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800 Years After Death, Crusader Loses His Head

Thieves wreak havoc in crypt of St. Michan's in Dublin
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 26, 2019 1:21 PM CST
St. Michan’s church in Dublin is pictured in 2012.   (Wikimedia/Andreas F. Borchert)

(Newser) – If you happen to stumble across an 800-year-old mummy head, Irish police are looking for one. The head of a man who fought in the medieval-era Crusades was "severed from his body and taken away" from the crypt of St. Michan's church in Dublin sometime before Monday afternoon, when a tour guide spotted damage to several mummies, Archdeacon David Pierpoint tells the BBC. "To have them desecrated in such a sacrilegious way is so distressing and disturbing. I can't put it in words, I'm quite disgusted," he tells the Irish Times, noting the head of a nun who lived 400 years ago had been rotated 180 degrees. Another mummy was turned on its side, while remains in a coffin in the family crypt of Irish mathematician William Hamilton were "dragged out," Pierpoint says.

The vandals "have destroyed these historic mummies which have been preserved in St Michan's for hundreds of years," Dublin Archbishop Michael Jackson says, per TheJournal.ie. "I would appeal to those responsible to examine their consciences and return the head of The Crusader to its rightful place." Police are checking CCTV footage from the church. It was previously vandalized in 1996, though the perpetrators in that case—teenagers who "seemed to be playing football" with the heads of corpses—were caught, according to Pierpoint. (Sweden's stolen jewels just turned up.)

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