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  • St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant? July 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant?

    ***Dedicated to Paula de Fougerolles whose new book on Columba is the best historical novel on the Dark Ages since T. H. White laid down his pen*** St Columba of Iona (obit 597) is perhaps the most interesting of all the medieval Gaelic saints: and given the  strange holy fauna running around the Irish jungle […]

    Archangel Steals Money in Naples! July 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Archangel Steals Money in Naples!

    Beachcombing has recently been getting into the world of nineteenth-century seances and mediums. You know, those men with walrus moustaches (for hiding mono-tone mouth accordions) and a hot line to the ‘other side’. These shysters could make even the fairies seem humdrum. Here is one of Beach’s favourite accounts that has everything: sex, money, a […]

    Crowds #3: Crowds as Art July 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Crowds #3: Crowds as Art

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk*** Beach has previously confessed to a thing about crowd photographs: he has put up posts showing August 1914 madness and orators in front of thousands. However, what if the crowd itself is taken out of its random passions and ordered into a work of art? This was the intuition […]

    Things that Go Baring-Gould in the Night July 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Things that Go Baring-Gould in the Night

    Beach has been having a LOT of fun recently reading the autobiography of Sabine Baring-Gould, an eccentric and very capable Victorian/Edwardian clergyman who was once described on this blog in the company of a werewolf. Here, instead, is SBG’s collection of material relating to the Old Madam who haunted his family mansion, Lew Trenchard Manor […]

    Creative Pretexts for War July 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Prehistoric
    Creative Pretexts for War

    In the good old days when we had spears and lived in tribal societies war was, for much of humanity, a seasonal activity like boar hunting and berry picking. You did not have to explain why you wanted to steal the cattle of the clan on the other side of the hill: you just got […]

    Beachcombed 25 July 1, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 25

    Dear Readers, it is that time again. The ten-thousand best words on this blog from June are summarized below. We have everything from Invisible on BVM and Fairies, Splendid Chap on Marjorie Johnson (RIP), Sarah Schechner on Elizabethan telescopes, Prof Françoise Villedieu on Nero’s rotating dining room and Michael Lauck and Mike Dash on conjuring history books. […]

    Sixteenth-century Conjuring Tricks June 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Sixteenth-century Conjuring Tricks

    It was a slow day in the cave, the sabre-tooth tigers were roaring outside and the grass shoots and snails had all been consumed. Ug was playing with the knuckle bones of one of his late wives and with remarkable dexterity (given how poor he had been at hunting recently) he made the bones dance […]

    Tree Rings and Supernovas and a Red Cross in Anglo-Saxon England June 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Tree Rings and Supernovas and a Red Cross in Anglo-Saxon England

    ***Dedicated to Larry and Wade who sent this one in*** In early June a report came in from Nagoya University (Japan) that tree rings on the island showed evidence of a massive radiation blast in 774/775 of our era. This interested Beachcombing not the slightest as he doesn’t do radiation or tree rings. But this […]

    The Virgin and the Fairies June 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Virgin and the Fairies

    The last fairy post for a week, we promise… Beach has noted previously here the danger of confusing fairy sightings with UFO sightings. But, as a lot of his work this summer has concerned medieval records, he realises that confusion is nothing new where fairies are concerned. There is, 500 AD – 1700 AD, the […]

    Islam Creates Europe June 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Islam Creates Europe

    Modern Europeans tend to have mixed feelings about the rise of Islam: Islam and Christianity have, after all, been butting heads for the last fifteen hundred years. What is not normally appreciated though is the fundamental role Islam had in creating Europe. Islam, it will be remembered, was born in the Middle East in the […]

    Desperately Seeking Marjorie June 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Desperately Seeking Marjorie

    ***Dedicated to whosoever helps Beach to find Marjorie*** It is very bad form to write two articles on fairies in as many days, but Beach has been excited since Splendid Chap emailed with the exciting information that Marjorie Johnson is still alive in Carlton, Nottinghamshire (UK). Marjorie was born in 1911 and by 1956 she […]

    Romans in Japan?! June 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Romans in Japan?!

    ***Dedicated to all these who sent this in: sorry I’ve misplaced the list!*** Beach has long since pioneered the wrong place, wrong time tags that set out examples of artifacts, languages, ideas and even DNA turning up in unexpected places or unexpected time periods. These have included such wonders as the last Latin speakers of […]

    On the trail of Captain Quentin C. A. Craufurd (and his fairies) June 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    On the trail of Captain Quentin C. A. Craufurd (and his fairies)

    Dedicated to a Splendid Chap Splendid Chap sent in an article by one of Beach’s chief interests in life, the enigmatic Capt Quentin Craufurd, founder of the Fairy Investigation Society: yes, that’s his picture! Beachcombing doesn’t put this up because the article is particularly inspiring: it reads like post theosophy c. 1950. He has put […]

    The Eastern Origins of Playing Cards June 23, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Eastern Origins of Playing Cards

    There are few things in history more entertaining than the transference of ideas  from one culture to another and the various misunderstandings that arise as the borrower fails to understands the lender. In our own day it is enough to hear an American university lecturer speak about Derrida or a Saudia Arabian discuss the British […]

    The Survival of the Marranos June 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Survival of the Marranos

    A Beachcombing favorite to day, the Marranos of Belmonte. In 1492 Spain expelled its Jews or at least those who refused to convert to Catholicism. Some of these fleeing Spanish Jews crossed the border into Portugal where they joined an already substantial Jewish population and the Jews of all descriptions there were driven out of […]

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