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20 21 The tradition of carrying a corpse for burial along a special road is prevalent throughout Western Europe and may be linked to the fear of ghosts and wandering spirits. Dutch death roads may have been straight, but contemporary German death roads are seldom straight and neither are the medieval funeral paths and corpse ways of the British Isles. In the Middle Ages some villages and hamlets were required by Church law to bury their dead at the nearest church that held the burial right. Funeral parties would use a designated route, known as a burial path, coffin path or church road to convey the coffin. There are many traditions and beliefs bound up in the rites of death and burial, and many protective measures were undertaken before, during and after the funeral to protect the living from the spirits of the deceased. It is possible that the straight funeral route was deliberately avoided so as to confuse the spirit of the dead person if it tried to return home, as spirits were believed to prefer travel in straight lines. The belief in straight spirit travel occurs throughout the world. Opposite The last journey. Burial Lane at Feckenham, Worcestershire. One of hundreds of abandoned funeral paths across England. ThE jOurNEy Of ThE SOul funeral paths and corpse ways
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