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Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings July 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings

Luise White published, in 2000, her Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa. Very crudely – the book is difficult to reduce to a simple core because it recognizes complexity on the ground –White shows how colonial anxiety was played out through what she chose to call ‘vampire’ legends. Europeans and their agents […]

Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London! July 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London!

In 410 the walls of Britannia came crashing down. In a situation of great confusion Rome apparently disavowed its interest in the island; the island that had always been its poorest province, and got on with trying to save its continental possessions: the failure of that task a generation later marked the end of the […]

The Bull of Brandlesholme (another reason to avoid Lancashire) July 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Bull of Brandlesholme (another reason to avoid Lancashire)

A transcendental experience this morning in the wood: came face to face with a cow-sized wild boar that sniffed at me and then went to chew on a neighbour’s cherries. Medium-sized or large creatures in the wild often have a  magical quality: foxes and deer are a particular favourite. ‘The Lords of Life’, as Lawrence […]

The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks July 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks

***Dedicated to Wade, who sent this treasure in*** If you hang round ancient archaeologists long enough you end up being shown pictures of strange objects and being asked ‘What do you think that is for? What did they do with that?’ The sophistication of ancient technology and the complexity of ancient societies – compared with […]

Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances June 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Faking in Ninetenth-Century Seances

Beach has stumbled again into the world of nineteenth-century séances in search of fun. And he’s awfully glad he ended up there. What mummery! What hoaxing! What extraordinary imbecility on the part of intelligent men and women! He brings together here a selection of his favourites. First let’s get into the mood. We could detect […]

Magonia #9: The Myth Continues June 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Medieval, Modern
Magonia #9: The Myth Continues

As access to information gets easier, and there was a huge-internet powered jump in the 1990s, then surely the information available to us should become more accurate, right? Easier to check facts, easier to be checked… Not a bit of it. As information becomes more accessible then more people have more access to information and […]

The Boggarts of Royde and Royd May 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Boggarts of Royde and Royd

Today, an almighty confusion of boggarts: the fairy-shape-shifting-ghosts that haunt the south Pennines and the North West of England. Ellen Royde is a gentile house, now used as a health clinic, in the Lower Calder Valley at Elland near Halifax. There, in the garden, was a boggart chair, some kind of seat or structure, suggesting […]

Lawrence’s Missing Tree May 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Lawrence's Missing Tree

D.H.Lawrence, the high priest of love, the enemy of the bourgeoisie (and their closest ally), an indifferent stylist, a brilliant novelist and the man our great grandmothers prayed that they would not be seated next to at a dinner party. DHL had a lifelong, masturbatory relationship with Italy: a country that was, in his mythology, […]

Botched Beheadings April 29, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Botched Beheadings

The guillotine was originally invented as an act of humanitarianism to liberate criminal kind from the axe. It made sense, after all, to remove a criminal’s head from his or from her shoulders if that criminal had to be killed. But the procedure was messy. Two important things could go wrong while removing said head […]

Amazons 1#: First Contact April 19, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Amazons 1#: First Contact

In 1542, a small party led by Francisco de Orellana, a thuggish conquistador (was there any other sort?) was making its way down a huge South American river towards the sea. In the depths of this dangerous region, where no white man had ever gone before, the Spaniards began to hear strange stories of… Well, […]

The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Are More Rainbow Coloured on the Other Side of the Fence April 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
The Hallucinogenic Mushrooms Are More Rainbow Coloured on the Other Side of the Fence

Hallucinogens are frequently found in the traditional religious life of hunter-gatherers and rural communities. There are, of course, literally hundreds of different ways of intoxicating yourself ranging from toad glands to nutmeg, from jimson weed to ergot spores. And naturally, these techniques which, depending on your point of view, canker or enhance reality, are important […]

Death By Basketball April 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Death By Basketball

Humanity is extraordinarily ingenious in terms of the different ways it has found to execute people. We’ve reviewed on this blog before elephant executions; Mike Dash has recently given space to the Viking’s blood eagle; there is necklacing in Sub-Saharan Africa (a lynching rather than judicial capital punishment); the brazen bull in ancient Greece (another […]

Shakespeare’s Missing Head April 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Shakespeare's Missing Head

We’ve already enjoyed some of the adventures of Orville W Owen in Bacon land, most particularly digging up the River Wye in search of treasure. The New York Times article that we quoted there ends with the accusation that some journalists have misquoted Orville. Then, again, [Orville] is quoted as expressing the belief that Bacon, […]

Non-Existent Werewolf Boy and the Lord of the Forest(s) March 29, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Non-Existent Werewolf Boy and the Lord of the Forest(s)

Charles Mackay’s Extraordinary Popular Delusions is a wonderful sources for witchery and bizarre history, but Mackay is a poor historian and, a bit like this blogger, references nothing. Take this passage that fascinated Beach. One young man at Besançon, with the full consciousness of the awful fate that awaited him, voluntarily gave himself up to […]

Bleeding-heart Yard and Nineteenth-century London Witches March 27, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Bleeding-heart Yard and Nineteenth-century London Witches

London legends rarely stretch back beyond the 1800s which is why this one, which is perhaps based on an Elizabethan legend, is such fun. The extract dates to 1841. Let any man walk into Cross-street, Hatton-Garden, and from thence into Bleeding-heart Yard, and learn the tales still told and believed of one house in that […]

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