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  • Review: Hobberdy Dick July 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: Hobberdy Dick

    Katharine Briggs is the world famous folklorist, who wrote many books on folklore and fairies, some above average, some outstanding. Among her lesser known works are two folklore novels that she wrote in the 1960s, Kate Crackernuts and Hobberdy Dick. I’m trying to read KC at the moment and not having much luck, but the […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel July 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel

    The Rillaton Cup was a prehistoric gold beaten vessel that was discovered in a barrow in Cornwall (the cairn on the map below to the north east of the Hurlers). It is beautiful and antiquarians have compared it to the fabulous Mold cape, which is probably roughly contemporary. However, there is another connection between the […]

    The First Mythbuster? July 27, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The First Mythbuster?

    In June 1771 one H wrote to the most important English review, The Gentleman’s Magazine. He claimed to have put together a list of over three hundred myths: what this blog refers to as cobblers. It is one of the first examples of the very modern habit of debunking myths: Snopes is the best contemporary […]

    A Vampire Story: Decapitating Dad July 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Vampire Story: Decapitating Dad

    This story appeared in several British newspapers around 10 March 1887. It would be interesting to know whether or not a Continental source could be found for this: or better still a diary of Baron deGostovsky: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com One might imagine that the wheel of time is turning backward on reading the […]

    Migration, Inundation… Top Scorers July 23, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Migration, Inundation... Top Scorers

    Migration – seasonal, circular, forced, permanent… – is as old as history. Folks from one community cross the river and go and live with folks on the other side. They work together, live together and eventually have children together. This stuff has been going on for tens of thousands of years. However, in modern times […]

    Nobs and Plebs in Irish Courts July 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nobs and Plebs in Irish Courts

    Nineteenth-century Ireland was a rum place. The vast majority of the population was poor, Catholic and uneducated. The ruling, largely Protestant minority also described themselves as Irish: and many died and fought in the cause of Ireland. But the gulf of communication between these two worlds was immense and this was rarely so evident as […]

    Review : The Book of Grimoires July 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review : The Book of Grimoires

    Claude Lecouteux is one of the world’s most interesting writers on folklore and magic: his work on the wild hunt, for example, is perhaps the best we have. However, this new book by CL, The Book of Grimoires: The Secret Grammar of Magic (2013 Inner Traditions, from the French original, 2002) is not strictly by […]

    Meteorite Weapons July 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Meteorite Weapons

    ***Thanks to Radko for inspiring this post*** Imagine a blade made from a star. Now this is not actually as far fetched as it might first seem. After all, ‘stars’ (aka meteorites) sometimes fall to earth and some of them have enough iron content to make a blade practical. These blades are not necessarily exceptional: […]

    Papal Sorceror? July 19, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Papal Sorceror?

    ***Thanks to an old friend of the blog, Stephen D. for this one*** Urban VIII (obit 1644) was one of the most exquisitely cultured popes ever to sit on the throne of Peter. He is famous today for being the man who brought Galileo to Rome to rap his knuckles very hard: but that is […]

    So You Want to Become an Early Modern Witch: 16 Steps July 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    So You Want to Become an Early Modern Witch: 16 Steps

    We are back in the seventeenth century and your neighbours are really getting on your nerves, money is tight and, frankly, you want to let down your hair and deny God and the mother Church. How do you get involved with early modern Satanists and impress at the Sabbat? Well, luckily for you someone was […]

    Image: The Hands Haven’t It July 17, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Image: The Hands Haven't It

    What is wrong with this picture? We have here two Elizabethan nobles: Sir Thomas Wroughton (d. 1597) and Lady Anne Wroughton of Broad Hinton in Wiltshire: their manor house would in later centuries host and house such notables as John Evelyn and the Iron Duke of Wellington. Thomas was a member of the upper ranks […]

    Practical Joke: The Wife Hunter July 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Practical Joke: The Wife Hunter

    Practical jokes were often fairly of poor fare in the nineteenth century. However, there is something amusingly diabolical about this one, particularly if you remember that no one died and that the wife hunter learnt  that there were probably better ways to find true love . It appears that a Manchester tradesman short time ago […]

    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe? July 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe?

    At least twice a year there are news stories about zombie-proof burials. Archaeologists dig up a body that has been given special treatment by gravediggers: we have enjoyed some of these stories at StrangeHistory in the past including a particularly haunting one from Ireland. Sometimes corpses are decapitated and the head placed between the legs; sometimes […]

    Female Poison Circles July 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Female Poison Circles

    As is well known periodically through history groups of frustrated women have banded together to poison their violent, somnolent, poor or idiotic husbands. Six or sixty or one hundred and fifty would  find a local gypsy who sold tastless, colourless (in short undetectable) poisons and then run home and start dosing gins and tonics or […]

    The Somers Affair: A Pirate Fantasy and Three Nooses July 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Somers Affair: A Pirate Fantasy and Three Nooses

    The Somers affair is a curious incident dating to 1843 in which three American sailors were executed/murdered (opinions differ) in surprising circumstances. There is a lot of scope for psychologising and motive fishing, but the best bet is that this was an adolescent game that got very, very badly out of hand. First, the bare […]

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