Archaeology Magazine

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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The Twenty-First Century Autopsy of Richard III

King Richard III of England was killed in August 1485 during the Battle of Bosworth Field, the clash that ended the War of the Roses. He was thought to have been buried beneath Greyfriars, a now demolished monastery in Leicester, England. Last year, archaeologists recovered a skeleton from the site that dated to the correct time period and exhibited scoliosis, a curvature of the spine known to afflict Richard. DNA analysis has now confirmed that the bones belong to the long dead monarch. These images of his bones open a window into the life and grisly death of the last English king to die in combat. To read more about the quest to find his remains, see "The Rehabilitation of Richard III," January/February 2013 —Eric A. Powell    

  • In September 2012, University of Leicester archaeologists searching for Richard III's remains began digging trenches beneath one of the city's parking lots. (Courtesy University of Leicester)
  • After just a few days of excavation, the archaeologists uncovered a skeleton with multiple battle wounds and a curved spine. (Courtesy University of Leicester)
  • The almost fully intact skeleton shows that Richard III would have measured five-foot-eight-inches tall, a large man for the medieval era, though his spine shows he suffered from severe scoliosis. (Courtesy University of Leicester)
  • Richard III's complete spine is arranged here to show its exact curvature. (Courtesy University of Leicester)
  • This puncture on the top of his skull was one of eight wounds Richard III sustained to his head. (Courtesy University of Leicester)
  • This facial reconstruction of Richard III (right) was based on a CT scan of his skull (left). (Courtesy University of Leicester, Courtesy Richard III Society)