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  • The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy August 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy

    Imagine this. You wake up one morning in 1216 and say ‘to hell with it’. You walk into the local square of piazza stand on an upturned wheelbarrow and talk to your neighbours about the cosmos. Perhaps you’ve learnt that Christ married Mary Magdalene and had twins; or that the angels are worms in universal […]

    Flying Fairies, Stolen Wine and the Hat Tree August 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Flying Fairies, Stolen Wine and the Hat Tree

    Here is a very modest nineteenth-century Cornish story: it appeared in Robert Hunt, Popular Romances (1865); the piskeys are Cornish fairies (pixies). This tale is not, note, specifically Cornish, there are lots of British versions recorded in the nineteenth century, and one earlier Scottish tale. Our story has especially to do with the adventures of […]

    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén’s Eggfight August 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Immortal Meals #24: Jaén's Eggfight

    Jaén in Andalucia (Spain) is a town with its roots in Spain’s troubled late middle ages, half Arab, half Christian. Jaén also stars in a wonderful book by one of our greatest living medievalists Teofilo ‘God’ Ruiz now at UCLA. In City and Spectacle, Ruiz describes life in fifteenth-century Jaén in terms of the shows, […]

    Life in the Shadow of the Mob: Jewish Norwich July 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Life in the Shadow of the Mob: Jewish Norwich

    The recent post on the bodies in the well from Norwich took Beach through several books on medieval Jewish communities in England and the dominant impression on reading these accounts was the danger of being Jewish in that period. Let’s return to Norwich which included one of Britain’s bigger Jewish communities after London: one estimate has […]

    Seventeen Bodies in a Well: A Norwich Mystery July 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Seventeen Bodies in a Well: A Norwich Mystery

    The picture above is a horrific one. The bodies of seventeen individuals, eleven of them children (the youngest two years of age) who were, at some point in the Middle Ages (dating 1150-1300), thrown down a well in the East Anglian town of Norwich.  The bodies were discovered in 2004 and various years of careful […]

    Where Are the Gods of the Modern World? July 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Where Are the Gods of the Modern World?

    Forget the Iron Age, the Nuclear Age, the Internet Age. There are three periods of human endeavor: nomadic hunter-gathering before history; agriculture, which began about 8000 BC and ended in most parts of the west in the last one hundred and fifty years (when a majority of citizens had left the land); then finally industrial […]

    Historically-Minded Immortals June 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Historically-Minded Immortals

    Imagine if you will a man or woman who has lived not three score years and ten, but three score centuries and ten. They have rutted, defecated, masticated there way through the generations, watching the changing nuances of human idiocy, the misleading crab walk of technology and the intolerable brightness of every new young generation […]

    Seduction by Hashish June 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Seduction by Hashish

    Modern proponents of the legalization of marijuana point out that other societies, particularly Arab society, never had any problems with cannabis and its derivatives. Beach, rather innocently believed the same thing, until he read recently about the fear of hashish in the medieval Arab world in a fine chapter by Franz Rosenthal in his Man […]

    The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France May 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Stone of Oo: High Weirdness from Southern France

    Oô in southern France has two things going for it. First, that name, I mean what…?! And second the pierre d’Oô one of the weirdest objects to emerge the last three or four thousand years of human endeavour: a sculpture of a lady and her pet. At this point, readers should take a moment and […]

    Execution by Dogs? May 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Execution by Dogs?

    North Korea is a frequent source of joy for bizarrists: if not for the poor wretched put upon people who live there. For example, last month Beach wrote up the Indian custom of death by cannon, only to be trumped by Kim Jong-un who had just executed his minister of defence with an anti-aircraft gun. This got Beach […]

    Death by Bell Ringing May 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Death by Bell Ringing

    In a moment of divine madness, a couple of years ago, Beach asked a question about knights and lightning: basically were sardine cans on horsebacks with long lances natural lightning rods? He has been inspired today to ask another lightning question. The following passage is taken from Wikipedia page on bell-ringers, one of Wiks less […]

    A Poxy Invasion of Europe: 1340s May 23, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Poxy Invasion of Europe: 1340s

    So here’s the thing. A month ago StrangeHistory put up a post asking what would have happened had Europeans arrived in the New World in the fifteenth and sixteenth century without viruses being involved. The question was would Europeans have managed to conquer American real estate? There were lots of interesting answers from readers: all […]

    Roman Gutter Burials and a Non-Existent Line of Pliny May 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Gutter Burials and a Non-Existent Line of Pliny

    In Roman times dead babies and fetuses were not cremated as adults: references in Pliny and in Juvenal confirm this, as do archaeological findings. However, a fifth/sixth century Christian writers named Fulgentius (possibly a North African) has been read to mean that these not fully human humans were buried in suggrundaria: Priori tempore suggrundaria antiqui dicebant sepulchra […]

    The Vein of Love and the Ring Finger May 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
    The Vein of Love and the Ring Finger

    A beautifully realised graphic history of the engagment ring by Vashi led to thoughts about why, in the Western World, the wedding ring is worn on the ring finger, the third finger of the left hand counting from the index. The answer most authorities give, from nineteenth-century reference works, to modern wedding miscellanies, to early […]

    Anglo-Saxon Church Eaves and Baby Burials May 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Anglo-Saxon Church Eaves and Baby Burials

    Burial customs are always interesting and often mysterious. Consider this one. In early medieval Britain, particularly, it seems in Anglo-Saxon regions, fetuses and children were regularly buried up against church walls or extremely close to the same. Archaeologists have long recognized that strange constellations of bodies appeared in Christian cemeteries in Anglo-Saxon England; there are […]

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