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Researchers say Richard III dined on exotic birds, drank heavily

King Richard III remains 2.jpg

Feb. 4 2013: The curved spine and other long lost remains of England’s King Richard III, missing for 500 years. Richard was immortalized in a play by Shakespeare as a hunchbacked usurper who left a trail of bodies including those of his two young nephews, murdered in the Tower of London on his way to the throne.AP Photo/ University of Leicester

What did it mean to eat like a king in the late-15th century? For Britain’s Richard III, immortalized by Shakespeare as a “poisonous bunch-backed toad,” it meant dining on exotic birds like swan, crane and heron, all washed down with a bottle of wine.

New research carried out by scientists in Britain has shown that Richard’s consumption of alcohol dramatically increased after he became king in 1483, allegedly ordering the murders of his two young nephews along the way.

“Richard’s diet when he was king was far richer than that of other equivalent high status individuals in the late medieval period,” Dr. Angela Lamb of the British Geological Survey told Sky News. “We know he was banqueting a lot more, there was a lot of wine indicated at those banquets and tying all that together with the bone chemistry it looks like this feasting had quite an impact on his body in the last few years of his life.”

In analyzing the remains of England’s last Yorkist king, researchers measured the levels of certain chemicals in Richard’s bones and teeth. Chemicals such as nitrogen, oxygen, carbon and lead correlate to a person’s geographic location and diet. In the case of Richard III, the analysis showed that he consumed a variety of exotic meats, as well as freshwater fish like pike.

Richard III became the last English king to die in battle when he was killed in 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field, the decisive encounter in the Wars of the Roses. He was hastily buried in the city of Leicester, where his remains were rediscovered in 2012. He is due to be reburied in the city’s cathedral on March 26 of next year.

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Stone coffin to be opened at Richard III grave site

Stone coffin to be opened at Richard III grave site

By Megan Gannon

Published July 24, 2013

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    A stained glass window at Cardiff Castle depicts King Richard III and Queen Anne Neville. (University of Leicester)

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    An intact stone coffin found in the ruins of Grey Friars, the monastery where Richard III was buried. (University of Leicester)

  • King Richard III remains 1.jpg

    Feb. 4 2013: Remains found underneath a parking lot last September at the Grey Friars excavation in Leicester, which have been declared “beyond reasonable doubt” to be the long lost remains of England’s King Richard III, missing for 500 years. (AP Photo/ University of Leicester)

Archaeologists are set to lift the lid on a stone coffin discovered at the site of the English friary where Richard III’s remains were found.

Excavators suspect the tomb billed as the only intact stone coffin found in Leicester may contain the skeleton of a medieval knight or one of the high-status friars thought to have been buried at the church.

Richard III, the last king of the House of York, ruled England from 1483 to 1485, when was killed in battle during the War of Roses, an English civil war. He received a hasty burial at the Grey Friars monastery in Leicester as his defeater, Henry Tudor, ascended to the throne. Grey Friars was destroyed in the 16th century during the Protestant Reformation, and its ruins became somewhat lost to history. [Photos: The Discovery of Richard III]

‘This is the first time we have found a fully intact stone coffin during all our excavations.’

– Mathew Morris, of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services

A dig beneath a parking lot in Leicester last summer revealed the remains of Grey Friars and a battle-ravaged skeleton later confirmed to be that of Richard III. Excavators also found a handful of other graves, including this coffin, which the researchers think was put in the ground more than 100 years before Richard’s burial.

This month, the team from the University of Leicester started a fresh excavation at the site. Now in their final week of digging, the researchers plan to open the coffin in the days ahead.

They think it might contain the remains of the knight Sir William de Moton of Peckleton, who died between 1356 and 1362, or one of two heads of the Grey Friars order in England, Peter Swynsfeld or William of Nottingham.

“Stone coffins are unusual in Leicester and this is the first time we have found a fully intact stone coffin during all our excavations of medieval sites in the city,” site director Mathew Morris, of the University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS), said in a statement. “I am excited that it appears to be intact.”

Morris and his team intend to measure and take photos of the coffin before they lift the lid, which they say they will do out of view of the media.

Meanwhile, Richard’s remains are set to be reinterred next year. Last week, the Leicester Cathedral announced its $1.5 million ($1 million U.S.) plans to rebury the king in a new raised tomb at the church.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/07/24/stone-coffin-to-be-opened-at-richard-iii-site/?intcmp=features#ixzz2a7Tv66R3

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King Richard III buried in hasty grave, archaeologists find

King Richard III buried in hasty grave, archaeologists find

By Stephanie Pappas

Published May 27, 2013


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    The skull of the skeleton found at the Grey Friars excavation in Leicester, potentially that of King Richard III. (University of Leicester)

The body of King Richard III was buried in great haste, a new study finds perhaps because the medieval monarch’s corpse had been out for three days in the summer sun.

The new research is the first academic paper published on the discovery of Richard III, which was publically announced in February 2013. A team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester found the body beneath a parking lot in Leicester that was once the site of a medieval church. The full study was available online Friday, May 24.

The archaeological analysis contains details only alluded to in the initial announcement of the findings. In particular, the archaeologists found that Richard III’s grave was dug poorly and probably hastily, a sharp contrast to the neat rectangular graves otherwise found in the church where the king was laid to rest. [Gallery: The Discovery of Richard III]

Richard III’s journey to Leicester
Richard III ruled England from 1483 to 1485, when he was killed during the Battle of Bosworth Field, the definitive fight in the War of the Roses.

‘Richards damaged body had already been on public display for several days in the height of summer, and was thus in poor condition.’

– A team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester 

Historical records reveal that after the battle, Richard’s body was stripped and brought to Leicester, where it remained on public display for three days until burial on August 25, 1485. The church where the body was interred, a Franciscan friary called Grey Friars, was eventually demolished around 1538. A former mayor of Leicester built a mansion on the site, but by the 1700s, the land had been subdivided and sold off, the location of the church lost.

With it went all memory of where one of England’s most famous kings was buried. Richard III was immortalized by a Shakespeare play of the same name and made out to be a villain by the Tudor dynasty that followed his rule. Today, however, there are societies of Richard III enthusiasts called Richardians who defend the dead king’s honor. One of these Richardians, a screenwriter named Philippa Langley, spearheaded the excavation that discovered Richard III’s body.

Digging for Richard
The new paper, published in the journal Antiquity, outlines how archaeologists dug three trenches in a city government parking lot, hoping to hit church buildings they knew had once stood in the area. They soon found evidence of the friary they were looking for: first, a chapter house with stone benches and diamond-pattern floor tiles. This chapter house would have been used for daily monastery meetings.

South of the chapter houses, the excavation revealed a well-worn cloister walk, or covered walkway. Finally, the researchers found the church building itself. The church was about 34 feet wide. It had been demolished, but the floors (and the graves in the floor) were left intact. Among the rubble were decorated tiles and copper alloy letters that likely once marked the graves.

Brick dust suggested the outer church walls may have been covered with a brick faade, which would have created a striking red-and-white look with the church’s limestone-framed windows, the researchers wrote.

A hasty grave
Most of the graves in the Grey Friars church floor are neat and orderly, with squared-off rectangle sides. Richard III’s is an exception. The grave is irregularly shaped, with sloping sides. It was also too small for the 5-foot-8-inch skeleton interred within: Richard’s torso is twisted and his head propped up rather than laid flat. The body was also crammed against the north wall of the grave, perhaps because someone stood against the south wall to guide the body into its resting place. Whoever it was did not spend time afterward rearranging the body into a more symmetrical position.

“The haste may partially be explained by the fact that Richards damaged body had already been on public display for several days in the height of summer, and was thus in poor condition,” the researchers wrote.

There was no coffin in the grave, and likely no shroud, judging by the loose position of the skeleton’s limbs. However, the corpse’s hands were crossed and perhaps tied in front of him.

The study also delineates the 10 injuries on the corpse’s skeleton. Most are likely battle wounds, including two fatal blows to the back of the head. Two wounds on the face, one to the ribs and one to the buttock were likely delivered post-mortem, after Richard III was stripped of his armor, the researchers wrote. These “humiliation wounds” may have been designed to disrespect the king in death.

Read more: http://www.foxnews.com/science/2013/05/27/battle-bruised-king-richard-iii-buried-in-hasty-grave/?intcmp=obinsite#ixzz2Ul5EP0MW

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