Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Grave Robbing in Spain

Some years ago, I finished an assignment in Gibraltar and took a short break with my partner in Spain. Our aim was to drive north along the west coast to try and find the grave of 'The Man Who Never Was' - a body that played a part in one of the biggest deceptions of the Second World War.

Along the way, I noticed a walled cemetery and went to investigate. The cemetery was locked but a sign above the gate recorded that it was established in 1930. Walking around the perimeter, I came across a structure that had once contained the remains of a handful of people who, for one reason or another, could not be buried inside the cemetery. The covers had been broken and the coffins removed.

Imagine my surprise when I realised one had very recently been opened. The coffin lay exposed and its top had been broken apart. The bones remained, the remains of a shroud was visible and the skull lay by the feet. I quickly realised that whoever was responsible did so with the intention of robbing the remains of any jewellery worn by the deceased.

I then heard an eerie noise. It became louder and more high pitched and I look round to see my partner in some hysterics. She had been looking at something on the ground, a few feet away, and had realised, with immense discomfort, that it was a long plait of hair that must have belonged to the deceased. Remarkably, the hair looked perfect and undamaged. Perhaps it had been moved by the grave robber(s) so that an ornament could be removed from it?

Yesterday, I found a quantity of black and white negatives and contact sheets which included these shots of the scene. I did photograph, in colour, the scene in much more detail, but I have yet to find them. When I do, I will post them here.

The cemetery gates were locked shut to prevent access to the graves

The bottom right entrance gave access to the coffin


The coffin lies within. The wooden end is visible with
the shattered lid running back into the darkness

1 comment:

Holisticrocs said...

Call me morbidly curious if you like, but how excitingly creepy is that ?
I wish I could have come along with you on that particular graveyard stomp.......

And the story of 'The man who never was' is a fascinating one, I saw the documentary on TV recently. Where in Spain is this cemetery ?

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