by Emily Flanagan
ARCHAEOLOGISTS near York believe they have found a chapel built by Richard III to commemorate the Yorkist victory in one of the bloodiest battles ever fought on English soil.
As the row continues over whether the Plantagenet king should be buried in York or Leicester, a discovery in a peaceful field on the outskirts of York has unearthed more of his legacy, ending a 16-year search for the building's remains.
The land was where the Battle of Towton was fought; the bloody clash between the Lancastrians and Yorkists in the War of the Roses. According to accounts at the time, it left 28,000 soldiers dead, causing rivers to have run red with blood and survivors fleeing across “bridges of bodies”.
It led to the Yorkist king Edward being crowned Edward IV.
After his death, his younger brother, Richard III, took to the throne and began building a chapel at Towton, near York, in 1483 to commemorate the battle, which took place 22 years earlier.
Richard III died two years later at the Battle of Bosworth Field, in Leicester and the chapel was never completed. It fell into decline and by the late 1500s had disappeared altogether.
Now archaeologists believe they may have found evidence of his lost chapel.
While filming a new archaeology television series, Medieval Dead, due to air on Yesterday on October 21, archaeologists uncovered what they believed to be the structural remains of the building.
A University of York spokesman for the department stressed the research so far looked positive, but said researchers can’t prove exactly where the chapel was until a larger excavation has taken place.
But lead archaeologist, Tim Sutherland, from the university, said they had found lead and glass from the windows and worked stone which proved archaeological evidence the chapel exists.
Mr Sutherland has been searching for evidence of the chapel since 1997, but while filming the television program they narrowed their search down to a small area, where with the help of a University of York expert in medieval stonemasonry, they found evidence of a sophisticated late 15th century religious building.
Mr Sutherland recently told historyextra magazine that following the Battle of Towton, Edward IV had planned to build a grand memorial chapel where people could pray for the dead.
When Edward died in 1483, his brother, Richard III began to build a commemorative chapel. But when he was killed at Bosworth, it became unpopular amongst the Lancastrian-supporting Tudors and fell into decline.