Researchers examine the remains at St Mary and St Eanswythe’s church in Folkestone.
Photograph: Mark Hourahane/Diocese of Canterbury/PA
Bones discovered more than a century ago in a Kent church are almost certainly the remains of an early English saint who was the granddaughter of Ethelbert, the first English king to convert to Christianity, experts have concluded.
Saint Eanswythe, the patron saint of the coastal town of Folkestone, is thought to have founded one of the first monastic communities in England, probably around AD660. She died a few years later, while still in her teens or early 20s.
In 1885, workers renovating the parish church of St Mary and St Eanswythe close to Folkestone harbour found a lead container of human remains in an alcove – probably hidden to avoid the destruction of relics during the Reformation.
The bones, which comprised about half of a skeleton, were assumed to belong to Eanswythe. But it was not until January this year, following a grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, that a team of experts set up a temporary laboratory in the church, which was closed for five days.
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