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  • A Bone-breaking Country Flight in Italy, c. 1920 December 13, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Bone-breaking Country Flight in Italy, c. 1920

    This early aeronautics story comes from central Italy in the 1940s. A mysterious aged man lives up in a secluded valley, a man who is spoken about in hushed terms. It seems this man is almost a wizard in terms of mechanical objects. When he was young he made a bicycle entirely out of wood, […]

    Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3 December 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3

    Ponte Vecchio’s transformation from kitschy chocolate box cover medieval bridge to unlikely love goddess was unexpected. But it has happened nonetheless. In the last ten years many young Tuscan couples have made the pilgrimage there to cement their love. The ritual is long and complicated. The couple in question first go to a hardware store […]

    Oxford Graduate in Fourteenth-Century North America!? December 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Oxford Graduate in Fourteenth-Century North America!?

    Did an English monk walk in the Americas in the fourteenth century, a hundred and fifty years before Columbus sailed into the Caribbean? The answer is almost certainly yes. And this is not just the opinion of the present writer (nutcase that he may or may not be), rather it is the opinion of all […]

    Good Executions? December 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Good Executions?

    Is there such a thing as a ‘good execution’: after all the extinction of human life should never or almost never be a cause for celebration? Well, historians have used the phrase, in the past generation – though it has older antecedents – to refer to the extent to which the criminal cooperates with his […]

    European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact December 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact

    The idea of pre-Columbian contact between the Americas and Europe or even Africa has been one that has understandably excited a lot of attention. What are the possibilities that Europeans ended up in, say, Florida or that ‘Floridans’ made it to, say, Scandinavia in 1491? Well, in this post we are going to take the […]

    Medieval English Ghost or Vampire? December 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval English Ghost or Vampire?

    An English ghost story from the mid late twelfth century which we owe to the very great kindness of the Count. The story begins with a Chaucer-like sexual adventure. This romp (and fall) seems to have no connection to the haunting other than to have helped the man of evil conduct into his coffin.  What […]

    Music in the Woods and Vocation December 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Music in the Woods and Vocation

    A Jungian psychologist somewhere on the west coast of the US has a patient, an elderly woman who feels dissatisfied with her life, which she believes that she has wasted. After hours of going through her past he comes to what he believes was the key moment. In her childhood she had been out playing […]

    A German Vampire? December 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A German Vampire?

    A vampire in seventeenth-century Germany? Perhaps, perhaps not, but something strange was going on here. The year is 1685 and we are in Augsburg. George Schmetzer’s wife had just given birth and suffered back ache. While in the delicate state after child birth: the dreams began. She felt that someone was pressing down on her […]

    Viking Family Memories December 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Viking Family Memories

    Back to families and remembering. This time though in the Northern Isles with the last of that cursed breed the Vikings… Occasionally there are examples of writing in stone, which under special conditions, survive beautifully through the centuries. This is true of the several sheltered runic inscriptions found in the Maeshowe megalithic tomb on Orkney, […]

    BB and Fairy Belief December 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    BB and Fairy Belief

    BB (Denys Watkins-Pitchford, obit 1990) was a superlative writer and illustrator, who spent most of his time celebrating gnomes, the English countryside and fowling: his pseudonym comes from the BB shot used to bring down wild geese. For present purposes, we are interested in BB and gnomes for the man wrote two excellent gnome books […]

    The Lamps Are Going Out, But Where? December 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Lamps Are Going Out, But Where?

    Lord Grey’s famous quotation that ‘the lamps are going out all over Europe’ came eventually to encapsulate the horror of 1914. Grey, then Britain foreign secretary and an exquisitely cultured and civilised individual, spoke the words on 3 August 1914 just before the great powers collectively committed suicide. He recorded the statement in his autobiography […]

    Summoned by Bells December 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Summoned by Bells

    The following bell story cannot lay claim to being bizarre history in the normal sense of the phrase. But it is enjoyable. It comes from the memoirs of James Lee-Milne (obit 1997) and describes Mrs Hartwell’s most dangerous day. [Mrs] Hartwell was an aged widow who gallantly brought up an orphaned brood of undisciplined grandchildren. […]

    Beachcombed 30 December 1, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 30

    Dear Reader Dec 1 and sorry for the lateness of this post but all busy here. Above Beach’s head the workmen are smashing his roof to pieces. Below the kids are dismantling his living room. And Mrs B is threatening to dismantle Beach’s head should he not hurry up and finish. So without further ado: […]

    A Fairy Cup? November 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Fairy Cup?

    Another of these almost forgotten fairy stories recorded in the early fourteenth century. Fairy clues include the mound (fairies live in hills or is this a grave?), the benevolent fairy and the human attempt to steal a prize from fairyland. Rather you than me. Here is another thing, no less wonderful and quite widely known, […]

    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History? November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History?

    You have worked your entire life researching a given area of history. However, you have published barely anything waiting to write your ‘big book’, the one that you will be remembered by. The years pass and the book does not materialise and then comes your final illness… What will you do with the seventy odd […]

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