Revived from Apparent Death
by a Grave-Robber

folktales of Aarne-Thompson type 990
edited by

D. L. Ashliman

© 2000


  1. A Sign from God (Germany).

  2. Lady Restored to Life (England).

  3. Related links.

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

A Sign from God


In Magdeburg they formerly showed (I do not know if they still do) with a plaque depicting a horse that was looking out the window of a house's upper story. The following legend explains this plaque:

A man buried his wife with the pomp expected of his class, leaving on her finger a valuable diamond ring. The greedy gravedigger noticed this, and therefore returned that night to open the grave, pry up the coffin lid, and attempt to remove the ring from the dead woman. However, the ring was tight, and he had to push and twist and turn, which revived the woman, who was only in a trance. She sat up, giving the disloyal gravedigger such a fright that he fell down unconscious.

The woman, herself frightened by her helpless condition, picked up the gravedigger's lantern and staggered toward her husband's house.

She knocked.

The servant asked, "Who is there?"

"It's me," she answered, "the lady of the house. Open the door for me."

Deathly pale, he ran to his master's room and told him the news.

"My wife will never return from her grave," he answered, "any more than would my horses walk up the steps in order to look out the window."

Then he heard clip clop up the steps. It was his horses. Then the man believed, went downstairs, opened the door, and received his wife, who he thought was dead. And he lived happily with her for many long years.

Lady Restored to Life


I have met with the following statement:

Eliza, the wife of Sir W. Fanshawe of Woodley Hall, in Gloucestershire, was interred, having, at her own request, a valuable locket, which was her husband's gift, hung upon her breast. The sexton, proceeding to the vault at night, stole the jewel, and by the admission of fresh air restored the body, who had been only in a trance, and who, with great difficulty, reached Woodley Hall in the dead of night, to the general alarm of the servants. Sir William, being roused by their cries, found his lady, with bleeding feet and clothed in the winding-sheet, stretched upon the hall. She was put into a warm bed, and gave birth to several children after her recovery.

On what authority, let me ask, has this statement been made? And, if true, when did the occurrence take place? Change the scene to the town of Drogheda, in Ireland, the lady's name to Harman, and the locket to a ring, and you have a tolerably accurate account of what occurred in the last century, and with the tradition of which I have been familiar from my childhood.

Related Links

Return to D. L. Ashliman's folktexts, a library of folktales, folklore, fairy tales, and mythology.

Revised February 1, 2000.