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Archaeologists Find King Richard III's Forgotten Bones

| 4 Feb 2013 21:33

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

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