By Mirembe Martina
King Richard III of England was buried in an unknown grave after his death way back in 22 August 1485. However, a team of archaeologists, geneticists, genealogists and other scientists from the University of Leicester say they have found his skull and probably the grave where he was buried.
According to lead archaeologist, Richard Buckley, tests run on the skull prove that the remains indeed are of the king beyond reasonable doubt. Lin Foxhall, head of the university’s school of archaeology, said the discovery “could end up rewriting a little bit of history in a big way.” His remains were discovered yesterday, Monday 4th February.
King Richard III was defeated and killed by the army of Henry Tudor, who took the throne as King Henry VII. He was accused of many crimes including the murder of his two nephews, the “Princes in the Tower.” However, Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society which seeks to restore his reputation said that for centuries Richard’s story has been told by others. “A wind of change is blowing, one that will seek out the truth about the real Richard III,” she said.
Langley, who helped launch the search for the king, said she could scarcely believe her quest had paid off. “Everyone thought that I was mad,” she said. “It’s not the easiest pitch in the world, to look for a king under a council car park.”
The location of Richard’s body was unknown for centuries. It was said he was buried by the Franciscan monks of Grey Friars at their church in Leicester, 100 miles (160 kilometers) north of London but the church was closed and dismantled after King Henry VIII dissolved the monasteries in 1538, and its location eventually was forgotten by most local residents.
He had been buried unceremoniously, with no coffin or shroud — plausible for a despised and defeated enemy.
Appleby said two of the blows to the head could have been fatal. Other scars, including a knife wound to the buttock, bore the hallmarks of “humiliation injuries” inflicted after death.
The remains displayed signs of scoliosis, a form of spinal curvature, consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard’s appearance. DNA from the skeleton matched a sample taken from Michael Ibsen, a distant living relative of Richard’s sister. The project’s lead geneticist, Turi King, said Ibsen, a Canadian carpenter living in London, shares with the skeleton a rare strain of mitochondrial DNA. The same DNA group also matches a second living descendant.
Ibsen, a 17th great-grand-nephew of Richard’s older sister, said he was “stunned” by the discovery. “It’s difficult to digest,” he said.
On Monday, the king’s skeleton lay in a glass box in a meeting room within the university library. It was a browned, fragile-looking thing, its skull pocked with injuries, missing its feet — which scientists say were disturbed sometime after burial — and with a pronounced s-shape to the spine.
Soon the remains will be moved to an undisclosed secure location, and next year Richard will, at last, get a king’s burial, interred with pomp and ceremony in Leicester Cathedral.