“Random encounters with the unusual” is a repository for the oddities that me and Mrs J have encountered on our travels, which we find interesting or amusing in some way. Have a look, maybe you will find something interesting or amusing herein.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

London’s Two Centres

The below picture shows the statue of King Charles I in Trafalgar Square. The site of the statue marks the current centre of London, from which all mileage distances on road signs are measured. This statue has not always been here however, originally, “Eleanor’s Cross” stood on this site and marked the centre of London.

In 1290 King Edward’s wife, Queen Eleanor, died of fever while in Lincoln. The Queen’s body was taken from Lincoln to Westminster Abbey for a state burial. To honour his wife, the King decided that memorial crosses would be installed along the route of the funeral procession and crosses (twelve in total) were installed at Lincoln, Grantham, Stamford, Geddington, Hardingstone, Stony Stratford, Woburn, Dunstable, St. Albans, Waltham, West Cheap and what is today Trafalgar Square. Of these twelve crosses, only three outside London still remain (Geddington, Hardingstone and Waltham). The cross that was at Trafalgar Square was subsequently replaced by the statue of King Charles I, but a replica of the original Eleanor’s cross (circa 1860) can be found today at Charing Cross Station.

During Roman times, the centre of London was in a different location, at the site of the Roman Governor’s mansion, situated on what is today Cannon Street, and marked by a stone known as the "London Stone". If you walk along Cannon Street you will see a grill in the wall at 111 Cannon Street (pictured below). The London Stone lives within this grill. However, on my visit, the stone was not present and the property it adjoins was vacant, and it seems that the stone may be moved to a new location soon! 

The London Stone is linked to a few myths including that the stone was part of an altar built by Brutus of Troy, and that the stone was the stone from which King Arthur withdrew the legendary "Sword in the Stone".

Pictures, London (May 2012)

Friday, 21 September 2012

Tower Bridge Chimney

A keen observer crossing the bridge may notice that one of the lamp posts on the bridge looks very different from the rest, in fact, it is wider than the rest and has no light on it! On closer inspection it can be seen that this is actually a chimney which services a small room under the bridge. It is believed that the room would have originally been used as a guard post where Royal Fusiliers would have been stationed while protecting the Tower of London.

Pictures, London (May 2012)

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

A Dirty Knight In Edinburgh

While visiting Edinburgh Castle Mrs J snapped some photos of this rather interesting statue which adorns the outside of the War Memorial. To my rather immature mind, the statue seems to show a Knight being orally pleasured by a rather small child! I doubt this interpretation was the artisan's original intent however, but it is not clear exactly what the statue is designed to show. If you have any thoughts, please share them in the comments section.

These pictures have also featured on Andrew May's Forteana Blog, and in Fortean Times (Issue 288). 

Pictures, Edinburgh (October 2011)

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Thunderbirds are Go!

The below photos show a Native American style Thunderbird Mask in the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh. The caption accompanying the mask reads: “The Thunderbird legend tells of the Great Chief who lived in the highest mountain. At one time a great flood threatened to engulf the world. Lightning flashed four times, and a Thunderbird, a mythical creature from the sky, appeared, transformed itself into a human being, and came to the rescue of the Great Chief”.

The Thunderbird is of particular interest to Forteans as there is a long standing legend of a real life flesh and blood Thunderbird, this cryptozoological legend has even apparently been photographed. The story goes that: “in April 1890, two cowboys in Arizona killed a giant birdlike creature with an enormous wingspan. It was said to have had smooth skin, featherless wings like a bat and a face that resembled an alligator. This description has some similarity to that of a prehistoric pterodactyl, an animal whose existence was known at the time. They are supposed to have dragged the carcass back to town, where it was pinned with wings outstretched across the entire length of a barn. A picture of this event may have been published in the local newspaper, the Tombstone Epitaph. Cryptozoology.com has an account of this story with the events taking place in the state of Texas”.

What is especially interesting to Forteans is that many people seem to remember seeing the rumoured photo of the Thunderbird, but no one has ever been able to find a copy of it. It is easy to believe that the mythical Thunderbird photo does not in actuality exist and the common memory of seeing the photo in the dim and distant past is some form of creation of the Fortean hive mind, a self-generated false memory. But then again the photo may exist, so do keep looking!

Pictures, Edinburgh (October 2011)