I’ll bet you didn’t know that Victorian-era burials often utilized “safety coffins.” What is a safety coffin?
In those days, people were terrified of being buried alive. Medical science did not have sufficient technology to determine death beyond a shadow of a doubt. Widely read stories from authors like Edgar Allen Poe and paintings depicting premature burials made people search for a post-burial Plan B.
Safety coffins were that Plan B.
See the photos below. Basically, they tied a string onto the fingers or toes of the deceased and ran it through the roof of the coffin, through the dirt and attached it to a small bell on the gravestone.
If the deceased suddenly found herself not dead anymore, her thrashing would alert passersby and they could be dug up.
Imagine walking through a graveyard on a balmy spring evening and hearing one of those little bells going ding-a-ling!
A tiny bell hung on the outside of a grave. Imagine walking through a graveyard and hearing one of these ding-a-linging!
Claw marks left inside a South Carolina mausoleum. Just prior to the Civil War, the Legare family lost their daughter, Julia, to diptheria…or they THOUGHT they had. They buried her in the family mausoleum. Years later their son passed. When they opened the door to place his body inside, Julia’s bones (which were NOT in her coffin) came tumbling out. These scratch marks were found on the door. She had been buried alive.
Paintings like Premature Burial by Antoine Wiertz, as well as popular stories by Edgar Allen Poe (Telltale Heart, Premature Burial) terrified people of that era.