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  • A Scottish Earthquake Remembered? December 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Scottish Earthquake Remembered?

    David Murray Rose was a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historian and, a far nicer word, an antiquarian. This comes from a letter he wrote in 1930 to the Inverness Courier and relates to an obsession of this blog: the degree to which information can be transmitted orally through time. First, the legend. Many years […]

    English Vampire in Spain December 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    English Vampire in Spain

    This article comes from the later 1860s and describes the misfortunes of an Englishman who the locals decided was a Vampire. You have to cross the straits of Gibraltar and probably the Sahara to get this kind of incident today: memories of that fine Luise White book Speaking with Vampires. Lorcea is Lorca in Murcia. […]

    The Durham Lights 3#: The Margaret and Jane December 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Lights 3#: The Margaret and Jane

    To finish off this series on the mystery of the Durham Lights we turn to the description, in late December 1866, of the Margaret and Jane’s misfortunes at Whitburn. The public inquiry offers one of the clearest accounts of what mariners actually saw when they talked of ‘false lights’. First, though the ship. We have […]

    Was Nessie a Kelpie? December 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Was Nessie a Kelpie?

    A post a couple of weeks ago on the kelpie of Loch-na-Bestie got Beach thinking about the most famous kelpie in Caledonia. Who else but that stalwart of Scottish tourism, that gift to fake photographers everywhere, the greatest floating log of them all, Nessie?  Yes, it is true that Nessie has been seen, photographed and […]

    Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg December 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg

    A wonderful story that could probably only come out of Italy. First, some necessary background. Indro Montanelli was perhaps the finest Italian journalist of the twentieth century: he was able to interview and work with Andreotti, Berlusconi, Hitler, John-Paul II, Mussolini and many other notables whose deeds changed the peninsula and Europe (mostly, being notable, […]

    The Durham Lights #2: The Candidates December 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Lights #2: The Candidates

    In a previous post we set out, with some help from Charles Fort and David Clarke the history of the Durham Lights, shipwrecking lights that turned up on the jagged coast at Whitburn (North-East England) in the mid late 1860s and that were only banished with the opening of the Souter Lighthouse in January 1871. […]

    Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil? December 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil?

    For the hundreds of thousands of cats and kittens brought up for mummification in ancient Egypt life was brutal and short. Most lived six months to a year and then were either hammered on the head, or more typically had their necks wrung before being tightly bound and sold to the religious perhaps particularly pilgrims, […]

    Flying Boy Across the Mersey? December 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flying Boy Across the Mersey?

    This interesting but very confusing passage comes from Aubrey’s wonderful Brief Lives. It is, more specifically, from the chapter on a Lancastrian mathematician named Jonas Moore who had been taught by one William Gascoigne (this becomes important). Aubrey includes several fascinating facts including the unforgettable sentence that: ‘Sciatica: [Sir Jonas] cured it by boiling his […]

    The Durham Lights #1: Introduction December 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Lights #1: Introduction

    The Durham Lights (aka the False Durham Lights or the Whitburn Lights) are a nice example of a few chance and unclear facts morphing out of control and spawning suspect Forteana. From 1864 to 1870, particularly though not exclusively in the winter, wrecks became common on the Whitburn Steel, some aptly named rocks, between Sunderland […]

    Maid of Hatfield: English Shaman Shyster December 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Maid of Hatfield: English Shaman Shyster

    This unusual story dates to the reign of Charles II, the son of the unhappiest monarch in the pantheon, Charles I. Beach has decided to include it for two reasons. First, because it reminds him of some of those shamanistic individuals who he has sometimes celebrated as fairy witches; and second because there is almost […]

    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. […]

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