An 800-year-old historical and iconic coffin has been damaged by a family in an incident which was captured on CCTV at Prittlewell Priory Museum in Southend, Essex.
A 'historically unique' 800-year-old stone coffin has been broken after a child was lifted inside it for a photograph at Prittlewell Priory Museum in Southend, Essex, United Kingdom.
According to a report by Dailymail, those responsible were caught on CCTV but ran off without reporting it as staff of the museum were 'shocked and upset' at the 'unbelievable incident'.
In a statement Ann Holland, executive councillor for culture at Southend-on-Sea Borough Council, said the cost of repairing the coffin would be 'negligible', adding that she felt the coffin needed to be completely enclosed to prevent future damage, and that the affected part of the museum would re-open 'as soon as possible'.
Ms Holland said: 'In the meantime 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.'
While speaking to reporters, conservator Claire Reed, who now has the job of repairing it, said: 'Staff heard a thump and that was the first indication something had happened.
'It was one of those isolated, terrible incidents. It's a very important artefact and historically unique to us as we don't have much archaeology from the priory.'
The sandstone coffin was found in the grounds of the priory in 1921 complete with a skeleton which could have been a senior monk.
Mrs Reed added: 'It is repairable, and that's the good thing. You can put all the risk assessments in place but you really don't expect people to try to get into the artefacts. We will have to completely enclose it in the future.'