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  • Lazarus Plants December 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Lazarus Plants

    When we think of the vegetables, flowers and fruit of our ancestors we probably most easily imagine students with trowels retrieving pips from coprolites: not a happy occupation. But actually there is another kind of retrieval and that is sending botanists out into the woods and fields to look for any plants that have somehow […]

    Clipping the Church December 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Clipping the Church

    ***Nine precious days to write a book on the Medieval North Atlantic, expect then a profusion of posts on this subject – there have been a few already. Expect also break down in answering emails. Sorry. Must focus.*** Clipping the Church: a cute little custom that Beach has not been able to properly parallel. On […]

    King Arthur’s Last Men: Stranded in the Arctic North? December 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    King Arthur's Last Men: Stranded in the Arctic North?

    *** Sorry I’m an idiot, I accidentally published two posts yesterday, one was left and one was withdrawn: this was the second that should have come out today** The Inventio Fortunata is a lost English text describing Arctic exploration that survives only in an emended form in a copy of a copy of a copy. […]

    Alpine Fairy Music December 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Alpine Fairy Music

    Fairy music is one of the least studied and yet one of the most curious parts of the world of fairy. Why are these curious beings so strongly associated with melodies? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com What is fairy music like? And do all fairy peoples in the world play the violin? Beach can’t even […]

    Good Executions? December 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Good Executions?

    Is there such a thing as a ‘good execution': after all the extinction of human life should never or almost never be a cause for celebration? Well, historians have used the phrase, in the past generation – though it has older antecedents – to refer to the extent to which the criminal cooperates with his […]

    A German Vampire? December 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A German Vampire?

    A vampire in seventeenth-century Germany? Perhaps, perhaps not, but something strange was going on here. The year is 1685 and we are in Augsburg. George Schmetzer’s wife had just given birth and suffered back ache. While in the delicate state after child birth: the dreams began. She felt that someone was pressing down on her […]

    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History? November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History?

    You have worked your entire life researching a given area of history. However, you have published barely anything waiting to write your ‘big book’, the one that you will be remembered by. The years pass and the book does not materialise and then comes your final illness… What will you do with the seventy odd […]

    William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World

    The year is 1881 and Willam Bottrell has just passed away after a horrific final illness: he lay paralysed in bed for the last year, his mind as fine as ever, his body drying up. Bottrell, for those many who don’t know, was a hero perhaps the hero of Cornish folklore studies because despite having […]

    Modesty and Killing November 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Modesty and Killing

    When Benito Mussolini was ‘executed’ (jolted out of a car by some communist partisans and shot in the chest in a ditch) he did not die alone. By his side was his lover and perhaps the most significant woman in his life, Clara Petacci. CP was gunned down a moment before Mussolini himself. The corpses […]

    Witches, Confessions and the Truth November 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Witches, Confessions and the Truth

    Scholars of witchcraft in the burning years have an overwhelming problem. As rationalists they do not believe in the sabbat, devil sex or flying broomsticks. And yet, and yet… Women who were investigated often come up with the most extraordinary stories about the Satanic things that they have done. The problem for historians is why does […]

    Late Pixy Accounts from Devon November 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Late Pixy Accounts from Devon

    Here is some late pixylore from a collection written in 1982. The author is the very fine Theo Brown, an outstanding folklorist. We’ve tried here to quarry experiences of those known by TB rather than the normal Devon folklore fodder, which can be found in ‘all’ the books. 1) Pixies present a difficult problem. What […]

    Families and the Durability of Memory November 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Families and the Durability of Memory

    How long can memories remain in a family? We have played these games before, of course. Just a couple of weeks ago Beach was imagining his daughter telling his great great grandchildren about the time their great, great, great, great grandfather survived an Italian attack in the Mediterranean, a hundred and fifty years after the […]

    Oldest Still Used Clothes November 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oldest Still Used Clothes

    Strange History announces a search for the oldest clothes in the world. Or rather the oldest still worn clothes. This is the best we’ve come up with so far. A British soldier has escaped from an Italian prisoner of War camp, 1943, and he has run to the mountains where he has fallen ill. Luckily […]

    The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North November 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North

    The Inventio Fortunata sometimes written the Inventio Fortunae (likely a mistaken amendment by an over anxious sixteenth-century author) is one of the most extraordinary documents NOT to come down to us from posterity. It was written in the fourteenth century, either at sea or in England, by a friar for the King of England, Edward […]

    Giant Caterpillar Outside Manchester, 1850! November 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Giant Caterpillar Outside Manchester, 1850!

    This appeared in a northern British newspaper in 1850 relating to the Manchester area. The monster, so long the object of such contradictory reports, is now proved beyond doubt to be a real living creature. He has been seen on shore by hundreds of spectators, having originally, it is supposed, come up the Bridgewater Canal. […]

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