Archaeologists might have found bone of England's King Alfred the Great

Fri Jan 17, 2014 11:14am EST
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By Michael Holden

WINCHESTER (Reuters) - A team of archaeologists said on Friday they believed they might have found part of the remains of ninth-century monarch King Alfred the Great, one of the best-known and most important figures from early English history.

Tests have shown that a pelvic bone found in a museum box is likely to have been either that of Alfred - the only English king to have the moniker "Great" - or his son King Edward the Elder.

The bone was found among remains dug up at a medieval abbey in Winchester, southwest England, the capital of Alfred's kingdom.

The remains were initially discovered in an excavation some 15 years ago but were not tested at the time, and were stored in a box at Winchester Museum until archaeologists came upon them after a failed bid to find Alfred elsewhere.

"The bone is likely to be one of them, I wouldn't like to say which one," Kate Tucker, a researcher in human osteology from the University of Winchester told reporters.

The discovery comes less than a year after British archaeologists discovered the missing body of King Richard III, the last English king to die in battle in 1485, under a council parking lot in the central English city of Leicester.

Indeed, it was the worldwide interest in Richard's discovery last February that fuelled the search for Alfred, who ruled the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Wessex, an area which covered much of southern England, from 871 until his death in 899.

Famed for military victories against ferocious Vikings who had invaded much of the north of the country, Alfred was buried at the Anglo-Saxon cathedral in Winchester but his remains and those of other royals were moved in 1100 by monks, ending up at the newly built Hyde Abbey.   Continued...