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800-year-old coffin survives centuries, but doesn’t survive photo op

Published: Thursday, August 24, 2017 @ 12:11 PM
By: Natalie Dreier, Cox Media Group National Content Desk

A coffin that was described as “historically unique” was damaged when someone apparently thought it was a good idea to put their child inside it to take a photograph, the BBC reported.

The stone sarcophagus fell over at Prittlewell Priory Museum in Essex. It was caught on security camera back on Aug. 4.

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The people ran off before they were able to be questioned and without reporting what happened, the BBC reported.

The 800-year-old relic was found on the grounds of the priory in 1921. At the time remains were found, it held a skeleton which was assumed to be that of a monk.

It was already broken into three pieces when the damage happened nearly a month ago. There was a clear plastic barrier in front of the artifact, but there was no top.

Officials said that visitors lifted a child over that barrier and into the coffin itself to snap a photo. 

“You can put all the risk assessments in place but you really don’t expect people to try to get into the artifacts,” Claire Reed, a conservator at the museum, told the BBC.

Reed is now figuring out how to repair the coffin so it can be put back on display.

Ann Holland, executive councilor for culture at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council said the coffin now needs to be completely enclosed to prevent any more damage, the Telegraph reported