Friday, 3 April 2015

A-Z Challenge 2015: C is for Corpse Way

Yes, you read it right; C is for Corpse Way - and we are talking dead bodies here.  Churchyards were attached to churches, and the deceased might have died some way away from it (but still within the parish),
A-Z Challenge: 'C'
so the coffin would have to be transported several miles, in some instances.

So 'corpse ways' started (also known as 'corpse roads', 'bier roads', 'burial roads', 'coffin roads'), and became traditional, mixed with superstition. The people who moved the body were afraid that if they went any other way, the ghost of the deceased would come back to haunt them.

Coffin Stone
Coffin stone at Grasmere; courtesy
Unless the deceased had been wealthy, the body in its coffin would have to be carried.  Large stones ('coffin stones') were placed along the route:
a) so that the coffin bearers could have a rest! and
b) so that the coffin would not touch the ground and ruin it for any future crops.

© 2015 Ros Haywood. All Rights Reserved


  1. Hi Ros - I don't think I've ever seen a Corpse Road ... but can believe the lore you've told us ... I hadn't realised it all before. Gallows Roads are quite common ... cheers Hilary

  2. I hadn't heard of Gallows Roads before; but it all adds to my store of trivia. Thanks!

  3. This was all new to me, so thank you for sharing the information.

  4. I never heard of this before but is that why, in olden days people would follow the coffin that was being carried?

    1. Don't know when the custom of following the coffin came about, but it is still done nowadays (think of Princess Diana's funeral). There are lots of customs, rituals, and traditions around funerals. They go back to Roman times (and probably beyond), when they used to pay professional mourners sometimes! (to weep and wail and make out the deceased was HUGELY beloved).

  5. To be honest, it was new to me as well. But one of the things I love is learning weird and wonderful - and NEW - things.

  6. This is so creepy, but such an awesome topic! I think I've visited here on previous A to Z challenges. Nice to see you again, Ros!

    2015 A to Z Challenge Co-Host
    Matthew MacNish from The QQQE

    1. Hello again Matthew! You think *that* was creepy? There were several icky superstitions I had to wade through and edit out...

  7. Very interesting tradition and superstition.
    Late in visiting AtoZ



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