From Mr Charles Freeman
Sir, - May I respond briefly to letters about the authenticity
of the Turin Shroud (15 and
There are indeed herringbone weaves from the ancient world, but
the Shroud is a three-in-one herringbone, first known in third-
century-AD silk damasks. The only known three-in-one herringbone in
linen is dated to the 14th century.
Attempts to challenge the radiocarbon dating of 1260-1390 have
all failed. No one questions the expertise of the three
laboratories involved. Photos of the internal structure of the
Shroud and a close-up examination of the sample corner by Mechthild
Flury-Lemberg during the 2002 restoration confirmed that the
samples were from the original weave.
The significance of the pollen evidence is disputed. A recent
study, "Problems with Pollen" by Hugh Farey in Newsletter
79 (June 2014) of the British Society for the Turin Shroud,
outlines the problems, notably the close grouping of most of the
(undated) pollen in one small area of the Shroud. This suggests the
placing of the pollen by hand. There is no reason to suggest that
this was earlier than the medieval period (a returning pilgrim from
the Holy Land perhaps?).
The reason that I made no mention of the Image of Edessa is that
this, dated to the late sixth century, was solely of Christ's face,
supposedly transferred on to a cloth offered him when he was still
alive. Numerous depictions confirm this, and so there can be no
connection with the double image of a full-sized dead body of the
Shroud of Turin.
Until there is convincing evidence to suggest otherwise, let us
resist the lure of authenticity, and treasure the Shroud as it is,
a rare survival of a complete medieval linen, and possibly a unique
relic of the birth of European drama.
Oak Farm, Brandeston
Woodbridge, Suffolk IP13 7AX