Archaeologists Find King Richard III's Forgotten Bones

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Archaeologists Find King Richard III's Forgotten Bones

DDNA evidence confirms that the bones found in Leicester are really those of the long-lost king.

A team of archaeologists at the University of Leicester have announced that they are convinced "beyond reasonable doubt" that a skeleton unearthed from beneath a parking lot in Leicester is in fact that of King Richard III. Richard III died in 1485 after a short reign of 26 months, and was the last English king to die in battle. Richard suffered from scoliosis, a condition that causes curvature of the spine, which was the first sign that the archaeologists had found something special. Next, Radiocarbon dating placed the skeleton at about 1455-1540. The wounds on the skeleton are consistent with contemporary reports of Richard's demise, including a likely fatal halberd and sword wound to the skull. An osteo-archaeologist with the researchers said that "Both of these injuries would have caused an almost instant loss of consciousness and death would have followed quickly afterwards. In the case of the larger wound, if the blade had penetrated 7cm into the brain, which we cannot determine from the bones, death would have been instantaneous."

The skeleton was found under a parking lot in Leicester, the previous site of the church of Grefriars where historical accounts tell us Richard was unceremoniously buried after his death. Prior to investigations by archaeologists and historians the exact site of Greyfriars had been lost. The final, and most trustworthy, piece of information confirming the skeleton's identity was a DNA test comparing the bones to Richard III's living relatives. Genealogical researchers managed to track down a 17th generation descendent of Richard's sister living in London, whose DNA was confirmed to match with Richard's.

A reburial ceremony is planned in Leicester cathedral for 2014, and a Richard III museum will soon be constructed near the site. Philippa Langley, of the Richard III society, said plans were well underway. "I'm totally thrilled, I'm overwhelmed to be honest, it's been a long hard journey." Of the King's much maligned reputation derived from the Shakespeare play, she said "We're going to completely reassess Richard III, we're going to completely look at all the sources again, and hopefully there's going to be a new beginning for Richard as well."

Source: University of Leicester via BBC

Permalink

Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

That is awesome...what a fantastic find. Truly. I have to say though that Richard is my favorite literary villain, yes even more than Iago.

"Why, I can smile and murder whiles I smile,
And cry 'content' to that which grieves my heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face for all occasions"

...and that isn't even from Richard III.

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

Nah, history and heritage aren't important at all; we should ignore history and its relics, that always works right?

Saviordd1:

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

Nah, history and heritage aren't important at all; we should ignore history and its relics, that always works right?

Bones. Thats all they found.

Everything you could possibly want to know about the man and his life can be found here.

Pretty typical of us British. The body of one of our most important historical figures turns up, and it was buried in a car park all along.

CAPTCHA: tea with milk

That's... bloody brilliant, captcha. What better way to celebrate this important historical find?

Nice find. Time to put that bad boy on display!

IT's kinda odd that he was buried under a parking spot marked with "R", and that the first body they found when they dug was Richard...but hell odd things happen.

Even with all the evidence I'm still skeptical though. It just seem too unlikely at the moment...but I'm sure I'll be more exited when I read into it.

If it is truly him then that's just plain fantastic.

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Pretty typical of us British. The body of one of our most important historical figures turns up, and it was buried in a car park all along.

CAPTCHA: tea with milk

That's... bloody brilliant, captcha. What better way to celebrate this important historical find?

An impromptu war with those Lancastrian Pretenders?

As a Yorkshireman, I don't really understand why the guy is being buried in a Lancastrian cathedral. York minster or Westminster would make more sense, surely?

gigastar:

Bones. Thats all they found.

Everything you could possibly want to know about the man and his life can be found here.

Sure, who needs the will to actually go out and find things when you can just in front of a screen and read about on wikipedia? To think we've been wasting all this time making discoveries and the like instead of slipping into atrophy at our computers.

....

I was being sarcastic.

I was hoping the last piece of evidence would be a crown made from solid gold with "Richard" written in old English carved into the front.

maninahat:

As a Yorkshireman, I don't really understand why the guy is being buried in a Lancastrian cathedral. York minster or Westminster would make more sense, surely?

Could be so York has a little bit of Yorkshire in Lancastrian ground, so as to form an effective rally point and HQ when War of the Roses v2.0 springs up?

OT: I think this is awesome. It's history in motion, a facet of our past being realised here in the modern day. It's what makes history so fucking amazing. On a rather more banal note, I just kind of love that he was buried what is now a car park. I love the image of a bunch of historians just tearing apart a car park in Leicester on an Indiana Jones-esque search for the long lost bones of a hunchbacked tyrant king.

JonB:
snip

The BBC just reported on the fact that historians have now analysed Richard's skull and digitally reconstructed how his face might've looked! SCIENCE!

MarsProbe:

gigastar:

Bones. Thats all they found.

Everything you could possibly want to know about the man and his life can be found here.

Sure, who needs the will to actually go out and find things when you can just in front of a screen and read about on wikipedia? To think we've been wasting all this time making discoveries and the like instead of slipping into atrophy at our computers.

....

I was being sarcastic.

Sometime it's just to slow down and... smell the roses.

F'Angus:
IT's kinda odd that he was buried under a parking spot marked with "R", and that the first body they found when they dug was Richard...but hell odd things happen.

Oh there's a perfectly simple explanation for that.

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

It's the body of the king who ruled in England in the last years of the middle ages, giving way to the eventual English Reformation. His body can tell what was true about him and what was made up by the conquering regime to make him more monstrous. He is the subject of a play by Shakespeare, which shaped the way most people used to view this person, helping to understand the attitudes of the time.

maninahat:

j-e-f-f-e-r-s:
Pretty typical of us British. The body of one of our most important historical figures turns up, and it was buried in a car park all along.

CAPTCHA: tea with milk

That's... bloody brilliant, captcha. What better way to celebrate this important historical find?

An impromptu war with those Lancastrian Pretenders?

I say we invade France, or pit Harry and William against each other in a chess boxing match!

The sport of Kings!

gigastar:

Saviordd1:

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

Nah, history and heritage aren't important at all; we should ignore history and its relics, that always works right?

Bones. Thats all they found.

Everything you could possibly want to know about the man and his life can be found here.

Bones, sure, of an important historical figure. A King no less! Honestly, don't ever play any Tomb Raiders and Uncharteds, they'd mean nothing to you. Hell, if we ever find an ancient Egyptian tomb or even so far as Atlantis, I won't bother telling you. After all, it's just a bunch of rocks and old buildings, isn't it? Stick to your Wikipedia articles, mate. Meanwhile, the rest of us can marvel at history unfolding before our eyes.

Seriously though, this is fantastic!

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

If you're going to be like that, then so was going to the moon.

OT: This is a brilliant discovery. The perfect mix of chance discovery and scientific method. I'm also willing to bet without further reading that the descendant was tracked down using tax records. Seriously, we brits can pretty much track anything through time using tax records.

i heard he liked camping and bacon rolls...

"Now is the winter of our discount tent, Made glorious summer by this bun of pork..."

Sounds great. Not everyday we get to dig up a king and look at his bones.

Although death by a halberd to the back of the head? Ouch. Haven't seen that killmove in War of the Roses yet. The developers should do a DLC for the King Richard death strike where a halberd user repeatedly hacks at the fallen opponent's head. I do believe they could call it the King Dick Head move ! ha ha!

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

Hmmm .... someone with over 3000 posts on the Escapist probably shouldn't be complaining about wasted man hours. Glass houses n' all that, eh?

That's kinda cool. Wonder what took so long to find him?

Edit: Upon further review, I had the wrong king for my interesting fact. My apologies, Carry on.

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

So, what do you think about dinosaurs, fossils, the study of life and about 50% of biology in general, then? I mean, those are mostly corpses, too. Technically, about 50% of that is just a bunch of rocks.

While it's not exactly substantial to you, rare finds like this kind of get a lot of historians into hysterics. They like this kind of stuff. Besides, when there's a noteworthy person in history, it's nice to get some sort of closure on his life, even if it turns out to be "Yep, he did, in fact, die in this battle. Case closed, everyone."

Sleekit:
i heard he liked camping and bacon rolls...

"Now is the winter of our discount tent, Made glorious summer by this bun of pork..."

And thats coffee all over my keyboard.

Well played good sir.

As a history major I can say with all of my history street cred that...

...That's pretty neat. Also...

Roses are red, Violets are blue. Kill all the Lancastrians, and those damn Tutors too!

JonB:

A reburial ceremony is planned in Leicester cathedral for 2014

Wait, is this like a second funeral or something? How exactly is that going to work? It's not like there's going to be a ton of mourners and people to give speeches about their relationship to him. Whatever, this is still a really cool find.

Gentleman Adventurer:
Kill all the Lancastrians

Ppphhht, you didn't kill us 600 years ago and you sure as shit won't do it now. :P

CrossLOPER:

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

It's the body of the king who ruled in England in the last years of the middle ages, giving way to the eventual English Reformation. His body can tell what was true about him and what was made up by the conquering regime to make him more monstrous. He is the subject of a play by Shakespeare, which shaped the way most people used to view this person, helping to understand the attitudes of the time.

And what new information are his bones going to tell us other than that he probably died of a halberd to the face?

Unless youre about to tell me that coroners can examine his pelvis to see how much wenching he did?

Idlemessiah:
If you're going to be like that, then so was going to the moon.

Apart from the issue of even daring to compare the two, the moon can one day be used to launch spacecraft that dont have to be biult with stupidly powerful engines to escape Earths gravity.

We just arent that far along yet.

ThunderCavalier:

gigastar:
Yay, we found a corpse.

Totally worth it too. All those manhours put into it...

Seriously, finding a 500 year old corpse its going to change the world someday...

Cant keep it up anymore. Its all a bloody waste of time.

So, what do you think about dinosaurs, fossils, the study of life and about 50% of biology in general, then? I mean, those are mostly corpses, too. Technically, about 50% of that is just a bunch of rocks.

While it's not exactly substantial to you, rare finds like this kind of get a lot of historians into hysterics. They like this kind of stuff. Besides, when there's a noteworthy person in history, it's nice to get some sort of closure on his life, even if it turns out to be "Yep, he did, in fact, die in this battle. Case closed, everyone."

Sorry, i didnt realise that human bones were such a rarity theese days.

but his skull will be SUCH THE HIT at all of the fancy parties

gigastar:

And what new information are his bones going to tell us other than that he probably died of a halberd to the face?

Unless youre about to tell me that coroners can examine his pelvis to see how much wenching he did?

It might actually tell us how true to life the history we've read of him might actually be. For instance, Ramses II was a spin doctor without shame, rewriting history out of whole cloth to suit his needs. I doubt that any ruler of more recent vintage is going be any less inclined to such behavior, and as a result, having a body on hand, even a skeleton, allows us to take a look at the actual, hard physical evidence of a historical figure, and allow us to try and discern who might be giving the most accurate portrayal of the man and history itself as a result. Most people know of Richard III from Shakespeare, and however stylized that portrayal might be, it's what's in the public consciousness (even if barely).

Simply put, while men and their interpretations can lie, the actual physical relics and the bones cannot, and actually getting some more factual truth out of this is worthwhile enough, just as with any other form of archaeology or even paleontology. Richard isn't any less dead or any more relevant in our present day and age, but being able to set the record straight is reason enough for the effort.

I... I swear I've heard this before...


Yeah... so I guess they've finally dug him up now, right?
That's... nice, I guess.

Sizzle Montyjing:
I... I swear I've heard this before...


Yeah... so I guess they've finally dug him up now, right?
That's... nice, I guess.

Talking about the same incident. They've just done enough work like DNA tests to be confident enough to declare that yes it is him.

Edit: To be clear that original David Mitchell piece is around the original dig announcement when they dug him up and said they had substantial circumstantial evidence that it was him but needed to do more work to confirm it. This announcement made on Monday is the culmination of said work.

Saika Renegade:

gigastar:

And what new information are his bones going to tell us other than that he probably died of a halberd to the face?

Unless youre about to tell me that coroners can examine his pelvis to see how much wenching he did?

It might actually tell us how true to life the history we've read of him might actually be. For instance, Ramses II was a spin doctor without shame, rewriting history out of whole cloth to suit his needs. I doubt that any ruler of more recent vintage is going be any less inclined to such behavior, and as a result, having a body on hand, even a skeleton, allows us to take a look at the actual, hard physical evidence of a historical figure, and allow us to try and discern who might be giving the most accurate portrayal of the man and history itself as a result. Most people know of Richard III from Shakespeare, and however stylized that portrayal might be, it's what's in the public consciousness (even if barely).

Simply put, while men and their interpretations can lie, the actual physical relics and the bones cannot, and actually getting some more factual truth out of this is worthwhile enough, just as with any other form of archaeology or even paleontology. Richard isn't any less dead or any more relevant in our present day and age, but being able to set the record straight is reason enough for the effort.

this. so much this.

and no one on this thread gets it.

this is evidence. it proves or disproves archived knowledge we got from written and spoken sources.

thank you for not being a complete ignorant fool.

Been hearing about this on the radio at work, now and six months ago when they first discovered him. Damn amazing find and regardless of whether he was a villain or not it's good his found a better resting place other than a ditch in a forgotten grave of a church that was turned into a garden then into a car park.

That's awesome. I can't help but view Dick through Kevin Spacey's performance at Epidauros in Richard the third, and he was certainly the hero of that piece.

MortisLegio:
Little known fact: Richard the 3rd didn't speak English at all, he spoke French. Yeah kinda weird ain't it.

OT: That's kinda cool. Wonder what took so long to find him?

You're probably thinking about Richard the 1st, who was more French than English and is commonly thought to have been the last English king not to have spoken English. Though in reality there are no sources actually claiming he could not speak English, only that the only texts we know of him were in French, ie. an argument out of a lack of evidence.

And as far as I understand it, Richard III was killed in battle, then they mutilated his corpse and displayed it somewhere. Some monks in the neighbourhood did their Christian duty and took the body and buried it near their abbey, in an unmarked pit. It took that long to find him because nobody knew where he was, basically.

"How do you know he's a king?"
"Because he hasn't got sh*t all over him."

Heh. Sorry.

TheBelgianGuy:

MortisLegio:
Little known fact: Richard the 3rd didn't speak English at all, he spoke French. Yeah kinda weird ain't it.

OT: That's kinda cool. Wonder what took so long to find him?

You're probably thinking about Richard the 1st, who was more French than English and is commonly thought to have been the last English king not to have spoken English. Though in reality there are no sources actually claiming he could not speak English, only that the only texts we know of him were in French, ie. an argument out of a lack of evidence.

And as far as I understand it, Richard III was killed in battle, then they mutilated his corpse and displayed it somewhere. Some monks in the neighbourhood did their Christian duty and took the body and buried it near their abbey, in an unmarked pit. It took that long to find him because nobody knew where he was, basically.

Edited "Fact" out of my original post. I hate it when I think I remember something "interesting" and it ends up being the wrong guy. Oh well, live and learn.

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