Hold your horses over King Richard III's remains, warns archeologist
Archeologists are calling for an end to the debate on where the potential remains of King Richard III should be buried until tests on the bones have been completed.
Professor Lin Foxhall, head of archaeology and ancient history at the University of Leicester, said she wanted to reiterate that the bones discovered underneath a city centre car park in August were still subject to tests.
In a statement released by the university yesterday, she said people were "jumping the gun" by discussing where in the country the remains should be buried, as conclusive information about the bones was not expected until the middle of January.
"It is premature to speculate on the outcome of the investigation – and people should certainly not jump to any conclusions," Professor Foxhall said.
"As archaeologists, we go where the evidence takes us, but we have not yet proven that these remains are Richard III, because we do not yet have the evidence to do so. I'm worried people will lose sight of how cautious we were when we announced our findings – it is part of the rigour of academic research that we thoroughly examine all the evidence before reaching a conclusion.
"It's important for the integrity of our work to conduct our research unencumbered by speculation linked to a particular outcome."
Debate about Richard III's final resting place has raged since the archeological dig to discover the 500-year-old bones began at the former site of Grey Friars church in August.
The search was spearheaded by the university and the Richard III Society in the UK, which already has permission from the Home Office to bury the remains in the city.
There have been calls to bury the remains – should they prove to be those of the last Plantagenet king, elsewhere.
The Richard III Foundation, based in Virginia, north America, has said the king, should be buried in York. Earlier this week, The House of Commons erupted into laughter when Worksop MP John Mann insisted the bones should be taken to his town because it was half-way between Leicester and York.
Yesterday, actor and comedian David Mitchell waded into the argument. In a video posted on The Guardian newspaper's website, he suggested the remains be put on display, rather than given a burial.
Philippa Langley, a member of the Richard III Society, said: "There is a process to go through, but right now what's most important is determining if these are the bones of Richard III before we go any further."
DNA from the remains is now being compared with that of Michael Ibsen, believed to be a descendent of King Richard's eldest sister, Anne of York.