Museum offers reward for pirate’s head
A museum in Germany has offered a reward of thousands of euros for a nail-pierced skull, thought to be that of legendary pirate Klaus Stoertebeker.
The skull was stolen from the museum earlier this month.
“We are launching an appeal for the head,” said the director of the Hamburg History Museum, Lisa Kosok, without saying precisely how much was on offer.
The cranium, thought to be about 600 years old, was spirited away on January 9 in mysterious circumstances from its exhibition case.
Ms Kosok said the theft could be a “bad joke” or the culprit could be a collector with an interest in pirates.
“There are many possibilities. We are following up on a number of leads,” she said.
The skull, impaled by a large rusty nail, was discovered in 1878 during construction for a warehouse district in an area where pirates used to be beheaded and their heads displayed on spikes as a grisly warning.
The museum had long displayed the skull, which was already missing a jawbone, as belonging to Stoertebeker.
Stoertebeker is believed to have been executed in 1401 with 30 henchmen outside the walls of the Hanseatic League city.
Later forensic analysis determined that the skull may well belong to a man beheaded about 1400, although not necessarily Stoertebeker.
The museum tried in vain in 2004 to produce a definitive link to Stoertebeker with a DNA analysis comparing genetic material from the cranium with that of possible descendants.
Stoertebeker, old German for Tip Up the Mug, earned his name for his fabled carousing.
After a lengthy reign of terror on the North Seas, he was captured off the Helgoland archipelago and taken to Hamburg to be executed.