Graves and Worms and Epitaphs

Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs

Richard II   William Shakespeare

The lump of stone in the featured image is all that remains of the masonry of Fotheringhay Castle. The hill behind it is the motte, the earthwork mound found in a motte and bailey castle.

The future Richard III was born here in 1452. A lot has been written about Richard III, so I won’t say much more. My sister has been to see his new grave, but I haven’t been yet. I have, however, visited the place where he was killed.

I always used to laugh at my fellow members of the Sealed Knot when they visited battlefields after the beer tent and came back with tales of ghostly ambiences. The clue is in the “after the beer tent”. However, when I visited Bosworth Field I experienced a feeling of loss and desolation and I began to reconsider my position on this.

New research puts the actual site of the battle a mile away, so I was clearly right: people who visit battlefields and have supernatural experiences need to get a grip.

Anyway, enough of Richard III.

The next royal visitor to Fotheringhay didn’t have much luck either. She was Mary Queen of Scots. As with Richard III, much has been written about her so I won’t say much more. She was executed in 1587. One story is that the destruction of the castle was done on the orders of her son James, when he became king of England. However, it seems more likely it was just neglected and used as a source of building materials.

Mary was buried in Peterborough Cathedral, and later reburied at Westminster Abbey in 1612. Her entrails, removed as part of the embalming process, were buried in the grounds of Fotheringhay Castle.

Mary wasn’t the only queen to be buried at Peterborough.  Katherine of Aragon  died of cancer at Kimbolton in 1536 and was buried at Peterborough, the nearest suitable place for an ex-queen. They were both buried by Old Scarlett, the famous Peterborough gravedigger.

That, as they say, is another story.


14 thoughts on “Graves and Worms and Epitaphs

  1. Pingback: Wingfield Manor | quercuscommunity

    1. quercuscommunity

      It’s part of a long peasant tradition of stealing stone, and (literally) bringing down the establishment.

      It seems to fit well with the character you reveal in the post about dismantling burglar alarms in your dressing gown.

      That raises all sorts of questions in my mind, like why you felt the need to prevent burglars stealing your dressing gown…

  2. Helen

    I passed Bosworth the other day but didn’t have time to stop. Just as well, if it wasn’t even where the signpost said!

    I didn’t know that Peterborough had even existed in the 16 century. I thought it was a new town.

    1. quercuscommunity

      It was known by different names (Medehamptead and Goldenburgh I seem to remember) but the abbey was raided by the Danes and Hereward the Wake visited. The new town dates from the late 60s.

  3. Pingback: Wandering, not lost | quercuscommunity

  4. Laurie Graves

    Imagination bring richness to many things, including battle sites. A mile away? Your imagination doesn’t care one bit.


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