Major breakthrough in search for King Richard III
This photo, provided by researchers at the University of Leicester, shows a parking lot above where Kind Richard III's remains may be located.
Published Wednesday, September 5, 2012 5:58PM EDT
A team from the University of Leicester has passed the first major hurdle in the search for King Richard III’s remains after discovering his burial ground in England this week.
Nicknamed the “time tomb team,” the group of archeologists uncovered the medieval Grey Friars Church in Leicester, a city in the east midlands of England. The locationof the burial grounds has remained elusive for more than400 years.
“The discoveries so far leave us in no doubt that we are on the site of Leicester’s Franciscan Friary, meaning we have crossed the first significant hurdle of the investigation,” said lead archaeologist and co-director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services Richard Buckley in a statement.
The team began digging just more than a week ago under a municipal parking lot.
Two trenches first dug by researchers revealed a two-metre wide passageway and an aligning east-west building believed to be the cloister or courtyard.
The discovery of a structure thought to be the south wall of the church encouraged the team to dig a third trench. It was this third trench, excavated this week, which confirmed their findings.
"The size of the walls, the orientation of the building, its position and the presence of medieval inlaid floor tiles and architectural fragments makes this almost certainly the church of the Grey Friars,” said Buckley.
The next step may include extending the trenches in hopes of locating the choir and high altar in the church.
“Finding the choir is especially important as this is where Richard III is recorded as having been buried," said Buckley.
King Richard III and his House of York were defeated in the last battle of the Wars against the House of Lancaster, led by Henry Tudor in 1485.
According to historic facts, Richard III was killed during battle and his body later exposed naked and hung by Henry Tudor, the future King Henry VII. Richard III was then reportedly buried within the Grey Friars but exact whereabouts of his body and the church have continued to remain a mystery.
"At the beginning of the project, I cannot say I was completely confident about finding the remains of the Friary, let alone getting closer to the presumed burial place of Richard III,” added Buckley.
The dig is currently being filmed for a documentary that will air on British television later this year. The public will also be invited to visit the site on Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012.