“The Lost XVII”: a missing Roman legion was recreated in sculpture along a Scottish cycling route

Founded by the roman emperor Augustus around the year 41 B.C., Legion XVII (Seventeenth Legion) of the Imperial Roman Army disappeared in the year 9 A.D. after being sent to deal with troubling tribes in Germanica. But, what happened to them has always been a bit of a mystery. According to an urban legend, they went onto Scotland after Germanica and disappeared around the area of Dunbartonshire. This myth has now become cemented in history thanks to popular fiction such as “The Eagle of the Ninth” and films like “Centurion…

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The Sluagh: Celtic spirits of the unforgiven dead

Celtic folklore has given us some of the darkest and most frightening stories in history including three-headed monsters, headless horsemen, famine-spreaders, and a variety of creepy spirits. One of the most fascinating are probably the Sluagh na marbh (host of the dead), or “Fairy Host”, spirits of the unforgiven or restless dead who soared the skies at night searching for humans to pick off, and especially the dying. Some believed them to be Fallen Angels, while others thought them the spirits of unbaptized children who had returned to earth to…

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A visit to the St. Simons Island Light, Georgia

St. Simons Island Light is a lighthouse on the southern tip of St. Simons Island, Georgia, United States. It guides ships into St. Simons Sound and warns of the many sandbars in the area. The original lighthouse, which was built in 1810, was a 23-m-tall early federal octagonal structure topped by a 3 m oil-burning lamp. However, during the American Civil War, U.S. military forces employed a Naval blockade of the coast, and an invasion by Union troops in 1862 forced Confederate soldiers to abandon the area. And the retreating…

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Piscatawaytown Burial Ground and the witch of Edison

New Jersey is steeped in urban legends and stories of the supernatural. There everybody has heard of the Jersey Devil, a creature with the head of a goat, the body of a deer, giant horns and wings. It is said that he was the 13th child of Mother Leeds back in 1735 and was born a demon through a curse. There have been a number of sightings of the Devil since then, one of them even being reported by the brother of Napoleon, Joseph Bonaparte. But there is a legend…

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Rotomairewhenua: the clearest body of fresh water known to man

Rotomairewhenua, also known as the Blue Lake of New Zealand’s Nelson Lakes National Park, officially holds the title of the clearest lake in the world. Literally translated as the “land of peaceful waters”, Blue Lake is spring fed by the neighboring glacial Lake Constance, and its water passes through a natural debris damn formed a long time ago by a landslide. This debris acts as a natural filter that retains most of the particles suspended in the glacial water, making Blue Lake almost as clear as distilled water. New Zealand’s…

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Loop Head Lighthouse | Ireland

Loop Head Lighthouse (Irish: Ceann Léime, meaning “leap head”) is perched right at the end of Loop Head Peninsula in stunning West Clare, Ireland. It is the major landmark on the northern shore of the Shannon River. Weather permitting, from here you’ll enjoy fantastic views south as far as the Blasket Islands and north to the Twelve Pins in Connemara, along the Wild Atlantic Way. It’s also the perfect place to spot whales, dolphins and seals from, while the rock ledges and caves of the dramatic cliffs are home to…

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Muschats’s Cairn: a stack of stones that honors a murdered 18th-century woman.

For the major part of tourists, this monument looks like a random pile of rocks. And, in a way, that is indeed what it is. It’s a cairn, basically a landmark constructed with irregular stones, and here there is no signage or posting to provide historical context. Instead, one has to dig deeper to realize these stones are the marker of a macabre and unscrupulous story. It was 17 October 1720 when a surgeon named Nichol Muschat lured his wife Ailie into Holyrood Park and killed her. His previous attempts…

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Te Wairoa Buried Village: a Maori village obliterated by an 1886 volcanic eruption.

Located 24 kilometres south-east of Rotorua, Tarawera is a curious-looking mountain, with several large domes and a broad, flat top. This distinctive profile formed during eruptions around 1314 AD. However, early Māori and the Europeans who arrived in the 1800s did not realise that it was an active volcano and, in June 1886, it came to life in a violent one-day eruption – the deadliest in the history of New Zealand settlement. When Mount Tarawera erupted, the surrounding countryside was completely remade. The eruption killed over 100 people and created…

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Point Sur Lightstation: one of the oldest and most remote lighthouses in California

Point Sur Lightstation is a lighthouse at Point Sur, California, 135 miles (217 km) south of San Francisco, on the 110-meter-tall rock at the head of the point. The view there is breathtaking. The Lighthouse is perched up on a huge rock and surrounded by water on three sides, with shimmering views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s one of the oldest and most remote lighthouses in California, a beacon for ships navigating some of the most treacherous waters of the California coast. Already early navigators took note of the prominent…

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The grave of ‘The Great Lafayette’ and his beloved dog in Edinburgh’s Piershill Cemetery

We are in Piershill Cemetery, located on Portobello Road between Edinburgh, Scotland, and Portobello Beach. The graveyard is known for its Jewish burial grounds, located to the south, and its pet cemetery, located to the right of the entrance, but also for the grave of Sigmund Neuberger, a popular illusionist and magician better know as The Great Lafayette. The unbelievable and tragic story of how one of the world’s most renowned illusionists and his pampered dog came to buried together in Piershill Cemetery is almost too incredible to be true.…

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Here is the story behind the Leidse Koffie!

In the Dutch city of Leiden, coffee comes in an alternative way: it begins with a base of black brew and then it gets a dash of cinnamon liqueur, usually topped off with a nice dollop of whipped cream. Now quite popular in the city, the spiced drink was born from a happenstance discovery and a very creative restaurant owner. Leidse koffie originated in Restaurant de Gaanderij in the early 1980s. Before Peter van de Hoorn bought it in 1982, the monumental building from 1558 was home to the distillery…

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Camp Bonifas: the world’s most dangerous golf course that can literally kill you

Playing golf in South Korea can prove to be very dangerous. But what’s the worst thing that can happen? Well, you could get blown up to smithereens, for one. The “deadly golf course” is pretty small at 192 yards, and it is flanked by military style bunkers on the right, while, on the left side, separated by an 5,5-meters high security fence topped by concertina wire, lie buried countless unexploded mines. And even a small mistake could cause a huge, fatal explosion. A nearby sign warns players with a hardly…

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St John’s Point – the tallest onshore lighthouse on the Irish coast

If you are in Ireland, you can’t miss St John’s Point Lighthouse in gorgeous County Down. Its strikingly tall tower is marked with vibrant bands of yellow and black that distinguish it from other lighthouses. St. John’s Point, Rinn Eoin in Irish, is a cape at the southern tip of the Lecale peninsula of County Down Northern Ireland, separating Dundrum Bay from Killough Harbour, which forms its northern extremity. The cape is mostly surrounded by the Irish Sea and derives its name from a now ruined church dedicated to Saint…

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Grave of Midnight Mary: the final resting place of a New Haven urban legend

In life, she was known by the name Mary E. Hart, but today most people in New Haven, Connecticut, now know her simply as Midnight Mary. She was buried in Evergreen Cemetery, and her tombstone can be found at the back of the cemetery, on the path that parallels the iron wrought fence that separates the graveyard from Winthrop Avenue. As story goes, at 48 years old, Mary dropped to the floor one day at midnight. Believing her dead, her family had her buried at Evergreen Cemetery. However, one night…

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Hoshizuna-no-Hama: Japan’s amazing star sand beach

Hoshizuna-no-Hama, literally translate as “Sand in the Shape of a Star”, is a small but charming Japanese beach famous for its star-shaped tiny grains of sand. Located on Irimote, the second-largest island in Okinawa prefecture, it doesn’t look too different than the hundreds of other beaches in the Japanese archipelago, at least at first glance, but a closer inspection reveals that many of the sand grains have a very curious shape: a five or six-tipped star. Actually the stars are not grains of sand, but microscopic, now empty exoskeletons of…

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Oregon’s Heceta Head Lighthouse and its stories

For more than a century Heceta Head Lighthouse has helped seagoers navigate the Pacific Ocean’s treacherous currents. Located 13 miles (21 km) north of Florence, and 13 miles (21 km) south of Yachats, it was built in 1894, and took many years to complete because it’s so high up (almost 62 meters above water). The 17 m-tall lighthouse shines a beam visible for 21 nautical miles (39 km; 24 mi), making it the strongest light on the Oregon Coast. Heceta Head is named after the Spanish explorer Bruno de Heceta,…

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Theodore “Fodor” Glava: the vampire of Lafayette

For generations, vampires have been a fascinating part of folklore and literature, introducing a collection of iconic characters described as corpses supposed, in European folklore, to leave their graves at night to drink the blood of the living by biting their necks with long pointed canine teeth. Perhaps it’s not surprising that a grave with “born in Transylvania” etched on the stone would invite vampire comparisons, but the people of Lafayette, Colorado, have really gone all-out. Local legends say that a tree growing over the grave sprung from the stake…

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The Well of Barhout: Yemen’s mysterious Well of Hell

In the arid wastes of eastern Yemen lies a fascinating natural wonder called the Well of Barhout. Shrouded in mystery and folklore, this “million and millions” years old large hole in the ground said to be God’s most hated spot on Earth. Those who live near the hole believe anything that comes close to the “Hell Pit” will be sucked in without escape. According to a Yemeni legend, “extinct tongues fizz on cold nights” there, a reference to what might be lurking inside the hole. Located in the eponymous valley,…

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Bobbie, the wonder dog who walked 2,500 miles to home

In August 1923, Frank and Elizabeth Brazier, with their daughters Leona and Nova, were visiting relatives in Wolcott, Indiana from their home in Silverton, Oregon. While filling up gas at a station in Wolcott, their two-year-old dog Bobbie was attacked by three other dogs and ran away. The family waited for Bobbie to return, but he did not. Despite they placed ads on newspapers, after a week of intense searching the Brazier family gave up hope and eventually, heartbroken, they continued their trip before returning home to Oregon, expecting never…

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Charlotte M. Sitton: the “The Crying Woman” of Adelaida Cemetery, California

Located west of Paso Robles, California, Adelaida is now over-ridden with wineries, but still rich in history and the strange. Originally, a mixture of mercury mines, farms, and ranches, it was first settled in 1859 by James Lynch, a sheep rancher. Pioneers flocked to the area due a perfect weather that seemed to make everything grow, and the population eventually reached a size of seven hundred scattered throughout the area amongst hills and valleys. The old trail to Mission San Miguel was opened in 1797 and used predominantly in the…

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Neptuni Åkrar: a Swedish fossil-rich cobble beach that holds Viking graves, cairns, and other remains.

We are along the Northwest coast of the island of Öland, Sweden. Located in Borgholm Municipality along the Kalmar Strait, north of the village of Byxelkrok, lies Neptuni Åkrar, Swedish for “Neptune’s Fields,” a vast shingle beach dotted with unusual limestone rock formations and close to a Viking-era burial ground. The cobble stones of Neptuni Åkrar result from stones left during the last ice age, which eroded down to their present shape by the waves over the centuries, and they are interspersed with fossils from Trilobites and Brachiopods. During summer,…

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Cono de Arita: Argentina’s mysterious natural pyramid

Near the south border of Salar de Arizaro, the sixth largest salt flat on earth and the second largest in Argentina, 70 km from the village of Tolar Grande, lies one of the world’s most mysterious natural formations, an almost perfect cone, it rises unexpectedly in the middle of the salt pan. This is Cono de Arita, so perfectly shaped that it appears man-made, that looms majestically 122 meters above the Salar. Its name comes from the Aymara language where Arita means “sharp”. In fact, all through the early twentieth…

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The mysteriously ruins of El Salvador Beach

One of the last things you would expect to find washed up on a tropical beach is a concrete abandoned villa, and yet that’s exactly the kind of bizarre discovery that beachgoers at the picturesque La Puntilla Beach in Costa del Sol, El Salvador, are treated on these days. It’s unclear how the building ended up there, but it seems to have been there a while, as it is covered up with what appears like recent graffiti. One of the most popular theories is that the villa was the victim…

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Cape Disappointment Light: the oldest functioning lighthouse on the West Coast

The Cape Disappointment Light is a lighthouse on Cape Disappointment near the mouth of the Columbia River in the U.S. state of Washington. Starting as a small stream at the base of the Canadian Rockies, the Columbia travels more than 1,200 miles, merging with various rivers and streams, until it meets the Pacific Ocean. Its force flowing into the sea creates one of the most treacherous bars in the world as evidenced by the 234 identified ships that stranded, sank, or burned near its mouth between 1725 and 1961. On…

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The mystery of Lady Dai, one of the world’s most preserved mummies

Despite her quite macabre appearance, Lady Dai is considered to be one of the world’s best preserved mummies. If others tend to crumble at the slightest movement, she is so well-kept that doctors were even able to perform an autopsy more than 2,100 years after her death, probably the most complete medical profile ever compiled on an ancient individual! But not only, as they were able to reconstruct her death, as well as her life, even determining her blood type, Type A. Despite her face looks swollen and deformed, her…

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Lammas: welcoming the harvest

We are in the middle of the dog days of summer, when the gardens are full of beautiful flowers, the fields are full of grain, and the harvest is approaching. The hot days of August are upon us, much of the earth is dry and parched, but we know that the bright reds and yellows of the harvest season are just around the corner. Corn has been planted, tended, harvested and consumed for millennia, and so it’s no wonder that there are myths about the magical properties of this grain.…

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Thann, Alsace and L’œil de la Sorcière (The Witch’s Eye)

The little town of Thann lies on the eastern slopes of the Vosges, in the département of Haut-Rhin (Alsace). A historic town which once belonged to the Habsburgs in the Middle-Ages, it is renown for its remarkable Gothic church and the Rangen vineyard and, in fact, it is also the southern gate to the Alsace Wine Route. According to the legend, the town originated from a miracle attributed to St. Theobald, the Bishop of Gubbio (Umbria, Italy). In 1160, Ubald (or Theobald) saw his death coming soon and promised his…

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The Spirit of the Grain Fields

Harvest is the most important time of the agricultural calendar. Not only in past, the fortunes of farms, families, and even entire communities were tied to its outcome. And thus, unsurprisingly, harvest has developed its variety of deities, traditions, and superstitions which are found in almost every farming culture worldwide. Ever since the first farmers planted their crops over 10,000 years ago, people have had an anxious wait for summer. Will there be enough hot weather to ripen the corn? Will an unlucky spell rot the grain in the fields?…

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Porphyry Island – Canadian Lighthouses of Lake Superior

Just east of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior’s northern shore, Canada, lies the volcanic Black Bay Peninsula that separates Black Bay and Nipigon Bay, and consists of over 300 distinct lava flows. Porphyry Island is the last in a chain of islands that stretch southwest from the peninsula and is named for the island’s igneous rock, known as porphyry, that contains quartz and feldspar crystals. Another unique peculiarity of the island is the presence of the so-called devil’s club, a shrub with a spiny stem and large leaves. Porphyry Island…

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Sivas and the mysterious grave in the road

One of the last thing you expect to see in the middle of a regular urban paved street is a grave complete with a large tombstone. But that’s exactly what you’ll see when driving through Sivas, in central Turkey. Yeni Mahalle Hamzaoğlu is one of the several streets that traverse the relatively new Şarkışla district but, at one point, motorists need to make sure that they don’t drive straight into a grave located right in the road. It’s been there for several years now, but only recently gained national attention,…

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