Leicester

Richard III's remains sealed inside coffin at Leicester University

Ricahrd III coffin and remains Image copyright PA / University of Leicester
Image caption The former king's skeleton was placed inside a lead-lined inner casket known as an ossuary

Richard III's remains have been sealed inside a coffin for the first time since his death more than five centuries ago.

The former king's skeleton was found buried under a car park - the site of a former chapel - in Leicester in 2012.

At a private ceremony on Sunday, his bones were sealed in a lead-lined inner casket which was then placed inside an oak coffin.

He is due to be reinterred at the city's cathedral on 26 March.

'Proud moment'

During the ceremony at the University of Leicester, the king's remains were laid out with a rosary and packed with "medieval materials" including a natural woollen fleece, wadding and unbleached linen.

The lead inner casket - known as an ossuary - was placed inside the coffin built by Michael Ibsen, a descendent of the king.

Canadian Mr Ibsen, whose DNA was used to help identify the king's remains, fixed the lid on the coffin.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Molten lead was used to make the ossuary into which Richard III's remains were placed

Dr John Castleman, who made the ossuary, and was tasked with welding it shut, said it was a proud moment.

A piece of Irish linen embroidered by Elizabeth Nokes from the Richard III Society was also placed alongside the skeleton, which was laid out "as if articulated".

Archaeologist Richard Buckley said efforts were made to ensure the bones remain in the same condition they would have if they had not been discovered.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Richard III, whose remains were found in a car park, will be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral later this month

"We've got to ensure they're carefully cushioned and can't move around, and also ensure any materials used for the packing don't cause any damage to the bones," he said.

Representatives from the university, cathedral, local councils and the Richard III Society joined descendants of the king and an independent witness to watch the process inside the university's council room, formerly a chapel.

On Sunday 22 March, the coffin will travel through Leicestershire before a service at the cathedral.

The following Thursday, it will be lowered into a tomb - the king's final resting place.

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