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The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery July 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Medieval, Modern
The Wessel Coins #1: Morry Isenberg’s Discovery

28 February 2013 the Indiana-University-Purdue-University sent out a press release announcing modestly: ‘IUPUI led expedition seeks source of thousand-year-old coins in Aboriginal Australia’. Nothing to see, move on? Well, it took the world’s press some time to catch on, the real interest only came in May. But, of course, ‘thousand’ year old coins in Australia […]

The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks July 6, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
The Schist Disc: A Sceptic Speaks

***Dedicated to Wade, who sent this treasure in*** If you hang round ancient archaeologists long enough you end up being shown pictures of strange objects and being asked ‘What do you think that is for? What did they do with that?’ The sophistication of ancient technology and the complexity of ancient societies – compared with […]

Turning Back the Years in Oz July 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Turning Back the Years in Oz

***With thanks to Invisible and Wade*** Consider a curious thing. Australian prehistory is far easier to rewrite than American prehistory. If you begin to question the route by which the Aborigines arrived in Australia, or posit an early Indian influx onto the continent or even begin to speculate about mahogany boats and seventeenth-century Caucasoid skulls […]

Dowry Fossil May 13, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Actualite, Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Dowry Fossil

  A wrong time post… There are few things in history as fascinating as the archaic customs that have been handed down from generation to generation and that survive in our societies like the tail-bone’s pointy edge on our spines. A particular Beachcombian favourite is the dowry. Civilisations basically fall into three categories here: those […]

Witches and Brambles May 9, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Witches and Brambles

This is a summary borrowed from Owen Davies’ excellent Witchcraft, Magic and Culture. In December 1924, Alfred John Matthews, aged forty-three, a small-holder of Clyst St Lawrence, Devon, appeared at the Cullhompton petty sessions for scratching and drawing blood from Ellen Garnsworthy, a middle-aged, married woman of the same village. Matthews had a sow which […]

Hob and Documentation May 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Hob and Documentation

Historians with their infinite archives and supercilious (and usually ill-functioning) electronic databases need lessons in modesty. And here is a ‘lesson’ that Beach stumbled upon this morning. In 1861 the following appeared in a book on archaeology. Mr. Bateman opened a circular tumulus on Baslow Moor [Derbyshire] called ‘Hob Hurst’s house’. It was a very […]

The Last Witch in Dorset? March 20, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
The Last Witch in Dorset?

This news story comes from the first quarter of the nineteenth century and from Bridport (Dorset, UK). It is a particularly vivid bit of witch-hunting from the south-west of the country at a date when these things were quickly vanishing into the past: though there would be another century of such attacks in rural Britain. […]

Broad Beans, Paschal Candles and Graveside Stories February 25, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Broad Beans, Paschal Candles and Graveside Stories

Popular superstitions survived surprisingly late in many parts of Europe. However, these superstitions had two enemies, Christianity and urbanization, enemies that gradually scoured them out of mind and memory. From the arrival of Christianity on the scene (any time between 300 and 1000) and increased urbanization (any time from 1700-1950) any superstition would have to […]

Further Thoughts on the Inventio Fortunata with Thanks to Readers December 19, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Further Thoughts on the Inventio Fortunata with Thanks to Readers

The Inventio Fortunata (the Happy Discovery) is a text that we’ve already looked at twice on this blog. A first post described its extraordinary survival in a burnt copy of a copy of a copy in the wrong language. A second post alleged that the IF detailed an English trip to Arctic Canada in 1360. […]

King Arthur’s Last Men: Stranded in the Arctic North? December 15, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
King Arthur's Last Men: Stranded in the Arctic North?

*** Sorry I’m an idiot, I accidentally published two posts yesterday, one was left and one was withdrawn: this was the second that should have come out today** The Inventio Fortunata is a lost English text describing Arctic exploration that survives only in an emended form in a copy of a copy of a copy. […]

Oxford Graduate in Fourteenth-Century North America!? December 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Oxford Graduate in Fourteenth-Century North America!?

Did an English monk walk in the Americas in the fourteenth century, a hundred and fifty years before Columbus sailed into the Caribbean? The answer is almost certainly yes. And this is not just the opinion of the present writer (nutcase that he may or may not be), rather it is the opinion of all […]

Oldest Still Used Clothes November 21, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
Oldest Still Used Clothes

Strange History announces a search for the oldest clothes in the world. Or rather the oldest still worn clothes. This is the best we’ve come up with so far. A British soldier has escaped from an Italian prisoner of War camp, 1943, and he has run to the mountains where he has fallen ill. Luckily […]

Bristol Discovers America November 11, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Bristol Discovers America

The most credible claims for pre-Columbian voyages across the Atlantic are those that took place in the generation immediately preceeding Columbus’ trip into the unknown. Take the text of a famous letter that was written in Spanish to an Admiral, almost certainly Columbus in late December 1497. The author is an English sailor, John Day. […]

Flying with Diana October 23, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Medieval, Modern
Flying with Diana

One of the most fascinating questions about witchcraft belief is the extent to which it was invented by the Inquisition (and other bogey men of our own imaginations); or to what extent it reflected common beliefs held by medieval and early modern European populations. If we accept that the idea of the sabbat and devil-sex, […]

Coins Out of Time October 17, 2012

Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Contemporary, Modern
Coins Out of Time

***Dedicated to Lehmansterms, whom Beach owes an email…*** An underdeveloped post on the wrong time use of coins. Any other examples gratefully received: drbeachcombing AT yahoo DOT com The following passage comes from a book describing the adventures of an Allied serviceman in Italy in 1943: the serviceman in question had escaped from prison camp […]

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