Archaeologists start​ new excavation of R​ichard III’s final r​esting place​

Related Articles

Related Articles

Image Credit : University of Leicester

University of Leicester archaeologists hope to shed new light on Richard III’s final resting place with a new dig at the site of the Grey Friars church.

Experts will spend a month excavating the choir area of the church – where Richard’s body was discovered in September – and hope to reveal much more about the medieval friary than was possible during the initial dig.


The team from University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), based within the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, hope the new dig may help to uncover:

· More details about Richard III’s burial and its place within the Grey Friars church
· A much clearer picture of the church’s layout, dimensions and architecture
· Other burials in the church – including a stone coffin found during the initial dig. The team have speculated that this could contain one of the founders of the friary – or a medieval knight who may have been mayor of Leicester
· The remains of a group of friars who were beheaded by Henry IV in the early 15th century

The team will make a large trench measuring 25 metres by 17 metres around the area where Richard’s skeleton was found. They hope this will uncover the whole north east end of the church – including the choir area and the walking place around the main tower of the building. The trench will run between Leicester City Council’s Grey Friars car park and the neighbouring car park of the former Alderman Newton School. The team have secured permission to remove part of the Victorian wall separating the two areas.

The team have temporarily sealed Richard III’s burial place in order to protect it from the digging work during the excavation. During the first week, they hope to use machinery to remove the modern surface material, and over the following weeks they plan to use careful hand excavation to unearth the medieval building and its contents.

University of Leicester

One of the key findings from the previous dig which they hope to investigate further is a 600-year-old stone coffin that should contain a high status burial. The coffin may belong to a medieval knight called Sir William Moton, who is believed to have been buried at the site in 1362. Alternatively, it could belong to one of the friary’s founders – Peter Swynsfeld, who died in 1272, or William of Nottingham, who died in 1330.

The team found evidence for another five graves during the previous dig, which they hope to examine in more detail this time. In addition, the team will be on the lookout for any proof of the long-standing – and morbid – myth about a group of headless friars who may be buried at the site.

The story suggests that, in 1402, a group of Leicester grey friars had subscribed to the rumour that the deposed King Richard II was still alive – and were providing money for rebels who aimed to topple his successor, Henry IV. Henry IV summoned them to London, and promptly hanged them for treason. Their severed heads were put on London Bridge, and their headless bodies were brought back to Leicester.

It is possible – though not certain – that the friars were buried at the Grey Friars church, more than 80 years before Richard III was buried at the site.

Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist, said: “We hope this dig will expand the context of Richard III’s grave. We also want to preserve the grave’s relationship with the rest of the site. We want to leave some evidence of later activities on the site – including how close it was to the Victorian outhouse.

“What drives us with the project is learning more about medieval Leicester and one of its great religious houses. We hope this dig is going to give us a definitive plan of the dimensions and architecture of the church. We may be able to recover more fragments. We might learn more about the dissolution of the church, and we might learn more about what was there before the friary.”

A viewing platform will be built in the playground of the former Alderman Newton School, which is accessed from St Martins. This will allow visitors to view the archaeological dig in progress from the second week of July onwards.

Leading UK construction and infrastructure company Morgan Sindall is currently on site constructing a King Richard III Visitor Centre to showcase some of the finds from the site. Morgan Sindall is working with the archaeological team to enable access to the site whilst building work continues.

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. The originator of the Search was Philippa Langley, of the Richard III Society.

Contributing Source : University of Leicester

HeritageDaily : Archaeology News : Archaeology Press Releases


Download the HeritageDaily mobile application on iOS and Android

More on this topic


Karahundj – The Ancient Speaking Stones

Karahundj, also called Carahunge and Zorats Karer is an ancient stone complex, constructed on a mountain plateau in the Syunik Province of Armenia.

Palaeontologists Establish Spinosaurus Was Real Life ‘River Monster’

A discovery of more than a thousand dinosaur teeth, by a team of researchers from the University of Portsmouth, proves beyond reasonable doubt that Spinosaurus, the giant predator made famous by the movie Jurassic Park III as well as the BBC documentary Planet Dinosaur was an enormous river-monster.

Archaeology Uncovers Infectious Disease Spread – 4000 Years Ago

New bioarchaeology research from a University of Otago PhD candidate has shown how infectious diseases may have spread 4000 years ago, while highlighting the dangers of letting such diseases run rife.

Buhen – The Sunken Egyptian Fortress

Buhen was an ancient Egyptian settlement and fortress, located on the West bank of the Nile in present-day Sudan.

The Modhera Sun Temple

The Sun Temple is an ancient Hindu temple complex located on a latitude of 23.6° (near Tropic of Cancer) on the banks of the Pushpavati river at Modhera in Gujarat, India.

Scientists Hunt For Lost WW2 Bunkers Designed to Hold Off Invasion

New research published by scientists from Keele, Staffordshire and London South Bank Universities, has unveiled extraordinary new insights into a forgotten band of secret fighters created to slow down potential invaders during World War Two.

Sea Ice Triggered the Little Ice Age

A new study finds a trigger for the Little Ice Age that cooled Europe from the 1300s through mid-1800s, and supports surprising model results suggesting that under the right conditions sudden climate changes can occur spontaneously, without external forcing.

Venus’ Ancient Layered, Folded Rocks Point to Volcanic Origin

An international team of researchers has found that some of the oldest terrain on Venus, known as tesserae, have layering that seems consistent with volcanic activity. The finding could provide insights into the enigmatic planet's geological history.

Popular stories

The Secret Hellfire Club and the Hellfire Caves

The Hellfire Club was an exclusive membership-based organisation for high-society rakes, that was first founded in London in 1718, by Philip, Duke of Wharton, and several of society's elites.

Port Royal – The Sodom of the New World

Port Royal, originally named Cagway was an English harbour town and base of operations for buccaneers and privateers (pirates) until the great earthquake of 1692.

Matthew Hopkins – The Real Witch-Hunter

Matthew Hopkins was an infamous witch-hunter during the 17th century, who published “The Discovery of Witches” in 1647, and whose witch-hunting methods were applied during the notorious Salem Witch Trials in colonial Massachusetts.

Did Corn Fuel Cahokia’s Rise?

A new study suggests that corn was the staple subsistence crop that allowed the pre-Columbian city of Cahokia to rise to prominence and flourish for nearly 300 years.