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  • Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe? July 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe?

    At least twice a year there are news stories about zombie-proof burials. Archaeologists dig up a body that has been given special treatment by gravediggers: we have enjoyed some of these stories at StrangeHistory in the past including a particularly haunting one from Ireland. Sometimes corpses are decapitated and the head placed between the legs; sometimes […]

    Close Encounter of the Zeppelin Kind July 10, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Close Encounter of the Zeppelin Kind

    In the 1960s, date unspecified, a southern English paper the Hackney and Kingsland Gazette published the following letter, a memoir from one Mr S.C. Thomas, who had lived in the area in the First World War. His memories had taken him back to October 1916 when he and Hilda Cavanagh had gone out for a […]

    Seeing Fairies is Out: Lost Manuscript Found July 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Seeing Fairies is Out: Lost Manuscript Found

    A bragging post today. This morning a copy of Marjorie Johnson’s Seeing Fairies: From the Lost Archives of the Fairy Investigation Society arrived by express delivery: major kudos in the village when the red van drives up and the courier demands a signature, the butcher and the baker came out to watch. Regular or perhaps […]

    Nineteenth-Century Gravegoods in Somerset July 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Nineteenth-Century Gravegoods in Somerset

    The burial of children is always extremely melancholy. The very tragedy of putting a loved child in the ground – memories of an Anglo-Saxon grave in Oxfordshire covered previously by this blog – leads relations, siblings and particularly parents to an unusual pitch of grief and in that grief they sometimes make unusual decisions. Certainly, […]

    The Ten Stupidest Duels in History July 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Ten Stupidest Duels in History

    Duelling was a sensible institution that, from the sixteenth to the twentieth century, reminded young men, and sometimes women, of a particular social class that – never mind how they had been spoilt growing up – words and actions had consequences. Most individuals who paced around in Hyde Park  slashing the air with their swords, […]

    Three Wellingtons To Rule Them All and Hair Jewellery July 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Three Wellingtons To Rule Them All and Hair Jewellery

      I came across this story while looking into the history of magic rings. It is some, shall we say, marginalia, written into the back of a volume that was subsequently scanned by Google. This is not the first time I’ve come across an intriguing reference on an online scan, but this one begged more […]

    Fighting Over a Tennis Court June 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Fighting Over a Tennis Court

    Battles have been fought in some odd places: in sewers, on iced lakes, in factories, across impossibly high mountains… But a battle on a tennis court is surely unique? Other strange examples: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The scrap in question took place in April 1944 at the bungalow at Kohima and was one of […]

    Buried In a Fish’s Belly June 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Buried In a Fish's Belly

    This is an almost unbelievable story that made a splash in the UK in the late May of 1833. We quote one G.S.Gowing who was the owner of a ship, but who was not a witness. On Monday last, the 20th inst., a fishing vessel belonging to Lowestoft [Norfolk], Robert Gowing master, engaged in the […]

    The Horror of 69 Charlotte Street June 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Horror of 69 Charlotte Street

    One of our occasional series of ghost stories from the English press. This one appeared in 1940 – as if a World War wasn’t enough to keep you busy – and relates to Devonport (Plymouth) in the south-west. Note that the south-west is over-represented in English newsreports of Fortean affairs. Relieved peace once more reigns […]

    Prodigious Portrait of a Seven-Headed Monster June 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Prodigious Portrait of a Seven-Headed Monster

    This peculiar creature appeared in a seventeenth-century English pamphlet. The pamphlet limits itself to two pages and tells a simple story. The true Portraiture of a prodigious Monster, taken in the Mountains of Zardana [in Syria]. the following Description whereof was sent to Madrid, Octob. 20, 1654, and from thence to Don Olonzo de Cardines, […]

    Immortal Meals #14: Food Orgy on Twelfth Night June 13, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Immortal Meals #14: Food Orgy on Twelfth Night

    From long before the times of Trimalchio there have been extraordinarily sumptuous banquets. These died away with the shriveling of economic possibilities in the early Middle Ages but then returned with avengeance in the fourteenth and fifteenth century. A British contribution to the category of exaggerated banquets and one for the immortal meal tag was […]

    Remembering and Forgetting Robert Herrick June 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Remembering and Forgetting Robert Herrick

    Robert Herrick is famous today for his bit part in The Dead Poet’s Society, where he makes Robin Williams look good (briefly). But he had a much greater range, writing about sex, alcohol, sex, death, sex, folklore, sex and (rather unconvincingly) God. Basically, his poems smelt of semen and noone who has ever read his […]

    Dragons in Sixteenth-Century Devon? June 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Dragons in Sixteenth-Century Devon?

    Challacombe is a small village to the west of Exmoor in Devon in the south-west of the UK. On the edge of the moor there are many ‘hillocks of earth and stones, cast up anciently in large quantity’, i.e. prehistoric burial mounds. So far so normal, this is a classic landscape in a marginal agricultural area, that […]

    The Non-Discovery of Shuck May 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Non-Discovery of Shuck

    Shuck (aka shock) was a demonic hound that haunted much of East Anglia in the early modern period: and in the absence of satisfactory ancient and medieval records may have been running around with blazing red saucer sized eyes, since the time when the druids were the new kids on the Neolithic block. However, in […]

    The Cuckold’s Horns May 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    The Cuckold's Horns

    ***Thanks to Ricardo and Neil for help with this post*** The cuckold’s horns is a sign, usually indicated by two fingers placed over the head, of a man whose wife has been unfaithful. In many countries – not least the UK, see photo – the actual symbolism has been forgotten and only the offence remains. […]

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