King Richard III skeleton in Leicester: your questions answered
A skeleton found beneath a Leicester car park has been confirmed as that of King Richard III.
The findings, announced this morning at the University of Leicester, have been met with jubilation from researchers and history fans alike.
But what have researchers found and how did they come to discover the King’s remains? Find out with our Q&A guide:
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Last year researchers from the University of Leicester dug up a city centre car park hoping to discover the 500-year-old bones of King Richard III.
The team set to work on Greyfriars car park, New Street - the site of a city church where it was thought the king was buried - in August, after extensive research by the University and the Richard III Society led archaeologists to believe it is where the church once stood.
Who was Richard III?
Richard only ruled for two years – from 1483 to 1485 – but he “stands out among his peers as one of the most famous (or infamous) Kings of England”, the University of Leicester website says.
There is a long-standing popular belief Richard had his nephews murdered in order to remove any competing claim to the throne. This has been widely debated for many years, with passionate arguments made both for and against Richard.
Many myths and legends surround Richard III.
The University website says: “Tudor writers and artists had no qualms about depicting Richard III as an evil tyrant and child-murderer, as well as a crippled hunchback.
“Shakespeare’s eponymous play, written 106 years after Richard’s death, cemented the King’s bad reputation (and appearance) among the general public for centuries, although scholars including Francis Bacon and Horace Walpole sought to re-evaluate his reign.”
Richard was killed in battle in 1485 during the Wars of the Roses - an event which ended the bloody civil war. He died at Bosworth, and was the last English king to be killed in battle.
What did the team find?
The team found a skeleton with a badly curved spine and head injuries consistent with recorded details of Richard's death in 1485.
In September 2012 the University confirmed there was "strong evidence" the skeleton was the lost king.
The remains have been subjected to a series of tests, including DNA, carbon dating and environmental analysis, in an effort to confirm the identification.
The results of these tests were revealed at a press conference this morning: DNA from the bones matched that of descendants of the monarch's family, and the skeleton had suffered 10 injuries, including eight to the skull.
All occurred at or shortly after the time of death, and none could have been caused by damage during excavation.
The bones, which are of a man in his late 20s or early 30s, have been carbon dated to a period from 1455-1540. Richard was 32 when he died.
The team also said the torso was twisted and the head propped upright, higher than the rest of the skeleton. The wrists were crossed over, suggesting his hands might have been tied when he was buried.
How did the team come to dig up the car park?
It was already known the King’s body was hauled from the battlefield and displayed in Leicester to show the public he was actually dead.
Historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill uncovered an account in the financial records of Henry VII where he set aside money to pay for an alabaster tomb for Richard. This said the tomb should be built over his grave, in the Choir of Greyfriars church.
But his quest to find the King’s eventual burial site was complicated by the fact Greyfriars was demolished during the religious reforms of Henry VIII.
The author of The Last Days of Richard III traced a descendant of the King and managed to a obtain DNA sample.
This, coupled with detailed map analysis, led Dr Ashdown-Hill and Philippa Langley, from the Richard III Society, on their quest.
The duo approached archaeologists at the University of Leicester, headed by Richard Buckley, and agreed to work together to find the King’s eventual burial site.
What will happen to the remains?
The King's body will go to Leicester Cathedral, the University this morning confirmed. Details of the reburial ceremony have yet to be released.
What is the significance of the findings?
The Richard III Society says this is the biggest news to hit Ricardian studies for 500 years.
It answers questions about what happened to the King’s body and gives archaeologists a chance to give him a respectful burial.
It also enables researchers to show the wider public what Richard was really like and “remind them Shakespeare's play was fiction”, Dr Phil Stone, chair of the Richard III Society, said ahead of today’s announcement.
To find out more about Richard III and the discovery of his remains, visit the University of Leicester’s Richard III website .