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The Source:

Wolfgang Struck:
"Ausgrabungen in einem merowingerzeitlichen Gräberfeld in Urloffen Gem. Appenweier, Ortenaukreis"
in: "Die Ortenau - Veröffentlichungen des Historischen Vereins für Mittelbaden"
Offenburg/Baden, 1981

Iris Nießen:
"Sonderbestattungen der Merowingerzeit in Süddeutschland"
GRIN Verlag, Norderstedt, 2012

The Case

During building activity in 1980, in Urloffen, an old cemetery dating back to Merovingian times was discovered. An archaeological team had to do a rushed "Notbergung" and managed to uncover some 30 graves. One of the graves turned out to contain a rather interesting deviant burial. It was the skeleton of a woman that had been manipulated after her first burial. Apparently she was reburied in a crouched position. But that was not enough.

Allow me to quote Wolfgang Struck:

"Wichtig ist die Beobachtung, daß durch die beiden Füße ein Eisenmesser gesteckt worden war (Abb.9), wodurch die Tote im wahrsten Sinne des Wortes in ihrem Grab festgenagelt worden ist."

"Important is the observation that through both feet an iron knife had been stuck, so that the dead woman had been nailed to her grave in the most literal way."

I quite agree that these rather drastic measures must have been taken because someone was afraid that the deceased was going to return from the grave.

The Date:

As date we have been given the 7th Century.

The Place:

Urloffen is a part of Appenweier, which can be found North of Offenburg, not very far from the French border.

Possible Follow-Up:

A dead woman buried in an unusual position with two knives stuck through her feet. I have no doubt at all that someone must have been afraid for her return from the grave. So go read Wolfgang Struck's fascinating article to learn much more details, and maybe check out Iris Nießen's small but interesting book. Come on, surprise yourself and see what else you can find about it.

© 2014 by Rob Brautigam - NL - Last changed December 2014

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