It appears that the remains of King Alfred The Great, or those of his son Edward the Elder, have been found in a forgotten storage box in a museum.
King Alfred, who was born in 849, succeeded to the throne after the deaths of his three elder brothers, and ruled Wessex from 871 until his death in 899. During his reign he successfully defended Wessex from multiple Viking invasions, and became the only king to ever be styled with the epithet “The Great.” Interestingly, he was also the first King of Wessex to present himself as the King of the Anglo-Saxons.
In the initial search for the remains last March, an excavation of unmarked graves at St Bartholomew’s Church was undertaken by the University of Winchester. It was believed that the graves, which contained six sets of remains, would reveal the resting place of King Alfred and other members of his family. It turned out, however, that the remains that were found dated to the 1300s – nearly 400 years after the death of King Alfred.
The researchers then turned their attention to the fruits of an excavation undertaken at the same site in the 1990s. In a box containing what was thought to be mostly animal remains the researchers found fragments of a human pelvis. When these fragments were scientifically dated, they were found to date back to between 895 and 1017 AD. Although no DNA testing has yet taken place, researchers are confident that this bone fragment belongs to either King Alfred himself or his son, Edward the Elder.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Dr Katie Tucker explained “The simplest explanation, given there was no Anglo-Saxon cemetary at Hyde Abbey, is that this bone comes from one of the members of the West Saxon royal family brought to the site.”
Neil Oliver will be presenting a documentary on Tuesday evening called ‘The Search for Alfred the Great.’ The programme will reveal how the scientists and researchers behind the search for Alfred’s remains have pieced together the long trail which has led them to possibly discovering the mysterious resting place of the Wessex king. The documentary will air on BBC Two at 9pm on the 21st January and will be available online soon after the first broadcast.