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  • 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. […]

    Oxford Graduate in Fourteenth-Century North America!? December 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Oxford Graduate in Fourteenth-Century North America!?

    Did an English monk walk in the Americas in the fourteenth century, a hundred and fifty years before Columbus sailed into the Caribbean? The answer is almost certainly yes. And this is not just the opinion of the present writer (nutcase that he may or may not be), rather it is the opinion of all […]

    Good Executions? December 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Good Executions?

    Is there such a thing as a ‘good execution’: after all the extinction of human life should never or almost never be a cause for celebration? Well, historians have used the phrase, in the past generation – though it has older antecedents – to refer to the extent to which the criminal cooperates with his […]

    European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact December 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact

    The idea of pre-Columbian contact between the Americas and Europe or even Africa has been one that has understandably excited a lot of attention. What are the possibilities that Europeans ended up in, say, Florida or that ‘Floridans’ made it to, say, Scandinavia in 1491? Well, in this post we are going to take the […]

    Medieval English Ghost or Vampire? December 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval English Ghost or Vampire?

    An English ghost story from the mid late twelfth century which we owe to the very great kindness of the Count. The story begins with a Chaucer-like sexual adventure. This romp (and fall) seems to have no connection to the haunting other than to have helped the man of evil conduct into his coffin.  What […]

    Viking Family Memories December 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Viking Family Memories

    Back to families and remembering. This time though in the Northern Isles with the last of that cursed breed the Vikings… Occasionally there are examples of writing in stone, which under special conditions, survive beautifully through the centuries. This is true of the several sheltered runic inscriptions found in the Maeshowe megalithic tomb on Orkney, […]

    A Fairy Cup? November 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Fairy Cup?

    Another of these almost forgotten fairy stories recorded in the early fourteenth century. Fairy clues include the mound (fairies live in hills or is this a grave?), the benevolent fairy and the human attempt to steal a prize from fairyland. Rather you than me. Here is another thing, no less wonderful and quite widely known, […]

    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History? November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History?

    You have worked your entire life researching a given area of history. However, you have published barely anything waiting to write your ‘big book’, the one that you will be remembered by. The years pass and the book does not materialise and then comes your final illness… What will you do with the seventy odd […]

    Modesty and Killing November 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Modesty and Killing

    When Benito Mussolini was ‘executed’ (jolted out of a car by some communist partisans and shot in the chest in a ditch) he did not die alone. By his side was his lover and perhaps the most significant woman in his life, Clara Petacci. CP was gunned down a moment before Mussolini himself. The corpses […]

    Witches, Confessions and the Truth November 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Witches, Confessions and the Truth

    Scholars of witchcraft in the burning years have an overwhelming problem. As rationalists they do not believe in the sabbat, devil sex or flying broomsticks. And yet, and yet… Women who were investigated often come up with the most extraordinary stories about the Satanic things that they have done. The problem for historians is why does […]

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