A DEAD WALRUS, A HAUNTED SWORD, AN ANTI-TANK ROCKET, AND OTHER THINGS YOU COULD FIND IN YOUR HOME DURING A RENOVATION

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Colin Steer, of Plymouth, England, had always noticed that his sofa sat unevenly on his living room floor, but he didn’t realize why until he decided to renovate.  When he tore up the floor, he found a 33-foot deep medieval well under his home.  Steer did what any reasonable person would do under the circumstances – he immediately moved out, sought the blessing of a priest, and burned the place to the ground, since it clearly had to be haunted.  Wait, no, he did the opposite of that.  He actually went down into the well, hauled out loads of debris, and eventually found, at the very bottom – a sword.  As of this writing, Steer is still living happily in the house, but we all know that it’s only a matter of time before the vengeful ghost of the medieval barbarian who owned that sword decides to extract his revenge.

But those are the chances you take when you renovate.  Sometimes you find a $15 million painting, and sometimes you find a haunted well with a sword in it.  Or, a World War II-era unexploded rocket.  In February, a Newport News couple redoing their house found a decades-old .60 caliber anti-tank bazooka shell inside the wall of their home.  They called firemen, who safely extracted it and turned it over to the military.  But just think – all those years they lived there, any jostle or vibration could’ve set off a massive explosion.  I’m going to bring that up next time my girlfriend tries to pressure me into shelling out for a home theater.  Of course, the main question is – why would you bring a bazooka rocket into your home?  But with a little thought, the answer isn’t so difficult to figure out – a soldier probably stole it off the base to set off on the 4th of July or something.  Guys love stuff like that.  If I had a bazooka shell, there are at least eight people in my phone who’d pay cash for it before sundown.  Other renovation finds have been much more puzzling – for example, a walrus in a coffin.

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When workers excavated a train station in London in 2013, they found an eight-foot-long dead walrus in a coffin.  Experts dated it to sometime in the mid-to-late nineteenth century, but they had no idea why it would be there.  Walrus tusks were prized back then for their ivory, and walrus skins were used to buff metal, but why bury the carcass in the same way they buried people?  (Human remains were also found at the site.)  Researchers scoured contemporaneous archives for any mention of walruses, but found nothing – though they did find newspaper accounts of Prince Albert riding a giant tortoise through the streets.  (Sacred walruses, tortoise-riding – 19th century London sounds like a blast.)  (Man, I should’ve saved the bazooka shell anecdote for down here, so I could use the “blast” segue.  Oh well, I’ll just have to awkwardly transition to the 200-year-old gravestone under the living room.)

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So yeah, some guy also found a 200-year-old gravestone under his living room.  Man, this house couldn’t be any more obviously haunted if ghosts in white sheets and clanking chains appeared and chanted “WE LIVE HERE.”  This happened in 2014, in the Swedish town of Fuglie.  (Wow, didn’t know Sweden named a town after my ex.)  The Nilsson family was redoing their living room floors, when underneath the floorboards they found a four-foot-long, 150-pound headstone etched with several names.  Research revealed that the names on the headstone WERE THE NAMES OF THE PEOPLE THAT LIVED THERE!  No, just kidding, they were people who’d died in the 1800s.  Still, it’s plenty creepy, though I admit that if this were the setup to a cheesy horror movie, I wouldn’t watch it even if I was on an 18 hour flight.
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You know what other section of the house is dependably creepy?  The attic.  In 2010, a mummified head was found in the attic of an 84-year-old French tax collector named Jacques Bellanger.  And not just any head – the head of a former king.  Bellanger had bought the head from a couple in 1955, who’d bought it from royals-hating revolutionaries who’d grave-robbed the head from the crypt of King Henry IV.  After buying the head, Bellanger apparently grew tired of it and tossed it into his crawlspace, where it lay until an enterprising journalist found it nearly half a century later.  But believe it or not, a severed head isn’t even the creepiest thing found in an attic.
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When a Redditor moved into a new house in 2014, he found, at the far end of the attic, a mysterious door with an external lock and metal grating on both sides of the window. Through the door was a tiny cell-like room with a foam cot, a small window, and single bare bulb.  The ceiling was only four feet tall, and the Redditor helpfully pointed out that there were no neighbors close enough to hear if someone in the room was yelling.  While some commenters theorized it was an especially harsh “time out room” for kids who misbehaved, it seems just as likely that it was something much more disturbing.  The lesson here is clear;  if you buy a house, don’t look in the attic, don’t tear up the walls, don’t redo the floors.  Just sit quietly and pray that the ghosts let you stick around.

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