Swaledale Corpse Way: a winding medieval path used by mourners to carry their dead to the nearest church~

There was a time in England when commoners couldn’t afford to hire a horse or a cart to transport their dead, and so they were forced to carry the corpses themselves to the nearest church. This unpleasant situation led to the creation of paths like the Swaledale Corpse Way, now known simply as the Corpse Way or corpse road, a 16-mile medieval track linking the hamlet of Keld with Grinton, farther down the valley, a small village and civil parish in the Yorkshire Dales, in the Richmondshire district of North…

Read More

The 199 steps (with benches for coffins) of Whitby, England

Thousand of people regularly climb up the 199 steps leading to St. Mary’s Church. Fortunately for them, visitors, locals, tourists or simply curious, some benches dot the stairway, providing perfect places for weary walkers to rest their legs and soak in the beautiful views of Whitby’s harbor. Absolutely one of the most beautiful views of Whitby you can achieve. What many tourists don’t know is that the platforms they sit on weren’t intended to hold the living. Absolutely no. Pallbearers, when they needed a break while carting the dead to…

Read More

Der Trauerautomat: the vending machine designed to support mourners during funerals.

The frieze inscription on the Krematorium Sihlfeld, one of the oldest crematories in Switzerland, reads: “Flamme, löse das Vergängliche auf. Befreit ist das Unsterbliche”, translated as “Flame, dissolve the ephemeral. Be the immortal released”. With its neoclassicist elements the crematory, surrounded by a scenic chestnut lined alley, monumentalizes the process of incineration, and it sculpts into stone a, if not the, transcendental resolution to terrestrial human death. As a consequence, the symbolisms and institutional practices concerning human loss, and eventually grief, tend to be equally parochial, at odds with our…

Read More

And you have a wheel of cheese to be eaten at your funeral?

Imagine setting aside a wheel of cheese at your wedding. What would it look like if it were served at your  funeral? Probably shriveled and brown, pockmarked from decades of mite and mouse nibbles and, above all, hard as a rock! You’d need an axe to slice it open and strong booze to wash it down. Of course, this is the cheese you  don’t want to cut even though it’s aged to perfection. However, a fossilized funeral cheese means you lived a long life! Jean-Jacques Zufferey’s home in Grimentz, high…

Read More

The ancient Lycians and and their spectacular funerary culture

The ancient Lycians are probably one of the most enigmatic peoples of history, because there are not many traces of their civilization. However, what has been discovered reveals a fascinating people culturally distinct from the rest of the ancient world at the time. Today there are around twenty important sites to learn about the unusual funerary architecture of the Licyans, including the astonishing rock-cut tombs that dominate the unspoilt land of Lycia. Lycia occupied the region which is today the provinces of Antalya and Muğla on the southern coast of…

Read More