Alfred the Great died in 899 and subsequently interred in Winchester Cathedral. He is believed to have been moved outside of the city in 1110, along with his wife Ealhswith, by Benedictine monks to their new minster at Hyde Abbey. When the monastery was dissolved by Henry VIII in 1539, its treasures were destroyed or dispersed, but the bones of Alfred and his family remained. In 1788, convicts built a prison on the site, found the grave, stole lead from the coffin, and scattered the bones. Could this be the last chapter of the greatest Anglo-Saxon king?
After years of research, an unmarked grave in the churchyard of St. Bartholomew’s in Winchester is believed to be the last resting place of Alfred the Great (or at least a piece of him). Before the 12th century, only royals and monks were permitted to be buried at the St. Bartholomew’s. The diocese exhumed the remains, fearing that grave robbers might disturb them. There has been great interest in royal burials since the discovery of Richard III’s body under a Leicester parking lot in 2012.
University of Winchester archaeologists received permission from the diocese to examine the collection of skulls and bones from the churchyard. They hope to sort out the sex and ages of those remains. DNA testing would require finding a living relative of the 9th century king.
- Grave of ‘Alfred the Great’ Winchester church exhumed“, BBC News, Hampshire & Isle of Wight, 2013-03-26
- “Unmarked grave dug up in hunt for England’s King Alfred the Great“, CNN, 2013-03-27
- “Search for a Saxon king: Archaeologists hope to find Alfred the Great in an unmarked grave in Winchester“, MailOnline, 2013-08-09
- “Alfred The Great Remains Found? Researchers Analyze Bones In Search Of Ninth-Century Monarch“, Huffington Post, 2013-08-13