Mark Hartman's new book tells the story of the embalmed head of Oliver Cromwell, English military and political leader, who died in 1658. In 1661 his body was dug up and was subjected to the ritual of a posthumous execution, including decapitation. The head was impaled on a post at Westminster Hall, where it stayed for more than twenty years before being freed by a heavy storm. Over the centuries, the head enjoyed a series of unexpected adventures, encountering a host of bizarre and well-known characters—from its many owners, curious anatomists and misled but obsessed phrenologists to other preserved decapitated heads and impostor Cromwell heads.
These escapades came to an end only after the head was eventually buried for good in 1960.