Return of the King: Richard III unveiled from car park tomb

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In 1485, King Richard III rode into the Battle of Bosworth and was killed by his Tudor enemies. Over 500 years later, researchers confirmed that a skeleton discovered in a Leicester car park close to the battle site was the notorious monarch.

“Beyond reasonable doubt it’s Richard”, announced Lead Archaeologist Richard Buckley from the University of Leicester, triggering wild applause from a packed news conference and emotional embraces between researchers.

The skeleton was discovered in September and subjected to a thorough identification process. Geneticists were able to recover a DNA sample that matched the King with a 17th-generation descendent – Canadian furniture seller Michael Ibsen. The skeleton also had the curved spine for which Richard III was well known – notably in William Shakespeare’s play.

“This provides a new body of evidence that will re-write the history of a very confused time period,” Professor Lynn Foxhall, head of the University Archaeology Department told Metro.

Further tests will be carried out on the bones before a planned re-burial in February 2013.

The King will be buried at Leicester Cathedral, it was announced, which has proved controversial.

“As he was from York, it’s very disappointing he will not be buried there,” said Sandra Wadley, head of the Society of Friends of King Richard III group.

The investigation also discovered that the King had suffered numerous injuries from bladed weapons after death, suggesting deliberate mutilation of his body as it was carried from the battlefield.

“It’s a great insight into his last moments and how he was treated,” said Buckley.

In Shakespeare’s play, Richard III was a “hunchback monster” that killed his two young nephews. With the discovery of his body, the King and his era will have a new story.

Key findings

• DNA from skeleton matches Richard III’s maternal line relatives.
• 10 wounds discovered on skeleton – Richard III killed by trauma to the back of the head.  Part of the skull sliced off. Corpse was subjected to ‘humiliation injuries’ –including a sword through the right buttock
• Radiocarbon dating reveals individual had a high protein diet – including significant amounts of seafood.
• Although around 5 feet 8 inches tall (1.72m), severe scoliosis meant King Richard III would have stood significantly shorter and his right shoulder may have been higher than the left.


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