Richard III by numbers: How forensic statistics nailed the identity of the ‘Last Plantagenet’

Posted by er134 at Mar 21, 2017 03:58 PM |
Professor Kevin Schürer to give free public talk on Tuesday 28 March at the University of Leicester

Issued by University of Leicester Press Office on 21 March 2017

Images of Professor Schürer available to download at: (credit: University of Leicester)

A University of Leicester historian who carried out a genealogical study of King Richard III will give a talk on Tuesday 28 March at the University’s Centre for Medicine.

The story of how the mortal remains of Richard III were discovered, in the unlikeliest of locations, underneath a car park in Leicester, enthralled the world.

In a free public lecture, ‘How Forensic Statistics Nailed the Identity of the ‘Last Plantagenet’’, hosted by the University and The Royal Statistical Society, Professor Kevin Schürer, Professor in English Local History at the University of Leicester, will describe the fascinating story of how all the evidence was brought together to identify the mortal remains of King Richard III.

The talk will take place from 6.15pm in the University of Leicester’s Centre for Medicine Lecture Theatre 2.

The discovery and subsequent identification of the skeleton of Richard III beyond any reasonable doubt, involved assembling an international team of experts from within the University and further afield, working in conjunction with the Richard III Society and Leicester City Council.

The team drove a unique project that required painstaking care at every step and forensic examination of all the available evidence. This ranged from the accounts of the Battle at Bosworth, through the remarkable archaeological excavation and review of historical archives including the known family tree of Richard up to the present day.

It also literally focused down to individual molecules of DNA, taken from his teeth, still preserved after over 500 years, and comparing these molecules with DNA of known descendants.

At the conclusion of this astonishing story, the team was finally able to declare that this was indeed the Last Plantagenet King and his mortal remains were finally laid to rest at Leicester Cathedral in March 2015.

Professor Schürer said: “For everyone involved in the project, this was an immense triumph of multidisciplinary teamwork. But what is less well known is that statistical methods used in forensics investigations were also used by the Richard III team.

“This lecture will include how these forensic statistical methods were used to tie all the wide ranging evidence together. This incredible detective story with all its twists and turns is a genuine thriller dedicated not so much to finding out ‘whodunnit?’ but to determining ‘whoisit?’”

The local Royal Statistical Society (RSS) group said: “We are delighted to co-host Professor Kevin Schürer giving this talk with the University of Leicester. It’s an excellent example of how statistics made a real and vital contribution to the astonishing Richard III story.

“The RSS local group organises regular talks in the East Midlands for the public to show how important statistics are in all aspects of our lives.”

The free public lecture, ‘How Forensic Statistics Nailed the Identity of the ‘Last Plantagenet’’, will take place from 6.15 – 7.15pm in the University of Leicester’s Centre for Medicine Lecture Theatre 2. Light refreshments will be available before the talk from 5.45pm.

You can also register your interest in coming along by visiting:

For more information on how to get to the University of Leicester 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.


Notes to editors:

For more information about the lecture contact Dr M Mulheran at:

More information about local Royal Statistical Society events at:

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