THE remains of a chapel, thought to have been built by Richard
III to commemorate a battle fought at Towton, in Yorkshire, have
been unearthed as part of a TV documentary.
Contemporary reports suggested that 28,000 soldiers died in the
War of the Roses battle at Towton, which was fought in a snowstorm
on Palm Sunday, in 1461. The fighting was said to have lasted ten
hours, and surrounding rivers are said to have run red with
The victory won by Edward IV secured the crown for the Yorkist
cause, and he planned a grand memorial chapel on the site, south of
Work did not start, however, until his younger brother, the Duke
of Gloucester, came to the throne in 1483, as Richard III. When he
died at the Battle of Bosworth two years later, the chapel was
unfinished, and fell into disrepair.
Now experts who have been working on the battlefield since 1996
believe that they have found it. Tim Sutherland, a tutor in
battlefield archaeology at York University, who made the first
discovery of a mass grave 16 years ago, said: "The records say it
was sumptuously finished - it was a royal structure; so we knew it
would be of a very high standard.
"We know it had a roof, but maybe the quality decorations
expected of a royal chapel had not been completed. And once Richard
was deposed it would soon have been looted. Eventually its stones
would have been quarried for other buildings; it probably existed
for less than 100 years."
The dig was part-funded by the Sheffield-based TV production
company Dragonshead for a documentary series, Medieval
Dead, which starts later this month on UKTV's Yesterday
His team discovered evidence of a sophisticated structure,
including lead and glass from the windows, roof tiles, and
well-finished blocks of stone.
"It looks ecclesiastical, it's definitely not a house, we can
date it to the 15th century, and it is of a quality that would be
used for an important building," he said. "We are very positive
that it is the lost memorial chapel."