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  • What are Fairy Trees? January 16, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
    What are Fairy Trees?

    Nothing about fairies is easy but Beach is getting more and more confused about one aspect of fairy life and that is their trees. In the Gaelic-speaking world (or what was the Gaelic-speaking world, RIP) thorns were commonly associated with fairies. These are the trees that workers are sometimes terrified about cutting down. In Wales […]

    Death by Oak January 10, 2018

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Death by Oak

    Beach has recently been having nightmares about narrow corridors. This story is a form of reverse therapy. It also taps into other stories told in this place of men and women who get into trees and can’t get out afterwards. It is well known that during the French Revolution, the wood Kusel, near Deux Ponts […]

    Christmas Fairy Trees December 24, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Christmas Fairy Trees

    What is a fairy tree? By rights a fairy tree should be where fairies gather to dance or perhaps to dwell: fairies it will be remembered have a special place particularly in Irish legend. However, Beach has recently started to run across curious late nineteenth-century reference to fairy trees of a decidedly none traditional sort. […]

    Haunted Tree Swindle in Italy November 9, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Haunted Tree Swindle in Italy

    This story appeared in a British newspaper in September of 1861. It relates to Gubbio in Umbria: the unity of Italy has just happened. A rural parish in the region of Agubbio, which was relieved last year of the Pope’s temporal rule, but which still endures the evils of ignorance and superstition consequent on many […]

    Bodies in Elm, 1760? May 6, 2017

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Bodies in Elm, 1760?

    Beach has recently been searching for records of bodies within trees. There is a lot ill-informed nonsense about such tree burials (in a living tree) as being part of a British magical tradition. Here is one quoted reference from the Gentleman’s Magazine, 30 (1760), pp. 346. The problem is that the text does not live […]

    The Ghost in a Tree November 26, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Ghost in a Tree

    This little account appeared in Wilkinson and Harland, Lancashire Folk-lore (1867), 164. But they were quoting a story that had appeared in a newspaper in 1856. Beachcombing has been unable to trace the original, but honestly he didn’t try that hard. Will it be credited that thousands of people have, during the past week, crowded […]

    Oakmen Fairy Fakes? August 11, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Oakmen Fairy Fakes?

      ***Sorry this post was accidentally pre-released!*** Ah, there are few things as warming to the heart as duffing up a made up folklore creature and Beach recently came across the oakman, which he now hopes to remove like a tic from the body of folklore. Katharine Briggs in her fairy dictionary writes: ‘There are […]

    Fairies in Old Oaks? July 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fairies in Old Oaks?

    Beach recently came across this curious sentence in Della Hooke’s Trees in Anglo-Saxon England (103). ‘Fairy folks are in old oaks’ and on closer examination the rhyme is everywhere. It appears, for example, twice in Katharine Briggs, Dictionary of Fairies at 159 and 313. Needless to say that has also travelled, like a spore, across […]

    Plague Oak at Wrexham (and Fairies) May 12, 2016

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Plague Oak at Wrexham (and Fairies)

    There are a number of fairy oaks in Wales, as Chris from Haunted Ohio Books, previously illustrated. But this one, the fairy oak of Wrexham, is particularly interesting because of a curious legend associated with it. This article appeared in a book of Welsh poems in 1837. Apparently the fairy tree had grown on a […]

    Real Tree Trunk Deaths October 18, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Real Tree Trunk Deaths

    There are several nineteenth century legends about bodies trapped in the hollow of trees. These seem to be, for the most part, urban legends. But there are some unquestionably factual accounts. It must be quite difficult to die within a tree, but clearly some people managed it. Beach concentrated on Britain. Are there other factual […]

    The Snake Tree October 11, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Snake Tree

    Beach was innocently looking for stories about human bodies in trees. This one has no human body, but it seemed too good to waste. A correspondent of the Horticultural Times contributes the following account of the so-called snake tree, which is said to exert such a terrifying influence upon the natives of the Mexican Wilds. […]

    Victorian Urban Legends: Bodies in Trees October 4, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Victorian Urban Legends: Bodies in Trees

    Kay Massingill has recently offered to readers of Forteana Exchange a series of body in tree stories. The earliest seems to be this one from 1873 and they carry on into the 1920s. The tale typically has it that someone, perhaps escaping from danger, climbs into a tree, then cannot get out. That brings us to […]

    Ash Magic April 27, 2015

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Ash Magic

    Your little boy is ill. The doctors can do nothing (this is the nineteenth century) and money is, in any case, short. What on earth do you do. Well, the folk answer, and one that is almost certainly as efficacious as Victorian medicine, is to look for an ash tree. This account comes from Somerset […]

    The Children Tree November 18, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    The Children Tree

    There are some rare accounts from the middle ages (though not from antiquity?) of trees that are alive. The following comes from the great eighth-century Chinese geographer Du You. Du You is talking here of the Dashi, the Chinese word for the Arabs, that have just started to come onto the horizon with the Islamic […]

    The Oak of Fairlop August 25, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Oak of Fairlop

    One of little Miss B’s favourite films – a Japanese fable – includes a line about the time when ‘men and trees were friends’. Beach has his doubts that there ever was, in fact, friendship between the human race and the arboreal ones. But there are occasional instances when special trees and nearby human community’s […]

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