5 Feb 2013

Car park skeleton confirmed as Richard III

6:16 am on 5 February 2013

Scientists in Britain have confirmed that a battle-scarred skeleton found under a car park in the city of Leicester belongs to the 15th century king Richard III.

Portrayed by Shakespeare as a hunchbacked villain, Richard was a royal prince until the death of his brother Edward IV in 1483. Appointed as protector of his nephew, Edward V, Richard instead assumed the reins of power.

Edward and his brother Richard, known as the Princes in the Tower, disappeared soon after. Rumours circulated they had been murdered on the orders of their uncle.

Challenged by Henry Tudor, Richard was killed at the Battle of Bosworth in 1485 after only two years on the throne, but his remains went missing 50 years later.

Confirmation that the king's remains have been found in a carpark in the East Midlands have been greeted with delight by historians and archaeologists, the BBC reports.

The skeleton of the last of the Plantagenet dynasty, the last English monarch killed in battle, were found within hours of the dig beginning in the northern hemisphere summer last year.

But it has taken this long for archaeological and scientific analysis to conclude that these are Richard's remains.

The final decisive evidence was positive DNA matches to his known living descendants and the bones will be reinterred in Leicester Cathedral.

Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley, from the University of Leicester, said: "Beyond reasonable doubt it's Richard."

Mr Buckley said the bones had been subjected to "rigorous academic study" and had been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540.

Extensive injuries

Jo Appleby, an osteo-archaeologist from the university's School of Archaeology and Ancient History, revealed the bones were of a man in his late 20s or early 30s. Richard was 32 when he died.

His skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull, at around the time of death. Two of the skull wounds were potentially fatal.

One was a "slice" removing a flap of bone, the other was caused by bladed weapon which went through and hit the opposite side of the skull - a depth of more than 10cm.

"Both of these injuries would have caused an almost instant loss of consciousness and death would have followed quickly afterwards," Dr Appleby said.

"In the case of the larger wound, if the blade had penetrated 7cm into the brain, which we cannot determine from the bones, death would have been instantaneous."