THE government is being asked to help fund tests that could solve a 600-year-old mystery surrounding the disappearance and death of an English king.
Remains have been found near the high altar at a former Dominican friary in Stirling that could be those of King Richard II.
Yesterday Central Croydon Conservative MP Andrew Pelling appealed for government help to verify the remains.
King Richard, who quelled the Peasants' Revolt as a boy king in 1381, was deposed by his cousin Henry Bolingbroke in 1399.
Officially, he starved to death in Pontefract Castle in Yorkshire in 1400 and was eventually laid to rest in Westminster Abbey.
But it is also believed that he escaped his captors and fled to Scotland and died in Stirling, where he was buried at Blackfriars.
Stirling Council has told a developer that wants to build on the old friary site that they must excavate, remove the remains and carry out preliminary tests on them to check whether they date back to the time of the late king.
However, further tests for full DNA analysis would require extra money which would not be covered by any planning conditions.
Mr Pelling, a keen amateur historian, raised the issue of extra funding and possible repatriation during Scottish questions in Westminster yesterday.
He said he was eager to find out the truth behind the king's disappearance and death.
"The government should take this issue seriously," he said."It would be a discovery of significant proportions if Richard II was proved to have escaped from Pontefract and lived on in Scotland.
He added: "If Richard was discovered to be the Stirling skeleton, then the government would have to consider what the appropriate ceremony would be for repatriating the remains to England, and laying them to rest beside Richard's beloved wife, Anne of Bohemia.
"This would then beg the question of who has lain in Westminster Abbey as Richard II for the past 600 years."
His appeal received a noncommital response. Scottish minister Ann McKechin said: "I am grateful to the honourable gentleman for providing me with a little advance notice of his supplementary question. It gave me an opportunity to look at the reign of Richard II.
"He crushed the Peasants' Revolt, built up a group of unpopular favourites, arrested, imprisoned and executed the people he worked with, or banished them and confiscated their estates. It sounds a little like a Conservative Party selection meeting."
She went on: "I am sure that we are all very interested in the results of the archaeological investigation, and that the Scottish Government and the local authority will be more than pleased to promote any find that might be discovered."