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Richard III: Between the Bust and the Face February 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Richard III: Between the Bust and the Face

***Dedicated to Jround*** The excitement over the discovery of Richard III’s body has been entirely understandable: the documentaries, the articles, even an obituary in The Economist. But there at the centre of it is that reconstruction (above), which means that Richard III has now the best known of all English monarchs’ faces. How accurate though […]

A Magpie Parliament? February 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
A Magpie Parliament?

***Dedicated to Ed*** Magpies are often seen in small groups and this has had a predictable reflex in folklore where there is a charming rhyme (with some regional variations) that children still learn in the UK: One [magpie] for sorrow, two for joy, three for a girl, four for a boy… As to bigger groups […]

Wanted Balkan King! January 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Wanted Balkan King!

A question. What modern European country asked a cricketer, the son of a Sultan, a German prince, a circus acrobat and a Gaelic-speaking Scot to be their monarch within ten short years? The answer is, of course, Albania. A tiny Adriatic power to the north of Greece, Albania has a history that you wouldn’t wish […]

Wiccans and Fairy Shamans: Priority? January 23, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Wiccans and Fairy Shamans: Priority?

In the last thirty years there have been growing numbers of men and women who have expressed a belief in fairies: for a minority of these communion with fairies has come to take on the outlines of a of religious system. We even read of ‘fairy shamanism’ and special ‘congresses’ where believers experiment with contact […]

In Search of Exotic Blood in Europe, 1000-1900 January 22, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
In Search of Exotic Blood in Europe, 1000-1900

DNA gets all over the place. We have looked before at some ‘freak’ examples from the Middle Ages, including Amerindian blood in medieval Iceland and Indian DNA in eleventh century England. But after dethroning Britain’s only Indian Prime Minister the other day Beach decided to go after easier prey, namely Europeans from 1000-1900 who had […]

Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!! January 8, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!!

One of the weaker proofs of Pre-Columbian contacts with Europe is the legend of the ‘white Indian’. Typically, a pioneer in the sixteenth or seventeenth or eighteenth or even the nineteenth century comes upon an Indian who by his appearance or his actions shows that he is really of European descent. Prior to today Beach […]

Britain’s ‘Indian’ Prime Minister January 7, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Britain's 'Indian' Prime Minister

Did you know that a nineteenth-century English Prime Minister was of Indian descent? Well, many of our text books tell us that this was the case. Lord Liverpool (Robert Jenkinson) (obit 1828), who presided over such questionable events as the Congress of Vienna and the War of 1812, had an Indian grandmother. Here is one […]

Long Distance Runner DOESN’T Disappear into Broad Daylight December 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Long Distance Runner DOESN'T Disappear into Broad Daylight

There is something fascinating about people just vanishing, perhaps particularly in those rare instances when people are actually watching them. Beach has recently been chasing after records for the following interesting case. We’ve taken enough words from The Examiner to give some kind of outline here. James Burne Worson was a shoemaker by trade living […]

Love Goddess 4#: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love December 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
Love Goddess 4#: Juliet, Verona and the Invention of Love

***One more chapter to go… Sorry again for answered emails. Also the internet connection is playing up so this may be the last chance I have to write before Christmas. If so happy Noel*** Traditions are invented constantly and love is a major human interest: hence the custom in Verona Italy of leaving love letters […]

A Bone-breaking Country Flight in Italy, c. 1920 December 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
A Bone-breaking Country Flight in Italy, c. 1920

This early aeronautics story comes from central Italy in the 1940s. A mysterious aged man lives up in a secluded valley, a man who is spoken about in hushed terms. It seems this man is almost a wizard in terms of mechanical objects. When he was young he made a bicycle entirely out of wood, […]

Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3 December 12, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Ponte Vecchio: Love Goddess # 3

Ponte Vecchio’s transformation from kitschy chocolate box cover medieval bridge to unlikely love goddess was unexpected. But it has happened nonetheless. In the last ten years many young Tuscan couples have made the pilgrimage there to cement their love. The ritual is long and complicated. The couple in question first go to a hardware store […]

Beatrice: An Unlikely Love Goddess 1# November 18, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Beatrice: An Unlikely Love Goddess 1#

Dante’s Beatrice is one of the most famous and simultaneously obscure individuals in history. Dante lauded her to high heaven (literally) in his poetry on the basis of a couple of sightings: his love was steadfast, ideal and a little silly. But what do we know about the ‘true’  Beatrice? Well, most scholars believe that […]

Billesley and Shakespeare: Books, Weddings and Fornication November 8, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Billesley and Shakespeare: Books, Weddings and Fornication

Many times on Strange History we have looked at the possibility that a small community is capable of remembering a tradition over decades, generations and even centuries without any recourse to writing. And Beach has just stumbled on a possible example of this in the deep English village of Billesley in Warwickshire. There are fewer […]

Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies November 4, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Goodwin Wharton and the Fairies

In 1684 the Queen of Fairy was visiting the (fairy) Duke of Hungary in his estate under Moorfields (London), when the Duke hatched a dastardly plot. First he tried to poison her majesty with chocolate and then, having failed to ruin her insides, he attempted to blow up her subterranean palace with gunpowder. If you […]

Shakespeare’s First Anne October 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Shakespeare's First Anne

Earlier this year we publicised that famous inventor of the compass, Flavio Gioia, who never, in fact, existed. Today, we offer a parallel tale from English literature: the story of Shakespeare’s first love. We refer here not to that hated appendage, Anne Hathaway, who married the bard after he got her pregnant and eventually got […]

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