Monday, March 3rd, Canute the Holy and his brother Benedict was transported from their resting place in the crypt of Saint Canute’s Cathedral to the Institute of Forensic Medicine at University of Sourthern Denmark. Associate professor, DMSc Jesper Boldsen headed the investigation. The bones were initially examined for various injuries. Many of the bones are lacking, e.g. upper arms, shoulderblades, jaws, teeth, elbow joints and thigh bones. Since Canute was sanctified, his bones have served as relics in the Catholic Church. Those that are left, were wrapped up in non-acidic paper and sent through a CT scanner.
At Dies Medievalis on May 14th, just about two monts later, Jesper Boldsen revealed the preliminary findings.
Regarding the so-called “Canute”, the bones belong to a man around the age of 31. He was a few centimeters taller than average for Medieval times and rather delicately built. His bones showed no traces of having had to perform strenuous labour.
Regarding the so-called “Benedict”, the bones likewise belong to a male, around the age of 21. He was about 4 cm taller than average and he, too, somewhat slender. Neither did his bones show any traces of strenous labour, but still he was more “fit” than “Canute”, most likely due to battle training.
There were pronounced indications of kinship between the two bodies.
“Canute” exhibited changes in facies auricularis, which indicates a light case of tuberculosis. In addition, he had a perimortal sacral fracture, an injury caused by a stab rather than a blow. Together with the intestinal injuries that must have accompanied such a lesion, it is quite certain that he did not survive. The stab was made with a not too sharp weapon, possibly a lance, blunt from passing through his coat of mail.
“Benedict” had a perimortal wound from a blow to the upper left thigh (femur). His ribs are not preserved, and it is not possible to tell if there were injuries to the rib cage. The blow to the thigh was not lethal in itself, but there are no signs of healing, and thus he did not survive. There is an overall probability that the two skeletons do in fact belong to the brothers Canute and Benedict, further sustained by carbon dating pinpointing the bones to some time around the 1100 AD.