September 30th, 2016

Last resting place of Simon de Montfort found?

Updated: 2:25 pm, May 20, 2016

AN HISTORIAN has claimed he has discovered the exact location of Simon de Montfort’s remains on the site where Evesham’s Abbey once stood.

Dr David Cox told the Observer there is the possibility the sixth Earl of Leicester’s skeleton could have been reburied in a tomb in the crypt of the Abbey following his death during the Battle of Evesham in 1265.

De Montfort’s body was dismembered by soldiers loyal to King Henry III following the battle which saw his forces defeated by King Henry III’s army.

He had successfully led a rebellion against King Henry III in 1264 and as a result became the de facto ruler of England.

But after a rule of just one year, in which de Montfort was considered to have formed the first parliament to give democratic rights, he was killed and his remains were scattered around different parts of the country.

The monks of Evesham Abbey gathered de Montfort’s remains and at first buried them in the chancel of the Abbey.

But after King Henry III heard of how pilgrims were visiting de Montfort’s burial site, the monarch ordered his remains to be hidden within the Abbey.

Now Dr Cox claims his findings, which he is due to publish in 2018, reveal the location of the remains within the site of the abbey.

“When the abbey church was excavated in the early 19th century a single tomb was found in the crypt, containing part of a skeleton,” Dr Cox said.

“The excavation was filled in, so the bones may still be in situ, but there was no suggestion at the time as to whose remains they were.

“Since then, a close examination of several medieval chronicles has shown that Simon de Montfort was buried twice; first above ground in the chancel of the abbey church, but a short time later in an unspecified hidden place elsewhere in the abbey.

“There is therefore a possibility, which ought not to be overstated at this stage, that the tomb in the crypt was that of Simon de Montfort, and that his bones may still be there.”

“The full evidence is being set out in an article which I hope to publish in an academic journal some time in 2018.

“It will then be for other people to decide whether the evidence is strong enough to justify excavating the tomb and trying to identify the bones.”

Hopes of de Montfort’s remains being found in the crypt build on excavations carried out by the Vale of Evesham Historical Society in 1957.

Chairman of the society, John Kyte, said: “In 1957 a small excavation was carried out by members of the Vale of Evesham Historical Society close to the area of one of the abbey crypts where skeletons showing signs of wounds were discovered.

“The skeletons found then are certainly from the Battle of Evesham because of the injuries found on the skeletons.

“If Simon’s remains were ever found, possibly by DNA, it would really increase tourism to Evesham,” he added.

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