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Archaeologists open coffin of Swedish king murdered in 1160

"This was a very special occasion, especially considering the importance of Saint Erik religiously in Sweden," said Uppsala Cathedral Chaplain Lars Astrand.
By Brooks Hays   |   April 24, 2014 at 12:22 PM

UPPSALA, Sweden, April 24 (UPI) -- Archaeologists have pried open the coffin of a Swedish king, believed to have been murdered in 1160. Inside, they found the remains of King Erik IX alongside a gilded copper crown outfitted with semi-precious stones.

Also recovered was a small bag containing the king's collarbone, which appears to have suffered a strike from a sword blade. After his apparent murder, King Erik was made a saint.

"Legend has it the bone damage was a fatal blow from when he was killed on ascension in 1160," Uppsala Cathedral Chaplain Lars Astrand told Swedish news outfit The Local. "Others think he was taken captive and beheaded a week later. Either way, the sword hit his collarbone, and the marking is quite visible."

Scientists from Uppsala University will test the bones using DNA analysis and X-ray imaging to learn more about the king's health and his ancestry. Scientists also hope to get a better sense of King Erik's dietary habits, which will help confirm where he lived -- which in turn, may settle once and for all whether the king hailed from Uppsala or from Sweden's west coast.

"This was a very special occasion, especially considering the importance of Saint Erik religiously in Sweden," Astrand added.

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