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Monday, 4 February 2013

King Richard III turns up

There's a cool news item today - it seems the body of King Richard III has been unearthed after 500 years - From the BBC

A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of English king Richard III.
Experts from the University of Leicester said DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch's family.

Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, told a press conference to applause: "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard."
Richard, killed in battle in 1485, will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.

Richard III graphic
Mr Buckley said the bones had been subjected to "rigorous academic study" and had been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540.
Dr Jo Appleby, an osteo-archaeologist from the university's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, revealed the bones were of a man in his late 20s or early 30s. Richard was 32 when he died.
His skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal.
The spine was badly curved, a condition known as scoliosis, but there was no trace of a withered arm, as some Tudor historians had claimed Richard had.

Dr Appleby said: "The analysis of the skeleton proved that it was an adult male but was an unusually slender, almost feminine, build for a man.

Who was Richard III?

The earliest surviving portrait of Richard III in Leicester Cathedral
  • Richard was born at Fotheringhay Castle in Northamptonshire, where Mary Queen of Scots was later executed
  • As Duke of Gloucester, Richard took a rampant white boar as his sign
  • His coronation took place in Westminster Abbey, in a ceremony very similar to HM the Queen's
  • Richard had one of the shortest reigns in English history - 26 months
  • He was the last English king to die in battle, killed by the forces of the future Henry VII
Source: BBC History
"Taken as a whole the skeletal evidence provides a highly convincing case for identification as Richard III."
Dr Turi King, project geneticist, said there had been concern DNA in the bones would be too degraded: "The question was could we get a sample of DNA to work with, and I am extremely pleased to tell you that we could."
She added: "There is a DNA match between the maternal DNA of the descendants of the family of Richard III and the skeletal remains we found at the Greyfriars dig.
"In short, the DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III."
Richard was a royal prince until the death of his brother Edward IV in 1483. Appointed as protector of his nephew, Edward V, Richard instead assumed the reins of power.
Challenged by Henry Tudor, Richard was killed at Bosworth in 1485 after only two years on the throne.
He was given a low-key burial beneath in the church of Greyfriars in the centre of Leicester.
But when this building was demolished in the 16th Century the exact location became uncertain and was eventually forgotten.
Despite this, a team of enthusiasts and historians traced the likely area - and, crucially, also found a 17th-generation descendant of Richard's sister with whose DNA they could compare any remains recovered.
In August 2012, an excavation began in a city council car park - the only open space remaining in the likely area - which quickly identified buildings connected to the church.
The bones were found in the first days of the dig.
Details of the reburial ceremony have yet to be released.

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