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Hostage Taking in Ancient and Medieval Times September 20, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Hostage Taking in Ancient and Medieval Times

When we think of hostages today we tend to think of men with pistols using some poor innocent as a human shield. But in the ancient and medieval world hostage-taking was formalised. Conquered territories would give up children of notables who would be conveyed to an enemy capital or castle and who would then be […]

Fusion and Confusion in Post Roman Britain September 18, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Fusion and Confusion in Post Roman Britain

 ***This extended essay was written as a sequel to a previous post on Roman Britain signalled in the first link*** We have looked before in the place at the darkness that descends on Britain after Rome decamps from the island. Our ignorance about this period of British history is simply astounding. We know that there […]

Earliest Flying messengers September 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval
Earliest Flying messengers

Beachcombing has a few bizarre carrier pigeon stories in a mauve file under the staircase: I mean are pigeon stories ever going to be normal? He thought though that he’d start his pigeon campaign with a simple even tedious question. When were pigeons first used as messengers? Their role carrying messages in the two world […]

English King Discovered Under Carpark September 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
English King Discovered Under Carpark

***Dedicated to Roundj*** Beach does his very best not to be topical on this blog. But the news coming from Leicester (UK) yesterday is hard to ignore. At the end of August archaeologists began to dig in a car park there in search of the body of Richard III, the last English king to die […]

Are Societies What They Eat? September 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Are Societies What They Eat?

There is no question that food and drink change us. If you begin to drink two litres of coca-cola a day, instead of a litre of fizzy water or if you start chewing on cocoa leaves instead of making banana smoothies your family will quickly notice a difference. Here there is and can be no […]

Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland August 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland

This was a cute little story that turns up in a late nineteenth-century folklore collection from Ireland. A visitor is out and about looking for the ‘bed’ of ‘Dermot and Grania’, the mossy bower where a mythical couple from Irish legend escape to love and live away from society. Dermot for those who have never […]

Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of ‘I Surrender’ August 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of 'I Surrender'

***This post is dedicated to A.G. who sent in the following question*** A.G. writes ‘I have often wondered what happened to the wounded left behind during the Napoleonic wars and earlier.  Did the locals come along and kill them for their personal belongings, were they cared for and held for ransom, what? I am speaking […]

Ireland the Great and White Man’s Land August 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
http://www.nicolaasart.com/art_series_deep_blue_above.php

Beachcombing woke up this morning with Vikings on his mind – a migraine coming? – and so thought that he would visit one of his favourite northern stories/legends/cobblers: Great Ireland. The reference appears in Landnámabók the thirteenth-century ‘ancestral’ codex of Iceland. How much is history and how much is legend in the Landnámabók is much […]

See But Can’t Touch August 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
See But Can't Touch

Beach travelled by plane earlier this summer with little Miss B to the UK. Aged just four his daughter marvelled as she looked out of the window at the cloudlands that stretched away in every direction: Beach remembers a similar marvelling when he was about ten and went on his first long plane journey. Things […]

Two Red Letter Books August 14, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Two Red Letter Books

Here is a little historical puzzle: This account comes from northern Scotland. The least dilapidated of the chapels was dedicated to St Regulus, and there is a tradition that at the Reformation, a valuable historical record belonging to it, the work probably of some literary monk or hermit, was carried away to France by the […]

Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts August 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Protestantism, Statues and Sore Breasts/Fronts

***Those idiots at the internet company are playing their games again: the signal ebbs and flows, apologies that this is late then and expect further disturbances*** A week ago now Beach mentioned the Devon folklorist Miss Theo Brown, a great talent who published in the 1960s. He was particularly interested to read yesterday an article […]

Headless Coachmen and Crime August 7, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Headless Coachmen and Crime

In the Middle Ages they had the wild hunt, the insanely nasty cavalry that rode across the sky. Then, come the early modern period, when everyone had ‘grown up a bit’ and men with shag and swords were so, well, ‘medieval’, that they moved on. They started seeing, instead, headless horsemen out on the toll […]

Queens On Top (or not?) August 3, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Queens On Top (or not?)

Beach has been waxing lyrical a lot about monarchy recently: there was Charles I with his head sewn back on (the bastards!), then there was environment vs the hereditary principle (or perhaps better environment within the hereditary principle) and today we come to queens. Queens, you’ve got to love them. For is it Beachcombing’s imagination […]

Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs July 31, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Genetics vs Environment among Monarchs

There is a phrase that’s trotted out from time to time that monarchs are simply the descendants of those who killed lots of people and as such deserve little respect and certainly no adulation. Of course, it is true that monarchs are the descendants of those who killed many people. But what really matters is […]

The Cow-Man of Wicklow and His Sad End July 27, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The Cow-Man of Wicklow and His Sad End

A paddy-bashing story from one of the nastiest Irish-haters of them all: Gerald of Wales. In the neighbourhood of Wicklow at the time when Maurice Fitzgerald got possession of the country and the castle, an extraordinary man was seen – if indeed it be right to call him a man. He had all the parts […]

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