Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We'd Heard of Skeletons in the Closet, but This

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

We'd Heard of Skeletons in the Closet, but This

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Reporter tony.henderson@ncjmedia.co.uk

A LONG-lost cast of the skull of one of the North East's greatest sons has been discovered in a box in a storage cupboard at Cambridge University.

The cast of what is believed to be the top of the head of the Venerable Bede, one of Europe's leading scholars whose works are still in print today, was originally taken when his tomb at Durham Cathedral was opened in 1831.

It was one of three commissioned by Dr James Raine, who also investigated St Cuthbert's tomb in the cathedral in 1827.

Professor Richard Bailey, from Newcastle University, set out in the 1980s to discover the fate of the casts.

He said: "When working on the cult of Bede, I discovered Dr Raine's handwritten note which showed that he had ordered three casts of the skull he had found in Bede's tomb.

"I tracked the subsequent fate of one of them through to the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries but it had disappeared by 1900. Every other trail I tried to follow went cold on me."

Now one of the casts as been discovered by chance by Leicester University's Professor Joanna Story which carrying our research at Cambridge.

"It is a fascinating find," said Prof Bailey, who lives in Ponteland and was formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Anglo-Saxon Civilisation at Newcastle University. Bede, known as the 'Father of English History' lived and worked at the twin monastery of Jarrow-Wearmouth, and died in AD735.

Now, a cast has been taken of the Cambridge find and will go on show at Bede's World in Jarrow from Tuesday.

When Dr Raine excavated the tomb of Bede in Durham Cathedral, he found a partial skeleton and a medieval ring.

The bones had been venerated throughout the Middle Ages as those of Bede.

The medieval tomb was destroyed at the Reformation in 1542 but the bones it contained were later carefully laid out in a new tomb in the Galilee Chapel at the western end of the cathedral, where they remain today.

It is believed Bede's remains were removed from Jarrow in the 11th Century and taken to Durham, where they were placed in a linen bag in the cof-fin of St Cuthbert. …

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