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Skeletal remains identified as those of Richard III: The Church of England Newspaper, February 10, 2013, p 5. February 5, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper.
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Scientists have identified a skeleton with battle wounds and curvature of the spine unearthed at an archaeological dig in Leicester the lost remains of Richard III.

It is “beyond reasonable doubt the individual exhumed at Grey Friars on September 12th [2012] is indeed Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England,” Dr. Richard Buckley told a 4 Feb 2013 press conference.

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 last August, when a team of archaeologists led by Dr. Buckley began excavating a Leicester City Council parking lot, the reputed location of the lost church.

Last year the University reported that it had “exhumed one fully articulated skeleton” in what was believed to have been the Choir of Grey Friars church. The skeleton “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,” said Richard Taylor, Director of Corporate Affairs at the University at a 12 Sept 2012 press conference, 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.”

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.

At this week’s press conference, University of Leicester scientists reported that DNA and forensic evidence established the skeleton was that of Richard III. Dr. Jo Appleby stated the physical evidence was consistent with the historical accounts of Richard III.  The skeleton was of a man aged from his late 20’s to late 30’s with a slight feminine build and a curved spine. Ten wounds were inflicted at the time of death or shortly thereafter.  Death was likely caused by one of two sword strokes to the base of the skull, she said.

Geneticist Dr. Turi King stated that DNA extracted from a tooth of the skeleton was compared to that of Michael Ibsen, a Canadian who is a direct descendent of Richard’s sister Anne of York.  The DNA sequence of Mr. Ibsen and that of the man buried in Gray Friars Church showed they belonged to the same family, Dr. King reported.  The physical evidence, DNA results and archeological evidence all pointed to the body being that of Richard, the team concluded.

Sir Peter Soulsby, the mayor of Leicester, told the conference the remains will be re-interred in Leicester Cathedral.

“On behalf of the Bishop and Acting Dean of Leicester I want to say how very thrilled we are to be part of this amazing day. We are delighted with today’s news. We at the Cathedral and Diocese share in the pride of serving such a great city as ours which still has the capacity to reveal such incredible stories,” Canon David Monteith said.

“I can confirm that the Cathedral have now received letters from both the City Council and Leicester University to further enact the requirements of the Licence which led to the exhumation of these human remains. This is a momentous day for our city and nation. We will now formally begin preparations and plans at Leicester Cathedral for an interment.”

“Meanwhile we will be praying that through God’s love, King Richard III with all the departed may rest in peace and rise in glory,” he said in a statement posted to the diocesan website.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.



1. The Rt Revd Richard Palmer - February 5, 2013

We all the excitement about the finding of the remains of King Richard III, especially from the Cathedral, being Catholic perhaps the former monarch might be concerned that his remains end up in a Protestant place of worship.

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