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  • The Spectres of Souther Fell 7: Embellishments August 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 7: Embellishments

    One of the funnest bits of any in depth historical examination of Forteana comes at the end. You turn from the original sources to the later sources, just to have a sense of how big the snowball has got rolling down the hill. Fortean researchers are exceptional at hunting out sources, but rather worse at critically […]

    The Spectres of Souther Fell 6: Folklore August 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 6: Folklore

    There have been a couple of attempts to explain Souter Fell in terms of local folklore traditions, though this barely featured in our two main sources. The first explanation appears in volume one of Moncure Daniel Conway, Demonology and devil-lore (New York 1879): Thus it may be noted that, in the instance just related, the […]

    The Spectres of Souther Fell 5: Explanations August 7, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 5: Explanations

    How do you explain something like the Souter Fell sighting. Let’s simplify for a moment and focus on the 1744/45 sighting where some twenty six locals saw, for the last two hours of daylight, a series of horse men riding up the ridge to the top of the mountain. What options for explanation do we […]

    The Spectres of Souther Fell 4: Reconstruction August 6, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 4: Reconstruction

    The great problem with the two accounts we have just given – Anon (1747) and Clarke (1787) – are the contradictions in number and the years of the events. According to Anon there were three events: 1735, 1737 and 1745. According to Clarke there were just two: 1743, and 1744. How do we begin to explain this? […]

    The Spectres of Souther Fell 3: James Clarke Speaks August 5, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 3: James Clarke Speaks

    James Clarke wrote a number of late nineteenth-century works on the north west. This comes from one of these: A Survey of the Lakes of Cumberland, Westmorland, and Lancashire published in 1787 Opposite the nine-mile post, on the right hand, is Southerfell; rather smoother than its neighbours, and remarkable for an extraordinary phenomenon, which perhaps […]

    The Spectres of Souther Fell 2: The 1747 Account (Surviving and Missing) August 4, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 2: The 1747 Account (Surviving and Missing)

      The first account appeared in the Gentleman’s Magazine 1747, 523-5, in a longer anonymous article on ‘A Journey to Caudebec Fells with a Map and Description of the same’ Souter-fell is a distinguish’d mountain of itself, encompass’d quite round with a turbinated trough, thro’ which the Lender-maken is convey’d. The West and North sides […]

    The Spectres of Souther Fell 1: The Sources August 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Spectres of Souther Fell 1: The Sources

    Beach is usually bored by phantom armies. But the Souter Fell spectres of the mid-eighteenth-century have several interesting features. First, the sources are of an unusually high quality. Second, the number of witnesses was allegedly high. Third, there are some interesting links with the folklore of the region. So let’s get on with the details […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 6: There Were Mermaids! August 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 6: There Were Mermaids!

    This is the last in the Caithness Mermaid Mystery, for now. A letter written in the John O Groats, 1849 series. Here we have a trusting soul, James Taylor, who knew all the protagonists… Dublin, 4th May, 1849. Sir, A considerable portion of the John O’Groat Journal being lately occupied by the appearance of those […]

    Beachcombed 74 August 1, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 74

    Dear Reader, another difficult month: the strange ebb and flow of ‘luck’ is a fascinating subject. Many hours in hospital after a Dutch friend of Beach managed to break his heel in the Beach garden and needed a translator and a bodyguard (angry nurses). A tortoise escaped and is MIA and another lost an eye […]

    Index Biography #32: Prize a book July 31, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Index Biography #32: Prize a book

    ***Invisible got this one, spool down for the answer*** The Index Biography is a new form of biography pioneered by this blog and introduced in a previous post. The creator must find a biography of a famous individual from history, they must turn to the index and write down eight peripheral facts about the individual’s life. […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 5: the Mystery Solved? July 30, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 5: the Mystery Solved?

    Here is a comment recorded from Sir Humphry Davy (1778-1829), an eminent late eighteenth century scientist. It relates clearly neatly to the 1809 mermaid sightings. Many of these stories [about mermaids] have been founded upon the long-haired seal seen at a distance; others on the appearance of the common seal under particular circumstances of light […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 4: I Shot the Mermaid July 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 4: I Shot the Mermaid

    In the 1849 the John O’Groats newspaper, the most northerly on the British mainland ran a retrospective on the Caithness mermaids. It seems to have begun 6 April 1849 with a question asked in the paper. 20 April 1849 there was the republication of Miss McKay and Mr Thuro’s accounts. Then, there came this marvellous […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 3: Dad Speaks July 28, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 3: Dad Speaks

    [Hospital emergency continues: some reserve posts I’ve been playing around with] Several years ago Beach ran two posts on mermaids from Caithness, seen in 1809 by a pastor’s daughter (Miss Mackay) and by a schoolmaster: perhaps the most famous mermaid sightings ever published. He has now enough material in his filing cabinet to open a […]

    Perhaps in My Father’s Time… July 27, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Perhaps in My Father's Time...

    Beach and his loved ones are having a difficult time. A friend on holiday has shattered his heel and is now in hospital awaiting an operation. He doesn’t speak Italian and so Beach has been drafted into sitting in the hospital ward to make everything run smoothly. Beach hates hospitals. At least, though, he can […]

    Sunderland Ghost Riot and Prophecy July 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sunderland Ghost Riot and Prophecy

    This story is interesting as a particularly elaborate ghost riot. Usually nineteenth century ghost riots took place when someone saw something or pretended to see something and next thing there were ten thousand people, a dozen injured bobbies and a lot of broken window panes. This one has a much more precise if curious rumour […]

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