General Question

6rant6's avatar

What's the name of the medieval vehicle used to cart bodies during the plague?

Asked by 6rant6 (13672points) July 26th, 2012

I think there was a special name for the cart on which bodies of plague victims were heaped to haul them out of the city? Anyone remember (not from personal experience, I assume)?

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13 Answers

josie's avatar


gailcalled's avatar

Tumbril is probably not it, but I love that word.

“an open cart that tilted backward to empty out its load, in particular one used to convey condemned prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution.”

Bullock is a four-legged guy with horns aka a steer.

He or his friends, the ox, do pull a cart called a bullock cart

The Ozzies call that a jinker

zigmund's avatar

Catafalque is also probably not it, but I love that word.

The first word that came to my mind was bier

6rant6's avatar

I like those words, too, although they aren’t quite right. Maybe they didn’t call it anything special.

gailcalled's avatar

If we have learned anything over the centuries of written history, it is that if someone has the chance to invent a colorful new word, he will.

woodcutter's avatar

Probably the same implement they used to haul pigshit and produce to market, hopefully not in that order. Whatever they had on hand, not sure if a special cart was built to do this.

woodcutter's avatar

Someone told me to say “honey wagon”

6rant6's avatar

@gailcalled So… Lincoln Corpsidental? Bodycart by Hasbro? Grave train? Wheelburial? In State Wagon?

gailcalled's avatar

@6rant6: Terry Pratchett does it all the time.

Sunny2's avatar

@woodcutter Isn’t a honeywagon one that carries night soil for farmers in China?

anartist's avatar

@gailcalled I first thought of tumbril, too. And really like the word. This definition from Princeton’s wordnet adds a nice gloss to it, the high-and-might were hauled to their deaths in a cart for carrying dung.

@woodcutter looks like you got it!

S: (n) tumbrel, tumbril (a farm dumpcart for carrying dung; carts of this type were used to carry prisoners to the guillotine during the French Revolution)

maybe they were called tumbrils back in the Middle Ages too.

@Sunny2 a honeywagon is anything that carries poop. A transporter of porta-potties, or moreso, a truck that carries the waste removed from porta-potties.

Partner of the roach-coach—one for in, one for out

Earthgirl's avatar

@zigmund was right. The word, at least in Italy, was bier. It was written in this first person account The Decameron by Giovanni Boccacio. Here is an excerpt. See the last paragraph.

This translation from English to Italian also offers catafalque as a synonym.

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