The Corpse in the Cask

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when a person would die far from home, they would have to be shipped back to their family by boat. Obviously, unless steps were taken to prevent it, the corpse would be a decayed, rat-gnawed mess by the time it got home. How was this avoided? Well, the body would be placed in a cask of alcohol, which works as a preservative, and would reach home in fairly good shape, considering.

According to rumor, in the 1980's or so, an American family bought an English estate. They found several old barrels in the cellar, and began to cut them in half to use as planters, but when they cut into one, they found it was full of Jamaica rum. So they patched up the hole they had made in the barrel, and, for a full year, used the rum to make various drinks and desserts.

Finally, they came to the end of the booze, and set out to saw the barrel in half after all. But when they did so, they made a horrible discovery- curled up in the barrel was a corpse, well-preserved but dressed in circa-1800's clothing. He had been shipped home for burial, it seemed, and never been buried, and his body had languished in the rum ever since- or until the American family drank it all, anyway.

Myths, Legends, Folklore, & Faery Tales