jump to navigation

Electrifying Sheep June 3, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Electrifying Sheep

Beachcombing has a terrible secret. He is not very good at science. Yes, he receives emails about astronomy and nuclear physics, aviation and genetics on a daily basis. But, while being fascinated, he understands almost none of what he reads there. In the autumn of his years it is simply too late to put this […]

Big Bones in Churches November 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Big Bones in Churches

At the end of the nineteenth century the Reverend Wilkins Rees put together a short collection of examples of enormous bones that had found their way into English and Welsh churches. He mentioned five impressive instances, four of which he seems to have seen himself. 1) Foljambe Chapel, Chesterfield Church: ‘This bone, supposed to be […]

Cyclops Origins June 7, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Cyclops Origins

  Beachcombing has always had a bit of a thing about Cyclops. And who can blame him? After all, the encounter between old Round Eye and that smarty-pants pirate king from Ithica is what most children – genuine or grown – remember about the Odysseus: there is something so Roald Dahlish about the disgusting yet […]

Woolly Mammoths among the Pharoahs? April 14, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Woolly Mammoths among the Pharoahs?

  **This post is dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk who put Beachcombing onto it** Beachcombing has long wondered if the publishing world would not have room for a volume on long-travelled exotic animals in Antiquity and the Middle Ages: giraffes turning up in Renaissance Italy; polar bears being brought down to the medieval Arabs; […]

Review: War Elephants July 27, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Review: War Elephants

                    Beachcombing is bringing Elephant Week, ‘the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal’, to a close with a review of an outstanding recent publication War Elephants by John M. Kistler (Nebraska 2007). In this work the author covers the history of pachyderms on three continents – Africa, […]

Elephants and Burning Pigs July 26, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Elephants and Burning Pigs

                A challenge. Your army is spread across the plain when rumbling into sight come not only two hundred enemy cavalry and a thousand hoplites but, unexpectedly, thirty mounted elephants that seem very, very angry – they have been made drunk before battle according to custom. As your horse […]

The Last Elephant Charge in History? July 25, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
The Last Elephant Charge in History?

                                                  Beachcombing has had several very useful emails from readers on the last cavalry charge in history. So many useful emails, indeed, that he has decided to risk repetition and ask […]

An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936 July 24, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
An Elephant Invades Italy in 1936

                                Night four of Beachcombing’s Elephant week extravaganza is taken up by Richard Halliburton’s attempt to cross the Alps in 1936 on the back of an African elephant. Halliburton, a fun kind of fellow, managed to hire (and insure!) an […]

Elephants in Eighth-century Honduras? July 23, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Elephants in Eighth-century Honduras?

                                                                For the third night of Elephant Week, ‘the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal’, Beachcombing wants to share a remarkable series of images […]

Mongol elephants in America? July 22, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Mongol elephants in America?

For the second article of Elephant Week Beachcombing thought that he would introduce one of his favourite early nineteenth-century books. Just let the title wash over you… John Ranking’s Historical researches on the conquest of Peru, Mexico, Bogota, Natchez, and Talomeco in the thirteenth century by the Mongols, accompanied with elephants: and the local agreement of […]

Execution by Elephant July 21, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Execution by Elephant

                                            And so begins Elephant Week – for the next seven evenings an article will be given over to the freakish fringe history of the largest land mammal. First of all, this extraordinary passage from the […]

Ancient Britons Killing Roman Elephants? June 15, 2010

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Ancient Britons Killing Roman Elephants?

                  In 43 AD, the Romans finally – after decades of flip-flopping – decide to conquer Britain. The British-Celtic tribes in the island would, however, be confronted not only by a professional Roman army that was about 50,000 strong. The Romans decided to also bring some war elephants […]