Photos: Mysterious Braided Hair Found in Medieval Abbey

Medieval mystery

Braided Hair Relic

(Image credit: Jamie Cameron)

A braided head of hair found buried beneath a medieval abbey in England is thought to belong to an individual who died between 895 and 1123 A.D. The preserved hair, originally found by gravediggers in 1839, has mystified archaeologists.

Now, researchers are conducting tests on the preserved hair to try to figure out who it belonged to, including whether it's a relic from a medieval saint. [Read full story about the braided hair]

Preserved hairdo

Preserved Hair on Display

(Image credit: Jamie Cameron)

The head of human hair on display at Romsey Abbey, near Southampton, in southern England.

Taking samples

Hair Samples

(Image credit: Dr. Georges Kazan)

Archaeologist Jamie Cameroon clips samples for testing from the hair at Romsey Abbey.

Unraveling the mystery

Taking Hair Samples

(Image credit: Dr. Georges Kazan)

The mysteriously preserved head of hair has small pieces of scalp still attached. Archaeologists were able to obtain radiocarbon dates for both the hair itself and the oak "pillow" on which the hair was found.

Beneath the abbey

Romsey Abbey

(Image credit: Charlesdrakew/Wikimedia Commons)

In 1839, gravediggers found the mysteriously preserved head of hair beneath the abbey floor. The head of hair was found inside a wooden chest within a lead casket and lying on a "pillow" of oak wood.

Romsey Abbey is located near the city of Southampton, in the United Kingdom, and dates from the year 907.

Live Science Staff
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