On Monday 4th February 2013, researchers from the University of Leicester revealed that the remains of an adult male found beneath a car park in Leicester were consistent with the remains of King Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.

King Richard III was killed at the Battle of Bosworth field, the last significant battle in the Wars of the Roses, on 22 August 1485. One theory was that his body had been interred at Greyfriars Church in Leicester. Over the centuries the location of the church was lost until its rediscovery late last year.

The remains of the adult male buried within the choir of the church showed significant trauma to the cranium, consistent with fatal injuries sustained in battle and curvature of the spine (scoliosis) consistent with historical descriptions of King Richard III.

Dr. Jo Appleby, project osteologist at the University of Leicester, and Bob Woosnam-Savage, Senior Curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries, visited the Biological Anthropology Research Centre at the University of Bradford a few weeks ago to compare the wounds from the individual from Greyfriars with the skeletons that were found in a mass grave on the Towton battlefield in 1996. The Battle of Towton also took place during the Wars of the Roses, on the 29th March 1461, and is remembered as “the bloodiest battle on English soil”. The wounds sustained by those killed at Towton would have been consistent with the wounds King Richard would have suffered.

Jo and Bob look at skeletal material from Towton (Image: Rebecca Storm)

Jo and Bob look at skeletal material from Towton (Image: Rebecca Storm)

The best examples of cranial trauma from Towton are due to be scanned as part of the JISC-funded Digitised Diseases project, which will launch later in 2013.

Example of fatal sharp force trauma from an individual killed at the Battle of Towton, March 29 1461

Example of fatal sharp force trauma from an individual killed at the Battle of Towton, March 29 1461

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