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  • Latin or Celtic Arthur? August 10, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Latin or Celtic Arthur?

    Beachcombing has that distinctive ringing in his inner ear: the sure sign that he has an Arthurian post coming on. In fact, he is being drawn, ‘like a dog returning to its vomit’ (Prov 26, 11), to an early obsession of his, the origin of the name Arthur. First, for those lucky folks who do not […]

    A Hitlerian Invisible Library August 9, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Hitlerian Invisible Library

                Many documents went missing as the Third Reich came crashing down in flames in 1945, documents that would be of the greatest interest to historians today. What, for example, would a modern museum pay for Hitler’s letters to Eva Braun or his letters, for that matter, to Himmler. Millions […]

    Republic of Indian Stream August 8, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Republic of Indian Stream

              Beachcombing has an entire filing cabinet given over to the theme of ‘Forgotten Kingdoms’: a name that is fairly self explanatory, and that, in the last years, has come to include Forgotten Republics as well. This brings Beachcombing to one of the most unlikely and sparsely populated states of the past, the Republic […]

    Sex and Roman Coins August 7, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Sex and Roman Coins

              Beachcombing has waited for the family and some houseguests to vanish into the local countryside before addressing this particularly delicate theme. Spintria was a rare Latin word, used most vividly by Suetonius to describe the sexual acts of that old goat, the Emperor Tiberius on the island of Capri (43). But the […]

    Dowsing for Machine Guns August 6, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Dowsing for Machine Guns

              The desperate straits to which Britain was reduced in the first year of the Second World War and Churchill’s maverick character thereafter, meant that many ideas were considered in the British military establishment, c. 1940-43, that would not normally have been whispered at an old women’s séance. Beachcombing recalls the […]

    Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea August 5, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Romans on the Shores of the Caspian Sea

    Beachcombing has looked in a previous post at supposed direct contact between the Roman Empire and China in the second century. Today he will not be attempting to take the Romans so far to the east – but he will still be going an impressive way into Central Asia. Azerbaijan to be exact. It should […]

    The Battle of the Somme in London August 4, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Battle of the Somme in London

                      Britain historically – before that dread day in 1973 when the United Kingdom signed the Treaty of Rome – prided itself on its splendid isolation. But simple geography meant that Britain was far closer to Continental Europe than Japan, say, was to Asia. And no amount of […]

    Victorian Poacher Sparks Will o’ the Wisp Scare August 3, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Poacher Sparks Will o' the Wisp Scare

            About six weeks ago Beachcombing gave space to a Victorian gamekeeper’s description of a Will o’ the Wisp (or something similar) seen in a wood one night. Tonight Beachcombing gives, instead, an account from the other side of the tracks. A poacher whose tricks might explain several nineteenth-century accounts of floating lights […]

    A Column of Burning Snakes August 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    A Column of Burning Snakes

                    Beachcombing has before him on his desk a volume from Frazer’s Golden Bough, perhaps the most famous work of comparative mythology ever written. In it Frazer quotes from Athenaeum (1869) concerning a difficult to forget and cruel bonfire. At Luchon in the Pyrenees on Midsummer Eve: a […]

    Beachcombed 2 August 1, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 2

        Dear Readers,                                                                  End of July 2010 Beachcombing wanted to thank all those who have written in with solutions or suggestions or witticisms in the last thirty days. He has taken care to include comments under individual posts but he particularly wants to give space and honour here to the emails relating to seven titles. follow the links […]

    Bat-men and New York, 1835 July 31, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bat-men and New York, 1835

                Beachcombing alluded in a recent post to the danger of misinformation in a world that had less instantaneous communications than our own. After all, if Beachcombing flies from London to Washington DC today and asserts, on arrival, that the French island of Corsica has sunk beneath the waves a […]

    Russian Roulette Before the Pistol July 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Russian Roulette Before the Pistol

                  Beachcombing has never played Russian roulette. But he can think of plenty of people – mainly fictional – who have from some gentlemen in the Deer Hunter, to the hero of Royal Flash, to an all too factual bored teenage Graham Greene – though Greene’s experimentation with loaded […]

    Shakespeare’s Lost Letters July 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Shakespeare's Lost Letters

                        There are several of Shakespeare’s works that are lost. For example, his plays Cardenio (written with Fletcher) and Love’s Labour Won both appear to have disappeared down the plug hole of time. And to these we should perhaps add a collection of Shakespearean letters that perhaps made […]

    False Armistice: the Cable that Lied to a Nation July 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    False Armistice: the Cable that Lied to a Nation

              A story of misplaced joy with, Beachcombing promises, no elephants. In a world of instant communication it is all too easy to forget how long it once took to get a message from one side of the world to another. Think of the months needed for a seventeenth-century Spanish governor in […]

    Review: War Elephants July 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Review: War Elephants

                        Beachcombing is bringing Elephant Week, ‘the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal’, to a close with a review of an outstanding recent publication War Elephants by John M. Kistler (Nebraska 2007). In this work the author covers the history of pachyderms on three continents – Africa, […]

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