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  • Victorian Urban Legends: Pawn Trick July 13, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Pawn Trick

    This is a lovely story from Paisley (Scotland), ‘about the truth of which there is no doubt’. The other morning there were, as usual, standing the Cross several journeymen dyers, one of whom had the reputation of being clever in his way in providing the needful when thirst is requiring to be quenched. They looked […]

    Victorian Urban Legend: The Mourning Trick June 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legend: The Mourning Trick

    This is a great story which appears with the heading, ‘Scotch Ghost Story’. We are in Glasgow. Beach has no doubt though that it is a Victorian urban legend. Let’s face it, the tale is so satisfying that if it ever actually happened it would have been abstracted and told to everyone who would listen. […]

    Bog Book in Benbecula? May 27, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Bog Book in Benbecula?

    It is always such fun when folklore produces an impossible story that is actually credible. Here is one recorded from the Hebrides in J. F. Campbell’s Popular Tales of the West Highlands. Note that the Feen are the Fenians, Gaelic Robin Hoods. I was told in Benbecula how a man had found a book, containing the […]

    Evans Wentz’s Quest for Fairies May 2, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Evans Wentz's Quest for Fairies

    Beach has recently become interested in Walter Yeeling Evans Wentz (or Evans-Wentz as he became)* the American mystic who in his late twenties and early thirties researched Breton, British and Irish fairies, before running off to India to become a guru. Many readers will know Evans Wentz for his Fairy Faith In Celtic Countries, the […]

    The 1883 Dundee Ghost Flap #3: Castoffs April 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The 1883 Dundee Ghost Flap #3: Castoffs

    Some peripheral reports from the 1883 Dundee ghost flap. Readers will remember that reports began in late 1882, and that they died out at the quarry in late Jan 1883, after an energetic policeman had intervened. 19 Feb 1883 a Dundee paper reported that the ghost had been caught. If this really was the or […]

    The 1883 Dundee Ghost Flap #2: the Hilltown Ghost April 22, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The 1883 Dundee Ghost Flap #2: the Hilltown Ghost

    Yesterday, Beach introduced the Dundee ghost of 1886. Here is the sequel. All is quiet at Blackness Quarry, but elsewhere in the town evil brews. Here is the main report Two or three weeks ago we drew attention the remarkable doings of an individual who the role of a ghost, and disported himself in the […]

    Exploding Pipes March 20, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Exploding Pipes

    Bored, got nothing to do? Here’s a thought. Why not blind a friend for a lark? There are a couple score newspaper stories from 1850-1950 of workmen, companions and complete strangers giving victims pipes that have been doctored with gunpowder. Typically the smoker puts a match to the shag of tobacco, takes a deep breath and […]

    The Servant Who Became a Bride January 19, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Servant Who Became a Bride

    Beach has often offered up stories that sound like that they may be urban legends from Victorian Britain. Many of these stories involve crime because crime was acceptable to the reading palate of Victorians: morality, punishment, sometimes redemption… There were unquestionably many sexual urban legends. Unfortunately most of these went unrecorded because of Victorian sensibilities. […]

    Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks January 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairy Vampires #1: Spence Speaks

    Vampire legends arrived in Britain and Ireland from the east of Europe in the eighteenth century and were, then, celebrated in fiction in the early, mid nineteenth century (The Vampyre, 1819 and Varney the Vampire, 1847). Two of the great popularisers of vampires in, what was then, the UK were, of course, Irish: the brilliant […]

    A Missing Folklore Book: Marie Campbell December 10, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    A Missing Folklore Book: Marie Campbell

    Recently Chris, from Haunted Ohio Books, wrote a fascinating post on a missing folklore manuscript. Chris reached out to see whether anyone could find this precious document, a series of fairy legends from the Appalachian Mountains collected by Marie Campbell (1907-1980).* The legends were referred to in 1976 by Katharine Briggs in her Dictionary of […]

    Snowball Atrocities #6: Snowballs over Glasgow October 24, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Snowball Atrocities #6: Snowballs over Glasgow

    In Beach’s long and passionate searches through the annals of snowballing, he has come across many descriptions of mass snowball fights. However, this, from February 1865, is perhaps his favourite. It combines reckless youth, police brutality (to not from), and significant property damage: in short it is the essence of the Victorian snow-balling. Glasgow has […]

    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster) September 20, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    Floating Islands (and the Loch Ness Monster)

    Let’s talk floating islands. A few years ago Beach had a very gentle battle with a courteous Nessie writer Roland Watson. As a sceptic with folklore interests Beach was intrigued by many parts of Ronald’s argument, but one piece of new evidence that stood out was the claim that there was a floating island on Loch […]

    Gaelic-Speaking Russians in 1914 September 9, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gaelic-Speaking Russians in 1914

    One of the most interesting myths to come out of First World War Britain was the tall tale of the Russian soldiers with ‘snow on their boots’. The story, which emerged as the war began in Aug and Sep 1914, was that thousands of Russian soldiers had been rushed to the UK. They were there […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 6: There Were Mermaids! August 2, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 6: There Were Mermaids!

    This is the last in the Caithness Mermaid Mystery, for now. A letter written in the John O Groats, 1849 series. Here we have a trusting soul, James Taylor, who knew all the protagonists… Dublin, 4th May, 1849. Sir, A considerable portion of the John O’Groat Journal being lately occupied by the appearance of those […]

    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 4: I Shot the Mermaid July 29, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Caithness Mermaid Mystery 4: I Shot the Mermaid

    In the 1849 the John O’Groats newspaper, the most northerly on the British mainland ran a retrospective on the Caithness mermaids. It seems to have begun 6 April 1849 with a question asked in the paper. 20 April 1849 there was the republication of Miss McKay and Mr Thuro’s accounts. Then, there came this marvellous […]

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