Skeleton discovery during Richard III dig a ‘huge shock’, says king’s descendant
The man identified as being a descendant of Richard III has told of his “huge shock” when a skeleton was discovered in a Leicester car park.
Michael Ibsen, who was born in Canada and now lives in London, said: “It was a huge shock. In the nicest possible way, it was startling and shocking in equal measure.
The 55-year-old cabinet maker said the family connection took on a new level of meaning once the bones had been found.
“It took a while for the idea that we were related to Richard III to sink in. It was something that took a while to get used to. To come to Leicester and look at the grave itself was fascinating and spine tingling.
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“It is exciting to be able to play a small part in something that is potentially so historically important, but also nerve-wracking because it still remains to be seen whether the DNA tests will be conclusive.”
Mr Ibsen was identified in 2006 as being a direct descendant of Richard III by historian Dr John Ashdown-Hill.
He published new evidence reinforcing the theory that Richard was buried at Grey Friars, and that his burial had never subsequently been disturbed, in his book The Last Days of Richard III.
His research played a key role in organizing the dig in Leicester which began in August.
Dr John Ashdown-Hill said: “When the dig started, I fully expected that we would find the church, because we were looking in the right place and the site was largely undisturbed. But I had never really expected that we would discover a burial which had so much circumstantial evidence to support the belief that it could be Richard. I had thought we would need to plan for further excavation in subsequent years.
“When I looked into the grave and saw the skeleton, I was deeply moved. I feel that the case for the identity of the body is already pretty strong: male; right age group and social class; died a violent death; had a twisted spine; found in the right place.”
The University of Leicester has been leading the archaeological search for the burial place of King Richard III with Leicester City Council, in association with the Richard III Society.
The dig in August was organised by the Richard III Society, in partnership with the University of Leicester university and the city council.
A team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester, worked on the site in Greyfriars, close to Leicester Cathedral, for three weeks.
They dug three exploratory trenches to locate a friary, documented as the burial place of Richard III.
Geneticists from the University of Leicester are now comparing DNA from the bones with that of Mr Ibsen.