Tycho Brahe’s Coffin Intact

Press releases 2010

Photo: Jacob C. Ravn, Aarhus University

Tycho Brahe’s tin coffin appears to have been well preserved. This is the statement chief researcher Jen Vellev of Aarhus University was able to make on Monday 15th November at 1.00 pm, following the feeding of a remote camera in the burial crypt in Prague’s Týn Church.

Jens Vellev was able, via a television monitor, to follow the images from the deep underground crypt close at hand. Panoramic images of parts of Tycho Brahe’s coffin, the arched ceiling and large wooden pieces of what is believed to be the lid of Brahe’s wife’s pinewood coffin were relayed to the screen.

“Tycho Brahe’s coffin appears to be even better preserved than we could have hoped for. It could have fallen apart; or a rock could have fallen onto it, but it appears to be completely intact” Jens Vellev told reporters while work continued inside the Týn Church.

On the other hand, Brahe’s wife’s coffin has collapsed, and it is unknown whether it will be possible to recover a few selected parts of her remains.

The opening of the tomb took longer than the research team had hoped it would do. After the large, dark grey granite tombstone was removed at 10.00am on Monday morning, workmen laboured intensively in order to reach the two coffins in the approximately 1.5 metre deep burial crypt. Progress is now being made slowly but surely. The remote camera has given the first direct information on the conditions within the crypt.

Work on the opening of Tycho Brahe’s tomb in the Týn Church is likely to continue throughout the afternoon, and the team still hope to remove the coffin by the end of the day.

This morning’s events were followed by 80 journalists from Denmark, the Czech Republic, the United States, France and Germany amongst other countries, and a high level of attention remains on this major research project, which is now well and truly underway.

By Marie Louise Gammelgaard, Aarhus University.