Archive for the ‘Greyfriars Dig’ Category

Media NewsSanta comes a few days late to Ricardians in Australia, but next Sunday, 28 December 2015, SBS 1 will broadcast the program Richard III:  The New Evidence, first broadcast in the UK on 17 August 2014, at the end of the Bosworth weekend.  The program features Dominic Smee, who has the same degree of scoliosis as Richard did and can be regarded as his body double. Definitely a program not to be missed, even if you have already watched it on YouTube.

books-2A new research paper has been published in The Lancet on ‘“Perimortem trauma in King Richard III: a skeletal analysis’ by Jo Appleby and others, describing the wounds Richard received which led to his death.

You can find the original paper here, but Mike Pitts has helped us with a “handy summary”. The links to the article in The Lancet in his blog unfortunately did not work for me that’s why a different link is included here.  Mike Pitts’ summary is highly recommended.

A short visual summary has also been posted by The Lancet on YouTube:  ‘Richard III: how was the king killed?‘.

film_reel smWe reported earlier that Channel 4 would be screening a third documentary on Richard III. It was broadcast in the UK in the evening of 17 August 2014, at the end of the Bosworth Anniversary weekend, leaving us, who do not live in the UK, impatient to get a chance to watch the programme, too. A friend of mine discovered that it has been uploaded to Youtube, where it is available to all of us.

The programme is based on the new scientific research into Richard’s diet, but the main attraction is a young man, Dominic Smee. He is a perfect body double of Richard, slightly built and having the same curvature of the spine. He was taught to fight, on foot and on horseback, like a medieval warrior and had a full set of armour made especially for him. Not only did Dominic show that someone suffering from scoliosis can be an accomplished fighter, but he could also tell us about his own experience. It was interesting to hear that he found riding on a medieval saddle easier than on a modern one and that the armour gave his body support.

By bringing us these facts, it is easier to visualise a long dead king as the real living breathing person he once was. A fascinating programme. What better way to spend a rainy day?!

On 16 August 2014,  a new peer-reviewed article was published by the Journal of Archaeological Science detailing the information gathered by multi-isotope analysis of the remains of Richard III. This type of research reveals the diet and geographical movements of the analysed person. The results were also part of the new documentary, which was screened in the UK on 17 August, but as I have not been able to watch the programme, and all I have is hearsay, I won’t comment on it. Fortunately the research article is available without geographically restrictions.

The research shows that he was born and spent his early childhood in Northamptonshire. We know that he was born in Fotheringhay in Northamptonshire. He then moved to a more westerly area and we know that he spent time in Ludlow in the Welsh Marches. Later he returned to eastern England, where he spent the majority of his later life. In short, the scientific evidence supports and confirms what had been pieced together from historical records about Richard’s geographical movements.

Much more interesting was what the analysis revealed about Richard’s diet. It confirmed an aristocratic lifestyle with a diet high in meat and fish (some of which were from the sea). However, at the age of approx. five it shows that for a while his diet concentrated more on grains, which as the dates show coincides with the time he spent at Ludlow.

During the last years of his life, ie. when he was king, his diet became even more privileged with a higher proportion of terrestrial foods (freshwater fish and wild fowl). These, like game, were very expensive and only available to the very rich.

The analysis also shows that the composition what he drank changed during his later years, more wine than beer. We have to remember that wine and beer were much more commonly drunk during that period than today. Obviously coffee and the commercially manufactured cool drinks of today were not yet available to people living then and the state of their drinking water made other alternatives a healthier option.

The scientists conclude that it is likely that these changes reflect the records we have of Richard’s lavish coronation feast (but they tell us for the first time what Richard actually ate) and that it is likely that he was wined and dined during his royal progress.

It seems that Richard would have enjoyed the wines and beers which have been named after him, and presumably would not have said No to a slice of “his” cheese either.

More on the research can be found in the article from the Journal of Archaeological Science and on Mike Pitts’ blog, which concentrates on the evidence, unlike some more sensationalist interpretations in the media.


Richard III: The New Evidence

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: ,

film_reel smThe discovery of the remains found in the Grey Friars precinct in Leicester and the process of identifying them as those of Richard III were the topic of  two documentaries, Richard III: The King in the Car Park and then The Unseen Story, both shown in the UK by Channel 4 in February 2013 and on SBS in late October of the same year.

Channel 4 has now announced that it has produced another programme on the scientific research which has subsequently been carried out by the University of Leicester. Special emphasis is on the question how a man with such an extreme spinal deformity could have been the prodigious combatant described in historical sources. Their theories could be put to the test as they succeeded in finding a re-enactor who suffers from the same form and severity of scoliosis as Richard III.

I heard that the broadcast of this programme is planned in the UK for Sunday, 17 August, at the end of the Bosworth Anniversary Event. We can only hope that it will make its way to Australia a bit sooner than the first two documentaries did.

You can find more on the programme here and on the Bosworth Anniversary Event here.



   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , , ,

film_reel smOn Monday, 3 February 2014, BBC 1 broadcast a programme in the UK on what has gone wrong since it was revealed a year ago that the remains found in Leicester are indeed those of Richard III.  It investigates how a High Court hearing will affect the king’s final resting place.  Both parties, Leicester University and Plantagenet Alliance, were interviewed.  While we in Australia cannot watch the programme easily on the BBC iPlayer, some excerpts are available here.


BBC News just announced that Richard Buckley, the lead archaeologist of the Greyfriars Project, has been awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours for his contribution to archaeology.

Congratulations on this well-deserved recognition!


It’s all about archaeology

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: , ,

ArchaeologyHeritage Daily recently published its ‘Top 10 archaeological discoveries for 2013’.  In first place is the archaeological discovery, which interested all of us the most:  The Grey Friars Dig in Leicester, where archaeologists found the remains of Richard III.  It is a great pity that the euphoria we all felt on 4 February 2013 has soured with all the controversies about his reburial.

Don’t stop reading after first place though, the other discoveries are also fascinating.  At No.9 there is a beautiful 1500 year-old Byzantine mosaic, and for me personally the discovery of a henge in Hertfordshire was also of great interest.

Current Archaeology magazine celebrates every year archaeological projects with awards, which are entirely voted for by the public.  The 2013 award for Research Excavation of the Year went to the Grey Friars Dig, after receiving a record number of votes from the public (including quite a few from the NSW Branch of the Richard III Society).  One of the nominees for the 2014 award of Archaeologist of the Year is Richard Buckley, who led the archaeological team who found Richard’s remains.  The vote is still open and you can make your voice count here.


Hear the scientists speak

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: ,

ArchaeologyThe University of Leicester Alumni Lecture 2013 – “The Search for Richard III” was given by Mathew Morris and Dr Turi King.  Both are graduates of the University of Leicester and of course leading members of the Greyfriars project, as Fieldwork Director and Project Geneticist respectively.

The lecture is available to listen to over the internet, which is for us at the other end of the world a fantastic opportunity to hear the scientists involved in the project actually speak about the archaeological search for the King and the process of identifying the skeleton.

Some of the content 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 life.

An opportunity not to be missed!  Click here.


Current Archaeology Awards

   Posted by: Dorothea Preis Tags: ,

Further 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 of the Year by the Current Archaeology magazine.  These awards are voted for entirely by the public – there are no panels of judges.  The vote is also open to non-UK residents, you can make your vote count here.