Public Release:  Archaeological dig inches 'tantalizingly closer' to possible burial place of King Richard III

Search to continue for third week following huge public support and global media interest

University of Leicester

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IMAGE: This shows Karen Ladniuk (Richard III Society) cleaning a path made from re-used medieval tiles, perhaps part of the formal gardens of the 17th century Herrick mansion where a pillar... view more

Credit: Credit - University of Leicester

The University of Leicester is announcing that the archaeological dig at Greyfriars will continue for a third week as archaeologists get 'tantalisingly close' in their search for King Richard III.

The University of Leicester is leading the archaeological search for the burial place of King Richard III with Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society.

Now, Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby has authorised the work to continue for at least another week following the success of the dig so far and the huge level of interest in it.

In 1485 King Richard III was defeated at the battle of Bosworth. His body, stripped and despoiled, was brought to Leicester where he was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary, known as the Grey Friars. Over time the exact whereabouts of the Grey Friars became lost.

Over the past two weeks, the team has made major discoveries about the heritage of Leicester by:

  • determining the site of the site of the medieval Franciscan friary known as Grey Friars
  • finding the eastern cloister walk and chapter house
  • locating the site of the church within the friary
  • uncovering the lost garden of former Mayor of Leicester, Alderman Robert Herrick
  • revealing medieval finds that include inlaid floor tiles from the cloister walk of the friary, paving stones from the Herrick garden, window tracery, elements of the stained glass windows of the church, a medieval silver penny a stone frieze believed to be from the choir stalls amongst others

Work stopped over the weekend for a public open day which saw over 1,500 people tour the site of a council car park which is the scene for the archaeological investigation.

Leicester City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: "I think it is only right to allow this fascinating archaeological work to continue given its success so far, which is why I have authorised it to continue for at least another week.

"The turnout at this weekend's open event showed the huge level of interest in this important figure from the city's history."

Richard Buckley, co-director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services, said: "There was an incredible turnout at the dig and the level of public interest in our work is phenomenal. I would like to thank the public for their generous support and it has provided huge motivation for us to continue our quest.

"We are now tantalisingly close in our search and will investigate the choir where Richard is presumed to be buried. Whether we find Richard or not, this dig has been a huge success in terms of revealing the heritage of Leicester and I am proud that the University of Leicester has played a pivotal role in the telling of that story.

"There has been global media attention on this dig which is a measure of the power of archaeology to excite the public imagination."

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The dig is being filmed by Darlow Smithson Productions for a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary to be aired later this year.

Notes to editors:

Media resources (including images) available at: http://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/press/media-centre/richard-iii

Images of the latest finds and from the Open Day can be downloaded from here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ei0y6q18a4ubz3x/Mp0i22Kl0t

1. A 14th-century inlaid floor tile from the church of the Greyfriars (Credit - University of Leicester)

2. Copper alloy letters found on the site, perhaps from tomb inscriptions (Credit - University of Leicester)

3. Karen Ladniuk (Richard III Society) cleaning a path made from re-used medieval tiles, perhaps part of the formal gardens of the 17th century Herrick mansion where a pillar marking the burial place of Richard III is said to have been set up. (Credit - University of Leicester)

4. Groups of visitors are shown the floors and walls of the eastern cloister walk by Leon Hunt and Steve Baker of ULAS (Credit- University of Leicester)

5. Philippa Langley (screenwriter and lead for Richard III Society) showing a group of visitors around the site at the public open day (Credit - University of Leicester)

6. Michael Ibsen, genetic descendant of Richard III who has already donated his DNA to the project, makes another kind of donation (Credit - University of Leicester)

Photographs can be downloaded from https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ei0y6q18a4ubz3x/Mp0i22Kl0t

Captions in 'Notes to Editors'

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