Mysterious skeleton found in lead coffin in Bruges is that of Boudewijn I of Assebroek

© Raakvlak

On June 12, 2023, the archaeologists from Raakvlak made a very special discovery at the site of the former Eekhout Abbey in Bruges. In a medieval burial vault, they came across a lead coffin. This finding marked the beginning of an investigative journey: to whom belonged the skeleton that was found in the coffin? A year later, a group of scientists from various disciplines managed to solve the mystery. 

Siska Van Parys

Our archaeologist Katrien Van de Vijver conducted a physical-anthropological study on the skeleton and determined that it was of a man, between 25 and 40 years old and 174 cm tall. The location of the grave and the lead coffin indicated that he was a powerful and wealthy man, but not an abbot or priest. On the walls of the burial vault, the coat of arms of the lords of Assebroek is depicted, a powerful family with close ties to the Eekhout Abbey. 

The exact identity of the man in the lead coffin remained a mystery, however. But suddenly, all the pieces of the puzzle fell into place. The archaeological, historical, and chemical information points in the direction of one man…