5 Famous Skulls From History

  • October 25, 2010
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Joseph Haydn's Skull

Joseph Haydn was the Austrian composer responsible for teaching Ludwig van Beethoven, perhaps better known as Big Van Vader.


File photo.

When Haydn kicked the bucket in 1809, his native Austria was at war with Napolean. With the threat of tiny-man justice looming above them, it wasn't reasonable to give Haydn a proper burial. His remains we laid to rest in a churchyard. Then, they were promptly exhumed by Karl Rosenbaum and Johann Peter, two phrenologists. Though now discredited, phrenology was a popular pseudo-science that attempted to access intellectual capabilities by measuring skull anatomy.


he was a pretty smart guy, he must have had a lot of skull meat!

Eleven years later, Prince Esterhazy made good on a promise to transfer Haydn's remains to Eisenstadt. However, he noticed something was slightly off… namely the absence of one human head. He immediately deduced that Rosenbaum and Peter were responsible, sparking the wackiest journey this side of the Magical Mystery Tour: with a search imminent, Peter gave Rosenbaum the skull, which he then in turn hid in a hay mattress. Then, he had his wife lie on the mattress and claim she was menstruating. This ensured that the police wouldn't approach the mattress. Finally, to fool the prince, Rosenbaum submitted an entirely different skull, presumably because he had extras kicking around his home.


Venetian skulls all be looking like this

When Rosenbaum died he willed the skull to Peter. When Peter died he willed the skull to the Society of the Friends of Music in Vienna. In 1932, a marble tomb was constructed for Haydn. However, it wasn't until 1954 that his original skull was placed in the tomb with his body and Rosenbaum's clever decoy skull. And so it took one man 145 years to be properly buried.


The Skull of Mael Brigte

As a tenth century Pictish nobleman not much of Mael Brigte's life made its way into recorded history. However, the events of his death helped change the course of history, as well as kill a whole bunch of vikings.


This is why jokes about Scandinavians never go further than snow, ABBA or IKEA

Sigurd the Mighty, leader of the Viking conquest of Scotland and presumably a mighty guy, challenged Brigte to a forty-on-forty man battle. Brigte accepted, only to find that he was totally boned; Vikings weren't exactly known for playing by the rules. Sigurd, being mighty, brought eighty men to the battlefield. It's widely accepted that Mael's last words were instructing each of his men to kill at least one man before dying themselves but it's much more likely that they were “Hey, what the f@#$ is this bulls@#$?”


Seriously, why can’t people respect the whole honor of battle thing?

Mael's men were slaughtered and he beheaded. That's logically where the story would come to an end. However, Sigurd was a bit of a boastful dick. To celebrate his harrowing eighty-on-forty victory, he took Mael's skull and strapped Mael's head to his horse's saddle. The man had an odd taste in trophies.

Unfortunately for Sigurd, Mael had terrible buckteeth. The first time he rode with the skull the teeth scratched his leg. The wound became infected and inflamed, leading to Sigurd's death, causing a period of instability within his group of Vikings. The power struggle led to infighting and then to bloodshed that lasted years. We’d like to think that Mael’s lack of 10th century orthodontics led to exactly 40 Viking deaths.

Have some more famed body parts to share with the class? Post a comment below!

Written by NN – Copyrighted © www.weirdworm.com Image Sources

Image sources:

  • - Crystal Skulls: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcT0x6pNVytYzFa0WUhJ9bt85P7QMHCxqIusHFiuF0TRXmIGklg&t=1&usg=__2kYBHAdpPYhtKLJNKafcaoAmxmo= http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ5wiUN4281i9HLw6aOFQXM7l8bhec_UDk8iTI9aj5u_r0vTME&t=1&usg=__bTdRcRo4TJdc-TDmu6cBvi3wqiY=
  • - The Starchild Skull: http://t0.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQgvjeERmEva2Sp2QjjEGP_LtLCsUVjcPZonuSC8FAoBjRcRAk&t=1&usg=__l5_eAUGfuy8LJ_IFewo-H9gKyjs= http://blogs.seattleweekly.com/dailyweekly/ziggy.jpg
  • - Diamond Skull: http://t1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSZAc2dzzucxGKrNmTJ8N_Pj229NK0T9pLbSSvCu9izaN77vaU&t=1&usg=__9I01EVWEgbf43dAYsV0vws6RG9o= http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRf9LB7_DWkv7zGd58SqNcIAUVxtykUsXIux6XKjF9-XLzJqpU&t=1&usg=__QiTR4uQRFAXq_9PCpyDmsQ6WPCM=
  • - Joseph Haydn's Skull: http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQAA8kuMnGmH2OFcLUB0kYEJbGZ5PSfE6NoLs8aI9hmtUbx0ig&t=1&usg=__54JfY1LIr9EQKd-LwTVgh6bR6vA= http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcR7LOgyzxCWP2mUqe0PFtK1vi9xN2nkc4rgKXJ1u1deSGAOVUA&t=1&usg=__0MD4XMXjUx64YNgQFT6_XZghat8= http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcRt57lb3h1SmghVK0uLWs4lO-UfyxVWN28Pl8teregWE73Oy40&t=1&usg=__eFtmKiNoYT6sCMbtCeJqgumSnAk=
  • - The Skull of Mael Brigte: http://t3.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcToGiTIIArZvr2JzYrU_8BXjP6ohLt1hE66ZGJvQcRlmpQNi6s&t=1&usg=__N2SMij_KiSLgM6_Acc12mCi7GXg= http://t2.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQ3Zt8i0HTbmHYJ9n8UJELPf8xGTePChaJR_tkja1Y-dPVKAas&t=1&usg=__bOCw0BZQer6Ehtaf6YAh5dWGcXU=f