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Most Significant

Today is Jonathan's first foray into the chapel. I was at first puzzled by the fact that this chapel had both underground vaults (crypts) and also was used as a graveyard. Not much room to bury bodies if there is a crypt just below the chapel floor! Then I realized that the vaults were doubtless at the front (west) end of the church, so as to be below the altar, while the remaining part of the church (where the congregation would be) probably had a simple wooden wooden floor with earth below. At some point, the wooden flooring and any remaining furnishings must have been removed and then that part of the chapel used as a graveyard.

Just how much of the earth of the chapel-graveyard would have been removed to put into the Count's fifty wooden boxes? Did the digging work result in any disinterments? (Feel free to skip to the end if you want to know the answer but don't care to read the calculations and other details.)

Two labourers (Thomas Snelling and Jack Smollet) removed a number of boxes from Carfax on Sept. 20, which shows that one box can be handled by just two people.

Let's decide that a filled box should weigh 200 lbs (90 kg), since 100 lbs is not an unusual amount of weight for a labourer. (Let's put the Count's weight at 200 lbs as well. Then a box with earth plus a sleeping vampire would weigh 400 lbs or 180 kg--a lot to handle for just two people, but not impossible, especially since there's just one such box.) How full of earth will each box be?

Assume that the Count's boxes are the size of a standard casket today: 84"long by 28" wide. (The height of the sides is irrelevant for this discussion, but 24" is usual.) A cubic foot of soil weighs from 74 to 110 lbs (according to https://www.reference.com/science/much-cubic-foot-soil-weigh-7b509c02c5101291 ). I will use 80 pounds per cubic foot, since it is a nice round number; if the soil is denser than that, the boxes will need a smaller volume of dirt. Our 200 pounds of soil has a volume of 2.5 cubic feet (4320 cubic inches). That means that the Szgany need only cover the bottom of each box with less than two inches of dirt (1.8", in fact): 84" x 28" x 1.8" = 4320 cubic inches. Klinger (p94 n35) wonders why Jonathan found the Count resting in a box, rather than in his “lordly tomb” nearby. It seems to me that he was testing to ensure that such a thin layer of soil would be enough to allow him to rest. If more soil was necessary for restful slumber, the Count might require more workers and more wagons.

Fifty boxes filled with 2.5 cubic feet of soil each means that it will be necessary to remove 125 cubic feet of dirt from the chapel-graveyard. That would be the same as digging a pit 5 feet deep by 5 feet square. But there is no need to risk disinterring any of the graveyard's earlier burials: just dig a very shallow area 1/2 foot (6") deep by 10 feet wide by 25 feet long. That will give ample space to avoid grave markers and there will very little risk of disturbing any burials. As a side benefit, a larger area of excavation gives space for more workers to dig at once. When all the boxes are loaded, the Count will have 5,000 lbs (2.5 tons) of soil ready to take to England.

Summary: The boxes will only have a couple of inches of soil in them; more would make them too heavy to be handled by just two people. This means that the disturbance to the graveyard would be minimal; just 6" would need to be removed from an area measuring roughly 10 feet by 25 feet.

Bryan Alexander

I'm very fond of that underground crypt. Classic Gothic image.

And bravo for that detailed look into the soil and boxes, MS!

Most Significant

Thanks. I must admit that once I started with the maths, 'twas hard to stop. I"m glad it's done now.

Thank you, Bryan, for this blogged version of Dracula. I'm enjoying it a lot.

Bryan Alexander

My pleasure.
And kudos to Andrew Connell for his work on the site!

Most Significant

Yes, the maps are great!

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