Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Have they found Richard III under a Leicester car park?

Extraordinarily, the answer may well be yes. Not only that, if I have understood the excavations correctly, they found him in the first trench they opened.

The video above explains how the dig has been conducted, and here is the opening statement that Richard Taylor, the University of Leicester's director of corporate affairs, made at this morning's press conference at Leicester Guildhall:
“The University of Leicester applied to the Ministry of Justice under the 1857 Burials Act for permission to exhume human remains found at the Grey Friars site in Leicester. 
“The work was conducted by Dr Turi King from the University’s Department of Genetics and Dr Jo Appleby and Mathew Morris of our School of Archaeology and Ancient History. 
“We have exhumed one fully articulated skeleton and one set of disarticulated human remains. The disarticulated set of human remains was found in what is believed to be the Presbytery of the lost Church of the Grey Friars. These remains are female, and thus certainly not Richard III. 
“The articulated skeleton was found in what is believed to be the Choir of the church. 
“The articulated skeleton found in the Choir is of significant interest to us. Dr Jo Appleby has carried out a preliminary examination of the remains. There are five reasons for our interest:
1. The remains appear to be of an adult male. 
2. The Choir is the area reported in the historical record as the burial place of King Richard III. John Rous, reports that Richard ”at last was buried in the choir of the Friars Minor at Leicester”. 
3. The skeleton, on initial examination, appears to have suffered significant peri-mortem trauma to the skull which appears consistent with (although not certainly caused by) an injury received in battle. A bladed implement appears to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull. 
4. A barbed iron arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the skeleton’s upper back. 
5. The skeleton found in the Choir area has spinal abnormalities. We believe the individual would have had severe scoliosis – which is a form of spinal curvature. This would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left shoulder. This is consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance. The skeleton does not have kyphosis – a different form of spinal curvature. The skeleton was not a hunchback and did not have a 'withered arm'. 
“Both sets of remains are now at an undisclosed location where further analysis is being undertaken. 
“I need to be very frank. The University has always been clear that any remains would need to be subjected to rigorous laboratory analysis before we confirm the outcome of the search for Richard III. 
“We are not saying today that we have found King Richard III. What we are saying is that the Search for Richard III has entered a new phase. Our focus is shifting from the archaeological excavation to laboratory analysis. This skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination. 
“Clearly we are all very excited by these latest discoveries. We have said finding Richard was a long-shot. However it is a testament to the skill of the archaeological team led by Richard Buckley that such extensive progress has been made. 
“We have all been witness to a powerful and historic story unfolding before our eyes. It is proper that the University now subjects the findings to rigorous analysis so that the strong circumstantial evidence that has presented itself can be properly understood. 
“This is potentially a historic moment for the University and City of Leicester.”
The project is being filmed by Channel 4 (local rumour has it that the BBC turned the idea down) for a documentary that will be shown later this year.

Things have moved on since June, when I came across the legend that Richard was buried under Greyfriars in Leicester.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of course it would be the university's "Director of Corporate Affairs" that broke the news to the world...