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  • The Golden Ghost of Mold #2: Walter Johnson Debases Gold August 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #2: Walter Johnson Debases Gold

    Beach has frequently enjoyed before the power of oral transmission: information skipping across the centuries like a flat stone spun over a pond. Here is a supposed memory of oral transmission concerning the Golden Ghost tomb from Mold in northern Wales. This time the account comes from Walter Johnson’s Folk Memory and Archaeology (1907) A […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #1: Introducing the Golden Ghost August 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #1: Introducing the Golden Ghost

    There follows a ghost story. It is brief and it is archaeological. If M.R.James had heard of this one he would have made bales of ectoplasmic hay. We are in North-West Wales. A certain John Langford had bought some land at Mold near Wrexham and had decided to fill in a hole there by paying […]

    The First Domesticated Animal? Clue: Slime June 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    The First Domesticated Animal? Clue: Slime

    ***Dedicated to Wade and Larry*** What was the first domesticated animal? Ask a hundred people and seventy odd will give you the ‘correct’ answer: the dog. The dog was, after all, already domesticated by 10000 B.C. (discuss) when human beings crossed the landbridge into the Americas. In fact, the dog, well, actually the wolf, was […]

    Indians in Australia, c. 2000 B.C.? May 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Indians in Australia, c. 2000 B.C.?

     ***Beach dedicates this to an old friend of the blog, Wade, presently recuperating in hospital: the New York Changeling needs you, Wade!*** There is a case to be made for not writing about bizarre history research when it first comes out, but waiting six months for the shouting to die down. In six months new […]

    Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts January 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts

    The Ness of Brodgar is one of the most impressive Neolithic sites in Britain and, indeed, in Europe. It includes a series of massive buildings that have been interpreted as mausolea or temples and that would have taken modern stone masons years to put together: without metal tools it must have taken the Neolithic Orcardians […]

    Immortal Meals 11#: Feasts at Hambledon Hill January 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals 11#: Feasts at Hambledon Hill

    Another from the Immortal Meal series: this time beef steak on Hambledon Hill in Dorset (UK) c. 5000 years ago as a warm September evening is resolving itself. Hambledon Hill, for those who had not had the pleasure, is an extraordinary Iron Age hill fort on the edge of the upland region of western England. […]

    Newgrange and a Hundred Generations November 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
    Newgrange and a Hundred Generations

    Newgrange, standing near the Boyne, is one of the great treasures of Ireland and, indeed, of Europe. Built some four thousand years ago by the first Gaels it is mysterious and, when the mist comes in, vaguely malevolent. It is also exclusive. Each year a tiny group of fortunate men, women and children – chosen […]

    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of ‘I Surrender’ August 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Eating Prisoners of War? Ten Thousand Years of 'I Surrender'

    ***This post is dedicated to A.G. who sent in the following question*** A.G. writes ‘I have often wondered what happened to the wounded left behind during the Napoleonic wars and earlier.  Did the locals come along and kill them for their personal belongings, were they cared for and held for ransom, what? I am speaking […]

    Creative Pretexts for War July 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Prehistoric
    Creative Pretexts for War

    In the good old days when we had spears and lived in tribal societies war was, for much of humanity, a seasonal activity like boar hunting and berry picking. You did not have to explain why you wanted to steal the cattle of the clan on the other side of the hill: you just got […]

    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice May 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Two Thousand Infants Sold to Russia for Human Sacrifice

    ***Dedicated to Wade who sent the relevant passage in*** The custom of burying infant children in the foundations of new buildings was well established in prehistoric, ancient and even (gulp) medieval times. The bigger and more important a building the more likely it was to a have a tot dropped in the cement. It is […]

    Irish Giants: Prehistoric and Otherwise February 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    Irish Giants: Prehistoric and Otherwise

    Beach stumbled the other day on this passage from the Dublin Freeman’s Journal, August 1812. ‘It is not a little surprising, considering our veneration for Irish antiquities, that no notice should be taken of the skeleton recently disinterred at Leixlip. This extraordinary monument of gigantic human stature was found by two laborers in Leixlip churchyard […]

    Don’t Play with Fire (in Scotland)! November 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Don't Play with Fire (in Scotland)!

    In prehistoric times early humans – or, depending on which chronologies you follow, man’s ancestors – were not able to create fire but harvested it from natural conflagrations. Even in more recent times – ask any scout who has ever had to start a fire without matches on a camping trip – the creation of […]

    Cave Art Cobblers? July 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Cave Art Cobblers?

      Cave art has always been plagued by accusations of fakery or exaggeration: the fate of any discipline that lacks coordinates. So the original discovery of palaeolithic wall art at Altamira in 1879 by Don Marcelino de Sautuola (or rather his daughter Maria – another post another day) was universally decried as a hoax or […]

    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 […]

    Vedic History and the Myth of the Golden Age April 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Prehistoric
    Vedic History and the Myth of the Golden Age

    Every so often when Beachcombing writes a post, pastes a text in, finds an inane photograph and presses ‘publish’ there comes the click. It is a noise that means he has just stepped on a pressure bomb and that his next step is going to lead to dissolution: or, in blogging terms, thirty furious emails […]

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