Unearthed coffin at Grey Friars dig: no answers, but more questions

Posted by pt91 at Jul 29, 2013 09:40 AM |
Archaeologists open medieval stone coffin – only to find an inner lead coffin

The University of Leicester's Archaeological Services lifted the lid of a medieval stone coffin last week - the final week of their second dig at the Grey Friars site, where Richard III was discovered in September.

But to their surprise, within the stone coffin they found another inner lead coffin – and will need to carry out further analysis before they can open the second box.

Stone coffin and inner lead coffinThis is the first fully intact stone coffin to be discovered in Leicester in controlled excavations. The inner coffin is likely to contain a high-status burial, though we don’t currently know who it contains.

It could be one of two leaders of the English Grey Friars order - Peter Swynsfeld, who died in 1272, and William of Nottingham, who died in 1330. Or, it may be 14th century knight Sir William de Moton of Peckleton, who died between 1356 and 1362.

It took eight people to carefully remove the stone lid from the outer coffin – which is 2.12 metres long, 0.6 metres wide at the “head” end, 0.3 metres wide at the “foot” end and 0.3 metres deep.

No-one in the team has come across a lead coffin within a stone coffin before and they will now have to work out how to open it without damaging the contents.

  • 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.
  • Keep up to date with the progress of the Grey Friars Dig Part II throughout July 2013