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  • Hearts, Genies and Gnosticism at Nag Hammadi October 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Hearts, Genies and Gnosticism at Nag Hammadi

    Howard Carter whispering ‘wonderful things’, Leslie Alcock finding Dark Age timber at Cadbury (‘that was Camelot’), Bedouin shepherds investigating a complex of caves at the Dead Sea… All wonderful, of course. But for Beachcombing none of these quite match the thrill of the discovery at Nag Hammadi in 1945. In that year, possibly in December, […]

    Suger’s Sherbert Holder October 13, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Suger's Sherbert Holder

    In previous posts Beachcombing has celebrated objects that have long and interesting histories: take, for example, the Baltic buddhas, Cellini’s canon or the Dauphin’s heart. It was with some excitement then that he just recently stumbled upon a vase that made, in the Middle Ages, its way from Moorish Spain through the hands of several […]

    Ultra, Enigma, Secrets and Squealing October 12, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Ultra, Enigma, Secrets and Squealing

    Regular readers of this blog will know that Beach is extremely suspicious of conspiracy theories and those who write about them. However, one partial exception is Robin Ramsay, joint founder of Lobster Magazine, a Fortean Times columnist and a general conspiracy guru. RR certainly has a thorough understanding of conspiracy theorists: ‘[w]hat is wrong with […]

    Royal Claimants October 11, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Royal Claimants

    A brief post today as visits from Beachcombing’s parents and his girls’s grandparents are proving a distraction. There is just time though to share with his readers a couple of fabulous photographs that he has dug up. At the head of this page you will find Sigismund Otto Maria Josef Gottfried Henrich Erik Leopold Ferdinand […]

    Maggie Walls and Witch Cobblers October 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Maggie Walls and Witch Cobblers

    A historian is someone who spoils a good story with the truth. Bear this in mind as you read of the final extinction of the celebrated witch Maggie Walls, whose monument stands at Dunning in Perthshire. Maggie, legend tells, was burnt at the stake on this spot in 1657, though there is much doubt as […]

    The Meal that Stopped a Suicide October 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Meal that Stopped a Suicide

    As Beach soars out of his convalescence here is a modern nonsense post to enjoy from the immortal meals series. The problem is that Beach cannot be sure that this meal ever took place: given the loons involved it may just have been a Futurist fantasy. But where the likes of Marinetti and Fillìa are […]

    ‘Psychic’ Joan and the Dauphin October 8, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    'Psychic' Joan and the Dauphin

    Joan of Arc has always made rationalist historians – among whom Beachcombing would count himself – a little bit anxious. After all, a voice of God on tap, prophecies, and a telepathic relationship with a sword are hardly going to put an empiricist at ease. Among her several supposed psychic achievements was the moment when […]

    Agony at the Dentists October 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Agony at the Dentists

    Beachcombing went to the dentist this morning and had the inside of one of his teeth removed: apparently too many peanut, honey and banana sandwiches are bad for you… But, in the inevitable passing-the-time-of-day conversation between scoops of tooth, something interesting came up – pain control. Beach had noticed in his last trips that dentists […]

    Blondie at Cresson October 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Blondie at Cresson

    A weird war post today, recommending a twelfth-century act of crusader stupidity to the widest possible audience. 1 May, 1187 one of Saladin’s raiding parties, passed into Christian lands near Nazareth and a party of knights – Templars, Hospitallers and local nobles – were sent out to meet the enemy. In the ‘best’ sources we […]

    P.R.A.W.N.S. October 5, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    P.R.A.W.N.S.

    *** Dedicated to Ricardo*** One of teenage Beachcombing’s favourite films was Ealing Studios fabulous Passport to Pimlico that describes a small London borough seceding from the United Kingdom in the years after the Second World War. Classic scenes include a tube train jittering to a halt and a ladder coming down through the roof so […]

    Boethius’s Astronomy: Did it Exist? October 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Boethius's Astronomy: Did it Exist?

    Beach has always had a thing about Boethius (obit 525). Boethius penned the great Consolation of Philosophy, a strangely affecting study of human priorities, while waiting for his execution. Boethius hovers between Neo-Platonism and Christianity: he is, in some senses, the missing link between the two religions. Then Boethius also  wrote books that do not […]

    Joy Riding on the Moon October 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary