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  • The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel July 28, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #6: A Cornish Parallel

    The Rillaton Cup was a prehistoric gold beaten vessel that was discovered in a barrow in Cornwall (the cairn on the map below to the north east of the Hurlers). It is beautiful and antiquarians have compared it to the fabulous Mold cape, which is probably roughly contemporary. However, there is another connection between the […]

    Boy Genius Washed Up from Shipwreck In Wales? June 25, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Boy Genius Washed Up from Shipwreck In Wales?

      ***thanks to Wade and Andy who sent this amazing story in** Consider the following tale. Two young children are found in mysterious circumstances without their parents: they look different from the locals and speak another language. They are adopted by a family in the neighbourhood. One child dies but the other prospers and shows […]

    Remembering and Forgetting Robert Herrick June 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Remembering and Forgetting Robert Herrick

    Robert Herrick is famous today for his bit part in The Dead Poet’s Society, where he makes Robin Williams look good (briefly). But he had a much greater range, writing about sex, alcohol, sex, death, sex, folklore, sex and (rather unconvincingly) God. Basically, his poems smelt of semen and noone who has ever read his […]

    A Travelling Chair June 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Travelling Chair

    Beach has recently been trying to explain to his daughters the meaning of an heirloom. Interesting how children lack the essential measure of time – Beach’s eldest is 5, and doesn’t really do ‘centuries’. ‘This ring was in our family before Granddad’s granddad was born’ cue blank expression and ‘Let’s watch Tom and Jerry’. Anyway […]

    8000 Year Old Memories in Oregon? April 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
    8000 Year Old Memories in Oregon?

      ***Dedicated to Wade*** By happy chance I recently came across two different references to Crater Lake (Oregon). The most intriguing, given this blog’s longstanding coverage of oral transmission, is a memory (?) of the lake’s creation. Let’s start with the geology of the region: about 8000 years ago Mount Mazma erupted and created a […]

    A Fourteen Thousand Year Old Legend from Australia? March 20, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Prehistoric
    A Fourteen Thousand Year Old Legend from Australia?

    This morning ran across one of the most incredible examples of oral transmission or perhaps it would be better to say apparent oral transmission, I’ve ever stubbed my toe upon. First, some generally established facts depending, thank God, on geologists and geographers (not historians). Tasmania is today an island off the southern coast of Australia […]

    Human Drum at Rennes March 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Human Drum at Rennes

    ***Thanks to Tokyobling for putting me onto this story and too many others like it*** Had a pretty disturbing week looking at the use of human skins in witchcraft and book covers: things that Beach, in his alloyed innocence, just didn’t realize existed. However, of all the human skin stories I ran across the strangest […]

    From the Grenadier to the Beer Shop (via Mickey Mouse and Pussy Cat) February 5, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    From the Grenadier to the Beer Shop (via Mickey Mouse and Pussy Cat)

    ***Thanks to Mike L for drawing my attention to this classic series*** In Henry Carey’s Namby Pamby published in 1726 there is the following verse Now he acts the Grenadier, Calling for a Pot of Beer: Where’s his Money? He’s forgot: Get him gone, a Drunken Sot. Now consider, instead, this rhyme collected two hundred […]

    A Scottish Earthquake Remembered? December 29, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    A Scottish Earthquake Remembered?

    David Murray Rose was a late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century historian and, a far nicer word, an antiquarian. This comes from a letter he wrote in 1930 to the Inverness Courier and relates to an obsession of this blog: the degree to which information can be transmitted orally through time. First, the legend. Many years […]

    Men Wearing Mirrors: Portuguese Conquistador in Northern Australia? December 8, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Men Wearing Mirrors: Portuguese Conquistador in Northern Australia?

    The Portuguese ‘discovery’ of Australia is one that has excited Australians and Europeans for most of the last century, since, in fact, it was first realized that there was a very real chance that Portuguese ships could very easily have headed south from their base at Timor and have run smack-bang into ‘the lost continent’. […]

    Okinawa and Three Dead Marines August 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Okinawa and Three Dead Marines

    , ***Dedicated to Christopher, who signaled this story*** An episode of memory and death in a closed community, this time over a mere 55 years, but that is interesting simply as a point of comparison with the death of three of Cromwell’s soldiers in Scotland and a 200 year-old memory span there. In 1998 the […]

    Two-Hundred-Year-Old Memories of Dunbar? August 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Two-Hundred-Year-Old Memories of Dunbar?

    Beach did a horrible thing yesterday and made fun of the supposed oral transmission of information across four millennia. Even at New Grange that sort of thing seems unlikely. But he does have a lot of sympathy with the possibility that stray details might make it through two or three centuries in a rural community, […]

    The Golden Ghost of Mold #2: Walter Johnson Debases Gold August 14, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
    The Golden Ghost of Mold #2: Walter Johnson Debases Gold

    Beach has frequently enjoyed before the power of oral transmission: information skipping across the centuries like a flat stone spun over a pond. Here is a supposed memory of oral transmission concerning the Golden Ghost tomb from Mold in northern Wales. This time the account comes from Walter Johnson’s Folk Memory and Archaeology (1907) A […]

    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) […]

    Frobisher’s Missing Five February 7, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Frobisher's Missing Five

    There is a fascinating episode in Frobisher’s 1567 first trip to the North West Atlantic. Five of his men vanished in the most extraordinary circumstances while on Baffin Island (Arctic Canada). But these foolish men, being five of them in all in the bote, having set on land this stranger at the place appointed: the […]

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