Filed under military history

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

Royal Gunpowder Mills, Waltham Abbey

This is one of the most important, but least known historical and archaeological sites in Britain. Gunpowder has played a huge role in modernisation; without it we would not have city states, mining, wars, hunting, and spectacular fireworks. This is from historian Brenda Buchannan: Gunpowder and the explosives and propellants which followed it provided a … Continue reading


Sham Execution

This is an event from Bristol in October 1780, an incredibly well organised protest against senior naval officers, and unusual for its lack of violence and drunkenness which the city was so famous for: Thursday afternoon at a stigma on some commanders who have not deserved the high encomiums justly due tot the Lord Cornwallis, … Continue reading

Centenary of Women on Motorbikes

This is a great story from last week’s i paper: A century ago, when the automobile was in its infancy and most roads were unpaved, two intrepid sisters from Brooklyn, New York, made a remarkable journey – a 4,000 mile trek across the US on motorcycles. Augusta and Adeline van Buren devised the trip in … Continue reading

Rituals of War

This is from the brilliant new book Tribe – On Homecoming and Belonging by Sebastian Junger. I have heard a lot of stories about the problems of well meaning westerners going to poor countries to ‘do good’ but this is the most disturbing and damning of their attempts to force western behaviour onto others, and … Continue reading

Great War Graffiti Rescued

Most military history is about those who fought, but there is increasing interest in those who refused. This is from the i last Saturday: Rare and little-seen graffiti drawn by men who refused to fight in the First World war on prison walls as they awaited court martial is to be saved from crumbling to … Continue reading

Native American Historian

We mostly measure history in terms of years, or perhaps in generations, but memories can be closer than this system suggests. My grandfather was born about a century ago, and he could tell us tales of the gold rushes in Victoria in the 1860s. The last of the soldiers of the Great War have only … Continue reading

Quietly Ignored Are The Peace Monitors

North Korea is getting a lot of coverage at the moment for sabre-rattling, but here’s a rather sad-sweet article from yesterday’s i paper: In a tiny mess hall set amid pine trees and rose bushes on the heavily fortified Korean border, a lunch of steak and asparagus is served. Outside, birdsong competes with the drone … Continue reading

Border Towers Came in Threes

This is from Highways & Byways in The Border, Up the glen- the Fairy Dene, or Nameless Dene – formed by this stream [the Tweed] lies Glendearg, the ver described in the opening scenes of the Monastery [by Scott]. there are in fact, 3 towers in the glen Hillslap (now called Glendearg), Colmslie, and Langshaw. … Continue reading