jump to navigation
  • The Mason’s Worst Task April 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Mason's Worst Task

    This story has haunted Beach more than any other in the last month. Is it true, fiction or an inspired urban legend? In either case it would be a brilliant detective story. Beach was reminded of Sherlock Holmes and the Engineer’s Thumb (pub 1892). It appeared in 1894 in the Wicklow People (11 Aug). Enjoy […]

    Earliest Ordeal: Drowning March 4, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Earliest Ordeal: Drowning

    What is the earliest ordeal in history? Well, there were probably games involving Paleolithic ne’er-do-wells and mammoths, but the earliest recorded ordeal in history? There are some hypotheses about drinking ancient poisons (drugs?), in the near east: though to Beach this sounds more like an execution and it is, in any case, a hypothesis. However, […]

    Images of Deviant Burials December 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Images of Deviant Burials

    When Beach was in his early twenties he used to spend hours, and they were happy times, looking through detailed archaeological graphics of Anglo-Saxon and Roman cemeteries. At one point he used to take them to bed and fall asleep with Winchester A or Circencester 1982 Season open on his chest. There is something, well, […]

    Death by Plane October 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Death by Plane

    Death by plane, the latest in the unusual execution series. Imagine, you are bundled, for a terrible crime, into a bomber bay and tied to a bomb. The bomb is, then, dropped, after a terrifying wait, from 10,000 feet on the enemy. Will you die by explosion or by falling? Some stories are so terrible that […]

    Vivid African Execution May 19, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

      There follows a particularly vivid description of an African execution/sacrifice of a witch. The witness, Paul B. Du Chaillu (obit 1903) was describing his travels in West Africa in the 1850s: Du Chaillu has gone down in history as the first westerner to see gorillas (though there is Hanno…) Here he instead he learns […]

    Dead Hands, Live Wens: Latest Record? March 3, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dead Hands, Live Wens: Latest Record?

    There is a well attested belief that the bodies of executed criminals could heal certain illnesses. This led in past centuries to bits of executed felons being bought, sold and even eaten. Though the most gentle version was as simple as going to the gallows and begging the hangmen to let you run the dead […]

    Morris Dancers from Hell December 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Morris Dancers from Hell

    Imagine that you have a problem in your west African village. A witch is believed to be among you, or worse still someone has been indulging in cannibalism. How do you deal with such miscreants: there is no police force with the resources, and the local chief is at the end of his tether. Well, […]

    Rape and Animals September 12, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Rape and Animals

    A recent post described the bizarre legal proceedings that led to New Haven men being accused of bestiality and one being hung. These cases provoke many thoughts but not least was the fate of the accused animals. When George Spencer was brought to the gallows the pig with which he had supposedly had sex with (and […]

    In Search of Misha’al August 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    In Search of Misha'al

    Misha’al bint Fahd al Saud was a princess who was, 15 July 1977, shot several times in the head in a carpark in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia 1977: Misha’al was the granddaughter of Muhammad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the power behind the Saudi throne and one of the original Saudi playboys. Moments after Misha’al’s death her […]

    Review: Death of a Princess July 2, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Review: Death of a Princess

    Death of a Princess, a modest British television documentary, turned out to be the most expensive film ever made. It cost perhaps  a billion pounds and this was in 1980 when that kind of money could buy your three or four aircraft carriers. The piece, made for British television, tells the story of a nineteen-year-old Saudi […]

    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven June 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    It Takes After You: Pig Love in New Haven

    Bestiality (humans having sex with animals) has been a long-standing minority pursuit, which very occasionally has been ritualised, memories of a king having sex with a horse in Ireland and hints of a tribal leader marrying a seal. In most societies though bestiality has been punished and punished harshly. None of this is new, but what […]

    Execution by Dogs? May 26, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Execution by Dogs?

    North Korea is a frequent source of joy for bizarrists: if not for the poor wretched put upon people who live there. For example, last month Beach wrote up the Indian custom of death by cannon, only to be trumped by Kim Jong-un who had just executed his minister of defence with an anti-aircraft gun. This got Beach […]

    Two Monmouth Moments May 21, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Two Monmouth Moments

    The Duke of Monmouth was the illegitimate son of Charles II and a bit of a ‘tosser’ to use the northern vernacular: he looks, in the portrait above, like an underwear model trying to be ‘hot’, or a nineteen year old who has just made it into a boy band. There is no question that he was […]

    Downey’s Death: Killed by Imagination May 16, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Downey's Death: Killed by Imagination

    Beach stumbled across this story a couple of weeks ago and thought he’d put it up for the practical jokes tag. There was much interest in the nineteenth century about how the psychological impression of death could cause death. Somewhere Beach has read a French version of this (can anyone help: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT […]

    Execution by Cannon May 5, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Execution by Cannon

    Human beings have long showed remarkable ingenuity at getting rid of their fellow human beings, especially perhaps human beings that they do not like. Once the cannon was invented it was only a matter of time before someone tied a prisoner to the front and lit a fuse, blowing his body into a constellation of pain, the […]

    Page 1 of 41234