Those Bones

1485, 22 August: Richard III killed at Bosworth Field. His body was taken to Leicester and buried in the Greyfriars church. Over time the exact whereabouts of the Greyfriars became lost.

1612 from Peck’s Collection of Curious Historical Pieces: at the dissolution of the monastery, Richard’s burial place fell within the bounds of a citizen’s garden. Mr Robert Kerrick (Mayor of Leicester) erected a stone pillar on the spot, inscribed with “Here lies the body of Richard III, some time King of England”. (Source: A general and heraldic dictionary of the peerages of England, Ireland, and Scotland, extinct, dormant, and in abeyance (1831) John Burke p. 431)

2012, 25 August: an historic archaeological project between the University of Leicester, the Leicester City Council, and the Richard III Society, began with the aim of discovering whether Britain’s last Plantagenet King lay buried in Leicester City Centre.

2012, 12 September: week 3 of the dig – the archaeological team discovered the remains of a man with battle wounds and curvature of the spine. DNA was sampled from the bones, and sent off for comparison with known ancestors.

2013, 4 February: University of Leicester announced that the bones were those of Richard III – this announcement was supported by radiocarbon dating, radiological evidence, and DNA and bone analysis.

The bones show that Richard had scoliosis of the spine: his back would have been twisted, but not hunched; nor was there evidence of a withered arm.

Fun facts:

The remains were found just below the foundations of a Victorian building. Had the builders dug 30cm deeper, the remains would have been destroyed!

Mathematics students at the University of Leicester had calculated that archaeologists had less than a 1% chance of finding King Richard III when they began their historic search

Scoliosis is a fixed and abnormal sideways curvature of the thoracic and lumbar regions
of the spine
. It can result in one shoulder being slightly higher than the other, in the
case of the Greyfriars skeleton, the right shoulder. Kyphosis, is an excessive forward bending of the spine when viewed from the side. There is no associated twist or sideways deformity.