Queen’s Anniversary Prize to University of Leicester for Discovery of Richard III

Posted by er134 at Nov 22, 2013 10:25 AM |
University recognised for long record of exceptional research, commercial archaeology and public engagement

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 22 November 2013

The University of Leicester has received Royal recognition for the excellence of its work on the discovery of Richard III with the award of the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

The announcement was made by the Royal Anniversary Trust by kind permission of Her Majesty The Queen, at a reception at St James’s Palace yesterday evening attended by Senior Pro-Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, Professor Mark Thompson and Richard Buckley, lead archaeologist on the Richard III dig.

The prestigious biennial awards are part of the UK’s national Honours system and are the highest form of national recognition open to a UK academic or vocational institution. A prize-winner must be able to demonstrate outstanding work at world-class level in order to receive a Queen's Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education.

The University is recognised for ‘Inter-connected research and expertise in history, heritage and archaeology, highlighted by the discovery of Richard III.’

The University of Leicester team that discovered the remains of Richard III beneath a car park are honoured for their long record of exceptional research, commercial archaeology and public engagement.

A total of 17 universities and 3 further education colleges won the highest national honour in education in the announcement of the 2012-14 round of winners.

The Rt Hon David Willetts MP, Minister of State for Universities and Science, said, “I warmly congratulate the twenty universities and colleges honoured in The Queen’s Anniversary Prizes for Higher and Further Education. I welcome the role that the Prizes play in enabling our institutions to publicise their successes. Britain’s ability to compete depends on the quality of the teaching and research undertaken by our universities and colleges; and particularly on the translation of that work into real benefits for society, business and the growth of the economy”

This is the third time in two decades the University of Leicester has won the Queen’s Anniversary Prize- the previous Awards to the University were for work in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and for work in Genetics.

Professor Sir Robert Burgess, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leicester, said: “This Royal recognition for research and expertise in history, heritage and archaeology highlighted by the discovery of Richard III.  It is a magnificent achievement for the University of Leicester and a testament to the world class work in our School of Archaeology and Ancient History.

“The astonishing archaeological detective work that led in 2012 to the discovery of the remains of King Richard III under a car park in Leicester clearly demonstrates the depth and quality of historical, archaeological and heritage expertise developed by the University over three decades.  This achievement highlighted the multidisciplinary, collaborative and detailed qualities of the University’s research capability in this field.

“The discovery of the Richard III is probably the most dramatic of the University’s more recent archaeological and historical achievements – but it rests upon experience and knowledge derived from work on Roman and medieval Leicester, the discovery and presentation of the Hallaton Hoard, an Iron Age dig that changed perceptions of what could be done at rural sites, and extensive work on prehistoric and other nationally important sites.

“Our work on a city centre site in Leicester from 2003-6 was also the largest and most complex urban dig in progress in the UK at that time and at the forefront of contemporary techniques.

“The University’s work in this field has helped to connect diverse communities with the past, brought added reputation and strengthened its professional framework for teaching, learning and research.

“The University also plays a central role in the tourism, cultural and economic development plans for Leicestershire and has made a major contribution to archaeology in the UK in the form of innovative techniques.”

Professor David Mattingly, Acting Head of the School of Archaeology and Ancient History, said: “The synergy of the professional/academic partnership has been a key to our success over the years, with University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS)  staff contributing to teaching and fieldwork training of students and academic staff working as advisors on ULAS projects with a significant research element.

“The Richard III investigation highlights the relationship perfectly, with Richard Buckley and his ULAS staff leading the excavation, but a number of academics playing key roles, whether in the excavation and subsequent examination of Richard’s skeletal remains, genetic research, etc. as well as co-ordinating aspects of the wider public presentation of the discovery. This has not been an isolated example and the nomination for the prize presented a wider range of projects where the School has made a major impact in public engagement with archaeological discoveries, such as the Hallaton Iron Age hoards, the major programme of urban archaeology in Leicester city centre and the current Training excavation at Burrough Hill.

“Leicester is one of only a handful of archaeology departments in the UK that still maintains a professional archaeological unit alongside the academic staff. Under the direction of Richard Buckley and Patrick Clay, the unit has been part of the School since 1995. The award is thus recognition of nearly 20 years of ULAS work nurtured and supported by a sequence of Heads of School.”

The awards ceremony to present the University of Leicester with the Prize will take place in Buckingham Palace next year.


Notes to editors:

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.

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