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800-Year-Old Mummy Decapitated in Dublin Church

News Archaeology
by Eben Diskin Feb 27, 2019

Grave robbing might sound like a crime from a bygone era, but apparently it’s still alive and well. On Monday, police discovered that the head of a mummified Crusader was stolen from the crypt of a church in Dublin, Ireland. The mummified body of a nun who died 300 years ago, as well as a section of the crypt containing the bodies of William Rowan Hamilton’s family were also badly damaged.

“The Crusader,” St. Michan’s church’s most famous mummified occupant, was 800 years old, and was clearly the main target of the vandals. Reverend David Pierpoint, the vicar of St. Michan’s and archdeacon of Dublin, said, “His legs were pushed up into his torso, his arms were moved to one side and his head has been decapitated. His head is gone.”

The mummy earned the “Crusader” nickname due to the way his dead body was positioned — with arms and legs crossed — which was common for those who took part in the Crusades.


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Until now, it was possible for visitors to view the mummified bodies in open coffins and even shake “The Crusader’s” hand for good luck. But, following the incident, church officials are concerned they may need to close the crypt permanently.

It is clear that the hoodlums came prepared with tools, but the motive for the break-in is still undetermined as authorities claim there is no commercial market for stolen relics. Church officials are eager to restore the Crusader’s head to its rightful place before it disintegrates aboveground, where humidity conditions are not ideal, unlike in the crypt.

This isn’t the first break-in at St. Michan’s. In 1996, three teenagers broke into a different section of the crypt, dragged corpses into the churchyard, and played football with the head of a little girl.

H/T: The New York Times

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