Potential 'killer blow' to King Richard III unveiled

Researchers have created a new film footage that shows for the first time details of the potential killer blow that claimed the life of King Richard III.

PTI| Updated: Feb 13, 2015, 15:53 PM IST

London: Researchers have created a new film footage that shows for the first time details of the potential killer blow that claimed the life of King Richard III.

The sequence - showing the dramatic injury to the base of the skull as well as the inside of the top of the skull - is part of a package of films charting the scientific and archaeological investigations led by the project team from the University of Leicester.

It is among 26 sequences taken by University video producer Carl Vivian who is chronicling the key events in the Discovery, Science and Reburial of the last Plantagenet king.

Among the sequences there is one that has never been released before and shows the moment when Professor Guy Rutty of East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, based at the University of Leicester, found the potential killer blow.

Rutty examined the skull and linked marks on the vertebra, the smaller of the two wounds to the base of the skull and a mark on the inside of the skull, suggesting that weapon had been thrust up from the base of Richard's neck and into his head.

"Following the identification of a major sharp force trauma to the base of the skull, which was probably inflicted by a sword or the top spike of a bill or halberd, we were interested to determine the angle of the blow," said Dr Jo Appleby, who led the exhumation of the skeleton from the Greyfriars car park where Richard was discovered in 2012.

"During filming, Professor Rutty noted a small traumatic lesion on the interior surface of the cranium, directly opposite the sharp force trauma. Careful examination showed that the two injuries lined up with one another, and also with an injury to Richard's first cervical vertebra.

"The combination of all three injuries provided evidence for the direction of the injury and also the depth to which the weapon had penetrated the skull," said Appleby.

The researchers, who examined the remains in a clinical environment at the Leicester Royal Infirmary, have already published in The Lancet their research into the trauma inflicted on King Richard III's body at the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485.

Using modern forensic analysis of the King's skeletal remains, they discovered that three of his injuries had the potential to cause death quickly - two to the skull and one to the pelvis.