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  • Crowds #2: Speaking to Crowds June 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #2: Speaking to Crowds

    W.B.Yeats once wrote that the most important thing for a ‘man’ was, in his day, no longer a sword but a tongue to speak to the masses. Yeats was living in an age when that was still true. Microphones were allowing the amplification of voices and transport meant that a politician or preacher could travel […]

    So You Want to Catch a Fairy… June 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    So You Want to Catch a Fairy...

    So you want to catch a fairy. Well, first get a butterfly net and collecting jars and for good measure a mousetrap bated with sugar and nutmegs… Ok seriously here are a couple of ‘recipes’ from a seventeenth-century (?) alchemist’s collection. An excellent way to gett a Fayrie. (For myself I call Margarett Barrance; but […]

    Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900 June 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Decapitation Gone Wrong in China, c. 1900

    ***Gruesome post warning*** Bad day? Children sick? Feel a bit depressed? Dog ate your laptop? Then do yourself a favour and move on. The following includes some very unpleasant details from a Chinese execution c. 1900, when medieval lingchi (death by cutting) was still in operation. The following execution was not planned as lingchi but […]

    Trolls in Staffordshire (in the 1970s!) June 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Trolls in Staffordshire (in the 1970s!)

    ***With thanks to Invisible*** Beach usually limits his cryptozoology to historical sightings and is a little uneasy at reporting an event from his own lifetime. But this particularly rumpus in the dark has a lot to recommend it in fairy terms so it caught his interest: the full account can be found at Nick Redfern’s […]

    Thomas Digges and the Telescope June 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Thomas Digges and the Telescope

    ***Dedicated to Larry who sent this one in*** Thomas Digges (1595) is one of those footnotes in history who perhaps deserves a page, a chapter or even a book to himself. An Elizabethan military engineer, Digges also wrote on astronomy and translated Copernicus into English and, fundamentally for the present argument, he pushed the use […]

    A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars June 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars

    When people see strange things they rave to friends, family and (sometimes) newspapers. When they see strange things that reveal themselves to be something utterly pedestrian, the marvel is quickly forgotten. This is, in some ways, a shame as accounts of misperception probably bring us closer to the enigmas of the world than hours and […]

    Ginx’s Baby June 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ginx's Baby

    ***Dedicated to Wade who sent this in*** An interview with the tax man today so a low intensity post on a story sent in by Wade from an American paper 1871. It is presumably a morality tale (with a kick at the old country): but it is cute for all that. It is one of […]

    Undead in Bulgaria June 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Undead in Bulgaria

    Beachcombing has celebrated deviant burials on several previous occasions in the past. There was, for example, only last week, the children immured (allegedly) in the foundations of a bridge. And then there were the various attempts to silence the dead from the Middle Ages. There were the criminals killed (and often dug into) prehistoric mounds and who could […]

    Exclaves! June 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Exclaves!

    A strange post today – just for a change… Beach has recently been troubled by the Kaliningrad Oblast, a peculiar bit of Russian territory that stands several hundred kilometres to the west of the Russian frontiers. Now an exclave of Russian life on the borders of Poland and Lithuania, Kalingrad would be just the kind […]

    Electrifying Sheep June 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Electrifying Sheep

    Beachcombing has a terrible secret. He is not very good at science. Yes, he receives emails about astronomy and nuclear physics, aviation and genetics on a daily basis. But, while being fascinated, he understands almost none of what he reads there. In the autumn of his years it is simply too late to put this […]

    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs June 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs

    Just last week Beach was looking into dragon accounts from seventeenth century England. And in searching for dragon-related material he stumbled on an article that he feels deserves to be better known and perhaps celebrated. The article in question is George Monger’s ‘Dragons and Big Cats’ published in the illustrious journal of British myth and […]

    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice May 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice

    ***Dedicated to Wade who sent the relevant passage in*** The custom of burying infant children in the foundations of new buildings was well established in prehistoric, ancient and even (gulp) medieval times. The bigger and more important a building the more likely it was to a have a tot dropped in the cement. It is […]

    Seventeenth-Century English Dragons May 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Seventeenth-Century English Dragons

    Beachcombing recently highlighted the case of a giant serpent in nineteenth-century Devon, a snake that was as thick as a thigh. Beach had assumed that this was a one off, but now he is wondering as he found a second reference to go with it. This one comes from a pamphlet with a straight-to-the-point title: The […]

    The Wandering Jew in Burnley May 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Wandering Jew in Burnley

    Today it is the turn of the Wandering Jew. For those who have never met him WJ refused to help Christ (as he was carrying his cross) or made fun of Jesus as he hung between the thieves. This proved a bad idea. WJ now meanders cursed around the globe and will do so until […]

    Cellini and the Salamander May 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Cellini and the Salamander

    ***Dedicated to Michael F who sent this in*** We last saw Benvenuto Cellini (obit 1571) imprinted on a French/Spanish/Scottish canon. Fourteen months on, here is a little doodle from Cellini’s infancy, judging by his autobiography the happiest years of his chaotic life. When I was about five years old [c. 1505] my father happened to […]

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