Lady in Lead Coffin revealed
A mysterious lead coffin found close to the site of Richard III's hastily dug grave at the Grey Friars friary has been opened and studied by experts from the University of Leicester’s Archaeological Services (ULAS).
The coffin was discovered inside a much larger limestone sarcophagus during a second excavation of the site, in August 2013 – one year after the remains of the former King of England were unearthed.
Inside the lead coffin, archaeologists found the skeleton of an elderly woman, who academics believe could have been an early benefactor of the friary – as radiocarbon dating shows she might have been buried not long after the church was completed in 1250 (although analysis shows her death could have taken place as late as 1400).
The high status female was in one of 10 graves discovered in the grounds of the medieval complex, including that of Richard III, six of which were left undisturbed. Those that were examined were all found to have female remains.
Richard III will be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral this month (March) after his mortal remains are taken from the University of Leicester on Sunday 22 March.
Watch a video of the opening of the coffin:
Watch an overview video of the second Grey Friars dig:
- The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society. The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society.