Grave of Henry VIII's Brother Found

Monday May 20, 2002 8:00 PM


LONDON (AP) - Five hundred years after King Henry VIII's elder brother, Arthur, died of a mysterious ``sweating illness'' at age 15, archaeologists believe they have found his grave - and will now use modern equipment to search it for his remains and the cause of death.


Historians have known for centuries that Arthur was buried somewhere in Worcester Cathedral, southern England, which has a chantry, or chapel, dedicated to the first Prince of Wales from the Tudor clan.


Using radar devices, archaeologists say they have now located Arthur's grave beneath the cathedral's limestone floor.


``No one has really thought much about Arthur until now, but since it's the 500th anniversary of his death, we decided to have a look - and we think we have identified the grave,'' said Christopher Guy, the cathedral's archaeologist.


Guy said radar had revealed a grave inside the chantry, built for the little-known Arthur in 1504, two years after his death.


The grave is partly underneath Arthur's tomb chest - a carved stone chest that acts as a memorial - and probes showed excavations of soil and rubble, indicating the presence of a grave, but not whether there were any human remains inside, he said.


``The next step is to use an endoscope to search the grave,'' said Guy, who will present details of the discovery this week at the Cheltenham Science Festival in southern England. If the body is found, he said, it may ``give some clues to how he died.''


Because it is a royal burial site, cathedral officials need the permission of Queen Elizabeth II to open the grave. Officials say they won't consider approaching the monarch until a body is found.


Born in 1486, Prince Arthur was the first son of King Henry VII and Elizabeth of York.


While still barely a toddler, he was betrothed to the Spanish princess Catherine of Aragon, a move designed to create a political bond between Spain and England and sideline England's old enemy, France.


The couple married in November 1501, when Arthur was 15, and went to live in Ludlow castle in northwest England. But Arthur died just six months later from what was only described as ``sweating sickness'' and was buried at Worcester Cathedral.


Catherine later married his younger brother, King Henry VIII, but he divorced her after she failed to provide him with a male heir, separating the English church from Rome and creating the Church of England.


Historian Julian Litten said one of the main questions about Arthur's illness was whether it was genetic, pointing out that Edward VI, son of King Henry VIII and his third wife Jane Seymour, was also just 15 when he died in 1537.


``What is it that carries off first Arthur and then Edward when they are so young?'' he asked in an interview with the Daily Telegraph newspaper.


``As yet, no one has been able to come up with an answer. But the death of Edward meant that the Tudor dynasty was terribly short-lived.''


A historical group, the Worcester Prince Arthur Committee, which recently staged a re-enactment of Arthur's funeral, speculates that because Arthur wasn't a strong character, unlike his younger brother, there may have been attempts to get him out of the way so Henry could rule.


Guy, the archaeologist, questions why a sickly person like Arthur was sent to remote Ludlow, far from the physicians of London.


But most historians, including Litten, dismiss talk of foul play. Far from being banished to the provinces, Arthur was actually on business in Ludlow, working as an ambassador for his father, Litten said.


Guardian Unlimited Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002


Major dig to reveal more Roman secrets


May 20 2002

By Rachel Newton Daily Post Staff


ARCHAEOLOGISTS last night revealed they are to undertake the biggest ever excavation in Chester, which could uncover significant new evidence of the city's Roman past.


Now open fields, the site at Heronbridge was once a large Roman civilian settlement straddling the road which ran south from the Deva Fortress towards Whitchurch.


Initial excavations in the early 1900s revealed a Roman shrine or temple and several stone buildings but there has been little activity on the site since.

Now, Chester Archaeological Society is planning a month-long dig at the site which stands on the west bank of the River Dee, just south of the city centre.

Vice chairman David Mason, who will manage the dig, said: "The sections explored so far have revealed long narrow buildings which were probably shops or houses positioned end on to the main road.


"There are probably similar buildings on the other side of the road which hasn't been excavated yet.


"The main feature of the land as it is now is a large eroded bank which at one time was accompanied by a sizeable ditch. This could have been a defensive enclosure.


"It is also possible that the site, positioned as it is on the banks of the Dee, once featured a river crossing. The name Heronbridge points to this.


"We are carrying out the dig in an area not excavated before so it is difficult to predict what might be found.


"However, it is bound to be new information which will help us to understand the early phases of Chester's historical development."


Dr Mason added that Heronbridge was also important for the early post-Roman period.


In the 1930s an excavation of an area of grassy mound revealed a cemetery with 20 male skeletons lying above the Roman ruins.


The remains have not been dated but each of the skulls were split at the top, suggesting battle injuries which some say points to the Battle of Chester won by King Aethelfrith of Northumbria in 616AD.


Another theory is that it was an enclosure constructed by a band of Norse-Irish settlers who established themselves near Chester circa 905.


The excavation, which takes place from July to August, is being funded by the archaeological society and several city businesses, and more sponsors are being sought.


Dr Mason added: "Any excavation is a costly business, not least because of all the work that has to be done after the digging has finishing in studying, identifying and conserving the artefacts and producing reports."


Anyone interested in supporting the project can contact David Mason on 01978 760834...SUPL:



Tomb may yield the sons of Pharaoh

Archaeologists hope skulls are linked to Ramses II

Tim Radford, science editor

Monday May 20, 2002

The Guardian


Archaeologists are on the brink of identifying at least one of three human skulls and a complete skeleton found in a 3,200-year-old tomb in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.


They suspect that they have the remains of four sons of Ramses II, the pharaoh traditionally identified with the biblical story of Moses, and also the mighty ruler celebrated by the poet Shelley as Ozymandias. One skull bears evidence of a lethal head wound. Kent Weeks, the US archaeologist who has spent 20 years mapping the tombs of ancient Thebes, believes that the skull may have belonged to Ramses, son of Ramses II, and chief military spokesman for the greatest of the pharaohs.


The tomb is one of the most astonishing stories in Egyptology - it had been considered a "dirty, unimportant hole in the ground" until the revelation in 1995 that it was a significant historical site.


Ramses has been identified by generations of historians as the pharaoh who enslaved the people of Israel. Pharaoh released Moses and the Israelites after 10 terrible plagues they believed were sent by God. According to the Book of Exodus, in the 10th plague God took the lives of all the first-born sons of Egypt.

"We have thought all along that these four skulls and skeletons belonged to the sons of Ramses II. And it is possible that this one in fact can be more specifically identified as a son who was killed on a field of battle. We know he was killed by a blow to the skull. It seems logical to assume he was killed on a field of battle because of the nature of the wound," Professor Weeks said.


The four bodies were found in a pit near the entrance to a tomb in the Valley of the Kings now famous as KV5. The tomb itself had been mapped by French scientists in 1799, and visited by a Victorian explorer in 1835, but was believed to be tiny and without interest. In 1995, Prof Weeks announced that it had more than 60 chambers - all choked with rubble from flash floods - and contained a number of hieroglyphic references to the sons of Ramses II. At the latest count, the tomb has more than 110 chambers.


"We have found an additional doorway leading in to additional corridors, so all bets are off as to how many there are going to be," he said.


In London on Saturday, he outlined the riddle of Ramses to a Bloomsbury Academy summer school in Egyptology. He has already worked with radiologists, orthodontists and pathologists to examine the skull shapes of mummies in the hall of pharaohs in the Egyptian museum. The next step is to compare the skulls of the four mysterious denizens of KV5 with x-rays of the mummies of Ramses II, his father Seti I and Merenptah, the 13th son and heir to Ramses II, all preserved in Cairo. DNA sampling has been ruled out. But scientists and archaeologists believe that skull comparisons could establish at least a statistical likelihood of a genetic link.


"I think what happened was that shortly after the tomb was closed, tomb robbers broke in, went to the back of the tomb where the burial chambers lay, removed the mummies that were buried there and carried them out to the front part of the tomb where the light was better," said Prof Weeks. "They could then rip open the mummies and take whatever amulets and jewellery they found. They left the bodies behind. Over the next 3,000 years floods came in, carrying vast quantities of debris, and the bodies were washed in to this pit, and other parts were washed back into the tomb. Indeed, as we dig further inside the tomb, we are finding human remains that could very well be parts of these same bodies."


The tomb has already yielded the names of two sons of the great pharaoh: his first born, Amon-her-khepeshef and Ramses the military leader.


History file

Ramses II reigned from1279 BC to 1212 BC

The pharaoh in the Exodus account of Moses and the Israelites is not named, and there is no Egyptian account of any such event

Ramses had another name: User-maat-re, or Ozymandias rendered in ancient Greek - Shelley's "king of kings"

The website of the tomb dig in the Valley of the Kings, www.kv5.com, gets 18m hits a year



Book Reveals First Picture of 4th Century AD Eunuch Found in Town



The cosmopolitan and exotic nature of Roman Catterick, Yorkshire, which grew from a military fort in AD 80 to a bustling 4th century town where a castrated priest, dressed in women's clothes and jewellery, worshipped the eastern goddess Cybele, is described in a two-volume monograph launched today (21 May 2002).


Cataractonium: A Roman Town and its Hinterland, is edited by Dr Pete Wilson, Senior Archaeologist at English Heritage which funded much of the research the work outlines. It is published by the Council for British Archaeology.


There is now almost nothing left of the once lively Roman town to see. Part of it lies under the racecourse to the north west of the present-day village of Catterick. A fifth was destroyed when the A1 dual-carriageway Catterick by-pass, close to the line of the old Roman Dere Street, punched straight through its centre in the late 1950s.


Recent research at the ancient site began with a rescue excavation in 1958, practically under the shovels of bulldozers clearing a path for the new road. Excavations and surveys continued until 1997. Now the full story of the most thorough investigation into a small town in Roman Britain ever undertaken can be told.


The most intriguing discovery, revealed for the first time, is that of the skeleton of a 4th century young man buried in grave at Bainesse, a farm near Catterick and once an outlying settlement of the Roman town. He wore a jet necklace, a jet bracelet, a shale armlet and a bronze expanding anklet and had two stones placed in his mouth.


The choice of jet for the man's jewellery is significant, as jet was

regarded in the ancient world as having magical powers. There is a possible link between the rise in popularity of jet and the increasing interest in eastern mystery religions at the time.


Dr Wilson, a member of the excavating team from what is now English

Heritage's Centre for Archaeology, which undertook later phases of the excavations, said: "He is the only man wearing this array of jewellery who has ever been found from a late Roman cemetery in Britain. In life he would have been regarded as a transvestite and was probably a gallus, one of the followers of the goddess Cybele who castrated themselves in her honour. The find demonstrates how cosmopolitan the north of England was"


Cybele, a goddess imported from the east in the 3rd century BC, had long been a Roman state deity and was worshipped in noisy, public festivals. Her would-be priests, or galli, castrated themselves on a 'Day of Blood' in April, following the example of Cybele's lover Atys, who had made himself a eunuch in her service out of remorse for his infidelity. In the castration ceremony the galli used special ornamented clamps, one of which was found in the Thames by London Bridge and is now in the British Museum. Thereafter Cybele's priests wore jewellery, highly coloured female robes and turbans or tiaras and had female hair-styles. Inscriptions and statues show that the cult was well established in the north of England- there is an altar dedicated to Cybele at Corbridge on Hadrian's Wall. A pottery dramatic mask found at Catterick could have been used for festivities in Cybele's honour.


The original fort at Cataractonium was built beside Dere Street, the route for the legions striking north in the decades after their invasion of England in AD 43. A mansio, a staging post or inn used by travellers on official government business, was established and by the second century had grown very grand with painted plaster (two panels of these are in the Yorkshire Museum in York). The new town grew from this military centre, incorporating shops, trades such as leather-working and smithing, elaborate baths, rebuilt several times, and attracted an influx of foreigners who left behind their continental style brooches. The inhabitants were as security-conscious as any modern town-dwellers, judging by the number of tumbler and lever locks they used. There were plenty of beautiful objects to lose, including a statuette of the smith god Vulcan and an exquisitely enamelled flask which must once have contained costly perfume but seems to have ended up as a glue-pot.


Dr Wilson, who has completed his own tour de force by pulling together the results of 40 years of excavations and research said: "In the 1950s only three months' notice had to be given (though in this case there was longer) before a new road could sweep away priceless archaeological remains. Current legislation allows for these to be dealt with in a much more sensitive manner. However, this portrait of a constantly changing community, poised between military and civilian life before developing its own lively urban character, would never have emerged but for the 20th century road construction which finally destroyed the remains of its buildings."


Photographs recall the frantic efforts made all through the winter of 1958/9 by archaeologists such as E. J. W. Hildyard and the now Professor John Wacher to record and save what they could. In one picture machines cutting the route for the new dual-carriageway loom threateningly over the 4th century bath house walls, then standing ten feet high but soon to be flattened.


Most of the finds from the excavations are held by the Yorkshire Museum. Others can be seen at the Old Fulling Museum, Durham and the Richmondshire Museum, Richmond, Yorkshire.





1. Catterick lies on the River Swale. The name Cataractonium is derived from the Roman word for 'cataract', evidently a feature of the river at the time.


2. As with other major eastern cults of the time, the worship of Cybele, a mother goddess with powers of fertility, appealed to the emotions and offered a chance of salvation. The cults, which included Christianity, gained popularity as the Romans absorbed more and more of the former Greek Empire. The Roman authorities had equivocal views about them, suppressing some from time to time, but adopting officially the worship of Cybele, as they were eventually to embrace Christianity. Ovid describes how the priests of Cybele carried the goddess with howls through the streets.




Prehistoric Site at bottom of Solent


An underwater prehistoric site in Hampshire, considered one of the most important in the UK, is to be examined by archaeologists.


Diving equipment will be used to try to find artefacts from the submerged site in the western Solent, near Hurst Castle.


English Heritage recently became responsible for ancient monuments around the coastline and chose the Solent site as the first maritime location it explored.

The Solent area is known to be an area rich in prehistoric remains - artefacts found indicate that settlements existed 8,500 years ago.


The project to widen maritime exploration will also involve the use of amateur and sports divers to help out.


David Miles, chief archaeologist for English Heritage, said: "The work that is being done here in the Solent demonstrates that maritime archaeology can teach us just as much as terrestrial archaeology."


English Heritage's underwater projects are being funded with a 500,000 government grant.


The National Heritage Act 2002 made ancient monuments within a 12-mile limit around England's 3,400-mile coastline the responsibility of English Heritage.



From the diary section of today's Times (online version):


"LENNOX LEWIS has promised to send Mike Tyson into retirement in their Memphis fight this month, so has Tyson got any alternative jobs planned?

Asked which talent he would most like to have in this month's Vanity Fair (an interview in which Tyson also says he expects to be reincarnated as the nonviolent civil rights campaigner, Paul Robeson), Tyson responds: "I would like to be an archaeologist."


Happily, Tony Robinson is keen to recruit him for Time Team. "I'd be more than happy to take on Mike Tyson as a junior pot-washer and coprolite cleaner," he tells me, "provided that he's happy to accept the going rate of 12,500 a year, he realises that he'll need to work with other people of both sexes in a comradely manner, and he understands that the job is not competitive, but that we all work together for the common good.


P.S.," he adds, "I want to be a heavyweight boxer." "