WSIU InFocus Segment Archives

Detail Information for WSIU InFocus Video Segment - Grave Dowsing
Grave Dowsing
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Length: 9:21

At the Harrisburg Pioneer Festival, historian Ron Nelson demonstrates "grave dowsing" at Pauper Cemetery on the grounds of the Saline Creek Pioneer Village. This centuries-old art, sometimes called "water witching", involves lightly holding two wooden sticks or metal rods in each hand and moving them over the ground. The sticks or rods will cross when they encounter unmarked graves, water, and metal objects buried in the soil. In the Middle Ages, grave dowsing was considered witchcraft and practitioners were often executed. Grave dowsing is often used today to locate unmarked graves for mapping, while others use it to find coins. As he sweeps the ground at the cemetery, Nelson gets an outline of a grave and discovers more graves in a series of rows. He explains that the deceased are positioned with their heads to the west and feet to the east, the most common burial practice in America. Learn more about the Pioneer Festival at Saline County Tourism.

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Link To video segment: Episode: 333