Friday, September 4, 2009

Greyfriar Cemetary

We learned some dark history of the city also in this cemetery. I was glad it was during the day, pretty creepy. During medieval times the medical college was only allowed one cadaver a year and so were in desperate need of bodies. They started buying bodies from people for what would have been more than a years salary, which turned murder and grave robbing into a popular and profitable career. This metal box could be purchased to protect the body of a loved one if the family wasn’t wealthy enough to erect a shrine. If you were too poor to afford one of these boxes a member of your family would have to sit at your grave each night to make sure it was not stolen for the first few weeks until it was decayed enough to not be worth anything. This is what became known as the "graveyard shift". Another saying started here as well. At one point they dug up a cemetery in town where they were building a structure and moved all the bodies. Inside many of the coffins they found scratch marks. After that they began the practice of attaching a bell to the bodies finger and then to a bell above the ground. If the person were to wake from the dead the care taker would hear the bell and save the person from being buried alive. From whence came the saying "Saved by the bell"....and we all used to think Zach Morris came up with it!

This is the Mackenzie Shrine. He was a wealthy and powerful man in town.

Creepy! So why does his soul not rest?

This is the Covenanters prison. The Covenanters were a group of fundamentalist Protestants who split from the main church when it was corrupted by the government. Mackenzie’s job was to persecute them. It is estimated that he was responsible for the death of nearly 18,000 covenanters during his career. This prison was a place where hundreds of Covenanters were kept captive during the harshest months of the winter while a treaty was being agreed upon. They were of course outside, allowed only a half portion of bread and water each day, not allowed to have their coats, and forced to sleep on their stomachs. If they moved during the night all the prisoners directly around him were killed immediately. Because of this during the rain some drowned during the night. To be released they were to denounce their religion, which none of them did. Mackenzie was responsible for this, no wonder his soul cannot rest.

This was a much more uplifting story we heard in the cemetery. This is the grave stone is for Bobby. He was a little terrier that the night watch guard had as his faithful companion. Well, the night guard died and for the next 14 years Bobby lay on his grave. Which is why his gravestone says, “Let his loyalty and devotion be a lesson to us all”.

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