Who is the woman in the coffin found at Richard III’s grave site?

After the coffin was opened, another shocker: The person inside was a woman, researchers said this week.

Who was she? A wealthy aristocrat, church benefactor, beloved servant?

Whoever she was, the woman found in a double coffin — a lead coffin encased in a larger stone coffin — near the final resting place of King Richard III was probably a very noteworthy person.

At least that’s the theory of Mathew Morris, an archaeologist at the University of Leicester.

“What stands out more is the contrast between the care and attention taken with these burials — large, neatly dug graves with coffins — and the crudeness of Richard III’s grave,” Morris said. “The more we examine it, the clearer it becomes how atypical Richard III’s burial really was.”

When Richard’s grave was discovered, he was found in a grave that was simply too small for his body. His torso was left in an “odd position” that left his head partially propped up against the grave side. In an academic paper published a few months after the discovery, British archaeologists described the slain king as having been buried “with minimal reverence.”

A burial more fitting for a king is in the offing, however. Richard III will be reinterred at Leicester Cathedral later this month, after his remains are released by the University of Leicester.

2014: King Richard III visitor center opens