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  • The American Civil War: An Exceptionally Nice Conflict? April 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The American Civil War: An Exceptionally Nice Conflict?

    The American Civil War was a grim event: of this there should be no question. Perahps 400 thousand young men were killed, who would have contributed to the future of their country/countries. There was lasting bitterness, particularly in the South, where even today there are debates about Confederate Flags and northern culpability. For an outsider, […]

    Brought Up By A Tree April 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Brought Up By A Tree

    This story dates to 1706 and seems, at least, to Beach just too incredible. It is enjoyable though, in a kind of my-foster-dad-was-an-oak, murder-will-out way. The scene of the occurrence is laid at a nameless place in Essex [note not named!], in the neighbourhood of which a gentleman was in the habit of amusing himself […]

    Human Trousers from Iceland April 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Human Trousers from Iceland

    Regular readers of this blog will know the name ‘Leif’, who always sends in excellent copy about Viking culture, correcting my excesses and offering new perspectives. Leif recently sent in these reflections on Lappish breeches (extraordinary and horrific picture at the foot of this post) after my post on a human drum. Here we return […]

    Hari-Kiri at the Hague? April 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hari-Kiri at the Hague?

    In 1907 three Korean representatives travelled to the Netherlands to persuade the powers meeting at the Hague Peace Conference to revoke Japanese hegemony over Korea. Their leader was Yi Jun (aka Ri Jun, Yi Chun, pictured left) and he and his two colleagues were devastated to learn, upon arrival, that they would not even be […]

    Expert Opinion on Deadly Free Fall March 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Expert Opinion on Deadly Free Fall

    Of course, medical and scientific opinion more generally has been proved wrong time and time again over the centuries with red faces enough all around. But Beach stumbled on an early twentieth-century example that had entirely escaped his notice. He quotes from Peter Hearn’s excellent Sky High Irvin: The Story of a Parachute Pioneer. Strange […]

    Madame Caillavah and Her Nineteenth-Century Gold Detector March 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Madame Caillavah and Her Nineteenth-Century Gold Detector

    In that unholy mess of blood and tradition-killing, the French Revolution, there was much sacking of national treasure houses and attempts by ‘reactionaries’ and guardians to keep some of those treasures out of the hands of the Convention. One such event took place in 1793 at St Denis when looters went over the entire Cathedral […]

    Ghostly Stone Throwing in Kent, 1918 March 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghostly Stone Throwing in Kent, 1918

    Digging and paranormal episodes seem to come together with a frequency that would be all together suprising if you had never met an archaeologist. Here is a nice case from 1918: the report appears in a northern English scientific periodical. I was first attracted to it by the mention of fairies in the title of […]

    Forgotten Kingdom: Inbetween Saddleworth March 22, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Forgotten Kingdom: Inbetween Saddleworth

    Saddleworth is a late entrant in the Forgotten Kingdoms series. A stupendously beautiful patch of Pennine land in the north of England, it sits uneasily on the border between the White Rose County, Yorkshire and the Red Rose County, Lancashire. Saddleworth is, in fact, a reminder of how differences between communities are messy not clean-cut: […]

    A Strange Camera Obscura at Blackpool March 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Strange Camera Obscura at Blackpool

    The camera obscura was already being written about in ancient times, there is an Italian renaissance illustration of one as well: the best page I’ve found online, if you are new to this, is here. But I’ve recently come across a nineteenth-century example that I simply don’t understand. This comes from a very fine book […]

    Human Drum at Rennes March 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Human Drum at Rennes

    ***Thanks to Tokyobling for putting me onto this story and too many others like it*** Had a pretty disturbing week looking at the use of human skins in witchcraft and book covers: things that Beach, in his alloyed innocence, just didn’t realize existed. However, of all the human skin stories I ran across the strangest […]

    Unofficial Law and Order March 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Unofficial Law and Order

    Beach has recently been researching out in the bogs of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Ireland so far beyond the pale that children are occasionally incinerated as changelings and there is one alleged case of a legal agent being stoned to death! This was a traditional rural society ruled over as much by priests as by the […]

    British Truth and American Lies? March 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    British Truth and American Lies?

    If you look through the American press from the 1800s you will sometimes come across outrageous stories about ghostly happenings, about strange sightings and about impossible creatures. The most famous example of this is, of course, the moon hoax of 1835. In Britain you have similarly outrageous stories about, say, fairy encounters, about sea serpents […]

    Witch Ducking and Three in a Bed March 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Witch Ducking and Three in a Bed

    This may not be the last witch killing in Britain, that seems to have taken place some months before. But this is my candidate for the last attempted witch ducking in the UK in 1880! Susan Sharpe, the ‘witch’ apparently brought the case to court because she was frightened that the local community, or elements […]

    Immortal Meals #13: Buttock Eating in Milton (Berkshire) March 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #13: Buttock Eating in Milton (Berkshire)

    Patriotism is a very fine thing, but it can also make men and women act like asses: or even worse, chop off parts of their rumps and eat their own cooked flesh…. This patriotic feast, the latest in our immortal meals series, took place in 1650 or possibly in 1649 at Milton in Berkshire. Five […]

    Russian Fireball Weirdness, 1663 March 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Russian Fireball Weirdness, 1663

    Really, UFOs are so often so boring. How many times does the mother ship of the Krill turn out to be a dead mosquito smudged on the kitchen window? But every so often a sighting comes along where you think: what on earth (or rather in the sky)… There follows one of the very best […]

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