The Westgate Museum, Winchester has a small but intriguing collection of coins on display until the end of April. The coins were discovered by Wessex Archaeology in 1997. They had all been minted in the Tudor period, between 1400 and 1600, and were found with a mysterious 17th century burial near Alresford.
The money had probably been in a small pouch at the dead man’s waist and would have been worth enough to pay for a decent burial. So it is a mystery why this 30-45 year old should have been buried out of a churchyard in a shallow grave. He clearly hadn’t been robbed, and if he was a suicide or a criminal it is likely that he would have been buried at a crossroads.
The man seems to have been dressed when he was buried, but there is no sign of foul play. Perhaps he had died of an infectious disease and had to be buried quickly. The plague was no stranger to Alresford, indeed the town had one of the earliest Pest Houses in England.
We can speculate about this puzzling man and his unfortunate end, but it is likely that he will remain a mystery.