King Richard III team bids to learn more about the Church that housed a King

Archaeologists who discovered King Richard III under a car park now plan to exhume a second discovery found nearby- a 600-year-old lead lined stone coffin. Image courtesy of Leicester University
Archaeologists who discovered King Richard III under a car park now plan to exhume a second discovery found nearby- a 600-year-old lead lined stone coffin. Image courtesy of Leicester University

Archaeologists who discovered King Richard III under a car park now plan to exhume a second discovery found nearby- a 600-year-old lead lined stone coffin.

 

University of Leicester Archaeological Services has applied to the Ministry of Justice for an exhumation licence and to Leicester City Council to extend their dig to discover more about the Church of the Grey Friars where King Richard III was buried

Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, of the University of Leicester, said the stone coffin potentially contains the 14th century remains of a medieval knight called Sir William Moton. He is believed to have been buried at Grey Friars Church in 1362 – over a century before King Richard III.

The dig, due to start in July, will involve digging at the site of the former Alderman Newton Grammar School, next to the car park, and will entail partial demolition of a Victorian wall separating the sites.

A floor tile recovered from the Greyfriars excavation hints at the interior of the Church. Image Courtesy of Leicester University.
A floor tile recovered from the Greyfriars excavation hints at the interior of the Church. Image Courtesy of Leicester University.

Mr Buckley said: “This will be a great opportunity to confirm the plan of the east end of the Grey Friars church to learn more about its dating and architecture, and will give us the chance to investigate other burials known to be inside the building.”

Mr Buckley said the tomb is one of four graves uncovered during the Search for Richard III.

The dig is funded by the University of Leicester and Leicester City Council, and will add to the historical information available about medieval Leicester.

The former School where the dig is due to take place is being converted into a Richard III heritage centre to coincide with the reinterment at nearby Leicester Cathedral next year.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: “It’s important that the University is given the chance to continue its excavation of the site, as it’s quite possible there are more interesting discoveries to be made within the old Grey Friars church.

“Our aim is for the gravesite located within 6-8 St Martins to become part of the new visitor centre, and the removal of part of the wall will be necessary to make this happen. This application is therefore a step forward in the development of the site.”

The archaeological excavation would start at the beginning of July and last for around four weeks. There will be opportunities for the public to see the work in progress.

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III
The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons.

The University of Leicester discovered human remains with signs of battle trauma in August 2012. The remains were exhumed in September and, following extensive scientific investigations, a team from the University of Leicester confirmed the remains were those of King Richard III in February 2013.

Following further examination by the University of Leicester, preparations are taking place for a reinterment at Leicester Cathedral in spring 2014.

The Search for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society.

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