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  • Richard III: Between the Bust and the Face February 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Richard III: Between the Bust and the Face

    ***Dedicated to Jround*** The excitement over the discovery of Richard III’s body has been entirely understandable: the documentaries, the articles, even an obituary in The Economist. But there at the centre of it is that reconstruction (above), which means that Richard III has now the best known of all English monarchs’ faces. How accurate though […]

    In Search of the Tooth of the Fairy Dog February 17, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Tooth of the Fairy Dog

    Fairy dogs are the Scottish and above all the Hebridean equivalent of the East Anglian shuck: black or white or green (!) hounds that appear in the night and that bring with them portents. Of course, the fairy dog is an intangible creature, probably to be looked for in the subconscious rather than in the […]

    An English Queen and Child Abuse? February 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An English Queen and Child Abuse?

    There are three characters in this sorry tale: a 14 year old girl, her forty-one year old step-father and her thirty-six year old step-mother; the girl’s biological father and mother are both dead. The child attracts her step-father’s attention (sexually-speaking) and he begins to take liberties with the girl: though how far these liberties went […]

    The Lost Zen Letters: A Cautionary Tale about Children and Archives February 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Lost Zen Letters: A Cautionary Tale about Children and Archives

    ***Dedicated to KR who pointed Zenwards*** The story (as always) is a simple one, perhaps deceptively, perhaps dishonestly so. In 1558 in Dello scoprimento dell’ isole Frislanda, Eslanda, Engrouelanda, Estotilanda e Icaria fatto sotto il Polo artico da’ due fratelli Zeni, M. Nicolo il K. e M. Antonio (Of the Discovery of Frisolanda, Eslanda, Engrouelanda, Estotilanda and Icara […]

    Goa the Golden February 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Goa the Golden

    ***Sorry this was accidentally pre-released yesterday…*** Goa was both the oldest continuous and one of the most curious of European colonial territories and is included here as part of our Forgotten Kingdom series. An important medieval Indian state it was attacked and captured by the Portuguese in 1510. Portugal would then run Goa up until […]

    Inuit in Aberdeen? February 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Inuit in Aberdeen?

    We previously enjoyed a brief visit to eighteenth-century Orkney (Scotland) and the mysterious Finnmen there, usually identified as Inuit. Here is a record from further south that seems to describe something similar. The Rev Francis Gastrell included in his diary this detail of his visit to Aberdeen in 1760: A canoe [pictured above] about seven […]

    British Occultists and World War II February 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    British Occultists and World War II

    World War II has come to Britain. The country you love is in peril. What do you do? Young men become soldiers. Young women nurses or volunteers. Pacifists argue against the insanity of it all. The old end up on fire-watching duty or filling in crucial holes in industry. Centenarians start knitting socks for the […]

    A Magpie Parliament? February 11, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    A Magpie Parliament?

    ***Dedicated to Ed*** Magpies are often seen in small groups and this has had a predictable reflex in folklore where there is a charming rhyme (with some regional variations) that children still learn in the UK: One [magpie] for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy… As to bigger groups […]

    The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds February 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds

    The ‘Celtic Church’ is the phrase commonly used to describe the version of Christianity that triumphed in much of Britain and Ireland throughout the early Middle Ages, say 400-800. Historians of the calibre of Patrick Wormald (RIP), Wendy Davies and Kathleen Hughes (RIP) have argued or even railed against it. What follows is a half-hearted […]

    Reds and Blues in the Persian Gulf February 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Reds and Blues in the Persian Gulf

    Paul K. Van Riper was one of the most notable American warleaders of his generation. A marine commander who earned a reputation for fighting from the front in Vietnam, he finally retired as lieutenant general, 1 October 1997. Then, 24 July 2002, Rip (as he is know to his friends) went rogue and killed 20,000 […]

    Luck, Shysters and Jack O’Lantern February 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Luck, Shysters and Jack O'Lantern

    As this year’s epiphany gift Beach put up the only two numbers of a Fortean magazine from the 1940s entitled New Frontiers: we couldn’t host this on the website because of an upload limit, and we had to trust some external site which proved unreliable. Thanks to our webmaster, Raoul, the magazine though has now […]

    Frobisher’s Missing Five February 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Frobisher's Missing Five

    There is a fascinating episode in Frobisher’s 1567 first trip to the North West Atlantic. Five of his men vanished in the most extraordinary circumstances while on Baffin Island (Arctic Canada). But these foolish men, being five of them in all in the bote, having set on land this stranger at the place appointed: the […]

    Viking Zombie February 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Viking Zombie

    A Viking zombie story from medieval Iceland courtesy of Chris from Haunted Ohio Books: thanks Chris!! Glam is an uncouth and enormous Swede who is taken on as a shepherd in a ‘haunted’ part of Iceland (Vatnsdal): he is rash enough to guard the sheep from whatever beast comes out in the Icelandic moonlight. This […]

    Henry VIII and Killing February 5, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Henry VIII and Killing

    Henry VIII (obit 1547) was one of the most talented individuals to have ever walked the earth. He could, in the modern world, have worked as a professional musician or singer, an Olympic sportsman, a politician, a writer or, for that matter, a successful academic (theology, philosophy?). Here was Castiglione’s dream, the perfect Renaissance man […]

    Italy’s Weird Languages February 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Italy's Weird Languages

    Italy is chaotic not just in day-to-day but also in geographical terms. The Apennines that come down from the Alps dominate most of the country and separate out the peninsula into two hundred semi-independent shangrilas. The result is that Italy has always been doomed to social, cultural and linguistic division. Italian itself, the ‘dialect’ of […]

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