A five-year quest to locate the tomb of d'Artagnan – the inspiration for Alexandre Dumas’s novel The Three Musketeers – has led to a small Dutch church where new research suggests the swashbuckling hero is buried.

Charles de Batz de Castelmore d’Artagnan died during the Siege of Maastricht on June 25, 1673, and, according to a leading French historian, was laid to rest only few kilometres away at Saint Peter and Paul Church in Wolder. "The trail is very precise," said Odile Bordaz, the author of several works on the musketeer.

Ms Bordaz discounted theories that d'Artagnan's body was brought back to France, and is pressing the Dutch authorities and the Catholic Church to approve an archaeological dig of the site. "I would rate the chance of success at 50/50," she said. "But it would be wonderful to find him. It's like a police inquiry."

During the siege the bodies of French officers were buried in the nearest Catholic church and recently discovered documents revealed that d'Artagnan's camp was close to Wolder. This almost certainly meant that he was buried in Saint Peter and Paul Church, Ms Bordaz said.

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