Making hairstory! Strand of 500-year-old hair found inside 16th century book

Researchers at Warsaw’s University Library came across the strand inside a manuscript from the 16th century. BUW/Facebook

Researchers at Warsaw’s University library have made a hair-raising discovery after finding a strand of hair tucked inside a book.

Whilst this would usually be no cause for fanfare, the find was made inside the pages of a manuscript dating from the 16th century.

Announcing their discovery on Facebook, representatives of the university library said: “When working on the BUW collection, we often come across unexpected finds hidden between the pages. Recently, that’s meant a hair – but not just any hair, rather a hair we believe to be from the 16th century.”BUW/Facebook

According to librarians, the hair most likely fell out during the binding process and could, therefore, date from anywhere between 1501 and 1600.

Announcing their discovery on Facebook, representatives of the university library said: “When working on the BUW collection, we often come across unexpected finds hidden between the pages. Recently, that’s meant a hair – but not just any hair, rather a hair we believe to be from the 16th century."

The hair was found inside a copy of Thomasinus de Ferraria’s Sermones Quadragesimales.BUW/Facebook

As things stand, librarians say that the hair will remain in place inside the book, a copy of Thomasinus de Ferraria’s Sermones Quadragesimales.

However, should it fall out, it will then be stored inside a protective envelope and safeguarded.

According to librarians, the hair most likely fell out during the binding process and could, therefore, date from anywhere between 1501 and 1600.BUW/Facebook

Although there are no immediate plans to conduct tests on the hair, archivists have not ruled the option out.

“DNA research on material found inside old prints and manuscripts is not currently conducted on a large scale, but it could certainly provide lots of exciting information in the future,” say the library.

“After all,” they continued, “it should be remembered that it was thanks to a preserved hair found in a book by Nicolas Copernicus that it was possible to identify the remains of the great astronomer in Frombork Cathedral.”

The library said: “DNA research on material found inside old prints and manuscripts is not currently conducted on a large scale, but it could certainly provide lots of exciting information in the future.”Piotr Nowak/PAP

This is not the first time that BUW librarians have chanced upon such treasures.

Previously, decorative ribbons, Valentine’s cards, shopping lists, flowers, leaves and holy pictures have also been discovered snuck inside various tomes and saved for posterity inside the library’s “box of curiosities”.

“If by any chance you too should find a little surprise hidden inside a book while visiting our reading room, don’t hesitate to inform our librarian,” the university said.