Coffin Within a Coffin
Archaeologists working at the grave site in central England where Richard III's body was found have discovered a coffin within a coffin. Reuters

Archaeologists digging at the site in central England where King Richard III’s body was found have discovered a lead coffin within a larger stone coffin. The coffin within a coffin is thought to contain the remains of an unidentified person.

In Febuary, experts from the University of Leicester unearthed the remains of King Richard III from beneath a town parking lot and had continued to examine the site. The stone coffin was uncovered last week after eight people hauled off its heavy lid, only to discover the lead coffin inside.

While figuring out who's buried inside the coffin will be a lengthy process, archaeologists are considering three main contenders: 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.

The archaeologists who continued to dig this summer after finding King Richard III think the double coffin, which was located near Richard's grave, was buried during the 14th century, more than 100 years before Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.

Of the coffin's possible occupant, Swynsfeld died in 1272, William of Nottingham died in 1330 and Sir William de Moton died between 1356 and 1362.

Since discovering the coffin within a coffin, experts have wrapped up their four weeks of digging at the Leicester site and have hauled away their findings so that they can carry out tests to figure out the best way of opening the coffin without damaging its contents.

University of Leicester's Matthew Morris said in a blog post that no one on the team had previously seen a lead coffin within a stone coffin. "It was as exciting as finding Richard III," he said in a statement. "We still don't know who is inside — so there is still a question mark over it."