Search for Richard III enters new phase: “momentous discovery has potential to rewrite history”

Posted by mjs76 at Sep 12, 2012 02:30 PM |
University of Leicester archaeological team reveal historic findings of skeleton with apparent battle wounds and curvature of the spine.
Search for Richard III enters new phase: “momentous discovery has potential to rewrite history”

Humans remains in Richard III search

Timeline of announcements:

At our Richard III Press Conference on 12 September, it was announced there is strong circumstantial evidence that the human remains discovered at the Grey Friars site could be Richard III. The remains had suffered injuries consistent with battle wounds. The man also had severe scoliosis (a form of curvature of the spine). But he did not have kyphosis and therefore did not have a 'hunch-back' as described by some Tudor sources.

You can watch a video summary of the 5 key points about the discovery below:

The University of Leicester has been leading the archaeological search for the burial place of King Richard III with Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society. The dig has yielded dramatic findings of human remains which the University will now subject to rigorous laboratory tests.

Emma Vieceli's graphic art for Richard III
One of Emma Vieceli's fabulous pieces of graphic art inspired by the project.

The official press statement outlines five significant aspects of the remains, which have been carefully exhumed and are now in a secret location:

1. The remains – a fully articulated skeleton – appear to be of an adult male.

2. The skeleton was found in what is believed to be the choir of the church, the area reported in the historical record as the burial place of King Richard III.

3. The back of the skull appears to have suffered a significant injury consistent with a blow from a bladed implement.

4. A barbed iron arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the upper back.

5. The skeleton has spinal abnormalities - probably severe scoliosis, which would have made the right shoulder appear higher than the left. The skeleton does not have kyphosis – ie. the man did not have the feature sometimes inappropriately known as a 'hunchback'.

A second set of human remains (disarticulated, female) was found in what is believed to be the presbytery.

The Church of the Grey Friars was within the parish of Leicester Cathedral and the University is in talks with the Cathedral about future devlopments. The full story of the search for King Richard III will be told in a forthcoming documentary being made by Darlow Smithson Productions for Channel 4.

In the meantime, you can enjoy graphic artist Emma Vieceli's terrific images.

Statement from Richard Taylor, Director of Corporate Affairs

“The University has always been clear that any remains would need to be subjected to rigorous laboratory analysis before we confirm the outcome of the search for Richard III.

“We are not saying today that we have found King Richard III. What we are saying is that the search for Richard III has entered a new phase. Our focus is shifting from the archaeological excavation to laboratory analysis. This skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination.

“Clearly we are all very excited by these latest discoveries. We have said finding Richard was a long-shot. However it is a testament to the skill of the archaeological team led by Richard Buckley that such extensive progress has been made.

“We have all been witness to a powerful and historic story unfolding before our eyes. It is proper that the University now subjects the findings to rigorous analysis so that the strong circumstantial evidence that has presented itself can be properly understood.

“This is potentially a historic moment for the University and City of Leicester.”

Statement from Richard Buckley, the University of Leicester archaeologist who led the search for Richard III

“This is an historic and perhaps defining moment in the story of Leicester and I am proud that the University of Leicester has played a pivotal role in the telling of that story.

“From the outset, the search for Richard III was a thrilling prospect but it has involved many hours of dedicated research by our team that has led to the astonishing finds we have disclosed today.

“The search has caught the imagination of not only the people of Leicester and Leicestershire but beyond and has received global media attention.  It is a measure of the power of archaeology to excite public interest and provide a narrative about our heritage.”

“Whether or not we have found Richard III, this archaeological project has been exciting because of what it has uncovered about Leicester’s rich and varied past.”