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  • Hawker and the Pixy? May 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hawker and the Pixy?

    We have visited Robert Hawker before on this blog, not least in his gadding about as a mermaid. However, there follows a peculiar episode in which he claims to have seen a supernatural creature in a letter written in 1856 (or was the experience 1856, the source Byles Life and Letters is not clear?). R.A.J.Walling […]

    The Rossendale Fairies Photographed? April 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Rossendale Fairies Photographed?

    This week has been big in fairy land. Not only did an interesting piece appear concerning a diabolical gnome from Argentina, there were also some photographs published by the Manchester Evening News purporting to show fairies. As this blog has always taken very great pleasure in giving fairies and more importantly fairy belief space we […]

    Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal March 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairies, Arson and Banknotes in Co. Donegal

    One of the great things about fairies in traditional communities is that they make for the perfect alibi. If someone pushes down the landlord’s fence then, of course, it was the fairies that did it. If a man is a beaten out walking along a midnight lane then the fairies did it. If a boy […]

    A Forgotten (Fairy?) People: the Ranties February 16, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Forgotten (Fairy?) People: the Ranties

    Early medieval historians estimate that there were perhaps two hundred separate tribes or kingdoms in Ireland c. 500 but that these tribes were slowly subsumed or at least yoked to the growing Irish monarchy (and foreign successors) that reached an apogy under Brian Boru in the eleventh century. However, long after those times, the memory […]

    Epiphany Gift #4: The John O’London Fairy Letters! January 6, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Epiphany Gift #4: The John O'London Fairy Letters!

    Welcome to the fourth annual Beachcombing epiphany gift: first there was War in Dollyland; then there was Scary Fairies; then there was New Frontiers and now, in cooperation with the Fairyist we offer the John O’London Fairy letters, an early twentieth-century cache of fairy encounters from a period when these things were not much written […]

    Fairies and Funerals December 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies and Funerals

    Fairies are often associated with death: indeed, many fairy theorists have suggested that the ‘good people’ were originally believed to be the spirits of the dead. Then there are the various minions of fairy who  predict death including the banshee in Ireland and various bogeys in northern and western Britain. Fairy funerals are commonly described […]

    Romans and Fairies? November 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Romans and Fairies?

    ***Dedicated to Invisible who sent the Notts example in*** Beach has slowly become aware that Roman remains in Britain were misinterpreted by imaginative yokels. Of course, already by the seventh century Roman Bath (probably?) was the City of Giants in an Anglo-Saxon poem. By the twelfth century Geoffrey of Monmouth was claiming that some Roman […]

    The Wood County Creature!!! November 23, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
    The Wood County Creature!!!

    Some very sad news from the US: the death of Nick Reiter. Nick was a paranormal investigator based in Ohio and his website contains a series of investigations of mysterious cases, particularly hauntings. Beach hasn’t got much time for all this ghost-busters stuff, but Nick’s writing gives the phantoms a rare edge and more particularly […]

    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?! November 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?!

    Fairy cows are occasional adjuncts to fairy legends and in the Gaelic world, particularly in the Irish west and the Scottish highlands there is the fairy water cow, a creature that comes from out of the water to land to graze. A little legend illustrating this from Limerick in Ireland, more specifically Lough Guir (aka […]

    Review: The Ghost Wore Black October 30, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Ghost Wore Black

    The Ghost Wore Black: Ghastly Tales from the Past is the latest in Ghosts of the Past series by Chris Woodyard. Anyone familiar with CW’s style will know by now what to expect. There are half a dozen thematic chapters, which takes us from devils, to wild men, to spring-heeled jack wannabees: ‘ghosts’ has to […]

    Tolkien, a Poppy and the Death of Traditional Fairies October 24, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Tolkien, a Poppy and the Death of Traditional Fairies

    Tolkien has rarely featured in these pages, but given Beach’s interest in fairies, it was only a matter of time before the Oxford don had a post dedicated to him. Very likely in 1913 or 1914 – the dating depends on the evidence from a fabulous article by John Garth – Tolkein had an unusual […]

    Authority in the Village from Italy to Ireland October 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Authority in the Village from Italy to Ireland

    Beach lives today in a small village in central Italy. The village is isolated and there has been little marriage with ‘outsiders’. Up on the hills, barely disturbed by such inconveniences as the twentieth century – the Germans occupied for a couple of weeks and blew up half a dozen houses – the folk kicking […]

    Paranormal Smells October 10, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Modern
    Paranormal Smells

    Maybe it was the recent review of Thomas’ essay on farts but Beach has been obsessed with smells and paranormal experiences: perhaps in part because some neurological malfunctioning can lead to strong and unexpected smells; there is a pungent field for research there. Long, long ago we looked at a fairy bad smell story and since […]

    Fairy and Diary September 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy and Diary

    Just recently Beach came across an eighteenth-century diary with a strange fairy reference and wondered if any readers could help with trying to get to the bottom of it. First, we should say that the diary, by one Rev John Thomlinson, is full of highly elliptical references: it was definitely not for public consumption, but […]

    Review: The Extraordinary and the Everyday in Early Modern England September 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Review: The Extraordinary and the Everyday in Early Modern England

    Academia usually shuffles anxiously away from the bizarre, but every so often a historian of note decides to take on something strange – crucifying cats, delusional werewolves… – and produces insights into the past. Imagine, instead, though that a whole soccer team of first-rank historians huddled together and determined to sprint after curious events, instead […]

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