A Fortean in the Archives
October 31, 2010 7:54 AM   Subscribe

Historian Mike Dash's schtick is writing lengthy, well-researched blog posts about obscure mysteries that often draw on archival sources. Read about the Monster of Glamis Castle, the strange miniature coffins of Arthur's Seat, the (supposedly) murderous landlords of the Ostrich Inn, or the case of the time-tripping Scotswoman.
posted by Sonny Jim (11 comments total) 60 users marked this as a favorite
These are fantastic.
posted by Nelson at 8:15 AM on October 31, 2010

Exactly, alcohol is a key element of time-travel. Why just this morning I found myself a full 12 hours ahead, with no memory of how I got here.
posted by The Whelk at 8:50 AM on October 31, 2010 [6 favorites]

Loved the one about the little coffins, and Dash suggesting further research options for explaining them at the end. Thanks!
posted by Ahab at 9:33 AM on October 31, 2010

"Percipient" is the best word I've seen in a while.
posted by cmoj at 11:12 AM on October 31, 2010

All of these feel like they'd be great setups for a Hellboy short story.

(My quick theory on the miniature coffins: Some kid burying toy soldiers who were "killed" during a particularly epic battle.)
posted by egypturnash at 11:12 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lovely, thanks. I used to tell people about the coffins as a tour guide in Edinburgh, and I think I've seen them in the Museum of Scotland (though I'm suddenly unsure--did I actually check that display case on any of my many visits?). But that article is a lot more information than I had, and just the right mixture of meticulous detail and, well, creepiness. I look forward to reading some of the others.

(Good post on Age of Uncertainty today, by the way, another blog I found out about from MeFi. It's about a visit to the second oldest complete building in Britain.)
posted by lapsangsouchong at 11:23 AM on October 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

egypturnash, that's a great explanation, what scientists would call parsimonious, in the best way -- that is, it's the simplest answer. I'm surprised no one had suggested it before. (In fact, I remember having a funeral for one of my She-Ra figures, who died in battle -- her sarcophagus was a caddy for 5.25" disks and her tomb was set among distant storage cabinets.) The project does reflect care, expense and labor, but no more than an artisan might spend in making dolls and dollhouses for beloved children.

I always loved me some FT. In fact, I once wrote them a letter about a weird creature I saw as a kid, and it ran in the Letters column -- surprisingly, none of the commenters tried to guess what it might have been.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:49 PM on October 31, 2010

egypturnash: (My quick theory on the miniature coffins: Some kid burying toy soldiers who were "killed" during a particularly epic battle.)"

From the article: "the coffins had been deposited singly, in the little cave, and at intervals of many years."

That's a long time to be playing with toy soldiers, although it may take that long if you only suffer one casualty per battle.
posted by Hargrimm at 4:33 PM on October 31, 2010

The article also questions whether the coffins were indeed deposited over a period of many years or were simply exposed to differential weathering.
posted by breath at 6:25 PM on October 31, 2010

Yeah, the ones at the bottom probably had water damage because that's where the weather came in. And it the figures appear to be from a single set, since they look pretty much the same under the modifications.

I once buried a bunch of foreign legionnaires in our back yard, forgot where they were in the winter, then had great fun digging up the garden the next fall before eventually finding them. Maybe the unknown coffinmakers were playing a similar game of do-it-yourself archeology (for themselves or their children), and just forgot where the cave was supposed to be. Or maybe they moved before they could find it again.

In any case, great blog! His methodical approach makes each investigation quite entertaining to read, even when the ultimate conclusion is something mundane and not fantastical.
posted by Kevin Street at 9:47 PM on October 31, 2010

After this post, I had a nice short email exchange with Dash, where he went to extra effort to summarize a hard to find article on the Grey Man of Ben Macdhui for me (after I emailed a suggestion for him to write about it). Good, smart, man.
posted by swimming naked when the tide goes out at 12:39 PM on November 3, 2010 [1 favorite]

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