Archaeologists Find Mystery Coffin At Richard III Burial Site

archaeologists
University of Leicester

Archaeologists from the University of Leicester in England have discovered a strange coffin at the same site where they discovered the remains of King Richard III earlier this year.

The team was digging in the foundations of the Franciscan friary of the Grey Friars, where Richard was buried in 1485 after being killed at the Battle of Bosworth. They were hoping to find other historic burials and especially wanted to complete the excavation of a stone sarcophagus that had been partially revealed in the initial excavation.

Once they cleared away the dirt and opened the coffin, they were shocked to find a lead coffin inside the stone one. This may be the first medieval burial of its kind and now scholars are puzzling over what it means, and how to open it without damaging the contents.

They know there’s a body inside because the bottom part has been damaged by time enough to reveal a pair of skeletal feet. Church records suggest it may be one of three people–two leaders of the English Grey Friars order named Peter Swynsfeld (died 1272) and William of Nottingham (died 1330). It may also be a knight named Sir William de Moton of Peckleton, who died between 1356 and 1362.

Richard III’s remains will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral early next year. A permanent exhibition about Richard III and the excavation will open in town at about the same time, hopefully with this new burial as part of the exhibit. The university has also launched a Richard III website.

Giant Blue Rooster In Trafalgar Square Leaves Londoners Bemused And Befuddled


Trafalgar Square in London has a new statue — a giant blue cockerel. It’s the latest work of art to adorn the Fourth Plinth, a nineteenth-century base flanking Nelson’s Column. The other three plinths all have statues but the Fourth Plinth never got one, and so in recent years it’s become home to a series of temporary sculptures.

The giant blue cock, as the British media can’t resist calling it, has caused a bit of a stir. The cockerel and the color blue are both symbols of France, and this is a square dedicated to one of the British Empire’s greatest victories over Napoleon. German artist Katharina Fritsch, who created the sculpture, said she wasn’t aware of the symbolism. As London Mayor Boris Johnson says (he’s the blond guy with the awful haircut in this video) it could mean a lot of things, such as the British victory in the Tour de France. At the very least, the royal blue hue ties into London’s recent baby boy mania.

The Huffington Post has more photos of the giant rooster.

Eccentric England: The Headington Shark

Headington Shark
Henry Flower

Once again, I’m back in Oxford for my annual summer working holiday. I love this place. This quintessentially English city offers beautiful colleges, the world’s coolest museum, even the chance to bump into the Queen.

But all this pales in comparison to the sight of a giant shark crashing into a roof.

The Oxford suburb of Headington is a bit dull, so local resident Bill Heine at 2 New High Street decided to commission sculptor John Buckley to create a 25-foot shark to adorn his roof. It was put up on August 9, 1986, the 41st anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing. As Heine explained, “The shark was to express someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger and desperation … It is saying something about CND, nuclear power, Chernobyl and Nagasaki.”

The clipboard Nazis in the local council were not amused. They tried to have it removed as a pubic hazard. When their engineer said it was perfectly safe, they tried various other excuses. Much legal wrangling ensued.

Decades later, the naysayers are all gone and the shark is still there. It’s a much-loved local landmark, a modern folly. I see it every time I come in on the bus from London and enjoy pointing it out to newcomers. There’s even a Headington Shark Appreciation Society on Facebook with more than a thousand members. So if you’re coming to Oxford, pop on over and see the Headington Shark.

Photo of the Day: Delph Locks

Delph Locks England
Brian Clift, Flickr

It’s a balmy 91° in Northern Virginia today, and humidity has it feeling near-triple digits outside. Needless to say, water of any sort is a welcome sight — including this photo of the Delph Locks in West Midlands, England.

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

The Day I Jumped In Regent’s Canal And Tried To Save My Wet iPhone With Uncooked Rice

regent canalThere are plenty of ways for Americans to make a good impression in London. Scurrying into stores dripping wet, asking for large sacks of rice and zip lock bags isn’t one of them. I was enjoying a relaxing walk along Regent’s Canal after a visit to the Camden Lock Market in North London when, daydreaming, I tripped over a mooring post. I fell to the ground and my backpack, containing my Nikon D7000 DSLR camera and my iPhone, tumbled right into the canal.

It only took me an instant to realize that I needed to jump in the water to retrieve the bag and in my urgency, I didn’t think to ditch my wallet or take my shirt, pants or shoes off before taking the plunge. Recovering my bag was easy, but hoisting myself back out of the canal took some doing. And as I pulled myself out of the murky, smelly water, a small crowd had gathered to watch the spectacle, perfect theater for a Sunday afternoon.”You oh-roight, mate?” one man asked as I stood on the narrow walkway, dripping wet and feeling ridiculous.

“Nice day fer a swim, innit?” quipped another. Indeed it was a lovely day for a swim; 61 degrees with London’s characteristically ominous, fast-moving clouds.

A passing boat pulled over and a couple rushed over to me with a bath towel and a clean T-shirt. The man said the shirt was mine to keep and the woman helped me dry my camera and iPhone.

“You’ve got to find a sack of rice and fast,” the man said. “The sooner you get your electronics sealed inside a bag with rice, the better your chances.”

I walked back to the Camden Lock, my pants feeling oppressively wet and heavy, with water sloshing around in my shoes. I consoled myself with a roti at a Pakistani sandwich stall and the owner confirmed that I needed to find some uncooked rice and fast.

A South Asian clerk in the nearest supermarket I could find, eyed me warily as I asked for a big bag of rice and zip lock bags.

“Why are you all wet?” he asked.

I explained and suddenly he became interested in my quest.

“I have a wet iPhone too,” he said. “Let me know if the rice works, will you?”

He didn’t know what zip lock bags were, but we found the British equivalent along with a few small bags of rice. After I paid for the items, I crouched down in the corner of the store and put my camera and phone inside the bags, then began poring the rice over them. An over-officious middle management type in a short-sleeve shirt and clip-on tie came over to me, and in the sort of vaguely hostile way a store security guard might approach a homeless person, he asked, “What uh you doing there, sir?”

But thankfully my new friend rushed over to explain. “It’s OK,” he said. “He just took a swim in Regent’s Canal and is trying to save his gear.”

I returned to my apartment in Earl’s Court, still wet and smelling like something unpleasant dredged from the bottom of the canal. I rather liked my new T-shirt, but felt sick thinking that I may have just pissed away $2,000 worth of electronic equipment into an old canal. I heard different stories about how long I needed to keep my gear turned off and inside the bags of rice. Some said you needed just 24 hours, but others said 3-4 days. I was in town to cover Wimbledon but played it safe, resisting the temptation to snap photos of the All England Club for four full days. On my last morning in town, I nervously took my items out of the rice, like a teenager opening a slim-looking admissions letter envelope from their dream college.

The camera worked, but the iPhone was displaying gibberish. I took it to a cellphone shop on Earl’s Court Road and a Pakistani man named Akbar, who sat on a stool surrounded by phones and phone gadgetry, read my iPhone its last rites.

“This phone is dead,” he said, grim faced and stoic. “Very dead. I’m afraid there’s nothing that can be done.”

I felt a bit like a dog owner facing up to a grim diagnosis from a veterinarian. As I boarded a train for the brilliantly named tube stop “Cockfosters” I took stock of my trip. I was leaving town without a working phone but I had an unforgettable story to tell. And a new T-shirt.