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Last Updated: Monday, 24 November, 2003, 10:18 GMT
King's grave mystery may be unearthed
King Harold II
The historians claim they have found King Harold's tomb
A group of amateur historians are battling to open a tomb which they claim contains the remains of King Harold II.

The historians say if they break open the tomb at Holy Trinity Church in Bosham, West Sussex, they will uncover the mystery surrounding the final resting place of the last Anglo-Saxon king.

The debate over the burial site of Harold, killed by William the Conqueror's army during the Battle of Hastings in 1066, has raged for decades.

Some experts say the most likely burial place is Waltham Abbey, one of Harold's churches, while others claim his grave was hidden by Norman troops to prevent it becoming a shrine.

Before the historians can exhume the remains they have to get permission from the Chichester Diocese Consistory Court.

On Monday they will approach the court to try to get the go-ahead to access the tomb, which was last opened in 1954.

DNA testing

If successful, the group will then call on scientists from University College London to test DNA found in the remains.

It will be compared to the DNA of three men who claim they are distant descendants of the Saxon king.

The end of the Saxon era
Harold and his two brothers died at the Battle of Hastings
Harold was famously killed by an arrow in the eye at the age of 46
He was the last Saxon King and held the crown for nine months
William I was crowed on Christmas Day in 1066 ending the era of Saxon rule
The historians have also cast doubt on the accepted story that Harold was killed by an arrow in the eye.

John Pollock, who is leading the bid to open the tomb at Bosham, said he may have been dismembered with a sword, which is a scene depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry.

Members of the Holy Trinity Church agree Harold is buried there as a coffin thought to contain his remains was found 49 years ago by workmen replacing stones under the church's chancel arch, a resting place of Royalty.

They came across the already exhumed grave of King Canute's daughter, and then unearthed another unmarked grave containing a finely crafted coffin.

A coroner examined the bones, but the tomb was sealed once more and forgotten about.

Now if Mr Pollock is successful the tomb and the mystery will be unearthed once again.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Robert Hall
"Evidence from beneath the church floor suggest he is still here"



SEE ALSO:
'Saxons' march to disprove history
31 Jul 03  |  England
Battle over Hastings tea-shop
05 Nov 98  |  UK News


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