Date:

Archaeologists uncover ‘lost garden’ in quest for Richard III

Stone Frieze which may be from the Choir stall. Image credit: University of Leicester

- Advertisement -

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester who are leading the search for the lost grave of King Richard III announced today that they have made a new advance in their quest.

They have uncovered evidence of the lost garden of Robert Herrick – where, historically, it is recorded there was a memorial to Richard III.

Now the ‘time tomb team’ as they have become to be known has discovered paving stones which they believe belong to the garden.

Fragments of what could be the east end window of the church. Image credit: University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is leading the archaeological search for the burial place of King Richard III with Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society.

Medieval silver penny found at the site. Image credit: University of Leicester

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 Grey Friars. Over time the exact whereabouts of the Grey Friars became lost.

- Advertisement -

The project which began two weeks ago has involved digging of two trenches at a council park- and this week a third trench was excavated. Earlier this week, the archaeologists confirmed they had found the church of the Grey Friars and now they have found the garden outside the church.

Philippa Langley, of the Richard III Society, said: “This is an astonishing discovery and a huge step forward in the search for King Richard’s grave. Herrick is incredibly important in the story of Richard’s grave, and in potentially helping us get that little bit closer to locating it.”

In the early 1600s, Alderman Robert Herrick, a mayor of Leicester, bought the land of the Grey Friars and built a large mansion house with a garden on the site. In 1612, Christopher Wren, father of the famous architect, was visiting Herrick and recorded seeing a handsome three foot stone pillar in Herrick’s garden. Inscribed on the pillar was: ‘Here lies the body of Richard III sometime King of England’.

This is the last known record of the site of King Richard’s grave. Richard is historically recorded as being buried in the choir of the Church of Grey Friars.

Thereafter, in 1711, Herrick’s descendants sold the mansion house and garden. After passing through various owners the mansion house was eventually pulled down sometime in the 1870s and the municipal buildings were built. However, Herrick’s garden seems to have remained a garden, or wasteland, up until the 1930s – 40s when it was tarmacked over to become a car park.

Mrs Langley added: “The discovery of Herrick’s garden is a major step forward and I’m incredibly excited. In locating what looks like one of the garden’s pathways and, potentially, its central area which could have once held the three foot stone pillar marking the location of King Richard’s grave, we could be that bit closer to finding the resting place of Britain’s last warrior king.”

Philippa Langley, from the Richard III Society, in Herrick’s garden. Image credit: University of Leicester

Mr Buckley, Co-Director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services, said the area of paving was found at its southern end, composed of re-used medieval tiles laid in a haphazard pattern.

“The tiles were also extremely worn and of many different sizes. Although the date at which the paving was laid has yet to be confirmed, we suspect that it relates to the period of Herrick’s mansion. Interestingly, the 18th century map of Leicester shows a formal garden with a series of paths leading to a central point.

“The paving we have found may relate to this garden, but it lies outside the church to the south. Inside the church in this third trench, further investigation has revealed some large fragments of window tracery which could well relate to the east window, behind the high altar. If so, this may show that we are in the extreme east end of the building –near the choir where Richard III is said to have been buried.

“Having overcome the major hurdle of finding the church, I am now confident that we are within touching distance of finding the choir – a real turning point in the project and a stage which, at the outset, I never really thought we might reach.”

Work at the site will stop for a public open day between 11- 2 on Saturday September 8 and will resume next week. More details of the public open day here: http://news.leicester.gov.uk/newsArchiveDetail.aspx?Id=1671

The dig is being filmed by Darlow Smithson Productions for a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary to be aired later this year.

Contributing Source : University of Leicester

HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases

- Advertisement -
spot_img
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 7,500 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.
spot_img
spot_img

Mobile Application

spot_img

Related Articles

Stone box containing rare ceremonial offerings discovered at Tlatelolco

Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have discovered a stone box containing ceremonial offerings during excavations of Temple "I", also known as the Great Basement, at the Tlatelolco archaeological zone.

Excavation uncovers traces of the first bishop’s palace at Merseburg Cathedral Hill

Archaeologists from the State Office for Monument Preservation and Archaeology (LDA) Saxony-Anhalt have uncovered traces of the first bishop’s palace at the southern end of the Merseburg Cathedral Hill in Merseburg, Germany.

BU archaeologists uncover Iron Age victim of human sacrifice

Archaeologists from Bournemouth University have uncovered an Iron Age victim of human sacrifice in Dorset, England.

Archaeologists find ancient papyri with correspondence made by Roman centurions

Archaeologists from the University of Wrocław have uncovered ancient papyri that contains the correspondence of Roman centurions who were stationed in Egypt.

Study indicates that Firth promontory could be an ancient crannog

A study by students from the University of the Highlands and Islands has revealed that a promontory in the Loch of Wasdale in Firth, Orkney, could be the remains of an ancient crannog.

Archaeologists identify the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II

Archaeologists from Sorbonne University have identified the original sarcophagus of Ramesses II, otherwise known as Ramesses the Great.

Archaeologists find missing head of Deva from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom

Archaeologists from Cambodia’s national heritage authority (APSARA) have discovered the long-lost missing head of a Deva statue from the Victory Gate of Angkor Thom.

Archaeologists search crash site of WWII B-17 for lost pilot

Archaeologists from Cotswold Archaeology are excavating the crash site of a WWII B-17 Flying Fortress in an English woodland.