People will go to many lengths to make sure their loved one, laid to rest, gets to rest in peace. In last week’s blog, Grave Protection Part I we looked at the rise of grave protection devices during the Victorian Era when body snatching became a more common means of generating income. Burial sites were rigged with a variety of apparatus, including grave guns and triple layered coffins. These inventions, like so many others, deterred robbers from having newly-buried bodies to sell to medical schools for profit. In this blog, we look at two more creative techniques. ideas that were not long-lived.
In an effort to stop the “unauthorized resurrection of dead bodies” a patent was issued in the late 19th century for a coffin torpedo. A small shotgun secured inside the coffin lid, ready to be discharged when someone tried to dig up a body. Its goal was to blast out enough lead balls to do serious harm to the trespassers. It worked, according to Ohio’s The Stark County Democrat which reported that one of two diggers were killed and the other lost a leg.
Iron cages began appearing around graves in Scotland. These coffin-shaped mort safes lay on top of the wooden coffin and extended up through the earth to deny anyone access to the coffin. Heavy they required many hands and a mechanism called a “mort safe tackle” to help leverage the weight. The job was too big for the usual group of two or three-man team of grave robbers.
Some cemeteries kept a supply of mort safes on hand. These cages were rented to families until the bodies were no longer fresh (useable for medical research). Once that occurred, the coffins and the mort safes were dug up and made available to other families. Some families were wealthy enough to have a permanent mort safe on each burial site.
Grave Protection I http://srmp.org/2017/06/grave-protection-i/
Mort Safes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mortsafe