Mystery Coffin Found At Gravesite Of King Richard III

A strange coffin within a coffin has been excavated from the very same site that yielded the remains of King Richard III some months ago. At the site, a large stone coffin was found. Once workers on site managed to get the lid off of the stone coffin, they found a separate lead coffin inside the first. Currently, archaeologists don’t know who is inside the coffin, but they do suspect the body inside belongs to someone who was important to the community in the 13th or 14th Century.

Almost a year ago, archaeologists were digging underneath the remains of Grey Friars church in Leicester when they found a skeleton thought to be the body of King Richard III, who died in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. Richard III was the last English King to die in battle and his history is a storied one, as a King who famously imprisoned two young princes in a tower, reportedly murdering them in order to claim the throne. The body was buried in a casket, and was later confirmed to be none other than the burial place of the late king.


The church had been torn down hundreds of years ago, and in recent years, a parking structure had been erected in the area where the church used to be. Using map analyzing techniques and radar, archaeologists determined the best point that they could to start digging up some history, eventually running into tile and other remnants of a building from years past. A DNA swab from a distant relative of King Richard III was used to identify the skeletal remains, although a scoliosis deformity also helped people to verify that the remains belonged to the famous leader.

While the Richard III find was a great discovery, some archaeologists are even more excited about the potential of the stone and lead boxes, as the coffin within a coffin thing is something the site workers had never seen before. It took a total of eight workers to get the initial stone slab lid off, revealing the lead lid underneath. Archaeologists believe the remains are probably one of three people: Peter Swynsfeld (d.1272), William of Nottingham (d.1330), or Sir William de Moton of Peckleton (d. sometime between 1356-1362). Laboratory tests are planned for the lead casket before it will be opened fully, but archaeologists say feet have been glimpsed inside the little box. It’s not exactly buried treasure, but in some ways a buried mystery box is even more appealing.


Whomever is inside the mystery box will clearly not be as exciting for the public as finding the Richard III grave, but it still marks an important find for the The University of Leicester, which is conducting the dig. Plans are already in the works to build a permanent exhibition space for Richard III and some of the remains, while the bones of the King are set to be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral in May 2014.

Photo Credit@ University of Leicester

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Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.