Bones found in Magdenburg Cathedral are those of Saxon Queen Eadgyth. In a fascinating lecture that saw science, archaeology and history working together to create concrete evidence of Queen ‘Edith’s’ legend. I went Indiana Ellie and hitched up to Bristol University to catch the breaking news on camera.
They discovered that Edith had been reburied up to five times, and that each time her bones were wrapped in a new and expensive silk. Professor Harald Meller recreated the event from Edith’s final reburial: from the silk and 169 beetles found in the casket, he suggested that the beetles were attracted to the silk as it reflected the moonlight while Edith lay in an open casket on a warm summer’s night. An oat grain was surmised as the filling for a pillow (sadly porridge-filled pillows are out of vogue nowadays).
It had first been thought after carbon 14 dating that the bones were 200 years older than Edith. Dr Alistair Pike put this down to the amount of seafood in her diet, as this can considerably change the carbon levels in bones. Scientists were able to pinpoint Edith’s whereabouts for the first fourteen years of her life by looking at her teeth (isotope analysis). They matched the science with the history books and saw that at nine or ten, when her mother was divorced from her father, they both went and lived in a nunnery and ate a very stable and non-varied diet.
It really is incredible how far science has come: I sat through the lecture in absolute awe of the archaeologists’ work. Have a look at my video blog of the day and see the lecture for yourself!
You can catch up with other Heritage Key videos shot across the UK such as at the Crypt of St Pancras Church, and talking to Lord and Lady Carnarvon at Highclere Castle about their ancestor’s relationship with Howard Carter. Catch us here or on YouTube. Keep up-to-date with everything by subscribing to our RSS feeds, or by following us on Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Flickr and iTunes.