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  • Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed? January 14, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Medieval
    Bonus Amicus: A Medieval Mr Ed?

    One of these cute medieval stories that may even have a factual basis. There was a knight in Catalonia in our times, of very high birth, dashing in warfare, and gracious in manners, whose name was Guiraut de Cabrera. This man had a horse of outstanding quality, unrivalled in speed and – unprecedented marvel – […]

    The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted January 8, 2014

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Sphinx: Bushed, Plumed and Painted

    The Sphinx needs no introduction. The vast majority of educated people would be able to close their eyes and visualise his face almost perfectly, not least because of his use as an icon for antiquity and for Egypt and even for mysticism. But when we imagine the Sphinx in  our mind’s eye we, of course, […]

    The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies December 25, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient
    The Most Dysfunctional Family in History: the Ptolemies

    The most dysfunctional family in history? The Tudors in England showed peturbing signs of genius. The line of Augustus in ancient Rome degnenerated into madness and murder. The Neo-Flavians were pretty confused too. The Borgias bless them… But, let there be no ambiguity, no one comes close to the Ptolemies,  the last dynasty of Greek […]

    Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg December 20, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Contemporary, Modern
    Montanelli and the Martyrs of Spielberg

    A wonderful story that could probably only come out of Italy. First, some necessary background. Indro Montanelli was perhaps the finest Italian journalist of the twentieth century: he was able to interview and work with Andreotti, Berlusconi, Hitler, John-Paul II, Mussolini and many other notables whose deeds changed the peninsula and Europe (mostly, being notable, […]

    Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil? December 18, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Ancient, Modern
    Tens of Thousands of Egyptian Mummies in English Soil?

    For the hundreds of thousands of cats and kittens brought up for mummification in ancient Egypt life was brutal and short. Most lived six months to a year and then were either hammered on the head, or more typically had their necks wrung before being tightly bound and sold to the religious perhaps particularly pilgrims, […]

    Maid of Hatfield: English Shaman Shyster December 13, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Maid of Hatfield: English Shaman Shyster

    This unusual story dates to the reign of Charles II, the son of the unhappiest monarch in the pantheon, Charles I. Beach has decided to include it for two reasons. First, because it reminds him of some of those shamanistic individuals who he has sometimes celebrated as fairy witches; and second because there is almost […]

    Fitzgerald’s Dagger and a Child Thief December 6, 2013

    Author: Beach Combing | in : Modern
    Fitzgerald's Dagger and a Child Thief

    Lord Edward Fitzgerald was the great hero of the hopeless Irish revolt of 1798. When he was arrested on 4 May of that year he determined to sell his life dearly and set about his assailants with a knife causing many injuries. He died a month later of his wounds: wounds from the same fight. […]

    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 […]

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