Was this a practice to prevent corpses from becoming revenants . . . .?

I have watched a documentary about these skeletons with stones in their mouths. Sorry, I can’t find a link to it online, but it was fascinating. While looking around Google for more about this, I came upon another site which explains more. And another, not otherwise worth the link, which contained the following tantalising passage:

“….There is a tradition of revenants in Irish folklore. It has been suggested that Bram Stoker got the inspiration for Dracula not from a Romanian folk tale but from an Irish legend about an evil chieftain who had to be killed three times after he came back looking for a bowl of blood to sustain him….”

To read more about this intriguing chieftain, go to this article

However, it may not have been only in Ireland that this stone-in-the-mouth practice happened, because this morning, in an interesting paper (see link at this interesting paper ) I came upon an illustration of just such a skeleton found at London’s Billingsgate!

The author of the paper writes of it:

“. . . .One excavated burial was of a man in a coffin on which the excavators traced the date 1665 or 1666 laid out in studs or nails. He had a large stone placed in his mouth. This may have been to stop any miasmic vapours coming from him, though dead; according to beliefs of the time, contagion was spread by breathing . . . .”

Miasmic vapours? Maybe. Or maybe he was an Irishman and his family and friends took the precaution of carrying out the ritual as if they were still in Ireland? Or maybe the practice was known here in England as well?

There’ll be no need to put a stone in my mouth when the time comes – I’m too darned lazy to get up and start again!

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