Archaeologists Unearth Site of Unsolved 1826 Murder

Joe the Quilter was killed by multiple stab wounds at the age of 76
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 8, 2016 9:48 AM CST
Updated Jan 10, 2016 7:01 AM CST
Archaeologists Unearth Site of Unsolved 1826 Murder
A drawing of the cottage where Joe the Quilter was murdered.   (Public domain)

When renowned quilt maker Joe Hadley, who lived in a small cottage on the outskirts of Warden in the UK in 1826, was found brutally stabbed to death one cold January morning, the mystery captured a nation. The crime unsolved to this day, his story was retold in the Monthly Chronicle of North-Country Lore and Legend 1887 (as recounted by the blog PieceNPeace), which notes that his cottage was finally taken down in 1872, "so that all landmarks of the mournful tragedy have vanished, leaving nothing to recall the circumstance but the silent page of the local historian." Well, not exactly nothing. The Evening Chronicle in July reported that old maps, sketches, and reports of the crime enabled the Beamish Museum in County Durham to locate the approximate location of the home.

Now a team of community archaeologists has managed to unearth actual remnants of Hadley's home, reports the Evening Chronicle as spotted by the Week. "As archaeologists it's extremely rare to be working on a site inhabited by a named individual about whom we know so much," project officer John Castling said. "It's even more unusual that the individual isn't a royal or a wealthy landowner. It gives us a poignant and tangible link to the day-to-day life of an ordinary working person in the early 19th century." So far the team has found floor pieces, pottery, remnants of the cottage's fireplace, and a "silver groat coin given as Maundy money to the poor." The museum intends to recreate the cottage; "visitors will not only be able to stand in a replica of Joe’s cottage, but they can stand on the flagstones Joe would have stood on," says Castling. (Over in Ireland, these bones might help archaeologists settle a controversy.)

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