It’s him: University announces discovery of King Richard III
Human remains found in trench one of the Grey Friars dig, and identified as those of Richard III. Copyright: University of Leicester
It was the result we were all waiting to hear.
In one of the most important announcements in the University’s history, our academics have today revealed that the Greyfriars skeleton is indeed that of King Richard III.
The researchers who have led the Search for Richard III presented a wealth of evidence – from DNA results to skeletal analysis – to the world’s media at a press conference in the University’s Council Chamber this morning.
Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley of University of Leicester Archaeological Services delivered the unanimous verdict that the skeleton, found by our archaeologists in August – belonged to the Last Plantagenet King.
The panel included Richard Buckley, Dr Turi King of our Department of Genetics who led the DNA analysis, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Kevin Schürer, who led the genealogical research and osteoarchaeologist Dr Jo Appleby, of our School of Archaeology and Ancient History, who carried out the skeletal analysis.
Professor Lin Foxhall, Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, also presented the historical context from contemporary accounts of Richard III.
DNA from the skeleton matches two of Richard III’s maternal line relatives. The genealogy investigation verified the connection between these descendents and Richard III’s family.
The skeleton was likely to have been killed by one of two fatal injuries to the skull – one possibly from a sword and one possibly from a halberd. A total of 10 wounds were discovered on the skeleton.
Radiocarbon dating revealed that the individual had a high protein diet – including significant amounts of seafood – meaning he was likely to have been of high status.
It also revealed the individual died in the second half of the 15th or in the early 16th century – consistent with Richard’s death in 1485.
The skeleton had severe scoliosis (curvature of the spine) – and the onset is believed to have occurred at the time of puberty.
Although around 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.72m), the spine condition meant the skeleton would have stood significantly shorter and his right shoulder may have been higher than the left.
The skeleton’s feet were truncated at an unknown point in the past - but this is likely to have been a significant time after the burial.
The corpse was subjected to ‘humiliation injuries’ – including a sword through the right buttock.
The individual had an unusually slender - almost feminine - build for a man – in keeping with contemporaneous accounts of Richard III.
There was no evidence found for the ‘withered arm’ as portrayed by Shakespeare – but there is a possibility that the individual’s hands were tied when he was buried.
In addition, the grave was hastily dug, was not big enough and there was no shroud or coffin.
Richard III: King in the Car Park, a documentary of the Search made by Darlow Smithson Productions, can be seen at 9pm on Channel 4 today (Monday, February 4).