Hugh Farey, aficionado of linen fibre pyrolysis, has some more scorches for our delectation…


Late addition (July 2019)

Please forgive this postscript, correction, “prescript”,  correction, intrusion, added many years later – based on some 350 and more postings here and elsewhere.

That’s including some 7 years of my hands-on investigation into image-forming techniques, chosen to be credible with simple, indeed crude, medieval (14th century) technology etc etc.

(Oh, and yes, I accept the radiocarbon dating, despite it being restricted to a single non-random corner sample, making all the oh-so-dismissive, oh-so-derogatory statistics-based sniping totally irrelevant – a ranging shot being just that me dears- a single ranging shot, albeit subdivided into three for Arizona, Oxford and Zurich).
Sindonology (i.e. the “science” , read pseudoscience – of the so-called “Shroud ” of Turin) can be simply summed up. It’s a re-branding exercise, one designed to pretend that the prized Turin possession is not just J of A’s “fine linen”, described in the biblical account as used to transport a crucified body from cross to tomb.

Oh no, it goes further, much further, way way beyond the biblical account. How? By making out that it was the SAME linen as that described in the Gospel of John, deployed as final “burial clothes”. Thus the description “Shroud” for the Turin Linen, usually with the addition “burial shroud”. Why the elision of two different linens, deployed for entirely different purposes (transport first, then final interment)? 
Go figure! Key words to consider are: authentic relic v manufactured medieval icon; mystique, peaceful death-repose, unlimited opportunity for proposing new and ever more improbable image-formation mechanisms etc. How much easier it is to attach the label “Holy” to Shroud if seen as final burial clothes, in final at-peace repose – prior to Resurrection- as distinct from a means of temporary swaying side-to-side transport in an improvised makeshift stretcher !
As I say, a rebranding exercise (transport to final burial shroud) and a very smart and subtle one at that . Not for nothing did that angry local Bishop of Troyes suddenly refer to a “sleight of hand” after allegedly accepting it when first displayed. Seems the script was altered, or as some might say, tampered with! It might also explain why there were two Lirey badges, not just one. Entire books could be written on which of the two came first… I think I know which, with its allusion (?) to the Veil of Veronica… yes, there are alternative views (the face above “SUAIRE” a visual link to the face-only display of the Linen as the “Image of Edessa” or as that on the then current “Shroud” per se.


Face shown  (left) on mid- 14th century Machy Mould (recently discovered variant of the Lirey Pilgrim Badge) above the word “SUAIRE” (allegedly meaning “shroud”). Inset image on the right: one version among many of the fabled “Veil of Veronica” image.  I say the two are related, and deliberately so, but this is not the time or place to go into detail.

No, NOT  a resurrectional selfie, but instead a full size version of, wait for it,  the legendary VEIL OF VERONICA , product of inital body contact – no air gaps- between body and fabric, but with one important difference. The Turin image was intended to look more realistic, less artistic.

How? By displaying a negative tone-reversed image implying IMPRINT (unless, that is, you’re a modern day sindonologist, in which case ‘resurrectional proto-photographic selfie” becomes the preferred, nay, vigorously proferred explanation assisted by unrestrained imagination, creation of endless pseudoscience etc etc, with resort to laser beams, corona discharges, nuclear physics, elementary particles, earthquakes etc etc – the list is seemingly endless! 
Welcome to modern day sindonology. 
Personally, I prefer no-nonsense feet-on-the-ground hypothesis-testing science, aided by lashings of, wait for it, plain down-to-earth common sense.

Start of original posting:




Here’s an email I received this morning from Hugh Farey, a now frequent and welcome contributor to this otherwise semi-dormant blog:

Hi Colin,
A couple of days ago I completed a series of photos, at Thibault’s request, to illustrate my observations that even quite badly scorched linen fibres do not discolour all the way through. It’s only a sideline to the Great Scorch Debate, and I would have let it drop, but seeing as withoutallthehype is still going strong, you’re very welcome to it. As posted the photos are quite small, but they enlarge very well, you’ll find, I hope.
As for the Basques, I fear the DNA stuff is a bit beyond me. I still want to know how the Angles/Saxons exerted such linguistic power though!
Best wishes,

Hugh has attached 8 pages of pdf. While I figure out how to insert a link to the SkyDrive/Adobe file, here are the 8 pages.  Here’s an external  link. I’m posting them now  before having looked at them in detail.  Comments welcome. I may or may not attach one or two of my own. (I’m busy right now, trying to suss out what primary sources Stephen Oppenheimer used to debunk the  assumed  5th century Anglo-Saxon blitzkrieg in his “Origin of the British:  A Genetic Detective Story”  – see previous posting.  As far as I can tell, none of them were his own! In fact he seems to have scarcely any published work of his own in the area.)

HF Page1/8 Jan 2013

HF Page 1/8 Jan 2013. Click to enlarge.

HF Page 2 of 8. Jan 2013

HF Page 2 / 8. Jan 2013  Click to enlarge

HF Page 3/8 Jan 2013

HF Page 3/8 Jan 2013.  Click to enlarge

HF Page 4/8 Jan 2013

HF Page 4/8 Jan 201.  Click to enlarge

HF Page 5/8  Jan 2013

HF Page 5/8 Jan 2013.  Click to enlarge

HF Page 6/8  Jan 2013

HF Page 6/8 Jan 2013.  Click to enlarge

HF Page 7/8  Jan 2013

HF Page 7/8 Jan 2013. .Click to enlarge

HF Page 8/8 Jan 2013

HF Page 8/8 Jan 2013. .Click to enlarge

Postscript:  Some random thoughts to conjure with (unrelated to Hugh’s input)

1. If the Shroud image really were on Raymond N.Rogers’  acquired coating of carbohydrates, as distinct from the carbohydrates that are intrinsic to retted flax fibres, then it should be possible to wash the image off the linen with water.  The water should dissolve or disperse any starch or starch fragments, whether polysaccharides, oligosaccharides or monosaccharides.  Try cold water first. If that doesn’t work, try hot water. I predict that the image will NOT wash off – bacause it’s attached to or integral with intrinsic polysaccharides.

2. The TS image can be bleached with diimide, a potent chemical reducing agent. I predict that model scorches will also be bleached by diimide. It would not look good for the scorch hypothesis if that were not the case.

3. If there were a diagnostic test for scorch marks, developed say by forensic scientists, then it would also not look good for the scorch hypothesis if it were to return a negative result for the Shroud image. But I for one am not aware of the existence of any such test. The fact that such a test does not (?) exist is proof positive that scorch chemistry is highly subtle. Is it pure coincidence that the Shroud image is also highly subtle, having  resisted attempts by the entire STURP team to characterize at the molecular level , except as “dehydrated carbohydrate”, (an imprecise description if ever there was, one that in chemical terms ranks as a bit of a cop-out).  Result:  even now, no one can write you a chemical formula for the image chromophore(s). Is it any surprise that there is endless wrangling as to whether the image is on the linen or an acquired coating.  Given this level of ignorance, those who attempt to browbeat me into producing  an instant  “demonstration” of the scorch hypothesis will get nowhere. Apart from the fact that hypotheses by their very nature, while  maybe verifiable, are rarely  demonstrable,  I see no reason why I should feel inadequate on account of the non-existence of a diagnostic test for scorches. If one were to be found, and the Shroud returned a negative result – one that could not be lightly dismissed as the result of age-related degradation –  then I for one would be more than ready to eat humble pie, and then start considering some alternative but less probable hypotheses, even that of  Ray Rogers’.  (But I would immediately bombard the TS custodians with emails, asking to be given a small sample of Shroud image in order to do that simple wash test, assuring them it would be filmed for posterity, the footage being posted to YouTube).

4. There’s  another promising area for probing strengths and weaknesses of the scorch  hypothesis (and although some will not thank me for saying it, the other side of coin too – namely any non-scorch hypothesis). That is the hair of the Man in the Shroud – head hair, moustache, beard, eyebrows and eyelashes. (The reason for italicising the last two of those will be clear shortly).

How on earth can hair be imaged, one may ask? If an image is imprinted onto linen, then why should it not be imprinted onto any hair that gets between the body  and the linen. Like, for example, the eyebrows, to take an easy example.

Look. No eyebrows - they prevented imaging onto linen, so all one sees is a "non-image' area. Should this not be what one would expect to see in non-scorch hypotheses? The moustache  and beard area would be similarly blanked, and at least the central area of head hair with body behind it.

Look. No eyebrows – they prevented imaging onto linen, so all one sees is a ‘non-image’ area. Should this not be what one would expect to see in non-scorch hypotheses? The moustache and beard area would be similarly missing, and arguably some or all of the head hair as well.

Instead of seeing an image of hair, one would surely expect to see a blank patch with no body image. Hair, after all, is not that dissimilar from linen – one is polymeric protein (keratin), the other polymeric carbohydrate.

Well, there’s no problem with the scorch hypothesis, because it was not real hair that was imaged. The template, whether metal or ceramic,  was fashioned to give the appearance of hair.

OK, it’s easy enough to simulate head hair, a beard, moustache and eyebrows where the hairs form a thatch. But what about the eyelashes? There you have a problem – attempting to represent those would be far too fiddly, so a medieval forger would probably n0t have bothered.

Now look at the eyes of the Man in the Shroud – the initial negative (sepia), the light/dark reversed positive (blue) and the 3D enhancement of the latter in ImageJ (green).

eyes 1,2 and 3 cropped

Notice anything: there are eyebrows in those pictures, but no sign of eyelashes (nor of coins either!). Why not? Because the TS was not produced from a real person, but from a cast, heat-resistant template?

Incidentally, there is another way in which hair can assist in discriminating between scorch and non-scorch models (confining comment to scorches formed by direct contact with no air gap).  It’s by focusing on image boundaries, i.e. the ‘edges’.  Image imprinting from a template  should produce sharp boundaries. That’s true for all part of the body, but here’s a crucial detail: it should also be true for the “hair” if that is also a metal or ceramic template. Once we have at our disposal a full archive of photomicrographs, then we should waste no time in looking at the margins of the hair. I predict the margins will be sharp fairly abrupt.  What would be predicted in non-scorch scenarios? That’s not for me to  speculate, but given the tendency of  hair to block imprinting, as suggested earlier, maybe getting singed in the process, the unanswered question is not so much whether one would  see a sharp image of “hair” with a well-defined margin or outline, but whether one would see hair at all!

As for the mechanism by which “real” head hair hanging vertically can or conceivably could be imaged – no doubt the wacky world of Shroudology will provide an answer – all in its own good time.

5.  Speaking of which, the wacky world of Shroudology that is, have you been following two recent postings on Dan Porter’s site? I refer to the TS ‘ image characteristics table’  aka ‘binary decision table’ put out by the oh-so-helpful and informative ‘Shroud Center of  Colorado’, and the controversy it is starting to generate, following some pertinent points raised by Paulette, the science teacher.

That’s a debate in which I do not intend to get involved. Why not? Because it’s not science – it’s agenda-driven pseudo-science that postures as science, and its origins, its self-declared mission (see below)  are plain to see if you start to dig around a bit, as I have just done.

The clue was the letters after the names of the two compilers, one describing himself as a retired engineer, the other a professor of physics.

Siefker and Spicer  KHS, KC cropped

Both used letters after their names I had not seen before ( “KHS”, “KC” ). In fact neither of those is in the United States list of ‘post-nominal’ qualifications, which is not surprising, since as far as I can tell, researching  just KHS so far,  it is an abbreviation for the entry level grade  to the Order of the “Knights of the Holy Sepulcher” (U.S. spelling) and is conferred by the Pope/Vatican/Holy See no less.

Don't be surprised if you bump into one of these at the Shroud of Turin Center, Colorado.

Don’t be surprised if you bump into one of these at the Shroud of Turin Center, Colorado.

Leaving aside the question of whether abbreviations should be used as though universally-recognized honours or qualifications (I happen to think not) the inescapable conclusion is that the authors are not over-anxious to be seen as scrupulously neutral in addressing the scientific issues concerning the Shroud.

To omit the spot from that box I've marked in red means one of two things: you are either PDS or unwilling to face the truth.There is so much much else to take issue with - I've simply highlighted  the most flagrant example of gross inaccuracy.

To omit the spot from that box I’ve marked in red means one of two things: you are either PDS or unwilling to face the truth.
There is so much  else to take issue with – I’ve simply highlighted the most flagrant example of gross inaccuracy.

So while I take issue with many of the points in their summary table, like that bizarre classifying of contact images (e.g. scorches) as lacking  embedded 3D  information – anything further from the truth being hard to imagine – see my banner – I shall not be filing a formal complaint, so to speak. because I don’t wish to tangle with Knights of ancient orders, or with the foreign state (foreign to me, that is, i.e. non UK, non US) that confers those orders.

So what does one have to do to become a KHS?

Here’s a clue, from wiki (don’t you just love that bit about the “passage money”?)

“The Order is now primarily honorific. Its principal mission is to reinforce the practice of Christian life by its members in absolute fidelity to the Popes; to sustain and assist the religious, spiritual, charitable and social works of the Catholic Church in the Holy Land; and to conserve and propagate the faith in the Holy Land and the rights of the Catholic Church there. As it is a papal honor aspirant members must be practicing Catholics of good character, recommended by their local bishop with the support of several members of the Order, and are required to make a generous donation as “passage money” (echoing the ancient practice of crusaders paying their passage to the Holy Land) as well as an annual financial offering for works undertaken in the Holy Land.”

  • Knight of the Collar
  • Knight /Dame Grand Cross (KGCHS /DGCHS)
  • Knight /Dame Commander with Star(KC*HS / DC*HS)
  • Knight /Dame Commander (KCHS /DCHS)
  • Knight /Dame (KHS /DHS)

The honor of knighthood is conferred by the Holy See and the Secretariat of State, in the Name and by the Authority of the Pope, approves each knighthood. Every Diploma is sealed and signed by both the Vatican Secretary of State and the Cardinal Grand Master of the Order in Rome.”

PS: here’s a list of ‘religious abbreviations’ (abbreviations, note, with no suggestion they should be tacked on the end of names as if  honours for unpaid public service or professional qualifications).

Just as well, since one of them, for Doctor of Sacred Theology is…  wait for it:  STD…   😉

6.  “CB who wants AT ANY PRICE to save his scorch hypothesis (using more and more ad-hoc incredible allegations (snow, …)”.   ( Thibault Heimburger – in his most recent comment to date on this site)

Some may have wondered why “snow” was mentioned there.  Well, it was like this you see.

Some months ago I was addressing the question as to whether scorching could be controlled to leave a mark on the top surface only. While faint obverse side(“underside”)  images have been reported –  though whether real or artefacts of image processing is a moot point – one thing is clear. Any medieval forger would have wanted to avoid heavy obverse-side scorching, since that would make “scorching” as the explanation for the image too obvious. What’s more he would want to avoid any risk  whatsoever of excessive obverse-side scorching, given the cost of linen, especially a herring-bone twill.

Fast forward to my own scorch experiments: I quickly found that obverse side scorching usually occurred when the first imprint was made from a template creating a dark brown image, but on  cooling  with continued  stamping/imprinting to get progressively fainter images, the obverse side scorching quickly ceased. That was using a dry dishcloth as soft underlay. However, there could still be sufficient heat penetrating to the underlay to make it stick to the linen, whilst not scorching the underside. That was avoided by the very simple expedient of using a damp underlay.

But what if one wanted complete peace of mind? That’s when I hit on the idea that there was a common commodity available at certain times of the year that might have replaced my damp dishcloth as underlay – namely snow. I made a mental note – subsequently mislaid – to test snow next time it was available.

Fortunately Hugh Farey too had made a mental note, and in a recent email said that he and his pupils had tried snow as suggested. The result went above and beyond my prediction of zero underside scorching. Using templates below red heat, snow not only prevented underside scorching, but TOPSIDE scorching as well! The template (a metal spatula) had to be red-hot to get a topside scorch.

There is much food for thought here. Who would have thought that snow on the underside would totally prevent topside scorching? Are not linen fibres supposed to be poor conductors of heat? Maybe they are better at conducting heat than commonly assumed, a point I made many months ago when reminding readers of that party trick of boiling water inside a paper bag held over a naked flame.

So even if the hypothesis was ‘out-of-the-box’ it produced a result that might one day have utility in other respects, whether just practical or possibly theoretical too. Such is the nature of the scientific method. Speculation and serendipitous findings go hand in hand. There’s more to science that clipboards and tick boxes.

Yes, science needs its methodical tabulators of data. But if every scientist reacted to unconventional thinking in the way Thibault did above (and earlier) treating “hypothesis” as though a dirty word, I suspect that progress would have been limited, confined mainly to the dotting of ‘i’ s and the crossing of ‘t’ s.

7. Email to Dan Porter containing this hastily-assembled PDF:

For Dan re modelling Shroud negative and 3D image with branding iron

Hello Dan

Here is something (pdf enclosure) that I have run off for your reader, in response to his “As far as I know, no one has been able to satisfactorily explain or duplicate the image. How could a medieval mind conceive and execute a negative three-dimensional image such as the one on the shroud?”

Could you oblige by sending it to him, assuming you have his email address. I’d be interested to hear his response, favourable or otherwise.

Kind regards


8. A scorched-on image formed by pressing a hot template into linen might be termed a ‘thermographic negative’. ‘Thermographic’ should be self-evident, from analogy from photography, except that instead of using light, one is using conducted heat (mainly) to imprint the most prominent features of the template onto linen. (But a word of caution: the analogy must not be pushed too far because the thermal energy is not radiant heat, i.e. infrared, so is not strictly comparable with light photography).

Here comes the interesting part – and source of semantic confusion. When one takes a photograph of the ‘thermographic negative’ with old-fashioned silver-salt photography, the first-formed photographic negative, a half-way house to the final restored positive print, looks more like a conventional photographic positive.What one must not do is claim that the thermographic negative is a kind of  photographic negative. That conclusion is NOT based on the features of the scorched-on image, but on the ‘improvement’ obtained by light photography. In fact the scorched-on image is crucially different from either photographic negatives or positives. In what respect?  It lacks DIRECTIONALITY, in other words the little cues (light and shade etc)  that would tell you the direction of a light source in an ordinary light photograph.

Yes, a scorched-on image – a thermographic negative- lacks directionality. Does that not ring any bells?  Yes, the Shroud image is also peculiar, perhaps unique, in lacking directionality.

Directionality: that’s a term you don’t encounter very often in much of the Shroudie literature, not even in those supposedly comprehensive tables of Shroud characteristics, an example of which was cited earlier. Why is that I wonder?  Is that because directionality, or lack thereof, is the Achilles heel of most if not all imaging theories, especially those that rely on incident radiation of some kind, requiring the qualifying assumption of ‘orthogonal projection’, i.e. a unique path for light rays from object to image, with no real-world light rays straying off in other directions.

The lack of directionality of the Shroud image is perhaps the best evidence that it is NOT a photographic negative, as so often claimed on faulty analogy, but a THERMOGRAPHIC NEGATIVE, with the qualification  that is  requires direct atom-to-atom contact, no air gap, no electromagnetic radiation.

Caveat: there is still room for some directionality in the thermographic imaging process – that which relates to the contours that cause contact angles with linen to range between o degrees (square on) and 90 degrees  (tangential). It is that kind of directionality that gives subtlety to a scorch image, to providing cues to the brain’s visual cortex of the 3-dimensional features of the subject that has been imaged, and contributing considerably to the ability of contact scorches to display 3D character in software programs, e.g. ImageJ, that interpret image density as physical relief, i.e. height above a plane. But the end-result of that directionality is NOT providing cues from light and shade, as with light photography, but from curvature in the template. So the image characteristics differ: in a photograph, one side of the nose may be in light, the other in the shade. In a contact thermograph, both sides may seem to be “in the shade” because of oblique contact between side of nose and linen.

TAKE AWAY MESSAGE: the Shroud image matches the predicted properties of a contact thermographic negative, NOT a photographic negative. Processing a thermographic negative to make a positive can produce a pleasing result, e.g. giving faces a serene and luminous character. But that’s because of the lack of directionality in the original image giving that other-worldly look in the positive that so enchanted Secondo Pia and subsequent generations to this day.

Science CAN account for the Shroud’s curious and indeed haunting character. Whether the answer supplied here is the right one or not is a different matter entirely.

Colin Berry  1st Feb 2013



About Colin Berry

Retired science bod, previous research interests: phototherapy of neonatal jaundice, membrane influences on microsomal UDP-glucuronyltransferase, defective bilirubin and xenobiotic conjugation and hepatic excretion, dietary fibre and resistant starch.
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1 Response to Hugh Farey, aficionado of linen fibre pyrolysis, has some more scorches for our delectation…

  1. colinsberry says:

    This is just to flag up the fact that I have added 7 random thoughts/jottings to the end of this post, tacked on after Hugh’s photographs.

    Any folk still in any doubt as to the ability of scorching to reproduce two chief Shroud characteristics (negative, 3D-enhancible) may be interested in a pdf (second of two links) that I have just emailed to Dan Porter for forwarding on to a sceptical chemist reader.

    Link to my pdf (Point 7 in the add-ons):

    Click to access for-dan-re-modelling-shroud-negative-and-3d-image-with-branding-iron.pdf

    PS. Have just added an 8th point, addressing the crucial lack of directionality of the Shroud image.

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