Richard III

11.27.12

The Skull of a King

The discovery of the alleged remains of Richard III is a win for archaeologists and history buffs alike:

"I didn't expect us to find anything," said Foxhall. "It is incredibly rare in archaeology to go looking for a named individual. Even the fact that the trenches were sunk in exactly the right place, so that we immediately located a church which has been buried for 500 years – if we'd found nothing else – was extraordinary.

"Then to find bones, exactly where the records say Richard was buried — well, I am still completely astonished by the whole thing."

Jo Appleby was the bones expert who, dressed from head to foot in white plastic, like a character from CSI, to prevent contamination, excavated the skeleton. "I thought at best we'd get a jumble of different bones, some of which might be from approximately the right period. I still can't quite believe it. When I saw the gash in the skull, and the twisted spine, the hair stood up on the back of my neck."

Foxhall and Appleby point out that they have nothing but circumstantial evidence – but say it is "very, very strong circumstantial evidence".

"We have a grown man, buried in a position of great honour near the altar in the church but without much in the way of ceremony, with a twisted spine and a terrible battle injury – he didn't get that walking home drunk from the pub," says Appleby.