A WOMAN from the region has played a key role in what could turn out to be one of the greatest archaeological finds of the decade.

What are believed to be the remains of Richard III have been unearthed during the excavation of a car park in Leicester.

The site was once the choir of the Grey Friars church, where historical records indicate Richard was buried after his death at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

For Philippa Langley, 50, the find by a team of archaeologists from Leicester University marked the culmination of years of effort.

Originally from Hummersknott, Darlington, and now a screenwriter and member of the Richard III Society, she conceived the idea of the search and instigated the project.

The king had close links with Middleham, near Richmond , and Sheriff Hutton, near York, and her quest began as she researched his story and realised it had no proper ending.

She was on site when the remains were found last week.

She said: “I was sitting on a chair watching the entire thing. There was a tumult of emotions. I think shock, excitement, sadness and happiness all mixed into one.

“When the whole thing started, it was very hopeful, and to have those hopes realised is almost unbelievable.”

Further investigations have still to be carried out, including DNA tests, but initial examinations have revealed the find to be the skeleton of an adult male with the remains said to be in a good condition.

It also has a curved spine.

The university’s director of corporate affairs Richard Taylor said the skeleton appeared to have suffered significant trauma to the skull at or near the time of death – consistent with battle injuries.

Part of the skull had been damaged by a bladed instrument and a barbed metal arrowhead was found between the vertebrae of the upper back.

The skeleton also had spinal abnormalities, consistent with reports of the monarch’s appearance, which would have made his right shoulder visibly higher than the left shoulder.

Bioarchaeologist Dr Jo Appleby said they could not be sure of the identity until DNA tests had beern carried out, and possibly not even then.

She said: “What we do know is that we have excavated the skeleton of a man who bears a close resemblance to the historical accounts that we have been given of Richard and this is hugely exciting.”

Ms Langley, whose mother still lives in Darlington, is working on a documentary about the find for Channel 4, and plans to start pitching a feature film about Richard III.

It is hoped the remains will eventually be reburied in Leicester Cathedral.