jump to navigation
  • The Male Midwives Called Peter and the Empty Box Trick June 17, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Male Midwives Called Peter and the Empty Box Trick

    The Chamberlen brothers were first generation French Hugenots whose father had fled to Britain in 1569: one brother Peter was born in Paris (1560) and the other brother Peter was born in Southampton (1572). Yes, you read that right. Two sons and both were called Peter: a fair introduction to a very unusual family. (And […]

    Nun Immured in Britain? April 18, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Nun Immured in Britain?

    In mid March 1846 the Hereford Philosophical and Antiquarian Association had a meeting at which the Dean of Hereford Cathedral spoke about some remarkable finds at Hill House, at Woolhope not eight miles from Hereford. He spoke with sadness and, yes, some occasional indignation as human bones had been uncovered there. This was, he suggested, […]

    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland? March 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Phoenician Sun God in Eighteenth-Century Ireland?

    It is the most extraordinary inscription. This mill-stone rock, which once stood on the top of Tory Hill in County Kilkenny in Ireland, has been taken as proof of Carthaginian contact and settlement or at least trade with Ireland in antiquity. The words clearly read (give or take some distorted letters) Beli Dinose, a reference to […]

    Pook’s Hill and Kipling September 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Pook's Hill and Kipling

    There are two versions of the history of Pook’s Hill: the official version; and the official-official version. First, the official version. Kipling wrote in the Edwardian period a book for his children about English history: Puck of Pook’s Hill, published in 1906. A fairy, Puck, introduces Kipling’s two children to the marvelous wonders of the […]

    Time, Blood and Money in World War Two September 17, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Time, Blood and Money in World War Two

    It is perhaps the best quotation about the Second World War. ‘The British gave time, the Americans gave money, the Soviets gave blood’. In other terms the defeat of the Axis was made possible by the UK hanging on in the summer of 1940; by the Americans ability to outproduce the enemy; and by twenty […]

    Earliest Optography? September 16, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Earliest Optography?

    Two ideas interested late nineteenth-century crime fiction writers. First, the ridiculous notion that finger prints were unique and that they could be recorded to incriminate this or that thief or murderer; and, second, optography, the sensible-sounding proposition that a murder victim would record the last thing he or she saw on the eye’s retina. Take […]

    The Bird Tree and Barnacle Geese September 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Bird Tree and Barnacle Geese

    Beach has previously looked at tall Arab tales about trees, including the mythical children tree. However, what about this pleasing nonsense associated with Britain and Ireland? The source is Rashid al-Din and we are in the fourteenth-century. Opposite [Spain] in the midst of the Encircling Ocean are two islands, of which one is Ireland. From […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: In Search of the Sewer Crocodile in Hamburg August 25, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: In Search of the Sewer Crocodile in Hamburg

    This story is quite exciting because it is a possible source for the famous crocodiles in the sewer tale. There are reports from the early 1870s about crocs associated with drainage in the US. However, they rarely involve danger or fun. We are in Hamburg, Germany: The police authorities of this city have issued a […]

    Volcano or Leopard Skin? July 23, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    Volcano or Leopard Skin?

    It is regularly cited as the earliest map in the world (‘the greatest find in cartographic history’); it is ‘certainly’ our earliest landscape painting. Here, at level VII, in one of the world’s first cities, Çatalhöyük in Turkey, is a remarkable mural. A group of tessellated squares that appear to be houses painted beneath a […]

    Medieval Marvels: Carving Liquid for Stone and Marble July 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Medieval Marvels: Carving Liquid for Stone and Marble

    Beach has sometimes looked, in this blog, at the marvellous works of Gervase of Tilbury, 104. Here is another from his book of curiosities. A liquid that allows for the moulding of stones. In our times, during the papacy of Alexander III [1155-1181], when I was a boy, a phial was found at Rome full […]

    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis! July 18, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Coming Destruction of Minneapolis!

    Minneapolis is in a cavey region. It is also true that the discovery of the Schieks Cave in 1904 under downtown Minneapolis did cause some panic, but the concern was more about perceptions in a growing and prosperous city than danger. Little in the way of precautions seem to have been taken. Enjoy then this […]

    The Pirandello-Lenin Statue July 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Pirandello-Lenin Statue

    Beach has proud form in reporting stories of Lenin statues: including one in the United States and one (what spasm of Soviet insanity…) in Antarctica. However, he was thrilled to be recently sent this great story by LTM, to whom this post is respectfully dedicated. This letter appeared in the London Review of Books and […]

    Did William the Conqueror Fall? July 8, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Did William the Conqueror Fall?

    One of the stories handed down to generations of British school-children is the idea that William the Conqueror, on arriving in England, slipped as he was coming ashore. This, of course, was a terrible omen (for the Anglo-Saxons). In his eagerness to get to the shore, as he leaped from the boat, his foot slipped, […]

    Wolfe and the Seargent June 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Wolfe and the Seargent

    This little snippet comes from 1827 and Hone’s Table Book. It describes, of course, the death of that great British hero, James Wolfe, just outside Quebec, in 1759, one of the most famous moments of the march of Empire. But it adds a detail that most Wolfe’s biographers have ignored… It is related of this […]

    The Lie of the Second Sons April 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Lie of the Second Sons

    When Beach wrote his university entrance exams, many decades ago, he waxed unlyrical about Europe’s second sons who went on crusade because there was nothing for them at home. There might have been some genuine pent up passion about killing Moors or walking where He walked, but it was really all about filthy lucre. The […]

    Page 1 of 1612345...10...Last »