Have Richard III's bones been found in a Leicester car park?

Sep 12, 2012

Excavation uncovers human remains thought to belong to the 15th century king

ARCHAEOLOGISTS searching for Richard III's remains under a car park in Leicester said today they believe they have unearthed the 15th-century English king's skeleton.

The University of Leicester's Richard Taylor, who led the dig, called the find "truly remarkable".

Twitter was abuzz with the news: 'Richard III' was trending throughout the day and the University of Leicester said it was "overwhelmed by the massive amount of tweets coming in". One user said her "mind [was] boggling" and another ‏called it "the historical find of the century".

Richard III died at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485, which was the decisive military engagement of the War of the Roses and marked the start of the Tudor monarchy. He was buried at Grey Friar's church in Leicester, which was destroyed during the Reformation, and covered in tarmac in the 1940s.

However, using ground-penetrating radar, the team were able to locate the ruins of the church under the car park and on 25 August this year began excavation in search of the last Plantagenet King's tomb.

The archaeologists uncovered several human remains, alongside the vestiges of the cloisters and chapter house of the church.

At a press conference today, the university announced there is "strong circumstantial evidence" that one of the skeletons is Richard III's.

The skeleton appears to have suffered significant trauma, at or near the time of death, consistent with an injury received in battle. "A bladed implement appears to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull," Taylor said.

Taylor also revealed the skeleton "has spinal abnormalities". Richard III is often depicted as a hunchback, largely due to Tudor propaganda and Shakespeare's reference to him as 'Crookback'. However, it is now thought that the abnormality was much less pronounced.

Taylor said: "We believe the individual would have had severe scoliosis. The skeleton was not a hunchback."

The University of Leicester said it would subject the skeleton to rigorous laboratory testing to confirm the bones do belong to Richard III. Scientists will extract DNA from the bones and compare it with samples from a 17th century ancestor.

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If it is Richards bones, I hope they inter them in York Minster.