Monday, 22 June 2015

Secrets Hidden in 350-year-old Coffin Revealed


When the revered coffin of Bishop Peder Winstrup was opened, the scientists and museologists were in for a surprise. There was a secret hidden in the coffin of this Swedish Bishop. The mortal remains of the Bishop Peder Winstrup were lying quietly in this coffin in the crypt of the magnificent cathedral at Lund in Sweden. Till it was opened, it looked like an enclosure for the revered Bishop. After it was opened, they found that the coffin contained not only the mortal remains of the Bishop but also that of a tiny baby.  The body of the baby was tucked under his feet. Hence, the authorities could not detect the body of the baby within the coffin when it was previously excavated for maintenance.

bishop's coffin

350-year-old Secret in a Bishop’s Coffin  

The coffin bearing the mortal remains of Bishop Winstrup was lying quietly beneath the magnificent Lund Cathedral in Sweden. In the previous excavation, the body was found to be in excellent condition, except for the fading of colours of the clothes worn by it. The church authorities requested the museologists to take a second look at the mummified body of the late Bishop. The study was undertaken to apply modern scientific techniques to preserve the embalmed body and bring to light some other fascinating facts about this revered figure in Sweden. Therefore, the scientists and other staff at the museum subjected the coffin to a CT scan to check its state. When the film was examined, they were in for a pleasant surprise. They could see a dead body of an infant underneath the feet of the bishop. This was not all expected.

secret in coffin

CT Scan Details

From the analysis of CT scan, the scientists have concluded that it could be that of a premature baby. They suspect that the baby could have been born several months prematurely and illegitimately. According to the Per Karsten, the director of the historical museum at Lund University, the five- to six-month-old baby was deliberately concealed under the feet of the Bishop at the time of his burial.  Suspecting some connection between the child and the Bishop, the authorities are planning to conduct the DNA tests to find any linkage between them. There was another surprise in store for the scientists from the University of Lund museum. The scan revealed that the body of the pontiff was not embalmed in the literal sense. In all likelihood, the body was naturally dried out keeping intact all the internal organs. It further revealed that the body of the Bishop was wrapped in a mattress made of herbs like juniper and wormwood. The head of the Bishop was supported by a pillow of hops. These wrappings were given to ensure that the body was naturally dried out and the smell from it could be masked.

ct scan

Life of Swedish Priest Peder Wintstrup

The latest excavation was designed to unravel the life of this Bishop and the social conditions that were in existence during his time. Widely, he was believed to have lived in the 17th century AD. According to the church records, Bishop Peder Winstrup was a scholar, collector, scientist and theologian. He is considered as one of the founders of Lund University in Sweden. He was appointed as the Bishop of Lund when the region was transferred from Danish control to Sweden Diocese. He held this post till his death in 1679.

swedish priest

Thuruvananthapuram Lund, Sweden