England Searching for Another King Under Parking Lot

King Henry I was buried in Reading Abbey nearly 1,000 years ago
By Elizabeth Armstrong Moore,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 14, 2016 3:42 PM CDT
England Searching for Another King Under Parking Lot
Henry I   (Shutterstock)

England's King Henry I was a man of many appetites: He usurped the throne from an older brother, fathered two dozen children out of wedlock, and is thought to have died after gorging on lampreys—a jawless, snakelike fish. After his death in 1135, his remains were brought to Reading Abbey some 40 miles west of London, where he was buried under the high altar. But the abbey was almost completely destroyed after King Henry VIII’s dissolution of the monasteries 400 years later, reports the Guardian, and the location of Henry I's remains was lost as well. Today, experts think they know where he was buried "within a few yards"—but that area is now a prison parking lot, or possibly a nearby nursery school. “We know from burial records that Henry was buried in front of the high altar in the old abbey,” a historian on the team that's currently searching for the monarch with ground-penetrating radar tells the New York Times. “The aim is to find the footprint of the old abbey."

"What we don’t know is whether he is still there," adds the historian. "There has been so much development in the area over the years that his bones could be scattered everywhere. But there’s a chance he’s still there." Henry I wouldn't be the first British ruler to end up under asphalt: Just four years ago, archaeologists found King Richard III’s skeleton under a parking lot in Leicester that used to house a monastery. The historian tells the Times that while Henry I would have been fascinated by cars and modern transportation, he was a religious man, "so I think he would have preferred being buried in a church." (Henry VIII's belligerent behavior could come down to repetitive head injuries.)

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