Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
Conference papers

Rescue excavation of a post-medieval lead coffin in Livarot (Calvados): methods for studying and preliminary results

Abstract : In September 2012, in a collaborative scientific effort by the Norman Archaeological Service (DRAC Basse-Normandie) and the CRAHAM (the University of Caen, Normandy), the contents of an anthropomorphic lead coffin were analysed under laboratory conditions. The lead coffin was discovered by chance in May 2012 beneath the sacristy of the church of Saint-Ouen in the comune of Livarot during the course of renovations. Despite the necessary time constraints of this salvage operation, the investigative team was able to excavate and open the coffin, whose anthropomorphic shape is typical from the late medieval period into the modern era, that is, the 15th to 18th centuries. Skeletal remains found in the coffin were well preserved and bore traces of embalming; the skull was finely sawn and soft body tissue was replaced by various substances, such as spices, oils, and ointments, that preserved the body’s shape. The practice of embalming is generally attributed to an elevated social class, probably aristocratic. In particular, this presentation will include an account of the various investigative steps and the methodology followed (video camera endoscopy, opening of the coffin, removal of sediments, data recording, step-by-step study of the embalmed remains, examination of the fabrics and thin cords of the shroud), as well as offer the first bioarchaeological results.
Complete list of metadatas
Contributor : Cécile Chapelain de Seréville-Niel <>
Submitted on : Monday, June 3, 2019 - 11:01:19 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 5, 2019 - 5:38:01 PM


  • HAL Id : hal-02145642, version 1



Eric Broine, Cécile Chapelain de Seréville-Niel, Denis Bougault, Bertrand Fauq. Rescue excavation of a post-medieval lead coffin in Livarot (Calvados): methods for studying and preliminary results. 7th international Colloquium Abbey Museum of the Dunes, Dead Men talking. Interdisciplinary research into archaeological burial context in northwest Europe (10th-16th c.), Oct 2015, Coxyde, Belgium. ⟨hal-02145642⟩



Record views