The Worms of a Preston Graveyard

Shakespeare wrote, in his Sonnet 71 :

earthwormsNo longer mourn for me when I am dead
Then you shall hear the surly sullen bell
Give warning to the world that I am fled
From this vile world, with vilest worms to dwell.”

But which worms exactly?  For steps towards answers, turn to the Sept 3rd 2007 online edition of Wormdigest for an article entitled : ‘Earthworms of an Urban Cemetery’. Researchers Dr. Kevin Butt and Dr. Christopher Lowe from the Earthworm Research Group, at the University of Central Lancashire, Preston, UK, (in association with Pam Duncanson from Preston Cemetery), performed a survey. “Objectives were to unearth which species were present and in what numbers …” Disappointingly the publication doesn’t list them by name – but no less than nine different species of earthworm were found in the graveyard. Of particular interest, Lumbricus terrestris, which is reputed to be able to burrow to a depth of 2 – 3 metres (Darwin, 1881). But in this case they only reached 30cm, primarily because of a below-ground concrete barrier.