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  • Irish Sheep Boy June 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Irish Sheep Boy

    Many years ago Beach ran a post on an Irish cow man, which seemed to have come out of a ‘Celtic’ wonder tale. What though about the Irish sheep boy, reported by the Dutch doctor Nicholas Tulp (pictured) (obit 1674)? The sheep boy had somehow ended up in Amsterdam. Note that in what follows Beach […]

    The Longest Snake in the World June 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Longest Snake in the World

    British newspapers gave a couple of acres of space between 1800 and 2000 to ‘monster snakes’ discovered in this or that corner of the Green & Pleasant land. Typically a vicar in Devon had found an adder that measured two and a half feet long… However, leaving the shores of Britain behind there were better […]

    Bastard Names June 15, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bastard Names

    One of the least attractive aspects of organized morality is the scapegoating of children for the sins of their parents. Those who grew up with the Bible will remember the dread words: ‘The Lord is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he […]

    Killed by a Watermelon? Royal Iranian Caprices… June 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killed by a Watermelon? Royal Iranian Caprices...

    Even by the standards of oriental despots Mohammad Khan Qajar was a pretty nasty piece of work. He had himself survived as a young man because the then ruler of Persia had decided only to castrate MKQ instead of having him killed, a decision he would soon regret. MKQ was not apparently a sadist. But […]

    In Search of the Hodag June 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Hodag

    The Hodag is one of the most interesting mythical creatures from the great American wilderness. It is associated above all with Wisconsin and particularly with a hoax that dates to 1893 when newspapers reported the capture of a Hodag, apparently a small horned lizard. Full points to those who organized this brilliant photograph above, surely […]

    The Flint Hill Wildman: The Hunt June 9, 2015

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

    Resolution of yesterday’s mystery! When the D., M. & A. Railroad, which will have cars running here next week, began the grading and cutting at what is known as the Cascade, they brought a gang of Italians under the management of an Irish man Pat Durfee by name, who is almost a prodigy of strength. Durfee […]

    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 […]

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