The fear of being buried alive, is something most people would dread. The thought of slowly gasping for your last breath, while laying in a coffin is truly terrifying. A woman from the 18th century suffered this fate. Her gravestone even reads the words “Lived Once, Buried Twice”. Known as Margorie McCall, she would end up being the victim of a premature burial.
Margorie McCall was raised in Lurgan, a town in County Armagh, in Northern Ireland. She later fell in love with a surgeon named John McCall and lived in a location known as Church Place. As time passed by, her health failed resulting in an early death sometime around 1705.
It was assumed, she died of natural causes. During her wake, mourners persuaded her family to take off her wedding ring. This ring was expensive and would likely be a prime target for grave robbers. As fate would have it, grave robbers desecrated her burial site at Shankill Graveyard.
After finishing digging and breaking open her coffin, they attempted to pry the ring from her cold finger with a knife. The grave robber began cutting into her finger as it bled, trying to get the ring off. Meanwhile when this was happening, Margorie suddenly woke up.
These robbers, certainly were shocked…as Margorie woke up from her induced coma-like state. The robbers were scared to death, giving them the fright of their lives. Looking back in horror, they watched Margorie climb out of her grave. Ironically, the grave robbers saved her life by freeing her. Afterward, Margorie made her way back home.
Margorie’s family were all sitting around the fireplace, when they suddenly heard a knock at the door. Her husband John answered. He certainly was in shock, as his bride stood there before him. She was wearing her burial clothes and was very much still alive.
There are several tales about what happened next. Some have said that John dropped dead, from the shock of seeing his late wife come back to him. Others think that Margorie, lived for a number of years later with her husband. She was once again, buried at the same cemetery…only time she was laid to rest in peace.
Margorie has since become a part of the local folklore within this region. More versions of what happened to her, were told to scare some sense into the local troublesome children. The following was written in the late 19th century, by a local scribe under the name of Cortze:
Died Once Buried Twice
There lowly beneath lonely sod,
A lady twice entombed,
Tradition has it noised abroad,
She was exhumed alive.
Her precious ring her finger bore,
From her bright wedding day;
And in death likewise wore
When buried in the clay.
But a foul thief to steal the ring,
Did cast the clay aside
And he to life did quickly bring
She who lately died.
For he should cut the finger round,
To gain the golden prize,
But when the blood flowed from the wound
She spoke and did arise.
And straight away to her home did go
In her dead robes so white;
Like a wandering spirit free from woe,
But doomed to roam at night.
And when she reached her husbands door,
She gave her well known knock
An he fell senseless to the floor,
Unnerved by the strange shock.
Her children knew here gentle voice
And flew to her embrace;
And all the neighbours did rejoice,
But marvelled at the case.
But death at last took here away,
As he will sure take all
And not again to Judgement Day
Shall Rise Margery McCaull.