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  • Green Children of Woolpit 5: Parallels January 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Green Children of Woolpit 5: Parallels

    Beach must start with apologies. He promised four posts on the green children but he was not able to contain himself. Here, then, is a fifth dreamt up in the outer rings of fever in the last couple of days (flu now been ravaging for a week). Beach set himself a simple question: to what […]

    Green Children of Woolpit 4: Why Bean Stalks? January 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Green Children of Woolpit 4: Why Bean Stalks?

    The fourth and final post on the green children of Woolpit and this time the mystery of the beans. First, William: ‘Cum ergo inedia iam paene deficerent, nec tamen aliquid ciborum, qui offerebantur, attenderent, forte ex agro contigit fabas inferri, quas illico arripientes, legumen ipsum in thyrsis quaesierunt, et nihil in concavitate thyrsorum invenientes amare […]

    Green Children of Woolpit 3: Why Green Skin? January 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Green Children of Woolpit 3: Why Green Skin?

    Of the green children of Woolpit William of Newburgh writes: Ex his fossis tempore messis, et occupatis circa frugum collectionem per agros messoribus, emerserunt duo pueri, masculus et femina, toto corpore virides, et coloris insoliti, ex incognita materia veste operti. John Clark translates this, in his recent brilliant essay, as: ‘Out of these ditches, at […]

    Green Children of Woolpit 2: The Mysterious Source X January 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Green Children of Woolpit 2: The Mysterious Source X

    Any historical problem is based on sources and with the mystery of the Green Children of Woolpit there are three sources to be reckoned with. There is William of Newburgh, there is Ralph Coggeshall and there is, Beach is convinced, Document X, a now lost work that both writers drew upon. However, before getting to […]

    The Green Children of Woolpit 1: All Hail John Clark! January 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Green Children of Woolpit 1: All Hail John Clark!

    The green children of Woolpit is one of the most fascinating stories to come out of our medieval records. Two children, coloured green, without any knowledge of English and with unusual dietary requirements turn up in a pit just outside a Suffolk village. They are adopted by the local lord, one dies and the other […]

    Struell Wells, Ireland: Pagan Customs in the Modern Age? January 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Struell Wells, Ireland: Pagan Customs in the Modern Age?

    Exciting article by Finbar McCormick from 2009, one that somehow passed Beach by, ‘Struell Wells’, The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (2009), 45-62. FM begins with a careful description of a nineteenth-century Irish water shrine, the Struell Wells (Downpatrick). This shrine is credited through St Patrick with the power of curing. Crowds would […]

    Tamils in Sumatra: An Inscription January 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tamils in Sumatra: An Inscription

    Inscriptions come in many shapes and sizes from graffiti scratched in Romanesque churches, to the huge stone book of Gal-Potha in Sri Lanka, to the panel recalling the first Chinese Christians. However, in Beach’s endless quest to hunt down the bizarre he recently stumbled upon this classic. It was found in Sumatra and was put up […]

    Fighting Sea Monsters with Vinegar in Medieval Iran December 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Fighting Sea Monsters with Vinegar in Medieval Iran

    One of the joys of ancient and medieval geographies are the small ethnographic details that sound strange, but that might just possibly be based on fact. The following comes from the works of Chang De, a thirteenth century ambassador and informant for a famous Chinese work, The Record of an Embassy to the Regions of […]

    Gypsies as Children Stealers in Italy: A Modern Myth December 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Gypsies as Children Stealers in Italy: A Modern Myth

    As noted previously on this blog the idea that gypsies steal children is an old one, at least five hundred years old if one piece of medieval German legislation is to be taken seriously. It is an idea that has died out in most western countries, but one that has survived curiously in Italy where, […]

    Why Children-Stealing Gypsies? December 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Why Children-Stealing Gypsies?

    The idea that someone is out to get our children has been around from classical times. Several antique Christian writers, for example, credit ‘the Jews’ with stealing children and this became, by the Middle Ages, part of the notorious ‘blood libel’ for which hundreds and perhaps thousands of men, women and, yes, children of Jewish descent […]

    Roman Coins in Iceland December 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Coins in Iceland

    Roman coins have been found within and without the Empire. Denarii and solidii turn up in Scandinavia, Free Germany, Ceylon, Mainland India and Ethiopia, there is even one fascinating outlier in Madagascar (another post, another day). These coins will have arrived in two separate ways. Some will have been brought by Roman traders and some […]

    Roman Bowl in Ancient Japan?! December 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Bowl in Ancient Japan?!

    Thanks to Ed for this story! This blog has long pioneered wrong place objects, artifacts that turn up thousands of miles from where archaeologists would have expected to find them. So how about a round of applause for this beautiful blue glass bowl that was removed from a tomb in the Nara prefecture in Japan […]

    Faking History on the Internet #2: Fairies Dug Up in Ireland! December 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Faking History on the Internet #2: Fairies Dug Up in Ireland!

    Beach is really getting into all these fake history news-stories on the internet: the champions of which are the generic sounding worldnewsdailyreport, the malodorous yet strangely attractive offspring of National Enquirer rutted with the History Channel. We have reported one of their previous fictions and have an especial joy now in spreading the word that […]

    Was Leonardo’s Mother a Slave (Chinese or Otherwise)? December 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Was Leonardo's Mother a Slave (Chinese or Otherwise)?

    Madness on the internet in the last few days with the announcement that Leonardo da Vinci’s mother was a Chinese slave and that she is the Mona Lisa. Many readers will have stumbled upon this theory and enjoyed its improbability, but they may not know that there has been almost ten years of similar theories […]

    An Early Icelandic Fairy December 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    An Early Icelandic Fairy

    Iceland has often featured on this blog for two reasons: first, because it is a part of the formula by which the thuggish Vikings made it to the New World five centuries before Columbus; and, second, because it retains in its traditions some particularly old pagan customs, customs that have been absorbed or overlaid by […]

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