Permission granted to examine ‘King Alfred’ grave

 

 


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Permission has been granted to see if remains from an unmarked grave are those of King Alfred the Great.

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Scientific tests will begin shortly on the remains at St Bartholomew’s Church, Winchester, after community group Hyde900 saw its application approved.

The group has been granted a licence – known as a faculty – to start examining the remains.

The remains were exhumed in March amid concerns about theft or vandalism, after publicity surrounding the discovery of Richard III’s remains.

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park was in February confirmed as that of the king.

Ryan Lavelle, senior lecturer in medieval history at the University of Winchester, said: “Getting radiocarbon dates should help get a bit more certainty on the matter.

“If the bones turn out to be medieval but from long after the Anglo-Saxon period, that could be interesting enough for understanding the post-Conquest monastic community of Hyde Abbey.

“If any dates show bones from before 1066, they could have been important enough to warrant moving the remains from the former New Minster in the centre of Winchester.

“That still doesn’t mean to say that they are the bones Alfred and his close family, especially as many of those in Winchester’s religious communities were related to the royal family, but of course it would be exciting if, by some long shot, any are.”

In a statement, the Diocese of Winchester said: “The Faculty grants permission to carry out scientific investigations on human remains, recovered from St Bartholomew’s Church earlier this year, to ascertain whether or not they belong to King Alfred.

“This decision has been made independently of the Diocese of Winchester and takes into account the views of a number of statutory consultative bodies, such as the Church Buildings Council.

“Hyde900 will now have the responsibility to manage any scientific investigations, complying fully with any conditions set out by the Chancellor.

“The remains will stay in the care of the Church and the Consistory Court until they are reinterred.”

Alfred the Great died in 899. His remains have been moved several times since he was buried in Winchester’s old minster.

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Hyde900 is a community project in Winchester, set up to celebrate the 900th anniversary of the founding of Hyde Abbey.