Archaeology’s Dirty Little Secrets by Sue Alcock Part 6 (Richard III)

Option #2: Bucket list

Sit back and think of what tomb, memorial or battlefield you hope someday to visit. This can be from any time period and from any part of the world. Explain your choice:

  1. Describe the site or location you have chosen.
  2. Explain why you’ve chosen it.
  3. Provide details on your choice’s particular significance, both historically and to you personally.
  4. Include a relevant URL (web address) and/or upload an image* with your assignment, if possible.
    *Note: For advice on finding images, see the Guide to Image Collections shown on the course’s FAQ and Guides page.

Your answer should be between approximately 400 and 750 words.

This exercise should take no longer than two hours.

Actually I can’t describe the site because we don’t know where it is going to be yet! I want to go to the burial  site of King Richard III and also the site of where he was discovered. They are going to build a visitors centre. The later is in Leicester and the former is actually the subject of legal proceedings so not decided yet. Which is actually interesting itself because the archaeologists had to say before they found anything what they would do with it, a license has to be applied for but because the person has been identified and has relations (very distant ones) they are disputing the burial place which shows you how important the ethics of human burial are.

Richard was the last Plantagenet king of England, the final king of the wars of the roses and he .was defeated by Henry VII who was the father of Henry VIII. He is the subject of a play by Shakespeare where he famously cries ‘a horse a horse, my kingdom for a horse’

I am fascinated by this king and have been for decades, it started when I read the fictional book Daughter of Time by Josephine Tye. She was a detective story writer and in this one her detective is in hospital and to stop dying of boredom he starts looking into famous mysteries of the past. The princes in the tower, were they murdered by Richard. Actually this book is unique as the facts it gives are completely accurate and it has got many people interested in Richard III. The conclusion is that he didn’t have the motive and other people did and also had the opportunity. Then in the early 80’s there was a mock trial on TV Channel 4 where evidence was presented and refuted and proper barristers presented the case, it was 4 hours and I watched every minute. At the end he was found not guilty by the jury.

I then read quite a few books on the subject, I have about 4 and everyone made me more interested. Then came the King in the Car Park.

Philippa Langley of the Richardian Society had done a lot of historical research and thought she had identified where he could be buried. She got the University of Leicester interested and the funds were raised to do a proper dig. I have the book of the dig, you can tell the lead archaeologist Richard Buckley though she was nuts but it was a good project to find out more about ancient Leciester. The goals were

1.      Find the remains of the Franciscan Friary -reasonable

2.      Identify clues as to the position and orientation of the buildings-probable

3.      Within the friary, locate the church – possible

4.      Within the church locate the choir – outside chance

5.      Within the choir, locate the mortal remains of Richard III – not seriously considered.


Richard Buckley is on record as saying if no 5 happened he would eat his hat. His secretary had to make a cake shaped in a hat because the impossible did happen. They did find him.

There were a couple of programs about this but the best is the press release by the university because that brought in all the science.  They made a reconstruction of his face and he was quite slender and feminine.

I would love to see it all for myself, where he rode off to his last battle, where he stayed the night before, the battle site at Bosworth, the visitors centre they are going to build telling of the discovery and lastly his burial once that is decided.

Ps I don’t think he murdered the princes in the tower

Richard III The King under the Car Park Mathew Morris and Richard Buckley used for the list of 5 objectives