King Richard III of England: Dig unearths mysterious coffin-within-a-coffin

King Richard III of England was unearthed in a parking lot about a year ago. The Richard III site has now produced a new mystery: a lead coffin within a stone coffin. 'We still don't know who is inside,' says a researcher.

Courtesy of the University of Leicester/Reuters
Researchers reveal a stone coffin after its lid was removed, at the Greyfriars dig site. Archaeologists have discovered the mysterious coffin-within-a-coffin from the same Leicester parking lot where England's King Richard III was famously buried for 500 years. Experts returned to the site of the former Grey Friars Church at the beginning of July to learn more about the area, only to find a full intact stone casket with a lead coffin inside.

A team of archaeologists said Monday it has unearthed an unusual coffin-within-a-coffin in the central England parking lot where it found the skeleton of King Richard III of England, and that they hope to identify the remains within.

University of Leicester scientists have been digging at the Grey Friars site in Leicester after finding the body of King Richard III there in September. He died nearby in 1485 at the Battle of Bosworth Field.

The team said it had discovered a fully intact medieval stone coffin during a dig in September but wasn't able to investigate it further at the time. When it was opened this week, the team said, it found a lead coffin within it, one likely to contain a "high status" individual.

Scientists think the lead coffin — which has a hole through which the deceased's feet can be seen — could contain one of the friary's founders, a medieval monk, or the remains of a 14th-century medieval knight, Sir William Moton.

The archaeologists say that tests must be carried out to determine how to open the lead coffin without damaging the remains.

The University of Leicester's Matthew Morris said no one on the team had ever seen a lead coffin within a stone coffin before.

"It was as exciting as finding Richard III," he said in a statement. "We still don't know who is inside — so there is still a question mark over it."

of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.