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  • The Spectres of Souther Fell 1: The Sources August 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 1: The Sources

    Beach is usually bored by phantom armies. But the Souter Fell spectres of the mid-eighteenth-century have several interesting features. First, the sources are of an unusually high quality. Second, the number of witnesses was allegedly high. Third, there are some interesting links with the folklore of the region. So let’s get on with the details […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 6: There Were Mermaids! August 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 6: There Were Mermaids!

    This is the last in the Caithness Mermaid Mystery, for now. A letter written in the John O Groats, 1849 series. Here we have a trusting soul, James Taylor, who knew all the protagonists… Dublin, 4th May, 1849. Sir, A considerable portion of the John O’Groat Journal being lately occupied by the appearance of those […]

    Index Biography #32: Prize a book July 31, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Index Biography #32: Prize a book

    ***Invisible got this one, spool down for the answer*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography 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. […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 5: the Mystery Solved? July 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 5: the Mystery Solved?

    Here is a comment recorded from Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), an eminent late eighteenth century scientist. It relates clearly neatly to the 1809 mermaid sightings. Many of these stories [about mermaids] have been founded upon the long-haired seal seen at a distance; others on the appearance of the common seal under particular circumstances of light […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 4: I Shot the Mermaid July 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 4: I Shot the Mermaid

    In the 1849 the John O’Groats newspaper, the most northerly on the British mainland ran a retrospective on the Caithness mermaids. It seems to have begun 6 April 1849 with a question asked in the paper. 20 April 1849 there was the republication of Miss McKay and Mr Thuro’s accounts. Then, there came this marvellous […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 3: Dad Speaks July 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 3: Dad Speaks

    [Hospital emergency continues: some reserve posts I’ve been playing around with] Several years ago Beach ran two posts on mermaids from Caithness, seen in 1809 by a pastor’s daughter (Miss Mackay) and by a schoolmaster: perhaps the most famous mermaid sightings ever published. He has now enough material in his filing cabinet to open a […]

    Perhaps in My Father’s Time… July 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Perhaps in My Father's Time...

    Beach and his loved ones are having a difficult time. A friend on holiday has shattered his heel and is now in hospital awaiting an operation. He doesn’t speak Italian and so Beach has been drafted into sitting in the hospital ward to make everything run smoothly. Beach hates hospitals. At least, though, he can […]

    Sunderland Ghost Riot and Prophecy July 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sunderland Ghost Riot and Prophecy

    This story is interesting as a particularly elaborate ghost riot. Usually nineteenth century ghost riots took place when someone saw something or pretended to see something and next thing there were ten thousand people, a dozen injured bobbies and a lot of broken window panes. This one has a much more precise if curious rumour […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: The Gold Watch July 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Gold Watch

    Crime is the most profitable part of Victorian Urban Legends. Enjoy, for instance, this one, it is an absolute peach: When the office of the City Recorder was filled by Mr. Silvester, it was on one particular occasion the recorder’s duty to try a prisoner for picking a man’s pocket of his purse. The prisoner […]

    Snowball Atrocities #3: Geo-Political Snowballing July 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #3: Geo-Political Snowballing

    Snowballs were the weapon of choice for young toughs out on the town in a blizzard. But they were also a way that furious crowds could show their contempt for various political or religious speakers. You could hurt and humiliate your enemy without running the risk (or not too great a risk) of finding yourself […]

    Rabbit Death at Manassas July 22, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Rabbit Death at Manassas

    In 1863 some Confederate troops had a horrific experience at Manassas: this is important for understanding the rabbit incident that follows. So steel yourself, reader. On the morning of July 21, 1863, our regiment, the 5th North Carolina State Troops, under Col. Duncan K. McRae.  ordered to double-quick across Bull Run and charge a  Battery […]

    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis! July 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis!

    Minneapolis is in a cavey region. It is also true that the discovery of the Schieks Cave in 1904 under downtown Minneapolis did cause some panic, but the concern was more about perceptions in a growing and prosperous city than danger. Little in the way of precautions seem to have been taken. Enjoy then this […]

    Witch Wars in Devon! July 15, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witch Wars in Devon!

    1869, the Empire is at its height, teeming millions walk through Britain’s mighty metropolises and out in the Devon countryside the locals are consulting witches. A witchcraft case reported from South Devon. Two or three young women living at Dittisham fell ill. Their mothers, thinking they had been illwished – that is, looked upon with […]

    The Drumming Well July 14, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Drumming Well

    This is one of these paranormal legends that just seems to have no parallels: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com. In Northamptonshire there was a well that drummed (!) on occasions of national importance. ‘[155] When I was a school-boy at Oundle, in Northamptonshire about the Scots coming into England, I heard a well, in one […]

    Living on Other Planets July 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Living on Other Planets

    Beach recently, while looking for ghosts, ran across this in one Daniel Defoe’s work. This is what it would be like to live on other planets according to an intelligent eighteenth-century thinker. In Saturn they are to live without Eyes, or be a Kind so illuminated from their own internal Heat and Light, that they […]

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