A new clue in the mystery of Walter Raleigh's missing head?

A red velvet bag found at a medieval mansion just outside London could hold new hints in the mystery over wh...

Posted: Oct 30, 2018 12:08 PM
Updated: Oct 30, 2018 12:08 PM

A red velvet bag found at a medieval mansion just outside London could hold new hints in the mystery over what became of Walter Raleigh's head following his execution for treason in 1618.

Raleigh -- a British explorer, soldier, spy, politician, courtier and all-round prominent Elizabethan -- was beheaded after falling out of favor with the royal court.

Anthropology and archeology

British royal family

Business and industry sectors

Business, economy and trade

Capital punishment

Celebrities

Commercial and residential property

Continents and regions

Crime, law enforcement and corrections

Criminal law

History and historical discoveries

Humanities and social sciences

Law and legal system

Mansions

Misc people

North America

North Carolina

Queen Elizabeth II

Raleigh

Real estate

Residential property

Societal issues

Society

Southeastern United States

The Americas

United States

While his body is buried at St. Margaret's Church, next to Westminster Abbey, rumor has swirled about the whereabouts of his head for almost 400 years.

Some historians believe it was taken away by his widow Elizabeth, a lady-in-waiting to Queen Elizabeth I, who then embalmed it and kept it in a velvet bag.

An artifact matching that description has been found in the attic of West Horsley Place, Surrey, and is now under further investigation.

This property dates from 1425 and Raleigh's widow lived there until her death with the couple's son Carew. The Mary Roxburghe Trust, which oversees the running of the manor, has asked experts to examine the artifact to clarify its potential role in the mystery.

Peter Pearce, the charity's director, said: "In 1665, Carew Raleigh sold the estate ... It is known that some of the contents were included in the sale ... but, to date, we have been unable to find any further reference to the red bag.

"We are greatly encouraged by the results of the initial inspection, and now look forward to finding out more," said Pearce.

Mark Wallis, co-director of the Past Pleasures historical costume company, told The Observer newspaper: "It's clearly a bag of the period."

"Whether it held the mummified head, I couldn't say. But that Lady Raleigh lived there means that it's much more likely than it would be otherwise."

However, he warned that the bag was likely not the one used to carry Walter's head directly after his execution.

"If it did hold the head it would have been when it was mummified, and not covered in blood and gore," he said.

Other experts are more skeptical about the artifact, pointing to numerous reports indicating that Lady Raleigh carried away her husband's head in a red leather bag rather than a silk one.

"Almost every source on Raleigh's execution has wonderful detail of the full horror of it, and that Lady Raleigh took his head away in a red leather bag," historian Anna Beer told The Observer.

Other artifacts discovered in untouched rooms of the manor include an ancient executioner's ax.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 65436

Reported Deaths: 1848
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds5544117
DeSoto357430
Harrison240635
Madison239664
Rankin225132
Jackson222542
Jones185058
Forrest175855
Washington160640
Lauderdale139790
Lee138333
Neshoba128492
Lamar119214
Oktibbeha109638
Bolivar109333
Lowndes105837
Warren103332
Panola102612
Scott99520
Sunflower99224
Lafayette95615
Copiah94528
Leflore90762
Pike89635
Holmes87348
Grenada83821
Yazoo81512
Pontotoc8098
Lincoln79641
Leake78625
Simpson78630
Monroe76952
Wayne75321
Coahoma71511
Tate70527
Marshall6749
Marion64320
Winston61116
Adams61025
Covington61013
Union60116
George5494
Newton53711
Pearl River52937
Tallahatchie52210
Attala51525
Walthall49119
Chickasaw45019
Noxubee44811
Calhoun4079
Prentiss40310
Claiborne39813
Alcorn3975
Smith39713
Clay39214
Jasper3819
Hancock37314
Tishomingo3635
Itawamba34810
Tippah34213
Clarke32525
Tunica3226
Montgomery3153
Lawrence3127
Yalobusha31210
Humphreys28311
Carroll26011
Quitman2521
Greene23611
Jefferson Davis2286
Kemper22714
Amite2256
Webster22512
Perry2237
Wilkinson20113
Jefferson1946
Sharkey1944
Stone1864
Benton1420
Choctaw1314
Franklin1192
Issaquena251
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 94827

Reported Deaths: 1674
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson12743242
Mobile9565206
Montgomery6521148
Madison525030
Tuscaloosa410371
Unassigned347461
Baldwin344323
Shelby320133
Marshall309034
Lee262844
Morgan233017
Etowah207530
DeKalb177113
Calhoun170413
Elmore169438
Walker150264
Houston136412
Russell13422
Dallas131123
St. Clair131016
Limestone128413
Franklin125820
Cullman120112
Colbert115613
Lauderdale113917
Autauga106521
Escambia105416
Talladega98613
Jackson9454
Tallapoosa84979
Chambers83538
Dale82323
Blount7743
Chilton7676
Butler75935
Coffee7475
Covington72620
Pike6907
Barbour5695
Lowndes56724
Marion56724
Marengo54614
Clarke4969
Hale46726
Bullock45411
Winston44411
Perry4364
Wilcox41810
Bibb4164
Monroe4154
Randolph39410
Pickens3849
Conecuh38210
Sumter36218
Lawrence3441
Macon33213
Washington32712
Crenshaw3133
Choctaw27912
Cherokee2637
Geneva2550
Henry2523
Greene25011
Clay2495
Lamar2172
Fayette1985
Cleburne1251
Coosa1012
Out of AL00
Tupelo
Clear
95° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 73°
Feels Like: 100°
Columbus
Clear
89° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 72°
Feels Like: 94°
Oxford
Clear
91° wxIcon
Hi: 94° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 93°
Starkville
Clear
90° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 69°
Feels Like: 92°
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather