Key figures in discovery of King Richard III to speak at day of celebration

Public open day on Saturday 21 March will feature talks by archaeologists and scientists who found and identified remains

  • The event will take visitors on a journey of Discovery, Knowledge and Identification
  • Takes place in the week of the reinterment of King Richard III

A public celebration of the University of Leicester’s discovery, identification and study of the last Plantagenet King will give visitors the chance to hear the first-hand experiences of the archaeologists and scientists who found and identified the remains.

The University of Leicester, which located and excavated the bones, will hold an exclusive event giving people access to the academics and facilities which were instrumental in proving the identity of the king.

The free interactive and hands-on workshops and talks will take place on Saturday 21 March on the University campus. Members of the original research team and the talks they will be giving are:

Mathew Morris: ‘Is this a King I see before me?’ A first-hand account of the discovery and excavation of Richard III’s remains in 2012. Mathew Morris was Site Director on the Greyfriars Dig. He is a graduate of the University of Leicester and has worked for ULAS since 2004.

Richard Buckley: ‘X Marks the Spot’ Medieval Leicester in the late 15th Century, focussing on what we know about the Grey Friars and how that knowledge was used in planning the excavation trenches. Richard Buckley is Co-Director of University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) and was Lead Archaeologist on the excavation of the Greyfriars site. In 2014 he was named Archaeologist of the Year by Current Archaeology magazine and was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours.

Sarah Hainsworth and Bob Woosnam-Savage: ‘To the Point’ The experts that identified the fatal blows inflicted on the king, examine the evidence of Richard’s battle wounds and explore the weapons used to inflict them. Professor Sarah Hainsworth is Professor of Materials Engineering at the University of Leicester and Dean of the University’s Graduate School. Bob Woosnam-Savage is Curator of European Edged Weapons at the Royal Armouries Museum in Leeds.

Turi King and Kevin Schürer: ‘Family Fortunes’ How University of Leicester specialists traced Richard’s descendants through genetics and genealogy. Dr Turi King is Lecturer in Genetics and Archaeology at the University of Leicester; she led the DNA analysis of King Richard’s remains. Professor Kevin Schürer is the University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor (Research and Enterprise); he researched King Richard’s tree to confirm the identity of living relatives.

Jo Appleby: ‘Bones of the Past’ The scientific analysis of the bones of Richard III: how they have been studied and what they tell us about the man and his life. Osteologist Dr Jo Appleby is Lecturer in Bioarchaeology at the University of Leicester. She led the examination and analysis of the skeleton found in 2012.

The event will take visitors on three journeys, starting with The Discovery Journey – which looks at the excavation and post excavation work carried out by archaeologists.

Then there is the science behind the find.

The Identification Journey will look at the DNA and genealogy research which linked Richard III to his modern day relations and proved beyond doubt that the skeleton was that of the former Plantagenet king.

Finally, The Knowledge Journey looks at the ongoing research and what academics have learned as a result of the one of the most important archaeological finds of all time.

Organiser Jim Butler, Events and Engagement Manager for the College of Arts, Humanities and Law, said: “For the first time since his discovery we are giving the public access to both the key people and the spaces that were crucial to the discovery and identification of Richard III.

“In addition to the first-hand accounts of the team that searched for and discovered King Richard’s remains, the public will be able to engage with the historic research and the science in a uniquely hands-on way to gain a real sense of the huge scale of the work undertaken across the University.

“Activities include opportunities to extract DNA from organic matter, witness the awesome power of an arrow fired at plate steel, have their own DNA profiled, examine real skeletal remains and sample a medieval banquet.”

Dr Richard Buckley said: “Like other members of the team, I’ve given many talks on the discovery – we have been to venues in most English counties, not to mention a few abroad as well.

“What continues to surprise me is the excitement the project generates.

“It’s done so much for the profile of archaeology and even after two years people are still fascinated with the story – and why wouldn’t they be, I still have to pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming.

Visitors do not need to book to attend any of the events. However, if spaces are limited it will organised on a first-come-first-served basis.

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