Richard III dig: 'R' marks the spot where skeleton found in Leicester car park
The latest astonishing twist in the extraordinary story of the search for Richard III can exclusively be revealed by the Leicester Mercury today.
The spot where a skeleton was found in August was next to a car parking space marked with an "R".
The letter was noticed by academics at the University of Leicester at the start of the dig - and it was coincidentally captured in a photograph of Greyfriars car park taken by the Leicester Mercury before the excavation began.
The picture, shown above, reveals a faded "R".
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We have marked the spot, just a few feet away, where archaeologists discovered human remains which could turn out to be those of the king.
An eagerly-awaited press conference on Monday morning will reveal the results of tests which have been carried out on the remains by university experts.
These include comparing DNA extracted from the bones with that of descendants of Richard.
Archaeologists, geneticists, genealogists and historians will present their evidence to the world's media before the project's lead archaeologist, Richard Buckley, announces the final verdict.
Nobody knows exactly why the letter had been painted in this spot. It is thought it might have been to indicate a reserved parking space.
Mr Buckley said the team had never taken the mysterious sign seriously, but admitted it was "spooky".
"I used various sources, such as old maps and accounts from historical authors to draw up the trenches," he said.
"I admit, when we started the dig, I was sceptical – I didn't think we had much chance of finding him.
"I was more interested in finding the friary where he was supposed to have been buried.
"Philippa Langley, from the Richard III Society, was present when we were deciding where to dig, and kept telling us that R marked the spot.
"We had a joke about it, but we never for one moment thought anything would be buried underneath it.
"This is a serious academic project and the implications – if it turns out to be Richard III – are huge.
"But I think the mysterious R is quite nice and gives the whole thing a bit of levity, which we could probably do with every now and then."
The car park is owned by Leicester City Council.
The Mercury asked the council if it knew why the letter had been painted on the Tarmac, but staff at the council were as perplexed about it as the University of Leicester dig team.
Mick Bowers, principal property review officer at the council, said: "I was based at Greyfriars for many years and remember the R being there for most of them.
"It was something of a standing joke before the dig started that R obviously marked the spot as it seemed a strange thing to spray on a car park.
"The best we can come up with is that maybe it signified a reserved parking spot for someone based at St Martin's.
"But that doesn't quite ring true, because it wasn't painted in a parking bay, it was more towards the centre of the car park.
"I've asked other people who have been around for a while, including the car park attendants, to see if they can shed any light on it but unfortunately not."
Archaeologist and Greyfriars site manager Mathew Morris, who found the skeleton, said: "We don't know how the R got there and, to be honest, I missed it at first.
"It's only when someone came to us with the photo and said 'have you seen this?' that I thought 'wow, that's a bit weird'."
LIVE COVERAGE AS THE FINAL VERDICT IS ANNOUNCED AT 10AM ON MONDAY
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