Sunday, March 21, 2010

Question from Shirley - Sir Walter Raleigh's head

I am writing a piece about Sir Walter Raleigh's head! After he was beheaded his wife was given his embalmed head. She kept it at her side for 29 years.
What I want to know is how would it have been embalmed? What would it have looked like? I can't find anything about emmbalming in the 1600s.
Can anyone help please?


AmanDUH said...

"The modern techniques of embalming can be traced back to the 1600s when an English physiologist named William Harvey (who also discovered the circulatory system) started injecting arteries with a preservative. After studying veins and arteries, he learned the way blood traveled through the body and believed he could use preservatives as a replacement for blood. While it took a few moments to develop the concept, it wasn’t until more than 100 years that the practice of draining off blood became a reality."

I was able to find this from the following website:

Shirley said...

Thanks AmanDUH.What was the preservative used? Formaldehyde was used much later.

PenelopeHG said...

I think embalming might have been in practice before 1600? I just came across a reference to how Henry VIII's "body had to be embalmed and properly arrayed before the coffin..." (J. Loach, Edward VI, p.29). That's an interesting fact about Harvey!