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  • The Flint Hill Wildman: The Victims June 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Flint Hill Wildman: The Victims

    This is the best wild man story yet, it reads like a very bad film, but, like many bad films, the story is compulsive. It came from the Cincinnati Enquirer. Many most mysterious and startling events have occurred in this county in the last last three years, and, by a most terrible and sensational discovery […]

    Where Animal Cruelty and Folk Medicine Meet June 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Where Animal Cruelty and Folk Medicine Meet

    Britain’s glorious nineteenth century included many unsavoury episodes. But one of the more winsome aspects was the promotion by Britain’s London and southern provincial elite of the notion of cruelty to birds and to animals, the idea that animals and birds could feel pain and that the brute creation should be protected from its even […]

    The Shining South African Snake Monster June 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Shining South African Snake Monster

    Beach spent a few minutes going through Heuvelmans’ wonderful On the Tracks of Unknown Animals but could find not hint of this ‘thing’. The following description appeared in 1899 in some nature notes in a British newspaper! The natives of Natal [South Africa] have implicit faith in the existence of the lamp snake, which they […]

    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven June 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven

    Bestiality (humans having sex with animals) has been a long-standing minority pursuit, which very occasionally has been ritualised, memories of a king having sex with a horse in Ireland and hints of a tribal leader marrying a seal. In most societies though bestiality has been punished and punished harshly. None of this is new, but what […]

    Chastity Tools in Puritan New England June 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Chastity Tools in Puritan New England

    This image is a twentieth-century reconstruction of three items crucial to love-making in seventeenth-century New England. (The source is David Hackett Fischer’ Albion’s Seed, p.80 a long book that can be read as well by dippings as by hours of earnest reading: the artist was Jennifer Brody.) Now take a moment and puzzle over this collection of […]

    The Poisoned Bowl and the 5000 Letters May 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The Poisoned Bowl and the 5000 Letters

    Beach has not offered up a rogue researcher for some time: the last was mummy maker, Bob Brier, a year ago. Rogue researchers, for the uninitiated are those men and women, with doctorates, who do things that others in their discipline might consider eccentric. To call someone a ‘rogue researchers’ is a sign of the […]

    Execution by Dogs? May 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Execution by Dogs?

    North Korea is a frequent source of joy for bizarrists: if not for the poor wretched put upon people who live there. For example, last month Beach wrote up the Indian custom of death by cannon, only to be trumped by Kim Jong-un who had just executed his minister of defence with an anti-aircraft gun. This got Beach […]

    Contacting Mars in the Late Nineteenth Century May 25, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Contacting Mars in the Late Nineteenth Century

    In the nineteenth century humans noted a series of unusual lights from different planets and moons. In the very late nineteenth century some speculated that these lights might be attempts to contact the earth: we have previously looked at an example involving the moon and Charles Fort. This was particularly true with the sighting of […]

    Death by Bell Ringing May 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Death by Bell Ringing

    In a moment of divine madness, a couple of years ago, Beach asked a question about knights and lightning: basically were sardine cans on horsebacks with long lances natural lightning rods? He has been inspired today to ask another lightning question. The following passage is taken from Wikipedia page on bell-ringers, one of Wiks less […]

    Credulity and Animal Lore in Italy May 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Credulity and Animal Lore in Italy

    Beach has recently been enjoying serpent folklore. This study has led him to question, as often happens to inadequate human beings when new information comes along, ‘facts’ that has been fed him in his time living in Italy: almost a decade now. Here are six involving reptiles and their relatives. Some of these Beach discounted […]

    Two Monmouth Moments May 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Two Monmouth Moments

    The Duke of Monmouth was the illegitimate son of Charles II and a bit of a ‘tosser’ to use the northern vernacular: he looks, in the portrait above, like an underwear model trying to be ‘hot’, or a nineteen year old who has just made it into a boy band. There is no question that he was […]

    The Greene County Wild Man May 20, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Greene County Wild Man

    When we think wild men most readers will think sasquatch and yeti: when people in the nineteenth century (and before) thought wild men they thought lunatics or hermits who had gone to live in the wood and who had lost touch with humanity. Perhaps in mythic terms there is not that much difference? However, this […]

    The Durham Serpent May 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Serpent

    Here is a weird little story that allegedly appears in St Nicholas’ Parochial Register, Durham for 1568. Mdm. that a certain Italian brought into the cittie of Durham, the 11th day of June, in the yeare above sayd, a very great strange and monstrous serpent, in length sixteen feet, in quantitie and dimentions greater than a […]

    Downey’s Death: Killed by Imagination May 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Downey's Death: Killed by Imagination

    Beach stumbled across this story a couple of weeks ago and thought he’d put it up for the practical jokes tag. There was much interest in the nineteenth century about how the psychological impression of death could cause death. Somewhere Beach has read a French version of this (can anyone help: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    Late Storm Bellringing May 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Late Storm Bellringing

    Enjoy this short extract from a Sheffield newspaper about a folk practice in Devon in south-west England: 28 July 1899. Bells it will be remembered were for the supernatual like alcohol for bacteria: they drove away witches, fairies and, of course, storms… There is a curious survival in that pretty, quiet little south country place, […]

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