Tumbling Bones? (The Chase Vault; Barbados)

krakenten

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#1
Is there any new thinking about the Chase Vault in Barbados?

The burial vault where the coffins were found in disorder, several times, and now stands empty and open?

I've seen the standard stories, but what might have been found,recently? :?:
 

escargot

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#2
Latest I heard was that the coffin movements had been put down to flooding. (Which can't have been hygienic - a load of old coffins being thoroughly soaked in water which then trickled away down a hill.)

I'd read that the vault had been emptied and the coffins re-buried but didn't know that it now stands open. I'd like to see a picture of that.
 

stu neville

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#3
Well, as the events are all in the relatively distant past, it's unlikely any new info will come to light, so any new theories have to be based on re-examination of existent knowledge. Which itself leads to problems - Joe Nickell researched it thoroughly, and contemporary reportage is virtually non-existent.

Nickell's eventual conclusion was that it was part of a Masonic rite, or hoax, or maybe a bit of both.
 

JamesWhitehead

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#4
escargot1 said:
I'd read that the vault had been emptied and the coffins re-buried but didn't know that it now stands open. I'd like to see a picture of that.
Link updated 17th June, 2016.

The page mentions the Masonic joke theory, a motivation which has also been suggested for the Oak Island Money Pit saga.

:)

Edit 17.06.2016
The link had expired but the new one should work for those wanting to see the Chase Vault.
 
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krakenten

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#5
There are some pictures of the vault, taken by an interested party during a vacation in Barbados. I'd post a link, but it never works for me, so I'll suggest a Google search on 'chase vault mystery'

It's an elaborate structure, though small. I incline to the water theory, myself, you can see that most of it is underground, and the entrance is a steep flight of steps that might have formed a natural funnel for rain. There were reports of 'noises' from within, and those big lead coffins knocking about might have done some thumping, slow seepage might not have disturbed the sand.

The local newspapers never recorded these happenings, but many books on the paranormal make much of it. Perhaps it was left open to dry it out? And abandoned because of the flooding?

The fog of time is thick on this one, a solution might just spoil a good spooky local tale. :?
 

jacolantern

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#6
In a nice bit of synchronicity i read this thread when it was current and thought no more about it until i came across an account just recently in my bedtime read of the moment-Poltergeist, Tales of the Supernatural by Harry Price, published in 1945 as Poltergeist over England.
In the book he gives details:
'The vault (100 feet above sea level and dug out of the living rock to the extent of two feet, belonging to the Chase family)..made of stone, was sealed with a huge slab of Devonshire blue marble, which required four men to move, cemented into the opening...Apparently there was no disturbance until a suicide was buried there...The coffins were found disturbed on the following dates: August 9, 1812; September 15, 1816; November 17, 1816; July 7 1819; and April 18, 1820. After the July, 1819 disturbance, Lord Combermere (Governor of the island) decided
to make a test. The coffins were restored to their proper positions, a plan made of them, and fine white sand sprinkled all over the floor of the vault. Then the heavy slab of marble was cemented by masons into the aperture and Lord Combermere and others impressed their official and personal seals into the soft cement... On April 18, 1820, a noise was heard coming from the interior of the vault. Lord Combermere and the other original witnesses were at once informed and it was decided to open the vault immediately. Thousands of people gathered for the opening. All seals and cementing were found intact and undisturbed and 'not a blade of grass round the vault had been touched'...The six coffins were found to have been moved from thier proper positions and thrown all over the vault. The heaviest one (that required the strength of seven or eight men to handle), was standing on its head and the smallest one had been hurled across the vault, making a dent in the wall. The fine sand bore no imprints or other markings, but was perfectly smooth and even, exactly as it was when the vault was sealed. There was no trace of water or of anything that could have moved the coffins normally....All the coffins were then removed from the vault and buried in separate graves.'
Apparently there is (or was) another case of this which paralled these events even down to the same dates, although this second case happened in 1844, as recorded by Baron de Guldenstrubbe, (and reported by Robert Dale Owen in Footfalls on the Boundary of another world, London 1861, p186). This happened in the vault of the chapel of the Buxhoewden family in the public cemetary of the town of Arensburg on the Russian island of Oesel.
He (Harry Price does say he doesn't think this is just a story transplanted although he doesnt say why.
Just a wonder but it would be interesting to read about the flooding theory, as all six coffins (except one) were made of lead and were placed in three rows of two tiers. When the vault was opened the coffins were found displaced in such a way as to not immediately suggest it was down to just a bit of flooding. :)
 

krakenten

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#7
An investigation by the Fortean Society years ago concluded that though made of lead, the coffins had enough volume to float.

Since the bodies were moved and reburied, there is no way to see if the story is true, or what agency might be involved.

Modern caskets float just fine, I saw a cemetery wash-out in Ohio that looked like a regatta.

This one is a classic. :!:
 

rynner2

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#8
I thought we had another thread on this topic - we do (in 2003), but with just 3 posts and one dead link, it's not very informative!

But somewhere (FT itself?), IIRC, there's a theory that the coffins were moved by the growth of giant puffballs or other fungi. I don't have time to delve further atm (other things to do).
 

stu neville

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#9
I remember that. Also, seem to remember that the flooding theory was discounted as there were no water-marks or dried-on dirt on the coffins (which there would have been had they been floating about in grubby water), and the crypt floor was dry.

As for the previous thread, won't merge as that one's putatively about Barbados as a whole, and not just the Chase crypt. As you say, it doesn't shed any light as such. It's here, for the sake of completeness :).
 

krakenten

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#10
One thing stands out-there was no mention of this in the local newspaper, at the time.

I doubt the Masons(well, maybe the Shriners?) would have expended so much effort on a joke, however, Barbados is a small place, and time could hang heavy in such a place, in the days before television.

The pics I saw show a very neat and well crafted stone structure, though not a large one. If it were to flood with rainwater, then drain naturally, there might be no disturbance to the sand. Maybe?

The explanation is probably simple-cases like this usually are-but just obscure enough that nobody has thought of it yet.. Or it's known, but people like the spookiness thereof,and the lure for tourists.

A classic poser,often mentioned in books on the strange, and what's life without a little mystery :?:
 

AnonyJoolz

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#12
Latest I heard was that the coffin movements had been put down to flooding. (Which can't have been hygienic - a load of old coffins being thoroughly soaked in water which then trickled away down a hill.)

I'd read that the vault had been emptied and the coffins re-buried but didn't know that it now stands open. I'd like to see a picture of that.
Your snaily wish is my command!

From https://barbados.org/chase-vault.htm
 

Sharon Hill

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#15
In the Oct 2018 issue of the J. of the SPR, Brian Ridout proposes a new idea to explain the moving coffins. I have not heard this one before and I would like opinions.

Typical explanations include intruders, an earthquake, groundwater or stormwater entering the void resulting in the heavy coffins floating around before the water drained away, that the events never happened or were a story made up with Masonic symbolism, or even that expanding fungus balls grew and caused the object to be displaced without leaving a trace. Ridout proposes a multi-part explanation. First, he explains that the story and documentation were exaggerated, over-dramatized, and the descriptions were sometimes inaccurate. He provides what he has measured as the true dimensions of the vault and the clearances for the steps, the stone slabs, and the coffins themselves.

He suggests that gas buildup from decomposition would have affected the lead-lined coffins causing bulging and distortion, making them more easily mobile if a small force is applied. In the major new idea, he suggests the force that ultimately could have sent the object into disarray was the creation of magnetic dipoles of the lead-lined coffins created by lightning striking the ground. That is, the vault is near the church which probably had a lightning rod that discharged the strikes (from the islands excessive thunderstorms) into the ground. The charge traveling through the wet soil for some distance reached vault where the magnetic field created a dipole of the lead (iron-reinforced?) boxes. Because they were packed in there, on top of each other and facing the same direction, the similar charges repelled each other and (because of the buoyancy from the gasses), turned rather easily on their own accord in response.

He notes that the induced polarity would only last for an extremely short time but be sufficient to move the coffins. Is this plausible?

The buildup of gases is not that far-fetched but I don’t know how well it’s been documented. He notes the condition was known in Barbados and was one proposed explanation for the movement already. The events did not occur until the vault was occupied by several lead-lined coffins (and did not seem to affect the wood coffins except if they got in the way). It only seemed to occur in this vault (due to the location near the church or preferred subsurface conductance). So, it’s an intriguing idea. But lightning-induced polarity of lead coffins? Is that feasible? I’m thinking the movement would occur very quickly and this could be tested if someone would set up a scale model.

What do you think?
 
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EnolaGaia

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#16
Sharon:

My first question would be: Are there signs of the predicted distortion / bulging on the lead-lined coffins?

The coffins aren't elastic. If gas pressure distorted them, they would have remained distorted.

My second question relates to your use of the phrase "because of the buoyancy from the gasses". Did Ridout insinuate the coffins were more easily moved owing to reduced net weight rather than (or in addition to) being unstable from structural distortion?
 

Sharon Hill

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#17
Sharon:

My first question would be: Are there signs of the predicted distortion / bulging on the lead-lined coffins?

The coffins aren't elastic. If gas pressure distorted them, they would have remained distorted.

My second question relates to your use of the phrase "because of the buoyancy from the gasses". Did Ridout insinuate the coffins were more easily moved owing to reduced net weight rather than (or in addition to) being unstable from structural distortion?
No, he did not. My mistake. Struck out above. Good catch.

On the first point, he is entirely unclear.
 

Tempest63

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#19
Me outside the chase vault
Mrs T63 sitting on the steps looking in
The inside of what is really a very small vault
I have a couple more that don’t seem to have copied over to the iPad
 

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RaM

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#21
Certainly interesting,
One thing wile the vault looks in very poor condition the chain
that goes round it but is very slack looks nice and new, if that is
original it must have been a good bit of stuff.
 

Tempest63

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#22
It was in very poor condition when we saw it back then. I understand that it is locked up now so I’m lucky that we saw it when we did and had access to get in.
I think what surprised me most was how small it was; I was expecting something much larger.
 
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