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  • 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 […]

    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies March 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Review: Witches, Fantasies and Fairies

    In 1966 Carlo Ginzburg, a WANW Italian historian, published I Benandanti. In this book, Ginzburg argued that a group of sixteenth-century Friulian peasants, who believed themselves to have  super powers – they could fly and fight witches – were the last traces of a pre-Christian fertility cult in the region. Ginzburg went on to argue that […]

    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 […]

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