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  • Bishop Erik’s Unorthodox Trip, 1121 January 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Bishop Erik's Unorthodox Trip, 1121

    Let’s start with historical orthodoxy. From c. 950-1000 Viking Greenlanders crossed the Davis Strait and set up a settlement or perhaps several small settlements in Canada. This settlement or these settlements may or may not have been just for the summer, but the fact is that, in any case, they were shortlived. The Greenlanders simply […]

    Love Goddess #5: Agnes ‘Madonna’ Sorel January 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Love Goddess #5: Agnes ‘Madonna’ Sorel

    Jean Fouquet was the greatest French painter of the fifteenth century. He is of special interest in this blog because JF created the fifth love goddess in our series: the notorious, terrifying Madonna from the Melun Diptych, c. 1450. Thanks to Invisible for the tip. Let’s start by remembering that madonnas were everywhere in the […]

    Thirteenth-century Viking Legend in Canada? January 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Thirteenth-century Viking Legend in Canada?

    Did the Vikings believe that mythical outlaws dwelt on Canada’s Baffin Island, perhaps parallel to the outlaws of the Icelandic interior that we have looked at before on this blog? It seems unlikely given that Greenlanders – the closest ‘Vikings’ to Baffin – are not supposed by some to have visited North American after about […]

    Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!! January 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!!

    One of the weaker proofs of Pre-Columbian contacts with Europe is the legend of the ‘white Indian’. Typically, a pioneer in the sixteenth or seventeenth or eighteenth or even the nineteenth century comes upon an Indian who by his appearance or his actions shows that he is really of European descent. Prior to today Beach […]

    Tanfield Valley: Europeans in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island? January 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tanfield Valley: Europeans in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island?

    Tanfield Valley [A] is one of the most exciting sites to have come under the archaeologist’s trowel in the last fifty years: less golden but in its way as thrilling as Tutankhamen’s tomb. The valley – more a hollow – is an unusually green part of rocky Baffin Island and for five seasons, Patricia Sutherland, […]

    Columbus Knew Where He Was Going, Claims Soviet Historian December 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Columbus Knew Where He Was Going, Claims Soviet Historian

    A weird little news report from New York Herald Tribune, 12 October 1959 Soviet Historian Declares Columbus Tricked World. A Soviet Historian said today that Christopher Columbus hoodwinked the world 467 years ago because he knew all along where America was. The historian, identified only as Tyspernik, a lecturer at the Kazakh Pedagogic Institute, was […]

    The Fairy of Florence Campanile December 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Fairy of Florence Campanile

    Fairies are in short supply in Italy. But recently, working through some folklore books relating to Florence, we were surprised to find a series of urban ‘good folk’ in the city. Bellosguardo had, it seems, a fairy. Via del Corno also. As did the Bargello – it was red, for blood? – and the tower […]

    Mysterious European Figure in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island December 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mysterious European Figure in Pre-Columbian Baffin Island

    A thirteenth- or fourteenth-century Thule ivory carving from southern Baffin Island in Canada should hardly surprise anyone. After all, the Thule Inuit did dwell in this place at that time. But when Debora Sabo dug up the carving pictured above in 1972 she was understandably jolted by her discovery, so much so that she dedicated […]

    The Mirage of Brasil December 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Mirage of Brasil

    Almost every European people with a coastline have invented magical lands for themselves in the waves out there… Some of these islands are sunken, some are on the surface. Some move around, some stay still but can’t be reached. Some are sentient (really!), some are just pieces of rock. Some are coastal, some are far […]

    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain December 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain

    Let’s face it. If you want a good wine the last thing you will do is head off to the supermarket and buy an English brand. The idea is almost comic. French, Italian, yes. Australian, Californian, Hungarian, perhaps. But English grapes freezing their pips off on a vine in the Midlands, where not enough sun […]

    The Horror of Sea Hedges! December 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Horror of Sea Hedges!

    The Norse had a whole series of sea-monsters ready to gobble up unwary sailors: the kraken, the hafstramb (the Norse merman) and other saline lovelies. But at least to this blogger’s mind the worst of all was the Hafgerdingar, ‘the Sea Hedge’. Perhaps the nightmare quality of the Sea Hedge comes from the fact it […]

    Further Thoughts on the Inventio Fortunata with Thanks to Readers December 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Further Thoughts on the Inventio Fortunata with Thanks to Readers

    The Inventio Fortunata (the Happy Discovery) is a text that we’ve already looked at twice on this blog. A first post described its extraordinary survival in a burnt copy of a copy of a copy in the wrong language. A second post alleged that the IF detailed an English trip to Arctic Canada in 1360. […]

    Medieval Nun Vampire? December 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Nun Vampire?

    Anyone for a medieval vampire-type legend courtesy of Chris from Haunted Ohio Books? It is true that there is no blood here but the demon comes to the sleeping man who perishes soon after. There is also the whole ‘sex thing’ that suffuses western vampire mythology. Perhaps in the end the birth of the vampire […]

    Lazarus Plants December 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Lazarus Plants

    When we think of the vegetables, flowers and fruit of our ancestors we probably most easily imagine students with trowels retrieving pips from coprolites: not a happy occupation. But actually there is another kind of retrieval and that is sending botanists out into the woods and fields to look for any plants that have somehow […]

    King Arthur’s Last Men: Stranded in the Arctic North? December 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    King Arthur's Last Men: Stranded in the Arctic North?

    *** Sorry I’m an idiot, I accidentally published two posts yesterday, one was left and one was withdrawn: this was the second that should have come out today** The Inventio Fortunata is a lost English text describing Arctic exploration that survives only in an emended form in a copy of a copy of a copy. […]

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