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  • 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

    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 of hers on the effect that the reformation had on religious life and folklore in the West Country in Britain. As ‘the old religion’ Catholicism, got […]

    Scooby Doo Crime 1#: Headless Coachmen and Crime August 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Scooby Doo Crime 1#: 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 […]

    The Christian Wolves of Ossory July 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Christian Wolves of Ossory

    We all know that medieval chroniclers and sensationalists love wonder stories. Beach has a private rule that even if a medieval tale takes place with a ‘reliable’ witness in living memory, then he still looks the other way. But the following story clearly ‘happened’ (though there may be a way to reread it) in that […]

    The Buckle That Came In From The Cold July 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Buckle That Came In From The Cold

    ***Dedicated to Mike Z who sent this one in*** Beach has made it his business to put up here records of objects from the past that end up hundreds or better still thousands of miles away from where they should have been found. Recent examples have included Roman glass beads in, ahem, Japan and Roma […]

    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant? July 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant?

    ***Dedicated to Paula de Fougerolles whose new book on Columba is the best historical novel on the Dark Ages since T. H. White laid down his pen*** St Columba of Iona (obit 597) is perhaps the most interesting of all the medieval Gaelic saints: and given the  strange holy fauna running around the Irish jungle […]

    Tree Rings and Supernovas and a Red Cross in Anglo-Saxon England June 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tree Rings and Supernovas and a Red Cross in Anglo-Saxon England

    ***Dedicated to Larry and Wade who sent this one in*** In early June a report came in from Nagoya University (Japan) that tree rings on the island showed evidence of a massive radiation blast in 774/775 of our era. This interested Beachcombing not the slightest as he doesn’t do radiation or tree rings. But this […]

    The Virgin and the Fairies June 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Virgin and the Fairies

    The last fairy post for a week, we promise… Beach has noted previously here the danger of confusing fairy sightings with UFO sightings. But, as a lot of his work this summer has concerned medieval records, he realises that confusion is nothing new where fairies are concerned. There is, 500 AD – 1700 AD, the […]

    Islam Creates Europe June 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Islam Creates Europe

    Modern Europeans tend to have mixed feelings about the rise of Islam: Islam and Christianity have, after all, been butting heads for the last fifteen hundred years. What is not normally appreciated though is the fundamental role Islam had in creating Europe. Islam, it will be remembered, was born in the Middle East in the […]

    The Eastern Origins of Playing Cards June 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Eastern Origins of Playing Cards

    There are few things in history more entertaining than the transference of ideas  from one culture to another and the various misunderstandings that arise as the borrower fails to understands the lender. In our own day it is enough to hear an American university lecturer speak about Derrida or a Saudia Arabian discuss the British […]

    The Survival of the Marranos June 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Survival of the Marranos

    A Beachcombing favorite to day, the Marranos of Belmonte. In 1492 Spain expelled its Jews or at least those who refused to convert to Catholicism. Some of these fleeing Spanish Jews crossed the border into Portugal where they joined an already substantial Jewish population and the Jews of all descriptions there were driven out of […]

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