Ok so, nearby the tiny coffin figures from monday’s post lies this, it is a Mortsafe from 1831
(I saw something similar in situ in this earlier post from december:)
So to go a bit further into the story, they were used to protect a coffin underground for the first 6 weeks after burial. They were one of the desperate measures used by relatives terrified of body snatchers. There were great advances in anatomy in Edinburgh at the time, so the market for bodies for dissection was a thriving one. Burke and Hare rather than grave robbing, murdered their victims and then sold them. William Burke was caught and executed in 1829 and his body was given to an anatomy class for dissection. Hare was offered immunity to turn King’s Evidence and testify against Burke which he readily did (blame a visit to the Museum of Scotland for these brief macabre detours…).
“In 2009, Almost exactly 180 years after their brutal crimes shocked the nation, a rare pair of plaster masks of the notorious body snatchers Burke and Hare have been found at Inveraray jail in Argyll, along with a genuine hangman’s noose (…) A life mask is known to have been made of Hare during the trial, and Burke’s shaven head was cast after his execution in front of 25,000 people on 28 January 1829.” (more from this guardian article).
Did i mention that Edinburgh is full of ghosts…?