King Athelstan - 924 ~ 2024

History of current tomb

Towards the end of the fourteenth century a new tomb was built at Malmesbury. This is the structure we still see today. It can be dated to the late fourteenth century because the king is wearing the clothes of that period. Professor Julian Luxford of St Andrew’s University believes that the new sarcophagus was part of a campaign to promote Athelstan as a saint and to encourage pilgrimage. The new tomb was probably commissioned by Abbot Walter of Camme who became abbot in 1361 and remained in charge until his death in 1396. He was very energetic in the development of the Abbey. In 1539 the Abbey was closed, and the monks were dispersed. In the aftermath of the Dissolution of the Abbey the eastern end of the Abbey church where the tomb was located was destroyed. The tomb was dismantled and re-erected in the south aisle of the remaining fragment of the church which became the town’s parish church. In the Civil War during the 1640s Parliamentary soldiers destroyed the head of the effigy. After the War the people of the town paid for a new head.  The tomb was moved again to its present location in the late 1920s as part of a programme of renovations.