LONDON (AP) — A diocese in southern England says it has exhumed a grave over fears that a set of bones could be stolen amid speculation that the remains are those of King Alfred the Great.

The Diocese of Winchester says the exhumation took place earlier this week in the churchyard of St. Bartholomew's Church. The bones are now in storage.

Nick Edmond, diocese spokesman, said Wednesday the exhumation was authorized to protect the bones amid heightened interest following the recently discovered remains of King Richard III.

Edmondson said no permission has been given to analyze the bones.

Alfred — who lived from 849 A.D. to 899 A.D. — was believed buried at nearby Hyde Abbey and there is speculation he was later reburied in the same area.