Remains of Saxon princess identified in Germany

Thu Jun 17, 2010 11:07am EDT
 
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BERLIN (Reuters Life!) - Archaeologists have hailed as a "glorious moment" the discovery in Germany of the mortal remains of Saxon princess Eadgyth, who married the future Holy Roman Emperor Otto I more than 1,000 years ago.

Following detailed analysis, an international team of over 30 researchers confirmed a tomb found in Magdeburg Cathedral in 2008 belonged to Eadgyth -- a granddaughter of Alfred the Great -- who married Otto, heir to the throne of Saxony, in 929.

"This is a glorious moment for archaeology," Harald Meller, director of archaeology in the state of Saxony-Anhalt, who headed the team to identify Eadgyth, said on Thursday.

The bones of Eadgyth, also known as Edith, are the oldest surviving remains of an English royal burial, according to the University of Bristol. Eadgyth, who became queen when Otto succeeded his father as king in 936, died in 946 aged 36.

The skeletal remains in the lead tomb indicated it belonged to a female aged between 30 and 40 who had often ridden horseback and was well nourished, pointing to royal heritage.

Researchers said analysis of the skeleton's tooth enamel showed it had originally come from southern England.

"The remarkable discovery was that these isotope results matched exactly the historical records of Eadgyth's childhood and adolescence in Wessex," Bristol University said.

The findings showed Eadgyth was 1.57 m (5 ft 2 in) tall. Her remains were exhumed and moved several times before finally being buried in Magdeburg Cathedral in 1510.

The city aims to rebury the remains this autumn. The British royal family will be invited, a spokeswoman for the city said.

(Reporting by Max Chrambach, editing by Paul Casciato)