A friend posted this image above and that led me to research it, and here we are.


In 18th century Scotland, there was a high demand for human cadavers for medical students to use in their studies. Fresh bodies were of great value to the university medical schools but, in those times, people were not as keen to donate their bodies to science and the supply of bodies for dissection was limited; usually, the bodies of executed criminals were used, donated by the Government. However, even those were often hard to obtain because of public revulsion against the practice. Because medical schools could only dissect the bodies of executed criminals, the theft of dead bodies in England was a common occurrence in the early 19th century. Grave robbers used to dig up newly buried bodies and sell them to the schools.

Many people were determined to protect the graves of newly deceased friends and relatives. A Mortsafe, or Mort Safe, was an iron coffin or framework which protected a grave to prevent the body from being dug up and taken away for medical research. They came in a number of different designs, but the one thing that they had in common was their weight, which would make exhumation of the recently deceased impossible.

I’ve seen these. But until tonight, I never wondered about their true function.

That’s it. That’s the post.


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