Monday, May 7, 2012

Real Dungeon, American Style: Burrows Cave

A man just finishing his lunch on a bluff overlooking a valley in southeastern illinois steps on a flat rock and falls into the entrance of a cave. There he found a crypt with skeletons adorned in bronze, armed with swords, and surrounded by gold. This isn’t any pulp story or movie serial, but the account of one Russell Burrows from 1982. The story is, of course, controversial--but a little controversy is hardly unheard of for a dungeon, American-style.

Anyway, this is what Burrows said he found:

“I saw a full human skeleton reposing on a large block of stone. It scared the hell out of me! Then I began to see other things lying there with those bones. I saw ax heads, spear points, and something else—metal! The skeleton was laid out upon a solid block large enough to hold not only the remains but artifacts as well."

"The artifacts include ax heads of marble and other stone material, an ax head of what appears to be bronze, a short sword of what appears to be bronze, and other artifacts which might be considered personal weapons. There were also a set of three bronze spears, the longest being about six feet long and the shortest about three feet... The skeletal remains bear several fine artifacts such as armbands, headbands and other such items, all off gold. "

Quite a haul--and that was presumably just one of the 13 burial crypts. Burrows claimed to have sold the gold (which is probably a crime). Artifacts that supposedly came from the cave appear to show a mismatch of ancient world cultures and a few things reminiscent of Native American designs (See some of them here). In other words, the sort of things that cynical scholarly types would decry as forgeries. Where’s the fun in that, though?

Burrows Cave would make an interesting locale for a pulp game, but it’s map could be used for any sort of setting.

7 comments:

JimShelley said...

I've never heard of the Burrows Cave. It's certainly an interesting mystery.

garrisonjames said...

This is a good one. so is the lost (supposedly Egyptian) city in the Grand Canyon. Or the over-sized skeletons claimed to have been dug out of some unidentified 'snake mound' in Ohio...a lot of this stuff was covered in FATE magazine, back in the Seventies, eighties and so on. The older issues are the best. Great resource for RPGs and for Pulp-style adventure...

Trey said...

@Jim - I just heard about this one recently, too.

@James - Yeah, I did one of these Real Dungeon posts on the lost cities of the Canyon. FATE is great for this sort of thing.

Canageek said...

More! More! MORE! Must have more excellent posts! This one, so good, I want more!

Also; have you looked at http://skeptoid.com/ for ideas? It has lots of old legends and stuff. Now it debukes them, but that means it has *all* the details, versions of the myths and suck.

Trey said...

Thanks, and thanks for the link.

If you check out the tag "real" you'll find several more of these posts I've done, including the supposed caves beneath L.A., the Murder Castle of H.H. Holmes, and the lost Grand Canyon cities I mentioned before.

Canageek said...

I've read them. I have, in fact, read all of your posts, excepting the Warlord Wednesday and Movie Reviews.

garrisonjames said...

Hey, you did a great job on the Lost City in the Grand Canyon, Arakor, Coral Castle, and all the others. What a great series! You might consider doing a compilation of these...