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  • 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 […]

    Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and ‘the Survival of the Fittest’ November 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Rant: Lost Works, Mary Beard and 'the Survival of the Fittest'

    ‘Mary Beard’, ‘Mary Beard’..: even now, twenty years on from the beginning of Beachcombing’s infatuation (naturally unfulfilled), the words are enough to send a lightening bolt into that blogger’s overstrained central cortex. Beachcombing still remembers seeing Mary’s swan-like body for the first time, in the reading room at the UL: indeed, Beachcombing trembled as Britain’s most beautiful […]

    Rhyming Violence in Early Medieval Ireland October 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Rhyming Violence in Early Medieval Ireland

    Ireland, the early seventh-century. It is a cold, cold day in late autumn and the monastery is buzzing with excitement. ‘The faminators are coming. There is to be a duel’. As soon as the master of studies hears the news he waddles off to tell the abbot.  It takes him half an hour, but after […]

    Review: After the Funeral – the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses October 17, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: After the Funeral - the Posthumous Adventures of Famous Corpses

    Beachcombing has been spending a tense evening debating with Mrs B over their choice of Au Pair – God help the poor girl! And it is with some relief that he now escapes to the computer to write up his first review in a month. Of course, it is not that there are no good […]

    Christopher Columbus and Mermaids October 16, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Christopher Columbus and Mermaids

    Beachcombing cannot find it in himself to envy Christopher Columbus. All that salt water and all those incipient rebellions must have wreaked havoc on the good navigator’s blood pressure. But in one thing alone Beachcombing confesses to green-eyed rabid jealousy: the great Genovese explorer saw Mermaids, not once, but twice in his life, while the closest poor […]

    Calleva: the Last Romano-British City October 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Calleva: the Last Romano-British City

    Beachcombing finishes, today, his rapid tour around bizarre or curious near-London and London sites: a work he has undertaken partly for Canadian History Student and partly out of nostalgia – he is in Italy at the moment.  And what better place to end than Calleva Atrebatorum, the Woody Place of the Atrebates Tribe, way out […]

    Going Dark Age on the Circle Line October 12, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Going Dark Age on the Circle Line

    Beachcombing’s trawl around south-east England and London on behalf of Canadian History Student is now three-days old and continues here with another side of London’s Circle Line. The Circle Line for any London virgins among Beachcombing’s readership is the wonderful series of station represented by a yellow circle on the map of central London that goes […]

    Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London? October 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Druidic Ravens at the Tower of London?

    Beachcombing got an email this week from a Canadian history student. ‘Seeing as you seem to have knowledge of historical things quite off the beaten track I thought I’d seek some historic tourism advice. I’m a Canadian history student and over Christmas I’ll be travelling to London. I plan on a doing a couple of […]

    Mayan Blood and Mayan Victims October 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Mayan Blood and Mayan Victims

    Beachcombing has had a bad week and so to perk himself up a little he thought that he would resort to the last strategy of the truly desperate: pity someone who is worse off than himself. In this spirit and in continuance of his wcih (‘worst careers in history’) series he has decided to rememeber the […]

    Antique Christians in Furthest China October 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Antique Christians in Furthest China

    Beachcombing has often visited in these pages his favourite WIBT (‘wish I’d been there’) moments from history. And today he takes the gentle reader to another this time in China in honour of his mother and step-father who have recently fled the dominions for a holiday in the Far East. It is 1625 and the gutsy Portuguese […]

    Dragons and Hairy Stars in Early Ireland September 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Dragons and Hairy Stars in Early Ireland

    Beachcombing knows that there is a fashion for exaggerating the achievements of the medieval Irish. So let Beachcombing be emphatic. The early Irish did not have a table of elements. They did not talk of words like ‘relativity’ or ‘displacement’. They did not make clones or drop atom bombs. However, recent research has suggested that […]

    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism September 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    San Miniato: Renaissance Vandalism

    Beachcombing has loved the extraordinary monastery of San Miniato (Florence), his favourite continental church, since he first saw it fifteen years ago. Started in a largely undocumented generation in the eleventh century it showed from the beginning an ambition that, though wholly medieval in form, anticipated the Florentine renaissance in terms of its self-confident eccentricity. However, there […]

    Arthur’s Grave at Glastonbury September 13, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Arthur's Grave at Glastonbury

    Beachcombing thought that he would recall tonight the first recorded archaeological dig to take place in the United Kingdom. The place? The magical abbey of Glastonbury on the fringes of the Celtic fringes. The time? Probably 1191, though different accounts give slightly different dating clues. The find? The body of Arthur, Lord of the Round […]

    A Medieval Coin in New England Soil September 11, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Medieval Coin in New England Soil

    After much interest in the long-travelling Helgö Buddha Beachcombing is pleased to introduce a more controversial wrong-place piece, an eleventh-century Viking coin that allegedly ended up in New England’s soil several generations before Columbus. The Maine Penny, as it called, was found by an ‘amateur’ (an ugly word for archaeologists) at the Goddard site near the mouth […]

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