Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Question from Stephanie - More on Anne Boleyn's burial and grave

First of all, I want to say to Lara this site is amazing and I thank you sincerely from the bottom of my heart.

That being said, a topic that has indeed been brought up before still seems unresolved to me, so, please post my question.. which may in fact be a proposal (not just with the typical "this has already been covered.")

I understand that Queen E2 does not want to disturb the bones of Anne Boleyn but she seems to be doing a greater disservice by letting her remains sit, unmarked (I hardly call that little tile on the floor adequate for Anne) while we know that the bones are not even underneath. Surely if its a matter of security (which has been mentioned in previous posts) with today's technology there must be a way to keep them safe. Additionally, just the idea that someone with a "long, thin neck" could be Anne is ridiculous, and is just playing off the "I have but a little neck" famous quote. That could easily be her cousin Katherine Howard's body as she was also decapitated, and buried near Anne.

I suppose my question is: does anyone know if the elm arrow chest still exists? Is there a movement to exhume Anne? If there is not, finally, why can we not all ban together to start a group petition to exhume Anne and use today's DNA testing to give Anne a proper burial? As well as learn more about her, and what she looked like? This worked for the Romanov family (now laid to rest) in Russia. Or are my dreams too niave?? I'm sorry, I cannot let this go. I do not want to travel all the way to England to stand on what "may" be her grave, when in actuality she might be feet away, mixed in some crazy communial grave.

I suppose I'm much like Anne, and will not stop until I feel fulfilled. ;)

Thank you so much, and any support would be greatly appreciated!

[Ed note - Previous related threads below]

http://tudorhistory.org/queryblog/2007/04/question-from-jill-anne-boleyns-burial.html

http://tudorhistory.org/queryblog/2008/08/question-from-gervase-notes-from.html

http://tudorhistory.org/queryblog/2008/07/question-from-kat-anne-boleyns-burial_03.html

9 comments:

Elizabeth M. said...

The problem would be a huge excavation would be involved. There are literally the remnants of hundreds of bodies buried within the precincts of the Tower. Over the centuries, graves have been disturbed and remains put back or even disposed of in a haphazard fashion. PhD Historian related an account that Anne Boleyn may actually rest in a common grave with several other people. Some victims have not yet been discovered--the remains of Lady Jane Grey have never been found. And after over four centuries, how accurate would be DNA testing? The Romanovs were killed less than 100 years ago. I believe they harvested DNA from Prince Philip. His grandfather was a brother to Empress Marie Feodorovna, the mother and grandmother, respectively, of Nicholas and his children. His grandmother on his mother's side was a sister to Empress Alexandra. That is only 2-3 generations. With any relatives of Anne Boleyn, who would be descended from her sister Mary, we are talking about well over ten generations--possibly 14-16. You might get some mitochondrial DNA, as that DNA marker is inherited through the mother, but after so many generations, it might be impossible to find any genetic significance. Similarly, the bones have been disturbed, much like disturbing a crime scene--there might not be any viable DNA left to test.

Megan said...

I am in complete agreement with you! I believe it could be done and that it should be done. Anne, Kathryn, Jane Grey, etc. each deserves to have her remains as intact as possible and marked correctly so that people can pay their respects.

I would sign any petition you conjured up! :)

JMF said...

I absolutely cannot agree with you, I'm afraid. I work at the Tower of London and know the Chapel of St Peter and the grave sites very well. For those who haven't visited ,it is a beautiful area, in daily use as a place of prayer, meditation and peace. The people who use it and work there have huge respect for those souls whose bones are buried there and I know they would hate to see them been dug up for what is little more than morbid curiosity. She has a memorial, every year flowers are laid on her grave on the anniversary of her death. She is at peace, and should be left alone to rest.

Ciara said...

If I were speaking in the interest of science, and for the pursuance of knowledge I would have to agree and say dig them up.

But it goes far beyond that. I have to agree with JMF. My basis for my opinion is that it sickens me in American to see Native American burial mounds and know they are empty, or that there are homes and shops built over these sights. But it is still a federal offense to just go dig someone up out of a more recent graveyard/cemetery. And it also sickens me to see the destruction that the Irish government is wreaking on the Skryne Valley/Tara Hill site where the kings of old were crowned and buried.

There is just something that makes me feel ill about disturbing someone's resting site. And I'm not sure what you believe about the afterlife, but I believe that wherever Anne and those other unfortunate souls have come to rest, that they are not worried about the bones they've left behind.

And the last problem with digging up those communal graves is that even if there were a way to identify the ladies you mentioned, there would be many remains who would never be put together with their names. Then where will they rest? In the same way they have always rested, unremembered and nameless. The only difference would be that you had dug up all of those bones, will the real possibility of not only damaging the bones themselves but also the beautiful site where they rest, just to select the ones everyone wants to hear about, and chuck all the others back into some hole. I'm sorry but that all just seems very wrong to me.

Brynne said...

But with digging up Anne's bones it would finally lay to rest the debate over her having six fingers. I think she should have a grave that any queen has.

Brynne said...

Ok I was thinking about how to tell if it was Anne's remains, she was beheaded by a sword. They say that when people were beheaded with the axe it sometimes had to be done more than once. So wouldn't they be able to kind of tell how old the bones were. And be able to tell which ones had been beheaded by an axe and sword?

Anonymous said...

oh my god can you be that interested in your own selfish thoughts?not only are you wanting this done NOT for closure and not because you are mourning but because of a silly facination to paying your respects to a person you would have never known? i also believe fully with the person above why should all the other bones just be chucked on the pile just because they do not have an interesting story? this is utterly rediculus and our heritage is certinatly not a playground

felicity

clairissa said...

hear hear anonymously posted!!

Daniella Bottinga said...

Personally ,I believe that the people who are in that mass grave, wouldnt care what happened to there bones, they have been dead for over 500 years,so digging them up and giving them a propor burial, would only lessen the trouble in our hearts and not there´s, Then again, the same counts for identifying them, so maybe there is a good point in giving anne and catherine the grave that they deserve,and also maybe some sort of science to find out what beautiful anne actually looked like