Witnesses to history: quote from key figures

The archaeological dig in the City has proved to be very exciting for everyone involved.   It shows how doing research can be very exciting and always has the ability to surprise, in this case, through finding the Grey Friars Church and the remains of an individual who could turn out to be Richard III.  It also enables us to link research and teaching as it can be used as an example of research in action.  This has been great for Leicester, for the University and for Archaeology as a subject where enquiries from potential students has risen dramatically since the discovery.

Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor, University of Leicester

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.

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.

Richard Buckley, Archaeological lead, University of Leicester


Archaeology is a team effort.  No one person could dig up the whole site. You need people who have expertise in very different things – and each different person with their specialist skill can add to the picture.

Professor Lin Foxhall, Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, University of Leicester

When I first agreed to be the human osteologist for the project I had no idea that we would find remains of such significance. After months of careful analysis, we can now say that the evidence from the bone analysis provides a highly convincing case for the identification of Richard III. It has been hugely interesting to see the case for indentification gradually unfold, and especially to see how closely the skeleton that we have found corresponds to contemporary accounts of Richard's appearance.

Dr Jo Appleby, Human Bioarchaeologist, University of Leicester

This has been a tremendously exciting project to be a part of and it's been a privilege to work as part such a great team.  I will never forget the feeling of looking at the first sequencing results and seeing the match; I went utterly still. The study isn't over and there's still more work to be done, but at least the big part is out of the way: the DNA evidence, along with the archaeological evidence, makes an incredibly strong case for these being the remains of Richard III.

Dr Turi King, geneticist, University of Leicester

I’d realised the skeleton was going to be interesting as soon as Jo found the battle injuries on the skull but was still not seriously considering that it could be Richard III; so it was a bit of a shock when the curve of the spine was found.  Then, with a lot of disbelief, there was this dawning realisation that if you had a check list of everything you wanted to see on a skeleton to say it was Richard III, this ticked every box.  The enormity of the discovery didn’t sink in till much later though.  As an archaeologist it is really unusual to be given a chance to looking for someone who you can actually put a name to, who isn’t anonymous but is an important historical figure with a tangible story.  Sometime if feels a bit surreal, Indiana Jones-ish even ‘The University of Leicester and the Quest for the Lost King’!

Mathew Morris, Archaeological Site Director, University of Leicester

What we have done is to look at the line from Anne of York to Michael Ibsen and accurately checked every link of the chain. We have been very successful in proving that link, and I think that’s an important part of the scientific experiment.

Professor Kevin Schürer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and genealogist, University of Leicester

"When I first started I was quite cool and dispassionate - though I knew this was potentially significant. But the excitement ramped as we got closer to the announcement. My kids say to me 'you just do boring meetings' - when I set about working on Richard III, they said that was pretty cool!"
Professor Sarah Hainsworth, Department of Engineering, University of Leicester

I’ve loved working on this project. There’s been a huge buzz around the University and it’s been quite weird seeing a different part of an old English king come into the lab each day.

PhD student Richard Earp, University of Leicester, who used the University’s Micro-CT scanner to map out a 3D image of the skull and other injured limbs.

 It’s been very pleasing to have my work vindicated, it’s been quite exciting. When you put your ideas forward you don’t expect to see them proven to this extent. I’ll admit I didn’t think there was much chance of finding anything, but when the project was announced I did hope for the best. Now, it’s hard to believe the extent to which my prediction has been proved right.

David Baldwin, former University of Leicester History tutor who predicted in 1986 that sometime in the 21st century the remains of Richard III would be found.

As researchers and tutors, the discovery has enormous implications for the way we interpret Tudor accounts of Richard III, and prompts us to see the ‘foul bunchbacked toad’ of Shakespeare’s creation in a whole new light.

Dr Sarah Knight and Dr Mary Ann Lund, School of English, University of Leicester

Since I'm a medieval historian, it may not come as a surprise that what I find most exciting about the Grey Friars discovery (if it lives up to its promise) is the potential that it offers for consolidating Leicester's reputation as a medieval borough of importance.

Professor Norman Housley, School of Historical Studies, University of Leicester
This astonishing announcement is far beyond what anyone expected in their wildest dreams when the search at Grey Friars first began.  The University of Leicester Archaeological Services should rightly be very proud that their painstaking work which has enabled these remains to be positively identified as those of King Richard III. 

There is overwhelming evidence from their research that these are indeed the remains of the last Plantagenet king. The city should be honoured to be home to such a fantastic University, which has put itself and the city at the centre of well-deserved global recognition for this find.

The discovery of King Richard III's remains, in the heart of Leicester's old town, will undoubtedly be the start of an exciting new chapter for the city.

City Mayor Sir Peter Soulsby

This has been an extraordinary journey of discovery. We came with a dream and today that dream has been realised.

This is an historic moment that will rewrite the history books. We would not be here today if it hadn’t been for the support of the Richard III Society and its members and Ricardians around the world.

With their donations they gave me their mandate: Search for him, Find him, Honour him.

Without Leicester City Council, the Looking for Richard Project would not have been possible and thanks to the University of Leicester who agreed to come on this remarkable journey of discovery with us.

Philippa Langley, originator of the Search for Richard, Richard III Society

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