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  • A Fairy Foot? February 17, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Fairy Foot?

    In 1871 a man in a cattle market in Ipswich (England) watched a dealer remove, from his pocket, various objects and was shocked to see a small skeletal foot there. On being asked what the object was: the cattle dealer responded that it was a ‘fairy foot’ and that it was a ‘sovereign protection against […]

    Goblins Under the Bed January 23, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Goblins Under the Bed

    Here is a bit of a cheeky post as the photo is ‘borrowed’ from an Italian site (Matteo Rubboli): but as the text is overwhelmingly in Italian there is the fear that an international audience might not find it easily. This is particularly a shame as the text is just a mild commentary and the pictures are so […]

    Hilarious Ghost-Ewe Incident in Scotland January 19, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hilarious Ghost-Ewe Incident in Scotland

    Bureaucracy hell at the moment in Italy so here is a simple but marvelous stocking filler from 1870. Reminds Beach of one of his favourite ever posts, on a hare in a Manx courtroom. Perhaps not quite as good but almost… We are in northern Scotland near Inverness. The other evening, while two servant girls […]

    Children, Folklore and the Supernatural January 7, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Children, Folklore and the Supernatural

    Children, we are told, have supernatural encounters more easily than adults. On several levels this would make sense. But forgetting, for a moment, about whether this is true or false, where does the idea come from? There is a very strong notion among spiritualists and theosophists in the later 19C that kids had greater potential […]

    Katharine Briggs: Some Thoughts December 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Katharine Briggs: Some Thoughts

    Anyone who studies fairies, witches and the supernatural generally will have a simple series of thoughts about Katharine Briggs (1898-1980): gratitude for keeping the Folklore Society going over a rocky couple of decades; love of her marvelous books, including one of the great fairy novels; and an affection for that brooding severe child of Victorian […]

    Roy Vickery, the Green Man October 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Roy Vickery, the Green Man

    Much of British folklore has been carefully curated and packed into volumes on library shelves: but most of British folklore lies, in truth, uncollected out in the fields. This brings us to one of the heroes of modern British folklore, Roy Vickery. RV is a botanist with a long-term interest in the folklore of plants: […]

    The Hobgoblin Club September 21, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hobgoblin Club

    It is 1891. You are living in a small Cornish village and your neighbours get jumpy every time they see a shadow (‘the ghost…’ etc) and talk darkly of Mother Jones being a witch. Well, in most British villages it was a question of sermons, railway timetables and opening parish schools. But in Ludgvan, close […]

    Werewhales! September 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Werewhales!

    Different countries, of course, have different shape-shifters. Northern Europe and France have a strong werewolf tradition. Amerindian peoples have a lot of changing into birds. In northern Scandinavia shaman became deer. Early modern Britons did not change into bears, but they often met headless bears that changed into other things: confusing I know. Vampires are […]

    In Search of the Droll-Teller August 26, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    In Search of the Droll-Teller

    The droll tellers were the bards of modern Cornwall. Droll-teller. An itinerant story-teller, news-monger, and fiddler, who travelled from town to town, and village to village. There were two such in Cornwall as late as 1829. In 1865 Robert Hunt gives a description of one of these droll-tellers from an informants who is presumably remembering […]

    The Death of the Bogeyman August 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    The Death of the Bogeyman

    The bogeyman was the monster conjured up by parents in times gone by to terrify their children. Here is a paragraph published in Britain in 1887 by some frightful progressive. Boggard is a local Yorkshire version of the same and the writer gives a good sense of how bogey was deployed. It was a common […]

    Herne the Hunter: the Twelve Basic Facts August 7, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Herne the Hunter: the Twelve Basic Facts

    For the unacquainted Herne the Hunter is a southern English bogie, who haunted a tree in the park at Windsor Castle on the Bucks/Berks border. Almost all writing about Herne is overlaid with speculative points and useless comparisons. This post offers, therefore, an absolute basic version of the legend focusing hard on our early sources, […]

    Did You Hear the One About the Ring… July 16, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Did You Hear the One About the Ring...

    Curious about ring legends? This blogger recently went through the international folklore indexes in search of rings so you don’t have to: you can waste a lot of time there… Yes, he found the boring old chestnuts: ring found in fish; ring cut from corpse etc. etc. But there are also some marvelously bizarre and […]

    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches July 12, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Buckinghamshire Fairies and Little Witches

    Fairy legends are common in the Celtic fringes and the north of Britain. They are to be found in northern England and south central England: they also occasionally crop up in the English Midlands. However, they were as rare as gold dust in south-eastern England and East Anglia by the time that folklore records were […]

    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore July 3, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    Operation Resurrection: British Folklore

    British folklorists badly screwed up their own discipline in the late nineteenth century. When they should have been collecting the rich crops from the home counties and the north and midlands they, instead, indulged in premature comparative work, looking overseas for answers to stupidly ambitious questions. The comparison with some of Britain’s smaller European neighbours […]

    King’s Evil and a Two-Hundred-Year-Old Charm June 29, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    King's Evil and a Two-Hundred-Year-Old Charm

    The King’s Evil (aka scrofula) was a form of tuberculosis that created horrific injuries on the skin’s surface, particular in the neck area. It could only be cured, many early modern French and British sufferers believed, by contact with royalty: a sufferer would go to the king or queen, be touched, and cured. The practice […]

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