Family Breaks Museum's 800-Year-Old Coffin

They lifted child into it for a photo
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2017 11:27 AM CDT

And this is why you should always pay attention to those signs in museums asking that you please not touch the exhibits. A family visiting England's Prittlewell Priory Museum recently broke an ancient coffin when they lifted a child over a barrier and into it to take a photo, the Southend Echo reports. The 800-year-old sandstone casket, which once possibly held the body of a monk who lived at the priory, had been found on the grounds in 1921 with a skeleton inside, the BBC reports. It had been on display ever since, until the family's photo op caused it to tumble off its stand and crack, with a piece falling off. They left the area without reporting the incident, which was caught on surveillance video; it's not clear whether they'll be tracked down.

"We would like to remind all visitors that they should observe and respect any barriers and signs in place that are there to protect our important heritage and history," an official said after the Aug. 4 incident, which is only now being reported. Fortunately, per the Guardian, repairs should cost less than $130. The coffin will be fully enclosed when put back on display to prevent a similar incident in the future. "It's a very important artifact and historically unique to us as we don't have much archaeology from the priory," a museum conservator tells the BBC. "You can put all the risk assessments in place, but you really don't expect people to try to get into the artifacts." (This woman thought she was just doing a crossword puzzle when she damaged an $89,000 work of art.)

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