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Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips June 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Magonia #4: Sky Ships and Moebius Strips

Back to Magonia. Agobard leaves no space for doubt: in early medieval popular tradition there are sky boats and these sky boats are connected with a magical land named Magonia. Now after reviewing the evidence for Agobard himself, a crusty old sceptic, and looking too at the folklore traditions about European hail medicine (Beach would […]

Halley’s Comet and the Generations! May 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
 Halley's Comet and the Generations!

***Dedicated to Larry who got me interested in this and provided, through his emails and forwards, much of the information*** It recently struck Beach that Halley’s comet would be a perfect measure of the continuity of knowledge in ancient and medieval civilizations. After all, here is a comet that returns every 75 (and a bit) […]

Review: Secret of Kells March 31, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite
Review: Secret of Kells

Part of being a twenty-first century parent involves the ability to watch cartoons repeatedly with your children (discuss). Most of these cartoons are trash. A minority are witty: Mega Mind, Toy Story… And a  handful – Shrek, Bambi, Totoro, Kiki the Witch… – make modern art house films look like third-rate romantic comedies: they really […]

Irish Ghosts and Irish Judges: the House on the Marsh March 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Irish Ghosts and Irish Judges: the House on the Marsh

Its always satisfying when the legal system and the paranormal come crashing together. Take this case from late nineteenth-century Ireland. The report appeared in a British newspaper and the writer just couldn’t hide his delight. We could have edited this down but the style is very Victorian and most splendidly supercilious. Most people are familiar […]

England’s First Anomalist and A Missing Manuscript? March 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
England's First Anomalist and A Missing Manuscript?

Matthew Poole (obit 1679) was an English Biblical scholar from an age and a place when that meant simultaneously the most mind numbing parsing and sensationalizing of God’s word. He wrote tracts, he preached sermons and he would generally have made rather dull if hell-fire warm dinner company: perhaps the only really interesting thing that […]

The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds February 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds

The ‘Celtic Church’ is the phrase commonly used to describe the version of Christianity that triumphed in much of Britain and Ireland throughout the early Middle Ages, say 400-800. Historians of the calibre of Patrick Wormald (RIP), Wendy Davies and Kathleen Hughes (RIP) have argued or even railed against it. What follows is a half-hearted […]

Review: Running with the Fairies January 28, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary
Review: Running with the Fairies

Scholarly fairy books are rare indeed: they average at about one every four years. Not many at all when you think that a score of volumes on Vietnam are published each month. This infrequency means that it is always extremely exciting when a new member of the fairy family shuffles onto the stage. So, with […]

Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!! January 8, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Irish-speaking Argentinean Indians!!

One of the weaker proofs of Pre-Columbian contacts with Europe is the legend of the ‘white Indian’. Typically, a pioneer in the sixteenth or seventeenth or eighteenth or even the nineteenth century comes upon an Indian who by his appearance or his actions shows that he is really of European descent. Prior to today Beach […]

The Mirage of Brasil December 25, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
The Mirage of Brasil

Almost every European people with a coastline have invented magical lands for themselves in the waves out there… Some of these islands are sunken, some are on the surface. Some move around, some stay still but can’t be reached. Some are sentient (really!), some are just pieces of rock. Some are coastal, some are far […]

European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact December 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
European America or American Europe? Calculating the Probability of Pre-Columbian Contact

The idea of pre-Columbian contact between the Americas and Europe or even Africa has been one that has understandably excited a lot of attention. What are the possibilities that Europeans ended up in, say, Florida or that ‘Floridans’ made it to, say, Scandinavia in 1491? Well, in this post we are going to take the […]

American Indians in Galway, Ireland? November 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
American Indians in Galway, Ireland?

One of the most dramatic pieces of evidence for a pre-Columbian crossing of the Atlantic is to be found in a single Latin marginalia, that is some words scribbled into the margin of a book. The sentence in question appears in a copy of the Historia rerum ubique gestarum by Aeneas Sylvius Piccolomini which was […]

The Tara Harpoon: Eskimoes in the Irish Sea? November 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
The Tara Harpoon: Eskimoes in the Irish Sea?

***Dedicated to SD*** Time for a wrong place artefact that has been all but forgotten: the Tara Eskimo Harpoon. An Eskimo Harpoon in Tara? what is ‘wrong’ with that? Well, Tara is in County Down in Northern Ireland and the TEH was found at Millin Bay there in 1927 and was brought along to a […]

Was Chess Invented in Ireland or China or India or…? November 5, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Was Chess Invented in Ireland or China or India or...?

                There is a general consensus that chess came out of the east, that it arrived in Europe through the Arab Mediterranean and that from there it made its way to the royal courts of France and Germany. Certainly, by the fifteenth century a game that we recognise […]

Newgrange and a Hundred Generations November 2, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
Newgrange and a Hundred Generations

Newgrange, standing near the Boyne, is one of the great treasures of Ireland and, indeed, of Europe. Built some four thousand years ago by the first Gaels it is mysterious and, when the mist comes in, vaguely malevolent. It is also exclusive. Each year a tiny group of fortunate men, women and children – chosen […]

The Missing Autobiography of Mario Esposito October 28, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
The Missing Autobiography of Mario Esposito

Mario Esposito (obit 1975) was a talented medievalist born to an Italian family in that glittering Dublin of Joyce, Yeats and Beckett. ME got involved with the struggle for Irish independence, was a keen mountaineer, but above all published on Irish manuscripts. His first academic article was written when he was 18, a rather misinformed […]

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