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Plantagenet king had links to Middleham
HISTORIANS yesterday began their search for the lost grave of the last Plantagenet King of England – who spent most of his early life at a North Yorkshire castle – in a city centre car park.
Archaeologists from the University of Leicester used radar equipment to start looking for the burial site of Richard III at the car park off Greyfriars in Leicester.
Middleham Castle, near Leyburn, became home to some of the most powerful lords of the 15th Century, including Richard, Duke of Gloucester – later Richard III.
He was reportedly particularly fond of Middleham, preferring it to any of his other castles.
Yesterday’s search was attended by the son of a descendant of the king’s eldest sister.
Canadian-born Michael Ibsen’s mother, Joy Ibsen, who died four years ago aged 82, was a direct descendant of Richard III’s eldest sister, Anne of York.
Mr Ibsen, 55, said: “The family were entertained when she got the call several years ago from a historian claiming she was a descendant. We thought it was more of a story than anything else but as time went by it became more serious and a DNA connection to Richard’s eldest sister Anne of York was found.”
During the king’s time at Middleham, he increased its status as a political power base while he governed the north on behalf of his brother, King Edward IV, and created more trading opportunities in the town.
Richard III was buried in the church of the Franciscan Friary, known as Greyfriars, after he was killed in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, but the exact location of the church has been lost over time.
Jo Ricca, chief executive of the Richard III Foundation, said: “We had hoped that if any remains were found they would be buried in the North, as York and Middleham were especially important to Richard.
“We have learned that there are plans to bury any remains found at Westminster Abbey though – which we would be very disappointed to see.”
The foundation will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year with a conference about the life and leadership of Richard III.
Although hopes are high of finding the grave site, currently used as a car park for council offices, experts are less confident about finding the monarch’s remains during the two-week search.
The bones could have been thrown into the River Soar after the dissolution of the monasteries.