Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - ‘Prime candidate’ found in search for Richard III

Archaeologists today unveiled a “stunning find” that may put to rest a 500-year-old mystery surrounding the final resting place of Richard III.

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 12 September

‘Prime candidate’ found in search for Richard III

Archaeologists today unveiled a “stunning find” that may put to rest a 500-year-old mystery surrounding the final resting place of Richard III.

After three weeks of digging under a car park in Leicester to find the remains of the English king, researchers announced they have found a skeleton which may be the missing monarch’s.

Richard III, who ruled England from 1483 to 1485, died at the battle of Bosworth at the age of 32. His death effectively ended the War of the Roses.

As leader of the defeated side, Richard was given a low-key burial in the Franciscan friary of Greyfriars. The friary was demolished in the 1530s when Britain’s monasteries were dissolved under Henry VIII but records describing the burial site have survived.

An archeology team from the University of Leicester began an excavation of the site – which is now a council car park – on 25 August. They uncovered parts of the cloisters and chapter house, as well as the church and the choir.

These breakthroughs helped lead the team to the king’s possible burial spot.

Archaeologist Richard Buckley told a press conference: “I think we have a prime candidate. I would be quite surprised if there were other people buried in the church.”

The recovered bones show similarities to the King’s portrayal in historical records and other accounts. They include signs of near-death trauma consistent with battle wounds and spinal abnormalities. Richard III is thought to have had severe scoliosis.

He has gone down in history as a monstrous tyrant with a hunchback, though this is now believed to be largely fictitious and in part because of how he was portrayed by Shakespeare.

Richard Taylor, the university’s Director of Corporate Affairs, said: "What we have uncovered is truly remarkable.

“The skeleton certainly has characteristics that warrant extensive, further and detailed examination. Clearly we are very excited by these latest discoveries.”

The bones will now be DNA tested against the descendants of Richard III.

Questions for discussion

  • What do you think makes this an exciting discovery?
  • If you were an archaeologist, what would you want to spend your time searching for? Why?
  • What could the discovery of the remains of Richard III tell us?
  • What factors do you think determine how people are remembered by future generations?

Related resources

Think like an archaeologist

  • Use questions of historical inquiry to gather assumptions about the culture and people who lived in the area of an historical artefact with this resource from Denver Art Museum.

The Tudors: The Battle of Bosworth, 1485

  • Find out more about the battle that ended the War of the Roses and the reign of Richard III.

Why did Richard III claim the throne?

  • Explore how Richard, Duke of York, came to become an English monarch with this lesson plan.

Monarchs throughout history

  • William, William, Henry, Stephen, Henry, Richard, John…we could go on. Discover information about all the English kings and queens to date with this resource from First News.

Further news resources

First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

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The debate about whether video games are harmful to children's development has been rekindled after former SAS operative Andy McNab responded to a coroner's plea for parents to keep young children away from "inappropriate games".

Qualifications widely used in schools in 20 foreign languages ­ including Hindi, Cantonese and Tamil ­are facing the axe under plans drawn up by one of the major exam boards.

In the news archive index