The search for the body of England's King Richard III may finally be over. A team of archeologists from the University of Leicester has announced that they have exhumed a set of remains that are believed to have belonged to the late English King.
"This is an historic and perhaps defining moment in the story of Leicester," Richard Buckley, the University of Leicester archeologist who led the team said in a statement. "From the outset, the search for Richard III was a thrilling prospect but it has involved many hours of dedicated research by our team that has led to the astonishing finds we have disclosed today."
Although the bones have not definitively been confirmed to be those of Richard III, there is a great deal of circumstantial evidence linking them to the King, who was immortalized in the Shakespearean tragedy that bears his name. According to the University, the remains, which are those of an adult male, were found beneath what is believed have been choir area of the Church of the Grey Friars. This is consistent with the records of British historian John Rous, Richard's contemporary, who wrote that Richard "at last was buried in the choir of the Friars Minor at Leicester."
According to a statement by the University, the skull also appears to have been cleaved by a bladed implement, a wound "which appears consistent with (although not certainly caused by) an injury received in battle." King Richard III was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, making him the last English King to die in battle.
The skeleton's spine was also found to have severe scoliosis. According to the University's statement "this would have made his right shoulder appear visibly higher than the left shoulder." Although the skeleton was not technically a hunchback, the uneven shoulders which were caused by the scoliosis may have given the appearance of one, an appearance which is consistent with both historical and Shakespearean descriptions of the King
However, although the circumstantial evidence is strong, the team has not yet officially confirmed the remains to be those of Richard III. According to a statement from Richard Taylor, the University's director of corporate affairs.
"The University has always been clear that any remains would need to be subjected to rigorous laboratory analysis before we confirm the outcome of the search for Richard III. We are not saying today that we have found King Richard III. What we are saying is that the search for Richard III has entered a new phase. Our focus is shifting from the archaeological excavation to laboratory analysis. This skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive further detailed examination."
King Richard III who ruled England from 1483 to 1485, was the last King of the House of the York and the Plantagenet Dynasty. His death at the Battle of Bosworth Field, viewed by many historians as the end of the Middle Ages in England, marked the beginning of Tudor rule in England.