Richard III dig: Victorian builders 'were within inches of Greyfriars skeleton'
Victorian builders came within inches of obliterating the human remains thought to be those of Richard III.
Archaeologists uncovered a skeleton at a council car park in New Street, Leicester, on August 25.
Geneticists from the University of Leicester are comparing DNA from the bones with that of Richard's descendant, Michael Ibsen, a cabinet maker from London.
However, the archaeologists said they were lucky the remains were found at all. The skeleton was discovered just below Victorian foundations.
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If the 19th century builders had dug down a little further, more the remains would have been destroyed.
City mayor Sir Peter Soulsby, who has been briefed by the archeologists on the dig, said: "It is extremely lucky that the remains were found at all.
"His head was discovered inches from the foundations of a Victorian building. They obviously did not discover anything and probably would not have been aware of the importance of the site.
"If their plans had been just a little different, they could have destroyed a most significant historic find."
A team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester, worked on the site in Greyfriars, close to Leicester Cathedral, for three weeks.
They dug three exploratory trenches to locate a friary, documented as the burial place of Richard III.
Excavation site manager Mathew Morris, who uncovered the remains on the first day, said: "It was incredibly lucky.
"If the Victorians had dug down 30cm more they would have built on top of the remains and destroyed them.
"It's like we say, these are such long shots that we're either going to find nothing or absolutely everything."
The position of the body was not the only piece of good fortune.
The family line of Richard III's living descendant, Michael Ibsen, also had an element of good fortune.
Mr Ibsen's DNA will be paramount in proving if the remains are those of Richard III.
The tests use mitochondrial DNA, passed on only in the female line. Dr Ashdown-Hill, who tracked Mr Ibsen's genetic line though 16 generations, said: "Without the DNA, we would just have a skeleton and no way of identifying it.
"The fact I was able to trace Michael's family through all those generations, and for all those generations to have had daughters, is very lucky."