Archaeologists may have uncovered the skeleton of the lost English king Richard III. But if they have, what should be done with the remains?
That question is causing contention among Richard III enthusiasts, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal
. The University of Leicester, which is overseeing the excavation and analysis of the remains, has jurisdiction over the remains, but various societies dedicated to the king have their own opinions.
Two groups, the U.S.-based Richard III Foundation and the Society of Friends of Richard III based in York, England, argue that the remains should be reburied in York, because Richard III was fond of that city, the Journal reported. The Richard III Society, which has been involved with the archaeological dig in Leicester that uncovered the remains, is officially neutral — a stance which itself has triggered anger.
"The lack of respect that's been shown to his remains has grated our membership," Joe Ann Ricca, founder and president of the Richard III Foundation, told the Wall Street Journal.
Richard III ruled from 1483 to 1485. He died in battle at Bosworth Field in the War of the Roses, and English civil war between the House of Lancaster and the House of York. After his death, Richard III's body was brought to Leicester and buried at Greyfriars Church. A century later, Shakespeare wrote "Richard III," a play fictionalizing the dead king's life.
The location of both the Greyfriars church and Richard III's grave were eventually lost to history. In August 2012, however, University of Leicester archaeologists began excavating a city council parking lot in Leicester, under which the remains of the Greyfriars church were thought to be.
Soon, the archaeologists unearthed floor tiles, window frames and other remnants of the medieval church. In less than a month, the team found a battle-bruised skeleton with signs of trauma to the skull and an arrowhead lodged in the spine, consistent with Richard III's cause of death.
The skeleton also had scoliosis, or an abnormally curved spine, consistent with contemporary accounts of Richard III's appearance.