The man with the job of protecting the most famous parking lot in the world was having a busy day. “Sorry, guys,” Jake Jones said as the latest in a steady stream of onlookers tried to walk through the gates. “You’ll have to wait for the guided tour.”
Parking lots such as this one in Leicester, England, rarely receive such attention. But then, no others can claim to have been the resting place of a king of England for the past 527 years.
Since Feb. 4, when researchers from the University of Leicester announced that a skeleton found during an archaeological dig at the parking lot in September 2012 was indeed that of Richard III, a monarch immortalized by Shakespeare, Jones has been fending off hundreds of curious visitors hoping to catch a glimpse of the deep trench where the skeleton was found. (It is just visible from the gates, toward the far end of the parking lot, and is covered with a white tent.)
Leicester, a former manufacturing town about two hours from London, is welcoming the onslaught, hoping that after taking in a guided tour that stops at the parking lot, people will stick around to see other tourist attractions that have swiftly sprung up.
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The 14th-century Guildhall has become the center of activity (leicester.gov.uk/museums). In addition to selling tickets for the guided tour, it also opened an exhibition called “Leicester’s Search for a King” four days after the announcement of the bones’ origins.