Leicester skeleton is Richard III, says History Extra poll result

Some 85 per cent of History Extra readers believe that the skeleton discovered underneath a Leicester car park in 2012 is that of former king, Richard III.

In a poll asking ‘Do you think the skeleton found in the Leicester car park is really Richard III?’, a majority voted ‘yes’. Five per cent said ‘no’, while nine per cent answered ‘Don’t know’.

The poll followed an exclusive interview with BBC History Magazine in which Michael Hicks, head of history at the University of Winchester, and Martin Biddle, archaeologist and director of the Winchester Research Unit, raised doubts about the identity of the individual found in the former site of the Grey Friars priory.

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Some 85 per cent of History Extra readers believe that the skeleton discovered underneath a Leicester car park in 2012 is that of former king, Richard III.

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In a poll asking ‘Do you think the skeleton found in the Leicester car park is really Richard III?’, a majority voted ‘yes’. Five per cent said ‘no’, while nine per cent answered ‘Don’t know’.

The poll followed an exclusive interview with BBC History Magazine in which Michael Hicks, head of history at the University of Winchester, and Martin Biddle, archaeologist and director of the Winchester Research Unit, raised doubts about the identity of the individual found in the former site of the Grey Friars priory.

Hicks raised concerns about the DNA testing, radiocarbon dating and damage to the skeleton. “I’m not saying that it’s not Richard – it’s perfectly conceivable that it is – but we are not in a position to say with any confidence that it’s him,” he said.

Meanwhile, Biddle noted that the team of archaeologists from the University of Leicester is yet to make excavation field records publicly available.

Responding to the concerns, a spokesperson from the university said: “The identification was made by combining different lines of evidence. These include the fact that the location of the grave matches the information provided by John Rous, and that the nature of the skeleton – the age of the man, his build, injuries and scoliosis – is in agreement with historical accounts.

“The strength of the identification is that different kinds of evidence all point to the same result. Hicks is entitled to his views, but we would challenge and counter them.”

The skeleton was discovered underneath a Leicester car park in September 2012. In February 2013 the University of Leicester confirmed it was that of Richard III. “It is the academic conclusion of the University of Leicester that the individual exhumed at Grey Friars in August 2012 is indeed King Richard III,” lead archaeologist, Richard Buckley, told a press conference.

There has since been fierce debate about where the remains should be reinterred. A two-day High Court hearing last month examined the justice secretary’s decision to authorise the exhumation and reinterment of the monarch’s remains in Leicester.

It was brought by a group of Richard III’s distant relatives, the Plantagenet Alliance Limited, who are campaigning to see the former king reburied in York.

The verdict is expected later this month.

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