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Remains of Alfred the Great exhumed


Remains believed to belong to Alfred the Great, who died in 899 A.D., have been exhumed from an unmarked grave in a church in Winchester, England.

Alfred, a younger son of a minor king, who grew up to become the first man referred to as “the king of the English”, was famous even in his day not just for his victories over the Danes, but for his interest in scholarship, law-making and good government. Winchester has a towering statue of him, installed in 1899 to mark the 1,000th anniversary of his death.

His body was first buried near Winchester Cathedral, moved at least once there, then moved again to Hyde Abbey in a great procession in 1110. As in Leicester, that church was destroyed in the dissolution of the monasteries, and his remains too were assumed to lie under a modern car park which had previously been the site of a prison. In 1999 there was great excitement when archaeologists found the foundations of abbey buildings, and then human bone – but it proved to be that of an elderly woman who had suffered from painful arthritis.

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Story: Maev Kennedy, The Guardian | Photo: Margin Argles, The Guardian

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