Could England's King Richard III lie under a car park?

Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:12am EDT
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By Karolin Schaps

LONDON (Reuters) - A 500-year-old mystery of where England's King Richard III was buried after his death in battle may finally be about to be solved as archaeologists prepare to search for his bones beneath a city centre parking lot.

A team from the University of Leicester starts excavation work on Saturday at the car park, where a Franciscan friary known as Greyfriars housed the monarch's remains after he died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 - the last English king to die in battle.

"The chances of getting the Greyfriars are about 80 percent. As for Richard III, it's a real long shot," said the university's Richard Buckley.

"Not only have we got to find the Greyfriars building, but we've also got to find the precise spot where he was buried," added Buckley, co-director of the university's Archaeological Services.

He likened the two-week excavation work to a game of battleships, where archaeologists divide the car park into squares and pick a location in the hopes of hitting the right spot.

"It's very much pot luck in a sense, in that you dig a trench and you may find all sorts of things," he added.

Archaeologists have access to Richard III's DNA after swab samples were taken on Friday from a direct descendant of the king's sister, Canadian-born Michael Ibsen.

If any of the king's remains are found, they will be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral, just a few steps away from the excavation site.   Continued...