Archaeologists were able to see the contents of grave without disturbing the burial. Scientists, who have studied the William Shakespeare's grave, came to the conclusion that the skull of the poet may have been stolen.
This discovery lends to the credibility of news that appeared in the British press in 1879 and reported that the tomb riders stole the skull of Shakespeare from his shallow grave in 1794.
The researchers used a ground-penetrating radar (GPR), a geophysical method that uses radar pulses to image the subsurface, and scanned the tomb in the Church of Holy Trinity, Stratford. It was the first archaeological research of Shakespeare's grave.
This method allowed scientists to see the contents of grave without disturbing it.
Archaeologist from Staffordshire University, Kevin Coles, who conducted the research along with geophysicist Erica Utsi, said: "We have a burial of Shakespeare with a disturbed headboard and a story, implying that someone came and took the skull of Shakespeare at one historical moment."
The archeologist also added: "The conclusion that the skull in general is not present in the Holy Trinity Church sounds very earnestly to me."
The Shakespeare's life is still linked to many unsolved mysteries.
The research was dedicated to the 400th anniversary of the William Shakespeare's death .
Burial place of the poet has been the subject of disputes between historians and archaeologists for many years, because this burial place is too small for an adult man.
The tombstone is without name, it is only a chilling epitaph:
"Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare,
To digg the dust encloased heare:
Blese be ye man yt spares thes stones
And curst be he yt moves my bones.
And Modern spelling:
"Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,
To dig the dust enclosed here.
Blessed be the man that spares these stones,
And cursed be he who moves my bones."
A lot of scientists don't ascribe this "curse" on the tombstone to Shakespeare, because it doesn't show high talent.
The main conclusion of the researchers:
1.There are the signs of a thorough repair of the grave's bedhead, and, presumably, the repair was necessary to eliminate the floor subsidence, which caused by previous interferences.
2.That repair adds value to the story, which published by Argosy magazine in 1879, that Shakespeare's skull was stolen from his not deep grave.
3. The study showed that the poet, his wife Anne Hathaway and other relatives were buried not in a large and deep family grave, but in not deep graves under the church floor.
4. The depth of the graves is less than one meter. At the same time his grave was considerably longer than the tombstone, it continues to the west head side.
5. Radar did not find any metal signs in the grave. For example, coffin nails, and it concludes that Shakespeare and his family are not buried in the graves, but simply wrapped in cloth and buried in the ground.
Researchers also went to the church of St. Leonard in Worcestershire where, according to legends, in a sealed vault, Shakespeare's skull was stored.
Criminological and anthropological examination determined that the skull had belonged to a woman who died at the age of 70 plus years.
Kevin Coles: " I'm proud to be the first scientist who has received permission to study the grave of William Shakespeare."
He also added: "By participating in such projects, you never know what you can stumble upon. And of course, there are a lot of contradicting legends and myths about the Bard's grave."
The scientist emphasized: "An amazing team, using the most modern equipment, receiving astonishing results. That's better than I could have hoped for. These results will certainly inflame disputes, scientific debates and conflicting theories. And now, when I think about these findings I have chills running on my back. "
Meanwhile, Patrick Taylor, the Rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity, said that he doesn't believe that researches have enough evidence that the skull was stolen.
He said: "We intend to continue to respect the sanctity of his grave according to the Shakespeare's testament and we will not let to trouble it. We will have to live with a mystery and without knowing exactly what is under the headstone."