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.


  1. I got a little tingle down my spine when I saw your blog title pop up....this is so exciting. I can't imagine the excitement on that dig site when the bones were discovred. Here's hoping the dna tests are positive.

  2. Loved the press conference with all that knowledge on display! Really hope the DNA comes through.

  3. such an exciting story, isn't it? even for a mere lay-person!Leicester must be buzzing right now. Hopefully do great things for teaching of history too.
    Ali B

  4. WOW! I agree with the wow sentiment and I hope the DNA will prove that it is Richard III -- wouldn't that be something?

  5. That is SO exciting. It made the Dallas paper today and I thought of your blog posts leading up to this. I felt like I was in the "know". Very cool and just think - you visited, up close and personal. Wow!

  6. Gosh! It must be him because he was known as a "hunchback". I wonder why they buried him in the choir? Will there be a funeral in Westminster Abbey now I wonder? What a thing - buried under a car park :-)

  7. I actually didn't think they'd find him so easily. It's a fascinating story to follow.

  8. So excited especially as he's from my favourite period in history. I do hope (if it is him) they lay him to rest here in Leicester.

  9. So excited especially as he's from my favourite period in history. I do hope (if it is him) they lay him to rest here in Leicester.

  10. Oh this is great! I've always had a soft spot for Richard - as a hunchback myself. I so hope it turns out to be him.

  11. Thrilling news! Strange, isn't it, that CSI can do the DNA tests in hours? If it is him, what then? Another, decent burial? It seems indecent somehow to be digging people up just to find out if they are who we think they are, so my excitement at the link to history is tinged with a wish they'd leave these skeletons in peace. Does that make me odd?

  12. This is so exciting, Ros. There was a brief piece about it on R4 this morning, suggesting that if this is Richard 111 the next step may be to connect him with the Princes in the Tower and try to prove he didn't do it.

    (Talk about a cold case review ...)

  13. How cool is that?! I've always thought it would be interesting to be involved in archaeology :)

  14. Oh my gosh, I didn't know about this until catching up on your posts. How amazing! I love history so this is just fascinating to me. I can't imagine being involved in a find like this, what a thrill that must be.

  15. I am beside myself with excitement about these findings it is almost unbelivevable. I do so hope the DNA matches up and that Richard has finally been found. I visited Fotheringhay earlier this year where Richard was born and where his parents and older brother are buried and then a couple of weeks ago the 'dig' in Leicester just as it was getting started. Can't wait for more news:)

  16. What an eventful summer you've had in England! I'm sure it will be well worth the wait when the results are in. Thanks for the first-rate reporting Rosalind! Wishing you a Happy and Healthy New Year! Julie

  17. There is a buzz in the air around Leicester and beyond whenever this story is mentioned.

    I have a feeling we will learn a lot more over the coming weeks.

    If it is him, There is going to be one almighty rush to claim him!

  18. Simply amazing stuff. I love your closing message, how beautifully inspiring.

  19. That is amazing news Ros! Really exciting and let's hope it is indeed him!


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