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The Most Beautiful Folk Cure: An Epilepsy Ring February 25, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Most Beautiful Folk Cure: An Epilepsy Ring

***for Tacitus on sabbatical*** There is a little to be said for many folklore cures in terms of efficacy unless we call out placebo. However, some cures are winners, even spectacular winners in an aesthetic sense. I recently ran across this very curious nineteenth-century Welsh cure for epilepsy (‘the cure of fits’): it appeared in […]

The British and Invasions January 13, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
The British and Invasions

I watched a few years ago an even then old documentary in which a  celebrated/notorious British Member of Parliament Enoch Powell interviewed (God knows how they pulled this off) a Soviet general and shared with him an unusual geographical philosophy. EP said that Britain and Russia were both protected by geography, one by water ‘as […]

Welsh Leaf Mould, Pies and Cunning Magic January 10, 2014

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Welsh Leaf Mould, Pies and Cunning Magic

A nineteenth-century letter detailing some very unusual goings on at Hawarden on the Welsh borders. On Sunday the 17 inst., it was discovered that some earth had recently been dug up under the east window of the church. At first it was supposed that some still-born infant had been deposited there [!!!]; but on procuring […]

The Golden Ghost of Mold #5: Against the Golden Ghost! August 20, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
The Golden Ghost of Mold #5: Against the Golden Ghost!

An attempt follows to draw the not-so-golden threads of the Golden Ghost together.  We have definite evidence from Rev. Clough that in 1833 when the grave was dug that there was the story in the locality of a golden ghost associated with the tomb. However, there are a number of problems with this. First, only […]

The Golden Ghost of Mold #4: Ludlam’s Account August 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
The Golden Ghost of Mold #4: Ludlam's Account

Another from our series on the Golden Ghost of Mold. This report dates from 1966 and from Harry Ludlam’s fun The Mummy of Birchen Bower. Ludlam was a ‘gifted amateur’ with a better grasp of facts, in this case, than the Oxford published Walter Johnson, who we were a little rude about in a previous […]

The Golden Ghost of Mold #3: The Golden Woman of Mold August 16, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern, Prehistoric
The Golden Ghost of Mold #3: The Golden Woman of Mold

In two previous posts we have discussed the traditions (ahem) behind the Golden Ghost of Mold. Now we want to look at the person who was buried in the tomb and another problem for the Golden Ghost tradition: the tenant was almost certainly an itty-bitty Welsh woman rather than a mighty warrior. How do we […]

The Golden Ghost of Mold #2: Walter Johnson Debases Gold August 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
The Golden Ghost of Mold #2: Walter Johnson Debases Gold

Beach has frequently enjoyed before the power of oral transmission: information skipping across the centuries like a flat stone spun over a pond. Here is a supposed memory of oral transmission concerning the Golden Ghost tomb from Mold in northern Wales. This time the account comes from Walter Johnson’s Folk Memory and Archaeology (1907) A […]

The Golden Ghost of Mold #1: Introducing the Golden Ghost August 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
The Golden Ghost of Mold #1: Introducing the Golden Ghost

There follows a ghost story. It is brief and it is archaeological. If M.R.James had heard of this one he would have made bales of ectoplasmic hay. We are in North-West Wales. A certain John Langford had bought some land at Mold near Wrexham and had decided to fill in a hole there by paying […]

Vindictive Welsh Saints July 15, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Vindictive Welsh Saints

Gerald of Wales has the following to say about the Irish: This seems to me a thing to be noticed that just as the men of this country are during this mortal life more prone to anger and revenge than any other race, so in eternal death the saints of this land that have been […]

Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where? June 23, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Transvestite Protestors: Why, When and Where?

***Dedicated to Chris*** Modern and early modern social movements are not normally Beach’s thing. He’ll let the likes of Eric Hobsbawm salivate over those. But just yesterday an email brought a peculiar Irish American phenomenon to his attention: the Molly Maguires, previously known to this author only from Conan Doyle’s Valley of Fear.  The Mollys […]

Brownies of Bangor May 30, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Brownies of Bangor

  There follows a peculiar little story, from 1909, which has certainly not got the attention that it deserves from fairyists or from students of mass hysteria.  Bangor, for those outside the UK, is a pretty town in North Wales. Brownies, meanwhile, are solitary fairies, typically, associated with houses in the north of England and […]

Fairy Witches #3: Meilyr of Wales April 12, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Fairy Witches #3: Meilyr of Wales

The third in our series of fairy-witches is a certain Meilyr, who died at Usk Castle in 1174. True, in the account that follows, taken from that old cobbler-merchant Gerald of Wales, no fairies are mentioned and no maleficium (the normal defining feature of a witch). But there is something in Meilyr’s relations with the […]

Shakespeare’s Missing Head April 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Shakespeare's Missing Head

We’ve already enjoyed some of the adventures of Orville W Owen in Bacon land, most particularly digging up the River Wye in search of treasure. The New York Times article that we quoted there ends with the accusation that some journalists have misquoted Orville. Then, again, [Orville] is quoted as expressing the belief that Bacon, […]

British Witch Initiation c. 1970 April 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval
British Witch Initiation c. 1970

Witchcraft became a force to be reckoned with in Britain after the Second World War. There is a lot of writing, but most by the witches themselves (who can’t be trusted) or by CofE bishops who are just too silly for words because they take said witches seriously. Intelligent third-party descriptions like the following are […]

The Cipher Wheel, Bacon and Digging Up A River March 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
The Cipher Wheel, Bacon and Digging Up A River

There is perhaps no worse sign of enthusiasm than a talented man or woman finding ciphers hidden in celebrated texts. The Bible, Shakespeare, Milton… All have been examined with such passion that only the unimaginative could fail to notice that peculiar patterns emerge when you take the second final word from each penultimate sentence. Beach […]

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