Shakespeare's Skull Really Is Missing

Researchers have completed their analysis
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 24, 2016 12:34 PM CDT
Shakespeare's Skull Really Is Missing
The grave of William Shakespeare is seen in the Chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford Upon Avon, England Monday, Sept. 21, 2009.   (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)

It looks like Shakespeare's skull really is missing from his grave. That's what an archaeologist has concluded after researchers were allowed to use ground-penetrating radar to scan the Bard's final resting place, Reuters reports. "We have Shakespeare's burial with an odd disturbance at the head end and we have a story that suggests that at some point in history someone's come in and taken the skull of Shakespeare," says Staffordshire University archaeologist Kevin Colls, who says the findings are "very very convincing" that the long-standing rumors of a missing skull are true. He tells Fox News that analysis shows the "odd, strange" disturbance at the head end of the grave is a sign "of material being dug out and put back again."

Per those rumors, grave-robbers took the skull from Shakespeare's grave at the Church of the Holy Trinity in England's Stratford-upon-Avon in 1794. At the time, trophy hunters believed a person's genius would be apparent in his skull. Rumors also claimed that Shakespeare's skull might be hidden in a sealed crypt at another church nearby, but Colls' team investigated and found the skull there was that of a woman in her 70s. The team also discovered that Shakespeare was buried in a simple shroud, not a coffin, and that he and his wife were buried in shallow graves, not a deeper family vault as had been believed, Newsweek adds. Researchers, who ignored a curse in Shakespeare's epitaph in order to do their non-intrusive analysis, present the findings in a documentary airing in Britain Saturday. (Click to see Shakespeare's entreaty for refugees, in his own hand.)

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