July 30, 2013 9:45 am
Remember when Kind Richard III’s remains were discovered under a parking lot in Leicester last September? That parking lot continues to produce archeological treasures and historical mysteries. This time, researchers have unearthed a perplexing coffin-within-a-coffin. CNN reports:
[Archeologists] are currently puzzling over a sealed lead coffin containing the remains of a yet-to-be-identified person.
The lead coffin was found encased in a larger stone coffin.
The smaller coffin is intact “except for a hole at one end of the casket through which we could tantalizingly see someone’s feet,” said Mathew Morris, the fieldwork director at the site.
Whose body lies within that mysterious lead coffin? Archaeologists guess that it must be someone important. The only marker on the coffin lid is a cross, but the person must have been of high social status to warrant such an elaborate burial. Preliminary estimates date the coffin’s burial to about 100 years before Richard III came to rest in the same plot, in 1485.
There are three main contenders for the identity of the coffin’s inhabitant: a medieval knight named Sir William de Moton of Peckleton, and two leaders of the English Grey Friars order, Peter Swynsfeld and William of Nottingham.
Of the coffin’s three likely occupants, Swynsfeld died in 1272, William of Nottingham died in 1330 and Sir William de Moton died between 1356 and 1362.
Unfortunately, history fans and scientists alike will have to wait a while to pin down the identity of the double coffin’s occupant. The artifact has been brought to a lab, and researchers are still puzzling over the safest way to open it without damaging the contents contained within.
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