Friday, 24 April 2020

Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland

In June 1836, several teenagers hunted rabbits in the vicinity of the Scottish capital. They hung around a hill called the Throne of King Arthur and found in it the entrance to a mysterious cave, which turned out to be a kind of crypt. Inside, the company found 17 miniature coffins, each of which contained wooden figures. Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland

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A strange find in the crypt


Coffins were placed on three shelves carved in slate, located one above the other. On the lower two rows were 8 coffins, and another towered above the others, laid on the very top shelf alone. All the figures inside are unique and presumably have a portrait resemblance to certain people. They are dressed in neatly sewn (and also unique for each figure) funeral clothes, which only confirms that they all symbolize some specific personalities.

A strange find in the crypt

Naturally, the figures immediately caused a great stir. However, it has not been possible to find out exactly why they were made so far. The leisurely audience began to dissolve the most incredible rumors, but already in 1836 the main hypotheses of varying degrees of adequacy ripened in the public mind. Then local media reporters, The Scotsman, Edinburgh Evening Post, and the Caledonian Mercury, joined in and replicated the story and related assumptions. As a matter of fact, from here we learned all this.

What are these old wooden corpses figures, and what does all this mean?


The first idea - that it is just children's dolls, can be discarded. It is difficult to imagine parents who give their child 17 coffins with eerie bodies as toys, and then “bury” them in a makeshift crypt - and all this is just for fun.

Another hypothesis - that it is a witch affiliation - was especially popular among rural residents. The fact is that at the time the Scots burned a lot of “witches”, and the last trials of those accused of witchcraft were held in Scotland not so long ago, in the XVIII century. The Scottes, for some reason, believed that their gloomy land was full of witches, druids, fairies, and other evil spirits. And this find fit perfectly into their worldview.

Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland

Another assumption was based on the name of the hill and the fact that one of the wooden "deceased" was resting above the rest, as if it were their leader. Because of this, some have decided that the figures symbolize King Arthur and the knights of his round table. But this did not explain in any way who made it and hid it in the 19th century, and even so far from Wales, where, according to legend, Arthur ruled.

The most curious idea refers us to Edinburgh's favorite criminal story - the misadventures of two cunning and unprincipled businessmen, Burke and Her. Both were Irish immigrants and made a living by killing night passers-by and their guests to sell their bodies to surgeon Robert Knox for dissection. As a result, both were caught, but Her made a deal with the investigation, became a witness, and Burke was executed, making him the object of anatomical research. Later, a book was made from his skin - in general, it is not surprising that an excellent film with Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis was released on this story.

Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland

But how is this connected with the find from the cave? The fact is that Burke and Her killed 16 (17 according to other sources) people, so many decided that the wooden figures somehow symbolized the victims of these serial killers. Perhaps this was the last tribute to those whose bodies were deprived of a worthy burial, or some fan-psychopath Burke and Her had fun in such a strange way. The version is bizarre, but it was it that was dominant and even semi-official: the Scottish public found it the most exciting (and therefore true).

Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland

However, the most rational hypothesis (although it looks wild) is that these figures symbolize the bodies of dead sailors. In those days, quite a few sailors died during the voyages, and they were buried according to the sea custom, that is, simply in the abyss.

From the point of view of Christianity, this was not the best burial, and the relatives of the victims feared that the souls of the deceased would not find peace. Those remaining on the shore could order a symbolic funeral with such figures. This, of course, gives away paganism, but at least explains how this crypt and coffins appeared, as well as why each figure was given unique appearance.

Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland

Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland

Riddle of old wooden corpses in Scotland


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