‘Queen’s bones’ found in Winchester Cathedral royal chests

Mortuary chests at Winchester CathedralPicture copyright John Criminal / Winchester Cathedral
Picture caption The six chests have been found to carry the stays of no less than 23 people

Bones held in mortuary chests in Winchester Cathedral might embrace these of an early English Queen, researchers have found.

The contents of six chests have been analysed and radiocarbon-dated.

College of Bristol organic anthropologists found they contained the stays of no less than 23 people – a number of greater than initially thought.

One is believed to be that of Queen Emma who was married to kings of England, Ethelred and Cnut.

Picture copyright Winchester Cathedral
Picture caption Queen Emma’s bones are a part of the Kings and Scribes: The Delivery of a Nation exhibition at Winchester Cathedral

Though the chests, initially positioned close to the excessive altar, had inscriptions stating who was purported to be inside them, it was recognized the names bore no relation to the precise contents.

The contents had change into combined when the cathedral was ransacked and the bones had been scattered by Roundhead troopers throughout the English Civil Struggle in 1642.

They had been repacked by locals so it was not recognized whose stays had been changed, or in the event that they had been the identical bones.

Picture copyright Tradition Membership/Getty Pictures
Picture caption Emma married Cnut after the dying of Æthelred

Queen Emma

  • Born in the 980s, the daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy
  • Married two kings – Æthelred the Unready (reigned 1002-1016) and Cnut the Nice (reigned 1017-1035)
  • Had kids together with two kings – King Harthacnut (reigned 1040-1042) and Edward the Confessor (reigned 1042-1066)
  • A key political determine in her personal proper, she gave the dukes of Normandy a hereditary declare to the English throne, resulting in the Norman Conquest in 1066
  • Described in a Latin inscription on a mortuary chest because the “mother and wife of the kings of the English”

Supply: British Library

Picture copyright Winchester Cathedral
Picture caption The six chests initially rested close to Winchester Cathedral’s Excessive Altar

A analysis undertaking started in 2012 and has dated the contents of the chests to late Anglo-Saxon and early Norman intervals.

Greater than 1,300 bones had been reassembled and analysing the intercourse, age and bodily traits led researchers to conclude {that a} mature feminine’s stays could possibly be these of Emma of Normandy. Her bones had been found dispersed in a number of of the chests.

Additional DNA evaluation is being carried out to substantiate the royal id.

It had initially been thought that the stays of between 12 and 15 excessive standing people had been held in the chests, nonetheless, the analysis revealed the partial stays of no less than 23 folks.

Picture copyright Winchester Cathedral
Picture caption Consultants had been capable of create a 3D likeness of one of many boys whose skeleton was found

There was additionally an surprising discover of the skeletons of two boys aged between 10 and 15.

Prof Kate Robson Brown stated they had been “almost certainly of royal blood”.

“We cannot be certain of the identity of each individual yet, but we are certain that this is a very special assemblage of bones,” she stated.

The findings, in addition to the bones of Queen Emma, kind a part of a significant Kings and Scribes: The Birth of a Nation exhibition which opens later this month.

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