The Shroud of Turin is a linen cloth 4.4m long by 1.1 wide. It has a geometrical pattern of burns and patches caused by a fire in 1532. It bears an image of a naked man who, according to forensic pathologists, has endured a Roman crucifixion. The image, though clearly perceptible to the eye, is revealed in much more clarity when reversed into a black and white negative. It is unique in both art and archaeology.

My Image

My Image

David Rolfe with cameramen David Crute (L) and Mark Lewis (R) filming the Shroud in 2009 for the film "Material Evidence" for the BBC. This is the only time the Turin authorities have allowed the Shroud to be filmed removed from its bomb-proof case.

What do we know?

By the early '80s of the last century new research had brought the Shroud back into public awareness. The clamour for a Carbon 14 test to underpin the evidence favouring the Shroud’s authenticity eventually became overwhelming and the Church's natural resistance to it was eventually eroded. But how could they guarantee that any such test would be conducted fairly and its result authoritative? They might have simply handed it over to the Pontifical Academy of Science which, in part, they did. However, to ensure a total guarantee of objectivity they placed the whole operation under the independent supervision of the British Museum. Surely, this would guarantee the most scrupulous, reliable and objective result whatever it may be? How wrong could they be!

The Museum appointed their then Head of Research, Dr Michael Tite, to carry out the task. Dr Tite is now a professor at the Oxford Research Laboratory for Archaeology and the History of Art.

As reported by Dr Harry Gove in his book
"Relic, Icon or Hoax? Carbon Dating the Turin Shroud" (1996) it has now transpired that Professor Tite's personal independence was compromised. After his appointment, and unknown to the British Museum, he was lined up to succeed Professor Edward Hall of the Oxford Radio Carbon Unit. This succession would be dependent on Tite selecting Oxford as one of the three labs to carry out the test from among the seven labs who were all vying for this prestigious and commercially valuable task. Oxford, also, would have to pronounce an unequivocal result if it was to prove the effectiveness of its own new dating technique. If all this fell into place then the investment Hall had secured to fund the future of the lab would be handed over and Tite's promised tenured professorship also funded.

I set out all the things that went wrong with the test and the announcement of the result in my film
"A Grave Injustice" which you can view below. I have also put these accusations to Professor Tite and to Dr. Hartwig Fischer, the current director of the British Museum, and asked for any comment or denial. So far, a very loud silence and the British Museum did not defend Tite they simply replied that he no longer worked there.

In the absence of any subsequent corroboration of Tite's and (the Late) Hall's verdict that the Shroud was simply a crude medieval forgery…
"someone just got a bit of line, faked it up and flogged it" …(see below) Tite has felt obliged, 30 years on, to disavow it. However, in order to avoid the possibility that the C14 date could be wrong he has come up with an explanation for the cloth's image so unscientific and unsustainable as to be laughable. But you be the judge. The interview is below.

My Image

If you would like to ask Professor Tite for a comment or denial you can email him yourself.

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David Rolfe
Shroud Enigma
Town Hall