Oliver Cromwell is one of Britain’s truly iconic figures. Born in 1599, he was instrumental in converting England to a republican state after defeating the Royalists in the English Civil War. He also conquered Scotland and Ireland, ruling as Lord Protector until he died in 1658.
According to his stature, Cromwell was afforded a state burial at London’s Westminster Abbey – but soon after, the Royalists returned to power and in 1661 his body was removed from its grave and beheaded. Astonishingly, his head was placed on a pole outside Westminster Hall, where it remained for 24 years.
For nearly 200 years the head of Cromwell was in a kind of limbo, changing hands several times, for significant amounts of money, before it was finally laid to rest in the grounds of Cambridge’s Sidney Sussex College, where he had studied (indeed, he was also Member of Parliament for Cambridge for a short while).
The plaque shown below records the burial of Cromwell’s head at the college, though the exact spot is a closely-guarded secret.
Find out more about Cromwell on our Cambridge tour. Click here for more information