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ET Phones Home in the Fifteenth Century? July 18, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
ET Phones Home in the Fifteenth Century?

                Beachcombing has been thrilled by correspondence over his posts and hopes to put up the useful (as opposed to the merely nice or amusing) ones towards the end of this month. However, he has been disappointed by the almost complete silence over some of his early pieces from the […]

A Fifteenth-Century Interest in Scandinavian Plague Rats July 15, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Fifteenth-Century Interest in Scandinavian Plague Rats

                          The Bubonic plague was around a long time before, in 1897, scientists finally discovered what caused the illness: disease-carrying fleas on the backs of rats. Then having taken over five hundred years to work out the plague in scientific terms: these same genius […]

Genocide on the Isle of Wight? July 13, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Genocide on the Isle of Wight?

            Beachcombing has noted before the refusal of archaeologists to face up to some of the bloodier customs of our ancestors. And what better example of this than the way that most archaeologists looking away on coming across any evidence of mass killings or human sacrifice in Dark Age Britain? Indeed, despite there being […]

Adult Breast-Feeding in the Renaissance and Early Modern World July 12, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Adult Breast-Feeding in the Renaissance and Early Modern World

                                      Beachcombing has been wasting his summer looking at Early Modern diet fads. Several have appealed to him, but certainly the one that clamoured most urgently for his attention was the belief that human breast milk was […]

Medieval Sex: The Good Salvation Guide July 9, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Medieval Sex: The Good Salvation Guide

                    The sex theme continues as Beachcombing can confirm the pregnancy of Mrs B. His wife is suffering from crippling morning (afternoon and night) sickness and little Miss B is proving more and more raucous, especially when her mother is at her worst. In celebration then of procreation and the ways in which it can […]

German Crusaders lost in Central Asia? June 29, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
German Crusaders lost in Central Asia?

Beachcombing often stretches himself pretty thin in covering the centuries and sometimes he just doesn’t have the languages to check up properly on a story. With these caveats he offers his readers the following tale that reads like a late Victorian or Edwardian boy’s own adventure. The text comes from Richard Halliburton’s Seven League Boots, […]

Review: Strange Histories June 28, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Review: Strange Histories

          Strange Histories: the trial of the pig, the walking dead, and other matters of fact from the medieval and Renaissance worlds by Darren Oldridge (Routledge 2005) caught Beachcombing’s attention in Little Snoring’s charity shop. The book, in truth, stood out like a sore thumb among all the Mills and Boons, […]

The return of Mayan-style human sacrifice June 25, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The return of Mayan-style human sacrifice

                    Beachcombing loves the way that some of the best historical stories hide behind the most oblique academic titles. Take, for example, Vera Tiesler and Andrea Cucina, ‘Procedures in Human Heart Extraction and Ritual Meaning: A Taphonomic Assessment of Anthropogenic Marks in Classic Maya Skeletons’ (Latin […]

The God Mars and Florence June 24, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The God Mars and Florence

                    Beachcombing has a special place in his heart for Florence and today, in celebration of the Arno’s flower, on the day of St John no less, he sets out a Florentine mystery: the fate and idenity of Mars on Horseback. We hear of this particular statue […]

World’s Last Latin Speakers in Africa? June 23, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
World's Last Latin Speakers in Africa?

Yes, yes, Beachcombing knows that those bores in the Vatican and some Finnish broadcasters still speak Latin. He’s even been into monastic libraries where they won’t give you a manuscript unless you babble something from Lewis and Short. But what Beachcombing wants to know – and he doesn’t think he’ll get an intelligent response for […]

A Medieval Christian Fairy World June 18, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Medieval Christian Fairy World

          Beachcombing greatly enjoys those doctrinal eccentricities that, from time to time, leak out of the mother church and its conglomerates. Who could forget, for example, the early Christian writer Origen mentioning matter-of-factly that  souls might be reincarnated Hindu-style ? The early modern church accidentally canonising the Buddha? Or, indeed, some modern mainstream beliefs – […]

Review: Curiosities of British Archaeology June 17, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
Review: Curiosities of British Archaeology

                    Beachcombing has long looked for books that fit his stated mission: ‘the outlandish, the anomalous and the curious from the last five thousand years’. But he has almost invariably been disappointed by just how few books pass muster and also at the poverty or lunacy of those few […]

Language Confusion in Vinland June 13, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Language Confusion in Vinland

        Most people, when they think of Vikings, think of men with rakish pointy hats and anger management issues. Beachcombing thinks, instead, of rare manuscripts being burnt, ‘drowned’ or thrown down monkly toilets – he detests the northern philistines.  However, one aspect of Viking life has long interested Beachcombing and that is their habit of […]

Outrageous British Street Names June 8, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Outrageous British Street Names

          Be warned! This entry in Beachcombing’s encyclopaedia of the damned is not about British streets that happen to sound rude: Booty Lane (York), Percy’s Passage (London) etc etc etc. Rather it is about British street names that reflect our ancestors’ remarkable lack of embarrassment about the toilet and the bedroom and […]

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