Evidence of those buried at sea


J

Jaime Croft Larsen

Guest
Afternoon All,

I was watching the A&E documentary over the weekend and when they were discussing those victims who were buried at sea, my kids wondered if any evidence had ever been found of those bodies? I cannot recall seeing it mentioned anywhere nor am I sure any evidence would actually have survived, but I promised I would ask.

Thanks - Jaime (Just trying to inspire the next generation Titanic watchers...)
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,044
87
308
UK
Hallo, Jamie. Only a very few bodies were buried at sea from the Carpathia fairly close to the position of the wreck. Those which were recovered later in fairly large numbers had been carried by wind and current to a distance of 50-100 miles away. In either case the bodies were sewn into canvas bags along with something heavy like a length of chain or a piece of scrap iron - one of the ships sent out to recover the bodies took a supply of iron fire grates for that purpose. Without going into detail (don't want to give your kids nightmares!), there would be nothing left now of the bodies - just treated leather items like shoes, and of course those lumps of iron.
.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,609
643
483
Easley South Carolina
>>I cannot recall seeing it mentioned anywhere <<

I don't think you will either. As far as I know, nobody was even looking for that sort of thing. The interest has been in the wreck itself and so far, no verifiable evidence has been found of any surviving human remains. I won't dismiss the possibilty out of hand but so far, nothing firm and irrefutable has been found as yet. If any such spot where a body was buried is found, my bet is that it'll be by accident.
 

James Smith

Member
Dec 5, 2001
490
4
171
For what it's worth, I recall a documentary in which the body of a Titanic victim in Fairview Cemetery in Halifax was exhumed for DNA analysis. Apparently the water table there is only a few feet below the surface of the ground, and the area where the casket had been was just a patch of mud with a few wood fragments from the coffin--there was almost nothing recognizable as a body. They were only able to find a sample for analysis because a brass cross put in the casket had survived and evidently caused an electrical reaction that preserved a tiny fragment of bone.

I'm no expert in the deterioration of organic substances, but it strikes me that if we can't find intact bodies of Titanic's victims in a cemetery, it probably isn't very likely that we'd be able to find them on the wreck itself or its surrounding debris field.

Which brings out an interesting talking point in the "don't-salvage-Titanic-because-it's-a gravesite" debate--if Titanic isn't a gravesite because there are no longer any bodies there, can we say the same thing about Fairview cemetery?

Then again, occasionally bodies ARE exhumed from cemeteries when it is suspected that their examination would provide critical information involving the events that led to the person's death--so when it comes right down to it, a cemetery (and/or the Titanic wrecksite) isn't necessarily as sacrosanct as we might like to believe.

Very hairy indeed . . .

--Jim
 
Mar 15, 2001
710
2
171
It's odd that in different situations regarding bodies that in some instances, no matter how much time elapses, a body can still be intact. Take for instance. the late Sam Dinsmoor, bless his heart, seen by countless tourists in a shed in his back yard in Lucas, Kansas since the 1930's. His body is very much intact. Of course, one could argue that no water and sea creatures are there to consume the body. But what about the remains found in the Hunley? That was over 140 years ago that the Hunley foundered. I have no idea what those remains even looked like, but they were found none the less. No remains have been found on Titanic and until the entire ship is examined (which I doubt it ever will), we will never know for certain in my opinion.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,609
643
483
Easley South Carolina
>>I have no idea what those remains even looked like,<<

Bones with a few fragments of clothing and some personal effects. Mum and I went down for a look last month. An exhibit by the entrance to the conservation lab itself has a graphic of the bones and exactly how they were found.
 
Dec 2, 2000
58,609
643
483
Easley South Carolina
>>Wasn't the Hunley found filled with silt and that perhaps is what preserved these fragments of bone?<<

Yes to the first, and highly probably yes to the second. Mud can be a remarkably effective preservative. It was a painstaking job they had in removing the silt since the researchers were treating it with the same care as an archaeological dig or a crime scene.

I would also point out that the remains were treated with the utmost care and respect, each being deposited in a small coffin which lay in state with an honour gaurd until they recieved their burial with full military honours. I saw that honour gaurd and I was impressed with their professionalism.
 
Jun 12, 2004
2,131
12
161
quote:

Yes to the first, and highly probably yes to the second. Mud can be a remarkably effective preservative. It was a painstaking job they had in removing the silt since the researchers were treating it with the same care as an archaeological dig or a crime scene.

This is much like those ancient bodies found in the marshlands of England and Ireland. One, that of a famous man, was killed execution-style and dumped face-first into the marsh sometime before 1,000 A.D. It was discovered within the past twenty years relatively intact. Amazing!

Has anyone heard about this? It is in one of the books I have, but I don't remember the details. It's interesting, though.​
 

Jim Currie

Member
Apr 16, 2008
5,792
976
323
NewtonMearns, Glasgow, Scotland.
That'll be Lindow Man that was discovered in the early 1980's in Cheshire, England. He was supposed to have been killed by three blows to the head and his throat cut. he was buried in a peat bog which is very acidious. I understand he was not recovered all at the same time but in bits over several years.
 
J

Jeff Kelley

Guest
There may have been more than one, as I recall one with a nose still wrapped around his neck. That one would have been at the far end of "within the past 20 years", if not slightly older than that.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,044
87
308
UK
There have been many 'bog people' recovered from peat deposits in Northern Europe, mostly dating from the iron age. The acid content of the peat preserves the soft tissues but dissolves the bone, leaving a well-preserved but rubbery cadaver with no skeletal support. Best known of these is probably the Danish Tollund man (see pic). He was strangled and submerged in his resting place over 2,000 years ago, but still looks a lot better than I do first thing in the morning!

133458.jpg
 
Jan 28, 2003
2,524
14
223
" ...but still looks a lot better than I do first thing in the morning! "

Oh, I dunno, Bob. I've only ever seen you at about 11.00 am in London, but I think you're deprecating yourself here. I'm almost certain your eyes were open, and you seemed to have some sort of skeletal support.

Mike, I expect we'll never know about the bog people, as it seems odd to us. People who died violently seem to have been revered, for one reason or another, even if it was deliberate. And I don't suppose those who buried people in peat knew they'd be preserved for millenia. There are also quite a few women buried, with great ceremony and grave goods, which is rather at odds with what we believe about our (misogynistic) ancestors.
 

Bob Godfrey

Member
Nov 22, 2002
6,044
87
308
UK
Thank you for those kind words, Mon, though as you know my skeletal support provides little assistance in keeping me upright once I've had a few jars. The Celts, by the way, were rather enlightened in their regard for women's rights. Did not the husband of Boudica bequeath his kingdom jointly to his wife and daughters and to the Roman emperor? The Romans, however, did not recognise that women had any right to inheritance so they took the lot. Sadly Boudica didn't quite manage to take it back, but she put up a very good fight.
 

Similar threads

Similar threads