This morning I watched the quite extraordinary press conference called by the archaeologists of
Leicester University in which they explained how they now know that this skeleton, found under a city car park, was, beyond all doubt, that of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king, killed on Bosworth Field on 22 August 1485. They walked soberly through the evidence – carbon-dating, osteo analysis, DNA capture from the bones and from known descendants, to construct an overwhelmingly convincing account of the man, his physique, his wounds and his manner of death in battle. The shiver of touching the past.
He had been wounded in ten places. His skull had been grievously injured – probably Richard lost his helmet.
The major wounds are to the base of the skull, either side of the spine, and would have been caused by heavy bladed weapons. His body was subsequently mutilated after death, tossed naked onto a horse and dumped in a rough grave in
It was all incredibly moving. We were reminded by the canon of Leicester Cathedral, that this is not just a historically gripping discovery. It concerns the remains of a human being. Richard will be reburied in the cathedral.
Archaeology is a Cinderella profession in these cash-strapped times but this was an astonishing testimony to its ability to bring all the tools of scientific analysis to unlock the past. For the men and women who talked at the press conference – and for the hundreds of hours of patient analysis by them and many others in universities and laboratories across