St Bees Man
St Bees Man
The discovery in 1981 of the almost perfectly preserved body of a medieval knight, now known as ” St Bees Man”, was one of the most extraordinary archaeological burial finds in Britain in the late 20th century.
The discovery was made in a ruined chancel aisle of St Bees Priory by archaeologists from Leicester University during a dig organised by St Bees residents and historians John & Mary Todd.
The dig was searching for evidence of a pre-Norman church. What they found were many monastic and secular burials, and a large stone vault. The vault was carefully excavated and revealed a skeleton of a woman and large lead coffin (see left).
The archeologists expected a skeleton in the coffin, but it revealed a body wrapped in a shroud. It seemed to have been soaked in a resinous material and it was tied neatly with cord like a parcel. No medieval body had been found like this in modern times! When the shroud was taken off, those present came face to face with a man who had to have been buried before 1500. A post-mortem showed internal organs in extraordinarily good condition (heart, liver and kidneys) with the pathologist able to have a good idea about what the man had eaten at his last meal
More detailed information on the St Bees Man story can be found on the Saint Bees village website.