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Fenika
07-30-2008, 12:52 AM
My google-fu is not helping me with the details.

What can ya'll tell me about the construction of pyres? I know they need to burn hot. My characters have driftwood and beach grass available.

Also, any idea what this would smell like when it was dying down? (after the charred flesh smell ended).

Anyone personally watch a pyre burn? What was it like?

RIP my beloved character :cry:

Cheers,
Christina

milhistbuff1
07-30-2008, 12:58 AM
Depends on the type of wood that floated up. What is the setting, if you can share that detail?

Fenika
07-30-2008, 01:02 AM
Medieval ships, wrecked on a sandy bay. (They didn't actually drift there, but they have been battered by the tide and some storms).

Temperate climate ;)

Anything else?

milhistbuff1
07-30-2008, 01:06 AM
How about the location? Who built the ships? those details will narrow down the wood types. I also remember there is a medieval warship thread in the history writing section you might find useful. Oak was often used for its strength when available.

Here's the link referred to:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109365&highlight=11th+century+ships

Sarpedon
07-30-2008, 01:10 AM
I have only anecdotal knowledge of pyre burning from my Hindu friend.

The pyre was built on the beach, and my friend, as oldest male descendant of the decedant, lit it. This was in the evening, and the pyre burnt all night. When the morning came, the people returned to collect the ashes. The bones of the deceased still preserved their shape, but crumbled to ash when touched.

Fenika
07-30-2008, 01:38 AM
Ah yes, who indeed.

The novel takes place in a fantasy pseudo-Poland. The ships were built by pseudo vikings (only the ocean is on the southern end of my country and thus the the 'vikings' came from the south, similar to going across the Mediterranean sea... only not!). I like oak- have used it earlier in my novel...

The time is roughly 11th century.

Thanks for the link.

Yikes, the bones crumbling is a pretty intense image. I imagine my pyre will collapse as it burns, and thus the skeleton shape will be lost.... Collecting the ashes is a nice touch though. Thank you.

Cheers,
Christina

milhistbuff1
07-30-2008, 01:43 AM
You're quite welcome,

Vikings dealt with England, Sicily, France (Normandy), the Kievan Rus and even supplied the byzantines with mercenaries, so all those topics might have related info...

padnar
07-30-2008, 10:48 AM
i am a Hindu we usually use wood for pyre and collect the ashes
as said in the previous post.
padma

milhistbuff1
07-31-2008, 05:37 AM
What kind of sensory details do you need? smell sight? depends on the strength of the wood, how long it's dried out. Is the wood rotton? are the bodies already decomposed? all these questions will guide you to the answers you seek.

If you are looking for a wood with a scent, try and write some pine in...

Fenika
07-31-2008, 05:46 AM
All senses would be nice but smell and sight are a good start. The ships wrecked a few weeks ago, so fairly fresh, though high tide could have worked away at it. The person died that morning and its now just after sunset.

Pine sounds good. I'll have to go burn some and see what I get :)

Cheers,
Christina

milhistbuff1
07-31-2008, 05:52 AM
Try looking up pictures of burn victim post-mortems, or the movie Backdraft with Kurt Russell and Alec Baldwin...

Keyan
07-31-2008, 07:29 AM
All senses would be nice but smell and sight are a good start. The ships wrecked a few weeks ago, so fairly fresh, though high tide could have worked away at it. The person died that morning and its now just after sunset.

Pine sounds good. I'll have to go burn some and see what I get :)

Cheers,
Christina

There's some info here.

http://www.treehugger.com/files/2007/06/more_eco-friendly_funeral_pyres.php

The main smells would be smoke, but also burning flesh. Depending on what rituals were being observed, there could be other smells of offerings thrown on the pyre - for example, camphor.

You need a lot of wood and a lot of time, or you end up with a charred corpse.

Here's a first-hand account:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/theguardian/2007/oct/13/weekend7.weekend2

Fenika
07-31-2008, 08:10 AM
Ah, excellent! Thank you both for the further help.

The first hand account really helped me imagine what would fit into my scene.

Cheers!
Christina

Soccer Mom
07-31-2008, 08:33 AM
Yup, corpses are notoriously difficult to burn. It takes a lot to reduce one to ash.

Here is an article I found on Roman funeral pyres.

http://beastcoins.com/Topical/Architecture/FuneralPyres/FuneralPyre.htm