Wednesday, May 20, 2009


These photographs were taken by my follower Carrie, who visited Greyfriar's Kirkyard in Edinburgh over the weekend. The wrought iron contraption over the grave is a mortsafe, installed at the time of burial so that the grave would not be robbed. Plunderers were not after valuables, but the corpse itself. If fresh enough, it could be sold to one of the local surgeons for demonstration in their dissection classes. Edinburgh was a center for anatomy education in the 19th c. Carrie observes, "The cemetery looks like a zoo in some parts due to the precautions made to bar up the entrances to tombs for fear of the bodysnatchers." The second photo depicts the memorial to Scottish surgeon and Indologist John Borthwick Gilchrist (1759 - 1841) - complete with surgical instruments. Lastly, the Edinburgh Vaults under the South Bridge, which Carrie tells us were a favorite of the bodysnatchers to store corpses and also host to many other underground, illegal activities. Greyfriar's Kirkyard, by the way, was mentioned in my earlier post on Greyfriar's Bobby.

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