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  • Snake Friend/Enemy in Egypt September 14, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snake Friend/Enemy in Egypt

    There are many stories of snakes from world folklore becoming parts of human households and being fed by grateful family members. In some parts of the globe, in the early modern Baltic for instance, this practice seems to have had cultic associations. In most of the world there are folk stories about snakes saved by […]

    Immortal Meals #26: The Professors and the Cave Bone Broth September 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals #26: The Professors and the Cave Bone Broth

    The immortal meals series has included prehistoric food and it has included an unlikely Victorian dinner in a dinosaur but this reference, thanks to Chris from Haunted Ohio Books is on a whole different level. Some of the bones of extinct animals found beneath the stalagmite floor of caves in England and elsewhere, presumably of […]

    Rape and Animals September 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Rape and Animals

    A recent post described the bizarre legal proceedings that led to New Haven men being accused of bestiality and one being hung. These cases provoke many thoughts but not least was the fate of the accused animals. When George Spencer was brought to the gallows the pig with which he had supposedly had sex with (and […]

    Fantasy Britain by OS Maps September 9, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fantasy Britain by OS Maps

    OK this is weird little game. Beach has spent many hours in the last two months looking at nineteenth-century OS maps, that is maps produced by the Ordnance Survey, the government body that is responsible for charting Britain, and back in the day, Ireland. The maps are beautiful, they lack the gaudy colours of today […]

    Broomstick Accidents September 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Broomstick Accidents

    A simple question today. Are witch’s broomsticks dangerous? Well, anything that takes human beings out of the natural element, namely the earth and places them with the birds could go wrong and depending on how high witches were flying, horribly wrong. The greatest in flight danger that witches faced was accidentally saying a Christian name […]

    Last Magic Spell Cast in Battle? September 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Last Magic Spell Cast in Battle?

    For many years this blog has run a weird wars tag, some of the most bizarre story from humanities adventures on the battlefield. Beach has recently got a sniff of one story that has greatly excited him, but he can’t track down the details. He throws open the problem to readers hoping that someone will […]

    Footfalls Echo in the Memory: Taunton September 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Footfalls Echo in the Memory: Taunton

    ‘I’ve… seen things… you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion; I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate… All those… moments… will be lost, in time, like… tears… in… rain.’ Famous lines from Bladerunner. But what if instead of an exotic replicant at his death, we […]

    Immortal Meals #25: Champagne, Nests and the Courthouse September 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #25: Champagne, Nests and the Courthouse

    Beach is not sure why he finds this meal so appealing, but it is probably something to do with the disregard for frontier law and the ability of Texans to improvise entertainment out of a goose, a shack and some eggs. Sherman is and was the capital of Grayson County in Texas. In 1858 a […]

    The Chester Cat Hoax of 1815 September 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Chester Cat Hoax of 1815

    This is a short story published some 90 years after the event it supposedly described: Chester is a city on the northern Welsh borders. This story is frequently retold in miscellany of the bizarre, local histories and Francis Wheen includes it in his marvelous The Chatto Book of Cats, 1993. There are three interesting points: […]

    Waldensian Courage, Waldensian Blood September 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Waldensian Courage, Waldensian Blood

    In a recent post Beach looked at the extraordinary survival of the Waldensians, a courageous proto-Protestant sect, which  managed to weather the full rage of the Church in the Alps between France and Italy. The history of the Waldensians is a long catalogue of courage and atrocity: the courage of the Waldensians and the violence of the […]

    The Index Biography #21, Prize a Good Book August 31, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Index Biography #21, Prize a Good Book

    The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The writer must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the indivdual’s life. We offered up previously here Sheridan le Fanu and Joseph […]

    Butter Tricks and Witches August 29, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Butter Tricks and Witches

    Here is a silly story from nineteenth-century Wales followed up with a serious point: or as serious as this blog ever gets. Mrs. Braithwaite [of Caergwrle, Flintshire] supplied a Mrs. Williams with milk, but a short time ago refused to serve her, and the cause was as follows: Mrs. Braithwaite had to that time been […]

    Sentries and Ghosts August 28, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sentries and Ghosts

    While recently writing on the Tower of London ghosts Beach learnt something. Sentries see ghosts: there was the case from 1817 and the second case from the 1850s. The following list is limited to the British newspapers from 1875-1900 and represent a very quick survey: 1877 Aldershot: a ghost was repeatedly seen by sentries at […]

    Review: Victorian Studies in Scarlet August 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Victorian Studies in Scarlet

    Best read of the summer? For Beach an easy choice, Richard D. Altick, Victorian Studies in Scarlet: Murder and Manners in the Age of Victoria. OK it was first published in 1970 but what is forty years between friends? Altick, who died in 2008, was a maverick academic: it would be great to induct him, sooner […]

    The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy August 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Longest Surviving Medieval Heresy

    Imagine this. You wake up one morning in 1216 and say ‘to hell with it’. You walk into the local square of piazza stand on an upturned wheelbarrow and talk to your neighbours about the cosmos. Perhaps you’ve learnt that Christ married Mary Magdalene and had twins; or that the angels are worms in universal […]

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