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  • Plotinus Meets a God January 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plotinus Meets a God

    A WIBT (Wish I’d been there) moment from later antiquity, brought to mind, in part by stories at the end of 2011 about Socrate’s daemon. The subject is Plotinus, a follower of Plato and the thinker who offered the ancient Mediterranean a ‘sensible’ alternative to Christianity: neo-platonism. Plotinus, as all Platonists, had mixed feelings about […]

    Accidentally Obscene January 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Accidentally Obscene

    The Belfast Telegraph recently ran a story on the Limerick town of Effin – named for St Eimhin no less! ‘Ann Marie Kennedy is proud to live in Effin – and now she has launched an online campaign to have Facebook recognise the town whose name was blacklisted for being too offensive [urban dictionary]. Ann […]

    Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF January 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Epiphany Gift to Readers: Scary Fairies PDF

    Scary Fairies… While Barrie, Nesbit and others were trying to anodize* and castrate fairies c. 1900 out in the wilds of Britain, Man and Ireland there will still those who were terrified of the elfen beggars. This terror finds a little known reflex in the literature of the time. Various authors including Buchan, Machen, Le […]

    Snakes, Fairies and St Patrick January 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Snakes, Fairies and St Patrick

    A lead up to tomorrow’s epiphany gift to all readers: Scary Fairies: the Proto Edition. Bede begins his Ecclesiastical History of the English in 731 with a geographical overview of the island of Britain and also, given its importance in the conversion of the English to Christianity, Ireland. It is a memorable passage not least […]

    The Earliest Roman Ghost in Britain January 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Earliest Roman Ghost in Britain

    Owen Davies in his fascinating The Haunted: A Social History of Ghosts notes the way that strangely (or obviously if you are a sceptic like Beachcombing) ghosts follow the fashions and interests of their times. Take OD’s thoughts, for example, on Roman ghosts in the UK. The most recent addition to the corpus of heritage […]

    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts January 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts

    One of the great challenges of any nineteenth-century explorers was to make friends with the ‘primitives’ in such out of the way places as an equatorial rain forest, the upper peaks of the Andes and through much of Darkest Africa. And, of course, to do so they brought gifts along with them: a sensible enough […]

    A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery January 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Surprise at Apple Down Cemetery

    There is a cute game that academics play where the more exciting the results of your research the more boring your abstract must be. Take the following tedious example from the 2011 American Journal of Physical Anthropology. Read through the miasma of low-key, lead on sentences and consider what an extraordinary discovery has allegedly been […]

    Beachcombed 19 January 1, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Beachcombed
    Beachcombed 19

      A Happy 1st Jan to All Readers! 2011 was the year that Beachcombing moved off word press and ventured, however, tentatively onto twitter: Strange History has rated between the sixth and the third history blog on google.com since the summer with between 1500 and 2500 hits a day. 2012 will see the first Beachcombing […]

    Socrates, Sneezing and Daemons December 31, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Socrates, Sneezing and Daemons

    Socrates is the bedrock on which the western philosophical tradition has been built. You can polish him like Plotinus. You can take your geological hammer and tap gently at his sides in the style of Aristotle (poor dolt). Or you can start smashing bottles of nitric acid on his stone-work as Nietzsche did. The fact […]

    A Six Mile Stride December 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Six Mile Stride

    A gentle post today as we near year’s end. Beachcombing has spent an unaccountable amount of time in Cornwall (south-west ‘England’) in the last week, looking at nineteenth-century infanticide (as you do). In his many wanderings through the meadows of Cornish books he stumbled upon the tale of the giant Bolster striding from St Agnes […]

    The Future of English December 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Future of English

    There have been various ‘world’ languages, beginning with Greek, moving on to Latin, and from there changing rapidly from Portuguese, to Spanish, to French and more recently to English. Beachcombing spent a lazy moment yesterday browsing a nineteenth-century essay on the ‘inevitable’ triumph of English, the author arguing that not only would English become the […]

    Lincoln and the Angels December 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lincoln and the Angels

    Beachcombing has previously in this place enjoyed some of the nonsense written about death bed quotes. He thought that, following on with this theme, he would today concentrate on that  memorable room in Petersen House at 7:22 a.m. on April 15, 1865 when Lincoln passed from this world, just hours after John Wilkes Booth had […]

    H.P. Lovecraft’s Invisible Library December 27, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    H.P. Lovecraft's Invisible Library

    ***This post is dedicated to Phil P who suggested and advised*** H.P. Lovecraft is said to be a horror writer. It would be truer to say that, like his near contemporary Arthur Machen, he wrote about evil, evil without consolation of good. A teenage Beachcombing had several uncomfortable nights on HPL’s account and an adult […]

    Lancashire Voodoo c. 1850 December 26, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Lancashire Voodoo c. 1850

    Beach promised no more fairy stories in 2011 but he thought he would go out with a witch tale from nineteenth-century Lancashire on the wrong side of the Pennines. There is something reminiscent of an earlier post from Hebden Bridge here and also of the curious case of the witch who suffered spontaneous combustion in […]

    Stalingrad’s Madonna December 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Stalingrad's Madonna

    In late 1942 Kurt Reuber (obit 1944) found himself in the Stalingrad Kessel where 300,000 Axis troops awaited almost certain death, surrounded by an understandably vengeful Soviet enemy: only 6000 would survive the war. As the festivities drew near Reuber – curiously, given his subject a Protestant pastor – sketched this beautiful madonna that became […]

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