Protected status for car park site where Richard III’s skeleton was uncovered
Richard’s skeleton was found during an archaeological excavation at Leicester City Council’s car park in 2012.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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”.
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.”