Have you ever heard of the ancient burial practice called "Immurement"? I'm not a Realtor nor am I a Graverobber, but I was absolutely fascinated to learn about this.
Similar to "Interment" which is the act of laying the dead to rest, Immurement is the burying or concealing of items in the structure of a house. Apparently, it is an ancient practice that cuts across many cultures and civilizations. The most famous example of immurement practice is the burying of important objects in the pyramids of the Egyptian Pharoahs so they would have what they need and love in the afterlife.
But, ritual objects have also been found in the walls of Roman villas and ordinary houses during archeological excavations. And, the history of Freemasonry traces its origins to the rituals of concealment by masons, sealing up secrets in their buildings. Objects were often hidden away as a way to bring good luck to inhabitants. This was actually the case in Ireland, where it was common when building a home to bury a horse skull in the floor or under the hearth, a Celtic practice which dates back centuries. The entire skull, or other times just a section of the jaw was used. And in England, dead cats were often found under floors of houses to ward off malicious spirits. OMG, TMI right???
It all sounds like ancient history, until you or your work crew find something. A recent article in the New York Times Real Estate Section, reported such a practice right here in Westchester County. A family in Tarrytown New York, began a gut renovation of their 1843 home, known as the Ice House as it was used to store ice in the 19th century. During the demolition, several objects appeared: a clay pipe, a tobacco pouch, a child's flash card,some hand painted ceramic tiles and a whiskey jug. When this house was built, Abraham Lincoln was still a lawyer!
We've all heard of the term time capsules being buried in structures and some owners and their crews just leave these finds "well enough alone". In fact, some contractors even encourage their clients to create and leave a time capsule somewhere in the house to be discovered when the walls are opened up in 50 to 100 years. As long as the house is still standing, of course.
During the gut renovation of our 1906 farm house, we actually did find something buried in the walls. It was a small silver locket which we assumed had been lost by a former owner. Since we are the 4th owners and extensive renovations had been done once before in the 100 years that the house is standing, we assumed that it belonged to one of the previous owners and just got lost through the floorboards. But now that I better understand the practice of "immurement" I'd like to think that it was intentional. We actually kept the locket in place for good luck and given the number of years we've been in this house and enjoyed it, I see it as a piece of buried treasure that has kept us safe and sound.
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