Skeletal remains, consisting of five skulls and other bones, were recovered from a family tomb in St. Bartholomew’s Church in Winchester England, in March of this year. Last week the church granted researches permission to analyze the remains. The goal is find out if these bones belong to Alfred the Great and his family.
Alfred ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, in southern England, from 871 until his death in 899. He is best known for his military victories, which include successfully defending his nation from the Viking conquest. A good reason why he’s the only English monarch given the label ‘the Great.’ This would be like us forgetting where we buried George Washington or Franklin Roosevelt.
After Alfred died, his body was moved several times before being laid to rest at Hyde Abbey, which fell into disrepair in the 16th century. It’s about this time that his body may have ended up in an unmarked grave in St Bartholomew’s Church, which is located on the same site as Hyde Abbey.
A local community group Hyde900 has been leading excavation and research of the tomb, and will carry out the tests on the skeletal remains. Dating the remains will be crucial to narrow down identification, because finding living relatives to compare the DNA to will be difficult. Since the remains are from the 9th century, finding living relatives will be tricky.