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  • 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 […]

    Hell Fire and Death Bed Cobblers September 26, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Hell Fire and Death Bed Cobblers

    ***Thanks to Tom W*** Beach has lived through a couple of death bed scenes and what he remembers most from those dreadful occasions is the immense sense of peace. But in history, it seems, there is anything but peace in the final minutes of life. Indeed, the most extraordinary things are always happening to the dying. […]

    Hostage Taking in Ancient and Medieval Times September 20, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Hostage Taking in Ancient and Medieval Times

    When we think of hostages today we tend to think of men with pistols using some poor innocent as a human shield. But in the ancient and medieval world hostage-taking was formalised. Conquered territories would give up children of notables who would be conveyed to an enemy capital or castle and who would then be […]

    Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland August 31, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Accidental Hanky Panky in Late Nineteenth-Century Ireland

    This was a cute little story that turns up in a late nineteenth-century folklore collection from Ireland. A visitor is out and about looking for the ‘bed’ of ‘Dermot and Grania’, the mossy bower where a mythical couple from Irish legend escape to love and live away from society. Dermot for those who have never […]

    Ireland the Great and White Man’s Land August 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    http://www.nicolaasart.com/art_series_deep_blue_above.php

    Beachcombing woke up this morning with Vikings on his mind – a migraine coming? – and so thought that he would visit one of his favourite northern stories/legends/cobblers: Great Ireland. The reference appears in Landnámabók the thirteenth-century ‘ancestral’ codex of Iceland. How much is history and how much is legend in the Landnámabók is much […]

    Two Red Letter Books August 14, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Two Red Letter Books

    Here is a little historical puzzle: This account comes from northern Scotland. The least dilapidated of the chapels was dedicated to St Regulus, and there is a tradition that at the Reformation, a valuable historical record belonging to it, the work probably of some literary monk or hermit, was carried away to France by the […]

    Headless Coachmen and Crime August 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Headless Coachmen and Crime

    In the Middle Ages they had the wild hunt, the insanely nasty cavalry that rode across the sky. Then, come the early modern period, when everyone had ‘grown up a bit’ and men with shag and swords were so, well, ‘medieval’, that they moved on. They started seeing, instead, headless horsemen out on the toll […]

    The Terror of the Cow Charmer August 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Terror of the Cow Charmer

    A cute fairy post from the west of Ireland in the nineteenth-century. The narrator is a visiting sportsman. I heard, when passing the porter’s lodge, that the gate-keeper’s cow was ill. As she was a fine animal, the loss would have been a serious one to the family, and hence I became interested in her […]

    The Cow-Man of Wicklow and His Sad End July 27, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Cow-Man of Wicklow and His Sad End

    A paddy-bashing story from one of the nastiest Irish-haters of them all: Gerald of Wales. In the neighbourhood of Wicklow at the time when Maurice Fitzgerald got possession of the country and the castle, an extraordinary man was seen – if indeed it be right to call him a man. He had all the parts […]

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