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Sandbox / Blood For Mortar

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We've all heard the Aesop about "you can't get blood out of a stone". Apparently nobody told the architect of this building, who thinks blood and gore's a great construction material to mix with stone. Using Human Resources, their blood, bones or other parts are added to the building. It may become a Human Architecture Horror, or is otherwise just creepy.

This is usually done to show how Obviously Evil the creator or owner of the house is. Or maybe they believe or are from a culture that takes nothing to waste, not even corpses. Either way, it's almost always a source of Nightmare Fuel.


Can be a form of Sadistic Choice. Also a form of Powered by a Forsaken Child, though they aren't alive...hopefully. See Skeletons in the Coat Closet or Genuine Human Hide for when human body parts are used for clothing.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • The Chinese legend of the bell casting sees use in Ushio and Tora, where it is used to forge the Beast Spear.

  • Lethal Weapon 3: The Big Bad demonstrates how vile he is when he tosses a subordinate that failed him into a pile of concrete being poured as a house's foundation, holds him down until he drowns, and continues pouring concrete so the man will be buried in the foundation.
  • Invoked in 300: a Persian emissary sees that the Spartans have stacked up the bodies of the Persian soldiers, and they tell him their blood served as mortar.

  • In Dark Apostle, the Ghethsemenacht is a tower made of recycled Imperial buildings and glued together with human puree, built as a monument to the Chaos Gods. One of the slaves working on it discovers this when he finds a human tooth in the mortar.
  • There is a Hungarian ballad, Kama­ves Kelemen, which is about a group of masons building a castle but it keeps crumbling (if they build by day, then it'll crumble by night, if they build by night, it'll crumble by dawn) until they get a sign/decide to kill one of their wives and add her blood to the mortar. The first wife to show up bringing her husband's lunch is that of Kelemen, so she is promptly killed and the castle stands.
  • In The Left Hand of Darkness, an Earthman notices all the bridges in Karhide have keystones set with pinkish mortar. Turns out they believe an arch will fall without a bloodbond. They used to mix the mortar with human blood and bones, but these days, animal substitutes are used.
  • In Red Queen, the blood of Arvens is used to make Silver/Newblood gift-repelling Silent Stone.
  • Creator/Robert Westall's story "The Stones of Muncaster Cathedral" is about a cathedral which turns out to have incorporated a human sacrifice due to a Middle Ages master builder with secret pagan beliefs. In the story, the cathedral is being repaired, and attempts to absorb the protagonist as a new sacrifice.

    Live-Action TV 
  • An example from No Man of Woman Born: In the Merlin-1998 mini-series, Vortigern consults a soothsayer to find out why his castle keeps falling. The Soothsayer (taking false information from Mab) tells him to mix the blood of a man with no mortal father into his mortar and the castle will stand. Merlin, who was the only candidate found, knows that there's a spring under the castle, so he's basically building on water.

    Mythology And Religion 
  • Antaeus, son of Poseidon and Gaia, murdered wayward travellers and used their bones to build a temple to his father. Hercules killed him while going to the Garden of Hesperides.
  • An old Chinese legend contains a variation. It tells about a bell which did not come out right during the casting. The ruler said the person making it will be killed if there will be one more failure. His daughter was foretold a young maiden's blood needs to be added. She jumped into the molten metal. It worked.
  • Historia Brittonum: When the building materials for Vortigern's new fortress miraculously vanish each night, a soothsayer tells Vortigern that only sprinkling the walls with the blood of "a child without a father" can break the curse, and Vortigern is ready to do that. However, the boy Ambrosius procured for this purpose can evade sacrifice thanks to his prophetic skills.
  • There is a bunch of myths about The Great Wall Of China. Some says that both animal and human bones was mixed into the mortar, other says that the people who died building it got buried inside the wall and used as a filler.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In the Ravenloft D&D setting, the House of Lament became cursed when a former owner had a young woman buried alive in its foundation, ostensibly because it was required (but in truth because he was a sadistic creep).

    Video Games 
  • Eternal Darkness: The Pillar Of Flesh is constructed by The Ancients to facilitate their entry into our world. It is built of people smothered with concrete.
  • In the EverQuest "Scars of Velious" expansion, the Frost Giants of Kael Drakkel will threaten to use your bones for mortar for building their walls.
  • In God of War, the temple that contains Pandora's Box also contains the tombs of its architect and his family- apparently the gods required their sacrifice for the temple's construction. Some of the puzzles found within require the family members' skulls as keys.
  • In The Secret World, the headmaster of Innsmouth Academy refutes the rumor that the school has a skeleton in every closet, he proudly declares that the skeletons are bricked into the walls. The school installs the corpses of mages into the walls and foundations to bolster its magical defenses and the power they have to work with.

    Web Original 
  • In the area of Ravensblight stands Darc Mansion, built in 1817 by Gideon Darc, who sold naval and artillery shot during the War of 1812 (some say to both sides...) thereby making his fortune. The place has been abused, neglected and even struck by lightning and set aflame, but still stands as pulverised human bone has been mixed into the mortar.

  • "London Bridge" Build it up with blood and bone, blood and bone, blood and bone, build it up with blood and bone, my fair lady.

    Real Life 
  • Research has proven that blood really does make good mortar. Specifically, it makes cement stronger and lighter. (United States Patent 4203674).


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