Shroudie-alert: Day 5 Time to go for broke (before Hugh Farey nips in ahead of me)


17:00:  This might be a good time to pause and reflect, to step back and view the larger picture. There are still many uncertainties about what the Lirey Badge designer was looking at when he started work, how he chose to interpret  certain features, notably the midriff feature in the small of the back,  if given no strong guidance, or  (more probably) how he might have been told to represent features in order to stay “on message”. But here in a nutshell is a scenario that explains how a medieval artefact came to “catch on” so spectacularly, and why it continues to intrigue to this day.

The Mark 1  Shroud was a scorch on linen, depicting  a man, probably a Templar knight like Jacques de Molay or Geoffroi de Charney  who had been roasted over smoke-free slow-burning  charcoal in 1314, with a chain to secure him to the stake. That chain, or a portion thereof, was incorporated into the image, which was made with one of more hot metal or ceramic templates pressed down into linen with a heat absorbing underlay so as to leave just a superficial scorch on the surface, maybe a more substantial  image if there had been a  shallow overlay as well, e.g. of powdered clay (see my recent tweaking of the scorch technology).

The Lirey Badge shows what Ian Wilson described as a “blood belt” in the small of the back, allegedly from the lance wound in the side. That’s how it appears today, perhaps, that’s how it may have appeared to the Badge maker in 135? if the Mark 1 Shroud had already been ‘enhanced ‘ with blood at that point, to make thermal imprints of chain links look more like blood trails, albeit highly-stylized ones. Regardless of what that Badge maker saw and intended to show, or not show, the “blood belt” looks somewhat improbable and unrealistic if it really were a blood flow from a side wound, given the symmetrical way that it extends beyond the body-image zone on BOTH sides of the torso, with no hint whatsoever of one side being more dominant than the other. There may well have been a repetition of that pattern and symmetry on the frontal side too, as suggested in the Forgeais drawing, but impossible to know in 2013 AD  on  account of corrosion or accidental or deliberate damage. The working hypothesis that the “blood belt” was originally an imprint of a heated  chain, as distinct from a peculiar blood trail, seems at least as probable, if not more so,  than that which assumes a 1st century crucifixion scenario.  The hypothesis I set out here offers an immediate explanation for the scorch-like nature of the image, the radiocarbon dating and much else besides.

15:35:   (Beware, still being edited, with some tricky details still to be addressed)  Below is graphic I’ve put together to try and convey the “problem” that confronted the maker of the Lirey badge when viewing the Mark 1 Shroud, given the task of representing a naked man who needed to look as if he had been crucified.  (That may have not been entirely obvious to a pilgrim viewing the  Mark 1 Shroud given it may have had only a few clues to   ‘authenticating’ blood, say on the palm or the wrist, with maybe a little on the side of the torso (“lance wound”) , most  having been added later by over-zealous monks keen to respond with indecent haste to any doubts expressed by fearless or outspoken sceptics, some of whose DNA this blogger seems to have acquired.

Look at the red additions in my schematic. They are where a sepia-coloured chain motif,  largely indistinguishable from body image, may have appeared, due to imaging of a real chain whose hot links left an imprint on the linen.

proposed course of chain (not blood) motif before 1532 fireClick on image to ENLARGE

It is the spot indicated by the yellow arrow that was the problem, where the chain motif extended beyond the torso – more like a chain,in fact, than a flow of blood. (late addition: it would have been seen as especially embarrassing  if there were the impression of a pseudo “blood stain” on the frontal image, approximating to the site of a biblical spear wound, with the same blood then emerging on the dorsal image, tracking across the small of the back and then exiting on the OPPOSITE SIDE to that of the putative side would. Solution: no need to remove anything, even supposing that was possible – just add blood to get exit from BOTH sides of the dorsal  image. )

That may or may not have already been touched up with The process of “improving” the image with judicious additions of blood may already have been well underway in the  1350s when the badge-maker started his work.  Regardless,the sepia image over-run   had to be disguised or doctored in some fashion to avoid folk asking awkward questions.  So what he did was to  show that coiled structure extending left and right symmetrically.  If it was a point in time when the Shroud was a memento of a Templar knight who had been roasted alive, then that coiled structure was the chain  that secured  the victim to the stake.  If on the other hand the decision had been made to morph the man on the shroud into the crucified Christ, then there would have been careful additions of blood  to the Shroud, but the badge-maker, lacking a colour palette, would have lost no sleep on how to depict those coils. One viewer might have said “Ah yes, a chain, a Templar who was horrifically executed, probably after long torture”. Another might have said – “Ah yes, a stylistic attempt to represent a blood flow, probably from a lance wound. It’s the real burial Shroud of Christ”.  It is this kind of ambiguity that may have allowed the Shroud to gradually acquire acceptance as the latter, once some awkward details had been disguised or eliminated from from the basal sepia image.

There is in fact evidence from Shroud Scope that there was indeed lateral extension on the charred edges  of the missing linen, first of chain motif, which on its own would look like body image, but later overlaid/touched- up  with blood.It’s possible that there was a similar lateral extension on the opposite side that did not survive the fire damage – thus the tiny red question mark.

The frontal side  side shows  a small gathered heap of “chain motif” that may or may not have been there (thus the question mark) but which today is seen as the site of a spear wound. Alternatively, as proposed earlier, it was originally the end of a broken chain, with a few imprints of links, that were subsequently touched up with blood to disguise any original chain motif. Alternatively, in the absence of the latter, blood applied to that site would give the impression of spear wound site that might then help to explain the curious pattern across the back by migration of blood (but what a curious pattern if  that had been the case, as Hugh Farey pointed out yesterday- though he may be appalled at what I have done with his entirely independent line of enquiry).  You see, the modern-day Shroud could have come to us via a circuitous route (metaphorically, perhaps not geographically)  due to cleverly modifying one visual narrative to make another with infinitely-greater crowd-pulling power. that comprised ‘re-invention’ – with some initial touching up to turn sepia chain into red blood,  followed later, perhaps much later (1532) with  deliberate, highly targeted fire damage  and  application of  a lot more more blood  (forearms etc) in strategic places to give an even better fit to the gospel account (though some might think they overdid it with the 372 scourge marks which if real would probably have been sufficient to produce immense stress, fluid loss, dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, clinical shock and final cardiac arrest even before the victim received any nails.

Shroud Mark 2 subsequently passed into the hands of the Savoy family  in exchange for a castle (two castles in one account), so a small amount of careful doctoring yielded huge financial dividends (putting the tiny village of Lirey on the map, and generating a huge income from the sale of mementos – like the Lirey badge. More later. Comments welcome (I must now finish answering matthias below).

14;50: As promised, here is the frontal view of the Lirey badge, with the Arthur Forgeais drawing (1865) for comparison.

lirey-badge-v-forgeais-drawing (3)Is there a side wound? One cannot tell from the badge itself, since the likely area has corroded away (or been deliberately gouged or abraded). The Forgeais drawing shows the same twisted structure on the frontal as the dorsal side. What we don’t know is whether it was there when Forgeais did his drawing, and  was subsequently lost, or whether Forgeais either assumed it had been there originally, and exercised some artistic licence, or had wanted it to be there, so went ahead and represented. Well, one could debate all the possibilities at length, but what seems clear is that the frontal view of the badge that we see today provides no clear unequivocal evidence for a “spear wound” or a blood flow on the front – whether for reasons of natural wear and tear, deliberate damage or artistic self-indulgence. There may be features that with the eye of faith could be seen as additional and corroborating indications of blood, but some might say they are not where one would expect them if the badge designer had wished to convey an immediate and unmistakeable impression of a crucified man. Certainly an opportunity was missed to show an epsilon motif on the forehead, or evidence of blood from a crown of thorns, nor is there obvious evidence of nail wounds and blood from one or other hand. The feet are problematical, but I’ll stop here for now. The working hypothesis remains intact: the man here was not OBVIOUSLY and SELF-EVIDENTLY a victim of crucifixion.

14:30: The following comment has recently appeared from matthias on I’ll cut-and-paste it now, and respond to it point-by-point later. Right now, I need to concentrate on presenting my case.  The  response will appear right here, matthias, under the same time stamp:

February 23, 2013 at 8:48 am | #6

Matthias: “Further, the bulky shoulder blades etc which Colin refers to are NOT armour. They are merely the understandably clumsy portrayal of anatomy on a small piece of metal.”

15:25 : Matthias: I did NOT say it was armour. Please re-read what I wrote. What I said was that, confronted with the tricky problem of how to represent a naked man, the designer puffed-up the image, especially in places to give a “hint” of armour plates that would not go amiss in the context of knightly coats of arms etc. In fact the case for “armour” could have been put more strongly than I have done so – just look at those shoulders, thighs, shins etc.
Matthias: “It’s instructive to analyse the mold that was used to make other badges commemorating the shroud on the 14th century, the words on the mold say ‘Shroud of Christ”….The shroud was displayed as the Shroud of Christ and not an image of some dude being fried on a stake…”

The mould that was found by the jogger in the field near Lirey was not the one for  THE  Shroud as it exists today (see the site) and was probably not used for metal casting, with the engraving appearing to be too shallow, at least on the fragment in the photograph. Irrespective, the Shroud may have started as a tribute to a barbecued Knight that was gradually tweaked to become an image of the crucified Christ , mainly by additions of blood (there being no obvious imaging of body wounds that I can see in Shroud Scope). The process of morphing may or may not have been complete to the satisfaction of most early pilgrims by the time of the approx 1355 display at Lirey.   Additions of blood alone in strategic locations would have effected a major transformation in the way the image was received, especially by extra artistic touches on the Badge (Had the Shroud really been held aloft by clergy at that point? If not, did the Badge serve a a valuable marketing aid, giving it greater apparent ‘veneration’ that it had actually acquired by 1355?)

Matthias: “One more thing on the suggested “chain”. If indeed there was chain imagery on the shroud, and this was ‘removed’ via intentional scorching and the painting of blood, then why the following:”

18:40 With you so far, except to say that “intentional scorching” might cause some confusion between initial imaging pre-1350s and the 1532 fire. “Intentional assault with a red-hot implement”, but more calculated and scientific than that which produced the L-shaped poker holes”. OK, that’s a bit long, but as George Bernard Shaw said, he didn’t have time to write a short note…

Matthias: “What Colin perceives to be a chain on the medal extends well to the right and left of the dorsal image. The scorching and blood on the shroud does not extend far enough to the right or left. There is no evidence on the shroud to the right or left of the arm area of any chain imagery, nor of any potential chain imagery that was disguised / removed”.

You are addressing some of the crucial issues here, matthias, but grinding them up into mince meat. I hardly know where to start.

Matthias: “The thin rivulets of blood on the small of the back are nothing like the thick chain that Colin ‘sees’ on the medal. Again the thick “chains” on medal are just the crude miniature portrayal of the shroud blood.”

Again, where does one start?   What gives you the right to be so categorical about what is or what is not there?   Where do you park your time machine?

A ‘crude miniature portrayal” is hardly a fair description given the wealth of fine detail  (heraldry etc).   We are seeing a  highly biased interpretation with the single sighting of so-called “shroud blood”. There is nothing on the Lirey badge that is unequivocally blood. If the midriff coiled feature  really did represent blood. why is it so symmetrical, going left and right of the torso? Sorry, matthias, but your  interpretation is  is full of preconceptions.  How can you be so certain there is red blood on a B/W lead/tin artefact?  One has to interpret what is there – as might be seen with someone with no previous encounter with Christian or any other theology.   The onus is on you to prove beyond reasonable doubt that a coiled feature looking for all the world like some kind of securing chain is something other than a chain. If you think that structure is blood, then say where there is also blood elsewhere that fits the Biblical narrative.  In short, remove the blinkers, and take in a 360 degree view of the evidence…

13:50: OK, so let’s now address the science. Ah yes, the science, the tedious obsessional  science – you know, that preoccupation with observable facts, observable not only to the initial scientist who spots something he/she considers unusual that may or not  may be significant, but by other scientist invited to view, and, in the fullness of time, even non-scientists on internet sites. Yes, the starting point is crucial, and might not necessarily be the one the scientists would have chosen if the item under study lacks visual or intellectual appeal. But as I say, one starts with the observable facts. I shall now post a close-up of the dorsal body image as it appears on the Lirey Pilgrims badge.

chain-close-up 2

Can we agree that there is something peculiar- a twisted bow-shaped object that runs almost the complete width of the entire photograph, not just the torso.

If anyone thinks that item is a figment of my imagination, then let them say so now.  For the moment, let’s just note the high resolution in the Lirey badge image, given that it shows a herring-bone weave, one of just several features that indicate that the badge was an attempt to portray the Shroud of Lirey, as it existed in the mid-14th century when in the hands of Geoffroi de Charny and his wife. This artefact is a vitally important resource, coinciding with the first recorded display of the Shroud, more correctly the Lirey Shroud, and the fact that it provides one of the few pieces of evidence we have, given the paucity of written records from that era, as to how the linen that we today call the Turin Shroud looked before its partial defiguring by the 1532 Chambery fire.

Now then, what is the twisted bow-shaped object? Can it really represent pooled blood in the small of the back, as claimed by Ian Wilson, arising originally from a spear wound in the side? If so, why is it shown extending left and right of the torso in a highly symmetrical fashion, looking nothing  like a blood flow. And if it really was from a side wound, is there any corroborating evidence for  elsewhere on the Lirey badge. One would have thought that if a herring-bone weave is easily realizable, many centuries later, then surely a  Biblical spear/lance wound issuing blood should have presented no great challenges to the artist’s or metal-smith’s skill.

So let’s be hearing less about delusion and obsession from that other site. It may be a cliche, but there’s an expression about pots and kettles that springs to mind.

I say the mystery object (enigmatic maybe but clearly visible and thus worthy of the closest study)  is not a blood flow but a chain – or maybe, just maybe,  a twisted rope.   The working hypothesis for now is that it is a metal CHAIN, which if heated would leave a thermal imprint (“scorch”) on linen. What  needs to be done now is to attempt to reconcile that view with what we see on the Turin Shroud. That will be my next task.

12:25: I see that Dan Porter still calls it the “Cluny Medal“. What a strangely evasive name for the Lirey Pilgrim’s badge, as I pointed out yesterday. One has every reason to suspect an attempt,  if not to airbrush, at least to surround with fog, since that badge does little or nothing to support Shroud authenticity when you examine it closely.  Oh, and those people who have followed my output as a blogger since 2006  know I have a  track record in attacking conspiracy theories and those who promote them. So kindly stop the negative stereotyping,  indeed the negative spin you have been placing on most of my ideas these last 12 months. Oh, and why do you have a plethora of websites, some highly professional in their design, with titles like ShroudofTurin4Journalists (the latter currently under reconstruction) ? Why would a private individual, even with an all-consuming interest with the Shroud (guilty yer Honour) need to set up a site aimed at journalists in search of soundbites (and decidedly partisan authenticity-promoting ones at that) ?  Come on Dan, tell us who you represent.  You are clearly a front man, but for what, or whom?

12:15:  Must get busy  now with Paint to show the precise location of the unwanted detail, and how the designer/fabricator used it to re-invent the Mark 1 Shroud, initially a thermal imprint of a naked man who had suffered, but not necessarily as a result of crucifixion (the strategically- sited bloodstains having been applied later to give the appearance it had been crucifixion). Use of an ancient art technique known as pyrography provides a  crucial clue as to the actual means by which the Man on the Shroud was dispatched.

11:55: As I’ve hinted at previously, I don’t believe that the 1532 fire was an accident, nor do I  believe the blob of molten silver story (it being highly improbable that a fire in a chapel could ever get hot enough to melt silver). The Shroud had to have been folded in a certain predetermined way – right down the vertical mid-line through the face in fact, such that when a red hot object was applied a certain site,  it obliterated a particular UNWANTED detail of the Shroud image. There was collateral damage, certainly, but that was necessary in the interests of credibility (a single burnt hole would have immediately aroused suspicion). That is why there is no gradation of roasted/non-roasted panels, as Hugh has pointed out. Why? Because the Shroud was never roasted inside an reliquary – the selective scorching was done with the Shroud  on a convenient work surface.

11:45  Hugh’s perceptive comment has just been promoted to a posting on

09:40  I thank Hugh Farey for supplying the text for today’s sermon . That’s the Sermon on the Mound you realize – a veritable Mound of speculation.  (Well, the agenda-pushing Shroudies do it, so why shouldn’t I – with the difference that I have no agenda worth speaking of – except a hearty detestation of junk science – together with  a lively sense of curiosity where unexplained phenomena (and artefacts) are concerned).

Here’s  Hugh over on You Know Where:

In view of Yannick’s emphasis of the uniformity of the shroud, I wonder if he has anything to say about the great fire of 1532, when the shroud, folded into 32 layers, was subjected to the temperature of molten silver in its reliquary. Is it not remarkable that the outside layers suffered no more discolouration from the heat than the inside layers?

This morning I shall produce a man-made Silbury Hill (another of my many interests as ‘sciencebod‘) before Hugh puts down invasive roots on my carefully pre-prepared  plot. (The jocularity may be excruciating, Hugh, but please don’t take offence at this possibly misguided attempt to introduce a light note before the heavy stuff gets under way).

Warning to viewers: my Grand Unifying Hypothesis is not recommended for those of a nervous or iconoclastophobic disposition. Even those best endowed with intestinal fortitude may find difficulty in swallowing whole my  thought of chain chain of thought in one single bolus. So it will be delivered like medicine – a small spoonful at a time. Back later.


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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