Key figures in Richard III search tell of ‘huge shock’ of skeleton discovery

Posted by pt91 at Oct 22, 2012 11:40 AM |
Michael Ibsen and Dr John Ashdown-Hill recount their reactions to news of Grey Friars find

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 22 October 2012

Photographs of Michael Ibsen and Dr John Ashdown-Hill available from

Search for King Richard III press portal:

Key figures in the search for Richard III were ‘startled’ and ‘deeply moved’ by the discovery of human remains by University of Leicester archaeologists.

Michael Ibsen, believed to be a descendent of King Richard’s eldest sister Anne of York, and historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill have recounted their reactions to the findings in a feature for the University of Leicester’s website.

Michael Ibsen, who was born in Canada and works as a furniture maker in London, first learned of his potential connection to the Plantagenet family in 2005 following research carried out by Dr Ashdown-Hill.

He and his siblings are now playing a key role in the DNA tests being undertaken at the University of Leicester to establish whether the remains found at the site of the Grey Friars church were once Richard III.

Michael, 55, said: “It was a huge shock. In the nicest possible way, it was startling and shocking in equal measure.

“It took a while for the idea that we were related to Richard III to sink in. It was something that took a while to get used to. To come to Leicester and look at the grave itself was fascinating and spine tingling.

“It is exciting to be able to play a small part in something that is potentially so historically important, but also nerve-wracking because it still remains to be seen whether the DNA tests will be conclusive.”

Dr Ashdown-Hill discovered the link between Richard III and Michael’s family, and published new evidence reinforcing the theory that Richard was buried at Grey Friars, and that his burial had never subsequently been disturbed, in his book The Last Days of Richard III.

He is a member of the Royal Historical Society, the Society of Genealogists, and the Richard III Society.

He said: “The Grey Friars dig gave me a great sense of personal triumph, because without my prior research, it might never have happened.”

“When I looked into the grave and saw the skeleton, I was deeply moved. I feel that the case for the identity of the body is already pretty strong: male; right age group and social class; died a violent death; had a twisted spine; found in the right place.”

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.

You can read the full feature here:

  • 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



For more information, please contact:

For interviews with Michael Ibsen, please contact the Press Office on 0116 252 2415 or

Dr John Ashdown-Hill on 01206 393572 or on

Share this page:

Older press releases

For press releases issued before 4 October 2010, please visit the old eBulletin site.

Get in touch

T: +44 (0)116 252 2160


For out of hours enquiries, please contact:

For general enquiries about the University, contact the main switchboard on +44 (0)116 252 2522.