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  • The Lonely Cottages: Ancoats March 28, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Lonely Cottages: Ancoats

    Beachcombing has a bit of a thing about unsuitable placenames: placenames that may once have been efficient but that by now are simply inappropriate. A favourite example of this is Ancoats in central Manchester. Ancoats for those who have never had the chance to walk on its dirty cobbles was once one of the most […]

    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain December 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Roman and Medieval Vineyards in Chilly Britain

    Let’s face it. If you want a good wine the last thing you will do is head off to the supermarket and buy an English brand. The idea is almost comic. French, Italian, yes. Australian, Californian, Hungarian, perhaps. But English grapes freezing their pips off on a vine in the Midlands, where not enough sun […]

    Lost in Transmission May 4, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
    Lost in Transmission

    Words echo through the centuries like coins dropped down an infinite well. And as they are passed on they are smoothed and confused in the mouths of the people. The best examples we have of this are, of course, placenames: in the space of eighty generations Londinium becomes London, Mamucium becomes Manchester and Euboricum becomes […]

    An Overlong Name January 29, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    An Overlong Name

    Another of Beachcombing’s deities died this morning: the small Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Anglesey) well known in Britain as having the longest name in the country, if not the world. Of course, a moment’s consideration should have told Beach that something fishy was going on; instead, he had innocently let the name be, reasoning that […]

    Accidentally Obscene January 7, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Accidentally Obscene

    The Belfast Telegraph recently ran a story on the Limerick town of Effin – named for St Eimhin no less! ‘Ann Marie Kennedy is proud to live in Effin – and now she has launched an online campaign to have Facebook recognise the town whose name was blacklisted for being too offensive [urban dictionary]. Ann […]

    Hill Hill Hill Hill May 4, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Hill Hill Hill Hill

    Placenames, like history, are as much a product of human incompetence as human genius. Take the phenomenon of pleonastic placenames – an intimidating word signalling the limitations of language and understanding. Rather than explain what is meant it is best to give an example, the Yorkshire placenames of Seamer Water (pictured above). Working backwards, generally […]

    Dark Age Haunting in the County Durham November 14, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Dark Age Haunting in the County Durham

    Beachcombing likes to think of the little village of Shincliffe sometimes as night is falling, particularly if it’s raining. True, he’s never been to this particular corner of the north of England. But he’s done the next best thing – looked at google earth and several OS maps. And he suspects that he knows it […]