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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 […]

Clipping the Church December 16, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Clipping the Church

***Nine precious days to write a book on the Medieval North Atlantic, expect then a profusion of posts on this subject – there have been a few already. Expect also break down in answering emails. Sorry. Must focus.*** Clipping the Church: a cute little custom that Beach has not been able to properly parallel. On […]

Welsh Candles and a Ghost October 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Welsh Candles and a Ghost

A couple of weeks ago we travelled to the Church Porch at midnight to see who would die in the coming year. Here is a Welsh equivalent (kind of). Down to the last hundred years it was usual in many a district in Wales to burn candles in the parish church on the eve of […]

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: […]

Shakespeare’s Road Trip in Wales August 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Shakespeare's Road Trip in Wales

***Sorry internet service a nightmare! Normal service will, we pray, reserve soon*** Where did Shakespeare get his fairy lore from for Midsummer Night’s Dream and the Merry Wives of Windsor? The answer is obviously the countryside of Warwickshire where he grew up. Indeed, some Shakespearean scholars have dredged through fairy references in the canon and […]

A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars June 9, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
A Welsh Mermaid and the Bastard with the Binoculars

When people see strange things they rave to friends, family and (sometimes) newspapers. When they see strange things that reveal themselves to be something utterly pedestrian, the marvel is quickly forgotten. This is, in some ways, a shame as accounts of misperception probably bring us closer to the enigmas of the world than hours and […]

Welsh Pre-Marital Sex, c. 1850 May 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Welsh Pre-Marital Sex, c. 1850

A German tourist in Wales in the 1850s. Our hero befriends, Sarah the girl of the house where he is staying and on whom, Beach suspects, he had something of a crush. However, Sarah, who is the only member of the house who can speak English, is walking out with Owen, the elder son of […]

Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English May 10, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval
Badgers, Pigs and Asses: Celtic in English

‘While I was on the ass, going to feed my dun hog, carrying only a matlock and some bannock, I saw a brock coming down from the tor that’s shaped like a bin’. It is not exactly poetry. But this sentence might stand as a memory aid for students of English. The interest lies not […]

Indecent Lifting and Heaving May 6, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Indecent Lifting and Heaving

Beach recently came across the custom of ‘lifting’ for the first time courtesy of Invisible and Two Nerdy History Girls (an excellent blog should you get the chance). The girls describe an instance of lifting in Shrewsbury. This is part of the relevant extract: the full extract is to be found chez Nerd following the […]

Handlist of Adult Changelings March 30, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Handlist of Adult Changelings

Beach’s hell is about to begin as today is the day that Mrs B runs away to Athens leaving him alone with his younger daughter FOR 48 HOURS. Beachcombing’s relations with tiny little Miss B are mainly restricted to playing peekaboo and putting her to bed. The next TWO DAYS then will be terrifying for […]

An Aberystwyth Mermaid February 13, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
An Aberystwyth Mermaid

Mermaids are the most despised of all the creatures of the British imagination. Folklorists have only had the decency to write two half decent books on them over the last century. The result is that there are lots of accounts out there that have never been gathered in. This one seemed, at least to Beachcombing, […]

An Overlong Name January 29, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
An Overlong Name

Another of Beachcombing’s deities died this morning: the small Welsh village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyll-gogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (Anglesey) well known in Britain as having the longest name in the country, if not the world. Of course, a moment’s consideration should have told Beach that something fishy was going on; instead, he had innocently let the name be, reasoning that […]

DNA Champion November 24, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
DNA Champion

Our DNA is the damnedest stuff, it gets everywhere: not only forensically but also historically. Just the other day, Beach reviewed the evidence (2010) that one medieval Amerindian woman in Iceland passed on her DNA to eighty modern Icelanders. Then there are plenty of other dramatic examples of DNA spreading through history, especially now that […]

Big Bones in Churches November 19, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Big Bones in Churches

At the end of the nineteenth century the Reverend Wilkins Rees put together a short collection of examples of enormous bones that had found their way into English and Welsh churches. He mentioned five impressive instances, four of which he seems to have seen himself. 1) Foljambe Chapel, Chesterfield Church: ‘This bone, supposed to be […]

Burning a Shed in Wales September 21, 2011

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
Burning a Shed in Wales

(Image Alan Fryer) For Beachcombing, the Welsh are one of those elect nations who, along with the Maoris and the Finns, stand at the right side of the throne of God. Yet Welsh history in the last century has been quiet and uninspiring: in marked contrast, say, to that country’s Gaelic neighbour, Ireland, which sweated […]

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