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Lost grave of Richard III unearthed; The Church of England Newspaper, September 30, 2012 p 3. October 5, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Laurence Olivier as Richard III (1955)

Archeologists from the University of Leicester excavating the supposed site of the lost grave of King Richard III have unearthed a skeleton with battle wounds and curvature of the spine.

“We are not saying today that we have found King Richard III,” Richard Taylor, Director of Corporate Affairs at the University told a 12 Sept 2012 press conference. “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.”

The last of the Plantagenet kings, Richard III (1452-1485) ruled for two years until his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485.  After the battle he was interred in Grey Friars Church in in Leicester, but the location of the church and the grave were lost over time.

The modern hunt for Richard III’s final resting place began Aug. 25, when a team of archaeologists led by Dr. Richard Buckley began excavating a Leicester City Council parking lot, the reputed location of the lost church.

Mr. Taylor reported that scientists from the University’s Department of Genetics and School of Archaeology and Ancient History had “exhumed one fully articulated skeleton” in what was believed to have been the Choir of Grey Friars church.

The skeleton of an adult male “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,” he said, adding that a “barbed iron arrowhead was found between vertebrae of the skeleton’s upper back.”

The skeleton should signs of “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.”

Unlike Shakespeare’s Richard III, “the man did not have the feature sometimes inappropriately known as a ‘hunchback’ and did not have a ‘withered arm’,” said Mr. Taylor. “This skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination.”

The University of Leicester archaeologist who led the search for Richard III, Dr. Richard Buckley said, “Whether or not we have found Richard III, this archaeological project has been exciting because of what it has uncovered about Leicester’s rich and varied past.”

The Very Rev Vivienne Faull, Dean of Leicester, told the news conference the cathedral had worked closely with the the university, city council and the Richard III society in the search for Richard III“There has been a major memorial to King Richard at the heart of the cathedral and adjacent to the Herrick Chapel since 1980. This is the only cathedral memorial to Richard in the country and has been the focus for remembrance, particularly on the anniversary of the Battle of Bosworth. The memorial states that Richard was buried in the graveyard of the Church of the Grey Friars in the parish of St Martin (now the cathedral church).”

“If the identity of the remains is confirmed, Leicester Cathedral will continue to work with the Royal Household, and with the Richard III Society, to ensure that his remains are treated with dignity and respect and are reburied with the appropriate rites and ceremonies of the church,” Dean Faull said.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

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