Archaeologists begin dig to uncover grave of Richard III in Leicester

 

The son of a descendant of Richard III's eldest sister was on site today as what is believed to be the first ever search for the lost grave of an anointed King of England began in a city centre car park.

Canadian-born Michael Ibsen watched as archaeological experts from the University of Leicester used ground penetrating radar equipment to find the best spots to begin their search today at the car park off Greyfriars in Leicester.

His mother Joy Ibsen, who died four years ago aged 82, was a direct descendant of the King's eldest sister Anne of York

Born in the UK, the journalist, who is the 16th generation niece of Richard III, emigrated to Canada in her 20s.

Today Mr Ibsen, a furniture maker who is living in London, said his mother would have been thrilled by the project.

The 55-year-old, who was born in Canada, said: "The family were entertained when she got the call several years ago from a historian claiming she was a descendant. We thought it was more of a story than anything else but as time went by it became more serious and a DNA connection to Richard's eldest sister Anne of York was found."

Richard III was brought to Leicester where he was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary, known as Greyfriars, after he fell in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

But the exact whereabouts of the church have become lost over time.

While hopes are high at finding the site, which is currently being used as a car park for council offices, the experts are less confident about finding the monarch's remains during the two-week search.

Rumours say the monarch's bones could have been thrown into the River Soar after the dissolution of the monasteries.

Philippa Langley, from the Richard III Society which has been involved with the project, said: "We know he was buried here but the church disappeared after the dissolution of the monasteries as did his grave so today we begin the search for Richard.

"We know his body was led into Leicester and put on display for three days by Henry Tudor before he was buried.

"I hope we do find him because I want to give him a proper resting place and also to explode a lot of myths around Richard III."

Richard Buckley, co-director of the Archaeology Service at the university, said: "It is quite a long shot but it's a very exciting project. We don't know the whereabouts of any of the friary buildings at the moment. We don't know precisely where the body would have been buried but we suspect it would be in the choir or near the alter."

If bones are found they will be assessed for trauma to the skeleton, as the monarch was killed in battle, then be subject to DNA analysis.

King Richard III, the last Plantagenet, ruled England from 1483 until he was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

PA

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