During the Enlightenment period there was an increased fascination as well as need for knowledge in the field of anatomy and dissection medical science. Thus with growing numbers of medical schools sprouting up around Europe, there was an increased demand for subjects to dissect. To meet this demand there was a new black market that dealt with the buying and selling of the dead as merchandise. The men would take the task of robbing graves and supplying bodies to medical were known as ‘Resurrection Men’ and could get an increasingly high price for their wares: human bodies that had been stolen from graveyards, and even deathbeds.
A common method used by the Resurrection Men was to burrow into the head end of the grave and drag the corpse out with a rope tied around its neck. A more subtle method was to dig a hole at a certain distance from the grave and tunnel the body out without anyone knowing the grave had been disturbed. The shroud and grave goods would often be left in the grave on removal of the body, as court sentences were lighter for body snatching alone.
(source: “The Rise of the Body Snatchers.” HISTORY. N.p., 12 Mar. 2013. Web. 30 Nov. 2015.)
– Sean Hackes