Edinburgh World Heritage - News Article


Grim Reminder of Edinburgh's Past to be Restored

EWH has awarded a grant to repair a mortsafe in Greyfriars Kirkyard.

May 21, 2010

A mortsafe is a lockable iron cage that fitted over a grave, to prevent grave robbers from digging up the body inside. In the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries the demand for bodies from Edinburgh’s medical school, had led to a grim trade in newly-buried bodies.

The grave the mortsafe covers is for Elizabeth Jane Lindesay, who died in June 1832. Ironically, only the following month the Anatomy Act was passed, which allowed the donation of bodies to medical science, effectively ending the practice of body snatching.

The grant of £2,417 will be used to conserve the existing frame and cast new ironwork to restore the mortsafe to its original appearance.

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