Gardaí find decapitated head of 800-year-old 'Crusader' stolen from Dublin church

Gardaí find decapitated head of 800-year-old 'Crusader' stolen from Dublin church

GARDAÍ have recovered the head of an 800-year-old mummy that was stolen from the crypt of a Dublin church.

The head of 'The Crusader' was decapitated by tomb raiders before being removed from vaults at St Michan's Church in Arran Quay just over a week ago.

The crypt was also badly damaged and several other mummies, including the 400-year-old remains of a nun, were desecrated in the incident.

The missing head was recovered on Tuesday along with another skull after information came into the possession of investigators.

The National Museum of Ireland is acting in an advisory capacity, Gardaí said.

"An Garda Síochána would like to thank the public for their assistance in the investigation, which remains ongoing," a statement read.

The strikingly tall body of 'The Crusader' is believed to be that of a man who fought in the Crusades – religious wars in the Middle East sanctioned by the Church during the medieval era.

There are five long burial vaults beneath St Michan's Church containing the mummified remains of a number of important Dubliners, including the family of Irish mathematician William Hamilton.

In a statement, the Church of Ireland's Archbishop of Dublin Dr Michael Jackson welcomed the recovery and said that "the emphasis will now be able to turn to consideration of future security and display of the remains in the crypt of St Michan’s".

He added: "Renewed thanks go to all who have shown interest and concern for the mummies. They are a priceless part of the heritage of the city of Dublin and its citizens."

The United Dioceses of Dublin and Glendalough said it was "delighted" that the items had been found and thanked those who secured their safe return.

Founded in 1095, St Michan's is a popular tourist attraction in the Irish capital and its vaults receive just short of 30,000 visitors a year – a vital source of income for the church.

Its crypt, which according to local lore inspired Bram Stoker to write 'Dracula', was previously vandalised back in the mid-1990s.