Human remains found in search for King Richard III at Leicester car park
Archaeologists hunting for King Richard III have unearthed evidence of human remains in the spot they believe he is buried.
The discovery, by the team of researchers from the University of Leicester, has caused a huge wave of excitement.
Those involved in the city centre dig have so far kept tight-lipped about the exact details of what they have found – but planned to reveal more information at a press conference today.
"What we have uncovered is truly remarkable and today we will be announcing to the world that the search for King Richard III has taken a dramatic new turn," said Richard Taylor, director of corporate affairs at the university.
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For the past two weeks, archaeologists led by Richard Buckley, co-director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services, have been excavating a car park in Greyfriars, close to Leicester Cathedral.
They have found clues which have led them to identify the site as that of the medieval Franciscan friary and locate its church, which it is believed contains the tomb of the last Plantaganet king.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said the dis covery of evidence of human remains "adds a whole new dimension to a search which has already far exceeded our expectations".
He said Leicester City Council had already begun planning for tourists attracted by the find.
"In the short-term, we're already looking at ways in which we can let visitors see and understand what's been found," Sir Peter said.
"In the medium to long-term, we're looking at something which will explain the find in relation to Leicester's fantastic history.
"It's incredibly exciting and I'm determined to let people know exactly what's been found here.
"I'll be making it possible for the archaeologists to continue to explore the area for as long as they need."
The task of identifying any bones was due to fall to another University of Leicester scholar, Dr Turi King.
She was ready to compare DNA from the bones with that of Canadian-born furniture maker Michael Ibsen, who was identified in 2006 as being a direct descendant of Richard III by historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill.
Mr Ibsen, who now lives in London and who attended a public open day at the dig site on Saturday, said: "There's been a huge amount of interest in this, which is great for Leicester.
"I was at the open day on Saturday and I saw people queuing around the block and even following me in the street, saying 'Hey, aren't you the guy who's related to Richard III?'.
"I'm very excited to hear what the archaeologists have found."
The dig was organised by the Richard III Society, in partnership with the university and the city council.
Philippa Langley, from the society, is the driving force behind the project.
She said she had been "sworn to secrecy" about the find.
But she added: "We came with a dream and if the dream becomes reality, it will be nothing short of miraculous."
Specific parts of the friary church have been identified during the excavations, giving archaeologists a better picture of where the tomb could be located.
Experts are fairly certain that someone of Richard's status would have been laid to rest near the altar.
The archaeological team was due to announce the details of the findings at 11am today, at the Guildhall, which stands close to the excavation site.
Richard's body was brought to Leicester after his defeat by Henry Tudor at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.
Researchers have said if the king was found, one option would be for his remains to be interred at Leicester Cathedral.
The dig is being filmed by Darlow Smithson Productions for a Channel 4 documentary to be screened this year.
Highlights from the press conference at the Guildhall Leicester where the dig team announced that the search for King Richard III "has taken a dramatic new turn"