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  • The Hairy Boggart of Weeton February 6, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Hairy Boggart of Weeton

    ‘Boggart’, it will be remembered, is a British north(-western) word meaning ‘bogey’: it was a promiscuous word and covered everything from a ghost to a troll (and sometimes a scarecrow). Individual settlements in Lancashire, northern Cheshire and northern Derbyshire, parts of the Ridings (particularly the West) and surprisingly Nottinghamshire had boggart haunted areas. Sometimes they were glades, […]

    Killing the Witch’s Rooster? February 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killing the Witch's Rooster?

    The most important thing about nineteenth-century witchcraft reports in British, Irish and American newspapers is that they reveal a series of beliefs that were actually practiced, but that were often too intimate and ‘stupid’ to share with a folklorist. The result is that these neglected newspaper reports are the closest that we come to the […]

    Green Children of Woolpit 3: Why Green Skin? January 24, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Green Children of Woolpit 3: Why Green Skin?

    Of the green children of Woolpit William of Newburgh writes: Ex his fossis tempore messis, et occupatis circa frugum collectionem per agros messoribus, emerserunt duo pueri, masculus et femina, toto corpore virides, et coloris insoliti, ex incognita materia veste operti. John Clark translates this, in his recent brilliant essay, as: ‘Out of these ditches, at […]

    The Green Children of Woolpit 1: All Hail John Clark! January 22, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Green Children of Woolpit 1: All Hail John Clark!

    The green children of Woolpit is one of the most fascinating stories to come out of our medieval records. Two children, coloured green, without any knowledge of English and with unusual dietary requirements turn up in a pit just outside a Suffolk village. They are adopted by the local lord, one dies and the other […]

    Naked Fertility Rituals from Missouri January 8, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Naked Fertility Rituals from Missouri

    Imagine these three scenes all from Ozark country in Missouri: A man and a woman walk into a flax field naked chanting, while throwing seeds, ‘Up to my ass, an’ higher too!’ The man throws the seed against the woman’s buttocks. ‘Then they just laid down on the ground and had a good time.’ Date: […]

    Chime Hours and Chime Children January 3, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Chime Hours and Chime Children

    The ‘chime child’ was born at a magic time of the night (the times varied but involved bells). She or he had psychic abilities; think of it as a temporal version of the seventh son or the caul. The idea of chime children has become an increasingly popular one in recent years. Beach typed in […]

    Benedict’s Pool (Worcestershire/Gloucestershire) December 29, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Benedict's Pool (Worcestershire/Gloucestershire)

    This ghost story is a curiosity, a maverick. It is not that there are not haunted pools or even haunting monks. But no book read by this blogger has ever troubled to put them together and certainly no tradition makes the monk into a nasty piece of work. This is a nineteenth century, which seems […]

    A Dead American and A Riot in County Cork December 12, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Dead American and A Riot in County Cork

    This one’s a gem and reminded Beach of that great Limerick custom of beating up families who dare to bury their dead on the same day. Here we are a bit further to the south, near the normally more sensible Cork, but the problem is still a death. The year is 1867. A riot, originating […]

    Devil on the Trans-Siberian Railway December 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Devil on the Trans-Siberian Railway

    Beach has previously celebrated strange railway superstition stories, the simple and unsurprising fact that innocent peoples faced with long lines of track and steam behemoths running across country naturally mixed up science and superstition and interpreted the train as a demon or bogey. Most strikingly there is the fate of the Plains Indians in their battle with […]

    Goatman: Flesh or Folklore November 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
    Goatman: Flesh or Folklore

    ***warning, Beach worked on a goat farm for six long months…*** Let’s first of all get one thing out of the way. Goatman: Flesh or Folklore was brought out by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. In other words, it is a privately published work. In 1990 this would have been a strong negative signal and old […]

    The Earliest African Unicorn Evidence November 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    The Earliest African Unicorn Evidence

    This blog, several years ago, ran a series of posts on unicorns. Here is a late appendix based on reading Cosmas Indicopleustes’ Christian Topography, a work that dated to the mid sixth century of our era. Cosmas was a widely travelled Greek. He had been to Ethiopia and he may have been to Sri Lanka, […]

    The Ripper and Thieves’ Candles November 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ripper and Thieves' Candles

    The thieves’ candle is a longstanding tradition in Britain, America and, indeed, throughout the western world. Usually the candle was the hand of a dead man with one or more of the fingers made into candles. These candles were supposed to provide safety, invisiblity and be able to cast sleep spells on victims. For example, […]

    Bathing Mystery at Lahinch October 21, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bathing Mystery at Lahinch

    In 1892 Laurence Gomme gave a presidential address to the Folklore Society. Gomme was particularly interested in the parallels between British (by which was meant at this date British and Irish) folklore and the folklore of the ‘savages’. If he could snap some branches from the golden bough while proving that the Aborigines and the […]

    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 […]

    1937 Cornish Black Dog Scare May 4, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    1937 Cornish Black Dog Scare

    The phantom dog of Linkinhorne was one of the south-western dandy dogs that have terrified locals since time immemorial. What is particularly interesting though about this dog from the past is that it returned in 1937 and caused a local panic. Here are a number of the best stories from the outbreak. The first reference […]

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