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  • A Year-Long Dance in the Eleventh Century? April 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Year-Long Dance in the Eleventh Century?

    A busy day here but really this strange twelfth century text (about an eleventh century event) needs little in the way of explanation. Wonder should be enough. William of Malmesbury, who quotes this account, apparently has a witness to hand. Note that Ethelbert sounds an Anglo-Saxon name but it is presumably an Anglified version of […]

    Ghostly Stone Throwing in Kent, 1918 March 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ghostly Stone Throwing in Kent, 1918

    Digging and paranormal episodes seem to come together with a frequency that would be all together suprising if you had never met an archaeologist. Here is a nice case from 1918: the report appears in a northern English scientific periodical. I was first attracted to it by the mention of fairies in the title of […]

    McConnel’s Passing: An At Death Encounter? March 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    McConnel's Passing: An At Death Encounter?

    11 December 1918 was a sad day in the McConnel family. Eighteen-year-old David McConnel (aka M’Connel in some publications) had perished four days before in a plane crash: just three months after the end of the worst war in history, at a time when his family might reasonably have hoped that he would be safe. Flying from […]

    The Durham Lights #2: The Candidates December 19, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Lights #2: The Candidates

    In a previous post we set out, with some help from Charles Fort and David Clarke the history of the Durham Lights, shipwrecking lights that turned up on the jagged coast at Whitburn (North-East England) in the mid late 1860s and that were only banished with the opening of the Souter Lighthouse in January 1871. […]

    The Durham Lights #1: Introduction December 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Durham Lights #1: Introduction

    The Durham Lights (aka the False Durham Lights or the Whitburn Lights) are a nice example of a few chance and unclear facts morphing out of control and spawning suspect Forteana. From 1864 to 1870, particularly though not exclusively in the winter, wrecks became common on the Whitburn Steel, some aptly named rocks, between Sunderland […]

    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie December 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie

    There is a fabulous Scottish water beast story that is worth repeating. Today we scour lochs for fantastic animals. In the early nineteenth century they scoured at Loch na Beiste (literally Loch of the Beast) to kill the same. The story of the celebrated water-kelpie of the Greenstone Point is very well known in Gairloch. […]

    Weird Cirencester Report November 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Weird Cirencester Report

    This pithy little piece appears in a fascinating book: James Malcolm Miscellaneous Anecdotes Illustrative of the Manners and History of Europe (1811), 39-40. Malcolm had ransacked seventeenth and eighteenth century newspapers in search of absurd stories, which he could make fun of. He then included these accounts in his book. He does not give us […]

    The Bird Whisperer! October 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Bird Whisperer!

    Horse whisperers are there in fiction and film and perhaps in fact and Beach previously had fun with East Anglian horse whispering (with many reader’s emails elucidating). But what about bird whispering? What could you possibly do to calm a bird? This blogger would find it easier to relate to a reptile or an insect […]

    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 […]

    Dreams of Murder June 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreams of Murder

    Telepathy is a curious concept and not the least curious part of this most curious ability is the inability to properly document it. However, in the annals of telepathy (so-called or imaginary, factual and always elusive) some of the most interesting cases have involved dreams and murder: ‘murder will out’ in a bouquet of pink […]

    Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night June 4, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: The Terror That Comes in the Night

    Beach has been lucky with his reading recently. It began with Dennis Gaffen’s Running with the Fairies, passed on to Chris Woodyard’s Face in the Window and Emma Wilby’s Cunning Folk and then there was a jump back in time with Mike Dash’s Borderlands. Another excellent addition to his library has been David J.Hufford’s The […]

    Review: Borderlands May 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Review: Borderlands

    In 1997 Mike Dash brought out a five-hundred-page whopper entitled Borderlands. This book, that somehow completely passed Beach by for fifteen years, is, to use the word of one reader, a ‘small ‘s’ skeptical approach to Forteana’: lengthy examinations of earth magnetism, UFOlogy and other disciplines that survive on the margins of modern science. What […]

    Blood Rain at Stoke Edith April 27, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Blood Rain at Stoke Edith

    Skyfalls are normally a tedium of frogs and snails and red lobster’s tails. But this one caught Beach’s attention because of the sheer horror of the cottager and because of the very seventeenth-century reaction: get a justice of the peace, swear to it and then bring out an absurdly portentous-sounding pamphlet, A Very Strange, But […]

    Fairy Exorcisms in the Hebrides March 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Exorcisms in the Hebrides

    ***Huge apologies, this story briefly came out yesterday by accident. I’ve been doubled over with fever*** A scary fairy story from the Hebrides from about 1902. The events described here seem to have taken place on Lewis though the writer is not absolutely clear. Beach stumbled on this while looking for information about fairy dog […]

    Mather’s Fortean Rulebook March 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Mather's Fortean Rulebook

    Matthew Poole’s seventeenth-century Fortean project was recently celebrated in this place. Beach was unable to track down any of the instructions that Poole chose to employ to direct his project, but we did quote from Increase Mather’s Essay for the Recording of Illustrious Providence. There Increase, who was inspired by Poole, joined together with a […]

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