The body of an English princess found over a thousand years after her death in a German cathedral might sound like fodder for a romance novel but in a laboratory in Bristol, England this month, the story became very real.
In 2008, the body of Queen Eadgyth, granddaughter of Alfred the Great, King of Wessex, who married Otto I, Holy Roman Emperor, in 929, was excavated and brought back to England for testing. Researchers at the University of Bristol’s Department of Archaeology and the Institute of Anthropology at Mainz University wanted to determine that the body found in the tomb which claimed to hold the Saxon princess was in fact hers as it was common in medieval times for bodies to be moved and bones jumbled. In fact, tomb in which Eadyth was found was not the same location where she was originally buried in 946, at the age of 36. After being reburied at least three times, she was finally interned at the Cathedral of Magdeburg in 1510 wrapped in silk in a lead coffin as it is in Magdeburg, Germany where the Saxon princess spent most of her married life.
After two long years, the results are now unequivocally in and Magdeburg princess is indeed the same who travelled from England to marry the Holy Roman Emperor. In the end, it was the royal’s teeth that gave her up; they showed she had grown-up in southern England.
The Cathedral of Magdeburg is one of the oldest Gothic cathedrals in Germany. It began construction in 1209 and took 300 years to complete. It was in the original church which stood in the same location where Eadgyth was first buried but in 1207 the church burned down on Good Friday. Despite being heavily bombed in WWII, the cathedral still holds a vast wealth of art from early medieval to modern and is the principal Evangelical Church in Central Germany.
Cathedral of Magdeburg
Domplatz 1, 39104 Magdeburg, Deutschland – 0391 5432414
View Larger Map