Richard I ‘not killed by poisoned arrow’

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Forensic scientists analysing the mummified heart of Richard I have ruled out a theory that he was killed by a poisoned arrow. Following the king’s death in 1199 his heart was embalmed and buried separately from the rest of his body, and only subsequently discovered during excavations to the cathedral of Notre Dame in Rouen in the 19th century. The results of the new study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, do not include a definitive cause of death due to the poor quality of the organ, although they do reveal more information about the techniques that were used in an attempt to preserve the king’s heart.

Dr Phillippe Charlier, a forensic scientist from the Raymond Poincare Univertsity Hospital involved in the project, said: “The spices and vegetables used for the embalming process were directly inspired by the ones used for the embalming of Christ. For example, we found frankincense – we have never found any use of this before. This product is really devoted to very, very important persons in history.”

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New website traces slavery connections

  

A new online database documenting claims for compensation made by former slave owners after abolition in 1833 has gone online. The Legacies of British Slave-Ownership site, compiled by a team from University College London, records all owners of slaves in the British Caribbean at the time that slavery ended, and can be searched by details including name, date, address and location.

  

Fragments of ‘ancient continent’ uncovered beneath Indian Ocean

The remains of an ancient landmass have been discovered beneath the floor of the Indian Ocean, according to a new study. The section of continent, which would have existed between 2,000 and 85 million years ago and has been named Mauritia, is documented in the journal Nature Geoscience, with scientists hoping to carry out more research into the extent to which it still survives.

  

Medieval Reading manuscript goes on display

A manuscript created in the 14th century chronicling part of Reading Abbey’s history has gone on public display for the first time. The document, which features details of incidents including assaults on two priests and the abduction of a woman before her wedding, was bought for £36,000 from a private collection and will now be available to view at Berkshire Records Office. 

Replica Bronze Age boat set for launch

A replica Bronze Age boat built using contemporary techniques is set to be launched following the completion of a major project. The sewn-plank boat, constructed as part of a collaboration between the National Maritime Museum Cornwall and the University of Exeter in association with Southampton University and Oxford Brookes University, is expected to be launched from a Falmouth slipway at 12 noon on 6 March. To find out more about the boat, and to listen to a podcast interview with project leader Robert Van de Noort, click here.

  

Sacrificial human remains uncovered near Mexico City

A set of 180 human remains discovered at a site near Mexico City can be dated to approximately 1,200 years ago, according to archaeologists. The skulls are thought to be of male sacrifice victims aged between 18 and 30, although experts have not yet established the reason that they were selected for death.

  

Arctic convoy veterans recognised with new award

Men who worked to keep supply lines running through German blockades to the Soviet Union in the Second World War are to be recognised with a new medal and award. Work on the Arctic convoys, reportedly described by Winston Churchill as “the worst journey in the world”, is set to be honoured with an Arctic Star, while veterans who served in Bomber Command will receive a newly commissioned clasp.

  

Australian billionaire reveals plans for Titanic II

A near-identical replica of the RMS Titanic, augmented with modern-day developments including air conditioning and wi-fi, is set to be created by an Australian billionaire. Mining entrepreneur Clive Palmer unveiled the blueprints for the vessel at a press conference earlier this week, with the ship expected to set sail in 2016. Palmer said that he intends to travel in steerage rather than first class, so that “I can sit down there, have some Irish stew, talk to somebody, and at night I can get up and do the Irish jig”.

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Image credits: UCL (slavery website); National Maritime Museum Cornwall (Bronze Age boat)