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Romans and Fairies? November 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Romans and Fairies?

***Dedicated to Invisible who sent the Notts example in*** Beach has slowly become aware that Roman remains in Britain were misinterpreted by imaginative yokels. Of course, already by the seventh century Roman Bath (probably?) was the City of Giants in an Anglo-Saxon poem. By the twelfth century Geoffrey of Monmouth was claiming that some Roman […]

The Last Single Combat? November 15, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
The Last Single Combat?

Single Combat is not strictly the same as a duel, where two individuals meet to settle a matter of honour. In single combat a member of one army and a member from another meet before battle, either to warm up the ranks or, better still, to settle the affair pacifically without any one else having […]

The Death of the Roman Republic November 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Death of the Roman Republic

There is nothing in history to equal the death of the Roman Republic. On the one hand, a bunch of power-hungry opportunists including Caesar, Pompey, Augustus, Mark Anthony and Crassus. Then, on the other, the last defenders of Republican liberty: Cato, Cicero, Brutus and their many ‘sometime’ supporters in the Senatorial Class. The power-hungry opportunists […]

The Law and Cauls October 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
The Law and Cauls

Long-time readers of the blog may remember several posts on cauls (the membrane that sometimes sticks to a child as he or she exits the womb). ‘Hooded’ children or caulbearers are often said to have psychic gifts. But there is also a tradition of excellence in law: the reason for the connection between these two […]

The Mystery of Hadrian’s Wall October 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Mystery of Hadrian's Wall

Hadrian’s Wall is one of the great Roman mysteries: though most archaeologists and classicists that trot obediently along it do not think of ‘the Wall’ in those terms. Consider the facts though. Hadrian builds HW in 122-c.126 as part of his efforts to retrench the Empire after Trajan’s expansionary policy in Dacia and Armenia. Hadrian […]

Unlucky Days: Rufus Fears Speaks September 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient
Unlucky Days: Rufus Fears Speaks

It’s always fun when academics go off message in the middle of talks. Here is a particularly crazy example from a lecture by Rufus Fears, the celebrated classics professor and editor of Lord Acton, recorded for the Teaching Company, Famous Romans, 3. (The TC, btw, puts some great stuff out there and this series of […]

Weird Birth Omen and the Youngest Roman Emperor September 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Weird Birth Omen and the Youngest Roman Emperor

***Thanks for David M for pointing out this fascinating piece*** Diadumenian was one of the unluckiest Roman emperors. He was made emperor by his father when he was about nine and he was dead within just over a year (obit 218), when one of those apparently endless third-century revolts pulled the rug from under his […]

Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London! July 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
Forgotten Kingdoms: Enclave London!

In 410 the walls of Britannia came crashing down. In a situation of great confusion Rome apparently disavowed its interest in the island; the island that had always been its poorest province, and got on with trying to save its continental possessions: the failure of that task a generation later marked the end of the […]

Fastest Marchers July 8, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Fastest Marchers

How far can the average person walk in a day? Most of us walk about three miles an hour, which should mean that, if we didn’t develop blisters or stitch and if a man with jack boots had a pistol at our head, we could probably manage between thirty and forty miles a day. But […]

Nine Historical Mysteries June 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Nine Historical Mysteries

***Dedicated to Moonman*** Thanks to an email from an old friend of StrangeHistory Beach found himself wondering about moments from history that are mysterious, and where this blogger would chop off his own digits to get at the truth. In what follows, he has avoided the classics because, to be frank, he just doesn’t care […]

When Cats Killed Men April 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
When Cats Killed Men

Can a cat kill a human being? In the modern world you would need to invent a rather elaborate scenario involving microbes, extreme allergies or a long flight of stairs to make that one work. But in ancient Egypt cats regularly murdered their human neighbours: though first their human neighbours had to kill them. Diodorus […]

Feline Paws through History March 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Feline Paws through History

***Dedicated to Larry, Why Evolution is True and Andy the Mad Monk*** Feline lovers will curse us for saying this but the cat has not played a huge role in history. True, we have observed here in the past some its few runs across the stage of the past including the notorious cat organ, cat […]

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 […]

Good Executions? December 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Good Executions?

Is there such a thing as a ‘good execution’: after all the extinction of human life should never or almost never be a cause for celebration? Well, historians have used the phrase, in the past generation – though it has older antecedents – to refer to the extent to which the criminal cooperates with his […]

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 […]

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