Relive the amazing discovery of King Richard III at the University of Leicester

Posted by pt91 at Feb 04, 2015 12:05 AM |
Exactly two years after momentous announcement of discovery on 4 February 2013, University of Leicester announces public open day on Saturday 21 March

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 4 February 2015

  • The event will take visitors on a journey of Discovery, Knowledge and Identification
  • Includes the opportunity to have your own DNA profiled
  • Take part in a forensic investigation and see what happens when an arrow head is fired at steel armour
  • The event takes place in the week of the reinterment of King Richard III

An historic and scientific exploration of the work that went into finding and identifying the lost remains of King Richard III will take place during the week of his reinterment.

The University of Leicester, which located and excavated the bones, will hold an exclusive event giving people access to the academics and facilities which were instrumental in proving the identity of the king.

The free interactive and hands-on workshops and talks will take place on Saturday 21 March, at the University campus and will include The Discovery Journey – which looks at the excavation and post excavation work carried out by archaeologists.

Then there is the science behind the find.

The Identification Journey will look at the DNA and genealogy research which linked Richard III to his modern day relations and proved beyond doubt that the skeleton was that of the former Plantagenet king.

Finally, The Knowledge Journey looks at the ongoing research and what academics have learned as a result of the one of the most important archaeological finds of all time.

Organiser Jim Butler, Events and Engagement Manager for the College of Arts, Humanities and Law, said: “For the first time since his discovery we are giving the public access to both the key people and the spaces that were crucial to the discovery and identification of Richard III.

“In addition to the first-hand accounts of the team that searched for and discovered King Richard’s remains, the public will be able to engage with the historic research and the science in a uniquely hands-on way to gain a real sense of the huge scale of the work undertaken across the University.

“Activities include opportunities to extract DNA from organic matter, witness the awesome power of an arrow fired at plate steel, have their own DNA profiled, examine real skeletal remains and sample a medieval banquet."

There will also be medieval tile making and the chance to play games from the middle ages – as well as hands-on textile dying activities.

And the event even looks at how the University's Space Research Centre, more closely associated with hunting black holes and quasars, helped in the Grey Friars project.

Jim added: “Very few people realise that the King Richard III project has engaged the skills and expertise of departments across the entire University, from the College of Science and Engineering to the Botanical Gardens and from the School of Archaeology and Ancient History to the Space Research Centre.

“This day will offer the chance for people to discover the roles that each of these departments have played in answering some of the mysteries and legends that have surrounded Richard for over 500 years and become embedded in the fabric of the city itself.”

The talks will come from the key members of the team which located, unearthed and identified Richard III, Medieval dialect – how Richard III would have spoken – and the literary accounts of the former King of England will also be discussed by the University's leading academics.

Finally, there will also be a deconstruction of the legal process which saw the University fight for the right to bury the king in Leicester at the Royal Courts of Justice last year.

Lead archaeologist Dr Richard Buckley, Grey Friars site manager Mathew Morris, osteologist Dr Jo Appleby, geneticist Dr Turi King and Kevin Schürer, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor in English Local History will discuss their work and answer questions about the project.

Dr Buckley said: “Like other members of the team, I’ve given many talks on the discovery – we have been to venues in most English counties, not to mention a few abroad as well.

“What continues to surprise me is the excitement the project generates.

“It’s done so much for the profile of archaeology and even after two years people are still fascinated with the story - and why wouldn’t they be, I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.”

Between 23 March and 26 March, there will also be a chance to take part in outreach activities.

Here members of the public will get the chance to talk to Michael Ibsen, the long lost relative of Richard III who made the DNA identification possible.

Academics Professor Kevin Schürer and Dr Turi King – who both led the DNA and genealogy studies – will also be on hand to discuss their work with visitors.

Dr King, whose DNA analysis proved the identity of Richard III, said: “All of us on the team, and the University as a whole, are very excited about putting on this series of events.

“The Richard III project has been one that has really captured the public imagination and one of its greatest strengths has been the fact that it has been truly interdisciplinary, bringing together the expertise of many people from a whole range of fields, from across the University and beyond.

“These events will give people the opportunity to come and learn about the work that has been, and continues to be, carried out on the project and the work of the University as a whole.

“There are going to be lots of fun hands-on activities for all the family, talks, something for everyone! The whole University is gearing up for an exciting Open Day and we hope people will come and join us for events during what is going to be a momentous week.”

Visitors do not need to book to attend any of the events. However, if spaces are limited it will be organised on a first-come-first-served basis.

For more information, visit:




  • 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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