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  • What are Fairy Trees? January 16, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    What are Fairy Trees?

    Nothing about fairies is easy but Beach is getting more and more confused about one aspect of fairy life and that is their trees. In the Gaelic-speaking world (or what was the Gaelic-speaking world, RIP) thorns were commonly associated with fairies. These are the trees that workers are sometimes terrified about cutting down. In Wales […]

    Mermaid Monday: the Watra Mama January 15, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Monday: the Watra Mama

    Apologies for the absence of Mermaid Monday over Christmas. Here we are back with an account from Captain Stedman: seen previously in this blog tangling with a fairy. Stedman has been talking about tapirs. He, then, gives some interesting opinions from his peers about mermaids (II, 182-3). A Mr. Selefelder, of the Society service, at […]

    Viper Will January 14, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Viper Will

    Beach recently reach ran across this will in an early nineteenth-century publication, Kirby’s Wonderful Museum, vol IV, p. 259. Enjoy. I do hereby direct my executors to lay out five guineas in purchase of a picture of the viper biting the benevolent hand of the person who saved him from perishing in the snow, if […]

    Mandans’ Arrows Feat January 13, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mandans' Arrows Feat

    Here is an extraordinary description of George Catlin (obit 1872), American painter and ethnologist (before his time) among the Mandans, with the matching image above. The game is basically this: how many arrows can you shoot into the air before your first arrow hits the ground. What Beach finds extraordinary are the number of arrows […]

    The Maddest Sports Bet: the Barclay Challenge January 12, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Maddest Sports Bet: the Barclay Challenge

    It is well known that there was a great deal of walking or pedestrian enthusiasm in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England. Usually, these races were a question of going from, say, London to York in x number of hours or of beating y over the same distance. However, Beach recently ran across the single weirdest race […]

    Death by Oak January 10, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Death by Oak

    Beach has recently been having nightmares about narrow corridors. This story is a form of reverse therapy. It also taps into other stories told in this place of men and women who get into trees and can’t get out afterwards. It is well known that during the French Revolution, the wood Kusel, near Deux Ponts […]

    Children, Folklore and the Supernatural January 7, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Children, Folklore and the Supernatural

    Children, we are told, have supernatural encounters more easily than adults. On several levels this would make sense. But forgetting, for a moment, about whether this is true or false, where does the idea come from? There is a very strong notion among spiritualists and theosophists in the later 19C that kids had greater potential […]

    Index Biography #49: Prize a book December 31, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Index Biography #49: Prize a book

    *** Stephen D. gets it!*** Scroll down for answer*** The Index Biography is a quiz pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. We offered up […]

    Iowa Vampire December 28, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Iowa Vampire

    Beach has recently been looking for 19C images of vampires and strayed across this extremely unpleasant image. Unpleasant because it is based on a real life episode, the exploit of the Iowa vampire. A wealthy rancher named Converse met a horrible death at Sioux City, Woodbury co. Iowa on Wednesday [pub Sat 25 Apr 1895, Illustrated Police […]

    Christmas Fairy Trees December 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Christmas Fairy Trees

    What is a fairy tree? By rights a fairy tree should be where fairies gather to dance or perhaps to dwell: fairies it will be remembered have a special place particularly in Irish legend. However, Beach has recently started to run across curious late nineteenth-century reference to fairy trees of a decidedly none traditional sort. […]

    Calabrian Werewolf December 23, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Calabrian Werewolf

      This is a delightful piece on a Calabrian werewolf from Norman Douglas: we are in deepest southern Italy, 1907-1911. In some senses it is a massive anti-climax, but perhaps that is the point… At last we started, and I began to slumber once more. The carriage seemed to be going down a steep incline; […]

    Mysterious Carnivorous Plant Animal December 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mysterious Carnivorous Plant Animal

    Here is a bit of gossip that span through the European press in 1852, a good twenty years before Darwin wrote his Insectivorous Plants. According to some Italian journals, a new organised being has been discovered in the interior of Africa, which seems to form an immediate link between vegetable and animal life. This singular […]

    Mermaid Monday: The Mermaid’s Tail in Argyll December 18, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mermaid Monday: The Mermaid's Tail in Argyll

    In early October 1811 two young Scots in Argyll claimed to see mermaids: one aged twenty-three, the other aged eight. That is interesting enough, but what is fascinating for the historian is how this news fed through into the wider world. In early November the two witnesses and the eight-year-old’s father were deposed, in other […]

    Frozen Love Returns at Chamonix December 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Frozen Love Returns at Chamonix

    This story is haunting and involves ice: so December fare. In 1844 young man left a village near Chamouny [Chamonix], on pilgrimage to the Convent St. Bernard, in consequence of a vow made before gaining the belle of the village. After leaving the convent, he went to several places and bought some linen, with the […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Missionary Tales December 15, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Missionary Tales

    This story appeared in Table Talk in 1870. Not having easy access it is taken here from the British press. Was it true or wasn’t it? When in India with my regiment, we were, at one time, quartered at a place where there was a missionary station. Some of the officers (as was frequently the […]

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