The Possible Burial of King Richard III
I’ve been wondering whether or not to post about the possible discovery of the burial of King Richard III. I very rarely let me work life encroach on to my blog (apart from the occasional Silent Sunday picture!), but in this case I am very keen to chronicle events as they unfold in my own words, mainly so that I can always look back at this exciting episode in my working life. And, given that I’ve spent the last two days standing by the trench, explaining the Medieval church and human remains found therein to anyone that passes by, I don’t think it is unfair of me to want to share that same information with my lovely blog followers.
|Nice view down the cloister, with the cloister wall to the right of the trench|
The University of Leicester Archaeological Service have been digging on the site of the Greyfriars Franciscan Friary in Leicester. They spent three weeks excavating the site over three trenches and were able to confirm the postulated locations of a number of key areas – the Chapter House, cloister walk and garth and the choir of the Friary Church to name but a few. Excitingly, this has allowed us to clarify the orientation and the footprint of the Greyfriars church with relative certainty for the first time.
|Image credit – University of Leicester|
Last Friday, excavation work was completed on site. Leicester Arts and Museums staff have since held open days to explain the finds to the public. I was posted on the prime location at the northern end of Trench 1. This is a rough transcription of the information I have been delivering to the people of Leicester over the last couple of days and what I will be saying next weekend too!
|Male articulated burial site. The top of the burial (skull) is delineated by the far yellow marker in this picture.|
- The human remains were found in the choir of the Greyfriars church – this is where the historical record records the burial of King Richard III to have taken place.
- The human remains are those of a male. Another, disarticulated, burial was found in the choir area, but these remains have been proven to be female, therefore not those of Richard III.
- The male skeleton shows evidence of suffering from scoliosis. This is an s-shaped curvature of the spine which would have resulted in his right shoulder being noticeably higher than his left. This is in distinction to kyphosis sufferers, who suffer from an rounded curvature of the spine. This is usually the condition associated with the label of ‘hunchback’. The idea of some sort of spinal deformity is in line with contemporary accounts of King Richard III.
- A barbed arrowhead was found in between the vertebrae of the skeleton. This may have entered the torso at any point and then fallen to its resting place between the vertebrae as decay took hold of the body. It is not embedded in the spine therefore not necessarily evidence that the individual was shot in the back. However, such an arrowhead could be conducive with the individual being injured on the battlefield.
- Finally, the skull has sustained serious injury at the back. These injuries are likely to have been inflicted by some sort of bladed weapon. Again, these injuries are conducive with injuries that could have been received on the battlefield.