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  • The Saint Who Became A Cat May 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    The Saint Who Became A Cat

    Beachcombing has previously looked at St Christopher a dog-headed saint. But what about St Agatha who can turn into a cat? First a little background. Agatha was a martyr saint from Catania, Sicily whose five-day festival each year in early February remains one of the highlights of civic life in the city and whose climax […]

    Flinders Island May 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Flinders Island

    Beachcombing tries to get a geographical spread going with his posts where – if there is a depressing bias towards Europe and Blighty – he covers pretty much the whole globe  in at least a token fashion. However, some parts of the world are underrepresented. Take Australasia. Bar some reports of moas in New Zealand […]

    Hill Hill Hill Hill May 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Hill Hill Hill Hill

    Placenames, like history, are as much a product of human incompetence as human genius. Take the phenomenon of pleonastic placenames – an intimidating word signalling the limitations of language and understanding. Rather than explain what is meant it is best to give an example, the Yorkshire placenames of Seamer Water (pictured above). Working backwards, generally […]

    Black Cats: Unlucky for Some May 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Black Cats: Unlucky for Some

    Beachcombing’s mother has flown in from the Dominions to visit her grandchildren and generally cause confusion – arguments over restaurant bills, dietary controversies and black cats… On the last point Beachcombing has to admit though that his mater has a point, one worth sharing with a wider audience. It would hardly be worth worrying about […]

    From Ox Carts to Railways May 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    From Ox Carts to Railways

    Archaeologists love the idea of continuity, the notion that little really changes, that from generation to generation, though the forms, languages and professions of faith may alter, the substance remains the same. Historians are, generally speaking, the opposite. They fixate on change and have little patience with the archaeological fraternity – Beachcombing wrote for many […]

    Heavenly Bodies in the Pacific April 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Heavenly Bodies in the Pacific

    The meetings between Western explorers and Pacific peoples in the sixteenth through nineteenth centuries saw a whole host of misunderstandings. And among the most interesting of these was, on the Polynesian side, the question of where the outsiders – with their great sailing boats and white skins – came from. Curiously, there are a rash […]

    Cellini’s Canon April 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Cellini's Canon

    Beachcombing has been thinking in the last hour about objects that are far travelled – for example the Indian buddhas that made it to Viking Scandinavia or, say, the Viking coin that (allegedly) ended up in pre-Columbian Maine. And it was while musing on these far-flung things that Cellini’s canon came to mind. Now admittedly […]

    The Meson del Fierro April 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    The Meson del Fierro

    The Meson del Fierro was a huge piece of iron in the depths of the Chaco in the badlands of South America (modern Argentina). Eighteenth-century estimates claimed that it weighed about fifteen tons. And, in 1783, Michael Rubin de Celis, A Spanish naval official who had approached the lump of ore with some two hundred […]

    Cat Fishing and Brahms April 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Cat Fishing and Brahms

    Again apologies for cessation in email communications and posting, Beachcombing is on the mend and normal service should resume tomorrow. *** Not so long ago Beachcombing said something unwise about musicians, namely that  the classically inclined folk prior to the shamans of modern rock did not have particularly bizarre lives and that music was a […]

    Immortal Meals 2#: Eating in a Victorian Dinosaur April 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals 2#: Eating in a Victorian Dinosaur

      Sadly Beachcombing will just write as a short post today as the sfiga hex has settled over him. Paul Johnson’s book has extended its evil to Beach’s comic shelves that collapsed in the night and the attack on his body is now burning fierily, so much so that Beachcombing is enforcing what the medieval used to […]

    The Day Wager April 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Day Wager

    A recent post that has haunted Beachcombing was that concerning an early submarine exploring a world of Merfolk near the Isle of Man in the seventeenth century. What most interested Beachcombing was not curiously the mermaids, welcome as they were, but the fact that an innovative technology had slipped unnoticed into an eighteenth-century Manx folk […]

    Review: Shadow Pasts April 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Shadow Pasts

    Beachcombing has only a few minutes today before class begins – a spring cold has meant that he is sleeping double his regulation five or six hours. But he wants to take what little time he has to celebrate William Rubinstein’s Shadow Pasts: ‘Amateur Historians’ and History’s Mysteries (2007), a gem of a book he […]

    Sweet Will of Stratford April 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sweet Will of Stratford

    One of the great joys of writing posts for this blog in the last ten months has been the experience of coming across new mysteries. And of the many that Beachcombing has tripped over in his sorry excuse for research none has bemused him more than the mystery of Will of Stratford, otherwise known as […]

    Crocker Land April 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Crocker Land

    Where do good bizarrists go when they die: why to Crocker Land, of course. And where is this anomalist’s World of Cockayne? Well, unusually for such a fantastical place we can be exact: it stands at 83 degrees N, longitude 100 degrees. Hell, Heaven, Eden and Purgatory never enjoyed these kinds of specifics. And how was it […]

    Best of Enemies April 2, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Best of Enemies

    Beachcombing is always going on about how he is looking for historic pictures, especially of the lesser known kind. He was most excited then when a correspondent recently opened up a raw and largely unmined vein: what Beachcombing will call ‘the best of enemies picture’.  Foes brought together after the event… Ok three rules. 1) Photographs […]

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