I was watching Time Team the other day (the one where they were trying to find a Roman villa and decided that Brunel had destroyed it by running a railway over the top) when they started talking about Neolithic burial practices – specifically the disarticulation (that’s dismembering to you and me 🙂 of dead bodies. You see for reasons unknown (but usually put into that too-hard basket of archeology known as “ritual” 😉 ancient peoples often disassembled the bodies of their dead relatives, putting the skulls and long bones of the arms and legs into barrows and such, and discarding the rest.
(Helen may want to correct/criticise that summary, she’s the archaeologist after all 🙂
Anyway a sudden rather entertaining thought entered my head. What if the Neolithic period was plagued by zombies!? 😀
Think about it – if you knew that poor, deceased Uncle Zog was likely to spring to life and start shambling around moaning “brains! brains!” (or the Neolithic equivalent thereof), chopping him to pieces would be downright respectful. And then you could take all the important, big bones and put them somewhere safe from the other zombies – like the local barrow for instance. Barrows (the West Kennet style ones with nice roomy passages at any rate) could even be the equivalent of civil defence shelters – when the zombies turn up, everyone runs for the barrow and drags a boulder over the door!
But wait, there’s more! What about all those ‘ritual’ sites deep in caves, where you find piles of human bones at the bottom of inaccessible shafts? Zombie prisons! Drop the zombies down the shaft, they can’t climb out, and eventually rot away! It all makes sense!
There has to be a book deal in this! ;D
Now of course it’s all a load of nonsense. I mean if you were worried about bodies rising up and attacking people then the last thing you’d do is expose them in open air mortuary sites, which is what the Neolithic people in Britain seem to have been doing. But it’s an entertaining thought.
On the subject of British undead however Triple J have been running a competition (which closes today as a matter of fact) titled “The J Odyssey”, which is where people can put forward a proposal for an “adventure of a lifetime”, and they’ll give the winner money and a camera to go off and do it. I’ve been idly wondering what kind of proposal I’d put in, were I inclined or eligible to enter (most of their contests are only open to 25 year olds or younger). The conclusion that I reached would be Hunting Vampires in the UK!
OK, that’s a bit of a dramatic way to put it (“Investigating Vampire Beliefs and Folklore” doesn’t quite have the same ring :). But it’s something I’d actually really enjoy. Traveling around the UK doing a series of 15 minute mini-documentaries about vampire cases, and the places and people involved.
Not that for a second I actually believe in vampires, but a lot of people through history have done, and some even continue to to this day – and I find that interesting. So it would follow that it might be interesting to go and talk to some of them.
I already know of the top of my head several people and places to look up. Highgate Cemetery for starters (although you need to be careful there, because if you even mention the word ‘vampire’ they throw you out the gates :). Robin Hood’s Grave at Kirklees would be a must, and I’d drop in to Whitby for the atmosphere. I’d try and get an interview with Lord Bishop (is he still calling himself “Lord Bishop”?) Sean Manchester, and if he wouldn’t talk maybe David Farrant. The current head of the British Dracula Society could be entertaining. A quick Google search could no doubt turn up plenty more, let alone a trawl through my extensive collection of books on the weird and paranormal.
So that’s what I’d do – if I had the opportunity, the money and an audience. But I doubt I’d even be able to get the time off work 🙂