BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: UK: Wales  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
England
N Ireland
Scotland
Wales
Politics
Education
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Friday, 28 June, 2002, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Bones are 'not St David's'
St David's Cathedral
Bones held at St David's Cathedral are not the saint's
The human remains at St David's Cathedral in west Wales are not the bones of Wales's patron saint, specialists have revealed.

For generations, the relics residing in a chest at the 12th Century building were believed by many to be the actual bodily remains of St David, who died 1400 years ago.


It was clear that there was more than one individual in there

Theology lecturer Dr Jonathan Wooding

But radiocarbon dating shows the bones are only around 700 years old and come from three separate people, one of whom may be a woman.

Mediaevalists meeting for the St David - Church, Cult and Nation conference in the University of Wales, Lampeter this week believe the original relics were destroyed during the Reformation over 400 years ago.

Tests to determine the age of the bones were carried out at the same laboratory in Oxford which proved the Turin Shroud was a fake.

The conference on St David is the first to be devoted exclusively to the saint and is discussing all aspects of information relating to him, including the new evidence about his supposed remains.

Dr Jonathan Wooding from Lampeter University's Department of Theology and Religious Studies organised the conference.

Bones generic
The bones were radiocarbon dated

Speaking about the bones, he commented: "There's always been doubt about the relics in that they were discovered in a sort of miraculous way.

"It was clear that there was more than one individual in there.

"The authenticity or not of the relics was used to try and downplay the importance of St David's.

"However, this does put a final nail in the coffin, in the same way as when the Turin Shroud was tested.

"It's one of those moments in history."

Gentle man

Dr Wooding said there had been interest in the bones for many years.

"The current dean is himself an archaeologist," he added.

The first record of St David was not written until 500 years after his death, but it is generally accepted that he was a Celtic monk and eventually archbishop of Wales.

He was reputed to be a gentle man who lived very frugally, eating nothing but bread and herbs and only drinking water.

"The early life of St David shows him to be quite a radical, ascetic figure living a very holy life in the sixth century," said Dr Wooding.

Scholars from as far-a-field as Spain and Ireland travelled to Lampeter to attend the conference.

As well as the bones issue, the delegates looked at the debate over whether St David's was actually an archbishopric in the middle ages and resulting tensions with Canterbury.


Where I Live, South West Wales
See also:

11 May 02 | Wales
04 Jun 02 | England
19 Mar 02 | Wales
15 Apr 01 | Wales
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Wales stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Wales stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes