Monday, 11 June 2012

Sacrificial Foundations

Ecclesiastical Curiosities - (1898)
Editor: William Andrews
Project Gutemburg

"In early ages a sacrifice of some sort or other was offered on the foundation of nearly every building. In heathen times a sacrifice was offered to the god under whose protection the building was placed; in Christian times, while many old pagan customs lingered on, the sacrifice was continued, but was given another meaning. The foundation of a castle, a church, or a house was frequently laid in blood; indeed it was said, and commonly believed, that no edifice would stand firmly for long unless the foundation was laid in blood. It was a practice frequently to place some animal under the corner stone—a dog, a wolf, a goat, sometimes even the body of a malefactor who had been executed.

Heinrich Heine says:—“In the middle ages the opinion prevailed that when any building was to be erected something living must be killed, in the blood of which the foundation had to be laid, by which process the building would be secured from falling; and in ballads and traditions the remembrance is still preserved how children and animals were slaughtered for the purpose of strengthening large buildings with their blood.”

“ .  .  .  I repent:
There is no sure foundation set on blood,
No certain life achiev’d by other’s death.”
King John, Act iv., Sc. 2. 

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