Beyond the Grave: Concepts of Death in Early Modern England

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Order of the Good Death Blog
June 22, 2012

Guest Post by Lindsey Fitzharris, PhD, History of Science, Medicine and Technology (University of Oxford 2009)

Up until the last decades of the 19th century, people living in Derbyshire, England meticulously collected and stored their fallen or extracted teeth in jars. When a person died, these teeth were placed inside the coffin alongside the corpse. On Judgment Day, those who failed to do this would be damned to search for the lost teeth in a bucket of blood located deep within the fiery pits of Hell.

Today, beliefs such as this may seem peculiar and quaint to a culture that has effectively banished the dead to the outskirts of society. Where once the corpse of a loved one was caringly washed by family members and laid out reverently in the home, it now is ‘injected, packed and placed in a coffin to prevent odours and the spread of germs by mortuary technicians.

Read the full article at the Order of the Good Death Blog


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