jump to navigation
  • The Raven Stone Spell February 10, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Raven Stone Spell

    Location: tradition found in the Germanic regions of Continental Europe and Scandinavia, and also in parts of Britain. Aim: The collection of the raven stone (korp-sten in Scandinavia, Lloyd 1854, 331) that will render the owner invisible, though note that the stone is also credited with bringing luck and curing humans and cattle of diseases: […]

    Beach’s Book of Shadows February 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Beach's Book of Shadows

    Beach has a heaving filing cabinet full of spells: spells from the Middle Ages, spells from early modern Europe and spells from as recently as the Second World War. Some of these apparently date back to deepest antiquity; some are probably the spontaneous invention of men and women with borderline psychologies and would, as such, […]

    Breaking the Ampoule January 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Breaking the Ampoule

    A WIBT moment from eighteenth-century France: the collision of the hoary old with the bright-eyed, metallic and ghastly new. It involves a cathedral, a hammer and the crystal fragments of a Roman perfume bottle, the Sainte Ampoule, one of the longest continuously used objects in world history. This tiny flacon had been made in the late Roman […]

    Blood, Ankles and Calculations: The Temple Mount at Jerusalem January 18, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Blood, Ankles and Calculations: The Temple Mount at Jerusalem

    One of the memories of the Crusader victory at Jerusalem in 1099 is the blood of Jewish and Muslim inhabitants spilled when the city was overrun. Contemporary Christian accounts described blood up to the ankles, up to the knees and, finally, up to the bridles of horses at the Temple Mount where most of the […]

    Images of Deviant Burials December 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Images of Deviant Burials

    When Beach was in his early twenties he used to spend hours, and they were happy times, looking through detailed archaeological graphics of Anglo-Saxon and Roman cemeteries. At one point he used to take them to bed and fall asleep with Winchester A or Circencester 1982 Season open on his chest. There is something, well, […]

    The Battle of the Three Kings November 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Battle of the Three Kings

    The Battle of Alcácer Quibir (the Battle of the Three Kings), fought in Morocco in 1578, was a freaky melee. It involved Sebastian of Portugal (obit 1578) and his Arabic patsy Abu Abdallah Mohammed II Saadi (obit 1578), the old sultan of Morocco, who both fought against Abu Abdallah’s uncle, the new sultan of Morocco, […]

    In Search of Crimean Gothic November 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    In Search of Crimean Gothic

    Crimea is the Ukrainian or Russian peninsula that stretches down into the Black Sea and whose large bays make it resemble a famished fish about to eat a smaller prey. Crimea’s geography has made it a natural place for enclaves. In ancient times, the Greeks and Romans held colonies here, as did the Byzantines and Genoese in […]

    God on a Medieval Fish October 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    God on a Medieval Fish

      The idea that words or images spontaneously appear on natural objects has long fascinated gullible human beings, and perhaps particularly the Muslim faithful: the letters ‘Allah’ on the filaments of a cut eggplant etc. Quite why there should be more interest in the generation of natural words in Islam it is difficult to say. […]

    Review: London Urban Legends October 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: London Urban Legends

    Scott Wood, London Urban Legends Urban legend junkies are perhaps the most attractive of all folklorists. Their brethren get obsessed with the minutiae of traditional culture: polkadots on dresses, superstitions about dandruff, dance rhythms… Alternatively, men and women of advanced years (who should know better) plunge into subjects that defy understanding, that are actually about not […]

    Wrong Place Castaways October 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Wrong Place Castaways

    Right through history castaways have been thrown up on foreign shores after a shipwreck, a storm or an argument on board (in many navies marooning was a form of punishment). For those of us interested in Wrong Place and Wrong Time phenomena these castaways are crucial. But how many were actually left behind. For example, how many […]

    Prostitutes’ Symbols October 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Prostitutes' Symbols

    Prostitutes have sometimes chosen to mark themselves apart, the red light at the window, and sometimes they have been obliged to mark themselves apart. This was particularly evident in medieval Europe, where the arbiters of taste would have loved to have colour-coded all society. This was the same cookie-cutter mentality that put merchants in red […]

    A Goat, A Man and Two Prostitutes September 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Goat, A Man and Two Prostitutes

    Beach recently ran across this sordid but fascinating episode in Otis, Prostitution in Medieval Society (71). Those of a sensitive disposition might just want to go and do the washing up now. Those who are determined to read on prepare yourselves… Significant, too, is the Venetian court register that records, in the trial of a […]

    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster) September 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster)

    Let’s talk floating islands. A few years ago Beach had a very gentle battle with a courteous Nessie writer Roland Watson. As a sceptic with folklore interests Beach was intrigued by many parts of Ronald’s argument, but one piece of new evidence that stood out was the claim that there was a floating island on Loch […]

    The Bird Tree and Barnacle Geese September 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Bird Tree and Barnacle Geese

    Beach has previously looked at tall Arab tales about trees, including the mythical children tree. However, what about this pleasing nonsense associated with Britain and Ireland? The source is Rashid al-Din and we are in the fourteenth-century. Opposite [Spain] in the midst of the Encircling Ocean are two islands, of which one is Ireland. From […]

    Prostitutes Past September 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Prostitutes Past

    Beach has recently been reading around medieval and early modern prostitutes. Of course, contemporary sources are not particularly vivid in this respect. Between canon law and town legislation, we either get an hysterical appeal to the coldest parts of the Gospels, or pounds, pennies and halfpence. In fact, if you want to relive the medieval […]

    Page 1 of 3812345...102030...Last »