The Grisly Deeds of Alexander Bean
The tale of Sawney Bean, arguably Scotland’s most shocking and gruesome legend, was said to have taken place on the usually idyllic coast of the south-west.
The most commonly told account of Sawney Bean begins in East Lothian where Alexander “Sawney” Bean, the son of a ditch-digger and hedger, came to realise that labouring in the family business, and indeed labour in general, was not to his taste leading to his departure for the south-west coast of Scotland. After leaving his home and travelling to South Ayrshire, Bean found companionship with a woman, sometimes named Black Agnes Douglas, who shared his disinterest in an honest living. A remote coastal cave, located between Girvan and Ballantrae, is said to be where the couple took up residence. The Beans survived undiscovered for 25 years in this setting and populated the cave with a 45-strong incestuous brood.
They carved a monstrous living ambushing travellers on the road, whether individuals or small groups, robbing them of their possessions, and murdering them before dragging their bodies back to the cave where they would be dismembered and eaten. As body parts began washing up on nearby beaches and the larger disappearances were noticed by nearby villagers, the secretive Beans managed to evade detection during the investigations and scapegoats were falsely accused and lynched to appease the mob.
Via Skeletons in the Closet.
A Viking ship, which for 1,000 years has held the body of a chieftain, with his shield on his chest and his sword and spear by his side, has been excavated on a remote Scottish peninsula – the first undisturbed Viking ship burial found on the British mainland.
The timbers of the ship found on the Ardnamurchan peninsula – the mainland’s most westerly point – rotted into the soil centuries ago, like most of the bones of the man whose coffin it became.
However the outline of the classic Viking boat, with its pointed prow and stern, remained. Its form is pressed into the soil and its lines traced by hundreds of rivets, some still attached to scraps of wood.
An expert on Viking boats, Colleen Batey from the University of Glasgow, dates it to the 10th century.
At just 5m long and 1.5m wide, it would have been a perilously small vessel for crossing the stormy seas between Scandinavia, Scotland and Ireland. But the possessions buried with him suggest the Viking was a considerable traveller.
They include a whetstone from Norway, a bronze ringpin from Ireland, his sword with beautifully decorated hilt, a spear and a shield which survive only as metal fittings, and pottery.
He also had a knife, an axe, and a bronze object thought to be part of a drinking horn. Dozens of iron fragments, still being analysed, were also found in the boat.
The peninsula in the Highlands is still easier to reach by sea than along the single narrow road.
But with its magnificent mountain, sea and sunset views, it was a special place for burials for thousands of years.
The oldest, excavated by the same team three years ago, was a 6,000-year-old neolithic grave, and a bronze age burial mound is nearby.
Click the link to read more about this AMAZING find!
This is a grave from the Victorian age when a fear of zombies and vampires was prevalent. The cage was intended to trap the undead just in case the corpse reanimated.
I have a feeling that I’ll be buried beneath one of these.
Whilst there was undeniably an interest in all things ‘vampiric’ during the late Victorian period, these cages are called mortsafes and were designed, by and large, to protect against ‘Resurrection Men’ - nocturnal gangs of grave-robbers.
These unscrupulous characters dug up freshly-interred corpses and sold them on to anatomists for dissection. The burgeoning science had created a market in dead bodies, with demand regularly outstripping supply. Interestingly, the theft of a body was not considered a criminal offence, unless the shroud in which the body had been wrapped had also been taken!
Invented in c.1816, the cages were put in place by relatives of the deceased so as to guard against the disturbance of the body at a time when many people believed in its literal resurrection on the Day of Judgement - to be dissected was therefore to put the very soul in jeopardy. They are most common in Scotland, which was rife with body-snatching, as illustrated by the infamous case of Burke and Hare.
Rich families could afford their own mortsafes, but others clubbed together to form societies that would purchase a mortsafe that would be used temporarily until a body had reached a suitably decomposed state that would render it useless to anatomists. The mortsafe could then be reused by another family.
The introduction of the Anatomy Act in the 1830s finally secured a steady, legal, supply of bodies for the purposes of anatomisation - through the corpses of executed criminals and others on the margins of society, most notably the insane, prostitutes, suicide victims and orphans. The use of mortsafes therefore waned as fear of the Resurrectionists subsided.
(Source: riverofpureemotion, via jujukitty)
Two Bronze Age burial pots containing human remains have been found at the base of a standing stone in Angus, Scotland.