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  • St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant? July 6, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    St Columba: A Medieval Clairvoyant?

    ***Dedicated to Paula de Fougerolles whose new book on Columba is the best historical novel on the Dark Ages since T. H. White laid down his pen*** St Columba of Iona (obit 597) is perhaps the most interesting of all the medieval Gaelic saints: and given the  strange holy fauna running around the Irish jungle […]

    The Virgin and the Fairies June 28, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Virgin and the Fairies

    The last fairy post for a week, we promise… Beach has noted previously here the danger of confusing fairy sightings with UFO sightings. But, as a lot of his work this summer has concerned medieval records, he realises that confusion is nothing new where fairies are concerned. There is, 500 AD – 1700 AD, the […]

    The Problem with Sea Apes May 24, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern
    The Problem with Sea Apes

    ***Dedicated to Andy the Mad Monk and Invisible*** Beach has, since the early days of this site, shown a persistent interest in mermaids. It would be outrageous then to pass by the important new documentary coming out (or has it already aired?) on Animal Planet. The following is borrowed from Wikipedia (courtesy of the inestimable […]

    The Last Invasion of Britain? May 5, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Last Invasion of Britain?

    It is sometimes said that the last invasion of Britain took place 22 April 1778 at Whitehaven in Cumbria. On that date, John Paul Jones, a Scot and an American patriot led his ship, the USS Ranger, against the small Lakeland Port (another post, another day) in an unlikely annex to the War of Independence. […]

    Dark Age Scotland Without Oxygen? March 25, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
    Dark Age Scotland Without Oxygen?

    First of all huge apologies for lack of coverage in these days: the Beachcombing household really is in a it-doesn’t-rain-it-pours month. In less than 48 hours their beloved aupair disappears and despite honourable and numerous dishonourable efforts to sort this out they have been left uncovered. The first time someone falls ill there is going […]

    Fairies and Vegetation March 16, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairies and Vegetation

    Yes, sorry, Beach has not respected his only one-fairy-post a week rule. But this just proved too interesting to let go AND it was keeping him awake while Mrs B was gently snoring besides him. First the facts. In many modern works fairies are portrayed as ‘nature spirits’ actively working for trees, flowers, gorse bushes […]

    Fairy Sighting on Skye, c. 1880 March 12, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Fairy Sighting on Skye, c. 1880

    The family crisis continues here and so Beach offers a modest little post on a fairy sighting in Skye: perhaps Beachcombing’s favourite witness account of the ‘good folk’.  This was written out in the early 1960s that puts the experience back c. 1880. In the darkening of an Autumn evening over eighty years ago a […]

    Slaves for Sale February 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Slaves for Sale

    Beachcombing has recently become interested in slavery, a matter that he has neglected in previous posts, with the exception of a very unpleasant beating in Colonial American and an early piece on the Barbary Coast. Beach has particularly been impressed/horrified by slave adverts and has stumbled on several remarkable examples. Let’s start off with something […]

    What Religion did Fairies Follow? January 22, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    What Religion did Fairies Follow?

    Beach’s endless reading in the literature of fairies has led him to a couple of unusual passages. He honestly doesn’t know that to make of them. In truth, they frighten him. The first is from a south-western fairy tale where a man is reunited with his ‘dead’ fiancé who is actually trapped in fairy land. […]

    Highland Gladiators December 24, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Highland Gladiators

    If Beachcombing had another ten years to add to his natural lifespan he would study duels: there is enough bizarre material there for at least a decade of honest work. As it is the years pass and there is little time. So he will offer up here, in passing, just one of those many collected […]

    Luftwaffe Kills A Rabbit, Perhaps December 10, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Luftwaffe Kills A Rabbit, Perhaps

    Little Miss B in seventh heaven last night and this morning as the family has been gifted a small black rabbit. This black rabbit is not destined to have the happiest of lives as LMB insists on watching Disney cartoons with it. Beachcombing, in any case, fell asleep with rabbits and woke up thinking of […]

    Swearing to Mermaids December 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Swearing to Mermaids

    A further Scottish Mermaid sighting, dating to October 1809. This one is particularly interesting because there seems to have been a concerted effort to get the local ‘yokels’ – whose testimony is usually reckoned at less than naught – to swear to what they saw. Neil McIntosh in Sandy Island, Canna, states that he has […]

    Don’t Play with Fire (in Scotland)! November 29, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern, Prehistoric
    Don't Play with Fire (in Scotland)!

    In prehistoric times early humans – or, depending on which chronologies you follow, man’s ancestors – were not able to create fire but harvested it from natural conflagrations. Even in more recent times – ask any scout who has ever had to start a fire without matches on a camping trip – the creation of […]

    Haunted Chessmen November 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
    Haunted Chessmen

      Invisible writes in with the news that the Lewis Chessmen are about to go on exhibition in New York. And Beach took this as a prompt for one of his favourite archaeological stories. The unnamed Lewis farmer in the following account was one Malcolm ‘Sprot’ Macleod In 1831 a high tide on the coast […]

    More Caithness Mermaids October 23, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern

    Mermaid posts. It has been a while… This one should be read together with another nineteenth-century Caithness sighting. It cannot be a coincidence that two letters were sent at the same time relating to the same village. Presumably the publicity given to Miss Mackay in late May for her sighting, encouraged or emboldened William Munro, […]

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