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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 […]

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 […]

Eden in the Persian Gulf March 30, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
Eden in the Persian Gulf

Beachcombing finds himself on the train hurtling through the early morning. He cannot then do the necessary research into an unusual theory he just ran across, though he throws it out there for anyone who might be interested or opinionated. The theory is described by Colin Tudge in Neanderthals, Bandits and Farmers (1998) (p. 37) – […]

Vikings Vikinged in Dorset UK March 29, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Prehistoric
Vikings Vikinged in Dorset UK

Beachcombing has sometimes confessed in this place that he is not a great fan of the Vikings. Indeed, say ‘Viking’ to your average medievalist and they will get lyrical about sturdy boats and trips to Greenland. Beachcombing, on the other hand, sees burnt monastic libraries, lines of children being brought to slavery in the fiords […]

Capital Punishment and Prehistoric Burials March 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Prehistoric
Capital Punishment and Prehistoric Burials

    You are a member of the minor nobility in some part of northern Europe found guilty of murder in the fifteenth century. After the capital sentence is passed you are thrown in the back of a cart and driven out to the local place of reckoning.  However, as you are also interested in history […]

The Problem of Pygmy Fairies March 5, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
The Problem of Pygmy Fairies

Beachcombing has been having a bit of a fairy phase recently, played out in his evening readings after he’s put little Miss B to bed. And he has particularly been interested at the different explanations that our ancestors – distant and recent – offered to explain the fact that ‘little folk’ lived in the cairn […]

Human Health c. 8000 BC January 30, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
Human Health c. 8000 BC

We are told by catastrophists – many with years of state subsidised education behind them – that the present generation of children and teenagers will be the first in the west for two centuries to live shorter lives than their parents. The revolution in medical care that meant that the baby-boomers were able to eat […]

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