The other bodies

One thing that no-one has really addressed is the fate of the other human remains found at the Greyfriars dig.

ULAS is always insistent that their plans for the re-interment of Richard III are in keeping with best archaeological practice: that is that when human remains are discovered in what was a Christian burial site, they should be re-interred in the nearest Christian burial ground, in this case, St Martin’s Cathedral. One must therefore ask why this practice is not being followed for the other remains found on the site. These are the remains of high-status Leicester residents, and one, in particular is of a lady who was buried in a lead-lined stone coffin right in front of the high altar. Mathew Morris went so far as to suggest that this lady may have died away from Leicester, and that her body was transported back to Leicester in the lead coffin before its inhumation in the stone coffin. As I understand it, the eventual resting place for this poor soul will be in a municipal cemetery outside the city walls, or where the city walls once stood. If ever there was a candidate for reburial in the cathedral, it is she, because she quite obviously wished to be buried in Leicester.

If reburial in the nearest consecrated ground is a rule that ULAS insist is the correct rule to follow, then it follows that this rule should be applied to all these burials, and yet, no-one from Leicester is insisting that this should take place. It is perfectly obvious that there isn’t space in the Cathedral for all these remains, but if they are going to say that the reason for insisting that Richard should be buried there is simplu following this particular rule, then they cannot deny that same rule to the others. The difference with the other sets of remains is that they are, thus far, unidentified. The licence as issued by the MoJ will give the same alternatives: either the nearest consecrated ground (St Martins Cathedral)  the Jewry Wall Museum or a place which is licensed for human burial. Either the rule applies to all, or to none.

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3 responses to “The other bodies”

  1. karenplewis says :

    I have wondered what will be happening to the lady in the coffin. Obviously high status, obviously wanted to be buried in Leicester. She and the others should certainly be buried in the Cathedral, if ULAS are following best archeological practice.

    Richard, however, is a totally different case. Known identity, for a start, and, although I do not wish to regard him as an object rather than the last Plantagenet King of England, his case has far more in common with treasure trove.

    The long lost remains of Richard Plantagenet are indeed a unique and NATIONAL treasure. As such, what happens to him is far too important for a single university department to decide. As soon as it was known that this was indeed Richard, everything changed, and provision should have been made in the exhumation licence for such an event. The fact that it wasn’t is pretty much the reason the Judicial Review is taking place, as far as I can see.

    Richard is not some tourist commodity – had it been his crown they had found, then that would have been a different matter. This is a man whose only connection with Leicester was about 5 visits, perhaps 9 days in total, of his whole life. The last days in Leicester were all associated with his death and dishonour. Although no will can be found, the fact that he spent a large proportion of his adult life in the north is very telling.

    Leicester are entitled to the kudos of the find, although I wish they would be more honest about how much of the work was already done for them by John Ashdown-Hill and Philippa Langley((http://www.johnashdownhill.com/looking-for-richard/ and http://looking-for-richard.webs.com/about-us ), but it appears to be pure greed for everything about Richard that is motivating them now, what Richard can do for Leicester, rather than what is the honourable and dignified thing to do FOR Richard, which is to return Richard’s remains to a place that he would probably recognise even today were he able to walk around the Minster of York.

  2. Cheryl Lock says :

    Great post – a lot of common sense here and it does seem as though the rules are being changed. Richard was named in the licence – which leads me to believe they knew exactly where he was – was it really such a co-incidence that they found him so easily?

    • lilibettitley says :

      In the licence application they stated that “if any of the bodies” (they knew there were several) turned out to be that of Richard III, then their intention was to bury him in St Martin’s. This may well be a requirement when applying for an exhumation licence, but the licence, when issued did not name names, it said “unidentified remains” which begs the question, does this licence cover identified remains? I would argue that it doesn’t.

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