One outbreak, though, stands out above most in terms of the impact it had on society, and within it is a story that is both deeply inspiring and utterly terrifying. But whether or not you’re ready to hear it, there’s one thing we can all agree on: fear, just like sickness, can often be contagious.
In the latest episode of the Lore podcast, host Aaron Mahnke journeys back several centuries to delve into a subject that is lamentably timely today. The narrative focuses on the outbreak of the (bubonic) plague in the Derbyshire village of Eyam in 1666–a spread of devastating disease likely caused by the shipment of flea-infested cloth from London to a local tailor. What makes Eyam’s ordeal noteworthy is the bold measures the community adopted to combat the outbreak, a response that included the voluntary quarantine of the entire village. The populace doubtless endured through grim circumstances (e.g. the contagiousness of the dead forced survivors to dig plots and bury relatives on their own property rather than in the village graveyard), but the story of Eyam just makes for an interesting historical anecdote. “Invisible Boundaries” doesn’t really begin to feel like an installment of Lore until the closing couple of minutes, when Mahnke surveys some of the reportedly haunted sites in the village. Yet Mahnke is unwilling to end on an uncanny note. In this clearly optimistic episode, the heroic self-sacrifice of the people of Eyam is held up as a positive model for modern listeners, and the the tale of the plague-ridden village isn’t employed in the interest of fearmongering (something all too rampant during the current pandemic).