Protected status for car park where Richard III’s skeleton was uncovered

Protected status for car park where Richard III's skeleton was uncovered

The former burial place of Richard III, a medieval monastic site which now lies under a car park in Leicester, has been given protected status.

The remains of the 13th century Greyfriars, where the last Plantagenet king was hastily laid to rest after his death in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, has been listed as a scheduled monument.

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It is thought the archaeological site – "one of the most significant in our national history" because of its connection to the dramatic events around the final battle of the War of the Roses – is well preserved under the city centre car park.

Richard III burial place
The former burial place of Richard III, which lies under a car park in Leicester, has been given protected status (University of Leicester/PA)

Making the friary into a scheduled monument means it is preserved for future generations, with special consent required before any work or changes can be made.

Richard's skeleton was found during an archaeological excavation at Leicester City Council's car park in 2012 and was confirmed as his remains following DNA analysis of the bones which matched that of living descendants.

He was reburied in 2015 at Leicester Cathedral.

Richard III's reburial
The Archbishop of Canterbury the Most Rev Justin Welby at the internment of the remains of Richard III (Leicester Cathedral/PA)

The Greyfriars site dates back to the 1220s when Franciscan friars first arrived in Leicester, and it was at their church where Richard was buried with little ceremony in 1485 after the battle which saw Henry Tudor become king of England.

Henry Tudor, who became Henry VII, paid for a modest tombstone to be placed over Richard's grave 10 years later.

The friary was dissolved in 1538 and the church demolished as the next king, Henry VIII, broke with the Catholic church in Rome, and the friary appears to have been knocked down during the following decade.

Although parts were built on over the following centuries, much of the area was occupied by gardens and became car parks serving the council offices by the mid 20th century.

As there has been little disturbance to Greyfriars from buildings and foundations, the area has great potential for the survival of archaeological remains, experts said.

Richard III reburial
The completed stone tomb of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral (Joe Giddens/PA)

It has been granted protection by the Culture Department on the advice of government heritage agency Historic England.

Heritage minister John Glen said: "The discovery of Richard III's skeleton was an extraordinary archaeological find and an incredible moment in British history.

"By protecting this site as a scheduled monument, we are ensuring that the remains of this once lost medieval friary buried under Leicester are preserved for future generations."

Duncan Wilson, chief executive of Historic England, said: "The site of Greyfriars, where Richard III was hastily buried in the days following his death in the final battle of the War of the Roses, is one of the most significant in our national history.

"The archaeological remains on the site are now well understood and fully deserve protection as a scheduled monument."

He said the protection of the area would mean it remained "as a tangible and evocative reminder of this significant episode in our nation's history".

Richard III's memorial stone
A memorial stone for Richard III at Leicester Cathedral (University of Leicester/PA)

City mayor Peter Soulsby said: "The discovery and identification of King Richard III's remains was a remarkable achievement.

"We've already honoured this discovery with a world-class tourist attraction in the King Richard III visitor centre and the scheduling of this site will help to ensure this remarkable discovery is protected for future generations to enjoy."

10 PHOTOS
England's best historic views
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England's best historic views

It’s not difficult to imagine how the gothic ruins of Whitby Abbey would have inspired Dracula author Bram Stoker, when visiting the town. This atmospheric attraction, set high on a headland, contains much for visitors to discover, but it’s also well worth pausing to enjoy the views over the popular seaside town that shares its name.

Visitors to Kenilworth Castle can now scale the heights of the Earl of Leicester’s building and explore the private rooms of Queen Elizabeth I as well as the views she enjoyed. At the time of her 1575 visit, the building was one of the most spectacular works of architecture in the country, with enormous glass windows allowing the queen to look out at the spectacular castle and surrounding countryside. It's still pretty spectacular today...


 

Known as the ‘Castle of the Rock’, Beeston is famous for its views, which range from the Pennines all the way to the Welsh mountains, and extending over eight counties on a clear day. Built atop a mighty crag, it was a striking proclamation of the wealth and power of Ranulf, Earl of Chester, and provided a strong defence against aristocratic rivals.

Set on a tall mound in the heart of Old York, this imposing tower is almost all that remains of York Castle, originally built by William the Conqueror. In its time, the tower has seen many uses, including as a prison and a royal mint, and today provides panoramic views out over the historic city of York.

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Climb up the wall walk at this medieval fortress and you can really imagine looking out in times gone by across the mere and old hunting grounds. Pick up an audio tour to find out more about the historic view, or look below and imagine the events that took place in the castle, such as Mary Tudor gathering her forces to claim the throne of England. 

This hidden gem commands the passage of the River Wye from atop a wooded hill. It was held by a succession of powerful medieval lords, who might have looked out at the surrounding Herefordshire countryside as those who tackle the spiral staircases of the square keep can do today.

Imagine what life was like for Roman soldiers posted here almost 2,000 years ago. At this well-preserved fort on the Hadrian’s Wall World Heritage Site, visitors can enjoy stunning panoramic views from the walls of this Roman ruin, looking out onto the stark Northumbrian countryside as troops posted on this frontier will once have done.

"It is impossible to imagine a prettier spot" said Queen Victoria after her first visit to Osborne, the Isle of Wight retreat where she would come to relax with her family. Visitors today can explore the gardens and beach, taking in the magnificent views across the Solent that the monarch once enjoyed.

Few historic sites evoke as much myth and mystery as the fascinating ruins of Tintagel Castle, positioned high above the Cornish coast. This dramatic location lends itself to spectacular views, earned by climbing up the steps to the island for stunning coastal scenery that must have inspired Richard, Earl of Cornwall, to build a castle here in the 1230s.

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