The mummy of a Swedish monk that lay in coffin for about 336 years hid a disturbing secret. Beneath the neatly and amazingly preserved mummy was a corpse. It gets even more bizarre because the corpse is that of tiny baby.
For nearly three and half centuries, the mummified remains of Bishop Peder Winstrup lay in his coffin in the crypt of the magnificent cathedral at Lund in Sweden. But the coffin contained a corpse of a little baby, which was never discovered, despite the coffin having been opened on several occasions and would have laid there, had it not been for the scientists who scanned the coffin to study more about the bishop, shared Per Karsten, director of the historical museum at Lund University,
“One of the main discoveries when we conducted the CT scanning was that Mr. Winstrup is not alone in the coffin. Actually, he has a companion, a small child, a five- to six-months-old fetus of a human child, and it has been deliberately concealed under his feet at the bottom of the coffin – so maybe there is a connection.”
The body of the little baby, which scientists think was born several months premature, was neatly tucked, hidden from sight, beneath the feet of the mummified body of Peder Winstrup. The mummy is believed to be one of the best preserved 17th-century bodies in Europe.
The mummy of Bishop Peder Winstrup is still in amazing condition of preservation. What’s interesting is that the body was never embalmed. The body naturally dried out with all its internal organs well in their place. The people who mummified the body had decided to place it on top of a mattress that was stuffed with herbs including juniper and wormwood and a pillow of hops. These must have not just helped mask the offensive odor, but even managed to conceal the corpse of the baby.
Scientists have hypothesized that the baby may have been illegitimate, and hence destined for burial in unsanctified ground. However, sensing an opportunity, someone decided to give the poor kid a decent Christian resting place. Some have even speculated the baby and the bishop could be somehow related, but scientists have reserved their judgment till the results of DNA testing arrive.
What began as a routine exercise to learn more about the mummy of the bishop and the contemporary social conditions has become a full-on investigation about the baby, its history, and possibly its connection with Bishop Peder Winstrup.
[Image Credit | Lund University]