Not Dead Yet, Part VI: “Dead Man’s Grave”?

From geograph.org.uk Author Evelyn Simak License: Creative Commons

So Evelyn tells us she does not know why Norfolk (or this part of Norfolk) was once called “Dead Man’s Grave”.   I have a theory.  If you search for the phrase, “Dead Man’s Grave” using the googles (presumably not a resource had back when) you find a reference to 2 Kings 13:21.  OR, if you are a student of the Douay Rheims or older standard texts, 4 Kings 13:21.  So it might be an accident of Wikimedia Search that this image comes up under “Not Dead Yet”, OR… somebody knows more than they are telling.

For the benefit of tired click fingers  (I’ll start at 20 to give a BIT more context):

[20] And Eliseus died, and they buried him. And the rovers from Moab came into the land the same year.

[21] And some that were burying a man, saw the rovers, and cast the body into the sepulchre of Eliseus. And when it had touched the bones of Eliseus, the man came to life, and stood upon his feet.

To have this area called “Dead Man’s Grave”  in context of this reading, hints at miracles.  If you think that’s crazy, keep in mind folks were far more versed in the readings than we are today. Even if they couldn’t read, the majority went to Mass every Sunday (presumably, if the name is well and truly ancient, it comes from a time before Henry the 8th, when England was Catholic) and heard the scriptures read, in total, once every three years.

Contrary to popular belief, scripture was read in the vernacular in Church, in England, in the medieval period.  There was a popular movement to evangelize the masses, up to and including creating a style of Gregorian chant accessible to the average layman. Those were not sung in Latin as one would expect, but in English, and are also chock full of references to scripture.

People were wont to memorize things more often, because paper was expensive. Also the monks taught that sort of thing to young smart fellows.  The merchant class had to come from somewhere.  So if someone nearly dies on the road, but seems to come back to life miraculously, remembering the place by a reference to the book of Second (or Fourth) Book of Kings seems fitting.

But what do I know, I’m just a writer.  🙂

One book I want to write, was one from the perspective of a medieval atheist walking  on a ‘pilgrimage’ to Aquinas’ Paris. He wants to argue with The Angelic Doctor, and has many encounters along the way. Think a cross between Mindwalk and The Canterbury Tales.  Here’s hoping I learn enough history to make that happen. Buty that one is on the back, back burner. This stove is getting ridiculous!

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