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Bury St Edmunds: Should we launch a fresh search for St Edmund’s body?

13:57 06 February 2013

Saint Edmund provided by Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds.

Saint Edmund provided by Moyse’s Hall Museum in Bury St Edmunds.

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RENEWED interest has been sparked in finding the body of St Edmund following the discovery of Richard III under a car park in Leicester.

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Sarah Friswell, spokeswoman for St Edmundsbury Cathedral and a town guide in Bury St Edmunds, said there were two theories around where the body of the former king of East Anglia could be.

She said: “One is this box of bones at Arundel Castle [in West Sussex] - one little fragment of it maybe Edmund, but I think it’s unlikely - and another theory, and it is only a theory, is the monks knew the abbey [in Bury St Edmunds] was going to be closed down by Henry VIII and probably took the body out of the shrine and buried him where Henry VIII’s henchmen couldn’t get their hands on him.”

Mrs Friswell said she had always been led to believe the monks’ graveyard was underneath the tennis courts in the Abbey Gardens - near to the site where the shrine would have been.

On whether an excavation of the tennis courts should now take place, she said: “I would certainly support that. And the borough put the excavation of the tennis courts as part of their bid [for funding to improve the Abbey Gardens].

“I was very keen for that to happen. They would find some interesting things anyway. Whether they would find the grave of St Edmund I don’t know.”

She added: “I really think the onus would be on the archaeologists. Would Suffolk archaeology [the county’s archaeological service] feel it was something worth pursuing?”

St Edmund was martyred 869AD.

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