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Black Prince: Scientists analyse shield and helmet from Canterbury Cathedral to unlock his secrets

PUBLISHED: 14:02 12 October 2017 | UPDATED: 14:02 12 October 2017

Canterbury Cathedral. The Black Prince.

Canterbury Cathedral. The Black Prince.

Archant

Findings will be discussed at a conference next month

The Black Prince's helmet which dates from circa 1376 is inspected by Ariane Langreder of Canterbury Cathedral before being placed back into the cathedral vault, after it was sent for metal composition testing at a lab in Oxfordshire. Pic: PA The Black Prince's helmet which dates from circa 1376 is inspected by Ariane Langreder of Canterbury Cathedral before being placed back into the cathedral vault, after it was sent for metal composition testing at a lab in Oxfordshire. Pic: PA

The wares of a little-known heir to the throne are being tested before a conference to help clarify his legacy.

Items including the shield and helmet of Edward of Woodstock (1330 to 1376) - popularly known as The Black Prince - have been analysed by conservation experts hoping to discover more about them.

The research will be discussed at a two-day conference at Canterbury Cathedral on November 16 and 17.

The Black Prince - who died before he could inherit the throne - is the subject of disagreement by historians over his role in a potential massacre of civilians.

One theory says his moniker comes from the slaughter of 3,000 men, women and children in the French town of Limoges in 1370 during the Hundred Years’ War.

Yet doubt has been cast on this historical stain on his reputation.

It may be that the name comes from either his wearing of black armour or the black background on his coat of arms.

He was regarded as brilliant militarily, scoring important victories over the French army throughout his life - most famously aged just 16 at the Battle of Crecy.

The ornate tomb of Edward, the son of Edward III and father of Richard II, lies in Canterbury Cathedral and is a major draw for tourists.

The two-day conference will be attended by world renowned experts who have undertaken research into the Black Prince, his life, his legacy and material culture.

Delegates will have opportunities to visit the cathedral archives and library to view documents and records relating to the Black Prince and to take part in special tours with access to rarely seen parts of the cathedral.

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