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  • All Hail the Male Witch! June 21, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    All Hail the Male Witch!

    Why were witches, in the early modern period, women? The simple answer is that they were not. In all parts of Europe there were male witches and in some part of Europe male witches (witch = those put on trial for that crime) outnumbered narrowly or substantially the number of female witches. So at one […]

    A Dark Age British Sasquatch? November 18, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Dark Age British Sasquatch?

    *** This post is dedicated to Adrian S *** One epic poem survives from Anglo-Saxon England: Beowulf. Beowulf, for those who do not know, was a Danish hero who, in the course of said poem fights three monsters: first Grendel, second Grendel’s mother and third a dragon who gets the better of him. Grendel particularly […]

    Eighteenth-century Scandinavian Merfolk September 7, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Eighteenth-century Scandinavian Merfolk

    Here are a number of largely overlooked Scandinavian reports of mermaids dating from the first half of the eighteenth century. The account is rather long so these are the witness statements. Historians of cryptozoology might be interested to know that the earlier part of the text includes a reference to mermaids being ‘sea-apes’, an idea […]

    Capital Punishment and Prehistoric Burials March 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Prehistoric
    Capital Punishment and Prehistoric Burials

                You are a member of the minor nobility in some part of northern Europe found guilty of murder in the fifteenth century. After the capital sentence is passed you are thrown in the back of a cart and driven out to the local place of reckoning.  However, as you are […]

    Viking Decapitations and the Knife Experiment February 21, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Viking Decapitations and the Knife Experiment

    *Post dedicated to Mathias B who inspired it with his readings in Jómsvikinga saga* Beachcombing is down in the flu doldrums and so apologies for any emails to which he’s not yet replied. Several of you though (Ostrich, Swedish Anna, SY) pointed out that yesterday’s request about the letter from a Frederick to Ethiopia was a letter […]

    The Buddha in Viking Sweden August 20, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Buddha in Viking Sweden

                    Beachcombing thought that today he would revisit a classic anomalous archaeological find: the Helgö Buddha. Knowing though his personal weaknesses, he first did some deep breathing exercises before the mirror repeating a score of times: ‘be nice about the Vikings’, ‘be nice about the Vikings’, ‘be nice […]

    A Fifteenth-Century Interest in Scandinavian Plague Rats July 15, 2010

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Fifteenth-Century Interest in Scandinavian Plague Rats

                              The Bubonic plague was around a long time before, in 1897, scientists finally discovered what caused the illness: disease-carrying fleas on the backs of rats. Then having taken over five hundred years to work out the plague in scientific terms: these same genius […]