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Why William Shakespeare may have lost his head

By Richard Vernalls

Published 24/03/2016

Grave: William Shakespeare
Grave: William Shakespeare

An underground survey of William Shakespeare's final resting place has led experts to conclude the Bard's grave may be missing his skull.

Using ground-penetrating radar, archaeologists were able to look beneath the surface of what is widely thought to be the playwright's tomb - but discovered "an odd disturbance at the head-end".

Kevin Colls, who led the study at the grave site in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, said the discovery chimed with a century-old story claiming that the skull had been stolen by trophy hunters in 1794. The survey findings feature in a Channel 4 documentary airing on Saturday and coinciding with the 400th anniversary of the Bard's death.

Mr Colls, archaeological project manager at Staffordshire University, said: "We have Shakespeare's burial with an odd disturbance at the head-end, and we have a story that suggests that at some point in history someone's come in and taken the skull of Shakespeare.

"It's very, very convincing to me that his skull isn't at Holy Trinity at all."

A worn tombstone inside the church marks the place where Shakespeare is thought to rest, bearing the inscription: 'Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear, to dig the dust enclosed here.

'Blessed be the man that spares these stones, and cursed be he that moves my bones'.

Following the survey, Mr Colls concluded that evidence of a significant repair at the head-end of the grave may have been needed to correct the sinking floor, which in turn was triggered by an historic disturbance - possibly grave robbers.

Belfast Telegraph

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