Monday, February 16, 2009

Tales From The Crypt. . .

If you scroll down just a few posts you can find one titled "Door to the Underground" that I wrote on Sunday, February 8th. The text was about a hypothetical staircase to unknown underground destinations which I imagined might be found beneath the heavy metal door covering the tomb in the photo. So having just written that a few days ago, you can perhaps imagine my surprise to find in the news (being the keen news hound that some of you know me to be), this story through a link to a Boston news site from a CNN page, which was published on 13 February :
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"Boston Tourist Tumbles Into Unknown Crypt
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BOSTON -- Secret vaults beneath Boston’s streets have been the stuff of fiction in recent years, but a woman strolling through the Granary cemetery last month made a startling real-life discovery when she tumbled into a buried chamber.
On Jan. 31, a tourist walking along the cemetery’s back fence fell 3 feet into a hole that opened up beneath her. According to Mary Hines, a spokeswoman for the Historic Burial Grounds Initiative, the hole revealed a staircase leading down into an undiscovered vault up to 350 years old.
The Granary is the final resting place of several notable figures from the city’s history, including Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Paul Revere and five victims of the Boston Massacre."
(You can find the entire story here.)
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Although I have not personally visited Boston's Granary Cemetery, I was curious to see if there were any images available on the web, so typing "Granary Cemetery" into Google led me straight to a very interesting web site belonging to a gentleman using the alias of "Night Sky Rider" which you can visit by clicking here. He has travelled extensively and has posted many lovely photos from his travels, accompanied with great quotes from a wide variety of sources... so don't hesitate to drop by his site and be sure to sign the guestbook. I would like to extend my sincere thanks to him for his permission to use this photo that he took in Granary Cemetery :
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Anyway, posting my earlier post about underground stairs in a graveyard, and then seeing the story from Boston in the news a few days later is just one of those nice little coincidences that are the spice of life. I envy that tourist though, that must have been quite an experience to discover a staircase that had been hidden for hundreds of years in a cemetery. I have been wandering cemeteries for years now, and have never found anything quite like that . . . although, just the other day in the Creil cemetery near here, we did make a surprising discovery, illustrated in the two photos here. In an out of the way corner where there were no tombs nearby, there were a pair of metal doors on a stone structure up against a wall which intrigued my wife enough to try to open them. We were quite amazed to find an opening that appeared to be quite deep, that had been entirely filled up with bones... hard to say just how deep or how old... have never seen anything quite like that in a public cemetery. Reminded me of the Paris Catacombs which is another story altogether.
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1 comment:

Andrew said...

Talking to the groundskeeper at an old churchyard in Scotland, I was told that in bygone days the space available for a graveyard was very limited. Normal practice was to inter new bodies as close to old graves as possible. If old bones were found, it was generally impossible to tell what grave they were associated with, and they would be collected for communal reburial. In one of the towns on the Scottish border we stopped at one church where a new grave was being dug. In the piled dirt beside the grave there were several finger bones visible, relics of a villager from somewhen in the village's past. In such old graveyards, such discoveries are more the norm than the exception, and this is why such communal ossuaries as you found are necessary.