jump to navigation

Fairy Witches 2#: Bessie Dunlop March 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fairy Witches 2#: Bessie Dunlop

Here are some extracts from the trial of one of the most interesting fairy witches of them all: Bessie Dunlop who was brought before the Edinburgh Assizes in 1576. This rendering of the trial (into English rather than Scots English) comes from Emma Wilby’s worthwhile: Cunning Folk and Familiar Spirits. Bessie’s first confession includes the […]

Fairy Exorcisms in the Hebrides March 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fairy Exorcisms in the Hebrides

***Huge apologies, this story briefly came out yesterday by accident. I’ve been doubled over with fever*** A scary fairy story from the Hebrides from about 1902. The events described here seem to have taken place on Lewis though the writer is not absolutely clear. Beach stumbled on this while looking for information about fairy dog […]

Lucy Bruce, Iona and the Fairy Investigation Society March 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Lucy Bruce, Iona and the Fairy Investigation Society

Miss Lucy Bruce is a virtually forgotten twentieth-century mystic, who spent some of her life on the Isle of Iona in Scotland. She interests the writer of this post because she was a member of the Fairy Investigation Society and he is presently trying to learn more about the organization by tracking all members down: […]

A Medieval Zombie in Berwick! February 20, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
A Medieval Zombie in Berwick!

***Dedicated to the Count who sent this in*** Beach has put up several medieval zombie stories over the last months. This is the final in the series (well until we find some more). It is another from the quill of William of Newburgh. We are in Berwick in that dangerous borderland between England and Scotland. […]

In Search of the Tooth of the Fairy Dog February 17, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
In Search of the Tooth of the Fairy Dog

Fairy dogs are the Scottish and above all the Hebridean equivalent of the East Anglian shuck: black or white or green (!) hounds that appear in the night and that bring with them portents. Of course, the fairy dog is an intangible creature, probably to be looked for in the subconscious rather than in the […]

Inuit in Aberdeen? February 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Inuit in Aberdeen?

We previously enjoyed a brief visit to eighteenth-century Orkney (Scotland) and the mysterious Finnmen there, usually identified as Inuit. Here is a record from further south that seems to describe something similar. The Rev Francis Gastrell included in his diary this detail of his visit to Aberdeen in 1760: A canoe [pictured above] about seven […]

The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds February 10, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The Celtic Church: A Defence of Kinds

The ‘Celtic Church’ is the phrase commonly used to describe the version of Christianity that triumphed in much of Britain and Ireland throughout the early Middle Ages, say 400-800. Historians of the calibre of Patrick Wormald (RIP), Wendy Davies and Kathleen Hughes (RIP) have argued or even railed against it. What follows is a half-hearted […]

Inuit in Orkney? February 2, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Inuit in Orkney?

James Wallace was minister of Kirkwall in Orkney (Scotland). In 1688 he wrote the following account, though this was not published till 1693, by which time the good minister was dead. Sometimes about this country are seen these men they call Finnmen. In the year 1682, one was seen in his little Boat, at the […]

Mysterious Death on Iona, 1929 January 31, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Mysterious Death on Iona, 1929

17 November 1929 a woman died in mysterious circumstances on the island of Iona in Scotland. She was named Marie Emily Fornario though she more normally went by the name Netta Fornario or simply Mac. Netta, as we’ll call her here, was involved in the occult movements of the day including the Alpha et Omega […]

I’ve Been In This House Before… January 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
I've Been In This House Before...

There is a rare subsection of Forteana where a sensitive woman (at least in all the examples we know) visits a mystery house in dreams and then, after a long period of nightly wandering, finds herself, amazed, at the front door of her dream house on a random visit to the countryside: again the examples […]

Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts January 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Prehistoric
Immortal Meals #12: The Feast to End all Feasts

The Ness of Brodgar is one of the most impressive Neolithic sites in Britain and, indeed, in Europe. It includes a series of massive buildings that have been interpreted as mausolea or temples and that would have taken modern stone masons years to put together: without metal tools it must have taken the Neolithic Orcardians […]

Into the Lion’s Mouth January 15, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
Into the Lion's Mouth

What do Lorenzo the Magnificent (obit 1492), Henry III of Navarre (obit 1610) and Rudolph Hess (obit 1987) have in common? Well, they were men, they were all born in Continental Europe and they also went defenceless to their enemies and somehow survived to tell the tale, hence the lion’s mouth of the title. First, […]

Viking Family Memories December 5, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Viking Family Memories

Back to families and remembering. This time though in the Northern Isles with the last of that cursed breed the Vikings… Occasionally there are examples of writing in stone, which under special conditions, survive beautifully through the centuries. This is true of the several sheltered runic inscriptions found in the Maeshowe megalithic tomb on Orkney, […]

Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain October 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Modern and Early Modern Animal Sacrifices in Britain

Beach knows that animal sacrifices took place in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Britain. He has even featured and celebrated a few cases himself, but he was much struck by this list. Can anyone add anything to it? drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com Mr. Henderson wrote his Folklore of the Northern Counties in 1879, and he says: […]

Two Red Letter Books August 14, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Two Red Letter Books

Here is a little historical puzzle: This account comes from northern Scotland. The least dilapidated of the chapels was dedicated to St Regulus, and there is a tradition that at the Reformation, a valuable historical record belonging to it, the work probably of some literary monk or hermit, was carried away to France by the […]

Page 2 of 41234