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  • Self Castrators July 22, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Self Castrators

    Castration is everywhere in history. The Normans did it to the Sicilians, the Afghans to the British, the Italians to their future opera singers and Heloise’s family did it to Abelard: and, goodness, did Abelard have it coming – a father speaks. But there is a more refined category of testicle removal that is not […]

    Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age July 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Forgotten Anglo-Irish Inventor Anticipates the Modern Age

    A remarkable piece of dream engineering from the latter half of the eighteenth century, the creation of the obscure but fascinating Richard Lovell Edgeworth (obit 1817), one of those men cursed to have ideas that his day could not possibly understand or produce: an Anglo-Irish Leonoardo da Vinci though with more circumspection.

    Lost in Shangri-La July 20, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary

    In May 1945 an American flight over central New Guinea crashed and killed all but three of the twenty four servicemen on board. The three survivors – two men and a woman – found themselves in the midst of a dense jungle miles from home. They managed to parley with the local tribespeople – who […]

    Perpetua’s Death Dream July 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Perpetua's Death Dream

    Beachcombing decided to bring night visions into the day a month ago, opening a new tag on – note the failure to alliterate – Historic Dreams. He offered as a start Lincoln’s prophetic dream of the President’s own death and raised some questions about how prophetic said dream really was. Today, he offers,  instead, a […]

    The Emu War of 1932 July 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Emu War of 1932

    In the aftermath of the First World War different countries wrestled with the problem of how to reintegrate their veterans into society. In Britain houses were built ‘fit for heroes’, in Italy soldiers coming home were invited to beat up socialists and in Australia veterans from that country  were given land to farm. These Australian […]

    Dragons in Swtizerland July 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dragons in Swtizerland

    Dragons may be a thing of the past, but there are some surprisingly recent reports that seem to describe the fiery-breathed ones among us. Take this curious record from the works of Athanasius Kircher (obit 1680), Mundus subterraneus, quo universae denique naturae divitiae (Amsterdam 1664-1668). Where to even begin? In 1619 as I was contemplating […]

    William Corliss RIP July 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    William Corliss RIP

    An email from Moonman brings the sad news that William Corliss passed away 8 July, a month and a half shy of his eighty-fifth year. Corliss, for those who don’t know, was the world’s greatest living anomalist. From 1974 to his death he collected curiosities culled from science magazines and journals. He then took these […]

    Anglo-Saxons in Southern India? July 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Anglo-Saxons in Southern India?

    **Beachcombing dedicates the following to DGM, who has an excellent post on this subject** For those like Beachcombing who lick their lips at descriptions of long and unlikely journeys in antiquity and the middle ages there are few more exciting sentences than this one-liner in some versions of the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. In the year 883, […]

    Impossible Escape from Calais July 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Impossible Escape from Calais

    In May 1940 the British army achieved many feats of arms and endurance despite the Wehrmacht‘s overwhelming superiority in northern France. And perhaps none of these feats was equal in pathos, drama and sheer futility to the battle for Calais. Here, while the British Expedition Force was being hurriedly evacuated across the Channel to England, […]

    The Kingdom of Yetholm July 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Kingdom of Yetholm

    Gypsy history provides a rich field for bizarrists: after all, here is a people from the Indian subcontinent who hiked half way across Eurasia for reasons that are completely mysterious to modern historians causing confusion and marvel wherever they went. Nevertheless, even in such a rich field Beachcombing has an easy favourite: the Gypsy Kingdom […]

    Immortal Meals 5#: Mannerheim and the Cigar July 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals 5#: Mannerheim and the Cigar

    Halcyon hours this birthday evening with the flash of kingfisher wings: excellent presents, visits from friends and, best of all, the food… Strict health diet suspended for one glorious twelve-hour period. Beach has just finished a litre and a half of coca cola: if God exists then he tastes like cane sugar. In tribute to […]

    Strange Speeches July 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Strange Speeches

    Beachcombing got an email last night from inspired speeches, a new website [now defunct!] dedicated to gathering, well, inspired speeches. His correspondent asked for suggestions for notable discourses from the past. And Beachcombing made the terrible mistake of opening said email at midnight. The result? Beach did not sleep until dawn, tossing and turning, as […]

    Mid Atlantic Frogs? July 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval

      Beachcombing has visited before the kamikaze Irish monks who explored the north Atlantic in the early Middle Ages refusing to steer but trusting the winds (‘God’) to take them where they would. Today he wanted, instead, to focus on an Irish encounter in the vast expanses of that ocean with a group of tiny […]

    The Nanjing Belt July 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    The Nanjing Belt

    Beachcombing always comes to China with a certain trepidation. After all, he doesn’t have much Mandarin (i.e. absolutely zilch), he has an embarrassingly modest knowledge of Chinese historiography and yet he must admit to having nothing but fascination for the exotic flowers that grow in the swamps of the Chinese past – recent oriental posts […]

    The Midsummer Oak and its Skeletons July 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Midsummer Oak and its Skeletons

    **This post is dedicated to New Moon who sent the oak story in** Here is a little bit of Sussex folklore which manages to combine English zombies, the delicate whiff of cobblers and, best of all, a famous oak. The oak tree in question is the Midsummer Oak at Broadwater, Worthing and the legend in […]

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