King Richard III – case closed after 529 years

Posted by pt91 at Dec 02, 2014 03:55 PM |
DNA and genealogical study led by University of Leicester confirms identity of remains- and uncovers new truths
King Richard III – case closed after 529 years

The portrait which appears to most closely resemble Richard's true appearance. © Society of Antiquaries of London

An international research team led by Dr Turi King from the Department of Genetics provides overwhelming evidence that the skeleton discovered under a car park in Leicester indeed represents the remains of King Richard III, thereby closing what is probably the oldest forensic case solved to date.

The team of researchers, including Professor of English Local History, Kevin Schürer, who is also Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research at the University of Leicester, who led the genealogical research for the project, has published their findings online today in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal Nature Communications.

The researchers from Leicester also included: Dr Jo Appleby – archaeologist/osteologist, excavation of remains; John Holt – Researcher at the Space Research Centre, oversees the clean lab; Professor David Ekserdjian – Art Historian, advised on portraits; Rita Neumann – research technician in Department of Genetics and Pierpaolo Maisano Delser – researcher, Department of Genetics.

The team collected DNA from living relatives of Richard III and analysed several genetic markers, including the complete mitochondrial genomes, inherited through the maternal line, and Y-chromosomal markers, inherited through the paternal line, from both the skeletal remains and the living relatives.

The researchers also used genetic markers to determine hair and eye colour of RIII and found that with probably blond hair and almost certainly blue eyes RIII looked most similar to his depiction in one of the earliest portraits of him that survived, that in the Society of Antiquaries in London.

The research team now plans to sequence the complete genome of RIII to learn more about the last English king to die in battle.

The University of Leicester was the principal funder of the research.  Dr King’s post is part-funded by The Wellcome Trust and the Leverhulme Trust.

Listen to a podcast on the DNA analysis and conclusions:

  • The Dig for Richard III was led by the University of Leicester, working with Leicester City Council and in association with the Richard III Society.  The originator of the Search project was Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society
  • ‘Identification of the remains of King Richard III’ in Nature Communications, DOI: 10.1038/ncomms6631