DNA tests prove skeleton found in Leicestershire car park really is King Richard III

528-year mystery of what happened to the body of the last Plantagenet King has been solved

A skeleton found last year under a council car park in Leicester has been shown “beyond reasonable doubt” to be that of King Richard III who died in the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, experts have concluded.

A detailed forensic examination of the skull and bones, including DNA tests, has solved the 528-year mystery of what happened to the body of the last Plantagenet King, claimed the University of Leicester, which funded the archaeological dig.

Radiocarbon dating has placed the age of skeleton within the time frame of Richard’s death, and the skull and bones bear the brutal hallmarks of being cut down on a medieval battlefield. 

The man also suffered severe spinal curvature, which would have made his right shoulder higher than the left. This is consisted with the Shakesperian notion that Richard, the “hunchbacked king”, had a deformed stature - but there were no signs of the fabled withered arm. 

Scientists said that the age of the man at death was between 30 and 33, which is  consistent with the age of the 32-year-old king. He also had a slender, almost feminine physique, which matches historical descriptions of Richard.

Crucially, DNA extracted from the teeth and bone match the two living maternal relatives of Richard who genealogy has been confirmed, university scientists said. The chance of this being a random match are only “a few per cent”, they added.

“It is the academic conclusion of The University of Leicester that the individual exhumed at Greyfriars in August 2012 is indeed King Richard III the last Plantagenet King of England,” said Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist on the four-year project.

The genetic study used maternally-inherited mitochondrial DNA extracted from two living relatives, a London-based carpenter called Michael Ibsen and an unidentified person who has also been traced through 16 generations of genealogical records to Richard’s elder sister, Anne of York.

“We were very excited to find that there is a DNA match between the maternal DNA from the family of Richard III and the skeletal remains we found at the Greyfriars dig,” said Turi King, who carried out the DNA analysis.

“The DNA evidence points to these being the remains of Richard III...The type of DNA we extracted is extremely rare, shared by only a few per cent of the population. Taken together with the other evidence, it is a very strong and compelling case,” Dr King said.

The announcement today at a packed press conference was the remarkable culmination of a quest that began more than four years ago when enthusiastic amateurs suggested that Richard may be buried under the car park of Leicester’s department of social services.

“Everyone thought I was mad. It’s not the easiest pitch in the world to look for a king under a council car park...I’d like to thank Leicester City Council for allowing us to dig up their car park,” said Philippa Langley, a screenwriter and member of the Richard III Society.

The skeleton was found in a grave dug under the choir of Grey Friars church, which stood on the site until the monstery was dissolved in the 16th Century. The man was buried with crossed wrists, suggesting he had been bound, and was slumped in a hole that was slightly too small for the 5ft 8in tall man, said Dr Buckley.

Radiocarbon dating showed that the man lived between about 1455 and 1540, which is consistent with the 1485 battle at Bosworth, he said.

Jo Appleby, an osteologist at Leicester, said there were 10 separate sites of damage to the skeleton - 8 to the skull and 2 to the body - that occurred around the time of death. A large part of the base of the skull had been sliced off by a sharp blade, possibly a sword, and another part of the head had suffered a severe puncture wound, possibly by a halberd. Either of these wounds would have been fatal.

There were other, non-fatal injuries to the cranium and the face that could have been caused by knives or daggers, Dr Appleby said. Other marks to the bones, especially the ribs and pelvis, suggest the body was further damaged once armour had been removed - which is consistent with Richard’s body being stripped and humiliated.

“Examples of such ‘humiliation injuries’ are well known from the historical and forensic literature, and historical sources have suggested that Richard’s body was mistreated after the battle,” Dr Appleby said.

The damage to the pelvis may have been caused by a blade being  thrust into the right buttock of Richard’s body, possibly when it was slumped over  the back of a pack horse when carried from Bosworth to Leicester, she said.

Richard III will now be buried in nearby Leicester Cathedral.

In his bones: evidence from the grave

Age

Richard III: Died at age of 32
Sketeton:
Estimated to have died between age of 30 and 33

Dating

Richard III: Died in 1485
Sketeton:
Radiocarbon dating estimates death between 1450 and 1540

Location

Richard III: Historical records say he is buried in choir of Gray Friars
Sketeton:
Found in choir of same monastery

Physique

Richard III: Said to have twisted or deformed physique
Sketeton:
Suffered severe spinal curvature which began in adolesence

Death

Richard III: Slain in battle
Sketeton:
Shows damage by sharp blades (swords or daggers)

Family

Richard III: Supposed to be related through maternal line to two living descendents
Sketeton:
Maternal DNA of all three show perfect match

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
News
people Emma Watson addresses celebrity nude photo leak
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
Katie Hopkins appearing on 'This Morning' after she purposefully put on 4 stone.
peopleKatie Hopkins breaks down in tears over weight gain challenge
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Alexis Sanchez, Radamel Falcao, Diego Costa and Mario Balotelli
football
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballGunners confirm signing from Manchester United
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Olivia Colman topped the list of the 30 most influential females in broadcasting
tv
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
tech
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Arts and Entertainment
Hare’s a riddle: Kit Williams with the treasure linked to Masquerade
booksRiddling trilogy could net you $3m
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Assessor

£26000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: SAP Assessor Job T...

KS1 and KS2 Primary NQT Job in Lancaster Area

£85 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education is urgently...

HR Advisor (Employee Relations) - Kentish Town, NW London

£30000 - £35000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Advisor (Employee Rela...

Derivatives Risk Commodities Business Analyst /Market Risk

£600 - £800 per day: Harrington Starr: Derivatives Risk Commodities Business A...

Day In a Page

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
Al Pacino wows Venice

Al Pacino wows Venice

Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

Neil Lawson Baker interview

‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

The model for a gadget launch

Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

Get well soon, Joan Rivers

She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

A fresh take on an old foe

Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering