Sunday, September 16, 2012

A Parking Lot Burial Fit for a King

In case you've missed it, there have been some interesting archaeological developments in Leicester, England. Hardly a week ago, archaeologists announced that they had discovered the foundations of the long-lost Greyfriars church underneath a parking lot in the city. Only a few days later, they uncovered an adult male human skeleton. The remains may quite possibly be those of King Richard III, famously chronicled by William Shakespeare in the play of the same name:

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York
                -Richard III

The skeleton indicates significant "peri-mortem" (at the time of death) injuries, including a skull fracture and an embedded arrowhead, and spinal abnormalities related to scoliosis. Such features match what is known about Richard III - that he died in the Battle of Bosworth Field (the finale to the War of the Roses) in 1485 and probably had a significant spinal deformity (Shakespeare depicted him as a hunchback). Equally significant is the location of the grave, within the choir of the church, where Richard III was supposedly buried. DNA analysis will have the final say about the identity of the remains. In the meantime, fans of royal intrigue can devote their time to considering the other great unsolved mystery of Richard III: the fate of his two nephews, heirs to the throne whose disappearance around 1483 spawned the story of "The Princes in the Tower."

Floor tiles from Greyfriars church. As of yet, no images of the skeleton have been released. University of Leicester.

Update: On February 4, 2013, researcher's announced that DNA testing has confirmed that the skeleton (shown below) is that of Richard III. You can read about some of the other interesting details researchers uncovered while studying the remains here.

The remains of Richard III, from here.

No comments:

Post a Comment