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Article: Caging the Dead
Caging the Dead
During the Victorian Age fear of the undead ran at a fever pitch. But was it fear of the undead or something else? In the 1800’s there came an invention known as the “Mortsafe”. These gawdy and heavey iron contraptions came in different forms but both served the same purpose. It was not essentially a fear of the undead that was the reason for the Mortsafe but to protect from grave robbers.
Photo Courtesy of Wiki Pedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortsafe
During the Victorian Era grave robbers were paid good money to steal bodies from their earthly resting places. These bodies were then sold to medical schools for use in anatomy classes to learn the details of the human anatomy by medical students. Many local law enforcement and others mostly turned a blind eye to the practice of grave robbing simply because they were of the belief that these robbers were helping to advance medical science.
But low and behold along comes the Anatomy Act of 1832 that brought a halt to the grave robbing for profit, it essentially killed the cash cow for the robbers and put an end to the Mortsafe.
Though there were not many in existence and to be honest not that many were needed and these heavy contraptions could be re-used. I mean after all, about 5 or 6 weeks in the ground decomposition made the body totally useless for medical study and for the grave robbers themselves. Not that the robbers did not have ingenious ways of getting around the Mortsafe.
A method that was quite popular was to dig a hole say some 20 feet from the grave itself. The robbers would then tunnel to the coffin from the hole, pop open the end of the casket and drag the body out horizontally! Don’t think this worked? Well there have been discoveries as recent as the 20th century that shows this form of high tech grave robbing!
The Victorian Era brought about a different view of death and I guess you could say they had their own "Death Ritual" so to speak. Mortality rates were high during the period especially for children whom many did not live until their 5th birthday.
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