But maybe you've not heard it before.
In the middle ages, a person was declared dead if they. Could not be aroused from what. Might appear to be sleep. It wasn't a sure bet though, and sometimes if corpses were dug up (for various Easton's) they would find scratch marks on the inside of a coffin, evidence that the person had come back to and found themselves buried alive - and eventually died from this.
So it came to be that when a person was buried, a cord would be put in the coffin, and above the ground the cord was attached to a bell. If a person found themselves buried alive (oops) they could pull the cord and ring the bell --- hence "a dead ringer"
Speaking of dead folks really being alive, do you know why the Irish hold wakes with the corpse? Originally it was to be sure he was really dead and didn't 'wake' up!
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Location:Somewhere in Scotland