Richard III – The King under the Car Park

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis   in Bookworm

Richard III -  The King under the Car Park

Book Review:  Richard III – The King under the Car Park

Mathew Morris & Richard Buckley, Richard III – The King under the Car Park. University of Leicester Archaeological Services, 2013.  ISBN 978-0-9574792-2-7

Richard III –  The King under the Car Park tells the story of the Greyfriars Dig from the point of view of the scientists involved in the dig:  Mathew Morris supervised the field work and Richard Buckley was the lead archaeologist.  It is a slim book, only 64 pages, but it is amazing how much well-founded information it contains.  The many well-chosen illustrations, both historical ones as well as modern photographs, are a treat.

Before describing the dig and its outcome, the book covers the historical background that led to Richard III being buried in the church of the Greyfriars (ie. Franciscans) in the first place.  They acknowledge that “Shakespeare weaves a compelling portrait of the king, yet in real life he was a loyal brother and a fearless leader who inspired great loyalty amongst his followers, and a lawmaker whose legal reforms still affect us today.” [p.8]  They follow Richard to the Battle of Bosworth, also summarising the research that established the actual site of the action.

The section explaining Leicester’s history was particularly interesting and helps to visualise the historic sites in the modern city.  Part of their research was overlaying and comparing historical maps with modern maps of Leicester.

They explain their objectives in undertaking this dig.  They wanted to find the remains of the Franciscan Friary, identify clues and orientation of the buildings, locate the church within the friary, if they managed to locate the church, they wanted to find the choir, and the fifth objective, which seemed highly unlikely to achieve, was locating Richard’s remains.  It is well known by now that they managed to realise all five objectives.  The dig itself is chronologically explained and illustrated with diagrams.

The last pages cover the post-dig research which established that the remains which were found are indeed those of Richard III.  The issue of the DNA match, which can be rather confusing to the lay person, is well explained.

The book acknowledges the roles played by Philippa Langley, John Ashdown-Hill and the Richard III Society in general.

Richard III –  The King under the Car Park is highly recommended for anyone interested in the finding of Richard’s remains.

Note: I would like to thank my friend in Leicester, who attended the launch of this book and bought an extra copy and posted it to me.   This is particularly appreciated, as this book does not seem to be available yet to Australians through the usual channels.However, you can order it directly from the University of Leicester shop at http://shop.le.ac.uk/

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This entry was posted on Tuesday, December 10th, 2013 at 17:52 and is filed under Bookworm. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

One comment

Sue Walladge

Ordered my copy from Leicester university’s bookshop and I agree that it is really interesting and informative publication. Well done to Matthew Morris and Richard Buckley.

December 10th, 2013 at 19:14

2 Trackbacks/Pings

  1. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Current Archaeology Awards    Dec 11 2013 / 10am:

    […] to my review of Richard III:  The King under the Car Park, I just noticed that one of the authors, Richard Buckley, is one of the nominees for Archaeologist […]

  2. Richard III Society of NSW » Blog Archive » Hear the scientists speak    Dec 17 2013 / 6am:

    […] is also contained in the book published by the University of Leicester Archaeological Services, Richard III: The King under the Car Park.  However, hearing Mathew Morris and Turi King actually speak about the dig brings it much more to […]

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