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  • Treasure Dragon Graffiti in Orkney July 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Prehistoric
    Treasure Dragon Graffiti in Orkney

    Maeshowe was a Megalithic tomb on Orkney. At some point our Viking ancestors broke in and desecrated the innards of Maeshowe with their tiresome graffiti. We have visited some of these graffiti before while in search of an axe. However, of special interest today is the treasure graffiti: translation Bruce Dickinson. It is true what […]

    Dragons in Sixteenth-Century Devon? June 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Dragons in Sixteenth-Century Devon?

    Challacombe is a small village to the west of Exmoor in Devon in the south-west of the UK. On the edge of the moor there are many ‘hillocks of earth and stones, cast up anciently in large quantity’, i.e. prehistoric burial mounds. So far so normal, this is a classic landscape in a marginal agricultural area, that […]

    The Dragon of Dornoch? January 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Dragon of Dornoch?

    Dragons… It has been so long. The last dragon story of kinds was the serpent crown in the summer of 2012 and the last proper dragon tale was back in spring of 2012, a seventeenth-century Essex wyrm. Here, instead, is a fascinating but potentially dodgy source for a twelfth- or thirteenth-century dragon: a letter sent […]

    Chinese Dragons Head West January 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Chinese Dragons Head West

    Dragons have long been part of the mythic corpus of Europe, Asia and Africa and, if you include the various Amerindian Giant Serpents, the Americas as well. However, different cultures celebrated or reviled dragons in different ways and a dragon from Sweden with a breath that reaked of ragnarok and a wingless dragon from China […]

    The Crown of the Queen of Serpents July 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Crown of the Queen of Serpents

    A curious little episode from a very obscure English autobiography. The individual being described here is August de Haxthausen (obit 1866), friend of the brothers Grimm.  De Haxthausen ended up in Britain in the 1840s in the house of a little girl, Janet Ross, who would become one of Beach’s favourite cookery book writers: but […]

    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs June 2, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    The Monger-Goss Theory of Dragons and ABCs

    Just last week Beach was looking into dragon accounts from seventeenth century England. And in searching for dragon-related material he stumbled on an article that he feels deserves to be better known and perhaps celebrated. The article in question is George Monger’s ‘Dragons and Big Cats’ published in the illustrious journal of British myth and […]

    Seventeenth-Century English Dragons May 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Seventeenth-Century English Dragons

    Beachcombing recently highlighted the case of a giant serpent in nineteenth-century Devon, a snake that was as thick as a thigh. Beach had assumed that this was a one off, but now he is wondering as he found a second reference to go with it. This one comes from a pamphlet with a straight-to-the-point title: The […]

    Dragon Rats in Oxford February 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dragon Rats in Oxford

    Beach has demonstrated an interest in dragons in this place on several occasions. He just recently came across an account though that trumped most of the shilly-shally he has put up here in the past.  ‘Jacob Bobart botany professor of Oxford, did about forty years ago (in 1704) find a dead rat in the Physic […]

    A Dragon in Medieval East Anglia September 16, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Dragon in Medieval East Anglia

    Beach had a fabulous evening trying to convince his elder daughter (3) that dragons do exist. This involved placing a small bean bag draco at various inaccessible points of the house and creating a domestic dragon mythology: dragons only eat salted foods; dragons hate men; dragon baby’s mothers steal keys etc etc. The picture above […]

    Dragons in Swtizerland July 17, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dragons in Swtizerland

    Dragons may be a thing of the past, but there are some surprisingly recent reports that seem to describe the fiery-breathed ones among us. Take this curious record from the works of Athanasius Kircher (obit 1680), Mundus subterraneus, quo universae denique naturae divitiae (Amsterdam 1664-1668). Where to even begin? In 1619 as I was contemplating […]

    Marco Polo Meets a Dragon? May 30, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval

    Beachcombing still mouse hunting so a brief and curious passage in Marco Polo 2, 40. It is an extract that scholars – depending on their proclivities – try and ignore or enjoy overly. Leaving the city of Yachi, and traveling ten days into a westerly direction, you reach the Province of Carajan [modern Yunnan on […]

    Dragons and Hairy Stars in Early Ireland September 30, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Dragons and Hairy Stars in Early Ireland

    Beachcombing knows that there is a fashion for exaggerating the achievements of the medieval Irish. So let Beachcombing be emphatic. The early Irish did not have a table of elements. They did not talk of words like ‘relativity’ or ‘displacement’. They did not make clones or drop atom bombs. However, recent research has suggested that […]