Has Richard III’s body been found?

There’s some exciting news in the press today. Scientists digging underneath a car park in Leicester looking for the remains of Richard III have discovered a skeleton they believe is that of the Yorkist King.

Richard III 209x300 Has Richard IIIs body been found?

Richard III by an unknown artist, on display in the National Portrait Gallery.

Richard III was defeated and killed in the battle of Bosworth field in 1485 by Henry Tudor, the future Henry VII. This was the final battle in the Wars of the Roses and saw the beginning of Tudor rule in England. Evidence shows that following Richard’s defeat in battle his body was taken to Leicester and put on display so everyone could see he really was dead. After this the events become more confused and there are conflicting reports as to his exact fate, although it has long been believed he was buried somewhere in Leicester.

The team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester have been excavating the car park, which is behind council offices in Leicester city centre, for 3 weeks and say there is strong evidence to support the Richard III identification! Here are the main clues:

  • They are the remains of a male – good start!
  • The skeleton shows signs of a curved spine which matches descriptions of Richard having a “crookback” and one shoulder bigger than the other.
  • There are signs of trauma to the head consistent with war wounds. Richard Buckley from the University of Leicester says “Between two of the vertebrae was an iron arrowhead, possibly with barbs”

The remains were not buried in a coffin which Richard believes shows the former King was probably buried simply, in just a shroud. A sad end for someone who had ruled England for just over 2 years but I guess that’s what has to be expected when you’ve been defeated in battle and the King needs to assert his new found power.

The skeleton will be sent away for DNA analysis which could take 3 months, so we’re going to have to be patient for the results. The DNA will be compared to DNA from Michael Ibsen who is a direct descendant of Richard III’s eldest sister, Anne of York. It must be fascinating to find out you’ve got such an interesting family tree and are part of an exciting historical find.

It’s not surprising to hear reports that the discovery has created a massive response online, this could be one of the biggest archaeological finds in years! It will help historians fill in more gaps in our knowledge of the Wars of the Roses, the end of Yorkist rule and the start of the Tudor dynasty. I’ll be keeping my eye out for more reports on this story.


Sources: Sky News (12/09/12), The Telegraph (12/09/12)

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