LONDON (Reuters) - Just three years after the extraordinary discovery of King Richard III under a car park, researchers think another medieval English monarch might be found buried beneath a parking lot and are hoping to find him.
Philippa Langley, the inspiration behind the successful hunt for Richard III’s remains, is now on the trail of his forebear Henry I, one of the first rulers of England following the Norman conquest in the 11th Century.
She is part of a team seeking backing to search for the ruins of Reading Abbey, founded by Henry in 1121 and where he was buried after his death 14 years later, allegedly brought about by eating too many lampreys, a type of fish.
Like Richard, the exact whereabouts of Henry’s final resting place is unknown after the abbey, including his tomb, was mostly destroyed some 400 years later.
“The thinking in Reading, using current estimates of the size of the abbey, is that this burial spot is located beneath a school,” Langley told BBC History Magazine.
“If the abbey is larger, it could be situated underneath either what is today a playground or a car park.”
The discovery of the body of Richard III, the last of the Plantagenet dynasty and the last English king to die in battle in 1485, under a council car park in Leicester, central England, is considered one of the greatest archaeological discoveries of recent British history.
His body was re-buried in Leicester Cathedral in March at a somber ceremony which attracted global interest.
Richard was depicted by Shakespeare as a deformed tyrant who murdered his own nephews, one of whom was the rightful king. This view is challenged by Langley and the Richard III Society who say he was the victim of propaganda after his defeat in battle by Henry Tudor, later King Henry VII.
Likewise, Henry I has a chequered reputation.
The fourth son of William I, who conquered England in 1066, he came to the throne in 1100 after his brother William II died in a suspicious hunting accident, gaining a reputation as a sometimes cruel ruler.
He was the first Norman king to learn to speak English and was later nicknamed “Beauclerc” because he was well-educated.
Reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Janet Lawrence