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As with many Observer stories

In 1822, The London Observer, reported that: “It is estimated that more than a million of bushels of human and inhuman bones were imported last year from the continent of Europe into the port of Hull.

“The neighbourhood of Leipsic, Austerlitz, Waterloo, and of all the places where, during the late bloody war, the principal battles were fought, have been swept alike of the bones of the hero and of the horse which he rode.”

The account suggested most of the bones were sent to Doncaster, “and sold to farmers to manure their lands”.

This could be true. The absence of mass graves at those locations means it might be true. But as to actual proof…..

Think is’t phosphorous the bones provide, isn’t it? Seems less ghoulish at least to dig up a bit more of Morocco, as we currently do, rather than raiding the graveyards of Europe. But then there are those who disagree, organic farming insists on the bones, not the Morocco bit.

8 thoughts on “As with many Observer stories”

  1. Dem bones Dem bones Dem dry bones

    Seems a good use of something that would otherwise have gone to waste. On the other hand, in this dialect shouldn’t we ask if Black Bones Matter? These seem to have been White bones, so no-one cares …

  2. The Meissen Bison

    There’s nothing particularly “organic” about bonemeal or fish, blood and bone combined.

  3. In the case of Waterloo, those remains would only have been six years dead. I guess it depends on where they had been in the interim (buried and then dug up again?) but wouldn’t the good fertiliser merchants of Doncaster have been selling some kind of human slurry with brass buttons mixed in?

    Anyway, I’m not buying any more lawn feed from the local garden centre without checking inside the box.

  4. ‘I’m not buying any more lawn feed from the local garden centre without checking inside the box.’

    You have a point Sam. I’d better check the smelly fertiliser they’re putting on the footpath outside the new care centre.

    Where does it come from!!!

  5. @ Sam Vara:

    In the case of Waterloo, those remains would only have been six years dead.

    Most of the Waterloo dead – men and horses – were cremated, so there wouldn’t have been much left. It was a pretty grisly affair because it turns out that depositing the remains in pits and setting fire to them results in a big stew rather than reducing them to ashes…

    A interesting, if rather ghoulish, doc. about it was on the Yesterday channel in the UK:

    https://yesterday.uktv.co.uk/shows/waterloo-dead/

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