The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0380 Friday, 14 September 2012
Date: Friday, September 14, 2012
Subject: Latest in Search for Richard III’s Skeleton
The Telegraph has the latest in the search for Richard III’s body. There is also a video embedded in the story.
Archaeologists believe they have found skeleton of King Richard III
By Nick Britten
Over 500 years since he was killed in battle, archaeologists believe they have finally found the skeleton of King Richard III, buried deep beneath a council car park.
Experts said a fully intact skeleton matched much about what they knew about the medieval king, and are hoping that DNA tests will put their beliefs beyond doubt.
The remains were found three weeks into an archaeological dig by a team from Leicester University, which recently pinpointed the site of the ancient Grey Friars church, where Richard was believed to be buried after being killed in the Battle of Bosworth in August 1485, and which was razed to the ground in 1538 during the Dissolution of the Monasteries ordered by Henry VIII.
To their astonishment, an excavation unearthed a result which experts said were “beyond our wildest dreams”.
A memorial stone to him rests in Leicester Cathedral, but nobody knows precisely where he was buried
Five key aspects underlined their belief that appears to have ended a decade-long search for his remains.
The skeleton was an adult male, who appeared fit and strong. He had suffered significant trauma to the head where a blade had cut away part of the back of his skull; an injury consistent with battle.
A barbed arrow head was found lodged between vertebrae in his upper back, and spinal abnormalities pointed to the fact that he had severe scoliosis, a form of spinal curvature. This would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than his left, which is consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance.
Richard’s two year reign was the subject of one of William Shakespeare’s most famous plays, which portrayed him as an evil, ugly hunchback, and which helped cement the public perception of him.
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Little has ever been known about Richard III’s death, other than he died on the battlefield and was supposedly taken on horseback by his vanquisher, Henry Tudor, who later became King Henry VII. He remains the last King of England to die in battle.
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Richard Taylor, from Leicester University, whose team of experts led the dig, said: “We are not saying today that we have found Richard III. What we are saying is that the search for Richard III has entered a new phase.
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DNA tests are expected to take 12 weeks, and Turi King, from the university’s department of genetics, said that if they were not able to extract DNA or if tests proved inconclusive, they were unlikely to be any other avenues to prove conclusively the skeleton was the King’s.
The site, underneath a social work car park in Leicester city centre, will undergo further examination but is unlikely to be preserved for the public to view. Once all the tests are done, the skeleton – if it is Richard III – will be buried in Leicester.