Special Encore Presentation: “Bring me the body of Richard III”: When Reality Meets Myth in Archaeology

Join us tonight at 6pm EST on the VoiceAmerica Variety Channel!

Detailed scans of Richard III’s bones and the announcement of the results last week have inspired the media’s renewed interest in the long-dead monarch’s remains.  Now that we know a bit more about Richard’s life and death, here’s an opportunity to revisit the discovery and the exciting journey it launched.

Archaeologists often confront the paradox of reconciling seminal events and larger than life figures with facts on the ground. Where is Noah’s Ark? Where are Jesus’ bones? Previous episodes have addressed specific cases in rigorous detail, but often with results tinged with variable measures of uncertainty. Yet, every so often spectacular finds can be readily tied to dramatic historic events. Today’s episode is a case in point. A team of British archaeologists from the University of Leicester Archaeological Services discovered the body of King Richard III. Armed with accurate historical documentation, and state of the art testing methodologies, the team confirmed that the body located within the church choir of a Franciscan friary was in all likelihood that of Richard III. That probability was confirmed by DNA testing. Our guest this week, Richard Buckley, Project Manager of the Greyfriars project, recounts the details of this remarkable discovery and its implications for archaeology.

richardbuckley2Richard Buckley from the University of Leicester is the lead archaeologist on the Greyfriars project. After graduating from the University of Durham in 1979, Richard became a Field Officer with Leicestershire Archaeological Unit from 1980 to 1995. During this time he worked on the investigation of Leicester Castle Hall and John of Gaunt’s Cellar (1986), the Shires excavation (1988-89) and the Causeway Lane excavation (1991). In 1995, he formed (with Patrick Clay), University of Leicester Archaeological Services (ULAS) where, as co-director, he manages archaeological fieldwork projects principally in the East Midlands, specializing in urban sites and historic buildings. He was consultant and project manager for the Highcross Leicester Project, which led to three major excavations with a budget of over £4m.

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