Many theatergoers have seen performances of William Shakespeare’s Hamelt, where Hamlet holds up a skull, peering into it, during the famous “To be or not to be” soliloquy. Wouldn’t it be something if it were actually Shakespeare’s skull? According to this latest discover, Shakespeare’s skull could be a stage prop somewhere…
In March, the Church of the Holy Trinity in Stratford-Upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England where Shakespeare was baptized and buried, gave a team of archaeologists permission to conduct a nonintrusive radar scan of his grave. The scan revealed many interesting facts, and shattered several myths, about the burial of the most famous writer of all time.
In the place of where Shakespeare’s skull should be, is a brick structure of some kind. In other words, the scan confirms a centuries-old rumor that grave robbers stole Shakespeare’s skull, despite being buried 17 feet under the church floor to prevent that very situation. Moreover, the grave robbers were not deterred by the curse that appears in the epitaph: “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.” In a interview, Kevin Colls, the lead archaeologist, elaborates: “Grave-robbing was a big thing in the 17th and 18th century. People wanted the skull of famous people so they could potentially analyze it and see what made them a genius. It is no surprise to me that Shakespeare’s remains were a target.”
The archaeologists also disproved an urban myth that Shakespeare’s skull was sealed in a crypt at another church in England. The team was able to open the crypt to test the skull. Tests showed that the skull did not belong to Shakespeare, but rather an unknown elderly woman.
The radar scan also revealed that Shakespeare was not buried in a coffin; he was simply wrapped in a shroud. Also he was not buried standing up and he was buried next to his wife, Anne Hathaway. The inscription on Hathaway’s tomb is much longer: “Here lyeth the body of Anne wife of William Shakespeare who departed this life the 6th day of August 1623 being of the age of 67 years. [Translated from the Latin:] Breasts, O mother, milk and life thou didst give. Woe is me — for how great a boon shall I give stones? How much rather would I pray that the good angel should move the stone so that, like Christ’s body, thine image might come forth! But my prayers are unavailing. Come quickly, Christ, that my mother, though shut within this tomb may rise again and reach the stars.”
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For further reading: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/history/12184086/Shakespeares-grave-to-be-radar-scanned-despite-famous-curse.html