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  • Death by Bell Ringing May 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Death by Bell Ringing

    In a moment of divine madness, a couple of years ago, Beach asked a question about knights and lightning: basically were sardine cans on horsebacks with long lances natural lightning rods? He has been inspired today to ask another lightning question. The following passage is taken from Wikipedia page on bell-ringers, one of Wiks less […]

    The Durham Serpent May 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Serpent

    Here is a weird little story that allegedly appears in St Nicholas’ Parochial Register, Durham for 1568. Mdm. that a certain Italian brought into the cittie of Durham, the 11th day of June, in the yeare above sayd, a very great strange and monstrous serpent, in length sixteen feet, in quantitie and dimentions greater than a […]

    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen May 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Mysterious Erich von Richthofen

    The King and Country debate has been described previously on this blog. It was a talk at Oxford Students’ Union 9 Feb 1933, which saw 275 to 153 students vote for the motion ‘that this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’. This surprisingly pacifist stance from a major British institution attracted […]

    Roman Gutter Burials and a Non-Existent Line of Pliny May 17, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Roman Gutter Burials and a Non-Existent Line of Pliny

    In Roman times dead babies and fetuses were not cremated as adults: references in Pliny and in Juvenal confirm this, as do archaeological findings. However, a fifth/sixth century Christian writers named Fulgentius (possibly a North African) has been read to mean that these not fully human humans were buried in suggrundaria: Priori tempore suggrundaria antiqui dicebant sepulchra […]

    The Rudest Diplomatic Letter Ever Written? May 10, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Rudest Diplomatic Letter Ever Written?

      ***Thanks to Chris from Haunted Ohio Books for putting me onto this story*** There are many uncertainties about the letters that follow, so let’s give the orthodox version, then the letters themselves and move on from there. In the 1670s the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire in cooperation with the Khan of the Crimea […]

    Hono Heke, A Maori Chief from Ireland?! May 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hono Heke, A Maori Chief from Ireland?!

    In the Middle Ages the Irish were for ever finding Gaels in surprising parts of the world. The soldier who pierced Christ’s side on the cross was Irish, Simon Magus was an Irish druid, etc etc.  It is a shock to find, though, that this endearing habit lasted into the nineteenth century. In June and […]

    The Campestres, Romano-British Fairies? April 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Campestres, Romano-British Fairies?

    Fairies appear in nineteenth-century folklore collections, seventeenth-century spells, sixteenth-century plays, tenth-century charms and (at least in Ireland) early medieval tales. How wonderful it would be to drag the evidence back into the Roman period and beyond for our native fauns. One strategy for doing so has been to turn to Romano-British inscriptions which may (just […]

    Pheidippides and the Myth of the Marathon April 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Pheidippides and the Myth of the Marathon

    Pheidippides is a bit player in history. A fifth-century Greek who allegedly ran the original marathon. First, though some background to help situate one of the fastest men in the ancient world. In 490, perhaps in early September, Athens found itself in trouble. The Persian Emperor, Darius, resented the fact that Athens had helped the Ionian city states […]

    The Lie of the Lie of Christian’s Yellow Star March 19, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    The Lie of the Lie of Christian's Yellow Star

    One of the most attractive stories to come out of the Second World is that of Christian X of Denmark and the yellow star. When told that Jewish Danes would have to wear said star the elderly king threatened to wear one himself. The King, adored by his people and a symbol of Danish nationhood, […]

    The Prisoner in the Temple: the Bloodiest Lie January 13, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Prisoner in the Temple: the Bloodiest Lie

    Beach has previously looked at ‘the gong of the world’, the desert boy Apion, who while still brushing sand from his hair, decided to insult the Jews of Alexandria and, indeed, the Jews of the entire Mediterranean. We do not have Apion’s anti-semitic work, the classical equivalent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion: […]

    Gypsies as Children Stealers in Italy: A Modern Myth December 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
    Gypsies as Children Stealers in Italy: A Modern Myth

    As noted previously on this blog the idea that gypsies steal children is an old one, at least five hundred years old if one piece of medieval German legislation is to be taken seriously. It is an idea that has died out in most western countries, but one that has survived curiously in Italy where, […]

    Faking History on the Internet #2: Fairies Dug Up in Ireland! December 7, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Faking History on the Internet #2: Fairies Dug Up in Ireland!

    Beach is really getting into all these fake history news-stories on the internet: the champions of which are the generic sounding worldnewsdailyreport, the malodorous yet strangely attractive offspring of National Enquirer rutted with the History Channel. We have reported one of their previous fictions and have an especial joy now in spreading the word that […]

    Do You Recognise Iskandar? November 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Do You Recognise Iskandar?

    There is always a pleasure in seeing what an almighty mess humans can make of ‘historical’ traditions. Take the following story about someone who is known by every reader of this blog, but who has arrived here, some fifteen hundred years after his death, in a guise that is not (ahem) particularly reminiscent of the historical […]

    The German Non-Saluter Myth October 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    The German Non-Saluter Myth

    This picture has appeared periodically over the last few years. Its popularity is easy to understand. A crowd is slavishly announcing the thousand year reich but one man, can you spot him, refuses to lift his hand. The picture has become associated with August Landmesser, a member of the Nazi party who made the error […]

    The Greater Irish Rattlesnake? October 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Greater Irish Rattlesnake?

    Irish children are brought up with the attractive lie that St Patrick drove all snakes from the country when he arrived in Ireland in the fifth century. Certainly there are no indigenous snakes in Ireland, but over the years small snake populations have been established; not least in the Irish boom when snakes became prestige […]

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