Liveblogging the Richard III announcement

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here at this ungodly hour to find out as soon as humanly possible whether the skeleton discovered underneath a Leicester parking lot can be conclusively identified by a combination of DNA analysis, radiocarbon dating and forensic analysis as the remains of King Richard III.

The University of Leicester is livetweeting the press conference. This Is Leicestershire will be posting live updates and pictures on this page. BBC News will have live video feed of the press conference but I don’t have that link yet. EDIT: Here it is! BBC Radio Leicester is carrying the press conference live at 5:00 AM EST and is already on site.

They’ve been broadcasting all their regular programming from the University of Leicester since 1:00 AM EST. Along with the usual weather and traffic updates, there have been live reports from the now-famous parking lot, excited speculation on what this discovery might mean for the city, a retrospective on how the dig came about and progressed, interviews with people involved in the project, capsule histories of the Wars of the Roses with dorky sound effects, “news broadcasts” from the 15th century about pigs being loose and a new passion play being staged at Jewry Wall Roman Ruins, plus lots of songs with “king” in the title. The correspondents and hosts are giddy from excitement and lack of sleep. It’s all so charmingly nerdy, especially when compared to our media outlets which only do pre-shows of sports events, award show red carpets and elections.

Meanwhile, the University of Leicester has released the first picture of the skull found under the parking lot. They’re still not saying whether this is the skull of Richard III, but at this point the hype is so huge if the results are inconclusive they are the cruelest of teases. Also, as soon as the press conference is over they’ll be launching a new website at http://www.le.ac.uk/richardiii/ which URL is a rather large hint. So here is the skull belonging to an unknown person who for want of a better name we’ll call Mr. X III:

~ LIVEBLOG ~

4:21 – Each of the researchers will be explaining the results of their examinations and tests, with Dr. Turi King from UL’s Department of Genetics up last. The final conclusion will be announced by Richard Buckley, co-director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services and dig leader.

4:42 – There’s quite a bit of talk about how Richard III will be Leicester’s Robin Hood. “Nottingham, eat your heart out,” that sort of thing.

4:47 – The panel:
Richard Taylor (RST), Deputy Registrar at the University of Leicester
Richard Buckley (RB), Lead archaeologist
Dr. Jo Appleby (JA), Osteology expert
Professor Lin Foxhall (LF), History expert
Professor Kevin Schürer (KS), Genealogy expert
Dr. Turi King (TK), Genetics expert

4:51 – Experts at the lead table are beginning to take their seats.

4:55 – BBC News video live feed will start in 4 minutes.

5:01 – And we’re on! Professor Sir Robert Burgess starts with an introduction about the research process and how the experts have to lay it all out for us so we can understand the findings.

5:03 – RST: what we’re about to tell you is astonishing. Will be published in academic journals.

5:04 – RB: David Baldwin, a local historian wrote more than two decades ago that he thought the remains of Richard were still buried rather than having been thrown in the Soar.

5:07 – They found evidence of an articulated skeleton almost immediately, within hours of beginning the dig! They just covered it up and kept going because they expected to find multiple human burials and they were trying to find structural evidence of Greyfriars so they knew where they were.

They kept going until they got their bearings and then excavated the skeleton they had found in what they now realized was under the choir stalls.

5:12 First picture of in situ skeleton:

The barbed arrowhead they thought they had found resting between vertebrae is probably an earlier Roman nail.

Body still articulated, but the torso was twisted and the head propped up on top. The hands were crossed at the hip, possibly tied.

Two labs radiocarbon dated samples from rib bones. Found that the individual ate a high protein diet and that he died between 1455 and 1540. Richard III died at the Battle of Bosworth on August 22nd, 1485.

5:15 JA: Individual aged between late 20s and early 30s. Richard III was 32 when he died.

Without scoliosis, he would have been 5’8″ tall, but the curvature of the spine would have shortened him considerably, they can’t be sure how much. He had idiopathic adolescent-onset scoliosis which developed after the age of 10.

The complete spine with clearly visible curvature:

They found 10 wounds to the skeleton, 8 of them on the skull. The large slice on the back of the skull is consistent with a wound inflicted by a halberd. Smaller wounds on the skull shaved off pieces of the skull. They were not fatal and would not have knocked him out, but blood loss could have been considerable. Another wound in the cheek is consistent with a dagger stab wound, not fatal.

It’s unlikely that a person wearing a helmet could have suffered these wounds. The helmet may have been lost, or they may have been inflicted after death as humiliation wounds.

A blade wound to the pelvis, the result of a sword penetrating through the buttocks all the way to the bone.

5:24 – Jo Appelby’s conclusion is that the skeletal evidence as a whole provides a highly convincing case for identification as Richard III

5:26 – LF: reading contemporary sources on Richard’s looks. He’s described as slight but strong.

5:30 – KS: Three main goals: 1) identify group of living male relatives, 2) verify in documents the maternal line from Anne of York to Michael Ibsen and siblings, 3) identify if possible a second maternal line descent.

5:31 – 1) succeeded, finding three male descendants.

5:32 – 2) were able to find documentary evidence supporting the Anne of York – Ibsen maternal line.

5:33 – 3) succeeded again, finding a second maternal line which allows them to triangulate the mtDNA evidence with the DNA samples from the skeleton. This descendant wishes to remain anonymous.

5:34 – TK: THEY SUCCESSFULLY RETRIEVED ANCIENT DNA!!!

Too early to confirm the Y-chromosome DNA from the male line of descent.

The mtDNA analysis of both female lines matched each other AND THE SKELETON AND THE SKELETON AND THE SKELETON!

HOLY SHIT SLAM DUNK PROOF THEY FOUND FRIKKIN RICHARD III

5:38 – RB: Sound academic conclusion from cross-disciplinary research:

IT IS THE ACADEMIC CONCLUSION OF THE UNIVERSITY OF LEICESTER THAT BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT THE SKELETON EXHUMED AT GREYFRIARS IN SEPTEMBER 2012 IS INDEED RICHARD III, LAST PLANTAGENET KING OF ENGLAND.

5:42 – Sir Peter Soulsby, Mayor of Leicester, thanks the team for their work. Thanks to Phillipa Langley and the Richard III Society without whose vision this would never have happened.

IT HAS BEEN AGREED BY ALL CONCERNED THAT THE REMAINS OF RICHARD III WILL BE REINTERRED IN LEICESTER CATHEDRAL.

February 8th, a new exhibit will open next to the cathedral telling the story of the search for Richard III.

New guest center at the Victorian school adjacent to the parking lot will be opened next year, coinciding with the re-interment.

5:47 – David Monteith, Canon Chancellor of Leicester Cathedral, says they will begin immediately to plan the reburial of King Richard III.

5:48 – Ralph Lee from Channel 4 promoting the documentary airing tonight at 9:00 GMT. Their cameras were there from the beginning. They recorded the discovery of the skeleton, the dig, the lab research. They filmed the DNA results last night. The last scene will be a reconstruction of the skull.

The documentary will not available on Channel 4′s website, at least not yet. :(

5:54 – Philippa Langley of the Richard III Society, driving force behind this project from 2009, says at the last minute funding was pulled. A worldwide call for donations stepped in to provide the necessary funds.

She sees this as a vindication of the real Richard III rather than the post-Bosworth smears.

In 2010, the Looking for Richard project commissioned the design of a tomb based on what he would have liked. The Cathedral has accepted the design.

Thanks everyone on the research team and on the Leicester Council who gave up their parking lot to the cause. Sarah Leavitt from Leicester City Council has been a champion of the project. Without her we would not be here today.

6:01 – Q&A from journalists now. The BBC video feed is closed so I’m back on the radio and they’ve stopped covering it for a quick headline newsflash. Annoying.

The body will be buried by the end of August 2014 as required by the Ministry of Justice.

Okay, the radio isn’t really covering this part, so I’m going to sign off. The University of Leicester’s Richard III website is now live. Also, the BBC has an excellent pictorial guide to the bones of the king.

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73 Comments »

Comment by Allison
2013-02-04 04:16:45

Exciting!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 04:29:20

Thirty-one minutes and counting!

 
 
Comment by John Henley
2013-02-04 04:56:13
 
Comment by Sandy
2013-02-04 05:15:43

“Mr. X III”…Oh, Liv! Dayum…that was brilliant!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 21:10:56

Thank you! It has a whole incognito roman numeral thing going on that entertains me. :giggle:

 
 
Comment by Vivisectus
2013-02-04 05:41:09

Wow!

 
Comment by JoanP
2013-02-04 05:42:19

So exciting!!

I wasn’t going to get up at 4:00 a.m. to watch, but I did wake up, unintentionally (thanks, cat!), so figured as long as I was awake, I’d watch.

And so glad I did.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 21:09:52

It sounds like your cat has his or her priorities straight. :giggle:

 
 
Comment by Lapinbizarre
2013-02-04 05:43:52

Excellent coverage, thank you. And thank you for the scans, not available from Radio Leicester’s live feed. Brilliant outcome. Next stop Cardinal Wolsey, buried in the abbey church at Leicester?

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 21:09:14

Thank you for following. :thanks: Looks like Alfred the Great may be next.

 
 
Comment by Tom Forde OFMCap
2013-02-04 05:45:28

It’s him and they’re going to bury him at Leicester!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 21:05:05

Yessir they are. The whole city of Leicester is dancing on air.

 
 
Comment by Vivisectus
2013-02-04 05:51:31

Also, we know the depictions of him as a hunchback were correct. Some people wondered if that was just propaganda.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:04:19

He didn’t have a hunchback. His spine was curved from side to side. It would have made one shoulder higher than the other, but he wouldn’t have had a hump on his back or been bent over double.

 
 
Comment by Allison
2013-02-04 05:52:47

Watched the BBC live video – marvellous stuff!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:04:36

But it ended too soon!

 
 
Comment by heidi malagisi
2013-02-04 05:57:30

this is absolutely remarkable! i am soo glad i stayed up until 3 to find this out :yes: :boogie:

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 21:04:25

It was too exciting to sleep through. I could barely keep myself from calling my mom and waking her up. :lol:

 
 
Comment by Dan
2013-02-04 05:57:59

Wow. That’s like finding the eye of a needle in a haystack. Says a lot about the incredible skill of the archealogical team. Finally his story can be retold without the Tudor exaggerations. I ended up staying up all night and I’m glad I did.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:10:57

It really is a needle in the haystack discovery. To think that they found that skeleton almost as soon as they began to dig… The mind boggles.

 
 
Comment by Lapinbizarre
2013-02-04 05:59:36

Access to the University’s page is “restricted to staff and students with a University IT account”!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:07:21

That drove me crazy the past week. They didn’t lock the page before the September press conference.

 
 
Comment by Lily
2013-02-04 06:00:54

Well I’ll be….well worth staying up for….

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:09:57

Yes. Yes it was. What a rush.

 
 
Comment by Lapinbizarre
2013-02-04 06:03:18

OK. Now it’s open.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:07:32

Finally!

 
 
Comment by Suzanne
2013-02-04 06:04:28

Why do I have the feeling that Philippa Langley is the kind of woman who writes to serial killers in prison? Good lord, the Richard III Society people are nuts.

How does finding his skeleton in any way, shape, or form prove that he didn’t have his nephews killed?

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:09:36

It doesn’t, but there never was any proof that he had them killed in the first place. That was part of the posthumous reputation promoted by his political enemies rather than supported by clear contemporary evidence.

 
 
Comment by Lily
2013-02-04 06:12:28

You’re high as a kite, aren’t you LD? :lol:

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:15:20

Tripping balls, sister. :boogie:

 
 
Comment by Lapinbizarre
2013-02-04 06:17:26

Given the murderous nature of 15th century English dynastic politics, Richard would have taken a very serious risk in leaving the princes alive. Goes for Henry VII as well, of course, but did he get the chance?

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:24:14

Therein lies the rub, to coin a phrase. ;)

 
 
Comment by Suzanne
2013-02-04 06:26:35

Oh, right: he’s the king, he’s the one who abducted his nephews and placed them in the Tower and usurped the throne, but somehow he’s not the one who had them killed.

You’re not the author of this blog, are you? Because there’s history, and then there’s the fantasy world of people who read Daughter of Time and totally think dreamy Richard was framed. They’re not the same thing.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 06:38:17

Sorry to disappoint on both scores, but I am the author of this blog and I make no claims that Richard was dreamy or framed. I am simply not aware of any conclusive evidence that proves the princes were killed by Richard. The only thing we know for sure is that the boys disappear from the historical record. There is considerable debate among historians over what happened to them.

Oh, and I haven’t read Daughter of Time either. ;)

 
 
Comment by Lily
2013-02-04 07:07:23

Sigh.
No buzz killing please Suzanne….
I’m too excited to sleep, LD!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 18:06:28

I’ve been in a daze all day. I so wish I could watch that documentary to feed my obsession.

 
 
Comment by Allison
2013-02-04 07:17:30

Hear hear!

 
Comment by James
2013-02-04 08:33:05

This is great! Thanks for staying on top of it. Speaking of semi-fantasy, the arrowhead (roman nail):
For want of a nail,
a …..

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 18:05:34

Oh man, genius connection. I didn’t even think of that! :notworthy:

 
 
Comment by felixaustria
2013-02-04 08:57:19

The news from the royal parking lot certainly deserve a ‘welcome to their majesties‘ with swinging tunes from calypsonian Wilmoth Houdini. — P.S.: Over here, apparently some people hunched their backs for Superbowl news.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 18:04:16

:lol: I had RIchard on my mind all weekend. All I knew of the Superbowl was a headline or two that thrust itself upon my tunnel vision.

 
 
Comment by Lapinbizarre
2013-02-04 09:04:33

Take a pill & calm down, Suzanne. And before you get on my case, I’m as near certain as I was that the body would prove to be Richard’s, that he was responsible for the murder of his nephews. On which point, re-examination of the skeletons in Westminster Abbey would be very much in order, both for possible DNA identification and to determine with some certainty the sex and the age of the two at death. :skull:

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 18:03:20

I wonder if there will be a push to examine the bodies in Westminster Abbey with today’s technology. I very much hope they do it. Odds are slim that the bones alone can tell us how they died and even if they do testify to cause of death they can’t say who killed them. Still, if they were starved to death, for instance, that will show in the bones and it will be damning evidence against Richard.

 
 
Comment by Liam
2013-02-04 10:06:37

Fantastic news! Thanks for the updates.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 18:01:02

You’re welcome! Thank you for reading.

 
 
Comment by lineasaved
2013-02-04 10:15:18

Isn’t technology the best?! Even with all the physical similarities some would never accept his identity. But only a few (highly ignorant) types will argue with so much DNA evidence. We likely will never know how his nephews died, forensic evidence doesn’t hold up as well as DNA;lets just be amazed by the highly improbable story of his discovery and identification and marvel at the talent and determination of the archaeologists who performed this near-miracle. Why don’t we just leave his guilt or lack thereof to the experts – haven’t they proved their ability to find the truth even centuries past? Thank you so much for the links and info. I don’t have any TV so sometimes miss out on stuff…

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 18:00:47

Technology is totally the best when coupled with the brilliance and dedication of people who know how to use it. Then there’s the good ol’ fashioned research that did 90% of the job before the first shovel hit the dirt. I’m still in shock at the revelation that they actually found the skeleton within hours of the first day. Amazing.

 
 
Comment by Katherine Dhalle
2013-02-04 10:17:25

This is such fantastic news!! Thank you for sharing it with the rest of us.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 17:56:48

Thank you for reading and for sharing in and adding to the excitement of the day. :)

 
 
Comment by miles
2013-02-04 13:17:00

Now to find Harold II, who may be at Bosham Church or Kings Langley and Henry I whose body may still be left to find in Reading, under school grounds

oh and King Alfred and King Stephen. But they’re more of a long shot methinks

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 17:55:25

New policy: no king left behind.

 
 
Comment by CoyoteMoon
2013-02-04 14:15:03

Was given the link to this by a friend since she knows of my penchant for history. Went to reply to a couple of your comments, all outstanding – evidence, period. Looking at times when things were written, it becomes rather clear there was a disinformation effort. Also re: the hunchback think, I have the same, curve from side to side, quite bad really, & have not hunchback just the shoulder issue, one leg is longer, etc.

Glad I found this, thanks for it – someplace else to look for tidbits into understanding history.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 17:54:05

I’m glad you found us, and on such a wonderful day for history nerds everywhere. :)

 
 
Comment by vanderleun
2013-02-04 15:39:12

VEry, very fine coverage. Best of show for the internet today. Congratulations on a job superbly done.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 17:53:30

Goodness, thank you kindly for such high praise. :thanks:

 
 
Comment by vanderleun
2013-02-04 16:03:45

Richard III: A Man for Our Season

And yet I know not how to get the crown,
For many lives stand between me and home:
…. And from that torment I will free myself,
Or hew my way out with a bloody axe.
Why, I can smile, and murder while I smile,
And cry, ‘Content,’ to that which grieves my
heart,
And wet my cheeks with artificial tears,
And frame my face to all occasions.
…. I’ll play the orator as well as Nestor,
Deceive more slyly than Ulysses could,
And, like a Sinon, take another Troy.
I can add colours to the chameleon,
Change shapes with Proteus for advantages,
And set the murd’rous Machiavel to school.
Can I do this, and cannot get a crown?
Tut! were it further off, I’ll pluck it down.

 
Comment by StrangerBird
2013-02-04 16:16:09

Oh my god my heart was pounding as I scrolled down, I had to force myself to read in order and not skip to the bottom /historygeek

So exciting! Can’t wait to see what kind of scholarship, exhibits, etc (not to mention a facial reconstruction with that skull!) will come out of this. P. Langley et al. must be SO thrilled.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-04 17:50:48

I intentionally blogged from top to bottom just for people who would be catching up later and who wanted to experience the revelations as they happened. Good for you for not skipping to the end!

 
 
Comment by Miro Collas
2013-02-04 19:18:45

Richard III dig: Facial reconstruction shows how king may have looked
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-leicestershire-21328380

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 20:59:40

Got it, thank you. :thanks:

 
 
Comment by Kat
2013-02-04 21:48:33

A friend referred me to you. Must have been the live-blog of a lifetime! Exciting!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 21:01:46

It really was. And to think my chihuahua-tremble excitement can’t have been a patch on the excitement the archaeologists experienced finding the remains.

 
 
Comment by Rebecca
2013-02-05 00:58:45

Livius, thanks so much! You’re fantastic. Get some sleep!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 20:58:46

Thank you, and I finally did! :lol:

 
 
Comment by RM
2013-02-05 08:13:55

These are just my thoughts, but by our modern definition, he was not a “hunchback”. Back then, who knows what they thought. Back then, it could be that anyone with a curved spine, regardless of the reason, was labelled a “hunchback”, even if one individual had one shoulder higher and the other and another had an actual bump, like with osteoperosis. It could be that they didn’t care how it curved, it was the same diagnosis. Like insanity. In my genealogy, there is a woman labelled from childhood as “insane from fits” on several census and other earlier records. She was not “insane”, as in a lunatic, (according to family who were children before she passed on), and was perfectly okay when not having seizures. She probably had epilepsy, and “insane” is just the medical basket they threw her into, so to speak, because of how little they knew about it back then. Now we do know what she had, and she is no longer considered “insane”. It could be that we are applying thoughts about the Dumas book and old vampire movies to the word hunchback, when back then, we have little idea what they meant. Especially since not even all doctors had the same definitions, and some scoliosis sufferers may have been lumped in with actual osteoperosis or other hunchbacks because there was not much they could do about either one, and what you could do, was likely the same nearly nothing for both. What I am saying, is that we cannot necessarily say that the people who claimed he was a hunchback were liars, because perhaps according to what they were taught in that area in the 15th century, he may have been considered one. Maybe some were just trying to slander him, but others, likely were not. By the same token, bureaucrats etc kissing his rump (the people we actually have records from), would not necessarily have mentioned his curvature, even if they did think he was a “hunchback” because it wouldn’t have been good (economically or otherwise) for them, especially if Ol’ Ricky was sensitive about it himself. I read about at least one altered painting of him. Painters for example, may not have painted his higher shoulder, because it would likely have affected thier pay. When the painting was altered later, we assume it was to slander him, it may have been, but on the other side, it may have been altered because the person who changed it (even if it was much, much later) was annoyed that the painting was not more honest. The reverse could also be true in other cases, someone painted him with a high shoulder, and another artist “fixed” it later, so he would not look bad. Richard III may have been sensitive about it, even today that sort of thing is often kept hushed. For example, I think George the 5th had a son who had epilepsy and he was rarely seen etc.

 
Comment by RM
2013-02-05 08:22:26

More thoughts about his nephews. Maybe he had them killed maybe he did not. It is also possible that he knew that others were planning to do it, but didn’t do anything about it because it was for his benefit, and it would not be on “”his”" record. We don’t know.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 19:50:27

Exactly. He could have commissioned it, had a hand in it, looked the other way or not been involved at all. There’s no question he sent them to the Tower, though, so if they turned out to have died of starvation, for instance, their deaths would certainly be on his head.

 
 
Comment by RM
2013-02-05 08:31:58

More on the nephews. I do not know too much, but back in the 17th century they did find the bones of two boys in the tower, and buried in Westminster. Then back in before ww2 (I think)I guess they were exhumed and discovered to be the right age, and reburied again, but as far as I have heard nothing further since. I say this because this Richard thing might make others interested in them, and we might be able to identify them also in a similar way. It will likely not tell us who is reponsible for thier deaths, if anyone, but it would still be the answer to another historical hiccup from that period.

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 19:49:10

I read a chatlog on the Channel 4 website where someone asked if this discovery might inspire a re-investigation of the two boys in Westminster Abbey. Lynn Foxhall said it was premature at this point, but perhaps if they were able to extract and analyze the skeleton’s Y chromosome DNA, that would give them the impetus to compare it against that of the potential princes.

I think they should exhume the bones Y-DNA or no. The last time they were examined was 1933. The science is so far beyond that now.

 
 
Comment by Miles
2013-02-05 15:15:12

Today’s Times, Telegraph and Guardian in the UK. Apparently a formal request has been made to dig up the reputed bones of King Alfred!

Comment by livius drusus
2013-02-05 19:32:14

I saw that! The snowball effect is already being felt.

 
 
Comment by Bryan Butson
2013-08-14 18:57:55

Nail? Apply the duck test! If it swims like a duck,quacks like a duck,looks like a duck and is found where you would expect to find a duck, then it probably is a duck!

 
Comment by Emmanuel
2013-09-28 05:46:14

So exciting!

 
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