Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 10 July 2014

Spine clue in 'Richard III' hunt

Fragments of a medieval silver penny that has been found during a search for the lost grave of King Richard III

Archaeologists searching for the lost grave of King Richard III have unearthed a skeleton with a metal arrow in its back which they believe could be the remains of the medieval monarch.

The skeleton was exhumed from a car park behind council offices in Leicester last Tuesday during an archaeological dig by a team from the University of Leicester and is now being subjected to laboratory analysis.

It was found in what is believed to be the choir stall of the Grey Friars church, the site of which was also uncovered during the three-week archaeological dig and which is believed to be the burial site of the monarch according to historical records.

Initial examinations have revealed it to be the skeleton of an adult male with the remains said to be in a good condition. It also has a curved spine.

Richard Taylor, from the University of Leicester, told media at a press conference that the skeleton appears to have suffered significant trauma to the skull at or near the time of death. This appears consistent with, although not certainly caused by, an injury received in battle. A bladed implement appears to have cleaved part of the rear of the skull," he said.

The skeleton was found with a barbed metal arrowhead between the vertebrae of the upper back.

Mr Taylor added that the skeleton has spinal abnormalities, which are consistent with reports of the monarch's appearance.

Mr Taylor said: "We believe the individual would have had severe scoliosis which is a form of spinal curvature. This would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left shoulder. This is consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard's appearance."

He added: "We are not saying today that we have found Richard III. What we are saying is that the search for Richard III has entered a new phase. Our focus is shifting from the archaeological excavation to laboratory analysis. This skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination."

Richard III died in the Battle of Bosworth in 1485.

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