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Porpoise unearthed in medieval graveyard

Posted on Wednesday, 20 September, 2017 | Comment icon 19 comments

Who buried this porpoise and for what reason ? Image Credit: YouTube / Guernsey Archaeology
A recent archaeological dig near Guernsey has yielded something rather unexpected - a porpoise skeleton.
When Oxford University's Philip de Jersey and his team discovered a burial site on the small island of Chapelle Dom Hue recently, they had expected to find the remains of a medieval monk.

Instead however, upon excavating the grave, they found the skeleton of a porpoise.

"It's very peculiar, I don't know what to make of it," said de Jersey. "Why go to the trouble of burying a porpoise in what looks like a grave ?"

The discovery is made all the more mysterious by the fact that the grave appears to have been dug out carefully and deliberately in a way that would be typically expected of a human burial.

Whoever was responsible had seemingly assigned great significance to this particular animal.

"If we were in a church and we found something like this, based on the shape, we would think it was a grave cut," said de Jersey. "That is what puzzles me."

"If they had eaten it or killed it for the blubber, why take the trouble to bury it ?"

Source: Science Alert | Comments (19)

Tags: Medieval, Porpoise

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #10 Posted by Shouldthisexist on 21 September, 2017, 2:17
Dolphins, the once true rulers! I knew my theories would prove themselves...time to move on to proving the flatness of the earth!   also for reference to the might be  a dog skull I looked for the closest resemblance a 5 min search could find.
Comment icon #11 Posted by Black Monk on 21 September, 2017, 10:00
No. It's definitely a porpoise.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Black Monk on 21 September, 2017, 10:01
It's a porpoise,
Comment icon #13 Posted by Black Monk on 21 September, 2017, 10:52
The celebrated Northumbrian saint, Cuthbert, cast ashore on a Scottish bay, was said to have found three porpoises or dolphins lying dead on the beach, as if miraculously presented there for his sustenance. To the faithful, whales and dolphins were bounties from above. With the Norman invasion, they became the preserve of the aristocracy and the holy orders because, classified as fish, they could be eaten on fast days of Wednesday and Friday. The name porpoise is itself a contraction of the Norman French, porc poisson. In 1324, this right was enshrined in medieval legislation regarding “Fishes... [More]
Comment icon #14 Posted by Yoyo1 on 21 September, 2017, 17:32
Perhaps it liked humans. Opo and Pelorus Jack were two dolphins in New Zealand which liked to spend time with humans in the early 1900s and in the 1950s. They became legends.
Comment icon #15 Posted by skliss on 21 September, 2017, 19:24
I know but they are very similar....I assumed they would have similar characteristics.
Comment icon #16 Posted by The Russian Hare on 21 September, 2017, 23:58
Very strange. There's an old superstition that dolphins carry the souls of drowned sailors. Maybe that has something to do with it.
Comment icon #17 Posted by PersonFromPorlock on 23 September, 2017, 1:05
Is there any porpoise analog to a selkie?
Comment icon #18 Posted by Parsec on 23 September, 2017, 21:56
I am not sure threy differentiated much in the middle ages between dolphins and porpoises, so I reckon we could ascribe selkies to porpoises as well.    Wow, actually your link (and wiki's page about porpoises) took me to a quite unexpected journey of old traditions and legends.  Between female rape, slavery and forced marriages (selkies in a nutshell) and drive hunting, I see how things have changed on some topics. And how traditions are important, but some of them are better left to history books.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Piney on 26 September, 2017, 12:55
That's what I was thinking.

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