Tuesday, February 05, 2013

King Alfred the Great

Now that they have made the discovery of Richard III's bones, archaeologists are keen to dig up King Alfred in Winchester. You will remember that the Saxon Minster where he was buried was replaced by Winchester Cathedral, courtesy of the Normans, and Alfred's body, together with that of his wife and son, was translated to Hyde Abbey, outside the city walls. When Hyde Abbey was destroyed by Henry VIII, the location of the tombs was lost but a Victorian archaeologist dug around where he thought the altar at the Abbey would have been and found some old bones which he thought were Alfred's and they now lie in an unmarked grave in St Bartholomew's churchyard. The main problem, assuming they get permission to disinter them, will be finding a descendent whose DNA can be used as a match.


Anonymous kinglear said...

Surely they just need to find some burnt crumbs.....

7:07 pm  
Blogger Ellee Seymour said...

I loved this story, and I'm pleased so many other people here did too. It was gripping.

5:58 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

They're also going to test all the bones in the mortuary chests in the Cathedral so let any descendents of Canute know...

10:40 am  
Blogger Eurodog said...

I think all this is terribly exciting, WW.

9:15 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thought the story was that they were disturbed by workmen in the 1780s and dispersed. 100 years later a shady individual approached the then parish priest with five skulls and a few other bones, saying that they came from Hyde Abbey and offering them back for a sum. They are the bones supposedly under the unmarked stone in the graveyard.

The idea is to carbon date them and if they are 9th and 10th century that will offer a degree of proof as the monks didn't get to the site until 1108.

I understand that DNA testing is deemed to be unrealistic.

2:37 pm  
Blogger Winchester whisperer said...

Thank you, Anon - you may be right

2:54 pm  

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