In a research conducted by an archaeologist at the University of Bristol, an extremely rare Egyptian coffin was discovered at Torquay Museum.

It is believed that the coffin possibly belonged to the son of a king or a very senior official.

"When I walked into Torquay Museum for the first time I realised that the coffin was something really special. Not only was it of a design of which there is probably only one other example in the UK (in Bristol), but the quality was exceptional. Cut from a single log of cedar wood, it is exquisitely carved, inlaid and painted. For a child to have been given something like that, he must have had very important parents - perhaps even a king and queen," Aidan Dodson, a senior research fellow in Bristol's Department of Archaeology and Anthropology said in a statement.

"The inscription had been re-worked at some point for a new owner - a 2,500 year old mummified boy, anonymous but given the name Psamtek by his current custodians, that came to Torquay Museum with the coffin when in was donated in the 1950s. 'Psamtek' is in fact nearly 1,000 years younger than the coffin itself," he added.

Dodson made the discovery while undertaking a long-term project to catalogue every single Egyptian coffin in English and Welsh provincial museums.

The secrets of the mummified boy were probed by Torbay Hospital's state-of-the-art CT scanner in 2006 in an attempt to determine his age and cause of death. It was discovered that he was three to four years old - around three years younger than previously thought - but there were no obvious signs of the cause of death.

Ever since the it went on show as part of a major redevelopment at Torquay Museum in 2007, "Psamtek," the only human mummy on public display in the country, has captured the imagination of thousands of curious visitors.

But now his own coffin has stolen the limelight, after it was discovered that it is nearly 1,000 years older than the body it contains. Further investigation reveals the coffin may have been made for a junior member of the royalty more than a century before the time of the famous boy king, Tutankhamun.

"It's an extraordinary discovery and means that the coffin is now the most spectacular exhibit in our entire collection. It's extremely rare - even the British Museum doesn't have one quite like it," said Museum curator, Barry Chandler.

Chandler said the museum always thought the coffin and its contents had not gone together and that the original occupant had been taken out so it could be reused.

"We thought perhaps the coffin dated back another 200 years or so to about 700 BC," he said. "But we never realised it had actually been made somewhere between the reign of Ahmose I and the early years of the reign of Thutmose III - the first and fifth rulers of the 18th Dynasty - so somewhere between 1525 and 1470 BCm," he added.

The coffin is covered in linen impregnated with plaster. Predominantly painted white, it has a red-painted face - indicating a male - and eyes that are made from volcanic glass and limestone mounted in bronze.