Researchers say they may have found the pelvic bone of King Alfred the Great, the ninth-century monarch celebrated as one of the most important kings in English history, reports Associated Press. If the researchers are correct, the bones have been sitting in storage in a museum for 15 years.
The pelvic bone in question was originally found in 1999 at the site of the high altar at Hyde Abbey, but was not examined at the time. Instead they were filed away in a storage box (along with animal remains) at Winchester’s City Museum.
After finding themselves at a dead end in their search for the bones, Dr. Katie Tucker and her team decided to take another look at the bones discovered at the abbey in 1999. As it turns out, radiocarbon dating performed on a pelvic bone suggested the bones could belong to either Alfred or his son and successor Edward.
The location of King Alfred’s bones was lost to history after they were moved to join family members. They were eventually laid to rest in a special grave the Hyde Abbey, 65 miles south of London. Hyde Abbey later had a prison built over it in the 18th century.
Edward Fennell of Hyde900, the group behind the project, told the Telegraph that the bones and graves were likely to have been found during that 18th-century excavation, but were likely destroyed, which explains why only a pelvic bone has been found. Fennell and Hyde900 are now looking to further the excavation at Hyde Abbey in the hope of finding more bones.
King Alfred the Great is the only Saxon monarch to earn the “Great” superlative. He guided his kingdom to victory over invading Danes and Vikings, solidifying the safety of his people throughout his reign. He also encouraged education among his people. He invited scholars to his courts, translated works himself and inspired young men to become literate.
The discovery is reminscient of the discovery of King Richard III's bones underneath a car park. Richard III lived in the 15th century, six centuries after King Alfred and his son, Edward.