FACT CHECK: Does This Image Show A Victorian-Era Cage Meant To Stop The Dead From Rising From Their Graves?
An image shared on Facebook allegedly shows a Victorian-era cage around a coffin meant to stop the dead from rising.
The cages were meant to prevent people from digging up graves, not to trap the dead in case they “reanimated.”
The image shows what appears to be a gravesite with a metal cage surrounding it. “This is a grave from the Victorian age when a fear of zombies and vampires was prevalent,” text in the image reads. “The cage was intended to trap the undead just in case the corpse reanimated.”
While the cages, called mortsafes, did exist and were used primarily in the U.K., these mechanisms were not meant to trap the dead in the case of reanimation. Rather, they were used to stop body snatching, a practice that became increasingly popular in the 18th and 19th centuries, according to the Wellcome Collection, a British museum centered around the “connections between science, medicine, life and art.” Body snatching was the practice of digging up bodies and selling them, primarily to medical schools for medical research, PBS reported.
The Wellcome Collection further wrote that a mortsafe “enclosed a coffin to defend it from interference” and to protect them from body snatchers. The practice of body snatching was later diminished in the U.K. by the 1832 Anatomy Act, which, according to the U.K. Parliament, gave “surgeons and their students legal access to bodies from workhouses, hospitals and prisons that were unclaimed 48 hours after death” and allowed people to “donate a next of kin’s body for medical study.”
Through a reverse image search, Check Your Fact found that the image was taken in England in 2010 and posted on Flickr. The photographer “Bay M” said in the description that it was meant for zombies, but later made a comment clarifying that he was joking. (RELATED: Viral Image Claims To Show Mass Graves For Coronavirus Victims In Italy)
“I can’t believe how this pic has taken off,” Bay M wrote in the comment. “There are blogs and all sorts mentioning what a cage is truly for. I obviously made a joke about zombies and now this pic is famous.”