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"Why the English Chopped Their Dead..." Topic

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1,283 hits since 13 Apr 2017
©1994-2018 Bill Armintrout
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Personal logo Editor in Chief Bill The Editor of TMP Fezian13 Apr 2017 9:51 a.m. PST

…human bones excavated in 1963 and 1964 from the much-studied medieval English village Wharram Percy in North Yorkshire had been chopped, broken, and burned post-mortem…


Personal logo Doctor X Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 10:34 a.m. PST


Oberlindes Sol LIC13 Apr 2017 11:15 a.m. PST

Mina Harker: How did Lucy die? Was she in great pain?

Professor Abraham Van Helsing: Yeah, she was in great pain! Then we cut off her head, and drove a stake through her heart, and burned it, and then she found peace.

Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992).

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 2:25 p.m. PST

"It shows us a dark side of medieval beliefs and provides a graphic reminder of how different the medieval view of the world was from our own,"

Yeah, because you would never find a modern community obsessed with people coming back from the dead. Or witchcraft. (I know: supposed to call it "Wicca" this week.) Probably wouldn't find moderns nuts about alien abductions, either--or Satanic cults in daycare centers come to that.

That archeologist needs to get out more.

CAPTAIN BEEFHEART13 Apr 2017 2:38 p.m. PST

…It's an English thing.

Warspite113 Apr 2017 3:17 p.m. PST

Old practices die hard. As recently as 1815 a woman was hounded to death in 'enlightened' Norfolk, England, for supposedly being a 'witch'. The local reverend even refused to bury her in the village churchyard and she was deposited under a crossroads so that the constant passage of traffic above her meant she could never achieve rest.

In the case of the Wharram Percy burials it could be that dismemberment and burning (frowned upon by the Catholic church for all regular burials) was meant to deny them an after-life. It implies they may be heretics and in Britain that normally means Lollards, a 14th/15th version of Protestantism.

The common medieval burial practice in Britain was that a skull and two long bones would be 'filed' in a charnel house if a body was subsequently dug-up during later burials in the churchyard. Most churchyards were small and there was great need of burial space, especially in the cities. The rest of the found bones would be dumped into an ossuary or bone store but the skull and two long bones carefully deposited in the charnel house were meant to ensure that the dead person was resurrected on 'the day'.

For this reason a skull and two long bones appears on many 17th to 19th century gravestones and tombs in Britain as a symbol of The Resurrection. This symbol was later taken over and adopted by pirates as their flag, the Jolly Roger. Whether they knew of the resurrection connection is debatable.

Destroying or damaging their bones implies the dead people were being denied an after-life as a punishment. This was a common fate for heretics and one reason why they were commonly burned at the stake. Joan of Arc is a very good example of this.

As an example of parallel thinking, North American natives often disfigured or damaged the bodies of their fallen enemies so that they would carry those injuries in the spirit world.

Personal logo ColCampbell Supporting Member of TMP13 Apr 2017 7:22 p.m. PST


You've been Tangoed! TMP link


Hafen von Schlockenberg Supporting Member of TMP Inactive Member13 Apr 2017 8:39 p.m. PST

In this case, I'd say Bill Tangoed Tango!

War Monkey13 Apr 2017 8:46 p.m. PST

Hard to come back to haunt anyone when you can't get your act together.

Great War Ace Inactive Member14 Apr 2017 7:20 a.m. PST

LOL War Monkey.

This is solid evidence of not only belief, but actual "revenant" occurrences. Which is pretty danged cool, when you think about it. Could wide-spread belief cause this to occur more often? Is combined human belief powerful enough to affect "nature"? Skepticism has been the growing climate of humanity for many centuries. But belief is returning. And with it, the restless dead. Hoist on our own imaginations …………..

jeeves Supporting Member of TMP18 Apr 2017 6:20 a.m. PST

Or witchcraft. (I know: supposed to call it "Wicca" this week.)

Call it whatever you want. Who is telling you what you're "supposed" to call it, and why do you give a damn?

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