Research Blog. Week 2

Zoom Research Workshop

With Barbara Crosbie.

Week two of the research and we had a fantastic workshop this afternoon. After reading old newspapers, we now know our body had long blond hair (8 inches with a slight curl), and neat fingernails (suggesting no manual labour), and heavily darned stockings. And we have a picture of his buttons. It was reported that the Weardale Poor Law Union paid £2 10s to have the body dug up and reburied; and they were keen to find relatives of the deceased so they could recoup their costs.

We also know that when Titus Harrison found the body he reported it to PC Neen at Wearhead who must have then cycled to St John’s Chapel to inform Sergt Wardle at St John’s Chapel police station. We even have a photograph (above from Peter Nattrass’ collection) of the police house in Wearhead, complete with a policeman (very possibly PC Neen) and his bike.

We still have more questions than answers. Can we locate any of the artefacts from the find, or more of the photographs that were taken at the time? If not, can we date his clothing from the descriptions? Can we date the coffin from its usual shape, with a lid that resembled a house roof? Can we eliminate some of the potential explanations that were reported at the time? Our volunteers are busily contacting archives, museums, societies, and specialists to ask for their assistance in locating the evidence we need. So maybe we will be able to answer some of these questions next week.

Dr Barbara Crosbie

Research  Mentor