Visitors placed a child inside the ancient sarcophagus in order to take a photo, and in doing so, caused a large chunk of the sandstone coffin to break off.
The photo op apparently went wrong and damaged the 800-year-old coffin at the Prittlewell Priory Museum in Southend, England, as reported by Southend Echo.
The culprits involved left the scene and did not report the damage to the museum’s curators. They were later caught on closed circuit television, according to officials. It is unclear at this time if there will be charges filed.
Conservator Claire Reed relayed to the BBC that the ancient stone coffin has been on display since the 1920s at Prittlewell Priory Museum; when originally found it contained the skeleton of what was most likely a senior monk.
Reed will take on the task of fixing the sarcophagus. Staff members relay that they “heard a thump and that was the first indication something had happened.”
Reed has also said of the unfortunate incident: “It’s a very important artifact and historically unique to us as we don’t have much archaeology from the priory.”
Executive councilor for culture for the priory has concluded the damage is repairable. However, in order to “prevent further damage,” the coffin will now have to be “completely enclosed.”
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