A new exhibition featuring items from the time of Richard III is opening less than a fortnight before the controversial king is reinterred.
But while the royal ceremony will take in Leicester Cathedral, the new Richard III Experience is opening its doors in York - the city where some campaigners believe Richard should have been laid to rest.
The exhibition is being opened by the Jorvik group of attractions which says it will include some never-seen-before relics of the Wars of the Roses, which ended with Richard’s death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485.
One of the most important exhibits is the remnants of a 15th century handgun found at the site of Britain’s bloodiest battle - the 1461 Battle of Towton, which was fought near Tadcaster in Yorkshire and left 28,000 men dead.
Experts think the weapon blew apart, probably killing the soldier using it.
Sarah Maltby, director of attractions for York Archaeological Trust, said: “A number of gun fragments from the battle were recovered around five years ago, but this is the first time they will be seen by the public.
“Handguns had been around for less than a century by the time of the Battle of Towton in 1461, and these fragments show just how unreliable they were. We can tell that this weapon effectively blew apart, almost certainly in use, so we can only imagine the horrific injuries - and possible fatality - its owner would have suffered.”
There is also a human skeleton, which archaeologists believe may be a Lancastrian soldier who was executed after the Battle of Towton.
Philippa Langley, who was one of the leading figures in the rediscovery of Richard’s remains, said: “The Looking For Richard Project has been an extraordinary ten year journey of discovery and I’m thrilled we are telling its story in King Richard’s ‘faire city’.”
“King Richard may only have ruled for two years but his legacy extends right up to modern times, so we thought it was important to bring his story up to date, adding to the wealth of material we already have on display about his world.
“It’s also impossible to understand Richard’s life without going deeper into the history of the Wars of the Roses that led to Richard III being on the throne, so we are delighted to be displaying many finds from the Battle of Towton which have never been seen before.”
Simon Richardson, honorary member of the Towton Battlefield Society, said: “Each find has been like a little piece of jigsaw, and piecing these together has made it possible to discover much more about how the battle was conducted. The handgun fragment, for example, is probably one of the most important finds. It represents a transition period when traditional longbows were still being used but ‘modern’ handguns were just being introduced onto the battlefield.”
The Richard III Experience opens on Saturday.
A new display on Richard III at the Yorkshire Museum entitled Richard III: Man & Myth will open on March 27. This is the day after the reinterment ceremony at Leicester Cathedral on Thursday March 26.
Richard’s remains were discovered under a car park in Leicester city centre in 2012. The decision to reinter the monarch in Leicester was challenged by a group of protesters who argued that York Minster was a more fitting final resting place.