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King Richard III found in `untidy lozenge-shaped grave`

Last Updated: Friday, May 24, 2013 - 23:23

London: The remains of King Richard III, which were discovered under a
Leicester car park, were buried in a hastily dug, badly prepared lozenge-shaped grave, with the bones placed in an odd position and the torso crammed in, researchers have found.

An academic paper on the archaeology of the Search for Richard III reveals for the first time specific details of the grave dug for the last Plantagenet king.

The paper revealed that Richard III was casually placed in a badly prepared grave suggesting gravediggers were in a hurry to bury him.

He was placed in an `odd position` and the torso crammed in. The grave was `too short` at the bottom to receive the body conventionally.

Someone is likely to have stood in the grave to receive the body suggested by the fact the body is on one side rather than placed centrally, researchers said.

There is also evidence to suggest Richard`s hands may have been tied when he was buried.

The paper by a team from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, School of Archaeology and Ancient History, and Department of Genetics follows the public revelation in February by the University of Leicester that the University had discovered King Richard III.

It followed a three-week dig started in August 2012 at what was once the medieval Grey Friars church in Leicester - now a Leicester City Council car park.

The paper revealed that the King`s grave was too short for him and had an untidy "lozenge" shape, with the bottom of the grave much smaller than it was at ground level.

The head was propped up against one corner of the grave, suggesting the gravediggers had made no attempt to rearrange the body once it had been lowered in. There were also no signs of a shroud or coffin.

This is in stark contrast to the other medieval graves found in the town, which were the correct length and were dug neatly with vertical sides.

This may show that the gravediggers were in a hurry to put the body in the ground - or had little respect for the deceased, according to the paper.

This is in keeping with accounts from the medieval historian Polydore Vergil, who said Richard III was buried "without any pomp or solemn funeral", researchers noted.

"At this stage we have discovered enough of the plan of the Grey Friars precinct to feel confident that we have identified parts of the eastern range, the chapter house and the eastern end of the church, including the transition between the choir and the presbytery," the authors said.

"This means that the hastily constructed grave in Trench 1 is certainly in the place indicated by the fifteenth- and sixteenth-century written sources as the tomb of King Richard III," they said.

The full outcomes from the bone analysis and DNA tests will be published in subsequent papers.


First Published: Friday, May 24, 2013 - 23:23

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