September 8, 2012

UK Archaeologists Closing In On Gravesite Of King Richard III

redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports — Your Universe Online

Just hours after announcing that they would consider extending their hunt for the lost grave of King Richard III if they felt they were closing in on its location, a group of UK archaeologists revealed that they had discovered evidence of a lost garden that brings them one step closer to finding the late monarch's final resting place.

The team, which is being led by University of Leicester archaeologists, reported Friday that they had discovered evidence of the lost garden of Robert Herrick, which happens to include a memorial to the last king of the House of York and the final member of the Plantagenet dynasty.

In a recent statement, the researchers said that they had discovered paving stones, which they believe belonged to the lost garden, just days after locating the church of the Grey Friars -- the place where Richard III is believed to have been buried after falling at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22, 1485 -- and two weeks after the start of their expedition.

"This is an astonishing discovery and a huge step forward in the search for King Richard's grave," Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society, an organization which is assisting the university on the dig, said in a statement. "Herrick is incredibly important in the story of Richard's grave, and in potentially helping us get that little bit closer to locating it."

"The discovery of Herrick's garden is a major step forward and I'm incredibly excited. In locating what looks like one of the garden's pathways and, potentially, its central area which could have once held the three foot stone pillar marking the location of King Richard's grave, we could be that bit closer to finding the resting place of Britain's last warrior king," she added.

The archaeologists, who some members of the local media have dubbed the "Time Tomb Team," discovered the site of the Franciscan Friary earlier this week, which lead archeologist and University of Leicester Archaeological Services Co-Director Richard Buckley called the "first significant hurdle" of their search for the tomb. The project started last week with the digging of two trenches at a council park, and a third excavation site started earlier this week.

The dig was expected to end on Friday, but the team told BBC News that they would consider extending it if they felt they were close to making a major discovery. The university statement confirmed that work would indeed resume at the site next week.

"If we feel we are close, we might extend the dig," Buckley told the British news organization. "We have to consider live services like power cables and sewers and of course surrounding properties but it could happen."

"Having overcome the major hurdle of finding the church, I am now confident that we are within touching distance of finding the choir -- a real turning point in the project and a stage which, at the outset, I never really thought we might reach," he said later in a statement released after the garden's discovery.