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The GPR investigation of the Shakespeare family graves

COLLS, Kevin and Utsi, Erica (2017) The GPR investigation of the Shakespeare family graves. Archaeological Prospection, 2017. pp. 1-18. ISSN 1075-2196

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Abstract or description

As part of a multi‐disciplinary programme of archaeological investigation, GPR was used to investigate the Shakespeare family graves below the chancel of Holy Trinity Church in Stratford, Warwickshire, England. Although William Shakespeare's place as perhaps one of the most famous individuals who has ever lived has been cemented in the annals of history, much of his life and death is still shrouded in mystery. As a result, a large number of myths and legends have grown up around his burial place. These included the suggestion of an unusually deep burial or the presence of a large family crypt beneath the chancel floor. A series of multi‐frequency surveys was carried out to establish the depth and structure of the graves and as much burial information as possible. Close survey (using a strategy developed and successfully applied in Westminster Abbey and other churches) was used in order to optimise the quality of patterning in the data. Within Holy Trinity, this strategy was validated by the detection of a known vault.
The use of multiple frequencies was critical in this investigation in order both to detect the graves and also to establish information about the graves. Too low a frequency may result in non‐detection because of the relatively low target resolution whereas too high a frequency risks insufficient depth penetration.
From this process a number of myths can now be discounted, including the presence of a large Shakespeare family vault or crypt. Instead, the GPR survey suggests that a simple, shallow, earth‐cut burial lies beneath William's tombstone. One story however concerning disturbance of William Shakespeare's grave in order to remove his skull does correspond with the evidence.

Item Type: Article
Faculty: School of Creative Arts and Engineering > Humanities and Performing Arts
Depositing User: Kevin COLLS
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 10:51
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2017 14:52
URI: http://eprints.staffs.ac.uk/id/eprint/3819

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