Is King buried in Leicester car park? Dig to search for Richard III's remains
Archaeologists will today begin digging up a city centre car park hoping to discover the 500-year-old bones of King Richard III.
The team, led by the University of Leicester, believe the bones could be underneath Greyfriars car park, in New Street.
After King Richard III was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, his body was brought to Leicester where he was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary, known as Greyfriars. Over time, the location of Greyfriars became lost – but following extensive research by the university and the Richard III Society, the archaeologists believe Greyfriars car park is where the church once stood.
They have been granted permission by Leicester City Council, which owns the car park, to carry out a two-week dig on part of the site.
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Richard Buckley, co-director of the university's archaeology service, said: "Although in many ways finding the remains of the king is a longshot, it is a challenge we will undertake enthusiastically."
The team has analysed maps dating back hundreds of years to identify the likely site of the church where Richard was buried.
They will also use ground-penetrating radar to help find the best places to dig.
If they discover bones, they will also look for signs of a violent death and have traced an all-female line of descent from Richard III's sister to a present-day Canadian family, making it possible to test DNA.
The university's director of corporate affairs Richard Taylor said: "If remains are found that are suspected to be those of Richard III, they will be subject to DNA analysis at the university."
Over the centuries, many myths surrounding what happened to Richard III's remains have arisen, including a story that they were dug up and thrown into the River Soar.
The Richard III Society has consulted historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill, who has researched and published a book on the last days of the king.
Society member Philippa Langley said: "There is nothing to lead them to believe the bones were removed. I'm confident if we can find the site of Greyfriars, we can find the remains of Richard. It's hugely exciting for us and this is the first search for the lost grave of an appointed king.
"We've even had to request permission from the royal palace to go ahead with it.
"This is a golden opportunity to learn more about medieval Leicester, as well as about Richard III's last resting place – and, if he is found, to reinter his remains with proper solemnity in Leicester Cathedral."
Members of the public will not be able to view the dig once it starts as the site has to be kept "clean" in case human remains are found.
However, plans are under discussion to invite visitors towards the end of the dig.
King Richard III timeline and link to the Greyfriars car park in Leicester