Statement from Professor Martin Biddle OBE

Statement from Professor Martin Biddle OBE, Emeritus Professor of Medieval
Archaeology, University of Oxford, Freeman of City of Winchester
“The news that one of the human bones found during the City Museum's excavations at
Hyde Abbey in 1999 dates to the time of King Alfred or his son King Edward the Elder is very
We know that the royal bodies were moved to the newly built abbey church at Hyde in 1110
and were honoured there until the abbey was dissolved and demolished by Henry VIII about
The site has been three times disturbed, once in the late 18th century and twice in the 19th,
and was partly excavated by the City Museum in the 1990s, but it is clear that much remains
to be discovered by further full excavation of the area in front of the high altar where the
royal bodies were laid. This needs to be carried out under forensic conditions in which the
sequence of construction, burial, and disturbance is defined as closely as may still be
possible and every bone is individually recorded for subsequent scientific investigation and
While nothing can be certain, it seems highly probable that major discoveries can be
expected. The excavation itself and the subsequent scientific work will be expensive, but the
possible results and the honour owed to Alfred and his dynasty are ample justification.”