Richard III: The hunch paid off – proving it would be hard part
Archaeologists and members of the Richard III Society had a hunch. They believed that buried below a Leicester City Council car park, opposite the cathedral, was a king of England.
Not just any king. This was one of the most controversial monarchs to rule Britain, a man whom Shakespeare went out of his way to vilify, calling him a "foul devil'' and a "bloody tyrant".
But they raised some cash, got permission to excavate and crossed their fingers.
As it turned out, they found him after a few hours of digging – seemingly against all the odds and the expectations of the archaeologists.
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But finding the skeleton was the easy bit. Now they had to prove they had discovered Richard III.
The majority of the scientific analysis was undertaken by the University of Leicester, with a bit of help from academic friends in Oxford, Cambridge, Glasgow, Toulouse, York and Leeds.
From the start, the university had been clear there was no one piece of evidence which would be used to confirm or deny the skeleton's identity.
The decision would be made using all of the information collected from DNA, archaeology, genealogy, carbon dating, osteology (the study of bones), pathology, environmental sampling, historical sources and facial reconstruction.
However, dig site director Mathew Morris, who was the first person to brush away the earth and see the skeleton, said the breadth of scientific analysis was a double-edged sword.
"The advances in technology have really helped us be more accurate, but they've also hindered us in a way," he said.
"Twenty years ago, we would have seen the spine, the battle scars and the fact it was buried in such a prominent place in the friary and said it was him straightaway."
The dig site itself uncovered some of the most important clues, although the evidence was mostly circumstantial – but, as Mathew said, 20 years ago it would have been good enough to claim he was the king.
Lead archaeologist Richard Buckley said: "I was ready to say we'd found him there and then, but we had all this analysis available to us and it was only right we used it."
Even before the bones had been removed from the earth, the severe curve in the spine and visible battle wounds got the team excited.
Dr Turi King, the geneticist whose DNA research ultimately confirmed Richard III's identity, was at a conference in Innsbruck, Austria, at the time of the exhumation.
"I knew they'd uncovered a leg, but that's all I'd seen," she said. "So I texted Jo and asked how our 90-year-old friar was doing.
She replied they had found scoliosis (curvature of the spine) and battle trauma – I thought she was joking."
Jo is Dr Jo Appleby, the bioarchaeologist who removed the bones from the earth on September 5. "I'd seen the wounds on the head," she said.
"But it wasn't totally clear who this was yet. Then, when I saw the vertebrae, I thought 'we've found him'."
According to historical records, Richard was buried in the choir of the friary – and that is exactly where Jo, Mathew and the team discovered the bones. The evidence was mounting.
Despite the archaeologists' confidence, the skeleton still had to go through a multitude of testing before anybody could celebrate.
All the circumstantial evidence – the curved spine, battle scars and location of the burial – pointed to the remains belonging to Richard, but what about the scientific proof?
First, they had to be sure the skeleton was old enough to be the last Plantagenet.
Carbon dating confirmed it was about 500 years old – the data said he had died somewhere in the late 15th or early 16th century – so it was looking good.
More evidence from radio-carbon dating indicated the Greyfriars skeleton had a high protein diet – possibly involving a lot of seafood – which indicated someone of high status.
But the clues were still mainly circumstantial. So in January the remains were sent to Leicester Royal Infirmary.
The East Midlands Forensic Pathology Unit, led by Professor Guy Rutty, examined the skeleton and took CT scans.
The hospital team concluded the person they had before them would have been between 30 and 33 years old, white and about 5ft 8in – although the scoliosis would have taken a few inches off the height.
Prof Rutty said: "So we've got a skeleton with battle wounds, who is about the right age and stature and he's got scoliosis. It was clear who we had here."
The last and probably most important piece of evidence which came back was the DNA.
It showed the skeleton was an ancestor of a Canadian named Michael Ibsen.
Mr Ibsen, who lives in London and makes furniture for a living, had never in his wildest dreams believed he was related to royalty. He was traced by genealogist John Ashdown-Hill.
The university verified Mr Ibsen's connection to Richard III's sister, Anne of York, and the long process of matching mitochondrial DNA began.
A second anonymous relative – an extremely distant cousin of Mr Ibsen's – was also traced, and, by comparing the three genetic fingerprints, the team was left without any doubt as to who they had unearthed.