Tag Archives: England

…The UnQuiet Dead Part II: Archeology

6 Mar

There was some interest in my last post regarding the discovery of Richard III’s body in relation to the archeological dig and the locations of Richard’s death and burial site. So, I decided to do some digging myself and I found (surprised I didn’t find it earlier) the University of Leicester website that chronicles the journey of the dig week by week: University of Leicester, Archeology. If you have the time and are interested, take a look because it’s definitely an insightful read, not just in relation to the discovery of Richard III’s body, but also in relation to the modern-day process of archeology. The site explains specific details of the dig such as how they pinpointed the locations of the dig as well as the necessary steps that are taken before the dig starts & the trenches are dug – do you know what a “ground penetrating radar survey” is? I didn’t either until checking this out.

Ground Penetrating Radar

Ground Penetrating Radar

What’s more surprising is how much “digging” I had to do to find this information. Most articles referencing the discovery of the body mainly discussed the moment of discovery itself rather than the process behind it. I went through article upon article from sources such as BBC & CNN without a single detail about the exact location of the dig – just a vague reference to “a car park in Leicester.” (Of course, I was guilty of that myself in my last post =p ) However, considering the search for the bones was three years in the making, I think it is valuable to know how much work and attention to detail went into it.

 Someone asked me where exactly the bones were found in relation to the battle site so I came up with a few maps with some help from The University of Leicester. One map is from the Leicester website and the other two are google maps. Keep in mind that these are modern-day maps and these may not pinpoint the exact location of, for example, the Battle of Bosworth Field, but they do give you a general idea.  The archeological team did “conduct a desk-based assessment of the Greyfriars area, using old maps and documents to trace the development and use of the land” to identify potential areas where the body may be buried (University of Leicester).

1741 map with modern day map and location of the car parks (dig site area) superimposed.

1741 map with modern day map and location of the car parks (dig site area) superimposed.

Distance from Bosworth Field to the Dig Site - roughly 13.6 miles/30 min drive

Distance from Bosworth Field to the Dig Site – roughly 13.6 miles/30 min drive

Dig SiteGoogle Maps

Dig Site
Google Maps

If you live in the area and have some free time, check it out – feel free to send me any photos/interesting stories!

…The UnQuiet Dead…

27 Feb

History, it seems, is in question.

The Long Lost King

Richard III paid us all a (rather tardy) visit this month. And, although he was a bit skull and bones, he arrived with gusto and a bang (many to his own head). For the few of you that may be unawares, King Richard III served as king of England for only two years (1483-1485) and fell to his death at the Battle of Bosworth Field in 1485. The infamous monarch’s body, lost for over five centuries, was finally discovered buried beneath an English car park in Leicester, England (BBC News)

Yes, it was a royal burial folks – complete with dirt, rocks, crushed bones, a bit of friary, and no feet. Yup, sometime between 1485 and now, someone had a Ricardian foot fetish. As unceremonious as it sounds, there is one group celebrating more than the rest – The Ricardians. More formally known as “The Richard III Society,” (yes, it’s real) the “society…aims to promote, in every possible way, research into the life and times of Richard III, and to secure a reassessment of the material relating to this period, and of the role of this monarch in English history” (www.richardiii.net/aboutus.php). And now, with a few newly discovered facts from the physical analysis of the bones, Richard the III, at least in the eyes of the Ricardians, has a chance at a new legacy. The bones show no signs of a withered hand, as famously depicted in the Shakespeare play, nor is there evidence of a humped back – just a curvature of the spine caused by severe scoliosis (BBC NEWS)

That being said, can the Ricardians rewrite history? And, more importantly, should they rewrite history? As head of the University of Leicester’s School of Archaeology and Ancient History, Professor Lin Foxhall, states, “Our archaeological research does not tell us anything about the character of Richard III, and of course his physical condition and appearance were not a manifestation of his character” (CNN).  Although it is a generally accepted fact that Richard III’s historical reputation was indeed subject to much slander and exaggeration by The Tudors (whose reign followed that of Richard’s) and by Shakespeare himself, it would be far fetched to say that “Richard’s skeleton somehow vindicates his historical reputation” (CNN).  Even if one were to absolve Richard of the murder of his nephews, there is nothing to say of the fact that he illegitimized his nephews’ claim to the thrown and then proceeded to steal the crown for himself (CNN).

 Although Richard III may not be the villainous man as represented by The Tudors and Shakespeare, he is still an infamous character in Medieval English History. With this historic discovery, it will be interesting to see what comes of a more open-minded reassessment of the monarch’s reputation. Villain or victim, we can all be certain of one thing: the dead never stay quiet. It seems clear that, after having spent five centuries lost underground, Richard III had a bone to pick with history. 

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