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Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?

GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 05:04 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Feb 07 - 05:08 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Feb 07 - 05:10 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 05:24 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Feb 07 - 06:04 AM
Muttley 21 Feb 07 - 07:01 AM
GUEST,meself 21 Feb 07 - 08:15 AM
Grab 21 Feb 07 - 08:27 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Feb 07 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 08:52 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Feb 07 - 09:00 AM
Ruth Archer 21 Feb 07 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 09:10 AM
GUEST,meself 21 Feb 07 - 09:16 AM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Feb 07 - 09:17 AM
Wolfgang 21 Feb 07 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,blowz at work 21 Feb 07 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,meself 21 Feb 07 - 11:14 AM
GUEST,Karen Kaplan of Toronto 21 Feb 07 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 02:42 PM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 04:15 PM
Jean(eanjay) 21 Feb 07 - 04:44 PM
Blowzabella 21 Feb 07 - 04:59 PM
Rapparee 21 Feb 07 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,meself 21 Feb 07 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 21 Feb 07 - 05:47 PM
Muttley 21 Feb 07 - 08:09 PM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Feb 07 - 09:24 PM
Alba 21 Feb 07 - 09:52 PM
GUEST,meself 21 Feb 07 - 09:57 PM
leeneia 21 Feb 07 - 11:41 PM
The Fooles Troupe 21 Feb 07 - 11:49 PM
Ruth Archer 22 Feb 07 - 03:05 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 22 Feb 07 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 22 Feb 07 - 05:17 AM
Grab 22 Feb 07 - 10:06 AM
Hollowfox 22 Feb 07 - 02:44 PM
Acme 22 Feb 07 - 06:09 PM
Muttley 22 Feb 07 - 08:12 PM
Muttley 22 Feb 07 - 08:21 PM
GUEST,meself 22 Feb 07 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 23 Feb 07 - 02:50 AM
Grab 23 Feb 07 - 06:03 AM
The Fooles Troupe 23 Feb 07 - 06:43 PM
GUEST,Ian cookieless 24 Feb 07 - 12:07 PM
GUEST,mateo 26 Nov 07 - 03:14 PM
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Rumncoke 26 Nov 07 - 07:58 PM
Jack Campin 26 Nov 07 - 08:18 PM
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M.Ted 26 Nov 07 - 10:17 PM
Grab 27 Nov 07 - 09:06 AM
GUEST 27 Nov 07 - 10:01 AM
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Subject: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:04 AM

From the CD notes for a song by Tim Eriksen, Leave Your Light On, on his 2001 album, Tim Eriksen:

"From a true story told to me by Anna Maria Nygren about a farmer and his wife who lived in her area a few generations back. He really loved her, and was devastated when she died one cold day. She was buried promptly, and the farmer went home to try and get on with things. But that night, alone in the house, he heard a scratching at the window and a whisper – "let me in." He shouted "go away! It's not funny," but again a whisper, "let me in – it's me." He finally went to bed, pulled the covers over his head, and cried himself to sleep. In the morning he went out to the barn, and saw someone lying on the floor – it was her. She was nearly frozen, but breathing, and was missing a finger. Overwhelmed, he brought her inside. She revived, and eventually they pieced together what had happened. She had been mistaken for dead, buried prematurely and then, that night, unearthed by grave robbers. They couldn't get her wedding ring off, so they cut off her finger, at which point she suddenly woke up. No doubt surprised them. Somehow she found her way through the darkness and disorientation to her home and husband. They apparently lived a long time after that."

Tim doesn't give a place nor a precise (or even vague) date for the story, nor the names of the couple. I'd be really interested to know:

a. if anyone can verify this story in any way or give further details
b. if there are other similar stories circulating and, if so, what are their locations and origins? Could this be one variation on a rural myth (as it can't be an urban myth)?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:08 AM

From http://www.quantockonline.co.uk/quantocks/villages/watchet/watchet.html

"Florence Wyndham is famous locally she has even had a poem written about her. Her story is quite unusual. The legend goes that a year after her marriage she was taken ill, and died, she was taken to the church to be entombed in the family vault. That night the sexton, a poor man, crept up to the tomb and opened the lid to take the gold rings from her fingers, but he couldn't pull the rings off so he decided to cut the finger off. As he started cutting he was horrified to see blood, and her body move. He immediately fled the scene never to be seen in watchet again. Florence now wide awake picked up the lantern left by the sexton and walked down the path from the church to her house at Kentsford. It is said that she had great difficulty in persuading her household that she was not a ghost. Not long after this she gave birth to a son from whom the family has descended. The poem about this event was written by Lewis H Court a vicar of the church, he called it "Lady Wyndhams return". Here are a couple of verses

He seized the slender fingers white
And stiff in their repose
Then sought to file the circlet through;
When, to his horror, blood he drew,
And the fair sleeper rose

She sat a moment, gazed around ,
Then, great was her surprise,|
And sexton, startled, saw at a glance
This was not death, but a deep trance,
And madness leapt to his eyes.

The stagnant life steam in her veins
Again began to flow:
She felt the sudden quickening,
For her it was a joyous thing ,
For him a fearsome woe."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:10 AM

Of course, Tim Laycock sings a song called Floence Wyndham, based on this story.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:19 AM

Wow! Thanks, Ruth. That's fantastic. I went to the URL you gave, and Florence had a monumental brass made in her honour in 1596, so this story is older than I imagined. I also assumed that Tim's story is from the USA. Maybe it is. Maybe this is a widely circulated story? Or was Florence the woman in question? I doubt that a farmer's wife would be Lady Wyndham! Or did she change to a farmer within the telling of the story when it travelled to the USA? Any clues, anyone?

Ruth, glad to hear that things are getting better with David now.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:24 AM

Thanks again, Ruth. You must have been typing your Tim Laycock / Florence Wyndham message as I was typing mine and just got ahead. I have tracked this song down to his album Fine Colours. Do you know if this song traditional or did he write it (or pick it up from someone who did)?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 06:04 AM

I believe he wrote it. It's quite an eerie song - one of the ones I play to my daughter when she disdainfully tells me that folk is all about twee stuff like rambling about in the countryside and getting knocked up by farm boys.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Muttley
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 07:01 AM

While i've not heard of Florence Wyndham before today; there is another tale that parallels hers and can be verified. it is best related with thethe subjects un-named at first to add to the finale.

In very similar circumstances to that of Florence, this tale hails from Scotland and comes a couple of hundred years later (1770/71, to be exact.

In about mid Bovember of 1770, the beloved wife of a wealthy and influential Edinburgh solicitor took ill and slipped into a coma. Having money for the best of treatments, no expense was spared to save the woman's life. However, she slipped further into coma and apparently passed away in her bed.

A lavish funeral was held and the body conveyed to a mausoleum in St. Cuthbert's Burial Ground - though some stories place it in Greyfriars Kirkyard; there was no mention of this particular family's interments there in the tour I took 18 months ago.

That night her mausoleum was broken into and the thieves began divesting her of jewellery and rings buried with her and according to some reports she sat up while one was tugging rings from her fingers, other tales say she awoke and screamed when a finger was cut.
(Though this was some 50 years before the notorious pairing of William Burke and William Hare - the 'profession' of "body snatching" and robbing the wealthy dead was well-established and can still be evidenced by the parapeted watchtowers or guardposts sited around the walls of St.Cuthbert's and manned for a term after each burial.)

As per the normal run of this tale; she awoke fully and taking the lantern walked home. As it turned out the reason for the Lady's illness was (diagnosed in retrospect as) a form of Early Pregnancy Hypotension. The lady in question duly improved in health after her 'resurrection' and in due course went into labour in August of the following year. After many hours of labour she at last gave birth to a baby boy whom she named Walter.

The boy grew up and financed by his wealthy father attended the best schools and ultimately Edinburgh University where he (unsurprisingly) studied Law. However, it is for his writing rather than his legalistic skills his life and unconventional birth are remembered and we can thank those two grave robbers for the likes of:
Ivanhoe,
Rob Roy,
The Lady of the Lake,
Waverley and
The Heart of Midlothian.

The child who "sprang from the womb of a dead mother" was none other than the famous Scots writer Sir Walter Scott.

However, it is unsurprising that so many tales of this sort tend to float around as it was actually not very uncommon for the comatose or cataleptic to be prematurely interred even as late as the 19th Century. In fact many modern terms we use spring from this very situation.

You see ale and spirits were most frequently imbibed from pewter jacks and cups. The problem is that alcohol leeched lead salts from pewter - modern pewter is safe due to a stabilising chemical; but pewter from the 19th century and older leeched freely and the stronger the alcohol the more the leeching occurred.

This led to mild to severe Lead Poisoning and a 'binge' might lead to a drinker becoming "DEAD DRUNK" - in other words, so drunk he could not be woken and presumed dead. His friends would cart him home where the relatives would wash the body and dress it in its best clothes. Knowing that some folks who "died" would rouse (and also keeping in mind the 3 days in which the Lord was buried) the body would be "laid out" on the table and the family would eat their meals around it for that time waiting for him to "WAKE" up - hence the 'wake' held after a modern funeral.

If the unfortunate didn't wake up they would, after 3 days, be buried.

However, especially in small towns and villages, burial plots were at a premium; they could not afford to expand burial grounds into crop and stock grazing lands. Thus every 10 years or so, the older burials were disinterred, the remains carefully placed in an urn or wooden chest in an 'ossarium'in the church crypts and the plot re-used. However, about every 20 or so coffins raised were found to have scratch marks under the lids indicating a 'corpse' had awoken underground and then died anyway.
So, to avoid these mishaps, at the interment, a cord was placed around the wrist or hand and threaded through a pipe to the surface and attached to a bell mounted on a stand. If the 'deceased' woke up 'under the sod' they could tug the rope and alert the Vicar or Verger or whatever - there was always SOMEone within earshot of the churchyard during the day.
At night, however, there was no-one about and so a couple of trustworthy men would be hired to stand guard in the churchyard for up to 14 nights to listen for the bell between 'Vespers and Matins' as well as guard against body snatchers.

Now to those modern terms I mentioned earlier:

If a deceased rang the alarm and was disinterred alive, that person was forever known as a "DEAD RINGER" of himself and to have been "SAVED BY THE BELL".
The gents standing watch to listen for the bell and secondly, prevent body snatchers, were watching all night and said to be working the "GRAVEYARD SHIFT".

Interesting stuff, history - ain't it>Ivanhoe, Rob Roy, The Lady of the Lake, Waverley and The Heart of Midlothian.
?

Muttley


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 08:15 AM

Do you have a source for this extraordinary story in relation to Sir Walter Scott? I've just looked at a number of biographical notes on Scott on-line and there's no mention of it ...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Grab
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 08:27 AM

"Saved by the bell" and "dead ringer"
"Graveyard shift" and "wake"

I'm also very suspicious of "dead drunk". Acute lead poisoning isn't something you recover from in that way, and anyone can easily tell the difference between being unconscious from booze and being dead. This goes double for back then, given that around half of all children died before adulthood, and adults died pretty easy too. Back then, you'd have had plenty of experience of what a dead body looked like. Anyway, the metaphor is so blindingly obvious, I don't see how it needs any further explanation, any more than "sleep like the dead" would.

And checking the family history of Walter Scott shows no such story.

In other words, Muttley, it looks like you've been taken in by yet another piece of internet fakelore spam. :-/

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 08:40 AM

But it is a damn good story...

:-)

... and would make a good introduction to the song...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 08:52 AM

Now wondering if the English Florence Wyndham story is the origin of the USA story told to Tim Eriksen - or if both are a common story that has appeared in various places. If so, are there any other examples?

I wonder if there are any Mudcat doctors, surgeons or nurses who could say if there could possibly be any truth to the story. I know that some medical conditions make a pulse difficult or impossible to detect (don't know what the condition/s is/are). There was a story a few years ago on the news (proper news - BBC TV and radio - not internet rumours) of a woman in the UK who was on a mortuary drawer and a technician thought he saw her eyes move. It turned out that he did: having been pronounced dead she revived and went home. So it seems that being mistakenly taken as dead does happen (however rarely). (BTW, I tried to find this story on the net but drew a blank, probably because I can't remember any more details than I've just given.) In such a state, would the shock of a severed finger ever jolt the 'dead' person into life? Or would it finish the person off?! Any qualified medical opinions, Mudcatters?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:00 AM

Well, if you read the story carefully, you will notice that it is NOT a 'coffin' but a 'mausoleum' - thus not 'buried under the ground' - but 'laid out on a slab' - thus easily able to breathe for many hours at a reduced rate thru the linen shroud...

If someone tried to cut off one of my body parts, I'd probably have a strong desire to wake up too...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:05 AM

I have to confess, when I first heard the Florence Wyndham song I assumed it was about a fictional character - it was only a little bit of internet searching that threw up the story. That version of events was clearly accepted at the time, and was passed down through the family. The poenm written by the local vicar would also suggest that the story was well known and accepted locally.

Though, of course, none of this means it's true.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:10 AM

The Walter Scott story is a mausoleum. The Florence Wyndham story's also has a "family vault". The story told by Anna Maria Nygren to Tim Eriksen was a coffin, as she was "unearthed by grave robbers". I'd love to know if this 'resurrection' is medically plausible? I (think I) know that the reason we tend to remember shocking events, and that the detail at the time is more vivid and detailed than in everyday life, is a rush of adrenaline caused by the shock and danger. I would guess that having a finger cut off would also cause a rush of adrenaline and so possibly revive. However, I also know that severe shocks can also immobilise. I have no idea if being apparently dead would over ride these normal reactions. I'd really value any qualified medical opinions on this.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:16 AM

"Mythbusters" did a segment on being buried alive - their conclusion was to the effect that a person could not last more than a few minutes in a buried coffin, due to lack of oxygen. Probably something on-line about that somewhere ...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:17 AM

"The story told by Anna Maria Nygren to Tim Eriksen was a coffin, as she was "unearthed by grave robbers"."

If the story were passed on as a 'folk story' - the important detail of 'not being buried under the earth' would get lost with time as the concept of 'burial' can mean either way...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Wolfgang
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:45 AM

Wiki entry about taphephobia

Wolfgang


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,blowz at work
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 10:01 AM

I don't think Tim wrote the song - but I've got 'Fine Colours' at home, so will see what the sleeve notes say, when I get home. I seem to think it was one he heard and was taken by.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 11:14 AM

See this for an a propos story about the mother of Robert E. Lee:
http://www.lewrockwell.com/jarvis/jarvis81.html ...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Karen Kaplan of Toronto
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 11:44 AM

There exists yet another such story (probably among many), this one associated with Charnes Hall and the family Yonge, apparently documented in a book or booklet called _Staffordshire_ by Vivian Bird. I saw a brief description in the Staffordshire County Museum at Shugborough Hall in Staffordshire in 1988, and I too was moved to write a song based on the possibilities in the story, whether or not true.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 02:42 PM

Thanks, 'meself'. Interesting how often these stories involve a sexton (easy to see why), a woman rather than a man buried and the birth of children following the narrow escape (in other words, they're all young and female - why would that be? Anyone know?). The Ann Carter Lee page you give a link to, 'meself', asks the same general questions I want to have answers to, but alas comes to the same conclusion: "So, what are we to make of the resurrection of Ann Carter Lee? Was it simply a Lee family legend? Or was it a case of a misdiagnosis of death resulting from the imperfect state of medical knowledge at the time? – Or was it the result of some phenomenon beyond ordinary human comprehension? Perhaps we will never know."

Thank you all for your contributions. This has been a fascinating journey so far. Any more nuggets, anyone? Especially from medical practitioners?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 04:15 PM

I've been followimg some leads. Here is a website that includes more stories very much like (suspiciously so) the ones we have already discussed. (For some reason I am unable to copy and paste from this site.)

Here are some non-spooky explanations for genuinely dead people clawing the insides of their coffins.

And here's five modern and verified stories of 'dead' people reviving in morgues.

Here's the first ...

... the second ...

... the third ...

... the fourth ...

... and the fifth.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Jean(eanjay)
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 04:44 PM

I was interested in reading about taphephobia (Wolfgang's link). As a child I had a terrible fear of being buried alive and for a long time my mother had to sit every night and promise me that if I "died" she would cut my wrists and then if they bled people would know I was actually alive and wouldn't bury me.

I've experienced sleep paralysis twice in my life and that is a frightening experience although it didn't last long enough for anybody to have got me to the burying stage.

I do believe these stories of surviving being buried alive although some of the detail may have got changed slightly over the years.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Blowzabella
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 04:59 PM

Just going back to my earlier post - Tim (Laycock) says in his notes for the song 'Florence Wyndham' on album 'Fine Colours' "This song has haunted me ever since I first heard it sung by its author, Phil Hewett, at the Hoddeson Folk Club, cica 1979. The story comes from Watchet in Somerset. Lady Florence Wyndham became ill and fell into a coma in 1559, was presumed dead and buried in the family vault in St Decuman's Church. But that night ..." (Words and music Phil Hewett)

(It is a brilliant version, by the way - just Tim's vocals, accompanied by Robin Jeffrey (of New Scorpion Band) on theorbo.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Rapparee
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:09 PM

It's a standard theme in folklore, the person who is buried, awakened by a grave robber trying to cut the ring off their finger, and walking home.

There's also a book entitled (I think) Buried Alive which follows the whole mythos of being buried alive from the Middle Ages (and earlier) into the 20th Century.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:43 PM

That's it: I'm taking my cellphone with me -


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 05:47 PM

Rapaire: "It's a standard theme in folklore, the person who is buried, awakened by a grave robber trying to cut the ring off their finger, and walking home." That does seem to have come out in this thread, something I had not realised. Did you find this out through reading the book you mention, Buried Alive? Since there's a few books of this title, can you remember author and/or publisher? I'd be interested to read it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Muttley
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 08:09 PM

GRAB wrote:

"anyone can easily tell the difference between being unconscious from booze and being dead..........In other words, Muttley, it looks like you've been taken in by yet another piece of internet fakelore spam. :-/"

REPLY

You've had a lot of experience with dead bodies have you????

In fact, the concept of "coma" is a fairly new one in medicine - barely 150 years old, +/-.

Back in the 18th century and earlier, a very low pulse and respiratory rate - i.e coma, would have been undetectable to almost every physician and indeed the lay individual. In many modern case, physiological activity is only apparent by electronic monitoring.

As an ex-paramedic I have even transported 3 patients (accompanied by a doctor and an ICU nurse)who were, to all intent and purpose 'dead'. There was NO discernible heartbeat via stethoscope - or even carotid pulse, no discernible respiratory activity and no attainable of the Blood Pressure via BP cuff and stethoscope. HOWEVER: the monitors attached showed cardiac activity, cerebral activity and a respiratory rate (aided by 'bagging' the patient mechanically by hand). Indeed, due to the extra personnel and the monitors - there wasn't a lot of room for the patients on any occasion and I had to travel in the front passenger seat and help monitor from there. (on one occasion I was the most comfortable person (not counting the patient) in the vehicle as I was the driver that day).

So if modern medicine can be fooled - then the medicine of the years prior to early - mid 19th century had NO chance. So NO I was not taken in by some "Internet Folklore Spam". In fact the internet has only come about as a major source of information since I LEFT the paramedical profession - I concluded my career as a differential diagnostics, Baratrauma, anatomy & physiology, and rescue expert and lecturer.

Lead poisoning over time CAN induce coma from which recovery is possible - - - - OCCASIONALLY. A sudden onset can kill, especially if the process has been ongoing beforehand and even as an acute event in its own right - remember Tomatoes were BANNED as a food substance in Britain for about 3 - 400 years because early consumers died after eating them. The acids leached the lead salts out of the pewter plates poisoning the eaters and it wasn't until a public display of "tomato consumption" was made off a china plate in Britain early in the 1800's that it was realised the plates were the culprit all along.

BTW - I am also a history teacher who happens to be addicted to Mediaeval and latter European (up to about 1800 - that's where my interests wane)trivia - especially medical and folkloric.



GUEST: MESELF wrote:

"Mythbusters" did a segment on being buried alive - their conclusion was to the effect that a person could not last more than a few minutes in a buried coffin, due to lack of oxygen. Probably something on-line about that somewhere ...

I saw that episode and he was buried in a coffin (modern) inside a container of sorts from memory and the fine soil poured on top.

Traditionally coffins - especially those of pre 19th and 20th century construction and even more especially those of the less wealthy were NOT as 'airtight' as those that the Mythbuster guy was buried in.
Secondly, the soil was not 'dry and fine' it was usually as clods of clay. When backfilled, there are many small airpockets to sustain air in a coffin longer than the mythbusters managed. Add to that the fact that air would seep into the casket more readily as well.
Add to that the fact that the person IN the casket was comatose and thus could not panic until consciousness took hold and required VERY little air before the "woke up under the sod".

It's also been revealed that the M/B's guy is also a (apparently) a little claustrophobic which would have added to his discomfort and immediate rise in respiratory rate and blood pressure once the soil was poured in. So - Not a true 'burial alive' myth - - - busted or otherwise.

Add to this that the Sir Walter Scott story has been around a LONG time; I heard it from my grandmother and father first - natives of Edinburgh - and then independently in secondary (high) school from an English Literature teacher and finally in a 'true' stories' alamanac when I was about 15 or so - no I don't recall the name of the book. That style of "Facts & Figures" text was a fairly common one growing up un the sixties and seventies.

Lastly, when I related the SWS story - I said his mother had been interred in a MAUSOLEUM - NOT in the ground (for some reason they still use the "to place in the earth" terminology for placement in a tomb or mausoleum as well).

So, in conclusion: GRAB - next time refrain from taking cheap shots that are so easily shot out of the saddle.

Mutt


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:24 PM

I have a friend whose (interestingly Scots!) father 'came back' several times - once even when he had stepped in front of a moving truck.

After the 2nd time, the hospital used to just leave him on the trolley (they had no brain monitors in those days, just a doctor) with a sheet and not take him to the morgue - they didn't want him to scare the morgue workers!

I'm not joking - he eventually died a couple of years ago - he had a massive stroke, with massive brain damage, from which there was no possible chance of a normal life if he did recover - he just slipped away at a ripe old age. It was Christmas day - interestingly enough - the hospital had stopped playing 'Xmas music' on the speakers early in the morning - and he passed soon after - his daughter in law - an geriatric ex-nurse - wondered whether he thought that Xmas day was over...

His son has done the same trick (no brain monitors, but a doctor present) once so far...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Alba
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:52 PM

Well meself there is a 'local legend' that in Mount Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts Mary Baker Eddy is reputed to have had a phone installed in her tomb!

Very interesting Thread.
Thank you to all who have posted their thoughts and knowledge.
Jude:)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:57 PM

Has anyone looked for her number in the Cambridge phone book?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: leeneia
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 11:41 PM

Sorry to be a rain in the face, but there's one big flaw in the story about the woman dying and being buried alive. If she were alive, she'd stay warm. People might not detect a heartbeat, and they knew nothing of brain monitors, but they certainly knew that the dead are cold.

So, one less thing to worry about!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 11:49 PM

The body takes a while to cool down - any medicos to say how long?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Ruth Archer
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 03:05 AM

People can go very cold when their heart rate slows dramatically. If these people were semi-comatose, they may well have been cold, too.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 05:00 AM

Wowee. Got up this morning and the thread had grown by 9 posts overnight. Thank you so much, everyone, for all your fascinating contributions.

Leeneia, I am no medic, but I wonder if your idea that alive = warm and dead = cold is strictly true. I know that illness that make you *feel* terrifically cold - I wonder if the body really is cold, or if it just feels that way? It puts me in mind of a friend who went to India and was mightily impressed by an ascetic meditating in a temple. He said it was a steaming hot day and everyone was covered in beads of sweat - except this meditating ascetic, who looked cool as a cucumber - no sign of the heat on his body at all. And that reminds of a medical programme on TV about the physical effects of meditation, using heat sensors and brain scanners while long-practised Buddhists meditated. They found that the deeper the meditation, the slower and slower the metabolism and other physical processes.

And so, my rather long-winded point is, if bodily processes dramatically slow down for whatever reason, would this induce bodily cooling that, in less knowledgable times, could look like death?

As an ex-medic, any ideas, Muttley?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 05:17 AM

I think I have just found the book Rapaire referred to by looking on Amazon: 'Buried Alive - The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear' by Jan Bondeson. Just in case anyone suspects this book might be unacademic and unreliable, the blurb says "Jan Bondeson is a medical doctor who also holds a PhD in experimental medicine. He is the author of A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities and other works."

The blurb also answers Muttley's and 'Meself's debate about whether anyone can survive being buried alive: "He quotes for example, the case of Angelo Hays, a young French man buried accidentally in 1937 following a motor bike accident. He was exhumed on the insistence of an insurance inspector two days later, and found to be alive though deeply unconscious. He recovered fully ..."

And it does say "buried" - no mausoleums here!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Grab
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 10:06 AM

For me, dead bodies, no. Unconscious from booze - seen some, never had any doubt they were alive. Not having seen a dead body, I couldn't say, but breathing kind of gives the game away. I'm sure you've got more experience in this as a paramedic, so tell me, have you ever seen a drunk who (after more than just a cursory glance) didn't appear to the naked eye to be breathing? If you have, fair enough, but none of the unconscious drunks I've seen have been that way. And re the lead poisoning, as you say, acute lead poisoning doesn't behave that way, but your claim was that acute lead poisoning from binge drinking *was* the source of the phrase.

Re Walter Scott, you may well have heard that story from your gran, but it doesn't really change that there's no trace of the story on any summary of Scott's life on the net. The better ones start with his parents and their lives before marriage and before Scott's birth. Not a trace, and this isn't something that's trivial enough to be left out, ignored or forgotten. I could try and find a full biography of Scott if you like, but I'm afraid it really looks like it's not true.

Sorry if I offended, Muttley, but your post bore a remarkable resemblance to "fakelore" emails that go round. You know the kind of thing - rubbish like "freezing the balls of a brass monkey" is about a triangular cannonball support, and all that kind of stuff. That's why I thought it was just another one of those, especially when I looked it all up.

Still and all, none of those derivations of phrases were true (with a possible exception of "dead drunk" which frankly seems unlikely), and it seems that nor is the Scott story. Fair enough, you genuinely thought those origins and that story were correct - but a bit of checking, and it actually doesn't look like any of them are. For debunking those, I don't apologise, and my "cheap shots", as you call them, are very much still in the saddle.

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Hollowfox
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 02:44 PM

(Jeez, I go home to scrounge up a couple of examples, and look at the size of this thread! well, anyhow...)
The tale of the wife being revived by a grave robber and walking home goes back to at least 1400 or thereabouts. In Legends of the Rhine (there are a lot of translations of this collection of tales, not all of them have the same stories collected) [Prepared by Walther Ottendorff-Simrock, translated by F G Adams, published sometime after World War II (sorry, couldn't find a copyright) by Bonn: Wilhelm Stollfuss], this was supposed to have taken place in Cologne. The mayor's wife "died" of Bubonic Plague, and was recognized by her husband's white horses as a living being, not a ghost. This was commemorated by wooden horses' heads being placed in the gable of their home. these were replaced by stone heads when the house was ebuilt after World War II.
There is also a lovely version told in the Appalachians that can be found on Connie Regan-Blake's cd Spirits Walk (www.storywindow.com), under the title Two White Horses.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Acme
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 06:09 PM

I found an article through Google (haven't read it yet) that takes you to JSTOR (a subscription journal source for academic and other libraries). This is the Google link. Historical Traditions in English Folk-Tales, from Folklore, Vol. 75, No. 4 (Winter, 1964), pp. 225-242.

I went to our university library and found and downloaded the article. If someone wants to read it there is a "lite" PDF version that shouldn't mess up your email too bad. PM me with your details and I'll send it as an attachment. This is a half-meg, the big version is about 1.5 meg.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Muttley
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 08:12 PM

Actully GRAB we did pick up a bloke who was seen to collapse in a park after having belted his way though a fair amount of highly percentaged spirits and at first - examination for breathing and pulse he was cool to touch (except under the thickest clothes (which can be normal) and appeared to be non-breathing and no detectable pulse in the carotid (the most reliable indicator) after trying for a minute or so and feeling nothing - and knowing the guy had been "out" for about 10 - 12 minutes before we arrived, we were prepared to call in a 'Signal 83' (Patient Dead on Arrival at Scene) when I thought I felt a slight skip under my fingertip as I was raising it.

I grabbed the stethoscope and went for heart sound and heard VERY faint cardio noise so I brushed my fingers lightly across the tips of his eyelashes - no response (he was VERY unconscious if he was indeed alive, I squeezed his earlobe hard - no response (state of consciousness appearing REALLY bad) - next step was to press a fingertip into a neural notch along the inside edge of his eye socket ( it's close to the nose) - no response so this guy was WAYYYY GONE; My last choice was one not used anymore (but REALLY effective) - I rubbed my knuckles (make a fist then half open it again, leaving the fingertips still tucked in) along the ridge where his ribs met the breastbone (sternum) - you can wake up a dead stick with that one, and he GROANED!!! So I REALLY checked ahis BP - VERY VERY low but there (just).
We tubed him and got him to emergency 'tout suite' and he revived - eventually.
But on examination - he appeared to be WELL dead - a good lesson for paramedics NOT to trust the obvious signs and symptoms.

Another case (not involving drunkenness, but DEFINITELY edifying in the need to guard one's tongue) was a suicide at a train station. A guy had announced to a group of people he was gonna jump - - - AND DID. Right into the front of the train.

We arrived and the staff were sying he was dead, another ambulance arrived a few minutes after us to assisit in recovery and my training officer (still not sure if he was power-tripping, callous, insensitive, being a smart-arse or just thought it was a good opportunity to toughen up the 'new boy' and apply the "throw him in at the deep end" school of education.

Anway - he said "get down there and examine the '83'. This meant climbing down off the platform, getting under the train, and crawling past the body parts that had been 'cast off' - no need to elaborate that the "body" was a mess.

I could hear my training officer and the other two 'ambo's' up on the platform talking about the incident with staff and joking in part with some unnecessary comment - Ambo's, doctors and nurses tend to develop a "gallows" or "black" hunour in order to cope with the things they deal with and this "humour" was in audible full swing above me on the platform (the victim had been under the train for about 10 minutes or more by this stage).

As I reached him and went to apply pressure to detect a pulse, the victims eyelids fluttered, he groaned and tried to turn his head toward me - his eyes were half open and his pupils were NOT dilated - he wasn't dead!

I yelled out to the guys above "The victim is still alive". I got the prompt reply of "Bullshit" and yelled it again even louder adding "now move this F*****g TRAIN!"

The train was moved enough to give us access and the guys life finally gave out just as we were preparing to lift him off the tracks.
NEVER took any job for granted after that.

Now: LEENIA wrote: "Sorry to be a rain in the face, but there's one big flaw in the story about the woman dying and being buried alive. If she were alive, she'd stay warm."

Actually not true. Once heart function drops and the brain goes into 'coma' all physiological function is suppressed in order to keep the brain functioning. The heart isn't there to keep YOU alive, it's sole purpose is to pump the blood through the lungs to get oxygen for the brain to use and to transport digested and metabolised glucose for the brain to use for energy. In short - the heart is there to keep the brain alive and by being attached to your brain (well most people are - I've met more than a few who apparently weren't) you as well!
Thus a comatose patient not hooked up to machinery to do these jobs will be systemically cooler by a few degrees. A comatose patient also has little control over their normal endothermic controls and becomes quickly subject to external environmental factors - thus a comatose person outdoors will quickly cool to the point of hypothermic - even an otherwise healthy person will go severely hypothermic in the right conditions:
CASE: 1980 - little old lady in North Melbourne (less than three minutes;' drive from the Royal Melbourne Hospital) fell and broke her hip one morning in late May. The police, alerted by neighbours kicked in the door and found her and called us. she was clad only in a thin cotton nightie, conscious and alert and had been lying on her stone-flagged floor for three days and nights She was dangerously hypothermic. We stabilised the fracture and laid her on our trolley where she promptly went unconscious. In the ambulance I wrapped her and myself in about 3 or 4 blankets to sustain her temperature. She 'surfaced' briefly as we arrived at the hospital; whispered "Thankyou for being here with me" and quietly died. They couldn't revive her.
So any comatose person buried or otherwise interred would NOT remain warm unless the coma reversed.

Sorry

FOOLESTROUPE wrote: "The body takes a while to cool down - any medicos to say how long?"

I'm not a forensic scientist so I can't give exact figures. However I CAN tell you that surface temperature cools VERY rapidly. So rapidly, in fact that a body can be discerably cold to the touch within 15 minutes to half-an-hour depending on ambient temperature.

The only reliable method to estsblish post-mortum temperature is via the liver. It cools down the slowest of all the organs (the heart, lung and brains are cold well before the liver) at about - and this one is subject to review if I can find the relevant facts - I THINK the liver cools at a rate of about 2-3 degrees an hour post-mortum. Thus sticking a sharp-tipped thermometer into a dead individual's liver is a very accurate method of ascertaining time of death - especially under suspicious circumstances - or circumstances where the death went unobserved.

Funny writing about those old cases of mine were a lot harder than I expected. 27 years down the track and though I can't remember tht old lady's name - I can still see her eyes and the peace in them as she left - - - - and I still wept thinking of her and writing about it.
I guess even I'm human after all.

Muttley

PS I'll see if I can locate that 'cooling data'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Muttley
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 08:21 PM

GUEST, IAN wrote: "And so, my rather long-winded point is, if bodily processes dramatically slow down for whatever reason, would this induce bodily cooling that, in less knowledgable times, could look like death?

As an ex-medic, any ideas, Muttley?"

In short, my diatribe above was long-winded enough - Yes!!!!

I think I covered it in my previous post

Mutt


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 10:30 PM

Thanks for sharing those stories with us, Mutt ...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 02:50 AM

Muttley, I really appreciate all the effort you have put into answering these questions so comprehensively. Thank you very much. And all other contributors, too. I hadn't known this topic was going to be quite as fascinating as this!

Any more, anyone?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Grab
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 06:03 AM

Interesting info, Muttley.

From your examples though, I'd presume (correct me if I'm wrong) that once your body is so far gone that breathing and pulse aren't apparent, you'll need some pretty good medical attention to save you. Are there many cases of people coming back spontaneously?

And this might be a cheap shot, but if you're teaching history, better not teach your kids from the stories your granny told you. They may be nice stories, but... :-/

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 06:43 PM

"Are there many cases of people coming back spontaneously?"

See above
From: Foolestroupe
Date: 21 Feb 07 - 09:24 PM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Ian cookieless
Date: 24 Feb 07 - 12:07 PM

A question which may be impossible to answer, but I'll ask anyway: could there be any credibility in the finger cut off = revival part of the story? In other words, if someone had no detectable vital signs but were still alive, would the severing of a finger be shock enough to bring them round or shock enough to finish them off? Are there any cases of injury or physical trauma jolting someone comatose into consciousness?

Muttley?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,mateo
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 03:14 PM

i read the story about sir walter scott's mother being buried alive in the supposedly true 'cain's true fact file' from House of Mystery number 196, written by Jack Oleck and drawn by Wayne Howard. It was published in November 1971 and i have found no earlier reference. Lord knows where Jack heard it, or if he made the story up himself.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,highlandman
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 05:23 PM

Our family has a story that is rather less dramatic than these, but its ours.
Grandmother P. used to tell us that when she was little, _her_ grandmother died and according to the practice of the day was laid out, unembalmed, in her parlor. That evening or the next, with a house full of mourners, she abruptly sat up, looked around, and asked who were all these people and what the **** were they doing in her parlor?
After the commotion died away, she recovered fully and lived six more years until, as Mrs P. put it, she died for good.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Rumncoke
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 07:58 PM

When my father was born, in 1918 his mother was declared dead and the doctor went downstairs to write the death certificate.

Her sister arrived, found the nurse drawing the sheet over her face, threw off the covers, pulled up her gown and did heart massage - my grandfather was standing holding his newborn son and when telling the tale would imitate the way her hands were held and the compressions, even though he never knew the term. The nurse rushed off to get the doctor to come to stop the desecration of a deathbed, and he found grandma sitting up looking at her son.

The family story is that the death certificate had to be officially made void, but I don't know if that is the case or how I could find out - presumably they had serial numbers and there would be one missing, or struck through - but they might no longer exist anyway.

There is no way to know if she would have revived without intervention, but death was obviously a misdiagnosis. She lived to see her son marry, and eventually really died at Christmas in 1957


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 08:18 PM

I worked one summer in a long-stay mental hospital and got to see the procedure when patients died and before the undertaker came to collect the body. Male patients always got a bandage knotted tightly round the penis to stop them leaking urine (didn't see a female one dealt with, presumably they got some sort of bung). There was an urban legend that one guy came to after being packaged up, staggered down the hall to the toilet and was found moaning in frustration when nothing would come out.

I suppose there *might* be a song in that, but I hate to think of the audience that would pay to hear it...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 09:47 PM

THANK YOU! Some nice notations with references.

Sincerely,
Gargoyle

As usual the fools make regular appearances.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: M.Ted
Date: 26 Nov 07 - 10:17 PM

Muttley,

The miracle of the internet is that so often, there is someone with first hand experience--thank you for dredging up some difficult memories--we've all learned something--even Grab.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Grab
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 09:06 AM

Yeah, even me. :-)

FWIW, I'll never knock personal experience, and thanks to Muttley and others for that. I didn't say that on the last incarnation, which was not very generous of me (albeit with a little provocation).

Out of curiosity, I did another Google search just now and came up with http://jackkirbycomics.blogspot.com/2005/03/black-magic-dc-2.html. So the origin of the rumours might be a 1953 Jack Kirby horror comic book, perhaps?

Graham.

(PS. "Credo". If something doesn't seem right to me, I *will* often do a quick check on facts. That's not an insult, that's how people should respond if they're unsure whether they're being sold a line. If it comes out true, then great - I've learnt something new. But if it turns out not to be the case, please don't hold it against me if I produce the evidence against it. And even if I've got "evidence", you still might be right if I'm relying on a dodgy source, but it's worth checking which is the more factually reliable of your source and my source. It's not a one-way street - if I was repeating something which I honestly believed was true but actually wasn't, please do the same for me, otherwise again I'm not learning anything new.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 10:01 AM

agreed, Grab. The "folk process" is littered with half-truths and shoddy scholarship. While stories are great fun, it's not quite the same when they're presented as fact.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Neil D
Date: 27 Nov 07 - 02:50 PM

Fascinating stuff, especially Muttley. Thanks for sharing.
                                                 Neil


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Laura
Date: 22 Jan 09 - 02:38 PM

Check out The Knife Man: Blood, Body Snatching, and the Birth of Modern Surgery by Wendy Moore


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:02 AM

Margorie McCall - Lived Once, Buried Twice

Lurgan's most famous (infamous) legend (or myth) concerns a certain Margorie McCall, whose tombstone in Shankill Graveyard carries the inscription, "Lived Once, Buried Twice". (Her name is spelt as Margery in certain texts which we have seen ... however the spelling used throughout is that on her gravestone.)

The McCalls lived in Church Place. Margorie - as her husbands and friends thought - died and, after a few days, was duly interred in Shankill Graveyard. At the time of her passing away she had on one of her fingers a very valuable ring which friends and family tried in vain to prise from the corpse. To no avail. And Margorie was buried, ring and all.

This fact somehow came to the knowledge of a local thief who was determined to get his hands on the ring at any cost. On the very night of the poor woman's interment, he entered the graveyard, began to dig and uncovered the coffin in its fresh grave. He levered open the lid and his eyes lit on the prize he was after. No amount of tugging and hauling would shift the rig, however. And so, since continued skulduggery in the grave would increase his chances of detection, he decided to take a drastic course of action. He produced a knife and set about the gruesome task of severing the corpse's finger.

No sooner had he drawn blood than the "corpse" sat up in the coffin and confronted him. Like a bat out of hell he tore of the grave and across the graveyard!

In the meantime, Margorie's poor husband had been sitting alone, mourning his loss, when he heard a knock at the door. He recognised the knock as being similar to Margorie's. "If she was alive, I'd say that was her at the door!" But when he opened the door to receive the evening visitor, to his astonishment there stood Margorie, in her grave-clothes. He fainted on the spot!

But, thankfully, he soon recovered and found that his wife, supposedly dead but who had in reality been in some sort of a "swoon", was restored to him. Both Margorie and her husband lived for some years after this event. And when at last Margorie departed this life for real, her gravestone recorded the fact that although she lived only once, she had been buried twice!

Pay The Reckoning cannot, of course, shed any light on the possibility of such an event occurring "in real life". Real or not, it's a good yarn and one which is still current in Lurgan .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: ard mhacha
Date: 23 Jan 09 - 06:06 AM

Sorry I should have added from `paythereckoning`Site our old friend and former witty contributor Aidan Crossey, the gravestone is still to be seen in Shankill Cemetry.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: GUEST,Merryn
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:35 PM

I found this thread (and thanks everybody, especially Muttley) while looking for the words of "Lady Wyndham's Return" by Lewis Court. It appears a few times on the Web, but each time the same three verses - they are all obviously copying from each other! Does anyone know the rest?
I would like the words of the Phil Hewett song, too, "Fine Colours", if anyone could oblige.
Thanks, whether or no.
Merryn


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 12:52 PM

The Pakefield Parson,The Roaring boys of Pakefield, oh how they all do thrive, they had but one poor parson and him they buried alive.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 01:19 PM

One of the Irish singers we recorded in London, Mikey Kelleher, described an incident in West Clare, where it was (and still is) the custom for neighbours to dig a grave or re-open a family plot when somebody dies.
He and a couple of others opened a family plot when his neighbour died and found that the lid of the plain board coffin buried there (that of a young girl) was slightly out of place.
On examination, they found that the hands of the body were in a position indicating that she had tried to push up the lid, the inside of which was covered with scratch marks.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Origins: Buried alive - is this story true?
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 15 Nov 09 - 01:51 PM

Surprised not to have found the obvious quote anywhere on this thread ---

LOTS OF FUN AT FINNEGAN'S WAKE


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