The remains of Emma of Normandy, who was Queen of England twice in the 11th century, have possibly been found in a mausoleum discovered in Winchester Cathedral. Her great-nephew William the Conqueror invaded England in 1066 and began the Norman rule of England.
The names of eight kings, two bishops and that of Emma of Normandy were found on six mortuary chests in the cathedral, and now scientists from the University of Bristol are assessing the 1,300 human bones found. They believe that some of the remains belong to Queen Emma who died in Winchester in 1052 and who was queen to both King Ethelred and King Canute.
A cathedral spokesman said: “This process involves recording the contents of the chests and determining the number of individuals represented, along with their sex, age at death and physical characteristics. Working in the Lady Chapel at Winchester Cathedral, which became a temporary laboratory, the researchers reassembled over 1,300 human bones, with the aim of restoring the identity of the kings, one queen, and several bishops traditionally thought to be within the chests. The ability to identify the sex, age and physical characteristics of these individuals has resulted in some exciting discoveries, including the remains of a mature female dispersed within several chests. It is not yet certain, but these bodily remains could be those of Queen Emma, daughter of Richard I, Duke of Normandy, the wife of two successive kings of England, Ethelred and Cnut, and the mother of King Edward the Confessor and King Harthacnut.
“She was a powerful political figure in late Saxon England, and her family ties provided William the Conqueror with a measure of justification for his claim to the English throne. These discoveries could place Winchester Cathedral at the birth of our nation and establish it as the first formal royal mausoleum.”