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Experts believe remains of King of East Anglia could be buried under tennis courts

After the discovery of Richard III under a council car park in Leicester, and the ongoing search for the grave of Henry I in Reading; the latest royal grave to possibly have been discovered is that of St Edmund. It would appear the body of the ninth century King may be buried in a small graveyard under a pair of tennis courts in Bury St Edmunds. Part of the confusion in many pre-Tudor burials was caused by the fact that some monarchs bodies were held in reverence in Abbeys. When King Henry VIII began dissolving the Roman Catholic Abbeys, sometimes alternative arrangements for such bodies had to be made rather promptly.

Edmund ruled the area now known as East Anglia from around 855AD, little is known of his reign from contemporaneous record; most was written some time afterwards. At that time, Christianity was growing in England; however, East Anglia was attacked and ravaged by marauding Vikings, and in 869 a Great Heathen Army descended on the area capturing Edmund. When he refused to renounce his faith, he was murdered. He was later beatified and was the original Patron Saint of England. His body was kept in a shrine at Bury, and the Abbey grew in both wealth and importance. King Cnut visited the shrine and was responsible for rebuilding a stone church on the site. All this changed with the Dissolution.

It is believed that because of the royal significance those involved in the dissolution of the monastery allowed monks to remove the body in a metal casket. There are sadly no records of what happened then to the body, but it is assumed it was buried in a small adjacent graveyard where monks that had passed were buried. It is believed that this cemetery originally adjacent to the Abbey complex is now under a pair of tennis courts. The plan to check out this site has the support of the Cathedral also the local council.

  • UF

    These pursuits are always fascinating. It’s impressive how much care is taken pursuing these leads. No shoddy scientific archaeological work. The finding and removal of Richard III was mesmerizing television. This appears as if it will be a good deal harder. Pray for the Saint’s voice.

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