Royal visits the University to find out more about the Search for Alfred the Great

24 Jun 2014
Man in dark suit examining a skeleton laid out on a white table

His Royal Highness, The Duke of Gloucester KG GCVO visited the University of Winchester yesterday (23 June) to hear about the discovery of remains in the Search for Alfred the Great.

Last January the University and Hyde900 made international headlines when they announced the discovery of a fragment of pelvic bone, thought to belong to King Alfred the Great or his son, King Edward the Elder. The findings were revealed in a BBC2 documentary, The Search for Alfred the Great.

The final resting place of the Anglo Saxon King had been a mystery. His remains are known to have been moved numerous times over the centuries and it was widely believed his bones were placed in an ‘Unmarked Grave’ at Saint Bartholomew’s Church in Hyde, Winchester.

However after extensive research, archaeologists at the University of Winchester concluded that the remains in the Unmarked Grave were dated from about 1100 to 1500 AD, much later than Alfred’s reign. The University and Hyde900 continued their investigations and unexpectedly found the key evidence in remains from a community excavation on the site of Hyde Abbey that took place in the 1990s.

Interested in this story, His Royal Highness visited the University and toured the Department of Archaeology; met the team who exhumed the Unmarked Grave in Winchester and members of Hyde900 – the community-based cultural group who initiated the search; and viewed the remains discovered.

Accompanied by the University’s Chancellor and Lord-Lieutenant of Hampshire, Dame Mary Fagan DCVO JP, HRH was greeted by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester, Professor Joy Carter DL and Chairman of the Board of Governors, Richard Wilkinson CVO.

HRH heard from Dr Nick Thorpe, Head of the Department of Archaeology, who described the exhumations and findings in the Search for Alfred the Great, and met PhD student David Ashby who carried out the exhumation of the Unmarked Grave with lead archaeologist Dr Katie Tucker, Human Osteoarchaeologist at the University of Winchester.

The Duke of Gloucester was introduced to members of Hyde900 who have been working on the project since 2010 and met Professor Kris Spelman-Miller, Dean of the Faculty of Humanities and Social Science at the University.

“We were delighted to welcome the Duke of Gloucester to the University,” said Professor Joy Carter, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Winchester. “The Search for Alfred the Great is such a fascinating piece of research and it was a pleasure to have this opportunity to showcase the project.”

The University of Winchester, Winchester City Council and Hyde900 are in discussions about undertaking further investigations at the site of Hyde Abbey to find further remains of King Alfred and the Wessex royal family.

HRH The Duke of Gloucester first visited the University of Winchester in May 2012 when he toured the Winchester Business School at the West Downs Centre.


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