"To die has never been easy" is a phrase that you have surely heard frequently and in very different circumstances. If at present it is true, in the past it was also true. In the Middle Ages, for example, in many parts of Europe, especially in England, the body of the deceased could not be buried outside certain places as main churches or cemeteries . Yes someone died in a sparsely populated community or in an uninhabited place, the corpse had to be moved to be buried in a sacred place. The transfer was done by the terrifying Paths of the Dead and these places were filled with superstitions and legends. Join us to discover them!
In order not to lose their income, the main churches, during the last centuries of the Middle Ages, prevented the parishioners from being buried outside their domains. So that they could reach them and collect the burial rights, they established paths through which the bodies of the dead had to travel. This was so until finally, due to the large increase in population and new parishes, burials were allowed in these churches and the paths of the dead They stopped being used.
The terrifying Paths of the Dead
Beliefs prior to Christianity, especially in central Europe and the British Isles, argued that spiritual beings such as fairies, ghosts or the souls of the deceased, moved through the world of the living through special routes. When the paths of the dead , for those who had to travel the lifeless bodies on their way to their main parish to be buried, they tried to go as far as possible in a straight line. In addition, fences or fences were not put on those trails as they believed that the spirit of the deceased, who in the first moments accompanied the body, if he found any impediment in his way, could be held there and return to his place of origin to harass to the living. This became a superstition in a way that forced all of those paths of the dead they will have the right of public passage although they will transit through private lands. Superstition also indicated that the path of the dead it had to go through bridges and never cross rivers or areas with water since the spirits or ghosts could not overcome those liquid zones.
Old Way of the Dead towards Shap
Other superstitions related to paths of the dead they explain that it is important to follow their path because if a corpse is transported by a field, outside the marked path, it will not produce good harvests again. To this end, in many places, coffin stones, crosses or resurrection doors (lichgates) were placed in order to place the coffins or bodies without touching the ground.
Finally, here you have one of the many legends related to the paths of the dead. In the thirteenth century, the monk Gerald of Wales told the story of a marble walkway that crossed a stream near the church of Saint Davids as a bridge. It was known as "Llechllafar" that is, "the stone that speaks" and the legend told that when a certain corpse passed over it to the cemetery, the stone spoke. Of the effort when speaking, the marble broke despite the large size and thickness of the stone. The footbridge, cracked, was used until the sixteenth century to access the cemetery, but when it was replaced by a new bridge, it fell into oblivion and was lost.
Did you know the existence of the roads of the dead ? Is there any similar tradition in your country? Share it with us! If you want to know more superstitions related to cemeteries and the deceased, we invite you to read the post: 10 Superstitions related to cemeteries | Watch!