Saturday, September 23, 2017
The Guernsey Medieval Porpoise Burial
a porpoise jaw was found in the so-called St. Ninian's Treasure unearthed in 1958; some of the silver pieces from this treasure are above.
Dolphins and porpoises are surrounded by folklore all around Europe and were especially associated with luck. A common superstition held that to harm a porpoise who followed a ship would bring luck of the worst kind; but the belief has also been recorded that a porpoises head hung from the mast would bring good luck. Porpoise blood and bones were used in medicinal and magical concoctions across Europe and especially among the Vikings, who held that porpoise blood might give great wisdom. Coastal people sometimes treated beached whales, including porpoises, as a sort of manna from heaven, sent directly by the sea gods to hungry people.
think it represents a beaked whale.
The people of Guernsey and the Shetlands were seafaring folk, so porpoises were part of their lives, including their spiritual lives. I for one don't find a buried porpoise surprising in the least.