Archaeologists from the University of Leicester confirmed today that a skeleton dug up from a medieval friary located under a Leicester, England, parking lot is the skeleton of Richard III. The discovery solves a 500-year-old mystery regarding the whereabouts of the remains of the last English king to die in battle.
“It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that the individual exhumed at Grey Friars in August 2012 is indeed King Richard III, the last Plantagenet King of England," University of Leicester archaeologists co-director Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the Search for Richard III, said in a press conference earlier today. “It has been an honor and privilege for all of us to be at the center of an academic project that has had such phenomenal global interest and mass public appeal. Rarely have the conclusions of academic research been so eagerly awaited.”
Researchers based their conclusions on radiocarbon dating, radiological evidence, DNA and bone analysis, and archaeological results.
Findings listed in the university's press release are as follows:
• DNA from the skeleton matches two of Richard III’s maternal line relatives. Leicester genealogist verifies living relatives of Richard III’s family
• Individual likely to have been killed by one of two fatal injuries to the skull – one possibly from a sword and one possibly from a halberd
• 10 wounds discovered on skeleton - Richard III killed by trauma to the back of the head. Part of the skull sliced off
• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual had a high protein diet – including significant amounts of seafood – meaning he was likely to be of high status
• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual died in the second half of the 15th or in the early 16th century – consistent with Richard’s death in 1485
• Skeleton reveals severe scoliosis – onset believed to have occurred at the time of puberty
• Although around 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.72m), condition meant King Richard III would have stood significantly shorter and his right shoulder may have been higher than the left
• Feet were truncated at an unknown point in the past, but a significant time after the burial
• Corpse was subjected to ‘humiliation injuries’ –including a sword through the right buttock
• Individual had unusually slender, almost feminine, build for a man – in keeping with contemporaneous accounts
• No evidence for ‘withered arm’ –as portrayed by Shakespeare – found
• Possibility that the individual’s hands were tied
• Grave was hastily dug, was not big enough and there was no shroud or coffin
Watch the University of Leicester's 7-minute film, The Search for Richard III – The Archaeological Dig below.