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  • The Wessel Coins 5#: Ian McIntosh Interview December 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Wessel Coins 5#: Ian McIntosh Interview

    Huge thanks to Dr Ian McIntosh who agreed to this interview about the Wessel Coins, about progress in last summer’s expedition and about hopes for next year. Previous posts on the medieval African coins that ended up in Australia are gathered together in this link. All readers please note that there is also a relevant […]

    In Praise of Bouncer and Co December 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Praise of Bouncer and Co

    ***note because of stupid mistake yesterday’s post was posted in the wrong place late, look below for a possible medieval reference to hippopotami*** Another in our strange sport series: today it is trail hunting. This was completely new to Beach but it seems that trail hunting was actually a fairly common nineteenth century sport and […]

    Men Wearing Mirrors: Portuguese Conquistador in Northern Australia? December 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Men Wearing Mirrors: Portuguese Conquistador in Northern Australia?

    The Portuguese ‘discovery’ of Australia is one that has excited Australians and Europeans for most of the last century, since, in fact, it was first realized that there was a very real chance that Portuguese ships could very easily have headed south from their base at Timor and have run smack-bang into ‘the lost continent’. […]

    Fairies and Funerals December 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies and Funerals

    Fairies are often associated with death: indeed, many fairy theorists have suggested that the ‘good people’ were originally believed to be the spirits of the dead. Then there are the various minions of fairy who  predict death including the banshee in Ireland and various bogeys in northern and western Britain. Fairy funerals are commonly described […]

    Fitzgerald’s Dagger and a Child Thief December 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fitzgerald's Dagger and a Child Thief

    Lord Edward Fitzgerald was the great hero of the hopeless Irish revolt of 1798. When he was arrested on 4 May of that year he determined to sell his life dearly and set about his assailants with a knife causing many injuries. He died a month later of his wounds: wounds from the same fight. […]

    Selling Alaska/Louisiana/Manhattan by the Pound December 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Selling Alaska/Louisiana/Manhattan by the Pound

    History could be usefully defined as one long territory grab: who has the desire to take these acres, and who has the will and the resources and enough young ready to die on the other side? You can almost see the archangels of history pouring blood and bullets into two sides of a balance. But […]

    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie December 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie

    There is a fabulous Scottish water beast story that is worth repeating. Today we scour lochs for fantastic animals. In the early nineteenth century they scoured at Loch na Beiste (literally Loch of the Beast) to kill the same. The story of the celebrated water-kelpie of the Greenstone Point is very well known in Gairloch. […]

    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, […]

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