Archaeologists Identified the Human Remains of One of England's First Female Saints
Tue, April 20, 2021

Archaeologists Identified the Human Remains of One of England's First Female Saints

 

In 1885, workers discovered the human remains of a young woman while removing plaster from a niche in the Folkestone church’s northern wall. The archaeologists at first had no idea who the young woman was. Initial findings through radiocarbon dating of tooth and bone samples showed that she died in the mid-seventh century, showing no signs of malnutrition.

"Taking away a layer of rubble and broken tiles, a cavity was discovered, and in this [was found] a broken and corroded leaden casket, oval-shaped, about 18 inches [46 centimeters] long and 12 inches [31 cm] broad, the sides being about 10 inches [25 cm] high," The New York Times reported.

 

Credits: Live Science

 

Recently, archaeologists have identified the human remains as those of Eanswythe, one of England's earliest saints. According to Live Science, a science news website that features groundbreaking developments in science, space, technology, health, the environment, our culture and history, Eanswythe was not only a saint but also a princess, the granddaughter of Ethelbert, the first Christian king of Kent and ruler of the east of England from A.D. 580 until his death in A.D. 616. 

 

Credits: Live Science

 

Andrew Richardson, an archaeologist with the Canterbury Archaeological Trust and a specialist in the archaeology of the Kingdom of Kent, explained that there have been multiple historic records from the 10th century through the 16th century mentioning Folkestone as the resting place for Eanswythe's remains. "We know there was a shrine to her until the 1530s, when the church at Folkestone (which was a priory with monks) surrendered to Henry VIII's men," he said. 

 

Credits: All That's Interesting

 

Previous reports showed that Eanswythe’s bones were likely hidden away to protect them from destruction during the Protestant Reformation. "I suspect that her early death at such a young age — 17 to 20, 22 at the most — perhaps just after becoming the founding abbess of one of England's first monastic institutions that included women, plus the fact that she was of the Kentish royal house (beloved by the Church as the first to convert to Christianity), would have easily been enough to get her acclaimed as a saint, perhaps within only a few years of her death," Richardson explained. 

 

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