Friday, August 24, 2012

Richard III dig begins in Leicester tomorrow

As you may have heard on the news, the dig in Leicester to find the body of Richard III will begin tomorrow. The story was on the front page of the Leicester Mercury and there is a good report in the Daily Telegraph among many others.

The dig is being conducted by archaeologists from the the University of Leicester, on whose website you can read more about the dig:
The University of Leicester and Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society, have joined forces to begin a search for the mortal remains of King Richard III. On Saturday 25 August 2012 – five hundred years after King Richard III was buried in Leicester - the historic archaeological project will begin with the aim of discovering whether Britain’s last Plantagenet King lies buried in Leicester City Centre. 
The project represents the first ever search for the lost grave of an anointed King of England ... 
In 1485 King Richard III was defeated at the battle of Bosworth. His body, stripped and despoiled, was brought to Leicester where he was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary, known as the Greyfriars. Over time the exact whereabouts of the Greyfriars became lost. 
Led by University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), experts will be seeking to locate the Greyfriars site and discover whether the remains of Richard III may still be found. 
Richard Buckley, Co-Director of the Archaeology Service at the University of Leicester, said: “The big question for us is determining the whereabouts of the church on the site and also where in the church the body was buried. Although in many ways finding the remains of the king is a long-shot, it is a challenge we shall undertake enthusiastically. There is certainly potential for the discovery of burials within the area, based on previous discoveries and the postulated position of the church."
You can see Richard Buckley interviewed in the video above.

The site also quotes Phillipa Langley from the Richard III Society:
“Richard III is a charismatic figure who attracts tremendous interest. Partly because he has been so much maligned in past centuries, and partly because he occupies a pivotal place in English history. 
“The continuing interest in Richard means that many fables have grown up around his grave. Although local people like Alderman Herrick in 1612 knew precisely where he was buried – and Herrick was able to show visitors a handsome stone pillar marking the king's grave in his garden - nevertheless at the same time unlikely stories were spread of Richard's bones being dug up and thrown into the river Soar. Other fables, equally discredited, claimed that his coffin was used as a horse-trough. 
“This archaeological work offers a golden opportunity to learn more about medieval Leicester as well as about Richard III's last resting place – and, if he is found, to re-inter his remains with proper solemnity in Leicester Cathedral."
Things have moved on since June, when I first came across the theory that Richard may still lie buried under central Leicester.

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