Tuesday, September 9, 2014

"R" Marked the Spot

Scientific recreation of Richard III's face
The royal body had been missing since 1485. For two days, its mortal remains had hung in the city square, proving the king was dead. Then, his body was hurriedly thrown into a shallow, dirt grave to be found centuries later in a hidden, long-forgotten tomb.

Although ruling a scant 2 years, Richard III has always had numerous stories and rumors swirl around him and his reign. The last of the Platagenet dynasty to rule England, Richard III was depicted as a repulsive monster and a hunchback with a withered arm. His life and throne had been lost in the final skirmish of the decade-long War of the Roses -- a humiliating loss as Richard III had the larger army and greater support from the English people.

In 1924, the Richard III Society was created, and members began the laborious task of separating fact from fiction surrounding the king. Their first task: finding his lost body.

It was known that Richard III was originally buried inside the GreyFriars Church of the Annunciation of Mary the Virgin, but the church had been demolished in 1538 with no records detailing its location. Five hundred years later and using old maps, Phillip Langley guesstimated what she believed to be the location of the body under a concrete car park in Leicester.

Digging began August 24, 2012 over a mysterious white-written "R" written on the concrete parking lot. Richard's remains were immediately found at odds of 1,785 to 1 that he would be discovered on day one of the search. His skeleton was completely intact including a predominately curved spinal column. Mitochondrial DNA from a tooth proved positive the identity of the ancient monarch.

His remains told volumes. As foretold, Richard III's spine did have a severe curvature from scoliosis, but there was no sign of the fabled withered arm. Other discoveries: two mortal blows had shattered his skull; his diet was rich in fish, sugar and carbohydrates; Richard would have been 5'8" had he a straight spine; the king greatly suffered from round worms (up to a foot long); and, he ground his teeth presumably from stress. Through forensic science used on his skull, technicians were also able to re-create his looks and prove the accuracy of early portraiture.

This story serves as a perfect illustration that ghost hunting need not be a daytime preoccupation or an old house the only site worth investigating for spirits. Although there has been no publicity surrounding a ghost investigation at this site, it would be an interesting venture -- and a reminder that we never know what buried secrets lay beneath our feet as we tread throughout the day -- be they old relics, burial grounds ... or the bones of royalty.


Ghosts Ghosts said...

Love the article ...

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