I am currently researching and writing a very tragic tale which goes back over 100 years. Its based on a real life event and to make my novel as realistic and accurate as possible research is vital. I knew at the outset that I would never discover all the information I would like to have at my fingertips. I knew the names of victims, location of murders but not where the bodies were buried. So imagine my surprise when quite by chance researching the locality of this sad event, out popped the exact location during a google search, even down to which part of the churchyard they lay in. My curiosity was also aroused when unmarked graves were mentioned. Why unmarked, why in that part of the churchyard? My quest for more information then took me down another avenue and to yet more unknown, undreamed of discoveries which I will happily share here with readers, you never know it might just help another writer or researcher somewhere. Graveyards and cemeteries come up often in novels and for some quite obvious and some less obvious reasons. Here are a few little factoids I have stumbled onto..
If you have been to an old and certainly pre-1900 graveyard or cemetery, ever noticed the gravestones all face the same way? This by the way is concerning Christian burials, I cant claim it for any other religion or sect or creed. Anyway you may, no you should find the gravestones face east. Now the why? Apparently its an early Christian belief that the righteous should be buried on an east-west axis with their feet pointing to the east, head up against the headstone. Now the why again. Again an early Christian belief, and I really didnt know about this, that the dead were actually sleeping in death, awaiting the final Judgement Day when the Redeemer ie The Lord Jesus Christ would return from the East and the blessed, holy and righteous ones would be redeemed ie their bodies ressurected and taken onto heaven by the Lord. Well that was all pre 1900 and its not a current belief as Christians dont believe that now and instead believe the righteous go straight to heaven after death ie no waiting around for ressurection.
Its also apparently the reason why so many graves will be found in East side of a churchyard. Other locations are less favourable and the least favoured is the north side. If you have a burial in the north side in an unmarked grave you may, I repeat may have something very different and disturbing……… and that will be in my next research file coming up soon…….
These are the thoughts and writings of researcher and aspiring writer Michael Sheridan who will be back with more research nuggets soon………………….