Thursday 13 September 2012

Digging for a King - Richard III Exciting Update

This is today's headline in the Leicester Mercury, our excellent local newspaper.

In case you can't see the smaller print, it says "Leicester archaeologists stun the world..." and indeed they have, because, for anyone who hasn't been following this archaeological dig then allow me to announce that all the evidence points to the amazing fact that...

The body of King Richard III has been found in Leicester.

Yesterday morning a press conference was held in Leicester's medieval Guildhall, an ancient and impressive building, a fitting place for an announcement about a King. Leicester University Archaeology Department, led by Richard Buckley, have found a skeleton in what was once the Choir of  Grey Friars Church. This is where he was said to have been buried all those many hundreds of years ago. I know we have to wait for final proof and completion of tests but... Wow!

This is what they have found:
  • A skeleton that appears to be male buried in an unusual position and covered in a shroud.
Records show that Richard III's body was stripped and displayed in the City by Henry VII's men to prove that he was dead. He would have then been buried in the Choir of the Church and this may well have been done hastily.
  • The skull has injuries that could have been caused by a sharp weapon.
Philippa Langley, playwright and member of the Richard III Society, said that there was a ballad written shortly after the Battle of Bosworth which claims that Richard died after being 'hit on the head with a poleaxe'.
  • There is a barbed arrowhead embedded in his upper back.
This shows that the body had been in some kind of battle before his death.
  • There is evidence of spinal abnormalities, possibly severe scoliosis, and so his right shoulder would have appeared to be higher than his left.
Tudor propoganda made him into an evil hunchback. This is not reliable evidence. More reliable are the witness accounts who saw his body during the three days it was displayed in Leicester and who spoke of certain abnormalities of his back.
  • There is DNA available from a direct descendant and this is now being checked at the Leicester University Genetics Department.
Michael Ibsen, a London furniture-maker, has been identified as a 17th generation descendant of Richard III. These DNA tests could take up to 12 weeks.

If you want to read more about this then I blogged about the dig at Digging for a King 
And I blogged about my visit to the site including photographs at Digging for a King - Richard III, Part II

During the press conference Philippa Langley said that this had been her lifetime's dream. She went on to say that if anyone listening has a dream then please don't ever give up on it because dreams really do come true.