IMC 2013: Sessions

Session 1401: 'Looking for Richard': The Greyfriars Project - A Special Event

Wednesday 3 July 2013, 19.30-20.30

Sponsor:University of Leicester / Royal Armouries, Leeds
Organisers:Axel E. W. Müller, Institute for Medieval Studies, University of Leeds
Robert C. Woosnam-Savage, Royal Armouries, Leeds
Introduction:Michael Hicks, Department of History, University of Winchester
Speakers:Jo Appleby, School of Archaeology & Ancient History, University of Leicester
Richard Buckley, University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), University of Leicester
Robert C. Woosnam-Savage, Royal Armouries, Leeds

In September 2012 a skeleton was excavated during an archaeological project at the former site of Greyfriars Church in Leicester, England, which lay under a local council car park. Part of the project’s remit was also to seek out any remains of the grave or tomb of the last Plantagenet king, Richard III, who had been buried in the choir of the church in August 1485 following his death at the battle of Bosworth. The problem with looking for Richard was that tradition described the body of Richard as having been disturbed during the dissolution in 1538 when Greyfriars was demolished, and his remains were thrown into the River Soar, which runs through the city. Would the project find any remains of Greyfriars or this ‘Lost king’ of England?

Archaeologist Richard Buckley, Co-Director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) and team-leader of the Greyfriars Project, together with Jo Appleby, Lecturer in Human Bioarchaeology, University of Leicester, and Bob Woosnam-Savage, Curator of European Edged Weapons, Royal Armouries, Leeds, talk about the finding of a skeleton; a skeleton which, amazingly, not only bore the signs of scoliosis but also, tellingly, the trauma of battle. Had Richard really been found after nearly 530 years?

The three speakers discuss how the excavation was undertaken and how this multi-disciplinary project, involving a number of experts in such diverse areas as DNA, carbon-dating, diet, osteology, and medieval-weaponry, came to identify ‘the body under the car park’.