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THE EXECUTIONER'S MOAT (Interesting Discoveries in the dirt)!
Archaeological Institute of America ^ | Volume 57 Number 2, March/April 2004 | DAVID KEYS

Posted on 02/19/2004 1:28:53 PM PST by vannrox

The remains of at least 60 criminals executed during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries were found in a medieval moat at Oxford Castle.



Excavations in a medieval moat around Oxford Castle have so far yielded the remains of 60 to 70 criminals, mostly men in their twenties, executed during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries. Archaeologists believe that dozens more await discovery. "This excavation has given us a much greater understanding of the way in which the bodies of executed criminals were treated in postmedieval England," said Andrew Norton, the field archaeologist running the dig.

The victims, all of whom are thought to have been hanged, seem to have been denied a Christian burial. They were interred in unconsecrated ground, and some 20 percent of them were buried face down or on their sides. Most were not buried in a traditional Christian east-west alignment, thus depriving them of the opportunity to rise from the dead facing Jerusalem on the Day of Judgment.

A number of dead had been used for medical instruction or experimentation after death. Three skulls were found with their tops skillfully sawed off, while the neck of another individual had been carefully cut through the seventh vertebra. The bodies may have been used for flesh or muscle dissections, but no archaeological traces have been identified so far. Two sawn-off crania--but not the skulls they were once attached to--were also unearthed.

Historians believe the dissected victims were used by anatomy schools at the University of Oxford's Christ Church College or at the old Ashmolean, most likely under royal license granted during the reigns of Elizabeth I, James I, or Charles I. At that time the Crown allowed four executed criminals a year to be used for academic purposes.

Archaeologists have discovered moving evidence of the pain suffered by the executed. In many cases, their hands were tightly clenched. Two individuals had held onto their own clothes with such tenacity that in one case a button and, in another, a fragment of clothing was found inside their clenched skeletal fists.

Death on the gallows generally occurred by slow strangulation; it would have taken up to a half an hour for a person to die. (Instant death through hanging, by the use of a drop through a trapdoor that broke the condemned person's neck, was only gradually introduced in the late eighteenth century.)

In the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, death sentences were passed for everything from theft and burglary to treason and murder. Apart from holding political prisoners and debtors, prisons were usually used to detain people while they awaited trial; prison sentences were rarely given as punishment. The accused were acquitted about half of the time; of those convicted, half were flogged and the rest hanged.

Interestingly, a few of the executed were female. These women, mostly in their late forties or early fifties, may well have been hanged for witchcraft. Archaeologists have also found the remains of a child about 12 years old who appears to have been hanged and buried face down with the bottom half of his legs bent back as if they had been tied to his upper legs.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Constitution/Conservatism; Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; News/Current Events; Philosophy; Politics/Elections; United Kingdom
KEYWORDS: ancient; archaeology; death; dig; dug; economic; excutioner; find; found; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; history; kill; medevial; old; past
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Horrific but interesting.
1 posted on 02/19/2004 1:28:53 PM PST by vannrox
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To: vannrox
wow
2 posted on 02/19/2004 1:35:59 PM PST by cyborg
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To: vannrox
In the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, death sentences were passed for everything from theft and burglary to treason and murder.

Ah! The good old days!

3 posted on 02/19/2004 1:37:23 PM PST by ElkGroveDan (Fighting for Freedom and Having Fun)
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To: vannrox
"Horrific but interesting."

The 17th-century equivalent of a train wreck, indeed.
4 posted on 02/19/2004 1:37:55 PM PST by Terpfen (Hajime Katoki: if you know who he is, then just his name is enough.)
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To: vannrox
The author seems to relish giving us every detail -- I could have done with a few less.
5 posted on 02/19/2004 1:38:50 PM PST by 68skylark
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To: vannrox
God forbid you get tangled up in the legal system in those days.
6 posted on 02/19/2004 1:40:47 PM PST by scan59 (CNN Lies)
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To: vannrox
Mostly men in their 20's, hmmm.

That means the same demographic committed most crimes, like today.

It also suggests that the appeals process was briefer than today, even assuming conviction at 17 or so.
7 posted on 02/19/2004 1:41:01 PM PST by DBrow
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To: vannrox
May I ask a dumb question? Unless these poor sods were interred with rap sheets, how do they know the men were criminals?
8 posted on 02/19/2004 1:41:13 PM PST by mewzilla
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To: vannrox
Death on the gallows generally occurred by slow strangulation; it would have taken up to a half an hour for a person to die. (Instant death through hanging, by the use of a drop through a trapdoor that broke the condemned person's neck, was only gradually introduced in the late eighteenth century.)

It used to be customary for a man who was going to be hanged to try to get his associates to attend and pull on his legs to end things quickly.

So9

9 posted on 02/19/2004 1:41:35 PM PST by Servant of the 9 (Goldwater Republican)
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To: vannrox
In the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, death sentences were passed for everything from theft and burglary to treason and murder.

Thus motivating the idea of leaving no witness to even a small crime. Most of these death sentences for "petty" crimes were repealed in the 1800s under the prodding of Scotland Yard (as it was then known.)

10 posted on 02/19/2004 1:42:32 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: vannrox
In the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries, death sentences were passed for everything from theft and burglary to treason and murder.

Thus motivating the idea of leaving no witness to even a small crime. Most of these death sentences for "petty" crimes were repealed in the 1800s under the prodding of Scotland Yard (as it was then called.)

11 posted on 02/19/2004 1:42:48 PM PST by Doctor Stochastic (Vegetabilisch = chaotisch is der Charakter der Modernen. - Friedrich Schlegel)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Thus motivating the idea of leaving no witness to even a small crime.

I've heard this is one of the dangers of California's three-strikes-you're-out-for-life laws.

12 posted on 02/19/2004 1:46:26 PM PST by scan59 (CNN Lies)
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To: vannrox; White Mountain; Grig; P-Marlowe; RnMomof7
The victims, all of whom are thought to have been hanged, seem to have been denied a Christian burial. They were interred in unconsecrated ground, and some 20 percent of them were buried face down or on their sides. Most were not buried in a traditional Christian east-west alignment, thus depriving them of the opportunity to rise from the dead facing Jerusalem on the Day of Judgment.
 
Hey guys!
 
If your outfit can learn their names, then someone can be baptized for them.  It seems obvious to me that  the data in this article indicates they were not believers.
 
What BETTER way to give them hope??

13 posted on 02/19/2004 2:18:03 PM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: vannrox
......the way in which the bodies of executed criminals were treated in postmedieval England

Hey, they're probably talking about my ancestors!

14 posted on 02/19/2004 2:19:06 PM PST by expatpat
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To: drstevej; CARepubGal; Wrigley
See post two back...
15 posted on 02/19/2004 2:20:28 PM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: expatpat
ancestors or ancestors RELATIVES!?
16 posted on 02/19/2004 2:21:14 PM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: mewzilla
Unless these poor sods were interred with rap sheets, how do they know the men were criminals?

Their progeny flourished, and now we have to listen to this crap on radio.

17 posted on 02/19/2004 2:22:06 PM PST by Focault's Pendulum (The Sixties song/mantra....Where Have All The Flowers Gone?.....low carb dieters living large.)
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To: vannrox
Naw, those were just the guys that didnt get out of my way at the rugby match I played in last september!
18 posted on 02/19/2004 2:29:12 PM PST by Docbarleypop
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To: Elsie
If you ever get to London, visit the London Dungeon it talks about crime and swift punishment in old England. Maybe we should use this sort of rule--hang or flog criminals and let them go--save momey on prisons. Or we could send them someplace--the English used Georgia--we could use---say Haiti?
19 posted on 02/19/2004 3:18:06 PM PST by Hollywoodghost (Let he who would be free strike the first blow)
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To: vannrox
Wow. This must have gotten Britain in deep doodoo with the UN and Amnesty International.
20 posted on 02/19/2004 3:24:39 PM PST by colorado tanker ("There are but two parties now, Traitors and Patriots")
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To: Elsie
Would you please explain surrogate baptism? First time I've ever heard of this? What church or religion practices this?
Thank you.
21 posted on 02/19/2004 3:27:42 PM PST by miele man
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To: vannrox; farmfriend
GGG
22 posted on 02/19/2004 3:49:30 PM PST by blam
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To: miele man; Elsie
I think surrogate baptism is practiced by the LDS Church. I was raised Lutheran, and we didn't have any such practice or belief.
23 posted on 02/19/2004 3:52:11 PM PST by .38sw
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To: miele man
Would you please explain surrogate baptism? First time I've ever heard of this? What church or religion practices this? Thank you.

Latter Day Saints (Mormons). I think that they call it "Proxy Baptism"

24 posted on 02/19/2004 4:11:01 PM PST by PAR35
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To: Doctor Stochastic
There was a long list of offenses for which a person could be hanged, but sometimes criminals were transported to the colonies instead. See Daniel Defoe's Moll Flanders, part of which is set in colonial Virginia. Sometimes the criminal would choose hanging over transportation.
25 posted on 02/19/2004 4:17:35 PM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: vannrox
Rough justice indeed. I wonder if there would be any value in collecting survivable DNA and building a database - for what I don't know.

I understand that until the railroads were built, people stayed pretty close to home, which probably meant some inbreeding or at least a very narrow gene pool.

26 posted on 02/19/2004 4:29:31 PM PST by Oatka
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To: Verginius Rufus
Sometimes the criminal would choose hanging over transportation.

Why is that?!?

27 posted on 02/19/2004 6:21:55 PM PST by technochick99
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To: vannrox; *Gods, Graves, Glyphs; A.J.Armitage; abner; adam_az; AdmSmith; Alas Babylon!; ...
Gods, Graves, Glyphs
List for articles regarding early civilizations , life of all forms, - dinosaurs - etc.

Let me know if you wish to be added or removed from this ping list.

28 posted on 02/19/2004 6:31:37 PM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: technochick99
Life expectancy in 17th-century Virginia and in some of the other English colonies was very short, especially in the early decades of settlement. Things got a little better later, but living and working conditions were terrible for indentured servants. A criminal may have decided he was better off being hanged than dying on board ship or soon after arriving in America.

I've read of cases in the antebellum South where slaves were offered their freedom on condition they would go to Liberia, and they preferred slavery to what seemed a death warrant.

29 posted on 02/19/2004 6:39:01 PM PST by Verginius Rufus
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To: farmfriend
I wonder if any of the bodied in the pit were lawyers.
30 posted on 02/19/2004 6:41:58 PM PST by U S Army EOD (Volunteer for EOD and you will never have to worry about getting wounded.)
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To: U S Army EOD
I wonder if any of the bodied in the pit were lawyers.

LOL!

31 posted on 02/19/2004 6:43:38 PM PST by farmfriend ( Isaiah 55:10,11)
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To: Doctor Stochastic
Most of these death sentences for "petty" crimes were repealed in the 1800s

After the discovery of Australia...

32 posted on 02/19/2004 6:46:10 PM PST by Alouette (Atlantis -- the Real Palestinian State)
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To: U S Army EOD
Come to think of it, their teeth DO look too good to be average Brit criminal class.
33 posted on 02/19/2004 6:52:03 PM PST by piasa (Attitude adjustments offered here free of charge.)
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To: vannrox
It is interesting.

One small mistake. In England, the long drop was introduced in the late nineteenth century (1800s), not eighteenth.

William Marwood + long drop

34 posted on 02/19/2004 6:58:16 PM PST by dighton
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Comment #35 Removed by Moderator

To: vannrox; blam; All
This will sound strange, but it sounds to me like some of these burials were associated with medieval beliefs about ghosts and vampires. It's not discussed much, but towards the tail end of the Witch Hunt, there was also a widespread Vampire Hunt in Europe, which lasted as late as the 18th century in some areas. In light of that, note this detail:

> the neck of another individual had been carefully cut through the seventh vertebra

Which is one way certain traditions advocated laying a vampire to final rest.

To shed some light on ancient beliefs about such things, here's something I was reading recently in a book about Celtish archaeology (Daithi O Hogain, The Sacred Isle: Belief and Religion in Pre-Christian Ireland, Chapter 2, 45ff)--note the parallels with the above:

". . .there was a general belief that buried treasure was guarded by spirits of animals. . .It was commonly believed that buried treasure was guarded by a human spirit, and indeed several stories are told of a person having been deliberately put to death upon the burial of a trove, so that his ghost would act as guardian. . .hostages could be treated with great cruelty in early Ireland. . .

". . .The notion that the head or bones of a dead person continued to have some kind of power is illustrated by a very special type of motif. . .Eoghan Beal. ..ordered that a red javelin be placed in his hand, and that he be standing upright and facing northwards against the Ulstermen, 'for they will not go to battle against Connacht while my grave faces them and while I myself are arranged in that manner'. His northern foes are reported to have later set aside this impediment by exhuming his body and burying him in another place, with his face downwards. . .Inherent in this tradition was the idea that the spiritual part of the individual survived death, and that in this way the dead person could still be a force to be reckoned with. . .That special properties were believed by the Iron Age Celts to reside in buried heads is clear from the archaeological record. There was a common custom in Celtic Britain to behead bodies before interring them, and many skulls have ben found under the foundations of buildings of the period. The discovery of some decapitated bodies, and of human skulls unaccompanied by other bones, in burial sites in Ireland indicates that such practices were known here also. There is also strong confirmation of a related rite in accounts of the Continental Celts. . ."

36 posted on 02/19/2004 7:27:14 PM PST by Fedora
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To: Hollywoodghost
If you ever get to London, visit the London Dungeon it talks about crime and swift punishment in old England. Maybe we should use this sort of rule--hang or flog criminals and let them go--save momey on prisons. Or we could send them someplace--the English used Georgia--we could use---say Haiti?

I beg to differ, Ma'am! Georgia was a debtor's colony, not a penal colony. And after 231 years, we still haven't out of debt.

I believe Australia, Tasmania, and possibly New Zealand were truly penal colonies.

37 posted on 02/19/2004 7:45:02 PM PST by night reader
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To: miele man
Would you please explain surrogate baptism? First time I've ever heard of this? What church or religion practices this?
=====================================
That would be us Mormons or as we actually prefer, Latter-day Saints. But we didn't originate the practice. Paul mentioned it is his First Epistle to the Corinthians, chapter 15, verse 29.
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? Why are they then baptized for the dead?
38 posted on 02/19/2004 8:00:12 PM PST by night reader
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To: miele man
There is one verse in the NT that mentions this:

1 Corinthians 15:29 NKJV
Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?

Click this to see the LDS' organization's writings about 'baptise' and 'dead'.

http://scriptures.lds.org/query?words=baptism+dead&newsearch=ok&BM=1&DC=1&PGP=1&TX=1&SM=1&search.x=27&search.y=7







39 posted on 02/19/2004 8:01:17 PM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: PAR35
Latter Day Saints (Mormons). I think that they call it "Proxy Baptism"

It's pretty controversial- the Mormons got a lot of bad PR for 'baptising' Holocaust victims a little while back.

40 posted on 02/19/2004 8:51:16 PM PST by Modernman ("The strong do what they can, the weak suffer what they must." - Thucydides)
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To: mewzilla
May I ask a dumb question? Unless these poor sods were interred with rap sheets, how do they know the men were criminals?

I wondered the same thing. (you worded it well LOL) "Criminal" at that time was a rather objective concept wasn't it? I mean, speaking out against the crown's religion was "criminal."

41 posted on 02/19/2004 9:06:25 PM PST by madison10
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To: madison10
Objective should have been "subjective." It's late.
42 posted on 02/19/2004 9:07:10 PM PST by madison10
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To: technochick99
Why is that?!?

Travel and travail have the same root word.

17th century travel was very unpleasant, and dumped one in a hostile environment. Some made the judgment call that a relatively quick death was preferable to slowly freezing and starving to death in the colonies, after a couple months of sea sickness and scurvy.

43 posted on 02/19/2004 9:17:20 PM PST by null and void (Kerry is a DOUBLE war hero - once for each side...)
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To: scan59
I've heard this is one of the dangers of California's three-strikes-you're-out-for-life laws.

Except the criminals don't seem to be inclined to wipe out witnesses. I suspect it's because with modern forensics they know they face a very high probability of being caught if they raise the stakes to capital murder.

44 posted on 02/19/2004 9:20:24 PM PST by null and void (Kerry is a DOUBLE war hero - once for each side...)
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To: scan59
God forbid you get tangled up in the legal system in those days.

Or these.

45 posted on 02/19/2004 9:23:44 PM PST by archy (Concrete shoes, cyanide, TNT! Done dirt cheap! Neckties, contracts, high voltage...Done dirt cheap!)
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To: night reader
I believe Australia, Tasmania, and possibly New Zealand were truly penal colonies

New Zealand was not a penal colony. Thankfully. :)

46 posted on 02/19/2004 9:50:46 PM PST by gungadin
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To: Modernman
"It's pretty controversial- the Mormons got a lot of bad PR for 'baptising' Holocaust victims a little while back."

And RIGHTLY so!!

47 posted on 02/20/2004 3:23:43 AM PST by Lion in Winter
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To: Lion in Winter
But... like the adage about a tree falling in the forest.

If someone is baptised posthumously by an LDS member with a temple recommend, does that really matter?

Can saying some strangers name in one of their sacred rites REALLY affect that persons eternal soul?

"I claim this land in the name of Queen Isabella", said by Columbus upon going ashore, did NOT turn the 'natives' into Spaniards, either.
48 posted on 02/20/2004 5:33:57 AM PST by Elsie (When the avalanche starts... it's too late for the pebbles to vote....)
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To: cyborg
Thank you, I love this ping list!


49 posted on 02/20/2004 9:12:17 AM PST by BlessedByLiberty (Respectfully submitted,)
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To: BlessedByLiberty
I think this giving Hillary too many ideas.
50 posted on 02/20/2004 9:17:56 AM PST by cyborg
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