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  • Desperate Men: 490 BC June 17, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Desperate Men: 490 BC

    The Battle of Marathon is one of those events that has been so polished by historians and lyricists that it has become a mirror held up to every age which has cared to look into it. But behind the bumph and the pumph there remains a very real mystery. How did a (then) obscure Greek […]

    Shape-Shifting in a Nineteenth-Century Court-Room May 18, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Shape-Shifting in a Nineteenth-Century Court-Room

    Beachcombing has visited the Isle of Man on several occasions in this blog (he has only been once physically): there was the mermaid sighting from an early submarine, the drunk Manx buggan, and the early medieval kingdom of Mannau. But he is confident that this story will trump them all. Our author has been describing […]

    Nashville Debutante Fights Imperial Japan May 15, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Nashville Debutante Fights Imperial Japan

    ***With thanks to Larry*** A wish-i’d-been-there moment from 1941. Cornelia Fort was a twenty-three-year-old pilot and instructor flying a Cadet out of Honolulu in that year. Incredibly though CF had only been flying for a matter of months she was already deemed good enough to work as an instructor, putting a young Hawaiian through his […]

    Cato’s Sword February 9, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Cato's Sword

    Beachcombing usually plans about two days ahead with his posts. But every so often something emerges from out of the depths of the subconscious and will just not leave him in peace. This morning it was the death of Cato the Younger that tapped like a woodpecker on his inner skull. It had already been […]

    Plotinus Meets a God January 8, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    Plotinus Meets a God

    A WIBT (Wish I’d been there) moment from later antiquity, brought to mind, in part by stories at the end of 2011 about Socrate’s daemon. The subject is Plotinus, a follower of Plato and the thinker who offered the ancient Mediterranean a ‘sensible’ alternative to Christianity: neo-platonism. Plotinus, as all Platonists, had mixed feelings about […]

    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts January 3, 2012

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Electrocuting African Tribal Hosts

    One of the great challenges of any nineteenth-century explorers was to make friends with the ‘primitives’ in such out of the way places as an equatorial rain forest, the upper peaks of the Andes and through much of Darkest Africa. And, of course, to do so they brought gifts along with them: a sensible enough […]

    Gunfire in Notre Dame November 9, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Gunfire in Notre Dame

    A wibt (wish I’d been there) moment in a snatch of about five minutes as Mrs B is still far away from home and Beachcombing has to undertake full babysitting duties for his two terrifying daughters. 26 August 1944, after four long years of Nazi occupation, Paris is liberated by Allied troops and marching into […]

    A Look Up Caterina Sforza’s Skirt October 28, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    A Look Up Caterina Sforza's Skirt

    Caterina Sforza was one of those extraordinary individuals who managed to pack five or six lifetimes into her forty odd years. Wife, alchemist, mother, warrior, seductress, torturer, hunter, general, rape victim and, don’t forget, the model for one of the three graces in Botticelli’s Primavera: she also had a lot of hot Milanese blood swilling […]

    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran October 19, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary
    Immortal Meals 6#: Arguments at Tehran

    WIBT (Wish I’d been there)  moments from the Big Three Conference at Tehran in 1943 are so numerous that a casual reader would be spoilt for choice: Marshal Voroshilov dropping the Sword of Stalingrad at the worst possible moment in the ceremonials; German intelligence’s attempts to kill Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin; agreement on the United […]

    The Wold Cottage Meteorite October 15, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    The Wold Cottage Meteorite

    Beachcombing has, over the months, given some publicity to meteorite history, the intrusion of bolides into human affairs, and today he thought he would do tribute to a rock that came hurtling from the sky in 1795. Though not in itself a particularly remarkable example of the shooting star the Wold Cottage Meteorite changed scientific […]

    Hearts, Genies and Gnosticism at Nag Hammadi October 14, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary
    Hearts, Genies and Gnosticism at Nag Hammadi

    Howard Carter whispering ‘wonderful things’, Leslie Alcock finding Dark Age timber at Cadbury (‘that was Camelot’), Bedouin shepherds investigating a complex of caves at the Dead Sea… All wonderful, of course. But for Beachcombing none of these quite match the thrill of the discovery at Nag Hammadi in 1945. In that year, possibly in December, […]

    Blondie at Cresson October 6, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Blondie at Cresson

    A weird war post today, recommending a twelfth-century act of crusader stupidity to the widest possible audience. 1 May, 1187 one of Saladin’s raiding parties, passed into Christian lands near Nazareth and a party of knights – Templars, Hospitallers and local nobles – were sent out to meet the enemy. In the ‘best’ sources we […]

    Joy Riding on the Moon October 3, 2011

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary