How coins helped one town live thorough the Black Death
Gold Coins Submerged in Vinegar - Eyam's boundary stone
A visitor places a coin on Eyam's boundary stone.
It was called the Black Death. And it was far deadlier than coronavirus.
As governments around the world impose quarantines to prevent the spread of covid-19, it is worth remembering the extraordinary story of Eyam, England, the Derbyshire village that faced an outbreak of the bubonic plague in the 17th century.
A quarantine cordon was established with a one-mile radius marked by a ring of stones. For 14 months nobody went in or out of the village. Food was left at the boundary stone by nearby townspeople in exchange for gold coins submerged in vinegar , which villagers believed would disinfect them. The death-rate skyrocketed.
During its seclusion, Eyam suffered. Bodies piled up; families were instructed to bury their own dead on the outskirts of town.
In all, 260 of Eyam's estimated 800 residents perished during the quarantine, more than double the mortality rate of the Great Plague of London. But Mompesson and the villagers' self-sacrifice had worked. The plague never spread to nearby towns and, 14 months later, in November 1667, the quarantine was lifted.
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