Insects and other invertebrate remains from the coffin of a 17th century bishop in Lund Minster, S Sweden

Christoffer Fägerström, Philip Buckland, Geoffrey Lemdahl, Per Karsten, Per Lagerås, Andreas Manhag

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An extraordinarily diverse and well-preserved material, including the remains of 47 insect taxa and 12 taxa of other invertebrates, extracted from the 17th century burial of Bishop Peder Winstrup in Lund Minster, is presented and discussed in terms of the treatment of the body, activities connected with the burial and faunal significance. The invertebrate assemblages include species from gardens, insects feeding on living plants as well as dried or decaying plant matter. Many of the species are regarded as closely associated with humans (synanthropic), and a number of these are associated with outbuildings, such as stables and cellars. The absence of species associated with cadavers (necrophilous taxa) in the studied insect material is significant. The most plausible explanation is that the bishop died, and was buried during the winter, when such species are inactive, and thus precluded from colonising the body. A number of species were recorded which are today rare or very rare in southern Sweden. This is a strong indication that they once were more common and widespread, perhaps due to a greater prevalence of their preferred habitats. Sweden’s earliest fossil bedbug is also amongst the finds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number102299
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science: Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History and Archaeology
  • Forensic Science
  • Ecology

Free keywords

  • Archaeoentomology
  • 17th century burial
  • Insects
  • Beetles
  • Acari (mites)
  • Forensic entomology


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