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  • Further Thoughts on the Inventio Fortunata with Thanks to Readers December 19, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Further Thoughts on the Inventio Fortunata with Thanks to Readers

    The Inventio Fortunata (the Happy Discovery) is a text that we’ve already looked at twice on this blog. A first post described its extraordinary survival in a burnt copy of a copy of a copy in the wrong language. A second post alleged that the IF detailed an English trip to Arctic Canada in 1360. […]

    Medieval English Ghost or Vampire? December 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval English Ghost or Vampire?

    An English ghost story from the mid late twelfth century which we owe to the very great kindness of the Count. The story begins with a Chaucer-like sexual adventure. This romp (and fall) seems to have no connection to the haunting other than to have helped the man of evil conduct into his coffin.  What […]

    Viking Family Memories December 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Viking Family Memories

    Back to families and remembering. This time though in the Northern Isles with the last of that cursed breed the Vikings… Occasionally there are examples of writing in stone, which under special conditions, survive beautifully through the centuries. This is true of the several sheltered runic inscriptions found in the Maeshowe megalithic tomb on Orkney, […]

    BB and Fairy Belief December 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    BB and Fairy Belief

    BB (Denys Watkins-Pitchford, obit 1990) was a superlative writer and illustrator, who spent most of his time celebrating gnomes, the English countryside and fowling: his pseudonym comes from the BB shot used to bring down wild geese. For present purposes, we are interested in BB and gnomes for the man wrote two excellent gnome books […]

    The Lamps Are Going Out, But Where? December 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Lamps Are Going Out, But Where?

    Lord Grey’s famous quotation that ‘the lamps are going out all over Europe’ came eventually to encapsulate the horror of 1914. Grey, then Britain foreign secretary and an exquisitely cultured and civilised individual, spoke the words on 3 August 1914 just before the great powers collectively committed suicide. He recorded the statement in his autobiography […]

    Summoned by Bells December 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Summoned by Bells

    The following bell story cannot lay claim to being bizarre history in the normal sense of the phrase. But it is enjoyable. It comes from the memoirs of James Lee-Milne (obit 1997) and describes Mrs Hartwell’s most dangerous day. [Mrs] Hartwell was an aged widow who gallantly brought up an orphaned brood of undisciplined grandchildren. […]

    A Fairy Cup? November 30, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Fairy Cup?

    Another of these almost forgotten fairy stories recorded in the early fourteenth century. Fairy clues include the mound (fairies live in hills or is this a grave?), the benevolent fairy and the human attempt to steal a prize from fairyland. Rather you than me. Here is another thing, no less wonderful and quite widely known, […]

    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History? November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Alwyn Ruddock: Enemy of History?

    You have worked your entire life researching a given area of history. However, you have published barely anything waiting to write your ‘big book’, the one that you will be remembered by. The years pass and the book does not materialise and then comes your final illness… What will you do with the seventy odd […]

    William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World November 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    William Bottrell and the Strangest Funeral Procession in the World

    The year is 1881 and Willam Bottrell has just passed away after a horrific final illness: he lay paralysed in bed for the last year, his mind as fine as ever, his body drying up. Bottrell, for those many who don’t know, was a hero perhaps the hero of Cornish folklore studies because despite having […]

    Wynne’s Madonna at Ely: Love Goddess 2# November 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    Wynne's Madonna at Ely: Love Goddess 2#

    Ely Cathedral is one of the great works of English civilisation. Approached by car or on foot over the flatlands of East Anglia it surges above the landscape. In fact, ‘the ship of the Fens’ is one of the few churches that can be enjoyed from a distance: so often we are reduced to glancing […]

    The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North November 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Inventio Fortunata: A Lost Medieval Journey to the Arctic North

    The Inventio Fortunata sometimes written the Inventio Fortunae (likely a mistaken amendment by an over anxious sixteenth-century author) is one of the most extraordinary documents NOT to come down to us from posterity. It was written in the fourteenth century, either at sea or in England, by a friar for the King of England, Edward […]

    Giant Caterpillar Outside Manchester, 1850! November 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Giant Caterpillar Outside Manchester, 1850!

    This appeared in a northern British newspaper in 1850 relating to the Manchester area. The monster, so long the object of such contradictory reports, is now proved beyond doubt to be a real living creature. He has been seen on shore by hundreds of spectators, having originally, it is supposed, come up the Bridgewater Canal. […]

    Bristol Discovers America November 11, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Bristol Discovers America

    The most credible claims for pre-Columbian voyages across the Atlantic are those that took place in the generation immediately preceeding Columbus’ trip into the unknown. Take the text of a famous letter that was written in Spanish to an Admiral, almost certainly Columbus in late December 1497. The author is an English sailor, John Day. […]

    National Symbols and Erotics: the Great War November 10, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    National Symbols and Erotics: the Great War

    Nations are often personified: Lady Liberty for France, Uncle Sam for the States, Britannia for the UK. Nor is this new. There is a memorable fifth-century Latin poem that goes through the Roman Empire doling out identities to the different provinces: Gaul, for example, appears as a warrior with two spears. But Beach has recently […]

    Billesley and Shakespeare: Books, Weddings and Fornication November 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Billesley and Shakespeare: Books, Weddings and Fornication

    Many times on Strange History we have looked at the possibility that a small community is capable of remembering a tradition over decades, generations and even centuries without any recourse to writing. And Beach has just stumbled on a possible example of this in the deep English village of Billesley in Warwickshire. There are fewer […]

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