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  • Napoleon and the Great Pyramid: Myth and Reality December 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Napoleon and the Great Pyramid: Myth and Reality

    One of the best WIBT (wish I’d been there) moments in history must have been that wonderful occasion when Napoleon ascended to the royal chamber in the Great Pyramid and asked to spend a minute alone with the pharoahs: perhaps it is so fantastically attractive as history because no one was there and so there […]

    Review: Imaginary Animals November 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Review: Imaginary Animals

    Any parent will know that animals are important. Children make animal sounds before they make words. They draw and paint animals. They cherish animal toys. The books they read have animal characters. They pretend to be animals. Animals, in fact, become a kind of meta-language for their experience and their emotions: Little Miss Beach has […]

    Weird Cirencester Report November 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Weird Cirencester Report

    This pithy little piece appears in a fascinating book: James Malcolm Miscellaneous Anecdotes Illustrative of the Manners and History of Europe (1811), 39-40. Malcolm had ransacked seventeenth and eighteenth century newspapers in search of absurd stories, which he could make fun of. He then included these accounts in his book. He does not give us […]

    Irish and Africans: A Peculiar Nineteenth-Century English Obsession November 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish and Africans: A Peculiar Nineteenth-Century English Obsession

    The science of ‘race’ is for the most part a series of embarrassing excesses and intellectually dishonst indulgences of contemporary opinions and prejudice, with some requisite skull-measuring and blethering about frontal lobes to make everything sound alright. Even by these particularly sad lows the following picture is an extraordinary achievement. The images come from Ireland […]

    Romans and Fairies? November 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Romans and Fairies?

    ***Dedicated to Invisible who sent the Notts example in*** Beach has slowly become aware that Roman remains in Britain were misinterpreted by imaginative yokels. Of course, already by the seventh century Roman Bath (probably?) was the City of Giants in an Anglo-Saxon poem. By the twelfth century Geoffrey of Monmouth was claiming that some Roman […]

    The Place of Still Born Children November 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    The Place of Still Born Children

    Skeaf is a small townland in County Cork in the wild west of Ireland. Looking for information about this little patch of green on the internet gives almost nothing: there are, for example, no houses for sale in Skeaf and no singles looking for ‘hot encounters’, no farmers’ markets and no entries in Craigs List. […]

    Arty Monarchs November 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Arty Monarchs

    How many rulers can you think of who show a gift for the arts? By this we don’t mean a Charles I or a Cosimo de Medici who could talent spot. Rather Beach is looking for blood-line rulers who were actually good with the paint-brush or with chisel or (taking the broader sense of ‘the […]

    Bowing to Horses and Dragon’s Blood! November 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bowing to Horses and Dragon's Blood!

    Two magic horse stories recently, one modern and one medieval. This further example of horse witchcraft comes from the second half of the nineteenth century in Retford in the English Midlands. The story begins with a classic example of witch striking, though look out for an unusual addition, dragon’s blood! At Retford, the other day, […]

    The Wessel Coins #4: The Article November 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Wessel Coins #4: The Article

    The Wessel Coins, for those who did not read earlier posts, were a series of medieval Kilwan coins (Kilwa = the east coast of Africa) and modern Dutch India Company coins that were found in 1944 on a beach on the Wessel Islands off the coast of northern Australia. Their presence in Australian sand, particularly […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #11: A Conclusion November 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #11: A Conclusion

      ***Dedicated to all those, who have helped Beach with this series, particularly Bob S*** A couple of comments before driving on to a general conclusion on the Perceval murder [for all previous posts follow this link], comments that will surprise no one who reads this blog regularly. Beach is a hoary old sceptic. He […]

    How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance November 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    How Islam Created the Italian Renaissance

    The Renaissance! What’s not to like: Leo flying; Micky chipping at marble; men in tights and women in bodices; the pop, snap, crackle of Kultur; and cherubs falling from the sky like hailstone. According to the textbooks fourteenth- and fifteenth-century Italians, more particularly the urban Italians of northern Italy rediscovered the Greek and Romans and […]

    The Last Single Combat? November 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Last Single Combat?

    Single Combat is not strictly the same as a duel, where two individuals meet to settle a matter of honour. In single combat a member of one army and a member from another meet before battle, either to warm up the ranks or, better still, to settle the affair pacifically without any one else having […]

    The Last Stoning in Ireland November 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Stoning in Ireland

    Ok this title is a provocation. Saying the last stoning in Ireland is a bit like saying the last blizzard in Saudia Arabia or the last vegetarian meal in France. The early Irish left behind detailed law codes and there is no record of anyone being stoned at any time. Their medieval heirs had many […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #10: John Williams, the Dirt (and Tin) November 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #10: John Williams, the Dirt (and Tin)

    Surely the most important player in the Perceval dream is the dreamer himself, John Williams. Read most modern reports about the murder and you will assume that JW was a member of the Cornish upper middle classes, a squire with clay and fox blood on his hands. In fact, John Williams was a major Victorian […]

    Chinese Pied Pipers? November 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chinese Pied Pipers?

    Beach ran into this weird little text in the depth of the archives of a book quoting a book quoting a book. It is dated to 1820 but reported almost sixty years later in a discussion of horse whispering (a recent obsession on this blog). It does not appear in any newspaper database that we […]

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