Richard III horror story: Axed in head, stabbed in rear, bones dug up

Feb. 04, 2013 | 1:25 p.m.
richard 5 Richard III horror story: Axed in head, stabbed in rear, bones dug up

Richard III's skeleton was found under a parking lot in the town of Leicester. (University of Leicester)

richard 1 Richard III horror story: Axed in head, stabbed in rear, bones dug up

A front view of the skull believed to belong to Richard III. (University of Leicester)

richard 2 Richard III horror story: Axed in head, stabbed in rear, bones dug up

A back view of the skull shows where a sword chipped off part of the bone.(University of Leicester)

This post has been updated. Please see note at the bottom for details.

King Richard III has not been treated well in popular culture, and as the recent discovery of his skeleton shows, he was not treated well in death either.

The skeleton of the  medieval monarch  who was demonized by William Shakespeare, and who also popped up in the 1939 and ’62 horror films “Tower of London,” is missing its feet, and its wrist bones were found close together, suggesting that the hands were tied together when he was buried.

There were 10 wounds discovered on the skeleton, including two deadly blows to the back of the head, one of which sliced part of the skull off. And archaeologists from the University of Leicester, who found the royal skeleton,  say the  corpse was also subjected to “humiliation injuries” including a sword through the right buttock.

Then, a parking lot was built over his final resting place.

On Monday the archaeology team who found the skeleton last summer said they have proved beyond a reasonable doubt that it is indeed the remains of Richard III.

The spine shows clear signs of scoliosis, which fits with the physical description of the king as being hunched over with a raised right shoulder.

Radiocarbon dating places the skeleton bones from 1455 to 1540. King Richard III reportedly died on the battlefield in 1485.

An osteo-archaeologist says the bones belong to a man in his late 20s or early 30s. King Richard was just 32 when he died.

And then there was the DNA test, which compared DNA from the skeleton to two of Richard’s maternal line relatives. It was a match.

The skeleton discovery may prove to be a boon for Richard III’s reputation. The world’s fascination with the king’s bones under the parking lot may provide an opening for another telling of the young king’s life that is more sympathetic than Shakespeare’s ruthless villain.

— Deborah Netburn

[For the Record, 2:54 p.m., Feb. 4:  An earlier version of this story said Richard III’s remains were found under a parking garage. They were found under a parking lot.]


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17 Responses to Richard III horror story: Axed in head, stabbed in rear, bones dug up

  1. HSG says:

    Look on the bright side — he would never have to worry about getting a good parking spot.

    • HSGP says:

      YOU look on the bright side. At least he doesn't have to smell the gasoline on the car! Wow… I learned Sooo MUCH about King Richard III, and this is what I get.

  2. DS says:

    Good grief! It was NOT a "parking garage" it was a "car park", British for "parking lot".

  3. Shakesbeard says:

    " a good story, a good story. My boredom for a good story!"

  4. rstackwilson says:

    who cares

  5. JimP says:

    Fact checking is a lost art.

  6. Boog says:

    Clearly he wasn't tortured. His skull is smiling.

  7. lolita says:

    I am fascinated! I have been reading up on this all day! I think its wonderful that England has found such a major part of its history, and that King Richard’s final moments could be laid bare.

  8. robert says:

    who's going to pay his parking tab?

  9. deborahnetburn says:

    Thank you for the translation DS. I'm going to make the correction now.

  10. Herman G. says:

    Any evidence of constipation?

  11. Angela says:

    Will they put him to rest in Westminster abbey.

  12. Neil says:

    Yes, I would hate to see the cost of his "Parking Charge Notice"

  13. nixi says:

    cool in it i am gob smacked

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