Recently a strange red bag was found at West Horsley Place in Surrey. It is believed by its finders to have once contained the severed head of Sir Walter Raleigh who was executed on October 29, 1618.
Further tests on the bag , which is certainly of the correct period, will be undertaken. Legends did say that Bess Throckmorton, Raleigh’s wife, carried off her husband’s severed head from the execution site at Westminster in a red bag. Of course, the recently found bag would not be the same one, which would have been heavily blood-stained; if this newly-found artefact did hold Raleigh’s head it would have been used at a later date, once mummification of the skull had taken place. Further legends do state the head was not buried with its owner but kept by Bess in a ‘case.’
The fact that the widowed Bess did in fact live at West Horsley, home of her son Carew, does raise the possibility that this bag was indeed used to house the head.
And that’s not all that’s recently turned up regarding Sir Walter Raleigh. A drawing hidden for centuries under layers of whitewash is thought to be a self-portrait drawn by Raleigh during his long imprisonment in the ‘Bloody Tower’.