Friday, December 12, 2008

Yet Another Driving Hazard

Reading the "Gravestones" section of Christopher Lenney's book, Sightseeking: Clues to the Landscape History of New England, I came across another delectable piece of information illustrated by the following image:

Early Christian cemeteries buried folks with their feet pointing East so that they would, on the day of resurrection, be properly aligned when they arose from the dead. Thus, all graves are so aligned in our old cemeteries. At least in the ones I've seen. Further, as you stand before a headstone to read the inscription, the body lies on the other side of the stone.

I now carry a compass with me. And am even more in terror of driving off the road. As I said in a comment on Dana's blog, I now constantly survey any likely wooded area that I drive by in case I might spot a "wolf tree". And now, I also make fast calculations (if I can see the sun) about the headstone alignment in any graveyard. If the sun isn't visible, even with a cloudy simulacrum, I slow down and whip out my compass.

I sincerely hope I live to turn in my proposal.


  1. Fascinating. I think you definitely have the most informative blog in this group!

    One question though: I don't understand the author's use of the term "Early Christian" I think of the Early Christian period as up to 300A.D.- long before Europeans came to the new world, let alone Vermont. But perhaps I am wrong;

  2. Early Christian here is in the context of New England. So, our early is in fact very very late on the CE scale.

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  4. And, I do expect this goes back to burial customs in England as well, thought I've not checked up on this.

  5. Hey, Clair, two more book recommendations in case you want to further decrease your actuarial odds: "Landscape with Figures; Nature and Culture in New England" by Kent Ryden and "Roadside History in Vermont" by Peter Jennison. Both have me surveying details way too closely while I'm driving.