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burials-msg – 2/3/08

 

Period funeral practices.

 

NOTE: See also the files: brass-rub-msg, relics-msg, Relics-fr-all-art, punishments-msg, crusades-msg, religion-msg.

 

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NOTICE -

 

This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I  have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.

 

This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org

 

I  have done  a limited amount  of  editing. Messages having to do  with separate topics  were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the  message IDs  were removed to save space and remove clutter.

 

The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make  no claims  as  to the accuracy  of  the information  given by the individual authors.

 

Please  respect the time  and  efforts of  those who have written  these messages. The  copyright status  of these messages  is  unclear at this time. If  information  is  published  from  these  messages, please give credit to the originator(s).

 

Thank you,

    Mark S. Harris                  AKA:  THLord Stefan li Rous

                                          Stefan at florilegium.org

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From: Bill McNutt (11/29/93)

To: Mark Harris

RE>Religion and the Societ

 

FROM:  Bill McNutt

"      Continuing Information Services

"      600 Henley Street, 4th Floor

Okay:

 

I can't document anything, for I was a mere student, but...

 

The cultures are primarily British Isles, early France, and Scandinavia.

 

The time period is from early SCA period to late 1600's, I believe.

 

Bogs varied in content and consistency. Anything that could serve as nothing

but a garbage dump was used. Mud, and silt, cold, with a low organic content

have yielded the most useful finds, but finds have been made in all manner of

muddy holes.

 

Reasons for bog burials are many. For some, esp. late, it was a punishment.

Bogs were not generally hallowed ground. Bogs were also mostly useless for

anything else, so contaminating them with dead bodies didn't present a

problem. Bog burials are cheap in terms of time and money, as well. In many of

the locations bog burial was used, permafrost or scarce firewood were

considerations to be, well, considered. In some areas, firmer ground was

sufficiently scarce to warrant not wasting it on dead meat.

 

It was also customary to evicerate the deceased and stuff him with stones to

prevent him from floating up.

 

The willow staples and stones also served the purpose of keeping the cadaver

from getting up and annoying the neighbors or coming home.

 

I'll hit Stephanie up for her bibliography and get it back to you. I'm sure

I'm getting a lot of this stuff wrong.

 

May the Wind Be At Your Back,

WRM

 

 

From: Raven <JSINGLE at MUSIC.LIB.MATC.EDU>

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: RE: Pagan Funeral Rites

Date: 21 JUL 94 12:10:50 EST

Organization: Milwaukee Area Technical College

 

1l26coop at bnr.ca (Natalie Overstreet) writes:

>Does anyone have any Pagan/Wiccan funeral rites?  (You guys were >recommended

>to me on alt.pagan ... lucky you! :)  Please repsond via email at

>gt7915b at prism.gatech.edu.  Thank you very much, and Blessed Be!

 

"Pagan" covers a lot of territory, and might be narrowed down by the

ethnic or geographic origin of the departed.

 

The Viking burial involved sending off the departed with all his

personal goods -- which for someone of high rank might be considerable.

(This attitude was shared by other peoples, e.g. the Egyptians -- at

least for Pharaohs; common folk may not have been so well treated.)

The Viking burial best remembered in films had the chieftain on a bier

with his goods, on a boat set afire and pushed into the sea on the

outgoing tide.  This might be impractical today.  Burying or cremating

a modern pagan with his best ceremonial garb, personal book of shadows,

and sundry gifts from friends (all flammable in the case of cremation)

might be a good modern equivalent.  Send him with a wealth of love.

 

Perhaps the oldest ritual burial known, far predating history itself,

was that of a young woman (Neanderthal or Cro-Magnon, I cannot recall)

in fetal position on her left side, wrists and ankles bound to hold

that position, painted in ochre and covered in flower petals.  After

many thousand years, the simple sentiment shown in that gesture still

has power to make itself felt -- and move me to tears at this moment.

 

"Raven"    (JSingle at Music.Lib.MATC.Edu)   Milwaukee, Wisconsin USA

 

 

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: gary at sci34hub.sci.com (Gary Heston)

Subject: Re: Burial spaces

Organization: SCI Systems, Inc.

Date: Thu, 13 Oct 1994 13:16:37 GMT

 

SADV153 at uabdpo.dpo.uab.edu writes:

>Hmmm...Don't quote me on this, since I'm going on memory alone and can't

>remember which source I got this from, much less how reliable it is, but

>I seem to remember that it was customary to bury people under the church

>(or some other consecrated ground) for a time, and then after a period of

>a few years--when the burial ground was full--the bones would be dug up

>and discarded in a charnal house.  That's possibly the reason (again,

>according to my dimly-remembered source) why Shakespeare's grave marker

>is inscribed with an epitaph cursing anyone who tries to move his bones.

>Can anyone with better knowledge of this sort of thing reassure me that I

>really *did* read this somewhere, and that I didn't just dream this up?

 

There is a city in modern Austria, which I read an article about, probably

in _National Geographic_ within the last year, which is noted for its'

morbid fascinations, and an extreme unwillingness to venture outside the

city walls to bury the dead (started as a problem with robbers, or something).

 

Underneath one church, they'd place the dead on the floor until the floor

was covered--then, some persons would be sent down to strip the flesh

off the bodies (I don't recall what was done with it; probably a trip

to the charnal house), then crush the bones by stomping them on the floor.

The current "floor" is a several foot thick layer of crushed bones atop

the original stones.

 

Another place has the heart of someone executed in the 14th century

or so, preserved in a jar of formaldehyde.

 

If I can find the article, I'll post a more precise reference. There

was quite a bit more like this...

--

Gary Heston      SCI Systems, Inc.       gary at sci.com       site admin

 

 

From: SADV153 at uabdpo.dpo.uab.edu

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Burial spaces

Date: Wed, 12 Oct 94 15:57:53 CDT

Organization: University of Alabama at Birmingham

 

WISH at uriacc.uri.EDU (Peter Rose) writes:

>In the meantime, consider the amount of space taken up in a church

>by the live congregation, then consider how many generations die

>in a given year.  There's not enough SPACE under a church to use for

>the general populace.   My intuition (read: uneducated guess) is that

>under-church tombs were used for some combination of: a) Special

>people, and b) someplace to put bodies till the ground thawed enough

>to dig in.

 

Hmmm...Don't quote me on this, since I'm going on memory alone and can't

remember which source I got this from, much less how reliable it is, but

I seem to remember that it was customary to bury people under the church

(or some other consecrated ground) for a time, and then after a period of

a few years--when the burial ground was full--the bones would be dug up

and discarded in a charnal house.  That's possibly the reason (again,

according to my dimly-remembered source) why Shakespeare's grave marker

is inscribed with an epitaph cursing anyone who tries to move his bones.

Can anyone with better knowledge of this sort of thing reassure me that I

really *did* read this somewhere, and that I didn't just dream this up?

:-) Jamelyn the Avid (but often forgetful) Reader

 

From: habura at vccsouth23.its.rpi.edu (Andrea Marie Habura)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: Re: Burial spaces

Date: 13 Oct 1994 17:55:46 GMT

Organization: Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy NY

 

I am reasonably sure that the contention "burial not under a church=

dishonorable" was not in force during all of our period, if it ever was.

Sir John Paston (yes, of *those* Pastons) made arrangements to be buried

outside one of the doors of his local church. (Exact citation on request.)

Yes, it's near the church, but still under open sky....and it would be

very odd for a member of one of the leading local families to request

burial in a location considered dishonorable.

 

Alison MacDermot

*Ex Ungue Leonem*

 

 

From: bubba at adolf.ludd.luth.se (U.J|rgen \hman)

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

Subject: How tall were they and how to bury them.

Date: 11 Oct 1994 17:23:04 +0100

Organization: Lulea University Computer Society - Ludd

 

Greetings all, Ulf here.

 

Those found buried at or close to battlefields were not nobles or

knights.  An army was put together with knights, professional

mercenaries and peasants.  The mercenaries and the peasants was mostly

buried in massgraves on or close to the battlefield.  The nobles was

brought back home.

When the Danish king Valdemar Atterdag came to Gotland (a currently

Swedish island in the baltic sea) he marched towards Visby.  On the way

he met the islands peasant-army which was defeated.

The townspeople of Visby got scared, so they opened the gates and let

King Valdemar in. Well inside the town he "fire-taxed" it.

The peasant-army was an army of, that's right, peasants. They had no or

few mercenaries, and were poorly equipped compared to King Valdemars Forces.

 

Guess what kind of people that was buried outside Visby's walls after

the battle was over...peasants and perhaps a few of Valdemars mercenaries.

 

Well..now to something else..  Graveyards are a quite modern invention.

During the middle ages people were buried IN the church, under the churchfloor

or in crypts in the "basement".  The crypts were often owned by a family.

Women were buried in the northern part, and men in the southern part of the

church.  A high social standing (family,money, property, etc.) would let you

get buried closer to the altar, and, of course, the other way around.

The ones buried outside, in unconsecrated ground, were criminals, unbaptised

and suiciders(sp?).  Later on (during the 17th century) the space beneath the

churchfloors was getting full, this may have occured sooner in south and central

Europe.  But here in Frostheim (Lule} and Boden in Northern Sweden) they quit

buring people inside the church during the 17th century.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Ulf Mj|dtunga             *     U.J|rgen \hman

Frostheim(where frogs live, NOT)*   U.Joergen Oehman (NHL-spelling)

Barony of Nordmark         *    

Kingdom of Drachenwald            *       bubba at ludd.luth.se

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

 

Newsgroups: rec.org.sca

From: nostrand at bayes.math.yorku.ca (Barbara Nostrand)

Subject: Re: Burial spaces

Organization: York University

Date: Fri, 14 Oct 1994 00:42:21 GMT

 

Noble Cousins!

 

Why are we engaging in speculation about burial customs when there is

pleanty of information out there about what was really done?  The Romans

had special necropoli outside of their cities in which the dead

resided in miniatrue houses along side roads and stuff.  A photograph

of these houses of the dead appears in one of the books in the

Cambridge Latin Course.

 

Of course, there are also the catacombs which are still full of bones.

In this, and similar death houses, the dead were laid on shelves in

subteranean chambers.  Sometimes the bones were even sorted.  (At least

I have seen enough photographs of piles or rows of sorted skulls and

what not.)

 

Orthodox Jewish interment practices require washing and wrapping of the

corpse.  The corpse is then watched overnight and then placed in a plain

wooden box which is burried underground.  This appears to be at least a

late medieval practice.  Very early Jewish practice appears to have been

burying the dead in caves.  The various patriarchs appear to have been

burried in a cave and supposably Moses was also burried in a cave with

a connecting passage to the cave of the patriarchs. Regarldess of the

specific historicity of the patriarchs it does correlate well with the

gospel narrative in the Christian New Testiment in which Jesus is also

interred in a cave.  (Note.  This should not be construed as evidence

for cave interment of jews during the time of the early Roman empire.

Regardless, of whether this practice was still common, the gospel writers

go to some pains to draw parallels between Jesus and Moses.  What it

is strong evidence for is a tradition of cavern internment circa the

late 1st and early 2nd centuries CE.)

 

Now, I read (I wish I could remember where) that medieval burial practice

(in England I believe) was barrow internment in which the dead were laid

in special death houses above the ground.  Interment below the ground

was supposably a more recent inovation (but still period). Incidentally,

the Huron Indians had an interesting practice of burying the dead twice.

The dead were first placed in a death house where the bodies remained until

the flesh left the bones and then the bones were tranfered to another

place.  (This is as best as I can recall from my first nations ethnology

course of years gone by.)  The historical Buddah was first washed, then

placed in a coffin and the coffin with the Buddah burned and then the

bones placed in a coffin.  (Some hold that the ashes and bones were divided

into several parts and sent off with different groups of disciples.)

This historical practice with the Buddah is the foundation of still extant

Buddhist burrial practices.  Incidentally, Buddhist temples are somewhat

descended from Indian stuppah (burial mound) architecture. The pagoda

is essentially an overgrown symbolic stuppah which acts as a relicuary.

 

                              Your Humble Servant

                              Solveig Throndardottir

 

 

Date: Tue, 5 Jan 1999 02:44:54 -0500

From: Melanie Wilson <MelanieWilson at compuserve.com>

To: "INTERNET:sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu" <sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu>

Subject: Anglo-Saxon funerary urns

 

>1) What specifically were these Anglo-Saxon funerary urns?

 

Biggish open pots with decorations that vary depending of the time/area

they were made

 

>Were these used bury the cremated remains?

 

Yes

 

>Or used in some other way?

 

Some were probably used before as cooking vessels

 

> How big were they and what were their shapes?

 

Depends how big the person was but generally 10 inches wide x 10 inches

(my estimate)

 

> I assume if Hroar [Stormgengr] was involved that they were probably

>made of clay?

 

Yes

 

> Were they decorated?

 

Quite often but not always (ie with stamps lines, bosses etc NOT glazed or

sliptrailed etc)

 

The Shires Archeology book on Anglo Saxon Pottery has loads of diagrams in [it].

 

I live 5 miles from Thurmaston one of the most documented of the sites for

this (if anyone want the full report I think there are still a few left at

the Museum )

 

We have many other similar sites within 10 miles too.

 

I might have some photo about I could look. If you look at my pages

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/MelanieWilson/anglianm.htm go to

the pottery one. Here you will see mainly 5th C Domestic pottery. But the

diagrams of the more fancy ones, would often be used later for funerary

purposes. On the photo the larger urns at the back of the shelves are 5 & 6

th C urns. Real ones with the remains in.

 

Mel

 

 

Date: Tue, 05 Jan 1999 09:58:54 EST

From: freyja1 at juno.com (Timothy a Whitcomb)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Anglo-Saxon funerary urns

 

>Hertha said, back on December 31:

>> ps - I had the good fortune to see one of your [Hroar's?] Anglo-Saxon

>> funerary urns

>> earlier this month at the Memorial Service for Ellen Pinegar here in the

>> Kansas City area.  I really really liked it!

>

>I find this comment of Hertha's interesting on several accounts.

>

>1) What specifically were these Anglo-Saxon funerary urns?

 

SNIPPED

 

>Were they decorated? Hroar, I'd be interested in hearing more

>details about these urns in general or these you did yourself.

 

[Since Mel adressed most of these questions, I will not reapeat them

here. The piece i made was about 30 cm tall, and close to 1/2 that at it's

widest  point. While some were  roundish, others  are like a truncated,

fattish tear drop, which is what I made. For decoration, I made extensive

use of stamps and incised lines.]

 

>2) From an SCA sociology aspect this is also interesting. Were these

>actually used in the memorial service?

 

[I do not know..]

 

> For entombment or just for the service?

 

[I think it now occupies a place of honor in her husbands home..]

 

>Was this lady SCA?

 

[Yes she was..I had only met her a few times, so i did not know her

extremely well, but other dear friends did, and they tell me this pot is

exactly what she would have wanted. I am honored to have been asked to

make it.]

 

SNIPPED...

 

> To many, it seems the SCA is more than a recreation or game.

 

[it is to me....]

 

>Lord Stefan li Rous

 

Hroar

 

 

Date: Tue, 5 Jan 1999 00:52:30 -0600

From: froggestow at juno.com (Roberta R Comstock)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Anglo-Saxon funerary urns

 

Stefan li Rous <stefan at texas.net> writes:

>I find this comment of Hertha's interesting on several accounts.

>

>1) What specifically were these Anglo-Saxon funerary urns? Were these

>used bury the cremated remains? Or used in some other way? How big were

>they and what were their shapes? I assume if Hroar was involved that

>they were

>probably made of clay? Were they decorated?

 

I'll leave it to Hroar to give the specifics on the urn. My impression

from just seeing it, but not handling it was that it was unglazed clay,

sort of a terra-cotta color, with stamped (I think) geometric designs

scattered on the surface.  I'd guess it would be about the right volume

to hold cremated remains - more than a quart, but less than two quarts

(to use a familiar size reference); wheel thrown, round flat base, sides

gently flared out and then necked in to make sort of a shoulder at the

top; top opening slightly flared again (to diameter of about 5 inches?);

height estimated about 10 or 11 inches.  (There was a line at the display

table, so i didn't have time for a closer look.)  There was no lid

evident.  (I'll be waiting to see how closely my description matches

Hroar's.)

 

>2) From an SCA sociology aspect this is also interesting. Were these

>actually used in the memorial service?

 

In this case, it was for display only.

 

> For entombment or just for the service?

 

I don't know what the period practice would have been.

 

>Was this lady SCA?

 

Yes.  Bns. Elina, wife of Count Asgeirr, was originally from Calontir.

They lived in the Midrealm for a number of years and had moved back to

Calontir a couple of years ago.

 

Hertha

 

 

Date: Tue, 05 Jan 1999 14:34:37 EST

From: freyja1 at juno.com (Timothy a Whitcomb)

To: sca-arts at raven.cc.ukans.edu

Subject: Re: Anglo-Saxon funerary urns

 

>I'll leave it to Hroar to give the specifics on the urn.  My

>impression from just seeing it, but not handling it was that it was

>unglazed clay,

 

[yep!]

 

> sort of a terra-cotta color, with stamped (I think)

>geometric designs  scattered on the surface.

 

[Yes, I used stamps carved in clay, then fired. For the incising, I used

a notched stick I carved.]

 

> I'd guess it would be

>about the right volume to hold cremated remains - more than a quart,

>but less than two quarts (to use a familiar size reference); wheel

>thrown, round flat base, sides gently flared out and then necked in to

>make sort of a shoulder at the top; top opening slightly flared again

>(to diameter of about 5 inches?);  height estimated about 10 or 11

>inches.

 

{12 inches, not to quibble...]

 

>(There was a line at the display table, so i didn't have time

>for a closer look.)  There was no lid evident.  (I'll be waiting to

>see how closely my description matches Hroar's.)

 

[Very good!!! 8-)]

 

SNIPPED!

 

>Hertha

Hroar

 

 

[Submitted by: LYN M PARKINSON <allilyn at juno.com>]

From: Grace Morris <gmorris at CS14.PDS.CHARLOTTE.NC.US>

To: SCA-GARB at LIST.UVM.EDU

Subject: Re: The color "black" in Period re: Funerals

Date: Tue, 9 Mar 1999 07:01:51 -0500

 

Some sources for mourning costume, gathered for a class entitled "The

Well-Dressed Funeral":

 

Bassett, Steven,Ed.(1992). Death in Towns:  Urban Responses to the Dying and

the Dead, 100-1600.  Leicester, London and NY:  Leicester University Press

 

Cumnington, Phillis, and Lucas, Catherine.  (1972) Costume for Births,

Marriages, and Deaths.  NY:  Barnes and Noble Books

 

Daniell, christopher.  Death and Burial in Medieval England:  1066-1550.

London and NY:  Routledge

 

Puckle, Bertram S.  (1926)  Funeral Custons:  Their Origin and

Development.  London:  T. Werner Laurie, Ltd 1926  (this one may be more

fun than factual..)

 

Strocchia, Sharon T.  (1992) Dath and ritual in Renaissance florence.

Baltimore and London:  Johns Hopkins University Press

 

Taylor, Lou.  (1983)  Mourning Dress.  London:  George Allen & Unwin Ltd.

 

Jessamyn di Piemonte

Atlantia

 

 

Date: Wed, 29 Sep 1999 23:21:23 EDT

From: Kekilpenny at aol.com

Subject: Re: SC - meals for the eating of sins?

 

In a message dated 9/29/99 9:21:52 PM EST, CorwynWdwd at aol.com writes:

<< If there was such a custom, and reference to it, I'd be interested in

knowing.  >>

 

I don't know why this caught my interest but I've spent the evening

researching. I first heard of it in the late 70's from a friend who had lived

in the Appalachians. She said it was still a custom and that the "job" of sin

eating was passed down through the family. By then was only practiced in

smaller communities.

 

This the only a small snippet of what I've been able to find so far.

 

"Llandybie itself kept many of the old ways for a long time. It was only 50

years ago that the last Sin Eater in Wales died at Pentregwenlais. Once a

widespread tradition, a Sin Eater would be attached to a village but would

live outside it, as a recluse. He was only brought into the village when a

person died, at which time the body was laid out with bread and salt on its

chest and coins in its eyes. The bread and salt absorbed the person's sins

and the job of the Sin Eater was to eat these items, to take on the person's

sins and to absolve him or her. The Sin Eater's payment was to take the

coins, whereupon he was hounded out of the village, like a scapegoat. Only

the Sin Eater's son could absolve him from both his own sins and those of the

people he had taken on. It must have been a terrible thing for a Sin Eater to

die without a son."

 

Source:

The Legends and Archaeology of the Gwenlais Valley by Jan Fry

Edward Thomas, 1900 - translation of 16th or 17th Century Welsh folk poem

http://www.gn.apc.org/pmhp/dgg/gwenlegn.htm

 

Molli Rose

 

 

Date: Thu, 30 Sep 1999 19:49:27 EDT

From: Tollhase1 at aol.com

Subject: SC - more sin eaters.

 

I am finding references to the custom.  Still not finding food persay other

than what I was given last night.

 

sin eaters Those who in ancient times in England, Ireland, Wales and India

were given the task of eating ritual foods to help the dead out of purgatory,

perhaps to the detriment of their own souls.

 

http://library.advanced.org/16665/glossary.htm

 

 

Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 09:46:14 -0400

From: "Jeff Gedney" <JGedney at dictaphone.com>

Subject: Re: SC - European Food

 

> I have never, personally, seen any scholar say, with conviction, why the "bog

> people" were found in the condition they were. There is rumor and

> speculation (and educated guesses), but no concrete proof that these people

> were sacrificed.  If you have some, I would certainly love to see it.

 

I think the fact that the ones in sufficiently good condition to analyze were

often ritually strangled, and skull cracked at the very top of the head, and

then staked down under the surface of the bog, allows most researchers to

assume they were not accidents.

The use of three forms of killing, Strangling, a concussive blow to the head,

and drowning seems to be a recurrent pattern, and speaks ratherly

conclusively of ritual.

 

A good book on the subject, (which I have a copy of):

  People of the Wetlands : Bogs, Bodies and Lake-Dwellers (Ancient Peoples and Places) by Bryony Coles, J. M. Coles  

 

Find it in your library.

 

Brandu

 

 

Date: Wed, 10 May 2000 13:25:39 -0400

From: "Gaylin Walli" <gwalli at infoengine.com>

Subject: SC - sacrifice (was European Food)

 

I believe it was Murkial who wrote:

>  I have never, personally, seen any scholar say, with conviction, why the "bog

>  people" were found in the condition they were. There is rumor and

>  speculation (and educated guesses), but no concrete proof that these people

>  were sacrificed.  If you have some, I would certainly love to see it.

 

And subsequently Brandu responded with:

 

>A good book on the subject, (which I have a copy of):

>People of the Wetlands : Bogs, Bodies and Lake-Dwellers (Ancient

>Peoples and Places)

>by Bryony Coles, J. M. Coles

 

I would also suggest the rather well-written book:

    Ross, Ann and Robins, Don. The Life and Death of a Druid Prince:

    The Story of Lindow Man, an Archaeological Sensation.

 

Lest anyone think this is not food related, let me assure

you that in all its grizzly exhumation details, it more

than measures up to topic concerning food. The authors

use some very convincing arguments based not only on the

condition of the body (including clothing) but also on the

contents of the stomach to argue convincingly that people

were sacrificed (in this case willingly).

 

Jasmine

Iasmin de Cordoba

 

 

Date: Mon, 08 Oct 2001 10:55:42 -0400

From: Tara Sersen Boroson <tsersen at nni.com>

To: sca-cooks at ansteorra.org

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Puritans, was: Canadian Friends

 

> Interesting switch. My understanding is that today, folks are usually

> just buried in their best clothes or clothes that are special to them

> such as a military uniform, or for some in the SCA, SCA garb. How

> common was it in period to be buried in special clothes?

 

It happened in late period at least.  I don't know if it was common,

though.  Several of the pieces of clothing in Janet Arnold's _Patterns

of Fashion, the Cut and Construction of Clothes for Men and Women c.

1560 - 1620_ came from burials.  Particularly gruesome were a few

garments in which the owners had been murdered and subsequently buried.

 

  All examples were very upper class and not all were garments they wore

to their death.  In the Museum of London's _Textiles and Clothing c.

1150-c.1450_, Elisabeth Crowfoot mentions ranking members of the Church

being buried in ecclesiastical vestments.  She mentions some other

cloths being found in graves, particularly silks, but it's not clear if

these were parts of garments or shrouds or some other item placed in the

grave.  It's possible this was an upper class affectation, since the

lower classes might not have been quite so willing to dispose of

perfectly good clothing.  I haven't researched the issue in detail, I

just happen to know of these examples.

 

-Magdalena

 

 

From: "Christine Seelye-King" <kingstaste at mindspring.com>

Date: Sun Apr 20, 2003 2:34:00 PM US/Central

To: <stefan at texas.net>

Subject: Period Funeral Practices

 

Dear Stefan,

    

     A member of our household passed away this month.  He had been a Herald,

and a friend of my late husband who passed away 11 years ago.  When my

husband died, we put on a period-style heraldic funeral, and it was our

friend's wish that he have a similar ceremony.  So, we went back and did the

research again.  I even hit the Florilegium to see what was there, and did

find a few messages about period funeral practices.  So, I have compiled a

list of the things we did find references to, although I have not cited

sources.  

 

     Mistress Christianna MacGrain

 

Here are some of the less gruesome:

place a coin(s) on the bier
deceased presented with their finest clothes, weapons, war horse
small pottery jars in white, red, and black containing food and beer (these are placed with a buried body, or also placed on the bier)
an absolution cross, made of silver, lead, tin, or other base metal, inscribed with the absolution formula and their name, placed on the breast or on the box

 

Absolution formula (in English, should be done in Latin)

"May God absolve thee from all thy sins, and through the penance imposed mayst thou be absolved by the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, by the Angels, by  the Saints, and by me, a wretched sinner"

for the ceremony:
a crier leads the procession, ringing a bell and crying the deceased name, along with "Pray God for the dead". We could probably just have them say "Pray for the dead", and loose some of the overt Christian reference (isn't the Current Middle Ages fun? We should probably have a disclaimer in the program or posted somewhere that this ceremony contains religious elements)

all parties in the procession carrying bells and ringing them while they walk

candles for all parties in the procession, along with extras (wealthy personages paid for extra mourners to carry candles, the equivalent of prayer wheels)

One person carrying a wine ewer and another with goblets, pouring wine for all comers (done when a procession stops at a crossroads, all travelers encouraged to partake)

 

Add to this the heraldic display that we discussed:

 

Funeral bier with bier cover - roundels on the cover with badges representing offices and awards of the deceased.

 

Canopy to be borne over the bier during the procession.  The cover should have a representation of the surviving spouse’s arms on the center inside surface, facing the body or remains.  

 

Marshalled arms of the deceased and the spouse - ½ of the surviving spouse’s arms on the dexter side, ½ of the deceased spouse’s arms on the sinister side - done on a diamond shape.  A white background is behind the surviving arms, a black background behind the deceased’s arms.  

 

Bearers during the procession include 4 on each corner of the canopy, 2 or 4 on the bier.  The procession should also include the banner of the deceased’s arms, banners of offices, surviving spouse, and other representations of other significant portions of the deceased’s life.  

 

Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2006 11:50:28 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

      <adamantius.magister at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Funeral foods ...

To: Christiane <christianetrue at earthlink.net>, Cooks within the SCA

      <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

On Apr 6, 2006, at 11:39 AM, Christiane wrote:

> A bit of a morbid question, but having just attended a funeral for

> a friend (only 45, gods rest her soul), and the family-hosted

> gathering afterwards, I got to wondering about food traditions

> associated with mourning in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

>

> These days in the United States, it's all about potlucks and

> sweets, comfort foods. Not really ritual foods, but everyone knows

> someone in their families or among their friends who can be counted

> on to sustain the mourners with food. It's inevitable: if you're

> having a memorial gathering, suddenly you have enough food to feed

> an army.

 

Well, the first thing that comes to mind is Hamlet's little joke

about Gertrude and Claudius' wedding being so soon after the death of

Hamlet the Elder that they could recycle the leftover pies from the

funeral for the wedding feast...

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2006 11:50:17 -0400

From: "King's Taste Productions" <kingstaste at comcast.net>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Funeral foods ...

To: "'Christiane'" <christianetrue at earthlink.net>,    "'Cooks within the

      SCA'" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

======

A bit of a morbid question, but having just attended a funeral for a

friend (only 45, gods rest her soul), and the family-hosted gathering

afterwards, I got to wondering about food traditions associated with

mourning in the Middle Ages and Renaissance.

 

These days in the United States, it's all about potlucks and sweets,

comfort foods. Not really ritual foods, but everyone knows someone in

their families or among their friends who can be counted on to sustain

the mourners with food. It's inevitable: if you're having a memorial

gathering, suddenly you have enough food to feed an army.

 

Gianotta

======

 

I have had the opportunity (?) to hold a couple of period funerals, one

for my late husband and one for another dear friend, both of whom were

Kingdom Heralds at one point in their lives.  Below is the research I

cobbled together, some of it is food related.

Christianna

 

 

I did some research on period funeral practices.  Here are some of the

less gruesome:

 

place a coin(s) on the bier

deceased presented with their finest clothes, weapons, war horse

small pottery jars in white, red, and black containing food and beer

(these are placed with a buried body, or also placed on the bier)

an absolution cross, made of silver, lead, tin, or other base metal,

inscribed with the absolution formula and their name, placed on the

breast or on the box

 

Absolution formula (in English, should be done in Latin)

"May God absolve thee from all thy sins, and through the penance imposed

mayst thou be absolved by the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost, by the

Angels, by the Saints, and by me, a wretched sinner"

 

for the ceremony:

a crier leads the procession, ringing a bell and crying the deceased

name, along with "Pray God for the dead". We could probably just have

them say "Pray for the dead", and loose some of the overt Christian

reference (isn't the Current Middle Ages fun? We should probably have a

disclaimer in the program or posted somewhere that this ceremony

contains religious elements)

 

all parties in the procession carrying bells and ringing them while they

walk

 

candles for all parties in the procession, along with extras (wealthy

personages paid for extra mourners to carry candles, the equivalent of

prayer wheels)

 

One person carrying a wine ewer and another with goblets, pouring wine

for all comers (done when a procession stops at a crossroads, all

travelers encouraged to partake)

 

Add to this the heraldic display that we discussed:

 

Funeral bier with bier cover - roundels on the cover with badges

representing offices and awards of the deceased.

 

Canopy to be borne over the bier during the procession. The cover

should have a representation of the surviving spouse’s arms on the

center inside surface, facing the body or cremains.

 

Marshalled arms of the deceased and the spouse - ½ of the surviving

spouse’s arms on the dexter side, ½ of the deceased spouse’s arms  

on the

sinister side - done on a diamond shape.  A white background is behind

the surviving arms, a black background behind the deceased’s arms.

 

Bearers during the procession include 4 on each corner of the canopy, 2

or 4 on the bier.  The procession should also include the banner of the

deceased’s arms, banners of offices, surviving spouse, and other

representations of other significant portions of the deceased’s life.

 

-all from "Military and Religious Life in the Middle Ages and the

Renaissance" - Lacroix

 

 

 

 

Viking Funeral prayer from “The 13th Warrior” by Michael Crichton

 

Lo there do I see my father.

Lo there do I see my mother, my sisters, and my brothers.

Lo there do I see the line of my people, back to the beginning.

Lo they do call me. They bid me take my place among them in the Halls of

Valhalla. Where the brave, may live forever.

 

 

 

The tradition of spice + fruit cake for Hallowe¹en and Funerals. It

seems widespread in the North Country and Scotland. An old Yorkshire

saying I heard once: ³It looks like a case of currant cakes and slow

walking² means someone is extremely ill or doomed to die.

 

 

Wakes and sin eaters

Apr 4 2003 - The Western Mail - The National Newspaper Of Wales

WELSH funerals have been associated strange and melancholy customs

mingled with feasts, convivial get-togethers, song and above all

speech-making.

Nearly all the old funeral customs have died out, but some include:

* A spirit called Margan was said to conduct the soul from the body to

the other world.

* The Gwylnos, or wake-night was held on the evening before the corpse

was buried and relatives and friends mounted an all-night vigil around

the open coffin in the parlour.

* On the way to the church the coffin was laid on the ground at every

crossroad, and the funeral processions knelt in prayer. The route was

often swept and sanded and strewn with evergreens, ivy and flowers -

white for those under 30 and red for anyone considered of good

character.

* Everyone who attended a funeral was expected to place a coin on the

coffin or on a table near at hand for the benefit of the bereaved

family.

* A "month's end" service is still sometimes held on the last Sunday in

the month or the Sunday after the funeral where relatives and friends

gather for a funeral sermon.

* In parts of Carmarthenshire a specialist sin-eater would be called in

to consume a piece of salted bread laid on the breast of the dead

person.

* At Rhayader mourners carried small pebbles from the house to the

church. On the way they would add the pebble to a large heap accumulated

from previous processions.

* Every village and rural town in Wales once had a traditional funeral

route, called "the burying lane" or "death road" and it was thought that

if the procession went along any other road, the soul of the deceased

would have no peace.

* Graves are planted with fragrant flowers, traditionally gilly-flowers,

white pinks, polyanthus, mignonette thyme, hyssop, camomile, rosemary,

and balsam. A white rose bush always used to be planted on the grave of

a girl who died in her teens.

 

 

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2006 12:09:57 -0400

From: "King's Taste Productions" <kingstaste at comcast.net>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Funeral foods ...

To: "'Christiane'" <christianetrue at earthlink.net>,    "'Cooks within the

      SCA'" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

===

> Well, the first thing that comes to mind is Hamlet's little joke

> about Gertrude and Claudius' wedding being so soon after the death of

> Hamlet the Elder that they could recycle the leftover pies from the

> funeral for the wedding feast...

>

> Adamantius

 

I thought of that too. :-) So, what kinds of pies do you think were

served? Were they just the typical everyday meat pies or "special" pies?

 

Gianotta (can't wait for the food scholarly debate)

===

 

I'm going to make a guess here - warning - just a guess - that "pies

left over from the funeral" were probably made from whatever was

normally served from the kitchen during that season and according to the

wealth of the family.  Foods that have to do with some part of the

ceremony and/or the body are more specific, but foods to feed the

mourners and funeral attendees would be more along the practical lines.

-       end of guess –

 

Christianna

 

 

Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2006 14:03:26 -0400

From: "Phil Troy / G. Tacitus Adamantius"

      <adamantius.magister at verizon.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Funeral foods ...

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

There are surely any number of local funerary customs pertaining to

food, from grave goods to apotropaics (devices to ward off evil). One

source which touches on them (if backhandedly) is Paul Barber's

"Vampires, Burial, And Death", which concerns the curiously complex

relationship between funerary customs and superstitions about various

revenant ghosties and ghoulies, and how they sort of feed off each

other, each in turn. There are probably better general sources about

funerary customs; that was just one I happen to be familiar with, and

it's an excellent one, if it contains only a little bit of info on

food as it pertains to all this. But some of what it does touch on is

ritual cannibalism in various forms (just _let_ that body try to get

up and walk around after the whole village has just eaten it!!!),

customs like spilling bags of millet seed on the doorstep before

bedtime, so any vampires intending to haunt their relatives will be

compelled to stop and count every seed (in the dark!) before they can

enter the house (I'm fairly convinced that whoever came up with The

Count muppet on Sesame Street encountered this particular superstition).

 

In addition, there are probably specific local funerary recipes,

things like black foods for mourners, or some such. I think there's

some documentation for that in the Italian Renaissance literature.

 

As Christianna suggests, there are also some very basic

practicalities involved: pies of the type described earlier are good

because they keep for a long time if not cut into -- you can make

them in advance, and keep them in the larder for whenever you need

them (within reason). A lot of the funerary pot-luck "casserole-ey"

items you see at people's homes after funerals probably have some

inspiration in that basic concept.

 

Adamantius

 

 

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2006 10:54:45 -0700 (PDT)

From: "Judith L. Smith Adams" <judifer50 at yahoo.com>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Funeral foods ...

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Sandra Kisner <sjk3 at cornell.edu> wrote:

> Well, the first thing that comes to mind is Hamlet's little joke

>> about Gertrude and Claudius' wedding being so soon after the death of

>> Hamlet the Elder that they could recycle the leftover pies from the

>> funeral for the wedding feast...

>>

>> Adamantius

 

Just for clarification, the quote actually goes:

"Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral baked meats

Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables."

 

I wasn't under the impression that specifically meant pies.

 

Sandra

   So, scholars and cooks, what do we know about what Shakespeare  

meant - or didn't - by "baked meats"??

 

Judith

 

 

Date: Thu, 6 Apr 2006 17:19:06 -0400

From: "Mairi Ceilidh" <jjterlouw at earthlink.net>

Subject: RE: [Sca-cooks] Funeral foods ...

To: "'Cooks within the SCA'" <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

=====

> I know that Devra is out of country at the moment, but I seem to remember

> seeing a book on this subject at her stall last Pennsic.  When I get time

> (event bids are ahead of everything else today) I'll check her site.

>  Of course, someone with more time could beat me to it........and I

> could always be imagining the book.

>

> Mairi Ceilidh

 

Best way to find out, I imagine, would be to look at her website:

 

http://www.poisonpenpress.com/cookery.html

 

Phlip

=====

 

Yep, but it was a timing issue.  I've gotten a bit caught up and  

found this:

 

Death Warmed Over: Funeral food, rituals, & customs from around the world -

$19.95 Rogak, Lisa. After a brief introduction on the history of food & funerals, the bulk of the book is arranged alphabetically by country or ethnic  

group.

 

For each, there is a page describing funeral customs, facing a traditional

recipe frequently served at or associated with funerals or mourning periods.

Frivolous but amusing. Tr pb, 160 pp, index, biblio. Ten Speed Press

 

Doesn't indicate time period, so its usefulness for period use would be a

crap shoot if one couldn't look at before buying.  The "frivolous but

amusing" note scares me.

 

Mairi Ceilidh

 

 

Date: Thu, 06 Apr 2006 14:51:47 -0800

From: Susan Fox <selene at earthlink.net>

Subject: Re: [Sca-cooks] Funeral foods ...

To: Cooks within the SCA <sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

> Death Warmed Over: Funeral food, rituals, & customs from around the  

> world - $19.95 Rogak, Lisa.

 

That title!  BWAHAHAHA!

 

Here is the publisher's web page about this book:

http://www.tenspeedpress.com/catalog/all/item.php3?id=1652

 

It looks more "general" than "academic" but worth a read.

 

Selene

 

 

Date: Fri, 7 Apr 2006 13:56:48 -0400

From: "King's Taste Productions" <kingstaste at comcast.net>

Subject: [Sca-cooks] funerary practices involving food

To: "SCA Cooks" <Sca-cooks at ansteorra.org>

 

Keeping in mind that this is a Victorian source, here are the entries I

could find regarding food practices.

Christianna

 

 

"Military and Religious Life in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance"  by

Paul Lacroix, first published in 1874.

Excerpts from the last chapter:   'Burials and Funeral Ceremonies'

 

 

"When the Pagans adopted the custom of interment, they laid by the side

of the dead the insignia of his profession, and any objects which had

been dear to him during his lifetime; to this they added various vases

containing food and drink, to serve him as a viaticum during his more or

less prolonged journey to a better world.  In the coffins of Christians,

on the contrary - even from the earliest times - the funeral furniture

appears to have been next to nothing; a phial containing some perfume,

with one, two, or perhaps three vases, of wood, glass, or clay, filled

with holy water."

 

"Researches and excavations made in France of late years have led to the

discovery of numerous barbarian cemeteries, and have enabled us to

ascertain what were Merovingian, or, as it would perhaps be more

accurate to say, the Germanic funeral customs.  These customs evidently

were replaced by others when the barbarian finally settled in Gaul, that

is, about the middle of the ninth century.  The habit of placing in the

coffin various pieces of black, red, or white pottery together with

small vases which seem to have been intended for the same purpose as

those used in Christian burials [incense], existed during this period.

These vases, often very numerous, no doubt contained food; they were

frequently accompanied by a small wooden jar, the handle of which was

very richly mounted, and which the savans at one time took to be a

Merovingian diadem.  But a chemical analysis of the solid residue found

in one of these jars, led to the discovery that they were filled with an

alimentary substance which gave out a strong odour of fermented beer."

 

(Describing Royal Funeral Ceremonies of the Middle Ages, but no specific

date or place given:)

"The royal effigy was laid in state for eight or ten days, during which

time the ordinary service of the palace went on just the same as during

the king's lifetime.  At the dinner and supper hours the table was laid

by the officers, and the courses arranged by the gentlemen-in-waiting,

preceded by the usher, and followed by the officers of "the king's

buttery", who approached the table with the customary obeisances.  The

bread was then cut and placed ready for being handed round, the dishes

were brought to the table by an usher, the maitre d'hotel, the pantler,

the pages, the squire of the kitchen, and the keeper of the plate; the

napkin was presented by the maitre d'hotel to the highest personage

present; grace was said by a prelate or an almoner, who recited the

prayers for the dead.  All those who were in the habit of eating at the

king's table during his lifetime were expected to be present at each of

the repasts, together with the other persons of his household, the

princes, princesses, and prelates.  The dishes were afterwards

distributed amongst the poor. "

 

 

From: David Cameron Staples <staples at cs.mu.oz.au.SPAM>

Subject: Re: Bathing and cleanliness in medieval ages

Newsgroups: soc.history.medieval,rec.org.sca

Organization: The University of Melbourne

Date: Wed, 28 Mar 2007 02:46:32 GMT

 

in Tue, 27 Mar 2007 22:12:48 -0400, Steve Mesnick in hic locum scripsit:

 

>> Whereas ibn [Fadlan] was scathing of the *filthy* habits of the Vikings he

>> met. Specifically, their habit of using one bowl of water in the morning,

>> with which each would take a sip, scrub his face and blow his nose into

>> it, then pass it on for the next guy to do similar.

>>

>> See _The Thirteenth Warrior_ for what this looks like.

>

> Well, okay. Ibn Fadlan wasn't the most reliable of historians (in an age

> of not-very-reliable

> historians) and almost certainly exaggerated: he was writing from his

> own meticulous culture's

> perspective, and was clearly shocked -- *shocked* I tell you! -- by the

> Vikings' lack of culture by his own lights. But the point is that the Vikings

> *did* wash at all.

 

He did also recount how the Rusiyyah turned around and castigated *him* for

*his* culture's barbarity. Putting the people you love in the _ground_ when

they die? To rot? What a disgrace! What disrespect!

 

> Compare Giraldus Cambrensis's not-very-complimentary descriptions of the

> Irish.

>

> And I hardly count Crichton as a reliable source either %^).

 

Um, no. Most definitely he is not. But I went and checked against

http://www.uib.no/jais/v003/montgo1.pdf as well. It's not like I took his

word *alone*.

--

David Cameron Staples | staples AT cs DOT mu DOT oz DOT au

Melbourne University  | Computer Science | Technical Services

 

<the end>



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