Magazine

Feature: Finding Richard III

Date posted: 05 Feb 2013 Author: STC

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Pamela Rabe as Richard III in STC's The War of the Roses in 2009. (Photo: Tania Kelley)

After more than 500 years buried in Leicester, the twisted bones of the last king of the House of York have finally been uncovered. Archaeologists have confirmed that bones found in an excavation of a council car park in the city of Leicester belong to Richard III, the last member of the Plantagenet dynasty, and the eponymous anti-hero of one of Shakespeare's most popular historical plays. Extensive research revealed that the car park was the location of the long lost church of Grey Friars, in which a group of priests were believed to have buried the king after his death in 1485.

Excavation of the site began in October last year, with diggers coming across a skeleton on the first day that, on examination, proved to have a bended spine and was immediately suspected of being the lost king. The skeleton shows evidence of extensive abuse and damage suggesting that historical reports of the violence towards the dying Richard, after his defeat at Bosworth Field, might have been accurate.Today it was announced that the misshapen bones (that show evidence of scoliosis) have been officially identified as belonging to Richard III.

Many argue that Shakespeare's portrayal of Richard as a vicious and calculating murderer willing to sacrifice anyone and anything for power, was perhaps purely the result of the playwright's attempts to please his tudor queen Elizabeth I (who was an influential patron of the arts) at the time rather than a reflection of fact. Many believe him to have been a brave and tenacious warrior.

Read more about the discovery here and here.