Richard III was the last English king to be killed in battle. He fought Henry Tudor in the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, but Henry triumphed. Richard’s body was then buried in the Greyfriars Church.
The church, however, was demolished in 1536. Since then, no one had been able to find the remains of the king. His bones were assumed to have been tossed into the river, never to be seen again. Modern times made discovery more difficult, as well – the area in which the church had once stood became a simple car park in the English city of Leicester.
Not satisfied with letting Richard’s whereabouts go undiscovered, the archaeology department of the University of Leicester, along with the Richard III Society and Leicester City Council, initiated an archaeological study. The team dug out trenches across the parking lot, which revealed the walls of the cloisters and the church. Then, discovered among the ruins was the complete skeleton of a male human with a severely curved spine and – proof of having met an enemy in battle – major head wounds.
According to the press conference held today, royal historians and archaeologists are very fortunate to have made the discovery in this time period.
Geneticist Dr. Turi King says both the individuals who helped with the DNA analysis – Michael Ibsen and another person who has asked to remain anonymous – are “the last of their line” – so in a generation comparing DNA in this way would not have been possible.
DNA analysis of the remains was difficult, but they did manage to get a sample of DNA to work with. The DNA confirms this is a male.
She shows part of Michael Ibsen’s DNA sequence … there is a DNA match from the descendents of Richard III and the skeleton at Grey Friars.
The DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III, she says.