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  1. ITV Report

William Shakespeare's skull may have been stolen from his grave

An underground survey of William Shakespeare's final resting place has found the skull may be missing from the playwright's grave.

The playwright is thought to be buried in Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon Credit: PA

By using ground-penetrating radar, archaeologists discovered "an odd disturbance at the head end" of the playwright's tomb.

The discovery ties in with a century-old story claiming that the skull had been stolen from Holy Trinity Church in Straford-upon-Avon in 1794.

A tombstone inside the church marks the place where Shakespeare is thought to lie, bearing the inscription: "Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear, to dig the dust enclosed here. Blessed be the man that spares these stones, and cursed be he that moves my bones".

Custodians of the grave allowed the world-first survey because it could be carried out without disturbing the grave

However, the local vicar said he remained unconvinced of the team's theory, saying that "we shall have to live with the mystery of not knowing fully what lies beneath the stone".

We now know much more about how Shakespeare was buried and the structure that lies underneath his grave stone.

We are not convinced, however, that there is sufficient evidence to conclude that his skull has been taken.

We intend to continue to respect the sanctity of his grave, in accordance with Shakespeare's wishes, and not allow it to be disturbed.

– Patrick Taylor, Holy Trinity in Stratford