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Archaeologists in Richard III dig
Experts are searching the site of a church where it is believed King Richard III was buried more than 500 years ago (University of Leicester/PA)
Archaeologists are starting a dig in which they hope to find the lost grave of a medieval monarch.
In what is believed to be the first-ever archaeological search for the lost grave of an anointed King of England, experts from the University of Leicester are set to begin their quest to find the site of a church where it is believed King Richard III was buried in the city more than 500 years ago.
It is thought the site of the church may be on land currently being used as a car park for council offices in the city.
King Richard III, the last Plantagenet, ruled England from 1483 until he was defeated at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485. It is believed his body was stripped and despoiled and brought to Leicester, where he was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary, known as Greyfriars.
But the exact whereabouts of the church have become lost over time and it is rumoured the monarch's bones could have been thrown in to the River Soar after the dissolution of the monasteries. Experts are hoping to dispel the rumours and uncover the site of the church and the monarch's remains.
Richard Buckley, co-director of the archaeology service at the university, said: "The big question for us is determining the whereabouts of the church on the site, and also where in the church the body was buried.
"Although in many ways finding the remains of the king is a long shot, it is a challenge we shall undertake enthusiastically. There is certainly potential for the discovery of burials within the area, based on previous discoveries and the postulated position of the church."
If remains are found, they will undergo DNA analysis at the university to confirm that they are those of Richard III. The Richard III Society, which promotes research into the medieval monarch, has been involved in the project.
Philippa Langley, from the society, said: "This search for Richard's grave is only one aspect of the ongoing research effort to discover the real Richard III. After his defeat his reputation suffered enormous disparagement at the hands of his opponents and successors, the Tudors. The challenge lies in uncovering the truth behind the myths."
She added: "This archaeological work offers a golden opportunity to learn more about medieval Leicester as well as about Richard III's last resting place - and, if he is found, to re-inter his remains with proper solemnity in Leicester Cathedral."