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  • Mystery Discovery on the Isle of Dogs August 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern

    Mysterious golden spurs discovered on Isle of Dogs, London about 1800: do they perhaps have a Celtic origin?

    Cornish Mermaid – Half Priest, Half Fish August 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

      First the good news. Robert Stephen Hawker (obit 1875) was the eccentric’s eccentric: a vicar who lived most of his life in the wild Cornish parish of Morwenstow. This was a man who hung a mouse for breaking the sabbath, believed that birds were ‘the thoughts of God’ (Beachcombing adores the sentiment) and, yes, […]

    The Sausage War August 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary

      Beachcombing has been paying perhaps too much attention to Finland in the last two months: the result of a long infatuation with Mannerheim, the aristocratic military commander who twice saved his young country from the Soviets. He kicked off with the tale of Mannerheim’s cigar. He moved  onto a WIBT moment in the court […]

    The Oak of Fairlop August 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Oak of Fairlop

    One of little Miss B’s favourite films – a Japanese fable – includes a line about the time when ‘men and trees were friends’. Beach has his doubts that there ever was, in fact, friendship between the human race and the arboreal ones. But there are occasional instances when special trees and nearby human community’s […]

    Christopher Columbus’s Origins August 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Christopher Columbus's Origins

    There are many different kinds of historical controversies. But Beachcombing’s favourite by far are what he thinks of as ‘identity debates’: nice examples of which include the arguments over the location of Atlantis, the ‘real’ King Arthur and the ‘true’  Shakespeare. Identity debates are characterized by four things: (i) an orthodox academic position; (ii) multiple […]

    Funny Fairy Stories August 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Funny Fairy Stories

    Beachcombing wants to start this post with an apology. He has been writing madly on fairies the last few days, hoping to get some ‘real’ work done before term begins and while Mrs B and the kids are away at the sea. The result is that he has not had time to deal with emails […]

    The Family that Commits Suicide Together… August 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Family that Commits Suicide Together...

    ***This is an image post, but as the image involves three dead people it is hidden below*** Germans led the suicide stakes in Second-World-War Europe. Whether it be Captain Langsdorff lying on his ensign and blowing his brains out; Rommel deciding to save his family by taking poison; the desperate Leonidas kamikaze pilots; or Himmler […]

    An Ecclesiastical Harem from Eighteenth-Century Spain August 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Ecclesiastical Harem from Eighteenth-Century Spain

    The Inquisition  it can’t have been that easy. Mass in the morning, torture in the afternoon and, yet another blasted auto da fe in the evening… Who can blame the good men with the blood red cloth if sometimes they decided to create, let’s call it, ‘recreational space’ for themselves. This extraordinary – and apparently […]

    Naval Blunders August 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Naval Blunders

    Beachcombing has been having a bit of a naval season and it was in celebration of this that he picked up Naval Blunders by Geoffrey Regan. Now, of course, books on blunders in history are commonplace. But this is arguably the best of all those with which Beach is familiar, in part because of the […]

    Taxis in the Mid Atlantic August 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Taxis in the Mid Atlantic

    Haunting scene from the Battle of the Atlantic

    The Famous Benbecula Burial of a Mermaid August 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Famous Benbecula Burial of a Mermaid

    Beach hopes this summer and autumn to offer several obscure mermaid texts from the North Atlantic. However, he could hardly do other than include with the most famous of them all: the Benbecula sighting of c. 1830. He also hopes to shed some more light on this sighting with an obscure second source in September. […]

    Female Flyting in the Raj? August 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern

    It has been a long day and Beach has not had time to look for this in all the normal works of reference. However, this story (or fiction?) rang no bells and as Beach has – disgrace upon disgrace – never had a Pakistani story before he thought he’d take a risk. A curious custom, […]

    Fairies Investigated in Irish Court August 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies Investigated in Irish Court

    Beach has been enjoying himself with fairies these last few months, looking at late eighteenth- and nineteenth-century news-reports from Britain and Ireland. What is curious is that fairies very often appear in the law pages of the newspapers. They do so typically in one of two guises: (i) child abuse because parents believe the child […]

    D’Annunzio Over Vienna August 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    D'Annunzio Over Vienna

    Gabrielle D’Annunzio – poet, fighter and proto-fascist – is one of the few individuals in Beachcombing’s reference cabinet to have a file all to himself: he started his life in ‘Italian Eccentrics’ but there was just so much material that he was shunted out into a manila folder of his own. In the many foolscap […]

    Flight in Eleventh-Century England August 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Flight in Eleventh-Century England

    As regular readers will know Beachcombing is one of those irritating sceptics, who looks askance at most historical records of the ‘impossible’. But every so often even he has to shake his head and admit that the evidence for the ‘impossible’ is frighteningly good. Take this record from William of Malmesbury’s Deeds of the Kings […]

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