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  • 70 Million Dead in One Second September 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    70 Million Dead in One Second

    The year is 1908. You are walking through a jungle territory in southeastern Cameroon in central Africa when you hear the sickening smack of the machete on flesh. Expecting the worst you emerge, your rifle half lifted, but see only a local hunter with a kill. He has taken a chimp in a trap and […]

    Prostitutes Past September 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Prostitutes Past

    Beach has recently been reading around medieval and early modern prostitutes. Of course, contemporary sources are not particularly vivid in this respect. Between canon law and town legislation, we either get an hysterical appeal to the coldest parts of the Gospels, or pounds, pennies and halfpence. In fact, if you want to relive the medieval […]

    Zombie Contagion: Origins September 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Zombie Contagion: Origins

    Beach read and watched a lot of zombie fiction this last summer. There was the Living Dead, the nightmarish Crossed and Alan Moore’s incredible adaptation, not to mention 28 Days Later. Beach is not an out and out zombie fan. In fact, he finds zombies, per se, the least interesting of all our supernatural fauna. (If Beach was […]

    Remembering the Strips August 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Remembering the Strips

    Today is an important day in the calendar of the Beach family, Beach and kids get to open the massive piggy bank (Money Pig) in the downstairs bathroom. Beach has then to double any money found there – it has been a year… – then kids, minus Beach, go out to spend Money Pig’s money […]

    Review: The Graveyard of the Batavia August 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Graveyard of the Batavia

    Mike Dash, The Graveyard of the Batavia Beach took about two years to pluck up the courage to read this book. The problem was not the quality of the writing, which is excellent, but the painful subject matter. The story in brief. Over three hundred Dutch men, women and children sailing on the Batavia got […]

    A Royal Ghost: Harald the Something August 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Royal Ghost: Harald the Something

    Harald the Fair-Headed (aka Harald Fairhead: obit c. 932) is apparently in that very select group of monarchs who became ghosts after his death. About Harald we know practically nothing, btw, other than that he fathered Eric Bloodaxe and that he won enough battles to make him the first king of Norway. Pity the poor […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: In Search of the Sewer Crocodile in Hamburg August 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: In Search of the Sewer Crocodile in Hamburg

    This story is quite exciting because it is a possible source for the famous crocodiles in the sewer tale. There are reports from the early 1870s about crocs associated with drainage in the US. However, they rarely involve danger or fun. We are in Hamburg, Germany: The police authorities of this city have issued a […]

    Snowball Atrocities #4: Napoleon at Brienne August 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #4: Napoleon at Brienne

    Perhaps the single most famous snowball fight in history took place in the winter of 1783-1784 at Brienne in Aube in central France. Brienne at this date was a military school and among the students was a fourteen-year-old Corsican named Napoleon Bonaparte. (Permission given to sigh deeply) Frustrated by the cold and the tedium of snowmen, […]

    First Knocker Record from Wales August 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    First Knocker Record from Wales

    Knockers (aka knackers) were the tiny mine spirits described particularly in Cornwall and in Wales. They were sometimes said to be helpers, sometimes hinderers, and sometimes they warned of disasters in the pit. On this last point Beach links here to his description of a nineteenth-century mine disaster in Wales at Morfa. They arrived in […]

    Pig in a Rock August 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Pig in a Rock

    This story recalls those rather tedious tales about toads being dug out of rocks but with a much more interesting animal. Perhaps it could be true… On the 14th of December, 1810, several considerable falls of the cliffs, both east and westward of Dover, took place; and one of these was attended by a fatal […]

    Don’t Walk Through That Wood August 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Don't Walk Through That Wood

    This is one of those short but really quite terrifying nineteenth-century supernatural stories: the account is very raw. The person who sent in this story reckoned that the adventure had taken place about 1850. We are in Somerset in south-west England. Miss Williams of Over Stowey was returning home from Watchet late in the evening, and near…. her pony […]

    Immortals: Napoleonic Warrior in Russia August 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortals: Napoleonic Warrior in Russia

    Beach has previously enjoyed ‘immortals’ fictional and factional characters who have lived through an improbable number of generations. Here is a likely sounding tale from 30 Jun 1894 (Dundee Eve Tele). A man, who was born 1768, and preserves unimpaired memory, and who was, moreover, in the French Revolution and the Napoleonic wars, has a good […]

    A Nineteenth-Century Hydrogen Bomb? August 13, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Nineteenth-Century Hydrogen Bomb?

    Was the first hydrogen bomb designed in the late nineteenth century in France? One contemporary newspaper suggests as much.

    Post Mortem Lynching August 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Post Mortem Lynching

    This story came out of the Russian countryside in 1890. It should be remembered that this was a period when Russia was cast as an eastern ‘Ireland’ the butt of ‘civilised’ Britain’s jokes. In other words, take with a pinch of salt until a Russian source is found. Can anyone help: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    Oakmen Fairy Fakes? August 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oakmen Fairy Fakes?

      ***Sorry this post was accidentally pre-released!*** Ah, there are few things as warming to the heart as duffing up a made up folklore creature and Beach recently came across the oakman, which he now hopes to remove like a tic from the body of folklore. Katharine Briggs in her fairy dictionary writes: ‘There are […]

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