Shakespeare's Funerary Monument|CC Tom Reedy

Shakespeare’s Funerary Monument|CC Tom Reedy

Shakespeare’s Grave

There have been stories about the possibility that grave robbers made off with The Bard’s skull. Since no one has officially been allowed to open the grave, these stories haven’t been corroborated.

However, Kevin Colls and his archaeological team may have found confirmation after all.

Shakespearian Skullduggery

Shakespeare died in 1616, and his body was laid to rest in his hometown of Stratford-upon-Avon at Holy Trinity Church.

One story claims that Dr. Frank Chambers broke into Shakespeare’s grave in 1794.

A lot of the story has been dismissed, so whether it’s true that Chambers sold the Bard’s skull for 300 British pounds at the time, isn’t clear.

However, Colls’ team’s recent efforts have confirmed some of the finer details of Chambers’ tale.

We’ve done lots of research literally trying to pick holes in this story. If the grave-robbing account is a made-up story, then it’s unbelievably accurate in all its details.

Colls’ Discovery

Knowing he couldn’t crack the playwright’s tomb and check for himself, archaeologist Kevin Colls got permission to use ground-penetrating radar to get the answers they wanted.

Based on the scans, Shakespeare wasn’t buried in a coffin. His body was wrapped in cloth and buried less than three feet deep.

But most importantly, his head was missing.

Unlike the rest of the grave, and the graves around it, the area where Shakespeare’s head should have been showed signs of tampering, and the skull was missing.

The next question Colls is set to answer is where the skull is currently.

We believe that his skull is probably located somewhere else, and further research is required to figure out where that might be.

Good Company

It turns out the great William Shakespeare isn’t the only famous person missing some of his parts while in the grave.

Albert Einstein had his brain and eyes stolen when he died. The doctor performing his autopsy took his brain to study it without permission. He also took his eyes and gave them to the genius’ eye doctor. The brain’s been returned, but the eyes remain in a safe box in New York.

Only part of Mussolini’s brain was ever returned to his family.


The skull of FW Murnau (the director of Nosferatu) was stolen from his grave in Germany.


And then there’s poor Thomas Pane whose entire body is missing. The American revolutionary was buried, then exhumed, and then had his bones placed in a trunk which was lost.


Seems like the more famous you are, the less likely it is that you’ll be able to rest in piece.