Alfred, possibly not under a car park

1 minute read

So after they found the bones of Richard III under a parking lot, now everybody is apparently going crazy to dig up bones under parking lots, churchyards, unmarked graves, wherever.

Now we hear that churches and institutions that have bones under their parking lots are digging them up to prevent forensic anthropologists from doing it first: ‘Alfred the Great’ bones exhumed from unmarked grave”.

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.

Here, they have a body from an unmarked grave in a cemetery that they believe to be Alfred’s. They’ve dug it up as a prophylactic against digging it up. Or something.

Does England have any parking lots without bodies under them? Can the ghosts of medieval monarchs turn your Lancia into another Christine? Is there any chance that these bones won’t be subjected to forensic study leading to another TV show?

By the way, the most interesting use of genetics here would be to get a whole genome and make an estimate of the proportion of ancestry of common Britons that come from the royal family 1000 years ago…