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  • Review: Imaginary Animals November 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Review: Imaginary Animals

    Any parent will know that animals are important. Children make animal sounds before they make words. They draw and paint animals. They cherish animal toys. The books they read have animal characters. They pretend to be animals. Animals, in fact, become a kind of meta-language for their experience and their emotions: Little Miss Beach has […]

    The Place of Still Born Children November 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    The Place of Still Born Children

    Skeaf is a small townland in County Cork in the wild west of Ireland. Looking for information about this little patch of green on the internet gives almost nothing: there are, for example, no houses for sale in Skeaf and no singles looking for ‘hot encounters’, no farmers’ markets and no entries in Craigs List. […]

    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?! November 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?!

    Fairy cows are occasional adjuncts to fairy legends and in the Gaelic world, particularly in the Irish west and the Scottish highlands there is the fairy water cow, a creature that comes from out of the water to land to graze. A little legend illustrating this from Limerick in Ireland, more specifically Lough Guir (aka […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #5: Against the Golden Ghost! August 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #5: Against the Golden Ghost!

    An attempt follows to draw the not-so-golden threads of the Golden Ghost together.  We have definite evidence from Rev. Clough that in 1833 when the grave was dug that there was the story in the locality of a golden ghost associated with the tomb. However, there are a number of problems with this. First, only […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #4: Ludlam’s Account August 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #4: Ludlam's Account

    Another from our series on the Golden Ghost of Mold. This report dates from 1966 and from Harry Ludlam’s fun The Mummy of Birchen Bower. Ludlam was a ‘gifted amateur’ with a better grasp of facts, in this case, than the Oxford published Walter Johnson, who we were a little rude about in a previous […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #3: The Golden Woman of Mold August 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #3: The Golden Woman of Mold

    In two previous posts we have discussed the traditions (ahem) behind the Golden Ghost of Mold. Now we want to look at the person who was buried in the tomb and another problem for the Golden Ghost tradition: the tenant was almost certainly an itty-bitty Welsh woman rather than a mighty warrior. How do we […]

    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 […]

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