- Narrated by: Cat Jarman
- Length: 10 hrs and 1 min
- Release date: 09-14-23
The Bone Chests By Cat Jarman AudioBook summary
From bioarchaeologist and bestselling author of River Kings, a gripping new history of the making of England as a nation, told through six bone chests, stored for over a thousand years in Winchester Cathedral.
In 1642, William Waller and his Parliamentarian army came to Winchester with destruction on their minds. They forced entry to the magnificent cathedral that had stood on the site for over 600 years and began to smash things.
In the cathedral’s holiest place, ten beautiful mortuary chests rested as they’d done since the 7th century. In search for treasure, the soldiers ripped open the lids and when all they found were bones they flung them at the great West Window, destroying the 14th-century stained glass with its sacred images of the Virgin Mary and St Peter. The desecration was total – blood, glass, bayonets, bones all scattered underfoot. The chests housed the mortal remains of West Saxon kings, saints and bishops; of Queen Emma of Normandy, William Rufus, Harthacnut, Edmund Ironside and Edward the Confessor. As the soldiers left, local people picked through the damage, gathering the glass and hiding the bone chests for safekeeping.
In December 1642, during the Civil War, Parliamentarian troops stormed the magnificent Winchester Cathedral, intent on destruction. Reaching the choir, its beating heart, the soldiers searched out ten beautifully decorated wooden chests resting high up on the stone screens.
Those chests contained some of England’s most venerated, ancient remains: The bones of eight kings, including William Rufus and Cnut the Great – the only Scandinavian king to rule England and a North Sea Empire; three bishops; and a formidable queen, Emma of Normandy. These were the very people who witnessed and orchestrated the creation of the kingdom of Wessex in the 7th century; who lived through the creation of England as a unified country in response to the Viking threat; and who were part and parcel of the Norman conquest.