Heritage Trust is to repair historical defence against body snatchers.
Perth and Kinross Heritage Trust is delighted to announce the start of repair work to the B-Listed Mort House at Kirkton of Collace.
The Mort House, which sits in Collace Churchyard, is believed to have been built at the beginning of the nineteenth century when the scourge of body snatchers was at its height. This was related to the growth of anatomy schools which demanded more corpses than were available legally.
The building protected the dead from grave robbers, storing the corpses until they were beyond use for dissection. Bodies would only be taken from the Mort House and buried after decomposition had set in. Otherwise, ‘resurrection men’ like the infamous Burke and Hare could dig them up and sell them to the anatomy schools in Aberdeen, St. Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Collace Mort House is one of only eight such structures with listed building status in the whole of Scotland.
Significant work will be carried out to restore the stone and timber roof structure, using as many of the existing roof slates as possible, and repair the external walls. This will allow the Mort House to be viewed by the public again after fifteen years under cover because of its poor condition. The repairs are expected to be completed in July 2012.
Educational and promotional material will be prepared to develop a ‘body snatcher’ theme thanks to additional support for the Mort House from the European Rural Development Programme LEADER Fund. It is hoped that this rather off-beat subject may attract new and younger visitors to historic churchyards.
Fiona Fisher, Historic Churchyards Project Officer at the Trust said:
“This is a great day and marks the start of major conservation works in the Historic Churchyards in East Perthshire project, which has been supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund, The Gannochy Trust and Perth & Kinross Council.”