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  • 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 […]

    Two-Hundred-Year-Old Memories of Dunbar? August 15, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Two-Hundred-Year-Old Memories of Dunbar?

    Beach did a horrible thing yesterday and made fun of the supposed oral transmission of information across four millennia. Even at New Grange that sort of thing seems unlikely. But he does have a lot of sympathy with the possibility that stray details might make it through two or three centuries in a rural community, […]

    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis July 16, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Evans-Wentz and a Missing Thesis

    Walter Evans-Wentz (obit 1965) was an American mystic who wrote, as a young man, before his interests went eastwards, the most important twentieth-century book about fairies: The Fairy Faith in Celtic Countries, published at Oxford in 1911. That book, available in many places on the web, can be broken down into three parts. The first […]

    Witches and Brambles May 9, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Witches and Brambles

    This is a summary borrowed from Owen Davies’ excellent Witchcraft, Magic and Culture. In December 1924, Alfred John Matthews, aged forty-three, a small-holder of Clyst St Lawrence, Devon, appeared at the Cullhompton petty sessions for scratching and drawing blood from Ellen Garnsworthy, a middle-aged, married woman of the same village. Matthews had a sow which […]

    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 […]

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