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  • The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks July 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks

    ***Dedicated to Wade, who sent this treasure in*** If you hang round ancient archaeologists long enough you end up being shown pictures of strange objects and being asked ‘What do you think that is for? What did they do with that?’ The sophistication of ancient technology and the complexity of ancient societies – compared with […]

    Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks July 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks

    This is a weird little story from a nineteenth-century Lancashire history. You remember the Scooby Doo formula: kids turn up, find that their local fun park is haunted by a ghost, who keeps tripping on the white sheet, and then, finally, they unmask the janitor? Well, this is a Bury equivalent. The story dates to […]

    Crowds #7: Fleeing July 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Crowds #7: Fleeing

    Beach greatly enjoyed, last year, writing a series of posts on crowds: i.e ransacking the web for likely images with the philosophy that groups, particularly ecstatic, tense or ‘altered’ groups make for interesting studies. There was crowds as art, those silly men with straw hats from August 1914, listening crowds, religion and crowds, prisoner crowds […]

    Turning Back the Years in Oz July 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Turning Back the Years in Oz

    ***With thanks to Invisible and Wade*** Consider a curious thing. Australian prehistory is far easier to rewrite than American prehistory. If you begin to question the route by which the Aborigines arrived in Australia, or posit an early Indian influx onto the continent or even begin to speculate about mahogany boats and seventeenth-century Caucasoid skulls […]

    Coulrophobia and Cricket July 2, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Coulrophobia and Cricket

    There are many reasons to loathe the English but cricket is not one of them. Cricket, according to the romantics, was the game that the squire would play with their tenants, small time farmers and landless labourers on the village green on distant Sundays in the eighteenth century. Trevelyan wrote with pardonable exaggeration: ‘if the […]

    Beachcombed 37 July 1, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 37

    July 1 2013 Dear Readers, Today lots of writing to do, starting with the correction of a long article on migration in the post Soviet space (wth!!! tears his little remaining hair). So with no more ado a huge thanks to those who have brought such excellent copy forward and who are included in the […]

    Dreams of Murder June 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreams of Murder

    Telepathy is a curious concept and not the least curious part of this most curious ability is the inability to properly document it. However, in the annals of telepathy (so-called or imaginary, factual and always elusive) some of the most interesting cases have involved dreams and murder: ‘murder will out’ in a bouquet of pink […]

    The Last European Lion June 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Last European Lion

    The ancient Greeks were lion mad. Lions frequently appear in the lively similes of ‘Homer’. They appear in Greek art and in legends: at a guess Pausanias probably has a score of lion legends from around Greece. But can any of this be taken to prove that lions actually lived in ancient Greece or, indeed, […]

    The Greatest Marine of WWII? June 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Greatest Marine of WWII?

    Guy Gabaldon was perhaps the most remarkable American Marine of the ‘greatest generation’, a man who went to the grave, in 2006, with the knowledge that he had saved hundreds of lives, most of them Japanese soldiers and civilians, toying with or in some cases literally running towards suicide (cliffs). If this introduction suggests a […]

    Sex, Teachers and Students June 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Sex, Teachers and Students

    ***To Bilker*** A long argument last night about the Jeremy Forrest case with an old friend and a post that strays from the pleasantly brambled paths of history, though not, sadly, from the red brick road of education. For those outside the UK Jeremy Forrest was a twenty-nine-year-old teacher who had an affair with his […]

    Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances June 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances

    Beach has stumbled again into the world of nineteenth-century séances in search of fun. And he’s awfully glad he ended up there. What mummery! What hoaxing! What extraordinary imbecility on the part of intelligent men and women! He brings together here a selection of his favourites. First let’s get into the mood. We could detect […]

    Fewest Casualties… June 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fewest Casualties...

    In what modern war did the fewest people die? Beach has been wasting a couple of joyful hours this morning looking through the annals of battles past and some dodgy Wikipedia pages. He has built in several limits to the survey. First, he has restricted himself to the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, where it is […]

    French Witch Body Vandalism June 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    French Witch Body Vandalism

    This is taken from a French newspaper from 1864. It reminds Beach of the beginning of one of those 1970s British neo-pagan horror films, Blood on Satan’s Claw, Wicker Man and the like. In fact, Beach would not like to be Lemonnier… He’d probably have a couple of very unlikely erotic experiences and then be […]

    Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where? June 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where?

    ***Dedicated to Chris*** Modern and early modern social movements are not normally Beach’s thing. He’ll let the likes of Eric Hobsbawm salivate over those. But just yesterday an email brought a peculiar Irish American phenomenon to his attention: the Molly Maguires, previously known to this author only from Conan Doyle’s Valley of Fear.  The Mollys […]

    The First Domesticated Animal? Clue: Slime June 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    The First Domesticated Animal? Clue: Slime

    ***Dedicated to Wade and Larry*** What was the first domesticated animal? Ask a hundred people and seventy odd will give you the ‘correct’ answer: the dog. The dog was, after all, already domesticated by 10000 B.C. (discuss) when human beings crossed the landbridge into the Americas. In fact, the dog, well, actually the wolf, was […]

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