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  • Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts January 21, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts

    The Ness of Brodgar is one of the most impressive Neolithic sites in Britain and, indeed, in Europe. It includes a series of massive buildings that have been interpreted as mausolea or temples and that would have taken modern stone masons years to put together: without metal tools it must have taken the Neolithic Orcardians […]

    Forgotten Kingdom: The Bird-Shit Island January 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Forgotten Kingdom: The Bird-Shit Island

    Nauru is a small island (about eight square miles) half way between Hawaii and New Zealand made largely of bird droppings. If that does not sound particularly promising consider two further points. First, that its European discoverer named it Pleasant Island in 1798: it was once extraordinarily beautiful. And second that the bird droppings can […]

    Burning Libraries: Episode Four of the Lost Planet January 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Burning Libraries: Episode Four of the Lost Planet

    Dr Who, which began being aired in 1963, was Britain’s attempt to join the science fiction race. Though less famous than Star Trek, which it preceded by three years, a comparison tells you a lot about the differences between the two countries in the 1960s: the gung ho US and demoralised post-war Britain. Star Trek […]

    The Mysterious End of the Western Settlement January 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Mysterious End of the Western Settlement

    Imagine a Mary Celeste incident – an empty apparently abandoned ship – but extended instead to an entire land. At least one such account comes down to us and that is the abandonment of the Western Settlement in Greenland, one of the most mysterious events in European – or is it North American? – history. […]

    Image: Old New Meets New Old January 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Image: Old New Meets New Old

    ***Flu day*** Queen Elizabeth is fifty-seven years older than she was when the photograph above was taken (4 April 1955): Churchill, meanwhile, has been in the grave for forty seven years. However, this image has an energy that altogether belies its age. After all, here, in a single snap, are the two most important Britons […]

    Edwin Drood and Spirit Resolution January 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Edwin Drood and Spirit Resolution

    The Mystery of Edwin Drood is Dickens’ unfinished novel. Half way written when the author died in 1870, it has long offered an opportunity to pot boilers to finish off the novel for themselves – it is essentially a murder mystery – something many have tried, impossible as it is to judge Dickens’ plans for […]

    Into the Lion’s Mouth January 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Into the Lion's Mouth

    What do Lorenzo the Magnificent (obit 1492), Henry III of Navarre (obit 1610) and Rudolph Hess (obit 1987) have in common? Well, they were men, they were all born in Continental Europe and they also went defenceless to their enemies and somehow survived to tell the tale, hence the lion’s mouth of the title. First, […]

    Bishop Erik’s Unorthodox Trip, 1121 January 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Bishop Erik's Unorthodox Trip, 1121

    Let’s start with historical orthodoxy. From c. 950-1000 Viking Greenlanders crossed the Davis Strait and set up a settlement or perhaps several small settlements in Canada. This settlement or these settlements may or may not have been just for the summer, but the fact is that, in any case, they were shortlived. The Greenlanders simply […]

    Immortal Meals 11#: Feasts at Hambledon Hill January 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Immortal Meals 11#: Feasts at Hambledon Hill

    Another from the Immortal Meal series: this time beef steak on Hambledon Hill in Dorset (UK) c. 5000 years ago as a warm September evening is resolving itself. Hambledon Hill, for those who had not had the pleasure, is an extraordinary Iron Age hill fort on the edge of the upland region of western England. […]

    Love Goddess #5: Agnes ‘Madonna’ Sorel January 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Love Goddess #5: Agnes ‘Madonna’ Sorel

    Jean Fouquet was the greatest French painter of the fifteenth century. He is of special interest in this blog because JF created the fifth love goddess in our series: the notorious, terrifying Madonna from the Melun Diptych, c. 1450. Thanks to Invisible for the tip. Let’s start by remembering that madonnas were everywhere in the […]

    The Loss of the Douglas C-54-D in 1950 January 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Loss of the Douglas C-54-D in 1950

    Scores of planes have permanently gone missing since the beginnings of aviation a century ago, but almost all of these have one thing in common. They were flying over deep water or they were close to deep water when they disappeared from the radar. It makes sense: it is very difficult for a large plane […]

    Thirteenth-century Viking Legend in Canada? January 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Thirteenth-century Viking Legend in Canada?

    Did the Vikings believe that mythical outlaws dwelt on Canada’s Baffin Island, perhaps parallel to the outlaws of the Icelandic interior that we have looked at before on this blog? It seems unlikely given that Greenlanders – the closest ‘Vikings’ to Baffin – are not supposed by some to have visited North American after about […]

    Invisible Library from Belgium: the Fortsas Catalogue January 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Invisible Library from Belgium: the Fortsas Catalogue

    The Fortsas Catalogue, printed in 1840 has within its pages one of the greatest invisible libraries ever written: an invisible library being a collection of book that have never existed outside an author’s imagination. The catalogue itself is real enough: a few (very valuable) copies are still to be found, but the namesake of the […]

    Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!! January 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!!

    One of the weaker proofs of Pre-Columbian contacts with Europe is the legend of the ‘white Indian’. Typically, a pioneer in the sixteenth or seventeenth or eighteenth or even the nineteenth century comes upon an Indian who by his appearance or his actions shows that he is really of European descent. Prior to today Beach […]

    Britain’s ‘Indian’ Prime Minister January 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Britain's 'Indian' Prime Minister

    Did you know that a nineteenth-century English Prime Minister was of Indian descent? Well, many of our text books tell us that this was the case. Lord Liverpool (Robert Jenkinson) (obit 1828), who presided over such questionable events as the Congress of Vienna and the War of 1812, had an Indian grandmother. Here is one […]

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