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  • DNA Champion November 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    DNA Champion

    Our DNA is the damnedest stuff, it gets everywhere: not only forensically but also historically. Just the other day, Beach reviewed the evidence (2010) that one medieval Amerindian woman in Iceland passed on her DNA to eighty modern Icelanders. Then there are plenty of other dramatic examples of DNA spreading through history, especially now that […]

    How to Choose your Bride in the Late Nineteenth Century November 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    How to Choose your Bride in the Late Nineteenth Century

    The only advice Beachcombing can ever remember getting from a family member about how to choose a wife was ‘have a good look at her mother: she’ll be like that in fifty years’. The best advice he ever came across in his own reading, meanwhile, was in an Iris Murdoch novel (The Severed Head?): ‘only […]

    A List of Supercentenarians November 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

      The following list of long-living folks crops up in a book from the very early twentieth-century. Different versions of this same list had already appeared in various publications through the nineteenth century and names seem to have been added and dropped as easily as editors clumped decades onto the supposed Methuselahs: John Effingham, for […]

    American Indian Settlers in Iceland? November 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern

    Iceland, the tiny nation floating between Britain and Greenland, has been isolated for much of its history. This isolation has given the island two extraordinary resources: one is a spectacular landscape, untainted by industrialisation (see above); and the second is a closed DNA pool. A closed DNA pool = an extraordinary resource? In days gone […]

    Big Bones in Churches November 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Big Bones in Churches

    At the end of the nineteenth century the Reverend Wilkins Rees put together a short collection of examples of enormous bones that had found their way into English and Welsh churches. He mentioned five impressive instances, four of which he seems to have seen himself. 1) Foljambe Chapel, Chesterfield Church: ‘This bone, supposed to be […]

    Magic Translation and Flowers November 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Magic Translation and Flowers

    Beachcombing previously in this place examined magical displays from medieval India and particularly levitation, which Beach still hasn’t got his head around. As a follow up of sorts he thought that today he would quote this description of parlour magic plus from the sub continent in the late nineteenth century. Some of the tricks sound […]

    Marengo: Napoleon’s Horse November 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Marengo: Napoleon's Horse

    Napoleon had a great fondness for horses, he was often painted in the saddle and Hegel went so far as to call the Corsican general ‘the worldspirit on horseback’. But Marengo, Napoleon’s favourite steed, must go down in history as one of the unluckiest horses that ever lived.  Allegedly purchased by his diminutive master in […]

    The Great Crying November 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern

    Beachcombing has been troubling his unpretty little head about notable cloudbursts of tears in modern history. In the ancient world, some honest tears seem to have been acceptable: from Alexander crying at learning he would only ever conquer one world, to Aeneas shedding some big ones over women and burnt cities, to Odysseus ‘We must […]

    Review: The Middle Kingdom November 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Review: The Middle Kingdom

    As regular readers will know Beachcombing went a little fairy mad this summer. Indeed, as we speak two academic articles have been accepted for publication and four more are still waiting the judgement of tetchy referees spread out from Edinburgh to the Pacific Coast. In the process of writing these articles he read most twentieth-century […]

    Eating People Isn’t Wrong (in Tibet) November 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Eating People Isn't Wrong (in Tibet)

    A crisis of sorts tonight in the Beachcombing household. Mrs B is leaving the family home to go and organise an academic conference in the heart of darkness (aka Brussels). This means that Beach – a better husband than a father – and the Beachcombing’s au pair are being left on their own to look […]

    A-Z of Thuggery November 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern