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The Medieval Water That Would Not Boil! December 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
The Medieval Water That Would Not Boil!

An early thirteenth-century source comes up with this strange little story. The modern editor suggests that Piroletti may be Piolenc near Orange in southern France: but the names are not that close. In any case whatis far, far more interesting is the fact that water from a local stream, wherever we are, does not boil. […]

Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie December 3, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Killing a Nineteenth-Century Nessie

There is a fabulous Scottish water beast story that is worth repeating. Today we scour lochs for fantastic animals. In the early nineteenth century they scoured at Loch na Beiste (literally Loch of the Beast) to kill the same. The story of the celebrated water-kelpie of the Greenstone Point is very well known in Gairloch. […]

Irish and Africans: A Peculiar Nineteenth-Century English Obsession November 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Irish and Africans: A Peculiar Nineteenth-Century English Obsession

The science of ‘race’ is for the most part a series of embarrassing excesses and intellectually dishonst indulgences of contemporary opinions and prejudice, with some requisite skull-measuring and blethering about frontal lobes to make everything sound alright. Even by these particularly sad lows the following picture is an extraordinary achievement. The images come from Ireland […]

The Place of Still Born Children November 24, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern, Prehistoric
The Place of Still Born Children

Skeaf is a small townland in County Cork in the wild west of Ireland. Looking for information about this little patch of green on the internet gives almost nothing: there are, for example, no houses for sale in Skeaf and no singles looking for ‘hot encounters’, no farmers’ markets and no entries in Craigs List. […]

Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O’Hara November 4, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Dumb Duels #1: Finn vs O'Hara

Duelling? What an absolutely charming idea. Two men and occasionally two women resolve problems with recourse to combat. But doesn’t this make for rather boring history? After all, the two meet, the two shoot/cut and one apologies or dies. There just isn’t that much potential for things to go bizarrely wrong? Well, apart from that […]

Were-Storks and the Origins of Storks’ Baby Carrying! October 26, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
Were-Storks and the Origins of Storks' Baby Carrying!

There is the well established legends of the storks flying, in antiquity down below the Sahara to battle the pygmies. But what about this unusual medieval legend that appears in a fourteenth-century work in two parts. First our author is describing the well-established error, one that survived into the nineteenth century, that certain birds hibernate […]

Child Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Italy October 15, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Child Sacrifice in Nineteenth-Century Italy

Sorry but a busy day today and still fighting the good fight against dishonest architects so just a strange report from 1858. Beach has not the slightest idea what to make of it. Really, it should all be pure fantasy and yet there is a lot circumstantial information: also the fact the child was English. […]

Funeral Fights October 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Funeral Fights

***A dear old friend of this blog, Chris from Haunted Ohio Books has just brought out her latest haunting book: the Ghost Wore Black, if it is anywhere near as good as her last offering expect a review here in the proximate future. To celebrate this funforal (Joycean word?) tale is dedicated to Chris and […]

Last State Persecuted Witch in Europe October 2, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Last State Persecuted Witch in Europe

We are in 1862 and a letter arrives in the UK from Hungary and Reka. A few days since a farmer, residing in the commune of Bazas, denounced his daughter-in-law as a witch, and said it was she who had for a long time prevented rain from falling. He moreover affirmed that for several months […]

Fairies and Potatoes September 21, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Fairies and Potatoes

  A curious story from the beginning of that most slaughter of the innocents, the Irish potato famine. Dr Edgar, an Ulsterman is out and about with his friend Mr Brannigan, who later recalled the episode. ‘On the day after the examination of the Irish schools,’ continues Mr. Brannigan, ‘[Dr Edgar] took a walk with […]

Travelling to Another World from Nineteenth-century Rochdale September 17, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Travelling to Another World from Nineteenth-century Rochdale

Rochdale is a rather frightening town in northern England in the County of Lancashire. We have visited the religious eccentrics of this part of Britain on several occasions before: including the search for the wandering Jew in Burnley (on the wrong side of the Pennines), and Christ in an egg in Leeds (on the right […]

Spectacle in the Victorian Theatre September 14, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Spectacle in the Victorian Theatre

The Victorians had a wonderfully superficial streak, which somehow went beyond mere materialism and teetered on the sublime. There are few times where this comes out more than in their theatre spectaculars where content was sacrificed ruthlessly to effect and appearance. You want to put on Anthony and Cleopatra? Great, gut about seven of the […]

Hooping Cough Cures September 11, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Hooping Cough Cures

We are in 1862 A correspondent transmits the following account of a superstitious ceremony which took place the other day at Neilston [Lowland Scotland]. The jolly blacksmith there is in possession of a fine young she ass, which, with her frolics, has caused great amusement amongst the boys of the town, while some calculating old […]

Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings July 18, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval, Modern
Colonialism and Burying the Irish Under Buildings

Luise White published, in 2000, her Speaking with Vampires: Rumor and History in Colonial Africa. Very crudely – the book is difficult to reduce to a simple core because it recognizes complexity on the ground –White shows how colonial anxiety was played out through what she chose to call ‘vampire’ legends. Europeans and their agents […]

Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks July 5, 2013

Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
Scooby Doo, Shag and the Bleachworks

This is a weird little story from a nineteenth-century Lancashire history. You remember the Scooby Doo formula: kids turn up, find that their local fun park is haunted by a ghost, who keeps tripping on the white sheet, and then, finally, they unmask the janitor? Well, this is a Bury equivalent. The story dates to […]

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