THE ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA

A DICTIONARY OF ARTS, SCIENCES, LITERATURE AND GENERAL INFORMATION

ELEVENTH EDITION 1911

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ARVALS, Arvels or Arthels (O. Norse Arfr, inheritance, and öl, A.S. Ale, a banquet), primarily the funeral dinner, and later, especially in the north of England, a thin, light, sweet cake, spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg, served to the poor at such feasts. The funeral meal was called the Arvel-dinner. The custom seems to have been to hold on such occasions an informal inquest, when the corpse was publicly exposed, to exculpate the heir and those entitled to the property of the dead from all accusations of foul play.
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