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  • Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe? July 15, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Last Zombie Burial in Western Europe?

    At least twice a year there are news stories about zombie-proof burials. Archaeologists dig up a body that has been given special treatment by gravediggers: we have enjoyed some of these stories at StrangeHistory in the past including a particularly haunting one from Ireland. Sometimes corpses are decapitated and the head placed between the legs; sometimes […]

    Were Ancient or Modern Soldiers More Likely to Die? June 11, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Were Ancient or Modern Soldiers More Likely to Die?

    Soldier, forget principle, forget country, forget pride, forget hate: your one aim is to survive, with or without your legs. Now ask yourself this: given that you want, at all costs, to live would you prefer to fight in WW2 battle or a battle in the Punic wars in antiquity? Perhaps the first thing to […]

    A Pre-Christian Custom in Eighteenth-Century Scotland? April 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    A Pre-Christian Custom in Eighteenth-Century Scotland?

    A recent article on Chris’  Haunted Ohio Books quoted an eighteenth-century source for an unusual form of Scottish divination: the whole passage (from Martin Martin, obit 1718) is well worth reading, as is Chris’ thoughts on the same. But one bit particularly stood out: it relates to the Hebrides. The second way of consulting the […]

    Nessie as Biker and the Exorcism of the Loch April 24, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nessie as Biker and the Exorcism of the Loch

    Ted Holiday was a Fortean researcher who died in 1979 and who was particularly associated with research into Nessie. His intellectual development (or regression from some perspectives) saw him change from: a believer in a physical Nessie (albeit with the mystery creature starring as a large slug rather than a dinosaur); to believing, instead, in […]

    Migrating Birds and the Edge of the World April 3, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Prehistoric
    Migrating Birds and the Edge of the World

    Year in year out birds follow migratory routes from north to south and from south to north. These travelling birds have long intrigued humans who have looked amazed as waves upon waves of birds fly to destinations unknown. These birds have entered human legend: the storks going to Africa to fight the pygmies, the wild […]

    Magic Bathing in the Far North February 9, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Magic Bathing in the Far North

    This was a story that came up in the search for nineteenth-century superstitions relating to Loch Ness. We are c. 1870. The lake in question is apparently Loch mo Naire (which might be the Serpent’s Lake or the Lake of Shame) aka Lochmanur just on the northern tip of Scotland. Dipping in the loch for […]

    Did You Hear the One About Nessie, the Sceptic and the Water Horse? February 2, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Did You Hear the One About Nessie, the Sceptic and the Water Horse?

    Two of the most interesting Christmas books this year were Roland Watson’s The Water Horses of Loch Ness and Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero’s Abominable Science! Origins of the Yeti, Nessie, and Other Famous Cryptids. As is evident from the titles these books take opposite sides of the crypto argument: in fact, the authors […]

    The Dragon of Dornoch? January 26, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Dragon of Dornoch?

    Dragons… It has been so long. The last dragon story of kinds was the serpent crown in the summer of 2012 and the last proper dragon tale was back in spring of 2012, a seventeenth-century Essex wyrm. Here, instead, is a fascinating but potentially dodgy source for a twelfth- or thirteenth-century dragon: a letter sent […]

    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 […]

    Was Nessie a Kelpie? December 22, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Was Nessie a Kelpie?

    A post a couple of weeks ago on the kelpie of Loch-na-Bestie got Beach thinking about the most famous kelpie in Caledonia. Who else but that stalwart of Scottish tourism, that gift to fake photographers everywhere, the greatest floating log of them all, Nessie?  Yes, it is true that Nessie has been seen, photographed and […]

    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie December 3, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie

    There is a fabulous Scottish water beast story that is worth repeating. Today we scour lochs for fantastic animals. In the early nineteenth century they scoured at Loch na Beiste (literally Loch of the Beast) to kill the same. The story of the celebrated water-kelpie of the Greenstone Point is very well known in Gairloch. […]

    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?! November 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
    Crypto Fairy Hippo Cow in Scotland and Ireland?!

    Fairy cows are occasional adjuncts to fairy legends and in the Gaelic world, particularly in the Irish west and the Scottish highlands there is the fairy water cow, a creature that comes from out of the water to land to graze. A little legend illustrating this from Limerick in Ireland, more specifically Lough Guir (aka […]

    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #6: The Bude Kirk Rumours October 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Dreaming Murder in Parliament #6: The Bude Kirk Rumours

    Now consider this strange little annex, in Lang. One very curious circumstance in connection with the assassination of Mr. Perceval has never been noticed. A rumour or report of the deed reached Bude Kirk, a village near Annan, on the night of Sunday, May 10, a day before the crime was committed! This was stated […]

    The Bird Whisperer! October 12, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Bird Whisperer!

    Horse whisperers are there in fiction and film and perhaps in fact and Beach previously had fun with East Anglian horse whispering (with many reader’s emails elucidating). But what about bird whispering? What could you possibly do to calm a bird? This blogger would find it easier to relate to a reptile or an insect […]

    Fairy and Diary September 26, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy and Diary

    Just recently Beach came across an eighteenth-century diary with a strange fairy reference and wondered if any readers could help with trying to get to the bottom of it. First, we should say that the diary, by one Rev John Thomlinson, is full of highly elliptical references: it was definitely not for public consumption, but […]

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