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  • Nineteenth-Century Witchcraft in Hebden Bridge July 2, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nineteenth-Century Witchcraft in Hebden Bridge

                    The British town of Hebden Bridge is to be found deep in the South Pennines. The town itself is merely quaint – it has, Beachcombing seems to remember, cobbles. But the countryside thereabouts is the stuff of Xanadu. Indeed, over-travelled Beachcombing is of the opinion that Hebden Bridge’s wooded valleys are Masada at dawn, […]

    Beachcombed 1 July 1, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 1

                          Dear Readers,                                                                  End of June 2010 Beachcombing wants to thanks all those who have written in with solutions or suggestions for his posts this month. He has taken care to include comments under individual blogs and he particularly wants to give space and honour here to the emails of six […]

    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend June 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oft hung John Lee and an urban legend

                        Beachcombing has recently had a bit of a thing about human sacrifice and capital punishment. But it is. he promises, a passing phase and has now reached its climax with a reading of Mike Holgate and Ian David Waugh’s superb The Man They Could Not Hang: The True Story of […]

    German Crusaders lost in Central Asia? June 29, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    German Crusaders lost in Central Asia?

    Beachcombing often stretches himself pretty thin in covering the centuries and sometimes he just doesn’t have the languages to check up properly on a story. With these caveats he offers his readers the following tale that reads like a late Victorian or Edwardian boy’s own adventure. The text comes from Richard Halliburton’s Seven League Boots, […]

    Review: Strange Histories June 28, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review: Strange Histories

              Strange Histories: the trial of the pig, the walking dead, and other matters of fact from the medieval and Renaissance worlds by Darren Oldridge (Routledge 2005) caught Beachcombing’s attention in Little Snoring’s charity shop. The book, in truth, stood out like a sore thumb among all the Mills and Boons, […]

    Nazi Kurt captured in Arctic Circle in 1981 June 27, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nazi Kurt captured in Arctic Circle in 1981

                        Beachcombing has long been fascinated by the last Japanese soldiers to surrender in the Second World War, several of whom crawled around the jungle islands of the Pacific for decades. Indeed, the very last, Nakamura, only came in from the cold in December 1974 after […]

    Jesuits and Altitude Sickness June 26, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Jesuits and Altitude Sickness

    Beachcombing was reading Lost on Everest (London 1999) by Peter Firstbrook last night when he came across a description of the Jesuit Antonio de Andrade crossing the Himalayas in 1624. De Andrade and his men had a nasty experience up in the passes, several feeling ill and De Andrade wrote: ‘According to the natives, many […]

    The return of Mayan-style human sacrifice June 25, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The return of Mayan-style human sacrifice

                        Beachcombing loves the way that some of the best historical stories hide behind the most oblique academic titles. Take, for example, Vera Tiesler and Andrea Cucina, ‘Procedures in Human Heart Extraction and Ritual Meaning: A Taphonomic Assessment of Anthropogenic Marks in Classic Maya Skeletons’ (Latin […]

    The God Mars and Florence June 24, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The God Mars and Florence

                        Beachcombing has a special place in his heart for Florence and today, in celebration of the Arno’s flower, on the day of St John no less, he sets out a Florentine mystery: the fate and idenity of Mars on Horseback. We hear of this particular statue […]

    World’s Last Latin Speakers in Africa? June 23, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    World's Last Latin Speakers in Africa?

    Yes, yes, Beachcombing knows that those bores in the Vatican and some Finnish broadcasters still speak Latin. He’s even been into monastic libraries where they won’t give you a manuscript unless you babble something from Lewis and Short. But what Beachcombing wants to know – and he doesn’t think he’ll get an intelligent response for […]

    Totalitarian Trees June 22, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Totalitarian Trees

              Beachcombing learnt today, from his daily graze across the newspapers, that Colonel Ghadaffi of Libya has adopted the Italian village of Antrodoco near l’Aquila [Italian article]. For a moment Beachcombing felt lyrical about the eccentric Colonel and about how much MG has brought to the study of the bizarre – it almost makes the […]

    American Pilot Purloins World’s Last Roman Eagle? June 21, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    American Pilot Purloins World's Last Roman Eagle?

                          Ahhh… Beachcombing comes running back to the classics, diving into their sparkling clean waters – leaving his rather dirty mark on those tranquil, traced surfaces. Now Roman Eagles. Each legion had one carried by the aquilifer. The troops would defend their eagle to the […]

    Surviving Hanging June 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Surviving Hanging

                      Beachcombing has a file on ‘failed executions’: men and women who were sent to meet their maker but whom, thanks to chance, and, more often than not, the stupidity of their executioners, lived to die another day. Of course, survival rates were always small but the […]

    The American Civil War and a Coincidence June 19, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The American Civil War and a Coincidence

                        Beachcombing has never really got his head around coincidences. So can it really be a ‘coincidence’ that he shares a birthday with another sixteen million human beings? Is it just dumb ‘luck’ that he has the same middle name as his wife’s American cousin? And is it mere ‘fluke’ that he […]

    A Medieval Christian Fairy World June 18, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Medieval Christian Fairy World

              Beachcombing greatly enjoys those doctrinal eccentricities that, from time to time, leak out of the mother church and its conglomerates. Who could forget, for example, the early Christian writer Origen mentioning matter-of-factly that  souls might be reincarnated Hindu-style ? The early modern church accidentally canonising the Buddha? Or, indeed, some modern mainstream beliefs – […]

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