Scientific evaluation clear up puzzle in regards to the age and future of valuable silk textiles from AD 1100

Scientific analysis solve puzzle about the age and destiny of precious silk textiles from AD 1100

The cathedral in Odense, Denmark, has for 9 centuries held the relics of the Danish King St. Canute the Holy and his brother Benedikt. They had been each murdered right here in AD 1086, and only a few years later, in AD 1100, King Canute was sanctified.

Scientific analysis solve puzzle about the age and destiny of precious silk textiles from AD 1100
The motif is birds, in all probability peacocks, flanking a stylized tree or cross. It consists of a number of silk
items sewn collectively. One piece, 30×40 cm, covers the entrance of the pillow and a couple of third
of the again, whereas the remainder consists of strips about 5 cm broad, minimize off with out regard to the
sample. The colors are golden and two mild blue shades [Credit score: Nationalmuseet/
The Nationwide Museum of Denmark]

The historical past of the relics has been that of turmoil at instances, various from preliminary worship of the Catholic believers to being walled up and hidden after the protestant reformation in AD 1536. Because the 19th century the brothers’ wood shrines have been on show within the cathedral as heritage objects of nationwide significance.

The shrines of Canute and Benedikt have lengthy been a puzzle in Danish historical past. They each include a number of well-preserved textiles of silk and linen and the query is: How outdated are the textiles and what’s their historic context?

Now, researchers have examined a number of the textiles within the two shrines. They conclude that King Canute’s shrine now not holds the valuable silk textiles positioned in it at his enshrinement. As an alternative it’s seemingly that the textiles from his brother’s shrine in some unspecified time in the future had been moved to King Canute’s shrine.

In accordance with historic sources, each brothers had been coated in useful textiles when enshrined. Sources have described how Canute’s shrine in AD 1536 was lined with lovely and uncommon silk.

Many years later, each shrines had been walled up within the cathedral, positioned vertically in order that the bones and textiles lay in a heap on the backside of every shrine, and hereafter there aren’t any reportings of the valuable textiles in King Canute’s shrine when it was re-examined in AD 1694 and AD 1833.

“It’s tempting to recommend that the king’s valuable textiles have been stolen in some unspecified time in the future after AD 1582, says professor and an skilled in archaeometry,” says Kaare Lund Rasmussen from College of Southern Denmark.

Scientific analysis solve puzzle about the age and destiny of precious silk textiles from AD 1100
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When the 2 shrines had been faraway from their walled up hiding locations and ready to be placed on show in 1874, researchers on the time had been puzzled by the absence of useful textiles in King Canute’s shrine—his brother Benedikt had the extra useful textiles—and so they declared themselves unable to guage during which of the shrines the discovered materials belonged.

They determined to maneuver one of the best textiles from Benedikt’s shrine to King Canute’s shrine, in order that he could possibly be offered with essentially the most lovely, most valuable textiles when on show underneath a glass lid. Professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen and colleagues have carried out chemical evaluation of the textiles in each shrines and conclude that they’re of the identical age, and that their age match with AD 1086, when the 2 brothers had been enshrined.


“Along with historic sources this convinces us that right this moment, King Canute lies in his shrine with what is definitely his brother’s burial textiles, says,” professor Kaare Lund Rasmussen.

Among the many textiles, meant for Benedikt however later positioned with Canute, are a pillow with birds and a textile known as the Eagle Silk. 

“They’re beautiful and exquisite, however King Canute’s textiles will need to have been much more beautiful,” says Kaare Lund Rasmussen.

In accordance with senior researchers on the Danish Nationwide Museum, Ulla Kj?r and Poul Grinder-Hansen, the luxurious silks could have been despatched from South Italy to the shrines in Denmark by King Canute’s widow, Edel, presumably introduced residence by Canute’s half-brother, King Erik I, Ejegod.

On the time of Canute’s canonization and enshrinement, silk weaving in Europe was not but established exterior the boundaries of the Byzantine Empire and silk was each a valuable and much-coveted import article.

The research is revealed within the journal Heritage Science.

Creator: Birgitte Svennevig | Supply: College of Southern Denmark [October 01, 2020]

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