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  • The Dog-Headed Saint January 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Dog-Headed Saint

      St Christopher is in many ways a typical early eastern saint. He was for many years a prisoner of war: check. He was a Roman soldier when he turned to Christ: check. His staff miraculously took to life and began to bloom: check. An angel – Raphael no less – gave him the gift of speaking […]

    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand January 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    When Muhammad Kissed Ferdinand

    What do Beachcombing and Osama Bin Laden have in common? Diabetes? Permanent facial hair? Exclusive education in London? Start up fund from the CIA? No, no, no, no and no. The answer is, of course, a love of Al-Andalus. Al Andalus, as Osama himself would tell us were he a blogger, was the last Muslim kingdom […]

    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique December 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tenth-Century Arabs in Mozambique

        The extraordinary reach of Islamic traders in the Middle Ages is well known. With their heartlands at the juncture of Euro-Asia and Africa – rather than stuckout on a periphery like Christian Europe – they managed to send their boats to every point of the compass. So medieval Arab traders set up bases […]

    Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland December 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Fire from the Heavens in Early Medieval Ireland

    Beachcombing has been cursing his internet provider today that has managed, with characteristic incompetence, to deprive the Beachcombings of their connection to the world wide web – no joke when you live in a rural idyll and make most of your phone-calls by skype. In any case, Beachcombing will do his best to smuggle this out […]

    The Search for Fusang December 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Search for Fusang

    The snow is melting rapidly outside and just in time. Mrs B is suffering in the room above from what look like real contractions – Beachcombing conspicuously absent. Beachcombing then is going to let his source do all the talking today. If he hasn’t written much of a conclusion then the chances are that the […]

    First C-section and Pig Gelding December 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    First C-section and Pig Gelding

    Beachcombing is presently watching his beloved village disappear under that ghastly white stuff called snow. Mrs B., meanwhile, is running around with Little Miss B. upstairs in a state of wide-eyed childish bliss. She seems to have forgotten that, given she is now eight and a half months pregnant and given that the nearest hospital is […]

    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station? December 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Medieval Buddha at St Pancras Station?

    Beachcombing is rapidly coming down with flu at the moment and so will have to satisfy himself with a short post today. He will, in fact, take the reader to nineteenth-century central London, at a time when St Pancras Station (opened 1868) was being built up and connected. Beachcombing – sick or well – loves stations because they are vortexes of anarchy and […]

    Back to the Arabian unicorn December 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Back to the Arabian unicorn

    Beachcombing – three long moons ago – ran an article on a European sighting of two unicorns at Mecca (of all places) in the sixteenth century. Given his bewilderment at the time he feels obliged to add this fascinating fragment that he recently stumbled upon. Strangest of all [the mythical beasties of south-west Arabia] is the Tahish. It is a fearsome […]

    Review: The Folio Book of Historical Mysteries December 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Review: The Folio Book of Historical Mysteries

    The Folio Society, for those who don’t know, is a British publishing company that produces high-quality editions of high-quality titles and their books are reasonably priced for what they are – slipcases, hand-stitching…. These books cannot – there is always a catch – be bought individually (at least not first-hand…) and the reader has to become a […]

    The forgotten kingdom of Mannau November 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The forgotten kingdom of Mannau

    It is difficult to not to get all lyrical when looking at the early history of Man, the tiny island that stands halfway between the UK and Ireland, not least because that history is so obscure. Beachcombing is not referring to the later Norse destinyof the island, when Man was a pirate base for several thousand frightful Norwegians and […]

    Arthur’s Grave at Glastonbury Revisited: The Irish connection November 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Arthur's Grave at Glastonbury Revisited: The Irish connection

    Beachcombing thought that today he would return to Arthur’s remains at Glastonbury, that extraordinary moment in the late twelfth century when the monks of Britain’s oldest monastery ‘discovered’ Arthur’s body just outside their church: diggings revealed a trunk tomb and giant bones. True, Beachcombing looked at this matter several months ago, when he suggested that the bones might […]

    Dark Age Haunting in the County Durham November 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Dark Age Haunting in the County Durham

    Beachcombing likes to think of the little village of Shincliffe sometimes as night is falling, particularly if it’s raining. True, he’s never been to this particular corner of the north of England. But he’s done the next best thing – looked at google earth and several OS maps. And he suspects that he knows it […]

    Crow Bombs: Avian Missiles in the Medieval World November 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Crow Bombs: Avian Missiles in the Medieval World

    Beachcombing has spent the last few hours enjoying a medieval work named the Book of Fires (Liber Ignium). The author’s alleged name, Mark the Greek is not certain and the text survives in Latin that means we cannot be certain either that it was originally written in Greek: though the structure of the Latin sentences would suggest […]

    Mystery Chinese Weapon from 1277 November 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mystery Chinese Weapon from 1277

    Beachcombing recently came across this extraordinary passage from the Chinese Sung Shih. In 1277 Lou Ch’ien-Hsia was besieging a fortification held by two hundred and fifty defenders. Frustrated, Lou Ch’ien-Hsia ordered his men to bring up a huo p’ao – a word Beachcombing will come back to. ‘He lit the huo p’ao and a clap of thunder was heard, […]

    Baby-Eating Eagles November 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Baby-Eating Eagles

    When Beachcombing first came to Italy, many years ago, he spent a summer in a room with an enormous wardrobe – the stuff of C.S. Lewis fantasies. This wardrobe was not only huge, but it also had a memorable print on the front. An eagle was being attacked by a weepy mother and in the […]

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