Saturday, October 24, 2015

Of Vampires and Grave Robbers~~~~

Dear Darklings,

I have a picture I want to show you ~~~~~

Now the person who posted this "claims" that this "cage" was to prevent the dead from rising as either a vampire or a zombie.

Well the concept of zombies really didn't take a more public view until the 1920's when Seabrooks book was published.   So one would think this would be more related to the idea of vampires, and considering the bars are made from cold iron one would think so, but the reason behind the cage is far more sinister than that.

Oh yes it is to prevent the dead from rising-----with the help of the feared "Resurrectionists"!

We know them by the more mundane label as "Body Snatchers".

According to Wikipedia~~~
Resurrectionists were commonly employed by anatomists in the United Kingdom during the 18th and 19th centuries to exhume the bodies of the recently dead. Between 1506 and 1752 only a very few cadavers were available each year for anatomical research.

The supply was increased when, in an attempt to intensify the deterrent effect of the death penalty, Parliament passed the Murder Act 1752.

By allowing judges to substitute the public display of executed criminals with dissection (a fate generally viewed with horror), the new law significantly increased the number of bodies anatomists could legally access. This proved insufficient to meet the needs of the hospitals and teaching centres that opened during the 18th century.

Corpses and their component parts became a commodity, but although the practice of disinterment was hated by the general public, bodies were not legally anyone's property. The resurrectionists therefore operated in a legal grey area.

Because of the Murder Act, when anatomists would come to collect the body there would be riots, but to make it worse because a dead body was considered not anyone's property the Resurrectionists could operate in gangs and dig up anyone newly dead, but if caught in the act those persons would be dealt with being violently beaten.

People were hired to be body guards in graveyards and cemeteries, the more wealthy would bury their dead using  secure coffins, and physical barriers such as mortsafes and heavy stone slabs made extraction of corpses more difficult.

The poor resorted to having to guard the bodies of their relations at night for a week or two thus making the body too far decayed for any anatomical use.

Until Burke and Hare started their scheme of provided extremely fresh bodies for dissection yes they were very fresh having been recently murdered by Burke and Hare, which resulted in the Anatomy Act  of  1832 in which bodies of the poor in workhouses were used for dissection.

Despite the passage of the Anatomy Act for a time there still wasn't enough bodies to meet demand so the Resurrectionists still plied their trade for some years until about 1844 when the act of digging up the dead finally ended.

Although there still is in modern times some people who for reasons of their own will desecrate a grave.  

But isn't that a horrible thought to think that your dead body after death is not anyone's property, not even your own?   Makes me shiver just to think of it.

Here is another picture of other caged graves ~~~~

Technically these are called Mortsafes,   and these are in a graveyard in England.

And now I Must return to my Dark Shadows marathon binge.  Coraline and Christopher have joined me to discover why Jonathan Frid's vampire became such a hit back in the late 1960's.

Later Darklings 

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