August 23, 2013
Archaeologists Discover Richard III Remains Came Close To Being Destroyed
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
The remains of Richard III, which were first discovered last August, came very close to being destroyed, said archaeologists who were part of the dig team. The remains were found underneath a car park in Leicester, UK.
A team from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) have discovered during the second dig that a massive disturbance occurred at the Grey Friars church site sometime in the past that could have destroyed at least part of King Richard III’s burial chamber.
The team said the discovery was made during the July excavation, when archaeologists were looking for other artifacts, burials and structures at the car park. The news comes two days shy of the anniversary of the date when archaeologists first started the search for the remains of the last Plantagenet king.
The destruction zone, measuring 16x30 feet, was mere inches away from Richard III’s skull. They found the destruction area covered a far larger area than the remnants of the Victorian toilet that were also discovered near the monarch’s grave during the first dig last year.
“It’s a miracle that Richard III’s skeleton was where it was. To the east, there is a massive disturbance that has removed all evidence of the church – which must have come within inches of his head,” said Mathew Morris, Richard III site director. “The disturbance is so big we didn’t have all of it in the excavation area.”
He added that the destruction site was so big that they did not get to the bottom of it. “It is at least [six feet] deep,”
Describing the disturbance, Morris siad, “We don’t know what caused it yet. It’s possible it was related to the demolition of the Grey Friars church – or it could have happened any time after the friary was disbanded. Whatever it was, it came very close to removing Richard’s head. It’s entirely possible that because he was underneath the Victorian outhouses, he was protected from it.”
He said the researchers will need to continue analyzing the pottery pieces and other artifacts before they can make a good estimation of when the disturbance occurred.
Apart from determining what caused this disturbance, the University is currently embroiled in a burial dispute about where the Plantagenet king’s remains should go.
Leicester Cathedral has been busy making room for a raised tomb to be constructed to hold the remains of Richard III. However, the Plantagenet Alliance have submitted a petition to the royal court to ask for a judicial review. According to that petition, King Richard III’s remains should go to York, where he had purportedly asked to be buried when he was alive.
The petition was accepted by a British High Court judge.