A REWARD has been offered for the return of an ancient ’heart burial’ stone which has gone missing from St Mary’s Church in Linton.

This rare religious item was last seen on Boxing Day and measures about one foot in diameter. It has a single prominent cross carved into the stone, with a smaller ’tailed’ cross in the centre. 

Churchwarden Liz Denbigh said that the village understands that travel writer and television presenter Michael Palin’s Great Grandfather the Rev Edward Palin had a great interest in the Knights Templar crusades, a Catholic military order that was established in 1139.

She explained: "When a man died during a crusade, it was obvious that the body could not be brought back home, but the corpse’s heart was.

"The heart was then buried inside a small coffin, which was marked with ornate stonework and became known as a heart burial stone.

"We are hoping that it’s gone missing as part of ’mischief making’ and that it is now being used as a stone ornament. We are hopping that the publicity the stone has received that it is returned to us shortly."

A member of the village has put up a £250 reward for the safe return of the ancient stone.

• Anyone with information about the stone’s whereabouts is asked to contact West Mercia Police on 101 quoting incident 95S of January 1, 2019.