Monday 27 to Friday 31 August 2012

Throughout the week, the archaeologists carefully remove dumps of building rubble left behind when the friary was demolished, exposing the medieval buildings beneath. These remains are carefully planned, recorded and photographed and features of particular interest are excavated to learn more about the friary.

  • Site director Mathew Morris removes rubble from the cloister walk in Trench 2 (E-F).
    Site director Mathew Morris removes rubble from the cloister walk in Trench 2 (E-F).

In Trench 2, rubble is removed from between walls E and F exposing mortar bedding for a tile floor which steps down from south to north. Tile impressions can still be seen on the mortar, providing clues to how the floor would have once looked. Part of a stone step also survives. At the southern end of the trench, wall E is found to survive partially intact above floor level, a rare discovery in Leicester. The remains of a doorway are found leading through it from west to east.

It appears, by chance, that Trench 2 has been dug along a long north-south corridor. Could the space between E and F represent one of the friary’s cloister walks? And if so, is it on the western or eastern side of the square courtyard or ‘cloister garth’.

Back in Trench 1, archaeologists discover that the surviving low stone wall at C has a flat top with a curving ‘lip’ over one side and no foundation. It looks like a bench built up against the north (robbed) wall of the room. Careful key-hole investigation of robbed wall D – avoiding the live cable! – finds a second ‘bench’. Between the two is evidence of floor tiling.

Tile impressions can still be seen on the mortar floor bedding inside the cloister walk (E-F)
Tile impressions can still be seen on the mortar floor bedding inside the cloister walk (E-F).
Part of a stone step is found inside the cloister walk (E-F)
Part of a stone step is found inside the cloister walk (E-F)
Part of a stone wall and floor still survived in Trench 2 (E).  The remains of a doorway can still be seen on the right side of the photo.
Part of a stone wall and floor still survived in Trench 2 (E). The remains of a doorway can still be seen on the right side of the photo.

The benches are a major breakthrough, providing an important clue to which part of the friary has been found: this is a place where people could sit facing each other and talk. In a medieval friary, that would be the chapter house, which normally projected from the eastern side of a square cloister, making the corridor joining it in Trench 2 the eastern cloister walk. Objective 2 achieved

To the north of the chapter house, the ground between C and B appears to be outside the friary buildings. However, the patch of disturbed ground at B has large quantities of loose building rubble and may be a large robbed wall, possibly the southern wall of the church. Unfortunately damage from modern cellars makes it difficult to interpret the archaeology.

Archaeologist Jon Coward excavates an area of disturbed ground (B), possibly the south wall of the church.
Archaeologist Jon Coward excavates an area of disturbed ground (B), possibly the south wall of the church.
A stone bench in the chapter house (C) with a curved ‘bullnose’ lip to the seat.
A stone bench in the chapter house (C) with a curved ‘bullnose’ lip to the seat.

Friday 31 August 2012

ULAS applies to the Ministry of Justice (PDF), under the 1857 Burials Act, for permission to exhume up to six sets of human remains. The plan is to investigate only those burials which are potential candidates to be Richard III: males in their 30s, buried within the church, ideally with potentially fatal battle injuries.

Project objectives

  1. Find the remains of the Franciscan friary.
  2. Identify clues to the position/orientation of the buildings.
  3. Within the friary, locate the church.
  4. Within the church, locate the choir.
  5. Within the choir, locate the mortal remains of Richard III.

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