert unfortunately but lots of sources point to the greater cold allowing ice floes to come south. Is it possible, some argue, that the Inuit were washed out to sea and then climbed on the ice floes until their boats dried out again? Thanks JB and Leif

    Henry VIII and Killing: JCE writes a characteristically stimulating reply: ‘interesting assessment of Heney VIII’s affinity for blood, not to be confused with affinity of blood, which was also an issue for Henry, or so he said about his initial Catherine. (Which reminds me, why is it “sanguinity” is almost a perfect antonym of “bloodthirstiness”? It would seem it should be the other way ’round.) Your comparison of Henry’s court and Stalin’s inner circle  seemed most apt. There indeed may have been something in Henry’s personality or even his peculiar chemical makeup which predisposed him to murder. But we must remember, for all the social deprivation and the severity of the academic rigor inflicted on him as a youth, here was a man told almost from birth he was chosen by God. Yes, Henry would have probably turned out a malignant narcissist even had he been a blacksmith; but when we add to his base personality the status of a demi-god, near infallibility and absolute power, then it would have been a miracle had he not become a virtual royal sociopath. Your remark about Henry’s expressed desire for hands-on blood vengeance against Catherine Howard made me wonder if he had ever scratched that itch before. I’m no student of Henry, but I do know he rode to war at least once when he invaded France early in his reign. I assume he, as other monarchs of his day, actually took the field and exposed himself to the real cut and thrust. Surely, Henry was one of those happy warriors whom Theodore Roosevelt described when he said, “All men who feel any power of joy in battle, know what it is like when the wolf rises in the heart”. Do we have any evidence that Henry actually killed by his own hand, whether in battle or in execution of his quasi-judicial offices, or, uh, otherwise? If he actually rode to war, how could he have avoided it? (Which also brings to mind the simply spectacular news about the discovery of Richard III’s remains. Just imagine: a twisted king charging into a mass of men, gambling all on the strength of his own arm in a single, personal assault on Henry VIII’s father!) Which raises another question about killing and post traumatic stress in former generations. I myself have never been in military combat, but I think an argument could be made that modern war is considerably less traumatic than Western war was, say, 200, 500 or 1,000 years ago. I may be on shaky ground here, because modern war is certainly more efficient, and this probably translates into higher lethality. But I can’t imagine “preferring” war on a French charger as it was being hauled down by the halberds of a gang of murderous English thugs who were seconds away from running their daggers into the eyeholes of my helm as I lay struggling in the swampy morass that was Agincourt; or in one of Bonaparte’s columns as it drew into canister range before a massed battery of guns; or in a miserable, drowned trench in the Ypres salient; to patrolling Kandahar province. Yes, dead is dead and killing is killing. There is certainly greater remoteness to modern killing, although this does not always insulate the killers from the killed. I guess what I’m saying is modern war seems somewhat less, well, nasty and brutish. (I may have just revealed my profound ignorance and unintentionally insulted thousands of good and honorable young men and, God forgive us, women. This is certainly not my aim.) What I’m getting at is, why do we hear so little of PTSD symptoms in warriors who fought prior to the 20th century? Was it not there? Were medieval European warriors so emotionally different from a modern man of the West? The horrors of battle were certainly no less then, and possibly greater. It seems to me war was nothing to be ashamed of in the past, and that men’s conscience’s had less to weigh on them. It makes me wonder whether our changing social mores and arguably greater emotional sensitivity have to some degree “permitted” PTSD in our veterans. I would love to hear of ancient warriors, or at least pre-late-19th and 20th-century soldiers, exhibiting signs of post traumatic stress disorder. Evil writes: Something I’ve always found fascinating here and that I’ve not seen commented upon is the way that Henry seems to have been violent to his wives in as much as there was sex tension. The two who died at his hands (or as good as) were the same that he felt the most strongly about. Katherine of Aragon and Anne of Cleves were both let off essentially: and in both cases there was a marked lack of sexual interest.’ Thanks Evil and JCE!